"We are such stuff as dreams are made on." Shakespeare, The Tempest

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: Comedic Creativity and Dramatic Depth from Severe Depression?

A month or two before Robin Williams' untimely and unfortunate suicide,  I read a piece whose author posited the possibility that much of the best writing has been penned by authors struggling with the disease known as major depression. I suppose the explanation would be that creativity is a way to break out of the dullness of the ordinary, to stimulate the mind out of its malaise. It is as if the suffering are reaching upwards, as if out of a sense of desperation known only to the unconscious. At the same time, the tendency of depression to dive deep within, to find or sink to a more meaningful, subterranean basis can easily translate into providing a narrative with depth. The combination of creativity and depth may be the hallmark of excellent story-telling, as well as the ravaging disease to which Robin Williams succumbed. In his acting, he was incredibly creative in his comedy even as he was fully capable of deep emotions in dramatic roles. In fact, behind the creative comedic façade may lie just such emotions, and in the dramatic we might catch the edges of a quick smirk that says, "Hey, don't take all this so seriously, even though I do. I can't help it."