it’s all about going over the lines
This owl is interested in so many things it makes her dizzy sometimes, and it can be overwhelming. After a week away – in southern sunny climbs – she’s resisted picking up the threads of the week before, even the creative strings that fly vibrantly colourful kites. As a result – and maybe as a way of coping with the ever presents greys of northern climes at this time of year – its been a few days of withdrawing to gather strength.
One string that the owl picked up today was the future learn course on literature and mental health – reading for well being. It was a struggle to start but so worth it.
Week 5 (last week- so running late of course) was depression and the oh so fascinating topic of bipolar disorder. In the conclusion of this week so many on the course made an interesting observation that concerned
the tendency for ‘bipolar’ to be used as an adjective, rather than as the name of a condition. Whereas we’d usually say that someone has depression, dementia or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s not uncommon for a person to be described as bipolar.
The inclination to define a person by their condition (or behaviour) is very distressing for this owl. And I was really glad I was not alone in my strong reaction and negative response to the difficulty of saying he or she is bipolar. My question was: is there a term bipolarism?- Can we indeed say someone is suffering from bipolarism rather than has /is struggling with bipolar disorder which also sounds perjorative?
One brilliant thing about the course – for me – is discovering new gems in literature. Last week it was Rachel Kelley’s Black Rainbow which I’ve suggested that the local library here in Turku buy.
Today’s gem (taken from Mark Haddon’s Polar Bears, a play in which the main character suffers from bipolar disorder) was this
She did watercolours and woodcuts. I used the think she was a genius when I was little because she never went over the lines. She could draw a circle without using a compass. She looks at this and she doesn’t get it… Art’s all about going over the lines.
Isn’t that amazing?
Perhaps even more interesting to me was Haddon’s total unawareness of the imagery in the title of the play. He states
This is going to make me seem extremely stupid. The title Polar Bears, I did not realise that Bipolar Syndrome and Polar Bears had the same word in them. I used to paint quite a lot of abstract paintings. And when I finished a painting, I never knew what to call it. And I always stole the title of some music that I was listening to. And when I was writing this play, there’s an album called Nowhere, by the band Ride, which was kind of on, as it were, on constant rotation on the turntable behind me. And they have a track called ‘Polar Bear,’ which I love. And I thought I’ll use that same painting technique. I’ll pluck a track title out of the air. … In the play she [the main character, quoted above] talks about going north and the polar bears. And clearly my unconscious is a little more intelligent than the top of my mind, which is quite dim sometimes. It was a really odd experience for someone to say, why did you call it that?
And here’s a thought : Maybe this owl’s dizziness is part of being an artist?