I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the content we create and the content we seek. And honestly, I’m coming up frustrated. Because here’s the thing y’all: recently, I’ve been bored. Like really bored. Then, I went for a walk with my crazy corgi puppy and I felt rain and I felt this visceral anger at the lasting winter cold. Then I read Wise Blood and my jaw dropped and my heart raced. Gosh, I even think I started sweating. And then, I went to an Easter service, and I cried and my broken bits all felt redeemed.

What I mean to say is: I’m bored with what’s out there. On so many magazines, in so many publications, on so many screens. I’m tired of the same conversations and the same aesthetics. And I’m tired of irony and satire without depth and feeling.

About a million people posted this article last week to all sorts of social media outlets. And it bears repeating. People nowadays need authenticity, not talking heads or inch-deep rhetoric whose most intelligent contribution is a snarky remark. We need conviction and honesty. We need some earnest voices, living in earnest places, loving what they love.

I went to The Listening Room last month where this singer-songwriter named Twain played. I’ve seen enough singer-songwriters to know that for so many of them- if you’ve seen one, you’ve seem them all. Except this was different. There was something about his earnestness on stage, his rawness and his imperfection, but yet above all his conviction, that kept us enraptured. At the end of his 30 minute set, the audience stood to their feet as he meekly bowed off the stage, escaping into some dark corridor. The standing ovation felt like a wave of communal demand– we need more of this.

So here I am, looking outside all the โ€œusualโ€ places for inspiration. I’m going back to the wilderness, going back to the old literature, and going back into myself for what I will create, not emulate. I’m looking to relationships, and spirituality, and isolation for the meaning I’m not finding in the temporal fleeting trends of this season.

On that note, I leave you with this:

Great art must be achieved through the integrity of its own internal principles. Irony alone has no principles and no inherent purpose beyond mockery and destruction. The best examples of irony artfully expose lies, yet irony in itself has no aspiration to honesty, or anything else for that matter.

So, where does art rise above ironic ridicule and aspire to greatness, in terms of challenging convention and elevating the human spirit? Where does Glory Hallelujah meet integrity?ย 

-Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll, “Irony is Ruining our Culture”

  • Donna

    Rebecca, I found your comments fascinating. I went to the article you referenced and enjoyed the challenge of interpreting the author’s take on irony and it’s role in creative works. I appreciate your search for inspiration in relationships and spirituality. Maybe you’d like to replace isolation with solitude? Isolation may become an escape, and that’s not always an effective strategy. I spend much of my time with people who are sincere and creative in ways that are not trendy or clever, and it is a very grounded life. The older gentleman who sells handmade birdhouses on the side of the road is, for me, like the singer-songwriter who brought you to your feet. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    April 29th, 2014 4:56
    • Rebecca Parker Payne

      Donna– solitude is the much more appropriate word for what I’m feeling. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

      April 29th, 2014 14:07
  • Ali Williamson

    I just agree with this so much. I’m less “art” than you I feel, but am in the business of creating content I want people to see… and I’ve felt this recently. Just want to pass a silent cheers and a look of, “I feel you,” your way.

    April 29th, 2014 14:05
    • Rebecca Parker Payne

      You’re less “art” than me?! Are you crazy?! I’m serious! You do beautiful work. Thanks for the solidarity, sister.

      April 29th, 2014 14:09
  • Mallory Joyce

    What a refreshing read, Rebecca. I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes I think about how the internet and social media has changed artists/creatives. Everything (every “inspiration”) is immediately accessible, consumed, and reinterpreted again and again. The old writers and old creatives may have had other creators they emulated but I can’t imagine it was like the culture we’ve created. Anyway, I’m not sure of the solution – except to say that real, raw, personal experiences are crucial. Glad to stand with you in this, girl.

    April 30th, 2014 10:09
    • Rebecca Parker Payne

      I wish I could “like” this comment. I love your take on this….”real, raw, personal.” Wholeheartedly agree.

      April 30th, 2014 10:19
  • Rhianna May

    Gosh, this was a breath of fresh air. I haven’t read the article yet but this speaks so to how I’ve been feeling of late. After leaving everything I know (as much as possible) to chase my dreams I’ve found that everywhere I turn for inspiration or advice is just a repeat of the last thing I discovered. It’s increasingly hard to find ingenuity and diversity. I’m sure it exists in many forms though! I think it might just be a matter of looking in new places and trying new things and searching continuously for that breath of fresh air.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts, and for all of your honest posts! I quite like coming to this page every now and then ๐Ÿ™‚

    May 19th, 2014 9:58
    • Rhianna May

      Oop! The article being the link to salon.com and the impacts of irony!!

      May 19th, 2014 9:59

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