Australian singer and songwriter Nick Cave has been utilising his extra downtime during the pandemic to answer questions from fans on his Red Hand Files website, discussing everything from suffering writer’s block to his favourite books.
The latest entry responded to a fan question asking the musician about his thoughts on the concept of ‘cancel culture’, something which Cave believes “hampers the creative spirit of a society and strikes at the complex and diverse nature of its culture.”
“Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world,” the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds frontman began in his reply.
“Its once honourable attempt to reimagine our society in a more equitable way now embodies all the worst aspects that religion has to offer (and none of the beauty) — moral certainty and self-righteousness shorn even of the capacity for redemption,” he continued, adding, “It has become quite literally, bad religion run amuck.”
Cave went on to explain that cancel culture’s “refusal to engage with uncomfortable ideas has an asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society.”
“Compassion is the primary experience — the heart event — out of which emerges the genius and generosity of the imagination. Creativity is an act of love that can knock up against our most foundational beliefs, and in doing so brings forth fresh ways of seeing the world.
“This is both the function and glory of art and ideas. A force that finds its meaning in the cancellation of these difficult ideas hampers the creative spirit of a society and strikes at the complex and diverse nature of its culture.”
As a concluding thought, he admitted that while we are a “culture in transition,” it could come at the cost of creative freedom.
“But this is where we are. We are a culture in transition, and it may be that we are heading toward a more equal society — I don’t know — but what essential values will we forfeit in the process?”