I love literature, I love art, I love music, I love film; the culmination OF the arts. That's not a new observation, but it's something I marvel at from time to time. It makes me sad, the business side of it, the studio side of it. I hate the business of art, though I suppose without it fewer of us would have exposure to art at all. The poor midwest. Ahaha. Joke.
Anyway. So sometimes I'm just reminded to the nth degree of how much I love this art that I have chosen that I don't think I'll ever master-- kind of like choosing a lover who won't commit to you, hello Rhianon-- how beautiful it can be or how much it can turn your thoughts and emotions and even manias to elements you were previously unaware of, thoughts collecting dust in your belfry, malignant until something sparks them. I can't count the times that a movie of some kind has inspired me to research something or go on a binge of interest over something else, or sent me on a crusade to find the music played in that 30-second scene (thus, inventing my music taste). In their search for freshness, film really does inform, or at least pique the desire for information. For me, anyway, alot of the time.
One of my freaky interests of all time, that I've been coming back to lately, is madness. Mental illness, madness, madhouses, complete insanity and the history of treatment for those "afflicted" and not so afflicted. Honestly I'm not exactly sure where this interest originated-- probably from the information as it trickled down to me about mental handicaps (much different from illness, but often dumped in the same category), but it was definitely brought to my full attention through One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a film I was at once enthralled with. Though it's actually not REALLY about madness of course insanity and treatment are the questions that it revolves around, and the setting and characters are all a part of these themes. I was very very weirdly obsessed with it at about age 15, sought the book out immediately and blazed through it. I would now say it's one of my most favorite books, and the first one that I copied passages from into my spiral-bound notebooks. I was taking homeschool biology at the time with Emily in a weekly lab class, and one of the dissections that we were required to do was that of a crawdad. I found it particularly distasteful (though not repelling or difficult-- that would be the worm or the fetal pig WTF HOMESCHOOL MOMS WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?) mostly because the crawdads had been frozen for so long or something that prevented us from cutting them open cleanly and, once we had pried them in half, we were unable to identify anything because it all looked the same. In the end, the crawdads were pretty much shredded out of searching, annoyance, and frustration, and for our illustrated lab worksheets we pretty much just made stuff up. ANYWAY, during said session I was still completely into Cuckoo's Nest and named my very cute crawdad MacMurphy, after the main character. Which really is kind of dark considering we were cutting into him (as in the story, ala lobotomy, haha). I named Emily's crawdad as well after a lobotomized character from the story and later proceeded to name a skinny, cute stammering kid in class after Bibbit, the cute stammering mental patient. No one every caught on, except Emily, to whom I explained the story (which she proudly took to heart). Later we went to see the community theatre production of the play, which was amazing, at least to a 15-year-old. I love that story, I love that story, I love that story. It's power is really overbearing to me and it draws me in even when I simply speak of it.
So Ken Kesey and MacMurphy led me into the world of psychiatry and looney bins. After I sampled it I could not get enough-- I read as much as I could about them, about famous or unsual patients of any time that were held in asylums and later hospitals, about modern loonies and their meds, about Girls, Interrupted, and hallucinations (I never Promised You A Rose Garden), prozac nations, Snake Pits, multiple personalities (I camped on that one for awhile) and savored pyschology at community college perhaps more than I had to (personality psych, it would turn out, is not a requirement in any capacity. oops) I seriously batted around the idea of being a psychologist/psychiatrist for a long time, but ultimately knew that it would not be satisfying entirely. Regardless, there is something, probably something that emerged from Nest that is still embedded in me that makes me think I am not quite done with that stuff.
I saw Shutter Island last night, which is really more about gothic settings than mental illness, but it reminded me again of this weird fascination I have-- not just with madness but all that comes with it-- and a strange sympathy I have for even the criminally insane. Maybe it's even more of an empathy-- I know I'm not quite crazy, but oftentimes I suspect that I seriously straddle the border between crazy and troubled. And it's this kind of person that can help that kind of person-- just like anything, it takes one to know one, and in the case of the mentally ill it takes one that KNOWS in order to help (unless of course you're an unsuspecting Phoebe riding a carousel who simply makes everything alright with innocence, but there's not many of those). So this is what Shutter Island was making me think, even as Leonardo DiCaprio was doing his intense emoting (how I love him, ugly and serious as he is); I'm not done with this whole thing. The way some people talk about their "ministry" is how I think about it. It's not just really a fascination (though it is that) but more of a... calling? I feel as though I need to work at a mental hospital, that because I believe I'm capable I should be able to help those that aren't. I don't know what that entails yet, but it has become a clear(er) concept in my mind now. This is something that I have to pursue, somehow, even though I also know it's not what I'm supposed to DO in my life. It's something that has to be done. So I listen, and I wait. These are the people I'm supposed to help. But I'm not really sure how yet.