Insane or Wired or Brilliant?

Brilliant Plath disappeared in her Bell Jar
Intense Vincent Van Gogh was labelled insane
And when he cut off his ear they cried he had gone too far
They cut poor Frances Farmers emotion out of her brain
And made her placid benign boring and dull
Angelina was considered already dead
Vulnerable girl interrupted accused of a lull
Her hurt was cold but her blood was red.

Insanity was thrown in my face at 17
When the high school boys shouted
My favourite artist Van Gogh was insane…
‘He is not’…I found my voice
‘He is sensitive, passionate, intense,
misunderstood…and Don Mclean had
it right on that Starry Starry Night
He took his life as Lovers often do…
I could have told you Vincent this world
Was never meant for one as
Beautiful as you.

Ah the eternal debate…
There is a fine line between
genius and insanity…they say
and how closely do we step the tight rope
With so much mental illness today
Exposed…Depression, Anxiety,
Bi-polar…Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder…A mental health professional
recently advised that 9 out of 10 have
a mental health issue.
Are so few exempt…are these figures really true?

With so much stimulation in the media, mobile, data
Sensory overload with iPods linked to our brain
Texting 24/7 with our mobiles we sleep instead of our lovers
Is the cyborg fantasy becoming a reality…?
in this wired generation?
Constantly on…we must be or we miss out…
We become fed by instant gratification
and stimulated by virtual admiration.
Addiction to this constant contact means that our
heads are overloaded with stimulus but
not given as much time to reflect, to think, to feel.

We are becoming overdeveloped in responding to stimulus
and underdeveloped in knowing our own heart.
Strangers and outcast to our own feelings
Dependent on the hit and the high of the new
and losing sight of the bravery of the subtle and simple.
Craving perfection and the eradication of foibles
we photoshop out our character lines and faults
so that we fit into some kind of ideal of the neo post notion of beauty.

Are not faults far more defining then some sanitised notion of perfection?
Are not our faults the real indicators of our individuality?
Is not our vulnerability a sign of our sanity?
Does not our sensitivity reveal that we still belong to humanity?
Taking time to celebrate and know the individual in their idiosyncrasies
Surely this is worth the effort rather then striving for some standard of
fantasy that can never be translated?

I shudder when I think where we are headed
Man machine…woman machine…cyborgs half man half machine
I pray that disposable people, relationships that end with a click
of the key and people racing to rejection will never be the accepted.
And that the human mind, heart and soul will pause…think and
move the emotional muscle so that sensitivity can still survive
and link us together through heart and mind
right through to the end of time.

So Vincent, Sylvia, Frances, Angelina and Girl Interrupted
Insanity does not seem to be able to define,
What really was going on in your mind,
As far as I can tell…you all could see, think and feel,
Oh that you suffered and were misunderstood
This cannot be denied but you were
real raw and achingly human in your pain
and there was no question of your humanity
Even if there was and still is a question over your sanity.

To me you were brilliant, free, sensitive and intense
And by all indicators ahead of your time.
And I bow to your courage
to follow your own voice and live the
passion that was raw in your heart…
To me it is as if you just knew right from the start.
© Anthea Slade 2009

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Featured in The world as we see it, or as we missed it 11 Oct 13
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Written 26 April 2009

My portrait of Vincent was painted when I was 18 years old.


anthea, slade, vincent van gogh, generation, wired, health, mental, brilliant, insane

Creating art and writing is like breathing to me, it keeps me alive. If I stop creating my world shrinks and contracts. When I start to create again it expands and is filled with colour. I feel whole. To create is to be completely, unabashedly alive.

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  • kevinmawson
    kevinmawsonover 5 years ago
    You are such a deep thinker! Anthea you have a wonderful way with words, I would say that anyone with a creative bone in there body ,would be too eager to agree with you! You may not have noticed but i have’nt posted any new work recently,that is because my laptop is in the repair shop, will not be back in my possesion for 2 weeks.
  • Oh thank you so much km for such a wonderful heartfelt comment. Your words are very inspiring and I appreciate your insight so very much. And I did notice you were away…I hope your laptop has been fixed :) And ready for more artistic creations.

    – Anthea Slade

  • Ken Tregoning
    Ken Tregoningover 5 years ago

    Vincent Van Gough, has always been a monolith of inspiration to me, Insanity aside, I believe you are right he was ahead of his time, sadly many Artists are, we are realists and visionaries that look at evolution in style creation and Love, sometimes we wear our heart on our sleve and it comes back to haunt us, your writing Anthea is a fine example of that insight, we are not insane life has yet to catch up to us. Anthea very well done.

  • Yes Vincent was and is and probably wil always be my greatest inspiration in becoming an artist. And he was ahead of his time in so many ways. I think if he was born today he would be considered normal :) Ken your beautiful comment is a treasure and I want to thank you for writing these words and for empathising so deeply with my poem Insane or Wired or Brilliant?

    – Anthea Slade

  • kevinmawson
    kevinmawsonover 5 years ago

    As much as i am missing my laptop. It is giving me more time to think about the different possibilities that i can do with various images that i would like to work on.Yes we all want instant gratifacation, Whilst it will work for somthings it will not work for everything! So i believe that we should embrace new technoligies as they arrive. There will alway’s be those who can drop frindship at a drop of a pin or the click of a key.Not so easy to do if one has a heart now is it!

  • Yes it is interesting when the internet and computer goes how other things arise in ones mind. Glad to hear that you are coming up with so many different ideas. Instant gratification is indeed intoxicating and technology gives us an avenue to tap into. And like you I do embrace technology…afterall it enables us to share our art and writing with friends around the world. And I agree when there is true heart and soul in friendship they are never easy to drop. I agree 100% and if your value other people friendship can last a life time Thank you for your thoughtful comment my friend. A real joy to read.

    – Anthea Slade

  • kevinmawson
    kevinmawsonover 5 years ago
    as for the real question, I think Van Gough , was all three- Insane wired and brilliant !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!regards your friend in cyber space !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!km.
  • Thank you for your perspective my friend km…it is a very interesting debate I have pondered deeply.

    – Anthea Slade

  • Astoreth
    Astorethover 5 years ago

    You have said so many haunting things here Anthea. I had no idea until the last couple of years that the net gave instant gratification but it does….To me I don’t really like it because I want and need my relationships to be something tangible. I want to see and touch and hold. I only bought a laptop because I was leaving the city for the country and I thought I might get bored….I also wanted to write letters to my children. I missed my friends and family and I joined a dating site on the spur of the moment and it all started from there…..never really knowing what I was letting myself in for. But you can also come to deeply love people that you have never physically met…to love them because you sense a beautiful soul, or see their beautiful sensitive artwork, read their wonderful writing that makes you deeply emotional and then you find that they really and truly mean something to you but it comes with a price….you can never hold them or see the expression in their eyes… will never see them cry or hear them laugh….but you love anyway because they become a part of you along with the sadness of it all….a cyber family. Vincent van Gogh has always been one of my favourite artists….as a person I think I would have loved him very much…..he cut off his ear, but everyone sees that as insanity and I don’t understand that…perhaps because my own sanity has always been in question. I am too ‘intense’ is what I have always been told…some people just feel too much but there is no tap to turn it off. As for Francis Farmer …well there is someone I really relate to. Thank you for sharing this incredibly deep writing which means a lot to me. xxxx

  • Wow dearest Jane…your comment is breathtakingly beautiful…I have read it a number of times and I truly appreciate your heart and openness. I love every word you have written. Your words move me so very deeply. This poem just came out and I know there are some very haunting and intense topics covered here. Thank you for relating and empathising so deeply to my poem. This means so very much to me my friend. With love Anthea xxxx

    – Anthea Slade

  • calves
    calvesover 5 years ago

    Vincent – Don McLean

    Starry, starry night
    Paint your palette blue and gray
    Look out on a summer’s day
    With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
    Shadows on the hills
    Sketch the trees and the daffodils
    Catch the breeze and the winter chills
    In colors on the snowy linen land

    Now I understand
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen they did not know how
    Perhaps they’ll listen now

    Starry, starry night
    Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
    Swirling clouds in violet haze
    Reflecting Vincent’s eyes of China blue
    Colors changing hue
    Morning fields of amber grain
    Weathered faces lined in pain
    Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

    Now I understand
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen they did not know how
    Perhaps they’ll listen now

    For they could not love you
    But still your love was true
    And when no hope was left in sight
    On that starry, starry night
    You took your life as lovers often do
    But I could have told you Vincent
    This world was never meant for one as
    beautiful as you

    Starry, starry night
    Portraits hung in empty halls
    Frameless heads on nameless walls
    With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
    Like the strangers that you’ve met
    The ragged men in ragged clothes
    A silver thorn on a bloody rose
    Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

    Now I think I know
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen they’re not listening still
    Perhaps they never will

  • My dear friend Claudia – thank you for posting the painting and words of Starry Starry Night here…this is my favourite song and one of my favourite paintings. You posting this touched me so very deeply. Thank you for your heart and friendship. Love Anthea xx

    – Anthea Slade

  • bev langby
    bev langbyover 5 years ago

    oh so wonderful Anthea and so true, if i could i would add Marilyn to the list , shes the little girl in all of us, the one wanting to be loved and understood …… clapping ,

    and Claudia thanks for the lyrics ive copied them …………

  • Oh yes I should have included Marilyn…she is the vulnerable girl in us…your comment is so beautiful Bev…you made me smile. It was wonderful that Claudia copied the words to Starry Starry Night here.

    – Anthea Slade

  • Deborah Holman
    Deborah Holmanover 5 years ago

    Wow Anthea that is a very insightful piece of writing and I have much empathy for what you have said. I too am deeply inspired by Van Gogh, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “Heads are overloaded with stimulus but Not given as much time to reflect, to think, to feel.”

  • Deborah thank you so deeply for empathising and relating to my poem. Like you Van Gogh is a great inspiration on my art and my life. I truly appreciate you writing such a sensitive and thoughtful comment.

    – Anthea Slade

  • bev langby
    bev langbyover 5 years ago

    Oh meant to say i have the book on Francis Farmers life and saw the movie and she also touched me ……………there are so many when u think about it Judy Garland ,Elvis Presley he was not meant to be famous he was too kind and loving and was also used and abused ..thanks again Anthea for reminding me of these lost souls………..

  • Dear Bev…I have the movie of Frances…and it moves me so much on each viewing…Yes Judy, Elvis are also vulnerable and gentle spirits who suffered from misunderstanding…you have inspired me Bev…maybe I will need to write a part II.

    – Anthea Slade

  • bev langby
    bev langbyover 5 years ago

    OMG i forgot the most important thing your painting at 17 is just brilliant stunning wow …

  • Yes Vincent was painted in my last year of high school and was chosen for the State Exhibition showcasing the art from the HSC.

    – Anthea Slade

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