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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Should Art be Separated From Artist?

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite musicians tweeted about something rather politically inflammatory. It so ground my gears and I was so disillusioned, I wondered if I'd ever be able to enjoy his music again. But then I calmed down. Reason (somewhat) returned. And I let it pass. That episode got me thinking, though, about a question I daresay every person who loves music, movies, and especially books, must've considered at some point. What if you learn something about an artist you find objectionable, but you love the art? Does that influence how you evaluate his/her art? Thus, is it truly possible to separate a work of art from the artist who created it?

There are really two parts to these questions: 1) To what degree should a writer's lifestyle, politics or general disposition affect how you read and evaluate his/her work, if at all? 2) To what degree do autobiographical details show up in a work? In other words, at its most simplistic, are character/event/setting based on a writer's own life?

To me, the more interesting question, and the one that readers really should put some thought into, is the first one. The second one is interesting, but doesn't matter quite as much (in most cases). That's because every piece of fiction necessarily contains some aspect of the writer. What, exactly, and how much is true shouldn't matter strictly in terms of evaluating a work objectively. Those details will only matter in terms of taste towards subject — you won't read Philip Roth if you don't like stories about Jewish kids growing up in mid-20th century Newark, for instance.

So, what would it be about a writer's personal life that would cause you not to be able to separate a writer from his/her fiction? Would it be something about his/her personal life? As everyone knows, Ernest Hemingway was a unapologetic drunk married four times who offed himself with a shotgun. Not exactly a moral stalwart. Yet every high school kids reads at least The Old Man in the Sea, and he's generally regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. There's no question that bad, even morally reprehensible, people can create good art, but where is the line? IS there a line? If a modern writer is convicted of pedophilia, would we stop reading him? Seems like a no-brainer, but people still seem to love Roman Polanski's and Woody Allen's films, right?

How about politics or religion? Would learning that a writer was across the aisle influence whether or not you'd pick up his/her fiction? I'm not talking about novels by political figures with clear political agendas, like, let's say Glenn Beck's The Overton Window or California Senator Barbara Boxer's series of thrillers. How about if you're an evangelical Christian and you just learned that Vladimir Nabokov was an atheist? Is Lolita off limits forever? What if your favorite writer converts to Scientology? Is that a deal-breaker?

And what if the novelist is a celebrity? Doesn't that carry some pretty strong preconceived notions about how good the fiction will be? Let's be honest, Snooki probably hasn't committed Word One of her novel to paper yet, and we're already positive it's the worst novel of the last quarter-century. In that case, I'm sure we're right, as we are with Pamela Anderson, Lauren Conrad and Tyra Banks. But James Franco's book of short stories seems to have gotten an unfair number of poor reviews simply because no one believes a movie star can write. Doesn't celebrity — or even success in another field  — automatically notch down a novel in our minds before we even pick it up?

What if your issue with the person is tame and unimportant? You went to a reading, and the guy cussed too much or was wearing stupid-looking red sweater? Or, on the other side of the coin, what if there was something unimportant about a novelist that actually influenced you more to pick up her book? I've done this before — I'll readily admit that, on more than one occasion, I've picked up a book by a female novelist who is smokin' hot. Silly, right? But I guarantee you every reader has done something similar.

So what's my take? Easy. Art should always be evaluated separately from feelings regarding details of an artist's life. To most academics, I think, this is a no-brainer. But that doesn't mean it's easy. Feelings about a writer flit unbidden into the subconscious while reading, and we may not even know how those thoughts are influencing our ability to diagnose a work. Even Mein Kempf has literary merit, but is it possible for most people to read it objectively? Probably not. 

It seems like the inability to separate art from artist is something that has become more common recently. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it has something to do with our celebrity-soaked culture where we want to know everything about everyone's private life. Maybe it's because the Internet has made that easy. Maybe it's because we're getting more shallow and less serious. Whatever the reason, the implications are scary. Let's reverse it. Let's be smart. From now on, let's endeavor only to evaluate literature on its merits, not what color a writer's sweater is. Deal? Terrific.

Of course, I can't wait to hear what you think. Do certain personal details about writers influence how or whether you'll read them, whether consciously or not? Which? Do you think they should?

40 comments:

  1. I think it's unrealistic to expect most people to separate an author/artist from their art. Honestly, I don't do it myself- and I don't think that's necessarily wrong.

    At the end of the day, an author is just another person struggling to answer life's questions, just like the rest of us. They may be better at stringing together words, but that doesn't mean I'm going to automatically allow any old person to speak into my life through those words. If I find out an author is a pedophile, for example, I probably will stop reading him/her, or won't even start. You may spin a good yarn, but ultimately- do I want your life point of view ingrained in my brain? Nope. Sorry.

    That said, I don't go reading autobiographies before I read a book. I'm not out looking for something icky about people. But if I find out something that bugs me enough, I don't put authors or artists on any sort of pedestal. Out of the house they go.

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  2. I would have to respectfully disagree 100%. You can't separate the two when it comes to your buying dollar.

    For example, if you publicly tweet that gay people should go kill themselves, yeah I am never going to buy another one of your songs again. You will profit from me buying your songs and I do not want to support you.

    Or if you go on Anti-Semitic tangents or abuse women, I will not see your movies. Again, I do not want any of my money going to someone like this.

    I would never boycott someone for something small, but if they do or say something that I absolutely do not agree with and I think is despicable, I cannot support their art if it means they will profit from it.

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  3. I am far more likely to allow personal details to influence how I read a certain author's work rather than whether I read it. My opinions about the author's opinions determine how large a grain of salt I take with the book. For a general example, with any politically radical author (left, right, or otherwise) I am far more likely to scoff at what I read than to make it a part of my own ideology.

    That said, if I found out that an author was, say, using their royalties to make babyhide briefcases, I would probably refuse to throw my money in.

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  4. Oh, and about your favorite musician--some people's opinions on some topics just don't matter. ("They're like a cow's opinion. They're moo.") I think that is a case where you could and should successfully ignore that musician's political idiocies and continue to enjoy the music. Now that you've calmed down, of course.

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  5. @Jane - But there's a big difference between putting an artist on a pedestal (which is another form of connecting art and artist) and simply evaluating art in a vacuum. If an author is a pedophile, that doesn't mean he's less of a good writer. Yes, he's definitely less good PERSON, and you can choose not to read him for that reason, naturally - but that shouldn't impugn the intrinsic quality of a book he may have written about something unrelated.

    @Caitie - HUGE difference between agreeing to give money to a racist or homophobic and simply evaluating his/her book. Bad people CAN create good art. Again, you may not choose to support them (Heck, I wouldn't either), but that shouldn't change your objective opinion about the book itself. If my accountant is a genius, and can manage my finances like a champ, but I find out he's a pedophile, OF COURSE I'm going to fire him. But that doesn't mean he stops being an accounting genius.

    @Kathy - Yeah, I'd agree - but again, there's a difference between supporting an author you disagree with and evaluating that book. But I tend to let details influence how I read, too, not whether. I try not to, but it's impossible not to.

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  6. What a great topic. Thanks, Greg.

    I think a reader is short changing both herself and the author if she doesn't at least consider the context in which a work was written, including the life of the author. The Old Man and the Sea is a perfect example--it's a great tale without any context whatsoever, but it's so much better when viewed as an allegory for, and in the context of, Hemingway's bitter relationship with his critics. That's just my opinion, of course.

    I think the trick lies in not condemning the author for the individual choices that he may have made--especially those choices that we simply do not agree with. If you condemned every cheating alcoholic author, I think your shelves would be thinly-populated, to say the least. There are limits, of course, as with Hitler and Mein Kampf--certainly not every act can escape condemnation.

    In the end, I vote for understanding of the author without condemnation, if that is at all possible, for maximum appreciation of the art itself.

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  7. This topic comes up now and again, and I am drawn into it every time. My kids go to a Catholic school, so we get alot of fervor about books and movies that are written by atheists. Which drives me nuts. I entered into a yenta-ish discussion once and said "does this mean I have to return all of my Marilyn Manson and Metallica CDs???". They just looked at me like I had three heads. If I am entertained, I don't really care what they do in their private life. Except for pedophilia I think. Then you mentioned Woody and Polanski, and I go "hmmmm". In my mind, Polanski is brilliant, and I do watch his movies. So I guess I don't know. It depends on the perceived level of creepiness maybe.

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  8. This is a sticky wicket for many pop culture fans,including myself-on one hand,I think that Woody Allen's movies were heading into a major slump even before the whole Soon-Yi business(and I'm Team Mia there),so giving up his films wasn't too much of a hardship.

    On the other,Charles Dickens is one of top classic authors in literary history and his history with women(especially his poor wife,who had to watch her husband mourn the death of her younger sister for years but had another one of her sisters keep house for Dickens after he threw her out!)is horrible,to say the least.

    Yet,I can get over Dickens' faults easily enough,partly due to the long amount of time in which that happened between then and now. Time allows you to gain perspective on an artist's body of work and how much of their personal experience influenced their creativity.

    Ultimately,you have to set your own standards on what you will accept from or by entertainers and a good way to do that is by being selective about how much you want to know about them,particularly present day ones. Twitter has it's values,I'm sure,but it also holds open the door for stupidity extra wide for everyone.

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  9. If the work itself is strong enough I can separate out my personal dislike of the artist from their work. I can acknowledge that horrible people can make great art. But if the person's personal beliefs over shadow their work I won't be able to appreciate it.

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  10. Haha, I love lady t's comment about Twitter holding the door wide open for stupidity!!

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  11. Wow, what a great topic for discussion. I think that ideally good literature should be able to stand apart from its author. I don't think it is fair to evaluate a work of literature based on the author's life. That takes away all credit from the author and basically says "my opinion of you overrides your ability to seperate your work from your personal life."

    Then again, I think its quite a natural thing that we humans do, so I also don't think it's fair to expect everyone to let literature always speak for itself. My solutions is this: I find that once I study a book in depth I'm better able to separate it from my own personal opinions or impressions of the author. So here's to studying.

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  12. This is such a great topic for conversation. It's something I've thought about before. Like you mentioned, putting aside the theme/plot/etc of the book and looking just at the author's life, I can definitely get past religious and political differences. If I only read books by politically conservative Christians, it would seriously limit my options, right?

    But I will also say that I don't think we can completely separate art from morality, particularly while the author is still living (and profiting) from books sales. As Red said, there is a difference for me between financially supporting someone like Roman Polanski, no matter how amazing his art, and buying Dickens. Dickens is not currently profitting from my appreciation of his books. Just having a different religious or political opinion isn't reason enough to keep me from buying a book, but knowing that my money is supporting a criminal or moral reprobate is (IE: don't expect to find OJ's book on my shelf).

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    1. I love Woody Allen's art. But even if I didn't, I'd have to give up my cable completely in order to boycott his films. Does anyone do that?

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  13. For the most part I am able to separate the two. If someone has a different belief than me it won't stop me from reading their books (unless they're too preachy). But there was a blogger a little while back who brought up this topic re: a children's author who was supposedly a child sex offender (don't know if it was only alleged or convicted). THAT would be a completely off limits thing for me but it would only be few situations like those where I would not read the author's work.

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  14. I will read anything written by pretty much anybody. However, if I notice they're pushing their religion through the storyline; I plainly lose interest. I slows it down and makes it looks like they're trying to sell something to me. A good example of this is Stephenie Meyer's books. She's a Mormon and it shows through the storyline. I tried to ignore it; but it was too strongly written in.
    A writer who doesn't put forth their beliefs is Stephen King. He writes to scares the crap outa you and he doesn't care who doesn't like it, he just loves to scare people. SK doesn't push any of his beliefs onto anyone - political or religious - and yet he tell a brilliant story.
    Adding in your own life experiences is something that just happens in a book; you can't help that. It's a little of the you that goes into a book, a poem, story, a novella. It's the essence that is left over by you; the style the bit that is essentially you, added on into the story. But to push your own beliefs into the text is something I just don't do; unless my characters are meant to be that way.

    Of course it's all a matter of taste. If you like the Christian writers, by all means read them. But if you don't, well, don't. I personally feel it's not a fair deal to push religion onto an unsuspecting public if you're trying to tell a good story. Keep it out and tell us the story.

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  15. I nominally agree with Greg that the art should be appreciated apart from the artist. However, it's a bit of a catch-22. Knowing about the artist can help one better appreciate an artistic work. However, it also opens the door to personal emotions of distaste, even disgust, which then hinder appreciation.

    Mao Zedong was a fairly accomplished poet. Without knowing anything of his background and the role he played in twentieth-century China, one could easily read his poems and be impressed by the pretty words. Aesthetically, they're well done. However, knowing of the political and social context in which they were written provides a deeper understanding and, depending on one's political bent, a greater admiration or a deeper sense of disgust for the particular poem.

    I'm not certain that it's enough to simply take a work of art at face value and try to divorce it from its creator. This is why volumes and volumes of literary criticism evaluation focus on author's lives and social contexts.

    At the same time, reading too deep into these things has a tendency to suck all the fun out of a particular work. I love Moby Dick for the adventure story that it is - all the mumbo jumbo about 19th Century Gothicism and Melville's lack of respect for fiction is entirely unnecessary to the enjoyment of the story. And that's what most readers are looking to do - enjoy the story.

    For those interested in some further reading on this issue, there's a good essay here (http://incharacter.org/review/good-writers-bad-men-does-it-matter/) that explores the issue and how it relates to V.S. Naipaul.

    Great discussion.

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  16. I agree completely agree with this article - it is possible for the reader to separate the art and the artist, as long as the author doesn't (explicitly) include whatever the 'controversy du jour' is into their book.

    For example, I'd be completely turned off reading Lolita if it was written by a pedophile. If, however, a pedophile wrote Rebecca, then it wouldn't be too big of a deal. Besides, I don't read up about an author until I've read their work.

    We don't have to condemn some suicidal alcoholic to not being able to fund his/her drinking habit (shock, horror!). Because, honestly, I couldn't care less - it's their life. I'm just there to read books...

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  17. I disagree. I refuse to fund something I don't believe in.

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  18. Great post and I do totally agree.

    It might have something to do with celebrity culture. Add today's obsession with psychology. There is so much emphasis on the life of artists, their youth, traumas, upbringing, unhealthy habits, obsessions, divorces or any mental disorder. The public judges like being experts because Dr. Phil said so?

    The issue came up in my book club when reading Louis-Ferdinand Céline's "Journey to the End of the Night".
    Ofcourse this novel is regarded as a one of literature's greatest classic. Yet he is a controversial writer due to his anti-Semitic opinions. But this biographical information shouldn't have any influence on reading the work, because it isn't anti-Semitic.

    I think it is the best thing to do. Value the work on its own merits and quality, not the person who created it.

    Following your blog for some weeks now, and I quite enjoy reading it, thank you.

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  19. Can I add that it is just impossible to know all the wacky, secret or alleged details about any artist (other than let's say Michael Jackson).

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  20. If I had to articulate my opposition to an individual like James Franco wading into the waters of literary fiction, I think I would have to say, fairly or unfairly, the resentment of his stories has more to do with a feeling of a.) his getting published (writing chops aside) is a direct result of his celebrity. (In other words, publishers know he's a salable product, just for name recognition alone). And b.) Combine that with how hard it is for unknowns to get published and, what's more, admitted to MFAs such as the prestigious Columbia University's and this backlash is certainly understandable, whether fair or unfair.

    I personally am of the belief that fiction writing and movie making are more or less mutually exclusive. Yes, authors occasionally adapt their works to screenplay and actors / directors / screen writers (the latter especially) sometimes write novels, but has there ever been anyone truly transcendent? That is, truly and fluidly able to move fluidly between these two artistic mediums? Perhaps Michael Chabon? Perhaps?

    Focus is key, I think. Spread yourself out too much and you lose quality for quantity.

    (Sorry to glom on to one part of your quite interesting and expansive analysis of a very worthwhile topic, indeed.)

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  21. @Patrick - I couldn't agree more that the reader should at least consider the context - that's sort of what I was trying to get at with the second question, a HUGE topic that couldn't be covered in a single post. (Really, trying to cover the first one is stretching it - as evidenced by the fact that so many people are misunderstanding and assuming "supporting" a writer means evaluating his work). Understanding the author without condemnation is a great way to think about this topic! Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    @Sandy - Ha! I bet the mere mention of Marilyn Manson sends them screaming for the sacristy. But it's a point well-made.

    @lady T - I guess the time between transgression is one way to justify reading (or buying) those authors. And it's certainly true that you need to set your own standards. I'm not telling anyone what to do. But I do think setting particular standards can severely limit what people read - and that's what I think is dangerous. Slippery slope, etc. And yes, twitter as an open door for stupidity made me laugh, too.

    @Red - You're absolutely right - when a person's beliefs become explicitly a part of their art, like Glenn Beck's right-wingism, then it's okay to include that in the evaluation process (and decision on whether to read).

    @Kathy - Me too! Laughed out loud.

    @IngridLola - That's a great way to put it - considering that my opinion of author's life is more important than the work. Said that way, it's clear how egotistical NOT separating art from artist is. And, yes, here's to studying - and hence understanding - and NOT making knee-jerk reactions to art!

    @Julie - But the point isn't whether the author is profiting, or what sort of behavior you're supporting or not supporting by buying his work. The point is just evaluating that art empirically. I don't think many people (except those who still go see Polaski's and Allen's films) that they wouldn't buy books written by pedophiles.

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  22. @Jenny - Something that disgusting and hypocritical is definitely at the extreme end of trying best to be able to separate art from artist, and failing. For every rule (or philosophical belief like this) there has to be an exception, right?

    @Mozette - Yeah, pushing your beliefs into your text may be fine, but then you have to understand that your work will be evaluated in that context. And then, it's a matter of taste, like my Philip Roth example, or your Stephenie Meyer one. Though, I'm very curious: Can you explain how Mormonism is part of Twilight? I don't doubt you, I'm just very intrigued (I've never read them or seen the movies).

    @Pete - Thanks for the nominal agreement. ;) And the catch-22/double-edge-sword idea of knowing about an artist's life is why I tried to split the idea into two questions and only tackle the first. But there's so much overlap, and as you point out, an entire discipline of literary criticism dedicated to looking at both questions simultaneously, that separating an author's lifestyle/beliefs/etc. from how he includes that in his work may really be an exercise in futility. And thanks for the link - gonna post that on Monday as part of my literary links.

    @thefriande - Yeah! Read their books - do not pass judgment!!! Thanks for the great comment!

    @Emma - You totally missed the point.

    @superheidi - "Value the work on its own merits and quality, not the person who created it." Very well said! Wish I could've put it so clearly. (Thanks for reading!) And you're right, you'll never know every secret. People are weird. ;)

    @Matt - Yeah, I understand the frustration about Franco getting published, but that frustration is a lot less (b/c he actually seems to care about being a good writer - whether or not he actually is, I don't know) than the frustration when Lauren Conrad, etc. get published based solely on their names. I'd say Richard Russo may be an example, too - Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls, and wrote the screenplay for the TERRIFIC HBO adaptation of his own novel. But as far as actors who have written successful fiction, I can't think of any...

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  23. A brilliant, thought-provoking post, Greg -- and thanks for getting this discussion going! This very topic was on my mind just yesterday after reading a blog post in the Guardian (link below): one of my favorite filmmakers, Werner Herzog, is an insanely talented (and some say just insane) visionary whose films are often both poetic and maniacal, thoughtful and aggravating, hopeful and depressing -- but always have something important to say.

    Yet, Mr. Herzog's animal rights record, an issue that I am passionate about, is less than stellar. And seeing how some animals are treated within his films (mostly made outside the traditional Hollywood studio system, thereby avoiding the "no animals were harmed in the making of this picture" stamp), does sometimes make it hard to separate the artist from the art. For instance, is the symbolic image of a bloodied, thrashing alligator necessary for his "Bad Lieutenant" film to work? I would say no. But, I do think it is a worthwhile endeavor to try to consider his work on its own merits, despite my disagreement with some of his beliefs and methods -- which, as many other commenters have said above, is not necessarily an easy thing to do...

    (here is yesterday's blog post from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2010/oct/21/werner-herzog-film-performance-art)

    Anyway, again, thanks for prompting this discussion Greg!

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  24. I think in the "ideal observer", with the highest intelligence and education, moral judgements of the artist would not affect their opinion of a particular piece of work. Personally, I'm not going to judge a work based on the behavior of the artist. Not matter how evil, monstrous or morally reprehensible their behavior is... because in the end, they are human. Anything a human does is not outside the scope of human capabilities. If a human did it, it's human. And we're all in this together.
    -MF

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  25. Celebrities choose whether or not they want us to know how stupid / smart they are. They wanted to be famous and that comes with a lot of responsibility as well as some backlash. Whether that backlash is deserved or not is a different story.

    -MF - I disagree. It's one thing not to agree with some politically or morally but I refuse, for example, to buy any product associated with a child molester, for example.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

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  26. I am of the opinion that existence is one big grey area and there are no absolutes. That's the only thing that makes sense to me.

    Child molestation is morally reprehensible and sad, but it happens. All human life is worth the same regardless of behavior, in my opinion. Do I want these people out on the streets? No, that's why there are laws about such things. But I think what Greg is talking about here transcends any societal or moral mores, in my opinion.
    -MF

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  27. @Man, MF - If I may intercede, neither MF nor I were talking about buying products associated with a child molester. My whole point is that bad, morally reprehensible people can create good art. You don't have to buy it if you don't want to. But that doesn't mean it's inherently bad. That's all I'm talking about.

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  28. This is a really interesting post. The questions you raise are extremely relevant today. I'm thinking it has something to do with our celebrity obsessed culture and our need to know everything about everyone around us. I've got to say I agree with you - we need to look less at the artist when evaluating their work.

    I also agree with thefriande. Her example of Lolita and a pedophile is perfect.

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  29. What a great post!

    I agree with Kathy - I would be reading the book differently. My opinions of the author may cause me to read with a very critical eye.

    I totally agree that there are people out there with whom I do not agree with morally but can create beautiful words.

    Also - I linked this as part of my Friday Five!

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  30. Great post--very thought-provoking!

    Personally, I think it virtually impossible to separate the artist from the art. There are certain authors that I won't touch because of their politics, or other issues that I vehemently disagree with. Probably a little short-sighted on my part, but it is what it is. Having said that though, fundamentally I do think we should be able to separate the two; it is simply very difficult though.

    I guess what I'm saying is that even if Sarah Palin was found to write truly sublime poetry, I'm not sure I could bring myself to line the litter box with it. ;-)

    Wonderful topic to ponder though. Cheers! Chris

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  31. Greg, I agree that bad, morally reprehensible people can create good art. I can certainly seperate between the artist's personal life and their art but at some point it is no longer possible.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

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  32. Man of la Books has it all in a nutshell. That morally reprehensible people can create great art is demonstrably true. Many have. In fact, many people have suggested that most great art is created by people who tend to be morally questionable at least.

    And I'll agree with you that the art should be judged as art without the morality of its creator coeing into play. (I didn't find my artist quality in the few pages of Mein Kampf I managed to get through, myself.)

    I just don't think it's possible to completely divorace art from artist with contemporary artists. Roman Polanski is a good example, here. He continues to make excellent movies, but it takes an effort to view them without feeling a little uneasy. To discuss them afterwards and never mention his possible guilt can only be done if the confersation is very, very short. Once a work has withstood the test of time, it becomes easier to do this.

    However, when it comes down to who gets even a small part of my limited book-buying budget, that's another matter. As you've already mentioned. No matter how good Orson Scott Card's books are, no matter how much I might enjoy his stories, I won't give a dime to a man as viciously bigoted as he is.

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  33. I also wanted to add that it is universally known that many artists put some of themselves in their art.
    If that's true then one could argue divorcing the artist from the art is not only impossible, but does a disservice to both.

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

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  34. @CB - I'd disagree that merely knowing something terrible about an artist precludes you from judging their work fairly. In the case of Polanski (and Woody Allen, which people seem to forget), yeah, people mention his transgression, but almost more as a "fun fact" - it doesn't spill over into their appreciation of his films. Hell, half of Hollywood weren't all that uneasy, they even wanted to forget that he'd done anything wrong at all, and were advocating to "Free Roman."

    @Man - As I said in the post, though, it doesn't matter how much of an artist is in the art for this discussion because that's more a part of the second question than the first. That is, unless it's like Glenn Beck pushing his right wing agenda in his fiction, etc. Strictly speaking here about an artist's life, divorcing the two is not only very possible, it's also a disservice both to the reader and to the artist NOT to.

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  35. @C.B. James
    "In fact, many people have suggested that most great art is created by people who tend to be morally questionable at least."

    I think that is quite an insulting statement to make.
    These "many people" tend to easily name artists that are basket casses to prove their lazy opinion.
    Yet, they never seem to be bothered by the many great artists that are just as plain or special as any other person.
    Or tend to forget about the many "morally questionable" persons that don't make art.

    Artists are just people, you will find as many ordinairy or crazy examples among artists, as you are likely to count among the staff of any given office, hospital or bank.

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  36. Orson Scott Card is my perennial example of a writer I don't want to support financially, although I read everything he writes (from the library, now). This came up for the first time I'm aware of a couple of years ago in a post much like this one at Maw Books Blog, and since then I've used Card as an example of a good writer who uses his money (and yours, if you give him any) to support causes I think are bad.

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  37. Hi, Greg.

    Enjoy your weblog & found this topic especially interesting. With the Jean-Luc Godard news, the Times joins the fray.  I'm not sure there's a single approach to the issue, case by case makes more sense.

    I would also distinguish between a work and a work of art and ideally, might try the latter, though in truth, I really like stuff by people I like, even though Proust wrote Contre Sainte-Beuve specifically to say that the artist's work must always be seen separately from
    the artist's life.

    Renee (mimages.net)

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  38. Great reviews. This is a particularly interesting topic.

    http://youngthings1.blogspot.com/

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  39. For another viewpoint, read this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/27/the-woody-allen-allegations-not-so-fast.html

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