• SETHICS 02.07.2018

    Once again, I call upon Oscar Wilde to set the scene.

    “The artist,” says he, “is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.”

    I wonder what Wilde would have thought of our society’s current preference for the opposite. As our 2018 moral consensus runs, if a person is accused of a crime or witnessed saying something deemed offensive by the Twitter intelligentsia, then we accuse the offender’s art of guilt by association, and erase their work from further consideration.

    I do not mean to suggest that such a moral argument is ridiculous; I can understand the impulse to exile the work of bad people to avoid the perception that we approve of their bad behaviours.

    Nevertheless, I contend that the separation of art from the bad deeds of its engineers is essential to an enlightened society. Just as we would not tear down great works of architecture due to the personal failings of architects, we must let art stand for itself.

    Perhaps I am wrong about this, but what scares me is how easily our society has given into the dogmatic puritans who insist that good people do not enjoy the artistic output of bad people.

    Thus, I offer the following sprinkle of resistance to the storm via my affiliate Seth at SethFM.

     

    Posted by SethBlog @ 2:40 PM

  • 8 Responses

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    • Janice Fiamengo Says:

      This needs to be said as forcefully and frequently as possible. Thank you for saying it, Seth!

    • Anita Says:

      Dear Writer,
      While I understand your premise that good art is often rejected because of the character and actions of its creator, I would like to suggest that this is very often not the case.

      Sadly, I believe, many of the worst in society; murders, pedophiles, psychopaths and the like seem to gain notoriety and fame from their negative deeds and damaged characters. The amount of fan mail for famous murders in prison is one example. Another is the huge success of books and films about an offender and his or her deeds. The more gruesome the crime, the more the notoriety.

      I believe that, should an artist create quality art, that art should be judged on its merit, and not on the character of the artist. However, if the “artist’s” only claim to fame is immoral actions, then fame should be denied.

    • Tom Durrie Says:

      Seth,

      This was great, and what a good idea to have a YouTube broadcast. Though I was unable to understand the audio clips from “Q” (due either to failing hearing or poor audio quality) I don’t think I missed much. I do all I can to avoid hearing the program anyway. At 10:00 a.m. my radio goes off. I can’t abide Mr. Power and his breathless panting interviews into the “creative processes” of so-called artists who can barely put two words together. As for the Roseanne Barr incident, it was of little interest to me since i don’t even know who she is–or rather “was”.

      Though condemning anyone because of some off-hand comment or social gaffe is objectionable and worrisome. If we start condemning artists because of social or sexual indiscretions, we can say goodbye to Shakespeare, Richard Wagner, Claude Debussy, Franz Schubert, Thomas Mann, Ernest Hemingway,Benjamin Britten, W.H. Auden, and, of course, Oscar Wilde.The list goes on.
      However, looking on the positive side, these public denouncements, especially the sexual ones, provide a Tsk Tsk Tsk titillation to an otherwise bored, repressed, and anaethetised society.

      Hearing, this morning, or was it in the middle of the night, of the revelation of some long-past incident involving the Prime Minister, I was reminded of the great song from The Mikado:

      “Our great Mikado virtuous man,
      “When he to rule our land began,
      “Resolved to try
      “A plan whereby
      “Young men might best be steadied.
      “So he decreed, in words succinct,
      “That all who flirted, leered or winked
      “(Unless connubially linked),
      “Should forthwith be beheaded.

      “This stern decree, you’ll understand,
      “Caused great dismay throughout the land!
      “For young and old
      “And shy and bold
      “Were equally affected.
      “The youth who winked a roving eye,
      “Or breathed a non-connubial sigh,
      “Was thereupon condemned to die–
      “He usually objected.”

      The rest of the opera, as you know, is concerned with how the officials of Titipu manage this problem. But, what am I saying?, The Mikado should obviously be banned because it could be seen as a racist slur making fun of the Japanese. Shame on you, W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan!

      Tom

    • SethBlog Says:

      Thanks Janice! In lieu of forcefulness (not my natural aptitude), I will attempt to be frequent in countering the currently assumed truth that art must be judged by the follies of its artists.

    • SethBlog Says:

      Thank you, Anita.

      That’s an interesting distinction. I understand that infamy may be a draw for mass murderers, and so I think it would be worth looking into whether it would be effective (and feasible) to restrict the publication of the names of such criminals, so as to reduce the incentive for such evil deeds.

    • Tarrin Says:

      This might be off-topic, sorry.

      I like the idea of concealing the artist, and freeing the art to stand on it’s own merits.

      I’ve always shied away from signing paintings because I found it a little ostentatious, but now I feel more secure in this aversion.

    • SethBlog Says:

      Thank you, Tom for that entertaining (and musical) read. Sorry about the sound issue on the video (sound quality has been my nemesis throughout my first youtube upload process). I intend to learn from my mistakes next time. In the meantime, I have re-uploaded the video with better sound from the CBCers.

      Your critique of “breathless” Tom Power rings true to my irritation. I think he is probably more interesting than he lets on (or, at least, when he speaks with another musician, I find him suddenly capable of demonstrating a smidge of nuance and humour), but I think his need to always have the progressively correct perspective causes him to seem vapid the rest of the time.

      Thank you for the list of canonized artistic stars who could be exiled from consideration along with Roseanne if the puritanical correctness isn’t countered.

      And your quoting of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado as a demonstration of the problem with such over-moralizing, while you simultaneously accuse their satirical production of failing morality brought a grin to my face. 🙂

    • SethBlog Says:

      Thanks Tarrin. An excellent retroactive justification for your artistic shyness. Somehow, I think our friend Oscar Wilde—who, upon arriving in America, had “nothing to declare except his genius”—did not intend for the artist to lose all credit for their art. 😉

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