Grandiosity is a symptom of Bipolar Disorder. When manic I get very grandiose. I think I am better than I am. I liken myself to the great Leonardo Da Vinci. He like me was a writer, artist, and architect; and some say he was bipolar also. Maybe that is why he was so slow in finishing his work, yet so broad in his interest. He was a truly gifted artist and a writer of the most amazing illustrated journals. His architecture is less notable, but he defines for all time the Renaissance man, the individual who can do many things well. Da Vinci stands shoulders above the rest of his generation, challenged only by Michelangelo. He is famous beyond the ordinary definition of fame. I on the other hand am unknown and very likely to remain in this lamentable condition.
I despair that I shall ever attain my life’s ambition to be compared to this great master. It is ridiculous to shoot this high. I know it, but I can’t help myself. When down depressed in a negative space, I cry that I am so foolish. I beat myself up for this impossible aspiration. When high, manic in a positive space, I applaud myself for the inevitable comparison. Why not I say, for if you don’t shoot high, you will always go low? Why not see myself as a reincarnation of him? I have written a book. It doesn’t sell, but it is praised by all who read it. It is gotten one small award and is a finalist for another. World as usual is overlooking me.
I continue to write my blogs, scratch away in my journals now and then, have one more book in process, and have ideas for several more. If I live long enough I could accomplish many more things. Did not Da Vinci live to be an old man? Perhaps I shall to. In a manic state I think myself almost immortal. I am too young to die soon. God will grant me enough time to get the attention of the world. HA!
Then there is my art. No one recognizes it as good. I just established a website to get it out into the world – www.carltondavisart.com – but again the likelihood of this turning into a pot of gold is remote. The site mainly shows my drawings, and some of the sculptural work. I think the site beautiful and revelatory. No outsiders beyond my family and friends have come to appreciate it. Yet I think if only they- the arbiters of art – saw it as I do, if they saw how my art developed over time, and how it is related to light and mark, they might recognize it as something special beyond mere ability. Yes, I draw many different ways and many different things. Unlike those praised by the market place, I haven’t got a signature image or style, but I do have a definable hand. My drawings look like Carlton Davis drawings. They are conservative imagery, people, plants, urban and pastoral space, but drawn in a way that harkens back to long established roots in art history, while being contemporary. I inflate myself with these comparisons. I refuse to say it is just mediocre. But is it of no consequence, I can’t tell? I know what I think and what I feel when I am charged with energy. I think it great.
Then there is my architecture. There is so little of it, and it has never been prized or lauded in any way. For most of my career in the profession, I suffered the indignity of being seen as only a technical architect, one without design ability. This unfortunate label got stuck to me early, when I decided I knew nothing about how to actually put a building together and went about gaining a technical ability. From then on I was hired for that ability and not my strength as a designer. I resented the pigeon hole. I resented the profession, which divided architects between design and production. Only once was I given design freedom by an employer and that was for exhibit design. I designed a post-modern village of forms for an economics exhibit done for the 1984 Olympics. The exhibit didn’t last more than a decade and is now gone. On my own I did a building in Wyoming, now substantially altered by additions, which met with critical silence. With my wife Virginia, I designed an attractive subway station, which didn’t get any notice. I thought it remarkable for its simplicity yet boldness of form, and its integration of art. The subway people like it. Design critics were silent. I have always thought if I were truly given the chance, I could design something extraordinary, but that possibility is not in the cards it appears. I am too old and too long forgotten to have any impact on the history of architecture. All my manic self can say is “It could have been.”
So there I am with all this ability, and high regard for myself. For years I was bitter at my failure to gain attention. I was seesawing back and forth between self-deprecation and self-aggrandizement. When up, I worked furiously and forgot the failure. I was haughty. I was cruel. I could not tolerate second class aspiration. I would not suffer fools. When I dropped off the heights, bitterness arose. When I descended into the depths, self-hatred was the norm. This seesawing on the bipolar coaster went from elation to despair and back again. Somewhere alone this ride, when I decided against suicide, the situation began to change. I accepted myself for my delusions and my realities. I stopped seesawing. I stopped riding the bipolar coaster.
My life resolved itself through a gamut of means. I became united in my duality. I have come to appreciate what I am and laugh at what I am not. I am not Da Vinci. I am guy who likes to think he could be Da Vinci, but it is OK if I am not. I no longer need to be grandiose. The need to be great fell off the seesaw fell off the roller coaster. I can be happy being humble.