Monday, 25 May 2009
Depending on your outlook, obsession can be a good or a bad thing. A few years ago, I developed a rather unfortunate case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in reaction to certain incidents that occurred in my life. I was controlled by my fears of cancer. I was not bedridden, but my productivity was, without a doubt, severely hampered. The words ‘what if’ and ‘metastasis’ lingered belligerently in the back of my mind, waiting for the right moment to strike, sending me into a panic attack. Umpteen trips to my doctor and countless medical tests later, I would be consoled somewhat, only to be thrown back into the line of fire should I even encounter the word ‘cancer’ on the news or in conversation. I was obsessed with the possibility of a cancerous growth; I just could not accept the idea of chemotherapy, morphine drips and an impending, painful death. I am now a lot better at managing these spikes and lead a wonderfully fruitful life.
But obsession can also be a good thing. Glenn Gould too suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He was terrified of getting a cold and wore winter accessories all year long. Later in life, he also refrained from physical contact and would only wander out of his apartment in the dead of the night to avoid encountering people. But if Glenn Gould was not also obsessed about achieving a certain sound pianistically, he might not have developed his pointillistic approach to Bach interpretations - we could still be playing Bach romantically! In the same way, Yayoi Kusama has managed to churn out amazingly detailed pieces through an obsession with dots.
Kusama’s paintings focus on repetition, pattern, and accumulation. Describing herself as an “obsessive artist”, her mental illness began when, as a child, she began hallucinating the dots, nets and flowers which would later become her trademark. Today, she voluntarily resides in a mental institution in Japan.
To think that such immense beauty can come from such a dark place…