"there is nothing deep about depression"
"What if Prozac had been available in van Gogh's time? Might a use of medication deprive us of insight about our condition?" These questions were addressed by Peter Kramer in his recent New York Times Magazine article. The article goes on to consider the notion of eliminating depression though the use of medication. Doctors agree that depression is a disease, yet to rid the planet of depression might raise some red flags. Some think that depression is associated with "perceptiveness, interpersonal sensitivity and other virtues". Kramer also asks the question, "What sort of art would be meaningful or moving in a society free of depression?"
I don't believe that there is a right answer to this question. Depression can affect people differently and on different levels. For some the disease can take over and is chemical while others are drawn to a tragic lifestyle. Like the article mentions, depression is an "innocent suffering" that can attract attention and seem very romantic. A friend of mine once said to me that sometimes life just gets stagnant and a little drama and self torment can shake things up. Using art as a relief for artists struggling with the blues can make for some of the best expressionist works of art. Or do we just feel that it is the best work because of the struggle that took place to create it? Viewers can also identify with expressive art because it is that same romantic notion of sympathizing for the maker. Should we examine the relationship to self pain and the works of art that are created? Can strong art arise from a happy, positive outlook? I am positive that it can but it is strange to think about art created by a happy population and the topics that would be addressed.