On glorifying sadness

February 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

What is it about dark things that draw art to them? Every masterpiece (every painting, every great novel, every great poem) was about sadness or death or heartbreak. The greatest artists are those who have suffered and managed to churn out something heartbreakingly beautiful from their suffering. Heartbreaking beauty. What is up with that? What is up with liking/loving/wanting to be sad and frustrated and lonely? Nobody would ever wish this upon themselves, but we talk/sing/write about it as if there were no nobler pursuit. 

I talked to a friend yesterday, as usual, being her histrionic emo self. I told her that her problem was that she glorified emo too much. She loves it too much, and to an extent, I probably love it in the same way. Like that famous Russian novelist (Chekhov? Nabokov? Dostoyevsky?) said, all happy families are alike, but each unhappy family is unhappy in their own way. There is much to write about (almost revel in) sadness – so many shades and nuances, different tints in different lights. Different colours – there are a dozen colours to feel sadness: blue, grey, black, purple, violet, etc.etc. Happiness though, there’s only one thing/colour/feeling that comes to mind: a blinding, jumping, sparkling yellow. I wonder if there aren’t more words to describe sadness than there is for happiness. Sadness, in art, allows you to work with it in so many ways. In sadness, there are a hundred thousand possibilities.

On the other hand, it’s no way to live. Like I told her, yes, you’ll feel a Rilke or an Edgar Allan Poe coming on, in aspiring to be a Plath. But we often forget that along with genius, these names comes with some pretty shitty lives. Sylvia Plath managed to successfully stick her head in an oven and kill herself that way, thank you very much. Is this really what we want for ourselves? At the expense of our investments into sadness, do people know what it actually means?

I want to be able to not love sadness and think there’s some great beauty in it. I want to resist the temptation to revel in the sadness, the loneliness that falls into my days, as it naturally will in any other person’s days. I want to look at it and be able to turn away, turn my head towards the sunshine and the wide open sky, full of boundless possibilities that are just waiting to be realised. I want to be able to walk away from darkness and know that there IS a better alternative. I want to WANT this better alternative and actively strive for it. I want to be happy. I want to lie in yellow sunlight, swim in it, breathe it, actually BE it.

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