Thursday, September 28, 2006

Writerly Angst

The shame! I lost hope in blogging ( cf. Trisha's clever entry ). After a spell of staying well away from the keyboard, I logged in and became totally (re)inspired by Trisha and her writing.

In fact, we had a long discussion recently about why it is that some blogs which (in our perhaps over-inflated snobby opinions) are nothing but drivel pull in hundreds of comments a day…. Which begs the question: is our blog that many levels lower than the drivel? Or too *ahem* clever/boring/intellectual/dry for the average reader?

Why is it that a blog entry on what some girl had for lunch/what she did at college/the conversation she had with a friend gets obscene numbers of comments? Are we that fascinated by the minute details of others' lives? Are we that voyeuristic?

Okay, so this thing about what makes art good bugs the hell out of writers like me who have big, fat, glorious ideals of wanting to win the next Booker, change people’s lives and rein in a cheque weighty enough to live unemployed for the rest of my life. Worth a mini rant, at least.

John Grisham, Dan Brown and Danielle Steele top bestseller lists and are probably so rich, they’re wiping their arses with 100 dollar bills. Sure, they tell a good story, they’re entertaining but aren’t also a little formulaic? Don’t they all get a bit predictable? And could you pinpoint even one beautifully written sentence in the whole 500 pages that really inspires?

Then there is really gorgeous writing – Jeanette Winterson, Alan Hollinghurst, Jamie O'Neill, Ben Okri… and I’d be quite surprised if you’d heard of any of them because as far as the bestseller lists and ratings are concerned, it’s unlikely any of them will ever get right to the top.

There’s Mariah Carey with her plastic pop that has sold the most albums, gotten the most number 1’s etc etc etc and there are amazing indie singers that sweat poetry and reinvent music whose albums you can’t even find in this country.

There are mindless Wayan brothers movies and Jennifer Aniston romcoms selling out at box offices, while movies pushing artistic boundaries and reflecting bright, varied cultures and the real exuberance of humanity never see more than about 20 people dispersed around a cinema theatre.

Should it be something to be worried about that the world at large seems to prefer reading/watching/listening to what merely entertains but which barely challenges? Looks like we really are dumbing down, eh?

In any case, I better stop here. I’m guessing that this mere musing about the status of art will incite far less response than xiaxue blogging about her fake eyelashes so best save my lofty ideals for some other like-minded, angst ridden writer.

PS from what I’ve read, a deeply ingrained sense of cynicism and/or depression and/or despondent angst is what has fueled some of the best artists of our time (Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Tennessee Williams etc). If that’s the case, perhaps I’m not that far off the track, eh?


delphynus said...

if generating comments interests u, then maybe u should be more responsive to the comments u receive. it'll make the reader feel a little more involved and feel as though u really care about what they have to say (which is about what u had to say...)then they might be interested in coming back to your blog often...
now, did i confuse everyone? :)

it's just a suggestion.
[but in order to be responsive to comments, u have to get some first! haha..]

all the best...

Trisha said...

Not confusing at all... its a very good suggestion. In fact, I'm taking your advice right now : )

DolphyN said...

ur so totally right bout that xiaxue...sigh. and yes, ppl seem to be more interested in bore-us-to-tears blogs that talk about *ahem* fake eyelashes n the like than in good,solid blogs like this one.

hey at least we know who's writing the good stuff....haha....*wink*