25 November 2009

Stendhal's Syndrome Updated

For those who have never heard of the Stendhal Syndrome, here's a brief re-cap:

Back in the early 1800s, Stendhal coined this phrase to describe the violent emotional and physical reaction to great art -- crying, fainting, trembling, fever, even hysteria, of whom Stendhal himself was the most famous example during his tour of Florence in 1817. He described this as a "kind of ecstacy" after viewing Santa Croce.

Over the years many writers, such as Henry James, depicted similar reactions, often for those individuals who were making the Grand European tours so popular in the 19th century. Henry Ward Beecher was another who experienced this "absolute intoxication" at the Palace de Luxembourg.

Then, in 1989 Graziella Magherini, head of the psychiatry department at a major hospital in Florence, wrote an article about the Stendhal Syndrome after treating myriad tourists who had suffered symptoms similar to those described above. Her remedy? Bed rest and spending time away from art.

Where am I going with this? Well, like some fellow bloggers who have written about frustration and the inability to create, I wonder if we are suffering from a cyber version of the Stendhal Syndrome?

After a day's work on the computer with excel spreadsheets, online ordering, staff schedules, budgets, then I go home and after dinner am on the computer surfing blogland, offering comments, following up on comments on my blogs, viewing artworks of all kinds -- and this can go on for hours. Then I try to go to sleep. HA!

My mind is spinning, images are flashing, I'm planning on what I can write/upload next . . . and I find that I'm wandering the house at 2am, 3am.

On a deeper level, I am fearful that my own efforts to create are stymied, mainly because I am spending all this time in cyberland. I am beginning to question my ability to create in my own "voice," of merely becoming a derivative artist who hops from one project to the next.

All the hours I spend online -- I could be painting or writing.

All the hours I spend online -- I could be reading or taking a walk.

All the hours I spend online -- I could be spending time with my family.

The upcoming weeks are a difficult time for many of us. The encroaching darkness and cold is one element we have to deal with; also, the past and memories of family who are no longer with us emerge with greater urgency than at other times in the year. There is little need to add more stress to this season then already exists.

I will be taking a break for some time. I won't be visiting your blogs either -- not because I don't enjoy viewing your work and creative endeavors, but because I don't want to end up convulsing on the floor in sheer ecstasy! :~)

I guess my days of swooning are over -- at least for now. I'm sure I'll be back sometime later in the winter. But I have plans for some workshops and classes -- activities that are tangible and that will make me sweat and work with my hands. No more point & click for awhile.

So, happy winter solstice and adieu, adieu, adieu . . .


Four Seasons in a Life said...

A balance is needed in life, regardless of ones profession.

I too find myself up at 2 and 3 in the morning just to be able to finish up, which never really happens. So I can understand the need to shut off the computer and refocus and re-center yourself.

I will miss you, but I will wish you all the very best and I know that when you return, there will be many new stories and experiences you will share with us, to which i will look forward to.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and all the best this holiday season.

Your friend,

nancy neva gagliano said...

call and response:
good for you.
i love your writing, and you enlighten. now YOU must LIGHTEN. yourself.
i share your feelings at times, the stendahl syndrome, and i cannot imagine working and painting and family and blogging. it's my 3rd year of retirement. when i worked, i came home and collapsed the last few years.
sometimes i think of posting as an easy visual journal. just for myself. if someone picks up on that, fine. and i forget about reading and commenting on others.
and then, time is needed to recover from holiday stress/reality of those gathered together..
take care of yourself, neva

chrome3d said...

I would like to draw and paint more but the computer fits to a life of interruptions more. Maybe some day you get the spirit back to do other things. Until then don´t feel bad with what you have.

Renee Howell said...

Hello - just visited your blog for the first time. And I am right here, right now with this post of yours. The work schedule in cyber land and then - when to create? Oh - I'll just surf around a bit and see who I can visit. Oh - but I'm missing art creative time. Avoiding it. Harumpf.

Love the camera. the snapping. the downloading. the editing. the combining.

anyway - thanks for the post. I felt I was reading my own brain's post!

All the best - the days will be bringing more light!