Every artist at some point had to decide that they didn’t have to justify themselves to the people around them.
Fantastic interview with the wise and wonderful Cheryl Strayed, a.k.a. Dear Sugar, whose Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar is one of the most moving and heartening things you’ll ever read.
Complement with other timeless definitions of art and the artist.
The earliest advice column appeared in the Athenian Mercury in 1691. Most of questions concerned comportment (could a unmarried couple live together?) or trivial queries (“Why a Horse with round Fundament emits a square Excrement?”). In 1693, the Mercury launched a sister paper, the Ladies Mercury, which included an advice column called “Love Etc,” which was advertised as a forum where women could ask relationship questions and receive answers that respected “the Zeal and Softness becoming to the Sex.” The columnist’s tone was arch, knowing, and chatty. The implication was that women hadn’t much to fret about—etiquette, hostessing—and that none of their questions would be ill fitted for a public forum.
A precursor to Dear Sugar was Elizabeth M. Gilmer, who took mild-mannered questions from her female readers and churned out thorough and philosophical responses. Between 1896 and 1950, Gilmer wrote a widely read column for the Times Picayune and The New York Journal under the penname Dorothy Dix. Gilmer was a theatre critic, crime reporter, and fiction writer before she became an advice-giver. Her columns, sometimes known as “sermonettes,” would be classified today as pop psychology