Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Daniel in the Devil's Den

Last night, I saw one of the saddest and most disturbing documentaries I have ever watched; It was called The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and it detailed the tragic life and musical career of a tallented and troubled musician. Before watching the documentary, my only exposure to Daniel's music was knowing that Kurt Cobain loved his songs, and that he sounded like a Bowery version of Tiny Tim. I had also heard he espoused some odd form of Christianity, amd that he was farily troubled. All that and more was reaffirmed in The Devil and Daniel Johnston.

Watching the documentary, I saw a few things that really bothered me. First of all, while Daniel Johnston was (and still is) terribly gifted at writing music, his creativity was as much the cause of his troubles as it was his help. Much of his days were spent obsessing over the strangest things, and he channeled his obsessions into his music in very unhealthy ways. After watching The Devil and Daniel Johnston, I have severe doubts about the helpfulness of Art therapy, seeing how Daniel's symptoms were magnified by giving his "visions" a tangable form...

Another thing I saw, what how exploitive and self serving most of Daniel's "friends" were. While his parents and (as they could) his family members tried to help Daniel by giving him some stability and getting him help, everyone else in his life were just there for what they could recieve from Daniel- at the expense of his remaning sanity. Knowing Daniel had severe mental problems, his "friends" gave him pot and acid, promoted him on tours which dragged him away from any form of a stable life, and didn't think it was bad (at the time, anyway) that Daniel wasn't taking his needed medicine because it ""made him crazy, which was good for the show..."

Along with all the sad, horrifying stuff, was Daniel and his music. If you want to, check out Devinare, I had lost my mind or Grevances on youtube. You can also go to the website his parents run for him here.

If there was one idea I drew from the whole thing it's this- Creativity and Madness are close cousins...

If you get a chance, check out the film. I can't say you'll be glad you did, but I think you'll have to lack all sense of Humanity for it not to well up in you a strong response.

Today's picture was by another artist with mental problems... Me.


Anonymous Tiny Team said...

Daniel is playing a show in Savannah, Georgia on August 12 promoted by Tiny Team Concerts. It’s the farthest south he will be traveling on the current tour. Online advance tickets are on sale now!

11:57 AM  

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