Friday, August 31, 2012

What a Creative Mad Mind Maketh, Psychiatric Meds Taketh Away : Shulamith Firestone Lived in "Airless Spaces" (But she took her medication)

I had a client who was schizophrenic, male, in his 20's.  He frequently laughed to himself and could be heard talking to others that did not exist by his parents.  But he was a fiercely original graffiti artists.  I tried to buy some of his art but his mother, who was an art collector, realized full well the depth of his originality and would not part with it.

Due to the challenges of keeping the young man at home, he was placed on more potent psychiatric meds which, his mother explained, removed all of his creative interest.  He no longer wanted to create.  He moved into a famiy care home where he resides today. 

If you have ever been in one of these places, you full well realize that mostly people are there pleasantly being stockpiled.  Their meals are cooked for them; they have a room; they take their meds; they sit on the front porch and smoke cigs.  They watch TV.  That's their life. 

Shulamith Firestoe, 67, Feminist Writer and schizophrenic has just passed (see:

A movie was made about her painting and writing in 1997. 

She wrote one more book, besides her first earth-shaking one subtitled, "The Case for Feminist Revolution" with the pubication title being, "The Dialectic of Sex."  She wrote it when she was 25. 

'.....The book, which was translated into several languages, hurtled Ms. Firestone into the front ranks of second-wave feminists, alongside women like Betty Friedan, Kate Millett and Germaine Greer. It remains widely taught in college women’s-studies courses....."

Her last and only other book was a report on how it felt after receiving treatment with psychiatric meds:

".....Her only other book, “Airless Spaces,” was issued in 1998 by the experimental publisher Semiotext(e). A memoir-in-stories that employs fictional forms to recount real-life events, it describes Ms. Firestone’s hospitalization with schizophrenia, which by the 1980s had overtaken her.......

In “Airless Spaces,” Ms. Firestone writes of life after hospitalization, on psychiatric medication. The account is in the third person, but the story is her own:

“She had been reading Dante’s ‘Inferno’ when first she went into the hospital, she remembered, and at quite a good clip too, but when she came out she couldn’t even get down a fashion rag. ... That left getting through the blank days as comfortably as possible, trying not to sink under the boredom and total loss of hope.”

The story continues: “She was lucid, yes, at what price. She sometimes recognized on the faces of others joy and ambition and other emotions she could recall having had once, long ago. But her life was ruined, and she had no salvage plan.”   I guess it was no mistake that she was reading Dante's Inferno when she went into the hellish bowels of a psychiatric institution which was the start of the road associated with the removal of her creative process.   Joan Osborne, fragile on stage when I saw her years ago, understood the value of the 'spider web' in her head:  (from her very excellent album: Relish: nominated for a Grammy)   I dreamed about ray charles last night
And he could see just fine

Dreamed about ray charles last night
And he could see just fine, you know
I asked him for a lullaby
He said, honey, I dont sing no more
No more, no more, no more
Ray dont sing no more

He said, since I got my eyesight back,
My voice has just deserted me.
No georgia on my mind no more...
I stay in bed with mtv.

Then ray took his glasses off
And I could look inside his head
Flashing like a thunderstorm
I saw a shining spider web

Spider web
Spider web
Spider web
In ray charles head

I dreamed about ray charles last night
He took me flying in the air
Showed my own spider webs
Said, honey, you had best take care.
The world is made of spider webs
The threads are stuck to me and you
Be careful what youre wishing for
cause when you gain you just might lose

You just might lose your...
Spider web
Spider web
Spider web

What ray charles said
When youre feelin lonely
When youre hidin in your bed
Dont forget your string of pearls
Dont forget your spider web

When I go to sleep tonight
Dont let me dream of brother ray
No, no, no, don't...

Dont get me wrong, Im glad he sees
Just like him best the other way

Spider web
Spider web
Spider web
What ray charles said...
In ray charles head

All I got's my spider web
Keepin me alive
Cmon ray


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