How do you define elegy in the dictionary? ”A short lyric poem, generally addressing a tender, melancholic or sad subject”. As an alternative, we can always write about tenderness, to avoid falling into descriptions of suffering and its laments.

Jean Renaud, Columnist

That’s what I sometimes say to myself while I take pleasure in deciphering musical works for classical guitar. Playing music without lyrics at least gives us the opportunity of remaining anonymous, unless the title is unequivocal such as Melancholy Gaillard, a musical piece dating back to the Renaissance, while a song, a poem or a literary work doesn’t give you the choice. In one of his songs, Léo Ferré said “Despair is a superior form of criticism. Lucidity stays under my hood” ; words which indeed don’t leave any choice. Other examples of artistic creations praising sadness, melancholy and suffering are legion throughout human history. One need only think more particularly of Madame Butterfly who seeks death, following this great tradition of opera musical creators who are in love with tragedy. More recently; on the show La voix, the coaches were wondering if it should be allowed to cut some verses from Brel’s song Ne me quitte pas (“Don’t leave me”). Eric Lapointe, who calls himself a champion of tormented souls, also in love with the teary songs full of gut churning emotions, spoke perhaps of sacrilege at the prospect of cutting out the passage “let me become the shadow of your dog”. Maitreya Rael has often warned those who unrestrictedly consume art in which, insidiously, beauty is perceived in the melancholy and sadness of the artistic creations which admittedly are often a mark of Genius. But genius is not necessarily synonymous with the art of being happy nor with the development of consciousness. During a show of La Grande Librairie (“The Great Library”) broadcast on TV5, François Busnel hosted Boris Cyrulnik who spoke of resilience in the case of several great French writers. Jean Genet dreamed of freedom in prison and exorcised his suffering by writing. Stendhal and Maupassant suffered from the absence of a father. The great Quebec poet Nelligan, who spent most of his life in a psychiatric asylum, led us into seductive lyricism: “Aw! how the snow has snowed! Such is the spasm of living. With the pain I have, that I have!”. Dan Bigras tells s, “You’ll kill me if you leave” in his song Tue-moi (“Kill me”). Piaf, who faints on stage while singing “peu m’importe, si tu m’aimes, je me fous du monde entier” (“what do I care, if you love me, I don’t give a damn about the world”).

Examples abound. Far be it from me to deny the benefits of resilience in artistic creation, which precisely allows to exorcise one’s suffering, but this is certainly not the way art will allow those who consume it to enjoy life and be happier.

For thousands of years, man has been transmitting in this way, from generation to generation, a kind of conditioning, which through time became loaded with superstitions and fears”  (Rael, Sensual meditation, page 58)

And fears!! It can’t be any clearer. This type of conditioning is highly attributable to the artists who traveled our world through the centuries. Most of the time, the creation of art was through suffering and misery, such poor primitives that we are. Fortunately, thanks to the messages given by our creators, we can glimpse the beauty of art stripped of its anxieties and fears.

Jean Renaud
Canadian Raelian Movement, Columnist