Sunday, 17 June 2012

The pain was his fuel

The pain was the fuel for his creativity.
 It strikes me that Strindberg indulged in pain rather than trying to avoid it. When he was in a highly emotional state it was like an engine switched on. It would make sense then that he didn’t shun big emotions, explosive passion or unreasonable hatred. In fact, he sought these extremes. He rarely rested on his laurels and when things became a bit too cosy - which didn’t happen often, admittedly – he’d launch into one of his sudden attacks to stir things up. The only people who escaped his wrath were children. Again and again we find how he creates a sanctuary for his own children, and other young people who came in his path.
When he was living in Drottninggatan towards the end of his life, for instance, he often let Fanny Falkner's little sisters come to play and on one occasion he laid the table for a children’s party with place cards and proper napkins and he was so engrossed in the play that he was unavailable to the adult visitor who called on him.
 On another occasion he was holding a small child’s hand and refused to let go of it in order to shake the visitor’s hand.
Adversely, if you were on the receiving end of one of his attacks you would find it hard to come to terms with his hot temper.
But by picking on each outburst and using it as evidence of Strindberg’s unstable mind or madness we are denying the importance of a charged atmosphere to many artists, including Strindberg. I think it is interesting that so few Strindberg scholars touch upon the correlation between the creative process and the adrenaline that sparks the anger and aggression.
Anyone who has lived with an artist will recognize that behaviour and will understand the reasons for some unreasonable and unpredictable conduct. In that sense, Siri was the perfect artist’s wife - extremely patient and understanding. She may have been an idle baroness when she met Strindberg but she had the unruffled temperament to support an artist who was frequently walking through fire and who was more often than not consumed by his own fire.