Random Acts of Ismael:

Misery Muse


     Itís time once again for another well circulated, world-famous, all important, social diatribe by the ruler and master of all things pop cultureóexcept for anything regarding country music, country movies, anything outside of New York City that isnít covered on the WB morning news program and pretty much anything else that Iíd actually have to get up off my ass and research.  This weeksí rant tackles the subject of misery and inspiration and the link between them. 

     Have you every listened to a particularly emotional piece of music and felt a chill run down your spine?  Or watched a movie that made you cry?  Or read a book that had you skipping pages because it was just too difficult to read?  Have you ever done any of these things even if the subject matter has nothing to do with you, not even in the slightest?  Well, I have.  Iíve listened to songs about uncaring parents and watched movies about losing loved ones and read books about painful events that Iíve had the good fortune not to have ever experienced, and still, I felt that chill, that tear, and that discomfort.  In short, I related, even though I probably could never reallyónot fully, anyway.  And you know what, those books, movies, songs, are the ones that I consider to be among the best of the best of their medium. 

     Now maybe that just makes me crazy, or maybe others have felt the same thing.  And why would that be?  Why would someone elseís pain affect us so?  Why do painful situations resonant so potently in songs, movies and books?  I donít know exactly, but I have my theories.  One of those theories is that pain is the greatest muse for a creative person, that if a person can successfully convey their pain in print, song or film, that pain will illicit a response in just about everyone, and that creation will last in the memories of the audience..  Why?  Because the best creations come from a damaged heart and that kind of emotion can not be contained to just the person that experienced it.  Pain needs to be shared or it will destroy a person.  It needs to be expressed, either through words or some other medium. 

     Take for example the success of the band No Doubt.  They were around for a while before they finally hit it big with Tragic Kingdom.  And what inspired Tragic Kingdom?  The emotional turmoil of leader singer Gwen Stefani after having her heart broken by her boyfriend and fellow band member, (whatever his name is). 

     Think about every tragic hero story youíve ever read or seen.  Didnít they grab you and hold on to you like nothing else?  Wasnít the idea of their early demise or downfall tragic, but at the same time, somehow beautiful and romantic?  Didnít it invoke in you a sense of envy toward that character?  Of course it did.  But without the tragedy, without the death, the downfall, the hero isnít so heroic, theyíre just people that got lucky and managed to squeak away clean.  It kills the emotional rush if you know that the person will live on to another day, put down their swords, hang up their boxing gloves and just grow old and die, happy and content that they did the right thing sixty years ago.  Doesnít that sound like fun?   

     Some of the best things Iíve ever written, were written when I was an angst-ridden, overly charged teenager.  Of course back then my work lacked direction, structure and controlómaybe it still doesóbut the emotions that I poured into my poems, essays and other works were damned fantastic, if I do say so myself.  And they flowed out of my pimply head with hardly any effort.  Now, as a semi-normal, slightly insane mutant, I have to really work to get myself into the mindset of an emotional disturbed character or to write a powerfully emotional scene. 

     And it doesnít stop with entertainment, either.  Think back to your friends, not the cheap, no-frills friends, but the true friends, the ones that will last, the ones that you could leave for years and come back like nothing ever changed.  Think back and tell me that that friendship wasnít forged or strengthened or somehow altered by a traumatic event, a mutually painfully experience or simply by a sharing of some locked away pain.  You probably canít, because things like that form bonds, bonds that donít change or go away, bonds thatóduhóbond you to one another.  You may change, they may change, the world may change, but the relationship you have will never truly changeónot completely, not in the way that counts.  Example, one of my best friends and I used to hate each other, literally, hate one another.  It wasnít until he was screwed over by a disappearing act of a girlfriend that we actually started talking seriously to one another.  Having been a social leper for most of my non-college educational periods, I knew a thing or two about feeling like sh#t and being rejected.  We bonded, and, without sounding like a hallmark card for Brokeback Mountain, weíll always have a friendship no matter how we change throughout our lives.  Hell, even when I canít stand him, and when I regularly threaten to kill him, heís still my friend. 

     Alright, thatís as feminine as Iím going to get for this rant.  You get the message.


 

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