I’m not some grand philosopher, but I can tell you a thing or two about people. I’ve sensed a dismal cloud floating above us. I’ve sensed it for some time now, and then a friend shared this article with me. It’s titled: “David Foster Wallace was right: Irony is ruining our culture”. If you’re wondering about the state of our culture today, or (seemingly unrelated) what makes great art great, then I recommend giving this a read. I’ll share a few points that really hit home with me as an artist.
“At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment. Now it is the establishment.” It seems like irony has slowly seeped into every nook and cranny of today’s culture. The article cites examples ranging from television to visual art to literature, and argues that this saturation has put us out of touch. We’ve become so cynical that we’ve forgotten how to hope for something better. Instead of ridiculing, we need to seek different eyes with which to see the world.
David Foster Wallace predicted the rise of a new breed of artists – people who are sincere and look for a grounded understanding of reality. His idea raises the question “Where does art rise above ironic ridicule and aspire to greatness, in terms of challenging convention and elevating the human spirit? Where does art build on the best of human creation and also open possibilities for the future? What does inspired art-making look like?” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think all of our spirits need elevating these days. Isn’t that the purpose of great art?
When applied to music, this idea really resonates with me. I’m sure we’ve all heard a song that has moved us in some way, whether it be connecting with a hidden emotion or seeing something in a new light. Combining the auditory realm with written word can be a powerful thing. I must admit, I like this idea of music as “challenging convention and elevating the human spirit”. This is my newfound aspiration.