The Creative Wasteland is a Mental Incarceration

Creativity is the “ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.” This flight of imagination can sometimes be seen as a Utopia in the mind, but other times it can be seen as a falling dystopia. When we place ourselves in physical spaces that are boundless and inspiring, where is our mind? How are we feeling? How are we connecting to the world around us?

When we’re thinking about aesthetic principles, sadness comes to mind. Our emotions are directly connected to the capacity in which we express ourselves, whether that be poetry, graphic design, dance, or, classical instrumentation. We connect with that which brings up pain because it’s easier to connect with. We’re drawing on our morose experiences that bring us to our darkest moments. When creating, it’s easier to play on our sadder emotions, like pain, and depression where our thoughts seems to race and words come with no end in sight. Tevin Reese cited in a magazine interview that “when I’m happy, I don’t want to write. I want people to experience me being happy” which was the best way to describe it.

We’re so inclined to relate to art that brings out sadness. A conversation with Nicolette Molina revealed “those emotions are the hardest to deal with. I think when you have someone telling you I feel that too through his or her art, it’s comforting. Pain brings people together more than happiness.” Commercial success is a strong reflection of this.

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Musicians like Kanye West, Taylor Swift, and Adele exemplify this argument. Swift skyrocketed to stardom by singing songs reminiscing her exes, something we can all relate to. Heartbreak is something relatable, as it is a common experience shared amongst us all at one point in time. Just like Swift, Adele’s prominence came to light when she created the one of the greatest albums of all time, 21, an album filled with weariness and pain. However, with her newest album 25 released on November 20 under the label Columbia Records, mixed reviews came flying offering a drastic contrast to the unanimously well-liked predecessor; songs that expressed contempt and happiness and confidence weren’t critiqued as well as the ones on the previous albums.

“If she has to go through another life threatening breakup in order to make some bomb ass music, then so be it. I can’t deal with this happy-go-lucky mess,” said an Adele critic after listening to the latest album all the way through.


Lastly, Kanye West, the creative powerhouse himself- we enjoy his pain more than his happiness. The latter half of his musical career was plagued with dark moments: the tragic death of his mother, several romantic breakups, and denial to permeate cultural and artistic boundaries on his own timeline. We’re still listening to 808s & Heartbreaks (hell, he gave a two-day concert for it in October), My Beautiful Dark a Twisted Fantasy (because Monster still stays) and Yeezus (because everyone loves a little bit of religious appropriation and social commentary). We thrive on his pain, and at this point he knows it. We’re just waiting to see what his next album is going to be, but mainly the inspiration behind it.


Is it bad to love art that’s rooted in pain? Are we sadistic for connecting so passionately to that which brings grief and solemn? I don’t know, but the general consensus thinks it is wonderful.



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