THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN a strong connection between madness and genius. Between “mental illness” and art, exemplified in the careers of talented-but-troubled individuals from painter Vincent van Gogh to poet Sylvia Plath to rock musician Kurt Cobain. Could it be that the sensitivity which attunes them closer to the mind of the universe than other people– that allows them to “see” and express things the rest of us can’t see, also makes it too painful for them to live? Does their genius itself push them toward thoughts of suicide?
These thoughts are occasioned by our newest feature story, “Suffering, Suicide, and Immortality,”by Jess Mize. Ms. Mize writes fiction and poetry as edgy as any we’ve seen, anyplace. It doesn’t always make for comfortable reading, so be forewarned on what’s coming. We can’t ignore, however, that it’s particularly at this time of year, a time of bleak weather combined with the expectations of the holiday season, that the thoughts of many turn to suicide. Many have been there on one occasion or other, and so, perhaps, can identify with the troubled character in this powerful story.
My second attempt at suicide happened two years later. I had just quit my job at the dry cleaners. I had no ambitions, no motives, only a red and black despair that clouded over my every thought and action, a red and black despair like the closing of Joyland at night.