Creative Inspiration 2
It’s been two months since the first installment of Creative Inspiration, so I figured it was about time to make another. This one will go down a darker, more somber path than its predecessor. The subject matter is much heavier. I won’t be talking about photography, but its still very much about art. First we’ll talk about the new, very popular HBO miniseries Chernobyl. Second will be The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, a novel I recently enjoyed. Last but not least, one of my favorite albums by one of my favorite bands, When the End Began by Silent Planet. When you dive into these works, you’ll likely be met with some discomfort, but if you give them a chance, you might make it to the other side with a newfound appreciation/perspective. While I find immense joy in capturing bright and colorful subjects, I seldom consume that type of art for myself. Though it rarely shows through my own work, these three are prime examples of the art I typically enjoy most.
Watch: Chernobyl (HBO miniseries)
I’d be surprised if you haven’t already heard about this. The world is kind of going crazy for it, and for good reason. After seeing the trailer, my expectations were extremely high for this series, and I can happily report that it didn’t disappoint. Chernobyl had very little to nitpick (it would have been great to see Russian-speaking actors play the parts- I would happily read the subtitles), and HBO ultimately created a compact series with absolutely stunning imagery, interesting character development, and a creative way of telling a story that’s been told and retold a dozen times.
While I’m not certain on the accuracy of the series as a whole, from an artist’s perspective, the show is gorgeous, compelling, and devastating. Your only reason to miss out on Chernobyl should be not having HBO, but even that can be circumvented. Find a friend with an account, or even a friend of a friend- I’m sure you’ll figure it out. If not, do what I did and find one of many questionable websites to stream it. This series has some fantastic acting, and they do everything they can, short of speaking in Russian, to put you in the shoes of those who were forced to undergo one of the worst tragedies in human history. The cinematography is some of the best I’ve seen all year, and whoever did the coloring hit it out of the park. Whether you’re a history lover or a film nerd, try to watch this at all costs.
Read: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is one of the most beautifully-written novels I’ve ever read, so I’ll try my best not to ruin it with my messy thoughts. This book is haunting in every way, and Plath does everything she can to place the reader inside the mind of the clinically-depressed protagonist, Esther Greenwood. To be honest, I need to read this book a few more times to fully digest it. I’d often find myself so enthralled by the writing itself that I would lose myself in it. Another example of this type of writing would be To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, a book that examines a similar subject. I read that book on a flight, and I knew as soon as I finished it that it deserved much more of my time. I could go into what the book is about and how I felt about every chapter, but that would defeat the purpose of this book. You need to try it for yourself and see how you feel on the other side. If you decide to give it a shot, or have already read it, I’d love to talk about it!
My favorite line from the book:
“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
Listen: When the End Began by Silent Planet
Silent Planet is a band that has led my sense of imagination and curiosity on too many journeys to count. The subject matter is relentlessly gripping, and the music that in my eyes serves mostly as an accompaniment, is powerful enough to both shake the earth and set the sun. The vocalist, while understandably can be too aggressive for most people, writes poetry disguised as lyrics, and he provides annotations to many of the lines he writes. I love everything about this band, but the lyrics are what sealed the deal for me. Here are some of my favorite examples:
Firstborn - a song about a parent losing a child.
I memorized your pain
I put my thoughts inside your name
Little Light, can't you see?
You're supposed to be the one who buried me
I tried to stop the flood, I tried to pull you from the tide
Now you paint the sky with distant fire
Northern Fires - a song about the Spanish Civil War.
Ration my breath, terror clandestine in my chest
Mangled, I lay on a foreign forest floor
Caught in an instant, divided by distance
Alone in the fray, clutching my trigger, I pray
As I make amends with death on a distant shore
In Absence - a song about watching someone you love suffer from a memory disorder.
Find me in the silence, tell me where I've been
The air is growing colder, the clouds are caving in
I lost the sound of your voice in the winter sun
I dreamed that dawn would wake us, but morning never comes
Silent Planet writes songs that talk about things that are often uncomfortable to think about, let alone listen to. They write music that seems bleak, but they are a group of artists that write with hope in mind. In an attempt to halt my words from muddying the waters, I’ll leave it up to you to discover them for yourself. I encourage you to dive into their entire catalog and read the lyrics all the while. Their other albums are just as compelling, navigating through entirely different topics like war and psychology. Trust me on this one.
I’m well aware that these suggestions won’t be for everyone, but I think that’s kind of the point. These things make me feel so much, and they motivate me to run as fast as I can in my own direction. I can understand why many people might be put off by various aspects of these suggestions, but I hope you give at least one of them a try. The reality of Chernobyl is understandably gruesome, The Bell Jar takes some time to digest and can be a bit depressing, and Silent Planet is a giant leap for anyone who doesn’t already listen to that style of music. I get it, but I hope at the end of the day, you can appreciate them for what they are. Whatever the case, I’d love to hear your thoughts. See you in another two months probably.