Robot 6

Quote of the Day | ‘Committing a sin against your talent’

i kill giants1“Forget the mythology. I don’t care that Hemingway was a drunk or the Beatles dropped acid or [Insert famous artist here] did [insert drug here]. If you are using drugs or alcohol as part of your creative process you are killing yourself slowly and as a friend of mine once put it, you’re ‘committing a sin against your talent.’

You can’t die of a heroin overdose if you never try heroin. You can’t kill someone in a drunk driving accident if you never pick up the first drink. You won’t throw up your guts or have liver failure or lose your mind from illegal substances if you don’t put things in your body that do not belong there.

There are other ways to sin against your talent, but drugs and alcohol are easily avoided and if you are serious about being a writer/artist/musician/creative soul. Madness is not mandatory. It is not even recommended. The romanticized idea that the drug-addled creative lives a more authentic life is 100% horseshit manufactured to justify self-destructive behavior.

You can create art while sober. You can experience mind-blowing sights and sounds with a clear head. You can access deeper meaning and glimpse the secrets of the universe just by being present.

The world will be more beautiful, more authentic, more amazing, because you will be a part of it instead of stumbling towards it.”

– writer Joe Kelly, reflecting on the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and the notion that “drugs and booze were a prerequisite for a creative life”



What a surprisingly refreshing, and bold, synopsis and defense of the sober creative process. Unfortunately, the need for Kelly to say this is more prevalent than ever. Note: he isn’t saying you shouldn’t have fun, and make adult choices. He’s simply saying the supposed glamor of the drunken artist is a lie — and I love him for it!

Well said!

Mr. Kelly can say whatever he wants, but psyche-active substances have had a role in the creative process of humans since cavemen where eating mushrooms and painting caves. I’m not talking about heroin or cocaine or even alcohol, but he was very cavalier with the use of the word “drug” and even more in suggesting that Hoffman used drugs to improve any part of his creative or acting carreer.

I wonder how Morrison feels.

I don’t think Kelly understands addiction.

Take that Grant Morrison! And quit stalking Alan Moore! !!

Hey thanks Joe Kelly for that dose of victim-blaming that we all needed. Sounds like he knows jack shit about addiction and the cycles of shame, self-abuse, and stigmatization that addicts face!

Amazing. A guy comes out with basically a “You Don’t Need To Do Drugs” message and somehow he’s the bad guy. He’s right, there’s a glamorization that comes from creative people doing drugs. Some people use it as an excuse that it helps with their artistic expression and considering the list of creative and talented people who used and abused drugs, you’d think we’d be smarter about now.

Shawn, if it were simply a “You Don’t Need to do Drugs” message, it would be fine. But it was in direct reference to Hoffman’s death, and Hoffman clearly suffered from addiction.

Given how the disease works, it’s likely Hoffman would have been a drug user even if he’d never been a part of any creative endeavors.

Great insight there, Joe. Philip Seymour Hoffman should have just tried NOT being a heroin addict.

If only he’d thought of that!

I’ve lived both sides of the coin, and can honestly say that my life has been enriched by drug use, even though I choose not to take them anymore. What happened to Hoffman is a shame, no doubt, exactly the same as it is for any lives affected by addiction – but, to respond to the primary point raised in the above post, creativity is about reflecting life, and drugs are a most excellent way of experiencing different perspectives.

Kelly makes valid points about the glamorized connection between drugs and the arts, which is absolutely dangerous, and kudos to him for addressing it (even though Hoffman was by no means the poster boy for such a connection). But I think taking a blanket anti-anything view like this is also dangerous, counter-productive and far too conservative. Drugs exist, many occur naturally and human life, like it or not, has been enriched by their use. To pretend otherwise is to gloss over an enormous chunk of humanity’s creative and cultural output, and to also effectively state that the other 90% of our brains doesn’t exist.

This subject strikes close to home for me for many reasons. I’ve got great respect for anyone who makes a moral choice to abstain from anything; that takes a lot of courage and work in today’s society; but that’s as much a choice as taking drugs (like, say, caffeine), and neither is more valid than the other. It’s worth pointing out here that the law is arbitrary as well, a line in the sand drawn by fellow humans, and not a fantastic arbiter of judgement.

So, for the record, I’m not dissing Kelly – I just disagree with the point he’s making, and unless he knows something about Hoffman I don’t (which is quite probable), the main drive of his comment seems a bit out of place.

That’s my two pence.

Really? Name me one band that could be considered “the best of all time” that didn’t use drugs? Drugs do expand your mind. They make you less inhibitive. This article comes across as someone who doesn’t have first hand experience with drugs, and is either resentful or jealous of those who do.

Morrison used a lot of drugs when he wrote The Invisibles, today not so much, he is not a addict who needs rehab.
The zealot followers of Saint Alan are a strange race, Even when the subject is the sad death of “the talented Mr. Hoffman” they attack the their idol’s rival. Followers os Saint Alan are worse than religious fanatics.

I didn’t read Kelly’s angle with the consideration of addiction; I read it with the consideration of TEMPTATION. He refers to the FIRST drink, and “trying” heroin — meaning, yes, cavemen and the best bands of all time and Grant Morrison took drugs, but the obvious dangers that come with, yes, the inevitable addiction and perhaps even the mind-expanded inspiration aren’t worth it.

Also, I suggest that “the main drive” of Kelly’s thoughts are really just trying to cope with the loss of a great actor. His opinion is touched with the grief anybody that appreciated Hoffman’s work must be feeling right now. Whether you agree with him or not, I think that should be respected as a part of this.

“Also, I suggest that “the main drive” of Kelly’s thoughts are really just trying to cope with the loss of a great actor. His opinion is touched with the grief anybody that appreciated Hoffman’s work must be feeling right now. Whether you agree with him or not, I think that should be respected as a part of this.”

Thank you Russ for being a breath of fresh air. Agree or disagree with Kelly’s statement, his intentions are true and good and having an open discussion, without threat or dismissal, is the best way to form an understanding of the struggle (and sometimes tragedy) of addiction.

Considering Hoffman’s best work actually came when he was sober, I don’t think anybody needs to suggest that his creativity was driven by drug use. Of course, we know he was off Heroin for years, but that doesn’t mean he was completely sober, but the myth will persist now. “Another great artist dead feeding his talent” will be the story in a couple of years. As Jarod’s snarky comment earlier shows us, myths have more power than the truth.

It’s no one’s business if Hoffman took drugs, nor does anyone here (including Joe Kelly, whoever that is) know why he used them. All the artists and actors and celebrities and newswhores offering their “condolences” or judgements are doing so for one reason: to further awareness of their own names and agendas. They should all rot.

Just to elaborate on the huge spectrum of drug users, a lot of intelligent people have used drugs. Psychologists, writers, scientists, etc.

Ken Kesey took copious amounts of peyote and acid before writing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. You can probably see it in the imagery he uses.

Likewise, Francis Crick went so far as to claim LSD helped him discover the shape of DNA.

Picasso was extremely into opium (basically heroine) as was Edgar Allen Poe.

Thomas Edison and Sigmund Freud were basically coke heads, and Steve Jobs has gone on record saying taking LSD was one of the top 3 most important things he did in his life.

I don’t think it’s fair to label someone as less of a person based on just drug use. Historically speaking, a lot of significant works have been done by drug users.

For me, personally, people claiming the moral high ground and pointing out easy solutions is the absolute best thing — my favorite — about people dying from addiction or other ‘self-destructive behavior.’

I can’t wait for more people dying. Joe Kelly’s life-affirmative wisdom is what’s making it worthwhile.

As a creative person who doesn’t touch drugs, alcohol, or even caffeine really, I find it insulting that so many people believe the only way to express oneself or create anything “good” is by poisoning one’s brain. Sure, some brilliant people have been addicts, but I’m inclined to believe that they are the exceptions to the rule, and just the ones we hear about because they make for exciting stories. Plenty of brilliant people are perfectly functional human beings; you just don’t hear about them as much as the ones who burn out from their demons. Not to mention, plenty of junkies and degenerates are not brilliant, poetic souls but instead just lowlives, or at best, tragic victims and nothing more. I’m glad Joe Kelly had the courage to say this, especially since so much of the faux intelligentsia seems to believe the myths about the connection between self-destruction and art. And for anyone who accuses him of blaming the victims, I think it’s pretty clear he’s actually saying this out of grief. Anyone who has had friends die from addiction knows you hate the drug, not the person, and you wish they’d never done it in the first place.

I agree with Joe Kelly 100 percent. never hide insecurities by using drugs or alcohol. too much of both makes everything bad.

I recall a conversation comedian Jon Stewart has had with his guests on occasion about recreational drug use, such as marijuana, and its supposed link to creative activity. Stewart frequently admits that when he took drugs in his youth, and was productive at the same time, he imagined for himself a world in which he could never be productive again unless he was under the spell of drugs. It’s a false correlation, he concludes, to believe that self-destructive behavior is not only imperative, but fully responsible for certain levels of creative output.

There are tortured souls, as we call them, who have produced remarkable poetry, song, and fine art. But they didn’t somehow gain their talent or skill for their craft from drug use, or emotional depression, or a stomach virus. It’s not causal.

To me, Joe Kelly’s “madness is not mandatory” is a solid vote for being internally motivated; a vote for organically accessing all of your fears, hopes, ambitions, and indignation. It’s all there, always and all the time. And so perhaps it is misguided to think that you can more fruitfully access these facets of your person while poisoning your brain, as another commenter put it, because until you get old (or until you willfully destroy it), your brain isn’t going anywhere…

I think it’s a sort of fallacy, to say drug use directly leads to enhanced creativity. In my opinion, what really happens is that the sort of person that is usually creative (artistic, sensitive, curious, romantic), overlaps somewhat with the kind of person that would be interested in mind-expanding drugs. This is not a judgment on Hoffman or anytone. Just an ackowledgment that sometimes when you get a package, there is bad in it, along with the good.

On the other hand, it also overlaps with a lot of other groups. No one will say that the cokeheads working in Wall Street or the drunkards in any old bar are particularly creative or sensitive. Drugs can deaden as much as they can expand.

I have a close friend who was beginning a pretty good career as an actor (he had a few TV show appearances and a supporting role in a somewhat big motion picture) when he became hooked on heroin. The creative people he was around helped start and feed that addiction. He nearly died and even when he recovered, his career suffered. He’s lucky to be alive and the three years he spent trying to break the addiction was a very dark time for him, his family, and friends. Some in the creative community might think that drugs make their work brilliant and all that but there’s a personal price to be paid when it gets out of control. So I have to respectfully disagree with the “But We Wouldn’t Have That Song If He Didn’t Drop Acid” crowd.

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