In an eloquently written column for The Guardian titled "Robin Williams' divine madness will no longer disrupt the sadness of the world," the 39-year-old comedian praises the late Oscar winner's genius talent while also examining his battle with mental illness and the state of the world as a whole.
"Robin Williams was exciting to me because he seemed to be sat upon a geyser of comedy," Brand writes. "Like he didn't manufacture it laboriously within but had only to open a valve and it would come bursting through in effervescent jets. He was plugged into the mains of comedy."
"I was aware too that this burbling and manic man-child that I watched on the box on my Nan's front room floor with a Mork action figure...struggled with mental illness and addiction," he goes on. "The chaotic clarity that lashed like an electric cable, that razzed and sparked with amoral, puckish wonder was in fact harvested madness. A refinement of an energy that could turn as easily to destruction as creativity.
"He spoke candidly about his mental illness and addiction, how he felt often on a precipice of self-destruction, whether through substance misuse or some act of more certain finality. I thought that this articulate acknowledgement amounted to a kind of vaccine against the return of such diseased thinking, which has proven to be hopelessly naive."
Brand then turns the magnifying glass away from Williams' personal struggles and onto the world itself. "Is it melancholy to think that a world that Robin Williams can't live in must be broken?" he ponders. "To tie this sad event to the overarching misery of our times? No academic would co-sign a theory in which the tumult of our fractured and unhappy planet is causing the inherently hilarious to end their lives, though I did read that suicide among the middle-aged increased inexplicably in 1999 and has been rising ever since. Is it a condition of our era?"
"That we must reach inward and outward to the light that is inside all of us? That all around us people are suffering behind masks less interesting than the one Robin Williams wore? Do you have time to tune in to Fox News, to cement your angry views to calcify the certain misery?" Brand asks. "What I might do is watch Mrs. Doubtfire. Or Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting and I might be nice to people, mindful today how fragile we all are, how delicate we are, even when fizzing with divine madness that seems like it will never expire."
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If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).