Thursday, December 30, 2010

One of Top-Ten Most-Depressing Professions

I just read an article from about 10 Careers With High Rates of Depression, and guess what? Artists/Entertainers/Writers made the list! Nice. Well, isn't that odd? These very people have sought to make a living doing the very thing which they are most compelled to do - most would say most inspired to do. Even so, artists strive for creative "success", and once found, they still find something to complain - nay, to be downright depressed - about. How is this?

Rabbit trail: for starters, let me say that there's quite a buzz about this article on the music industry blogs... that is, of course, how I found it myself. Specifically, I read about it HERE. And for the record, I mostly agree with what Chris R. at has said. We differ mostly in our worldviews, which is to say, I think Chris would say that self-help tactics (such as those he has listed) actually work, where as I would say that, ultimately, they do not.

Now to answer the question how...

Let me preface this by saying that I haven't worked out all of the details of my argument here and I'm open to discussion. If I have something wrong, I'd like to hear about it.

I really think it's quite simple. There are two things going on in the minds of artists:

1) Artists channel their feelings to create art. You can't just create excellent art void of any feeling. I don't believe it happens. Art requires emotion.

2) Artists, like those in all other professions as well - all humans! - are on some level discontent with life. I believe that this sense of discontentment is the dominating emotion of our culture - and maybe of every culture that has ever existed. Thus, when channeling emotions to create art, an overwhelming majority of the time, the art produced will represent an aspect of a life of discontentment.

Simple enough logic?

Now, two major questions to tackle on this one:

A) What about love songs? I thought there were more songs about love than anything else.

Yes, you'll often here it said that the most popular song topic is love. But, I, for one, have never seen a study on the subject, so I'm hesitant to agree with [Who do they have answering this junk anyway?] And in any case, I'm going to guess that half of the songs about love are actually songs about heartbreak. And even if that's not the case, underneath the words of many, many a love song is, in fact, a longing to be understood, to belong, to be content.

B) So how do we truly solve this human issue of discontentment?

Artists try to solve it by writing about it. Many non-artists try to solve it by listening to art, by watching art, by looking at it or eating it or consuming it. There are other ways that people try, too. "Love" - whatever that means - is also another way that we try to solve it.

But it never works.

The songwriter always has to write one more song. The investment manager always has to get one more paycheck. The church always just needs one more program. But this is also just a part of life in this world. We need certain things to survive, don't we? Money. Clothing. Shelter. Food. For the man or woman of this world - and for most artists - there is no contentment to be found here.

But I have found contentment somewhere, though many of my closest friends witness my chronic struggle with being discontent week in and week out:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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