Nick Cave shares his views on joy: “I choose to be an optimist through a kind of necessity”

Nick Cave has shared his views on joy, optimism and the state of the world.

The Bad Seeds singer was asked by fans via his blog The Red Hand Files, “What is joy? Where is it? Where is love in this world that is such an evil mess?” along with the question: “Are you an optimist?”

Answering the question yesterday (January 23), the musician began his response: “If we do not attend to the work of projecting delight upon the world, what are we actually doing?

Nick Cave
Nick Cave performs live in 2022. CREDIT: Don Arnold/WireImage

“If we do not look for joy, search for it, reach deep for it, what are we saying about the world? Are we saying that malevolence is the routine stuff of life, that oppression and corruption and degradation is the very matter of the world?

“That we greet each day with suspicion, bitterness and contempt? It seems to me that to make suffering the focus of our attention, to pay witness only to the malevolence of the world, is to be in service to the devil himself.”

The alternative rock icon then addressed if the world is “heading for disaster”, sharing: “I suppose so.”

He elaborated: “We are constantly, relentlessly, told as much. Am I hopeful for its future? Well, yes, I am.”

Cave continued that he chooses to be an optimistic “through a kind of necessity”, adding, “because from my experience pessimism is a corrosive and damaging position to take — one that casts its shadow over all things, causing a kind of societal sickness, a contaminant that ultimately amplifies and glorifies the problems it professes to abhor”.


The singer went on to explain that, for him, striving towards joy has become “a calling and a practise”.

“It is carried out with the full understanding of the terms of this hallowed and harrowed world.

“I pursue it with an awareness that joy exists both in the worst of the world and within the best, and that joy, flighty, jumpy, startling thing that it is, often finds its true voice within its opposite.

“Joy sings small, bright songs in the dark — these moments, so easily disregarded, so quickly dismissed, are the radiant points of light that pierce the gloom to give validation to the world. That’s how the light gets in, Leonard Cohen tells us, whilst casting his genius and delight forever among the cosmos.”

Susie Cave (left), Nick Cave (centre) and Earl Cave (right) pictured together in 2019
Susie Cave, Nick Cave and Earl Cave. CREDIT: Getty

He concluded by reassuring the fan, Maja, that “joy exists as a bright, insistent spasm of defiance within the darkness of the world”, urging them to “Seek it. It is there”.

Cave has spoken extensively about his experiences with grief, having lost his 15-year-old son Arthur after he tragically fell from a cliff in 2015, and his son Jethro Lazenby, aged 31, last year.

Last year, Cave opened up about how playing live was part of his grieving process, sharing that “the care from the audience saved me”.

In another recent instalment of The Red Hand Files, Cave described ChatGPT and AI songwriting “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”.

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