‘Alone. Yes that’s the word. The most dreaded word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t even hold a candle to it and hell is just a poor synonym’
When one of the worlds best horror novelists tells you that being lonely is one of the scariest things in the world, you know it’s true. Being accepted and more importantly liked by everyone is one of the fundamental goals of man. And very often people who aren’t very well accepted by social communities are looked down upon as being worthless. But is this treatment justified? Are loners actually losers or are they actually more superior than those on top of the social ladder?
Excerpt from Psychologytoday:
Acceptance is the fundamental motive but at the same time, the need for uniqueness is also a fundamental human motive. When people are treated too similar to others, they (sometimes unconsciously) attempt to do anything to make them stand out. For instance, people who had their uniqueness threatened were quicker to endorse uniqueness-related words and were more likely to express less popular attitudes.
How can this be? How can humans have both the need to belong and the need for uniqueness? Well, humans are complicated! We have lots of motives, many of which frequently conflict with each other. This is why most people try to strike a balance between their various motives, and are satisfied with moderate levels of each motive.
However it has been seen that many times worldwide acclaimed artists are rather eccentric individuals who don’t really believe in ‘going with the flow’. One of the worlds best and widely influential filmmakers Stanley Kubrick was a well known social recluse. Known for his painfully perfect detailing and surrealistic cinematography, Kubrick is hailed as a master of the art of cinema but it is a very well known fact that Kubrick detested humans and preferred to work work alone. Along similar lines is the highly controversial Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier who has been labelled a Provocateur by many, Lars too prefers solitude, hates travelling and has a wide range of phobias in fact he has stated that he has extreme fear of almost everything but filmmaking.
Many musicians have been known to be rather odd in their behaviour as well (Read: Rockstars and Metallers). Speak of Niravana’s Kurt Cobain who had rather strange outlooks on life, appeared to interviews with his shoes untied,wore the most casual dress for his wedding because apparently he did not have the time to wear a formal suit and wrote a death note addressed to his childhood imaginary friend when he committed suicide. Speak of reclusive musicians and one picture that is bound to pop up in your mind is that of black metal musicians who roam around in the woods in the most uncomfortable looking attire and silly looking corpse paint. Many of these nihilistic, misanthropic individuals actually leave in completely isolated and unwelcoming environments far away from any established settlements. I remember watching an interview of Xasthur’s Malefic whose otherworldly shrieks dominate his haunting and fiercely melancholic songs but during the interview he had great difficulty opening up to the interviewer, he looked extremely uncomfortable throughout the interview and became quiet the moment he was asked about his past. He went on to talk about how much he hates people who according to him are very rude.
So is there in fact any connection between the level of deviation and creativity?
Another excerpt from Psychologyabout.com (http://psychologyabout.com/)
By definition, creative solutions are unusual, involving the recombination of ideas. Unusual, divergent ideas and access to distant, remote associations are hallmarks of creative thinking. Perhaps those who like to distance themselves from others are more likely to also recruit associations from unusual places and think beyond conventional ideas.
Research supports this idea. The need to be seen as separate from others within a group enhances both nonconformity and creativity. In contrast, an interdependent mindset has been shown to extinguish the spirit of independence that is optimal for producing creative solutions. What’s more, those who report a high need for uniqueness make more unconventional word associations, show a greater preference for complex visual figures, and produce more creative drawings and creative stories.
I do not know how accurate these claims are but I must say, taking into account the examples I enlisted and many more deviant artists out there there is surely some connection between being a recluse and an individual with artistic insight.
Footnote #1- Intentionally did not mention many people because many a time the social deviancy might just be an act, a performance which increases the audiences intrigue
Footnote #2- I believe an entire blog can be written discussing painters who were well-known social deviants. Once I’m done compiling a a gust of information on the topic I will publish an article. If anyone is interested I might publish the article on your blog as a guest blogger xD.