What does trivial mean?

Alex and I recently read an Etsy blog piece by Kate Gatski, entitled Tell Your Everyday Story on Your Blog, and we had an interesting discussion about what makes something ‘trivial’.

Her premise is that craftspeople live enviable lives and that worthwhile stories can be found in our everyday activities. She then goes on to suggest ways in which one can discover the stories in the things happening around you. This piece is both interesting and well-written and it has attracted a large body of comment, most of which has been positive, but there have been a significant number of strongly critical comments.

Cezanne still life

Cezanne still life – an excellent example of how the ordinary can become the extraordinary.

The gist of these criticisms is that Kate is encouraging makers to clog up the web with ever more pieces of trivia. They do indeed have a point – a considerable amount of content on the web does often seem lightweight and pointless (though of course the bits that one person finds pointless might not coincide with the bits that another person finds pointless!) The media too bombards us with the trivial and the pointless as poor substitutes for meaningful content. The gradual bleaching of true meaning and the growth of the trivial are of real concern to creative people because it goes against what art aims to do – bring a sense of meaning to a world that can seem empty and pointless.

Vermeer - The lacemaker

Vermeer – The lacemaker

Ultimately, however, the critics of Kate Gatski’s piece seem to be missing the point. She is not advocating that anyone should fill up their blog with a mindless record of everyday activities, she is asking craftspeople to search out significance in their own daily world and tell others about it. This is a valid creative enterprise with a very long tradition. Meaning, in stories or in life, should not be sought somewhere else, somewhere exotic, or somewhere over the horizon. The world you live in is the world in which you have to create your meaning. Sometimes we do find meaning in grand visions but other equally amazing and worthwhile things can be found all around us. We simply have to learn how to see them.

Chardin still life

Chardin still life

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8 thoughts on “What does trivial mean?

  1. Thank you for calling allention to Kate Gatski’s excellent blog.

    We all have interesting things to share about our lives, but the most interesting story can be trivialized if it is not told effectively. And some stories are just not worth sharing at all. If people are blogging about their lives, and their blogs are mindless and trivial, then it is the life that needs to be examined first… along with the egotistical idea that anyone, ANYone, is interested in the minutiae of their private and personal experience.

    Wai-Yuk, I have been following your blog since I stumbled across it. I am also a fiber artist, so it has a specialized interest for me, but I also find it interesting in a more general way, such as in to-day’s blog. Thank you for spending the time and energy to make it so. It demonstrates your own skills, as well as respect for your readers.

    “motley dragon”
    investmeinmymotley.wordpress.com

    • Thank you “motely dragon” for your kind words.
      We stumbled across Kate Gatski’s piece while pondering the direction and content of my own blog. I say we because in truth my husband Alex is the hidden partner in all that I post. Everything that ends up in the blog comes out of discussion (and sometimes argument!) between us.
      When I started this blog I was unsure just how much I had to say, or rather how much anyone else would be interested to hear. I just keep hoping that if something is interesting and exciting for me then it will be for readers.
      I spent time looking at your oh so interesting blog today. Then I spent more time following the great links you post. You have a new dedicated follower.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I am very grateful that you did. I did feel that the critical comments on my piece were very valid. However, I understand that creative people can be inclined to ”belittle” themselves. I feel strongly about supporting creative people in all stages of their endeavors. That was where I was coming from.

    I also believe that meaning is self-determined. This is the beauty of the web. You can find meaning wherever it suits you.

    I absolutely love what you wrote here… \”The world you live in is the world in which you have to create your meaning. Sometimes we do find meaning in grand visions but other equally amazing and worthwhile things can be found all around us. We simply have to learn how to see them.\” That is a beautiful thought.

    Thanks again for taking the time to put together such a thoughtful response – and starting a very worthwhile conversation. I really appreciate it.

  3. I love what you said about finding the significance in everyday life, and I really enjoyed what she said about telling your own story. I think women’s stories, especially, have often been silenced, and it’s important that we tell them in our own voices. I love that the internet gives us an easy venue for that. This is all really helpful as I consider where to go next with my own blog. Thank you!

  4. “Sometimes we do find meaning in grand visions but other equally amazing and worthwhile things can be found all around us. We simply have to learn how to see them”.

    “We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time”.
    T.S.Eliot

  5. Pingback: Tell Your Everyday Story, Or not? | Gatski Metal

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