blog for Australian artist and musician Matt Warren

Prompted by the passing of Chris Cornell

It seems to me when someone who could be considered a ‘celebrity’ passes away, in a world full of social media, many opinions, judgements and expressions gush forth. I often see cynicism around those who mourn for a stranger, like mourning has a set of rules.

Chris Cornell’s music, lyrics and the voice that expressed them had quite an affect on me in some of my formative years. I don’t expect anyone else to agree or share that sense of empathy. You may have been too old, too young, or simply and more likely, his music, his words, his lyrics just may not have resonated with you. It’s not for everyone of course, but others obviously felt a similar way to me as well.

In the age of social media, we have the means to express our sadness at the passing of someone who created something that meant or continues to mean something to us.
When anyone like this passes and there is an outpouring of grief from strangers around the world, who didn’t personally know the person in question, it shows me again and again the value of art and music to humanity. It’s not just ‘celebrity’. If someone creates something and it manages to get out there and move someone in some way, provokes an emotional response…that is a wonderful thing. That has some real value. We feel something, it touches us. And so when a creator of that something is removed from the world, I think we feel a genuine sadness. Of course, I don’t think anyone is pretending to feel the same sadness as the loss of a loved one or the loss that the celebrity’s family or friends feel. Very simply, the relationship to them is different. But if we feel connected to a person, even abstractly, via a song, a piece of art, a film, some text and that person is removed, that felt sadness or loss is only as superficial as one’s own cynicism deems it. Personally, the response to art can be profound, I’m glad it is.

I understand the cynicism. In a world of sound bites and untruths presented as news, opinions sprouted as facts, it’s not surprising there is plenty of cynicism around. But if it is a ‘blanket’ point of view, it’s actually kind of lazy and leaves little room for the nuances of the world and of humanity. And if it causes overtly judgemental attitudes, it’s not that constructive.

There is no one way to mourn and no specific rules to who one should mourn for or in what way. I’m sad Chris Cornell is dead.

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