Name One Genius That Ain’t Crazy

[A Stream of Consciousness Essay.]

Giovan J. Michael
6 min readAug 4, 2019
Photo by Giovan Michael

26 de Julio

I am a human. That is to say, throughout most of the day I have about three million irrational thoughts running through my head. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just means that the task of the day is to make my head a river filter with rocks small enough to catch all the crud. Maybe that’s a pessimistic way to view it, but that’s the way I’m thinking about it today at 1:52 pm and so that’s the interpretation that you get.

Of these three million irrational thoughts, there are really only about five, refracted across my synapses into thousands and thousands of interpretations, coloring thousands and thousands of more memories. But the title of this essay reveals a big one. That I am not an inspired person. That I am not creative because I’m not crazy. Remember those little rocks I was talking about earlier? Those take the form off all the words in this essay, so here we go.

Last night I was eating dinner with my friend, who is also a nurse. He and I don’t see eye to eye on mental health, but I will admit that his opinions come from clear and hard study, with an objective experience with observing multiple patients. In all my writing I’ve had to realize that I only have one case study: myself. And I must admit that there is no way to fully see myself clearly. I have no choice but to make subjective judgments because I am the subject and the observer. Furthermore, I don’t know how much of my opinions are fettered by the need to not be called “crazy.” Because that terrifies me. The scariest part of shutter island is when they end up on the cliffs and that lady says “If everyone decides your crazy, then you’re crazy,” so is a reality just one group hallucination we’ve all agreed to?

Of course, it is. Reading really “practical” books like The Four Hour Work Week, Rich Dad Poor Dad, E-Squared, and You Are a Bad Ass at Making Money will attest to this. The mediocre life many people live (a life defined by fear and excuses) is something everybody signs on for. It’s not mandatory. But it’s these exact books that are causing a very interesting thought to bubble up in my mind: Am I Becoming Normal?

If that fear doesn’t make sense, let me break it down for you. I think for years and years and years of my life I have made an unconscious link between my creativity and a mental state that some people might call depression*. I think it’s been argued enough over the years that the archetype of the tortured artist is a trope, and that we don’t need to hold onto our sadness in order to create intense and amazing art. I think the process of creation will throw us into enough of a state all on its own, and for the most part, really good artists have a large boring streak in their life, waiting for the muse to come to them.

But archetypes are strong and take a hold of all us in the places of our minds that we can’t always see. I think many artists make associations with artists and abstract images such as chateaus in France, candle-light, lots of crying, huddling in a corner, intense drug use, dancing, lovemaking, and just a volatile style of living. Maybe it’s not most of us, maybe it’s just me.

But in the middle of doing all of that associating my life actually consisted of a lot of lying on the floor to numb and depressed to even cry. Terrifying and completely frozen. So it’s clearly illogical, clearly just another manifestation of resistance that is bringing about this “crazy=genius” paradox in my mind. I say paradox because while I’m afraid to better myself, afraid to improve and clean up because I’m afraid that that will make me happy and somehow less creative, the thing I’m afraid of leaving behind, I never really had. It’s a false correlation between suffering and art, which is why I think I reacted so strongly when my friend said that he’s seen some of the most creative people in the psych ward, but none of them are happy.

At the bare root of it, I just feel like a child who wants their way. No! I want to be creative and happy! Is that too much to ask? I really don’t think. As Oscar Wilde said, everything popular is wrong, and I think one of the more dramatic shifts in my life will happen when I can separate myself from the need to be sad and miserable because I think that that is a tax for me being creative.

When I actually think about all the times when my genius is activated, I am elated, I am lost in it. I’m thinking about correlations between Buckwoski and Hemmingway and people who just assume that your life has to be this alcoholic just to access the muse. Sure, Kanye is on Lexipro, but so are millions of other people who aren’t nearly as creative as him. And guess what, Kendrick isn’t on Lexipro, and who’s the better rapper anyway?

Years ago this dream of life entered my head. Reading Tim Ferris and people like him, I see now that it is possible, and looking at my life now (Yesterday I spent hours surfing, went to the bank, and then went Kizomba dancing) I see how very possible all of that is. I think it’s very interesting the ways our inner fears will manifest really shitty reasons to stop us on our path to growth. I think one of those reasons I’m catching right now is that it is trying to tell me to slow down and be miserable again so that I can have some creative ideas. And to that, I’m calling major bullshit.

I feel so much more inspired now that I have separated myself from that self-pity ant-eater demon of depression that had latched itself onto my back and stuck its tongue down my ear and into the spinal column of my brain. What’s more than that, is I know I’m more creative than I’ve ever been before. What’s more than even that is that I am living a good ass life, too. I’m doing what I want to do, I’m being efficient with my time and refusing to work for money. Instead, demanding money work for me.

I am accepting The Science of Getting Rich which posits that for anybody to be truly happy they must first be rich. And by rich, I mean able to afford their ideal life (Jen S). I get these thoughts that tell me how selfish I am to want that, but then I have to remember that my thriving and living the best I can is the greatest gift I can give to the world because it will allow the other people around me to believe that they can do the same.

I think the “Crazy=Genius” archetype or “Shaman” theme is one small part of a much bigger puzzle. More than that it’s a romantic way for people to compartmentalize this whole thing. Plus, I think people think that it would be just too good to be true to be a healthy, happy artist, who also makes good art and is surrounded by a good community and is financially responsible. Life just doesn’t work that way, people might say.

…But what if it does?

*At this moment, I’m going through a lot questioning of phrases such as “Depression” or “Mental Illness”. Not because I’m a denier of the existence of many of the wide-ranging states that these terms umbrella above, but because as someone who experiences these mental states, and as someone who has been largely able to pull himself out of it with the help of love from friends, family, and the choice to be brave, I am doubting a lot of the widely held opinions about these things. Especially around the need to medicate people — at all. Point blank, full stop, end of the story. I don’t really see a lot of logic in saying that people have “Imbalances” because everyone’s brain chemistry is different and that seems to be a good thing. I think that there must be better ways.

However at this time, my research is not definite enough to refute a lot of these opinions so I’m largely holding my tongue until I can say for sure how I feel about these things, because again I don’t know how much of this need to prove that medication isn’t necessary might be coming from a subconscious desire to not be thrown off the cliffs of shutter island.