Monday, October 15, 2007

Charles Schultz

I can't believe what a ruckus there has been over the recent biography on Charles Schultz. People seem to be shocked that he is written as depressed, highly sensitive and often full of melancholy.

I can't imagine him any other way, whatever smiles he gave for the camera. How could anyone so consistently provide such a human picture of a vulnerable kid, someone so affected by everyone and thing around him? You could dream that up once or twice, but to pursue it so successfully for three decades, and build an empire around it, is something else.

He wrote and drew about a deep internal sadness. How could he not live it.....?

The NY Times has an op-ed on how we might like our artists to be suffering, like no one could make stuff like that and be normal. I don't know - I do see "normal" people make art all the time. I mean people who are not maniacs, depressed, crazy or on the verge of suicide.

BUT... I see as many who are! And often the better their art, the more highly singular it is, the more singular the individual.

The work is coming from this unknown place. This place no one goes to but the artist.
So, you go to that place to make your work. Like a tunnel. Or maybe indeed it is a bright heaven, who knows. But you go alone and then you come back here, and you're supposed to fit right in. Be all socialized and good to go. But it doesn't work out quite that way. Making great work is not necessarily the same as living "the good life," no matter what success.

Turns out Charles Schultz was just like Charlie Brown, in love with a red-headed girl who rejected him. I am not surprised.


Sunil said...

Nice one.

m. said...

bang on, eva. whether he was diagnosed or not and whatever naysayers might be waggling their fingers at the biography, schultz was obviously suffering from some sort of serious depressive disorder.

in fact, it seems schultz "outed" himself best in this quote they ran in the nyt piece, "All the loves in the strip are unrequited; all the baseball games are lost; all the test scores are D-minuses; the Great Pumpkin never comes; and the football is always pulled away."

in being extremely familiar with the subversive ways in which depression will reach out no matter what masks the ego may be able to build on top of it, this seems to me to be an obvious cry for help...

on the other hand, though i suspect a lot of people found charlie brown funny because, well, people like to see other people fail, i also suspect that a great number of people also found him a great comfort because he helped them laugh at their own depressive tendencies...

and if that's true i think it's tremendous that schultz could turn something so debilitating into such an worldwide triumph.

rest in peace, charlie.