Creativity

Vivaldi and Haydn had Seasonal Affective Disorder, Lowry had anorexia, and Schubert suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder (or he wouldn't have left his Unfinished unfinished). Following the recent news that the repetitiveness of Ravel's Bolero was an early indication of his Alzheimer's disease, readers have been quick to diagnose comparable ailments in the artistic community.

"Many of Picasso's paintings," RJ Pickles says, "display disturbing signs of a rare form of anatomical dyslexia." Rossini's William Tell Overture is, in the opinion of Phil Worth, a clear indication of the immature sexual preoccupations of the composer. Why else would he have written the "Titty Bum, Titty Bum, Titty Bum Bum Bum" theme? Mr Worth also sees Mendelssohn's Song Without Words and John Philip Sousa's Colonel Bogey march as signs of laryngitis and nose-picking respectively. "Munch had lockjaw when he did The Scream, says Jack Dolan, while Judith Holmes sees Wordsworth's "host of golden daffodils" as a clear indication of colour-blindness. "More lemon than gold," she says. Len Clarke sees "a bad attack of the DTs" in both van Gogh's shaky cypresses and Rimsky Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee.

"Whistler obviously had tinnitus," says Steve Warner. He also thinks that Damien Hirst must have mad cow disease, though other readers see his work as evidence of a split personality. Norman Foster ascribed tinnitus to Alexander Graham Bell, who "invented the telephone to explain the ringing in his ears". Picasso had astigmatism, he adds.

John Harrison mentions the sudden attack of deafness suffered by John Cage, which lasted only for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. He also notes that "Bach had a chronic fugal infection around his G-string and Mussorgsky was an exhibitionist."

Martin Brown detects a distinct stutter at the start of Beethoven's fifth. He also supplies us with an interesting life history of George Sloth, the early Victorian artistic genius whose chronic indolence resulted in his never producing any works in his entire life.

"Botticelli was in a state of acute nervous tension about the huge bills the girls were running up at Laura Ashley," says Mollie Caird. "The pointillists all had acne," Fiona and John Earle diagnose. Michelangelo's spending all that time on his back painting the Sistine Chapel they see as a disorder of balance, possible Meniere's disease, or a middle-ear infection. John Ellis thinks that Camille and Lucien Pissarro both suffered from mild incontinence, while two loos Lautrec must have had a worse case.

"The sculptor of the Venus de Milo," says Duncan Bull, "was a sadistic murderer who specialised in hideous mutilations." Nicholas James reads Shakespeare's lines "There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough hew them how we may" as a clear indication that he was Jewish.

Peter B Thomas did not realise until recently that Jimi Hendrix had plaque. Maguy Higgs thinks that Wagner suffered from a simple misunderstanding when Mahler suggested he gave him a ring sometime. AP Staunton thinks that Houdini was probably premature.

Several readers have expressed concern about the absence of Miss Sian Cole from last week's things-to-do-with-an-unspecified-object" column. We are happy to reassure you that she is in the best of health, as far as we can diagnose from the unspecified pictures she sent us. She was the only one of our readers this week who attempted a self-diagnosis and concludes that "penis envy is the answer". Prizes to Phil Worth, John Harrison and Steve Warner.

Next week, things to do with negative space. Meanwhile, we seek things to do with millennium bugs, of which we have recently read a good deal. All ideas to: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for the ones we like most.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Reception Teacher

    £21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

    English Teacher

    £21806 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking to j...

    SEN KS1 Teacher

    £21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Qualified and experi...

    Reception Teacher

    £21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor