The Dark Side of Creativity: Chris Cornell and His Last Song

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Cornell and his son, Christopher Nicholas Cornell, in New York City 2016

The moment I read the news on Facebook, I immediately thought of my best friend, B3. I have always said that I owe everything I know about music to him. His knowledge and love for music are irreproachable. That’s why when I found out about the sudden and shocking death of Chris Cornell two days ago, I knew in my heart this devastated him, deeply.

He’s very fond of the seminal band, Soundgarden, he may have attempted to pass on his love by sharing a song or two with me or maybe not because I don’t remember a thing but I feel sorry for myself that I do not really know anything about Chris Cornell except for the fact that he’s Kurt Cobain’s contemporary. That and SG, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Alice in Chains are all from Seattle, WA. That’s it.

B3 shared with me that Cornell took his own life by hanging and there was no trace or sign of depression prior to his passing.  I’m extra sensitive to this topic. Most of the people I admire all ended their lives by committing suicide, whether by OD, hanging, drowning or sticking their heads in the oven. I’m still skeptical whether the few artists, writers and people I know first hand, who passed away due to illnesses or accidents, would have also chosen the same path if they have lived long enough to make this tough choice.

My questions are – Is there a conscious effort on the part of the suicidal or depressed person to reveal their state of mind and intention to end their lives? Is there truly a person who wants to take his or her own life in the first place?

In 2012, Dr. Patrick J. Skerrett of Harvard Medical School wrote an article on suicide often not preceded by warnings:

“Suicide almost always raises anguished questions among family members and friends left behind: What did I miss? What could I have done?

“Many people never let on what they are feeling or planning. The paradox is that the people who are most intent on committing suicide know that they have to keep their plans to themselves if they are to carry out the act,” says Dr. Miller. “Thus, the people most in need of help may be the toughest to save.”

A suicidal person may be the life of the party or that friend of yours who makes sense out of things, all the time. It can be the dullest or the most creative human being in the room. It can be you or me.

I don’t think a person just decides one day he wants to die by hanging himself. Small children won’t want to go to school because they just don’t feel like, they don’t want to go because they do not see their value in that setting. They do not have anybody to call playmates or their teacher does not give them a single reason to attend classes.

Forum contributor, Karen Tiede said,“We try to save other people from killing themselves for exactly the same reason we treat broken bones, give drugs for infections, and keep sick babies in the hospital for a few weeks if they need more care than they can get at home.”

“The condition of being suicidal is temporary and can be repaired.  Most people who survive an intervention in their suicide attempt are glad to be alive after.” 

We are all involved as much as the suicidal person is. A person who dies of suicide only means a person who was not able to find help.

The questions we need to ask:

Was the person who took his life mentally ill?

Was he or she so deeply depressed as to be unbalanced or otherwise emotionally disturbed?

Was the suicide a tragic, pitiful call for help that went unheeded too long or progressed faster than the victim intended?

Did he or she somehow not understand the seriousness of the act?

Was he or she suffering from a chemical imbalance that led to despair and a loss of self-control?

Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide.

Back to Chris Cornell, those close to the Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman say he didn’t SEEM to be depressed or anxious before his death. Even his wife, Vicky Cornell, confirmed he did not display signs of depression and did not express anything suicidal in the last few weeks. Cornell was in the middle of a tour and performed Led Zep‘s In My Time of Dying on the night of his death as his last song in Detroit.

In an NBC report, Cornell spoke in the past about suffering from depression and substance abuse, including a drinking problem that blossomed during his time with Soundgarden. He credited rehab for getting clean. But he mentioned this years ago, you say? Yes, Sylvia Plath tried to slit her throat when she was 10 years old and was saved. Twenty years later, we all know what happened to her.

Related topic: The Role Of Impulsiveness Is One Of The Saddest Things About Suicide

Writer Corey Adwar talked about this impulsiveness when Robin Williams died, also by hanging.

“Suicidal urges are sometimes caused by immediate stressors, such as a break-up or job loss, that go away with the passage of time. 90% of people who survive suicide attempts, including the most lethal types such as shooting one’s self in the head, don’t end up killing themselves later. 

“A 1978 study of 515 people who were prevented from attempting suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge between 1937 and 1971 found after more than 26 years 94% were still alive or had died of natural causes.”

“Many rare survivors of Golden Gate Bridge suicide attempts recall regretting their impulsive decisions instantly — even as they were falling.”

RELATED TOPIC: Why are artists taking their own lives?

Living through this experience helps us understand the death of the person who committed suicide. We can be more compassionate, we can learn to listen more, be more charitable, be less judgmental, be less self-righteous, be more forgiving, be more selfless.

We learn to ask the WHYs and hopefully be better individuals toward our families moving forward.

Some people — including those who are more ambivalent about suicide — consciously or unconsciously drop hints.

As somebody who once contemplated and has overcome suicidal thoughts and attempts, and from a point of view of someone who is still battling depression, I say Chris Cornell showed signs. Clearly.

It’s just heartbreaking to learn that night, his impulsiveness got the best of him and nobody or nothing was there to intervene. It may have been Led Zeppelin’s song that capped or triggered his emotions, it may have been years of fronting this brave, grungy act, it may have been the stigma that’s crippling every artist on how they have higher tendency to commit suicide, it may have been due to everything, it may have been due to nothing-  nobody will ever know.

Or I guess we can ask him someday.

His Name is Clint

In all his essence,  Robert Kincaid let the irreverent rain absorb his entirety as he waited for Francesca Johnson to decide, will she run to him? Or give him something that will define what they had for four days, I guess we will never know, but he waited under the rain long enough to know he had to go. It was time to go. Francesca Johnson overcame the painful grip she has been sustaining and chose to stay in the car, as she watched Robert Kincaid disappear in his shabby truck. She chose to do the right thing in the end. 

That was a poor descriptive attempt to the ending of one of my most favorite films of all time, The Bridges of Madison County, perhaps my most favorite partnership of two eminent actors on screen, Streep and Eastwood. It’s too close to my heart that I find it too difficult to discuss it. But I would like to focus on one thing- choosing to do the right thing in the end. 

To be continued…

P Train

­I will never be able to talk about M Train and share my review about my whole reading experience without being overly sentimental. I will probably just stick to what the cowpoke breathed at the last part of the book- “Some things, we save for ourselves”. The book’s limpid style will hook you to the reverence Patti Smith used in writing about attachments, loss, grief, acceptance and love for the dead and her fixation with cafés. If she calls the book her mental train, I call it my peace or peaceful train. I’ve never had a friend opening up to reveal herself to me in a long time and I boldly felt her intention to be one as she wrote her daily discourses. There was pure bliss in her everydayness, perhaps I saw a lot of myself in her and what I can do and just be when I’m back to the confinement of  living a solitary life. I have always envisioned my retirement years living in a cottage and earning the freedom and luxury to write without the worry of time.

Read it, read it-  is all I can say. A rite of passage. I have appreciated more the time to pay  attention to everything, then to nothing.

Continue reading “P Train”

What Our Mirrors Show

“Can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?” Harry shook his head.

“Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help.”

Harry thought. Then he said slowly, “It shows us what we want… whatever we want…”

“Yes and no,” said Dumbledore quietly.

“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.

“The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don’t you put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed.”

Continue reading “What Our Mirrors Show”

Snippets

“And we are back to being strangers. To being bell towers of our own churches.

I think we have this peculiar pattern of being okay with each other then abhorring  each other the next minute. The sad truth is, I may be the only one noticing and you are oblivious of everything that has something to do with me. I do not exist. Why do I have a talent in collecting misfits? I was in love with somebody for seven years who was a complete misfit. But you are a labyrinth of complexities. Which is redundant.” 

An excerpt from my old journal. Excessively sentimental. This strengthens the truth that pain is always ephemeral which is both a comfort and  a misery. I have been meaning to start The Winter Of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck but I still feel the pull of finishing Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. I’m okay with reading multiple books at the same time, one for “work break book”, another one for leisure which is “anytime book”, then another one when traveling but I’m preparing myself for Steinbeck’s last work and I’ll give it an exclusive time and attention. Those who know me somehow may have been too tired of hearing me talk about this book I have not even read. Everything Is Illuminated  has become too taxing to finish, I guess I anticipated too much and have worn myself out in always waiting for the “big parts”. Again, forgetting to be in the present and to just enjoy what I am reading and to stop having too many images. Carpe Diem.

I used to think the saddest word ever created on earth is “alone” but I realized it’s “estrangement”.

Starting Everything Is Illuminated

After owning this book for eight months now, I have finally decided to read it. I learned that reading is all about timing. I bought my second copy online and it looks way better than my movie tie-in edition and this encouraged me to finally put my hands on it a la up-a-daisy. I discovered Jonathan Safran Foer through a friend I used to share great conversations with. That person and I are no longer friends, it was the kind of estrangement written in heaven and for a time, I considered forsaking anything about this author just because he is his favorite writer. One would shun from anything that would remind of her past but I cannot bring myself to giving JSF’s books away. So, all’s good and in the end I still feel grateful that there were a lot of good things that came out of that friendship. One is Foer, for crying out loud, he is somebody that should be included in our life syllabus because everything that comes out of his mouth illuminates. You have to read his works to know what I’m talking about (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Eating Animals and Here I Am, his first novel in ten years which will come out in September 2016). He has the similar amalgam of tenderness, at the same time, roughness as Isaiah, known for his double-edged sword scriptural verses that people would either dig or not get at all. JSF is the layman’s term for the prophet in the old testament. Not everybody will like him but it’s impossible not to notice his novels, they’re difficult to digest, even passing as snob sometimes. But he is worth the study and the experience. There are great things thriving in that man.