Sonia Said: We're not allowed to be anguished
Welcome to Why Magazine, a land of the failing, depressed, tormented souls of the twenty-first century. Is this the worst ad for attracting millennials or what? Maybe dangerous even. We're not supposed to be focusing on negative emotions, failures and little demons. Unless the rent situation gets so depressing, it's better to just admit yourself to a psych ward and live rent-free for a bit.
Talking about Rent and a depressing image of 20th century artists living in New York, through Beat Generation all the way back to 19 century and Henri Murger's Bohemians. This is a long pattern, not a trend. The image of young artists trying to make it while not compromising their own identity has been inspiring writers and filmmakers throughout the centuries. Why so? Because this is a story everyone wants to see, most would be scared to live and almost no one gets. What's the point of living this life of art for art's sake? Murger could see the absurdity of this idea writing in his preface: “According to these simple and ingenuous being, 'art for Art's sake' consisted in starting a mutual admiration society, in refraining from helping Chance, who did not so much as know their address, and waiting for pedestals to come to place themselves and under their feet.”
Is this where the idea of the tormented artist comes to life? Is it all the failures, pressures, poverty or just a fact that artists are naturally more sensitive people? Or is it simply that one can't exist without the other. Can you create meaningful, true art when you're happy? I can't. I know many people who feel the same. And yet, every time we meet, the discussions comes back to the same problem: how to get out of this? Confusing, isn't it? On one hand, we've got artists desperate to create that best thing yet, giving into their demons and embracing that life. On the other hand, itching, looking for ways of making money once the time comes and we're simply too tired.
It's funny now that I realise how this piece was supposed to focus on this century's artists and their inability to truly live this life with no compromises. But now I bitterly realise that for the first time, I can't drop this on our generation. Because none of these characters ever wanted to live this way forever. See, the anguish was never meant to be present at a finish line. Even back then, it was stressed that the whole point of bohemians was that they aspired to settle and live a comfortable life: “The hour is come for us to go forward and look no more behind us; we have lived our life of youthfulness and heedlessness and absurdities. All that was very fine, and would make a good romance; but this farce of amorous folly, this waste of days, thrown away with a prodigality which seems to think it has eternity to live in, all this must have an end.”
So where is our anguish? Did the tables turn? Our days have seen a frightening rise of suicides amongst artists that are deemed successful while the rest of us settle for little celebrations and 8 hour sleep. For me, the biggest problem lies in a contrast between two main ideas out there: mental health is important and we should talk about it, and masses of inspirational posts, quotes and stories. This is what I meant by the fact that we're not allowed to be anguished. Whenever I go for a walk in dark alleys of my mind, there is a beautiful quote on the The Artidote that tells me it's okay. If I feel better and want to get some fresh inspiration, I see plenty kick-ass women doing it for themselves and again, am reminded that anyone can do it. Which is great. And very healthy.
But sometimes I don't want to be told all those things. Sometimes I miss a place where I can go and just be a shitty person, have a shitty experience (not that I'm ever short on these) and not be told of all the ways I can get over it, like a walk or a bath. Just give me some cheap wine, shut up and listen to your own mind rather than Instagram posts. I don't want to feel bad about feeling bad. What is all that experience if there is a solution on every corner? So go, be anguished. Feel pain. And when you're done, raise your champagne glass to us.