of poets and mathematicians

February 2, 2008

In Orthodoxy, the ever quotable GK Chesterton writes:

Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom.

Those words have meandered back into my head while reflecting on yesterday’s quote from Anne Lamott. Chesterton suggests that it is the exercise of expression that helps heal the pained poet. I’m not sure if research would back up good old Gilbert’s assertion, but I find merit in them. (I’m also not sure if I should consider myself on a first name basis with Mr. Chesterton.)

Creative works that draw us to that place we don’t want to go don’t just happen. They come from the tattered soul of an artist that is reaching in to find what is there. Not all creative expression is born out of, or deals with, the pains and hurts of life. Yet I find that when an artist takes me someplace, it is only because they have been willing to go there too.

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