Monday 21 June 2010

Eccentricities and Oddities

The world revels while labeling an individual as 'eccentric,' inasmuch it even raises their value to great heights. A man or woman of extraordinary talent and genius is applauded and a great deal is given to their oddities. The common things done by all and sundry is not worthy at all but the uncommon and stupid things done by great people gets tagged as 'eccentric.'

I have been contemplating on various people who were labeled so and thus their shortcomings and frivolousness is passed. Minds which have given wonderful additions to make our life beautiful were quite often miserable people. Just because they have contributed many useful things, can their folly in some areas be dismissed as 'eccentricity?'

I admire Van Gogh. He shot himself at 37. He was also mad for sometime rather say eccentric. His works are remembered even today but I feel very sad for him. Why did he shoot himself? Was life so much a burden that he did not have the courage to live through it. I'd rather say he was a loser in life. Now this is a different stand for me as I have always defended Van Gogh's action. Not today.

Plath, Sexton -- both noted poets committed suicide. Their poems stay on but why did they die such gruesome deaths? Can one pass them off as 'eccentric' and stop the discussion. No. The man on the street who is homeless and still carries on should be lauded. Having no home is the highest form of violence but still he manages with life. Why not?

Plath had a good family in Ted Hughes and the children. Now don't think that family is everything. However the contribution of family and home in life is tremendous but being alone with pets also is grounding.

Again when it comes to love and other details, some 'great' men/women were pathetic. Jean Paul Sartre, Einstein -- I shall not go into the nitty-grities here. But we just dismiss their failures as 'eccentric' but hound certain others for the same mistakes. How unfair is this? Maybe there are scientific theories to prove that a genius mind is eccentric.

Maybe I did not make much sense in this post. This is a thinking-out-aloud process that accidentally became a post. Inspite of all this, if you have come this far as to read this, don't leave without saying something. Looking forward to reading what you feel about this issue of 'eccentricities and oddities.'


  1. Great post and you make a lot of sense dear Susan.;))
    I believe that many artist, writers and poets, even brilant scientists have a sensitive mind. They see the world in a comletely different light, than most people do. Thus this incredible sensitivity, combined with imagination enables them to be brilliant, as this perception is so deep and multi leveled. This sometimes turns them strange and eccentric.
    With this though follows also a sensitivity to life itself, and all the pain within it, until it become impossible to bear.
    Have a lovely Monday.;))

  2. Wondering whether eccentricity is still a mode of creativity. :P


  3. Oh yes! This post DOES make a lot of sense,dear Susan...
    Now I get to understand my eccentricity together with my failure in aspects of say... love?
    But I don't think I'll commit suicide as long as I accept I am unique>>> as that sign at the side bar says " it may be a crazy life, but it's MY life"...

    Thanks for your comment


  4. When we really start 'thinking', we will understand that it is not the person who is important but what he has done in this world. Highly intelligent people like Plath have felt that he has done enough with his life...that may be the reason behind his suicide... Nice read Susan! Cheers, Justin

    P.S. Your blog hasn't been added in my blog roll that is the reason i couldn't see your updates and comment on your posts. I added it yesterday.

  5. there is a fine line between brilliance and is a hard balance to keep with the creative mind i times i believe...thus ending many in tragedy...i read you fine. nice post.

  6. So I guess the normal mind is afraid to do anything out of the blue - it is the eccentricity that drives innovation, creation and discovery - sadly society teaches us to kill that spirit that fuels craziness and out of the box ideas - as we grow up conformance becomes priority ...

  7. I would not call them pathetic, nor would I call them eccentric. I admire your honesty and coherence, but I do disagree. There is a very fine line between genius (Van Gogh, Plath, Einstein) and insanity, and often that line is breached. Just because one leads a comfortable life, does not automatically make one happy. Some of the world's greatest artists and poets have been plagued by serious mental fragility, not eccentricity (which suggests a sort of crazy-professor type of figure) thus leading to their demise - and in many cases, suicide. This is irrespective of their fame or wealth; if they had any.

  8. I am not sure which is more interesting, the post or the comments! I enjoyed it all. I am going to have to stop back just to see how it all develops...


    PS..notice how I am avoiding the question :)

  9. Oh, dear Susan, I have the humblest understanding for suicides. I have never contemplated such a violent act myself, but having worked with many who have, it is quite simple for me to imagine that the world must have seemed as tight as the eye of a needle for them to have taken their own lives. You mentioned Plath, and that she had a good life with her husband. But she didn't. He cheated on her, and right before her very eyes. I'm not justifying her act of suicide, but still, a woman must feel humiliated when her husband looks to another woman. Whether or not this warrants suicide is another question... I am sure there were other factors at play in Plath's case as in the cases of others. I don't dare point the finger and judge, because I always think to myself that one never knows what one would do if placed in similar circumstances.

    An interesting post, Susan, and definitely a good read to come back to!


  10. Dark subject…some say happiness is a choice. But, I know it is easier to choose happiness after I’ve had a sandwich.

  11. Well, I am not eccentric, but surely STUPID? There has GOT to be some reason--excuse?--for the things I do

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Susan, for putting me wise to my mistake on Nevine's blog. I would never have known...eccentric, you know.

    The people I've known who I thought were eccentric--after reading your post--probably had OTHER issues, and many of them. I'm talking about some (great) musicians, fine artists, dancers, skillful Peeps in other professions. Because as you say, all of us do those same behaviors, and be looked at askant.

    HEY, I gotta go. Bye! Thanks SO much...again!

  12. I loved this post, and it raised some very interesting thoughts. Van Gough committed suicide because of a love that he knew that he could never have, but being born exactly a year to the day since his brother, also Vincent, was stillborn, then surely that would have scarred him for life. Then his brother, Theo, dying exactly six months after Vincent, surely the family were somewhat "cursed".
    Yes, I believe that there is a very fine line between a genius and a mad-man, but who are us to cast aspersions. They left behind some remarkable work, and their memories will never die.
    We all have our own little quirks... no matter what our background, and that is what make us us.
    What a boring life if we were all the same!

    Thank you for the comment. I'm now following to see where this journey leads me!
    Big hugs!

  13. Quite dazed with the different comments.


    Does sensitivity always cause a mental imbalance, Zuzana? I guess certain things cannot contain and so this state.


    Not always :) But as many have remarked the problem goes beyond eccentricity. Thanks for coming by.

  14. Ah Dulce:

    Eccentricity does not always have to end in failure. I guess everyone has their own quirks.


    Welcome. Thats my point. One cannot just look at their contribution alone. I was thinking of a wholesome life in all aspects. Maybe that does not happen always.

  15. Brian:

    I guess it is. Can I ask you something? Why does tragedy always appeal? Why cannot happiness tag with creativity.


    Conformity is also happiness sometimes Yuvika. Familiarity is a comfort, though not always. Thanks for your words of appreciation. I cherish and value it.

  16. Sam:

    Thanks for that counter argument. Makes it all the more lively. I am trying to read this 'mental fragility.' Why does this happen? But suicide . . .


    The comments definitely hands down as they contain the views of so many inquiring minds. Please do see and COMMENT dear Jeanne.

  17. Nevine:

    SO glad to have you in the circuit. Missed your comments and presence. WELCOME back :) Hugs.

    Yeah, Plath. I went and read up on her. I thought of her children. Sad. True. I was quite mad with someone who was talking about suicides being a bold act towards freedom. I wonder about that now.


    Sandwich, yes. Which one? Cheese or Chicken?

  18. Steve:

    Stupid, you? NO NO. You are just being humble and meek by saying so. The question still lingers Steve and makes me quite unhappy. I guess I have got something against suicides. But as Nevine remarked, I should not judge. Happiness is a choice as GQ said.

    Alice in Wonderland:

    Feels nice to call someone like that. Afterall we have grown up with Lewis' stories. Love and its different quirks. I have read about Theo as well.
    Who are we? Rightly said.
    I am left wondering again . . .

    Thanks for coming by. Big hugs to you as well :)

  19. interesting question...i think beauty and happiness can come from creativity...i do think the desire to create can become a drug in and of itself though and twist someone when they find themselves without...

  20. Whohoo Brian. Nice to see you again. True. Sometimes the urge kills.

    Joy always.

  21. " ... I admire Van Gogh. He shot himself at 37. He was also mad for sometime rather say eccentric ..."

    Hi Susan,

    The image of a genius is dependent on the selection. Whether the individual is a gifted painter, poet, philosopher, musician, inventor, scientist, is, in fact, immaterial.

    There remains a potent romantic image of the genius – probably, from Victorian times – as someone disturbed, on the verge of mental collapse, unable to keep their body and soul together. This is not the case with most geniuses, for example, Swift, Hume, Galileo.

    The image of the artist (Van Gogh, above) is a case in point. We know Van Gogh was a great artist. His works exist to to prove it.

    However, what do we know of Van Gogh's thinking, his inner tensions, the struggles his gifts bestowed upon him, his family and friends? A study of his life and work reveals a complex individual. But this raises the question. Which individual isn't complex?

    Who decides whether a painting, a poem, a novel, etc., is or not a great work of art? In reality, it is a small coterie of academics, critics, and merchandisers. In fact, genius remains a matter of opinion.

    Indeed, if we approach the works of geniuses without the knowledge of a tragic backstory how would we view their works? It is impossible to know. The fact an artist may have died tragically young draws some individuals to their works.

    How would their work be received if they were still alive?

    As with all individuals labeled geniuses, or not, excess of natural ability does not make for satisfaction and happiness, any more than excess of wealth.

    Finally, what is normal? We all have our oddities. We are all sensitive creatures. We are all outstanding in our own way. We're all in search of an identity.

    Best wishes,

  22. Yes, I agree there is a fine line, yet sometimes I wonder if the eccentricities and oddities of all who we consider as genius and/or highly creative individuals are authentic.

  23. Angie:

    That was what I was trying to bring out in this post. You have said that right. Glad.



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