“The artist’s experience lies so unbelievably close to the sexual, to its pain and its pleasure, that the two phenomena are really just different forms of one and the same longing and bliss.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Themes of sex and love rule the realm of art. Mirrors of human consciousness, works of art reveal our species’ unresolved preoccupation with human relatedness. Characters falling in love and managing, or mismanaging, relationships engage us in our most heartfelt questions. Great art instructs us, subtly and experientially, especially when an artist taps into his or her own existential questions about love and life. Is it any wonder that, while confronting cultural distortions about sex and love, so many famous artists show signs of sex- and love-addicted thinking?
Certainly, the creative mind often wrestles with painful personal issues, whether by choice or design. But it’s time to dispel the myth that the artist must suffer to create. How many times have you followed an ill-considered or potentially destructive course of action thinking it will enhance your creativity or give you a story to tell? Instead, look closer at artists like Jean Cocteau, Eugene O’Neill and Stephen King, who integrated their individual problems into their art, sometimes after addressing undiagnosed mental illness or untreated addictions, and thereby produced even deeper pieces. These recovered artists teach us that a creative spirit makes compelling works in spite of–not because of–internal drama. The eyes that see to the depths of the human spirit perceive most clearly when waters are calm.
Nevertheless, art can contain our private struggles. Channeling our pain into constructive endeavors is healing, whether we engage in classic arts such as a painting or performance, or in crafts such as bread-baking or gardening. People try to dump unprocessed thoughts and feelings into relationships or work situations, which simply cannot contain them. Art is an infinite container for all personal issues and, for many, a way to stay sane, and to see and show truth.
– Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss, The Center for Healthy Sex, Daily Meditations, December 14, 2014