. . . in the artistic/intellectual sense, I mean. Just a thought:
There’s this assumption that positive emotions are somehow less deep, meaningful, complex, intellectually “serious” subject matter than positive ones. Something described as a “happy” song or book is assumed to be fluffy, cheap, and fun, but not some great masterpiece or even a personally moving experience in the way a “sad” song or book could be.
But why? Why can’t our highs be just as strong and subtle and multifaceted as our lows? Are there not as many ways to feel good as there are to feel bad?
There’s evidence that people generally experience negatives more strongly than positives, with evolutionary explanations. But I doubt that this isn’t socially/culturally influenced as well. We partially learn how to feel through the ways we communally discuss, observe, and express feelings with those around us. So maybe we need a little more collective practice with the positive ones.
They tell people to suffer for their art, with the expectation that great pain brings great expression and honest emotional depth to their work. And of course it can. But if we’re going after real and powerful emotions, why don’t we also tell people to flourish for their art? To go out and have the most profoundly thrilling, peaceful, sexy, fulfilling, loving, proud, hopeful, relieving experiences for their art? Could that change our capacity to feel on those higher registers?
I definitely don’t want to prioritize one type of emotion over another or suggest that people shouldn’t share negative emotions and experiences (and hey, average and ambivalent emotions are also cool). And my Lana Del Rey playlist gets plenty of use too. But if sadcore is a thing, maybe we need some equally indulgent happycore.