Just thinking about all of the actors, singers, authors, and other public figures who have had a tremendous impact on society and died under tragic circumstances, some were accidents, some were suicides. James Dean, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princess Diana, JFK, Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, the list goes on and on. Not all of those are creative genius, but their early, unexpected deaths shocked the nation, if not the world. Icons. Larger than life. My response to Michael Jackson's death was the same as when I learned that Princess Diana died and then again when JFK, Jr. died: shock followed by an obsessive search for information trying to make sense of what doesn't make sense.
So, I am watching the videos and these questions start popping into my head: Is it necessary to the process of creativity for the person to suffer? Does great suffering lead to incredible bursts of creativity? Are creative geniuses also emotionally fragile or are they just very sensitive to the world around them? How do you nurture and support a creative genius? How do you stop things like this from happening?
My acting teacher in LA used to say that the best actors were not in Hollywood. They were too sensitive to handle the cut-throat world of Hollywood. Is the same true in the publishing world? Are the best writers not getting published because they are too sensitive to handle the rejection that goes along with the publishing process? Are we missing something? Is "The Great American Novel" stuffed into someone's sock drawer never to see the light of day, because the writer is so sensitive to the world around him/her that they can not bear to submit it to a publisher? Is the book that will change the world and make it a better place languishing on someone's desktop computer or still hiding out in the corner of someone's mind?
I have no answers to these questions.
I wasn't going to do this, but I think it is appropriate. Michael Jackson wrote this and sang it for Ryan White. I link to it for him, all the other icons, and creative geniuses both known and unknown that we have lost too soon.