Today was interesting.
Today was interesting because of two people.
Nassim N. Taleb and Andrew Shaffer.
If I were more ambitious, I would have sold tickets to the event. If you missed it, too bad. It's buried in the annals of the twitterverse.
It started with this review of the book Antifragile.
As with all things internet and twitter it devolved into humorous blustering on the part of Mr. Taleb. At least, I found it humorous. He on the other hand, probably didn't.
But I digress. You missed it. I was there. I, unfortunately, didn't buy the T-Shirt. I should have. It would have been epic.
I will also say that this whole post will sound more humorous (seems to be the word of the day!) if you imagine me saying this with a snooty, fake English/French accent with a subtle Midwestern United States twang. Trust me, it sounds awesome in my head.
The real content of this post is on quotes posted by Andrew Shaffer on Mr. Taleb's suggestion that Sylvia Plath and Edgar Allen Poe would have had their creative abilities stifled with Prozac. I can only assume (insert ass joke here), that Mr. Taleb is suggesting that both of these poets would have also benefited from the administration of said medication. This is an assumption, on my part, as I haven't bothered to read all 500 pages of his work (Andrew Shaffer has). Also, according to Mr. Taleb, I have an amateur grasp of psychology.
But I digress...again...
So, these thoughts rattled around in my head on the way home and I begin to wonder what treatment Plath and Poe would undergo (I'm rhyming and alliterating!) if they were alive today.
I did research. Google is awesome for that.
I found this article in the Journal of Royal Science of Medicine specifically about Ms. Plath. It's a fascinating read. I'll admit, I skimmed it, but I'm preparing for NaNoWriMo and its Halloween (kid's gotta get candy!). I'm a bit busy. And honestly, I doubt Mr. Taleb read it at all.
In short, this article states that Ms. Plath suffered from Bipolar II disorder as laid out by the DSM-IV. Now, here's the problem with Mr. Taleb's assertions. Bipolar Disorder is very complex and cannot be solely controlled with antidepressants, such as Prozac. In fact, if a person with Bipolar is given only antidepressants, it can cause severe mood swings. This is exactly what happened to Sylvia Plath. Her doctor gave her an antidepressant. Her brain went into overdrive and she ultimately committed suicide. And yes, I have research bipolar disorder. I also no several people undergoing treatment for it. I know how many different meds are required to maintain a stable life with bipolar disorder.
On to Poe. Pretty much the same. Do a Google search. He suffered from BiPolar as well as substance abuse.
Prozac alone won't "fix" their problem. If anything, it will make it worse.
Now onto the other half of his "argument". That being the Prozac "silencing" Plath and Poe.
This one, I'm going to have fun with. I'm normally not one to being this aggressive, but this is complete BS. Seriously. Know how I know? I'm living it. I don't have bipolar disorder, but I do have a form chronic depression called Dysthymia. I take a very small, and thankfully, inexpensive pill called Citalopram. It works. I'm not depressed to the point of being curled up in a ball. I'm not a "vegetable" as Mr. Taleb suggests would happen when I take it.
I am fully functional. I'm writing. I'm writing darker, and more intense things than I have EVER written. Why? Because I don't have the depression gumming up the system to the point I can't think. I have to feel what my characters are feeling. If I'm depressed, I can't do that. Dark writing doesn't have to come out of mental illness.
Imagination is more important than knowledge -- Albert Einstein
So, Mr. Taleb. If you have managed to get this far, I'm impressed. Somehow I doubt it. Even if you have, your ego would already dismiss me as "amateur" and "unintelligent". Frankly, I find that sad. You see, as a writer, I have to be able to handle criticism of my work. It's part of being out there in the world.
I realize this may feel like an attack against your person. I assure, it isn't. It's an attack against your logic, specifically in regards to Poe and Plath. A PhD, in whatever subject you hold one in, doesn't make you an intelligent person. It means you are a persistent person. You might be an expert in being uncertain, but I'm an expert at being a smart-ass. Just ask people on twitter.
So I leave you with the words of one James Hetfield, poet and musician.
Then it all crashes down
And you break your crown
And you point your finger
But there's no one around
Just want one thing
Just to play the king
But the castle's crumbled
And you're left with just a name
Where's your crown, King Nothing?
'Till next time.
p.s. Please, Mr. Taleb, comment. I won't be offended. I might get "aggressive" with your "sophistry", but I won't call you stupid, moronic, unintelligent, frivolous, ego-centric, or any other slew of words that can be easily found in a thesaurus (you might call it, the anti-dictionary).