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