Brain Pickings Icon
Brain Pickings

Amanda Palmer on Art, Love, Loneliness, Motherhood, Vulnerability, Trust, and Our Lifelong Quest to Feel Real

“Maybe we’ve constructed culture in a way that people are not feeling recognized, loved, accepted, happy with their place in society.”

“A society must assume that it is stable,” James Baldwin wrote in his superb 1962 meditation on the creative process, “but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”

I’ve met no artist who inhabits that vital instability more willingly and transmutes it into grounding, elevating assurance more masterfully than Amanda Palmer. She discusses how and why she does what she does with uncommon sincerity in her wide-ranging Design Matters interview about art, music, money, love, loneliness, grief, and trust; about the sometimes difficult, sometimes seemingly choiceless choices one must make in order to be an artist; about what motherhood and marriage taught her about the inevitability of imperfection; about the gyrating vulnerability inherent to every creative endeavor, whether its audience is a stranger on the sidewalk or ten thousand fans at a stadium.

Amanda Palmer and baby Ash at the Design Matters recording studio at the School of Visual Arts, New York, April 2016 (Photograph: Maria Popova)
Amanda Palmer and baby Ash at the Design Matters recording studio at the School of Visual Arts, New York, April 2016 (Photograph: Maria Popova)

Having listened both to every single interview in the eleven-year archive of Design Matters and to a great many interviews Amanda has done over the years (in addition to having conducted a few myself), I unambivalently consider this conversation an absolute pinnacle in both classes — 80 minutes of life-force to sustain you for years to come. Please enjoy.

We think that we’re all very connected, we think that we’re all very communicative. But when you actually strip it down, there’s a lot wrong. And the proof is in the pudding — you have a whole society of people who are depressed and insecure and anxious and paranoid and worried … and, fundamentally, feeling very unseen… Maybe we’ve constructed culture in a way that people are not feeling recognized, loved, accepted, happy with their place in society… What have we done to create such unhappiness?

What art does to and for us: Amanda Palmer performs "Bigger on the Inside" at the Design Matters recording studio as host Debbie Millman cries. (Photograph: Maria Popova)
What art does to and for us: Amanda Palmer performs “Bigger on the Inside” at the Design Matters recording studio as host Debbie Millman cries. (Photograph: Maria Popova)

Complement with Amanda on the art of asking, art as non-ownable nourishment, and her terrific BBC open letter on the choice to have a child as a working artist, and join me in supporting her art — because, after all, we can choose to prefer the absurdity of supporting artists over the absurdity of not supporting artists.

Revisit more of my favorite Design Matters episodes and be sure to subscribe to the show for a steady feed of enlivening conversations with creative people about how they became who they are.


Published April 12, 2016

https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/04/12/amanda-palmer-design-matters-poscast-interview/

BP

www.brainpickings.org

BP

PRINT ARTICLE

Filed Under

View Full Site

Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I get a small percentage of its price. That helps support Brain Pickings by offsetting a fraction of what it takes to maintain the site, and is very much appreciated