08 August 2007

emo power

there are many different types of bad art, but an easy target is that class of artist who use their creative powers to wallow in self pity and examine, ad nauseum, everything that has gone into making them the pathetic, small-minded, self-obsessed sorts we all particularly love to loathe. you probably know a couple, i'm not going to bother listing any.

that said, since i've been posting some of my writing on that other blog, i've noticed that, consistently, the stories that are the most difficult for me, the ones that deal with the greatest emotional scarring and that consequently carry the greatest risk, are consistently the ones that get the greatest (meaning both the best and the most) reaction. evidently, picking your own scabs in public is something that people can grow to appreciate.

of course, this was never something i saw myself doing, because, like most adults, i'm infected with that virus that makes me believe that expressing any emotion outside the privacy of your own home, where no one else can hear you save the individual you've chosen to burden with your hopes and woes, is an activity to be avoided. in fact, the expression of any emotion past the age of puberty, where elation and agony pass through our systems like water (often with similarly useful output), is generally frowned on as representing a lack of control and the person who is given to emotional expression is viewed as ridiculous.

paradoxically, i think that's both why people relate to any creative work that even hints at genuine emotion- because it contains a sort of expression that we deny ourselves, but which relates to the real experience of our lives- and why there is just so much embarrassing, maudlin, self-indulgent work out there.

after all, how are any of us supposed to be any good at expressing what we feel when we cease to practice doing so when still in our teens? pick any skill you have now. how good were at that skill when you were 15? are you better at it now? that increased skill came with practice. i used to take german lessons, but i haven't studied it properly since high school and i've never had the opportunity to use it (my loss). i don't pretend that i'd be able to have a conversation in that language now.

the reason that a lot of work dealing with emotion reads like bad high school poetry is most likely because that's what it is.

2 comments:

Maximum Overlord said...

I would say not only a certain lack of skill, but also a very high opinion of the individual, by itself, combined with a crew of sycophants and a complete lack of doubt about its genius.

I'd say that a good artist puts the creation before the creator, letting it shine for itself, just like a good parent will let their kids shine by themselves, for themselves, without sucking up the admiration and praise like a vampire.

Which in no way means that one shouldn't take pride in the creation; its knowing the difference between being loved because of your creations, rather than being loved because you create.

Richo said...

Self-pitying is, I feel, something we can all live without in all walks of life, art or otherwise.

There's a huge difference between wallowing in angst and expressing yourself emotionally, though.

I have personally always preferred art, of any nature, that has arrived completely from the heart, no matter what it expresses.

The problem, however, resides with artists whose motives either exist in realms beyond this or pander to them in order to create something more readily digestible or marketable.

Too many boxes have been long created by others to now step into.

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