Angels with Dirty Faces
A friend of mine posted a challenging question on Facebook recently. “How do we deal with artists who make great art, literature, and movies but who are morally repugnant?”
The post attracted a lot of attention; there were eighty-three comments below it. Here is my response:
What can we do about creative people who have done harm? Is it wrong to admire the artistic accomplishments of someone whose ethics and behavior we know to be flawed?
I don’t think so, if -
These, I believe, are the greatest gifts we receive when we study the life stories of creative people. We become more complete people. We walk about the world expanded and strengthened by their artistic accomplishments, the mistakes they made and how they dealt with them.
If, through the brilliance and the weaknesses of these creative, often anquished souls, we can learn to atone for our unkind acts and regain our self-respect, then their sins may find a sort of in abstentia forgiveness, for we are made better in having known and understood them.
Talented people are a reflection of our best and worst selves; we can be grateful that they have been a part of our lives.
We are too complicated for our own good. We are hurt too easily. We hurt others deeply and far too often. Awareness of our weaknesses is hard for most of us. We see ourselves as better than we often are. We rationalize our mistakes and forgive ourselves easily.
Matthew told us, “Judge not, lest ye be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I think Matthew knew whereof he spoke; he was a tax collector before he became a preacher, and in those days tax collectors were a surly, brutal lot.
By contrast, Ayn Rand told us that we have a moral responsibility to judge others, loudly and publicly. She felt she was morally superior to other adulteresses because she told her husband that she was going to begin spending time with a younger man before she began her affair. This from the woman who called her philosophy “Objectivism,” founded on a ruthless commitment to all things rational and impartial. I doubt her young man’s wife thought much of Rand’s rational ethics.
Yet Rand wrote brilliantly and inspired thousands to their best efforts and greatest achievements. Because she exhibited some all-too-human failures of character, should we dismiss her remarkable work and creativity? I don’t think so.
In the meantime, I’ll try to keep a sense of balance when I think about creative people – and myself. I have a lot to learn from them, and the lessons continue every day.
More information: DVD: The Passion of Ayn Rand Book: The Passion of Ayn Rand
#Ethics #AynRand #Creativity #Moralism #MoralJudgement
What Do You Have to Tell Me?
"It is through others that we develop into ourselves."
- Lev Vigotsky
I’m a serious movie buff.
In my heaven there’s a library of DVDs – “Divinity Video Discs” - that contain every film and television show ever made, even those lost to the dust and apathy of time. This library includes every critic’s review of every film or show. A sort of divine IMDB, and you don’t need your smartphone or laptop. Just think of a film or show and, voilà! – there it is, ready to watch. Popcorn is extra, of course. Even Eternity has bills to pay.
On cable I just watched the Robert Redford film, The Natural. I saw it when it was released in 1984. I loved every moment of it. Even on the smaller screen it is still a delight. Randy Newman’s music alone makes it worth watching. For greater insights as to why it impresses me so I went to the reviews of the late Roger Ebert and James Berardinelli.
It’s hard to imagine two such vastly different reactions to a movie. Ebert disliked it intensely; Berardinelli called it, “…arguably the best baseball movie ever made.” Despite their powerful disagreements, here’s the wonderful part of my reading experience: Both reviewers schooled me in technical, thematic, and artistic points that I would never have discovered on my own. I learned from both their well-crafted essays and my understanding of this movie was truly enhanced.
We live in a deeply polarized world in a polarized time. We tend, perhaps more than ever, to listen to only those with whom we agree. As I needed the genius of both Ebert and Berardinelli to gain a full appreciation of this work of cinematic art, so do I need your and everyone else’s thoughts, beliefs and understandings regarding the challenges that so demand our attention and talents today.
We do not live on an island; we are all a part of the main.
We need each other to cope, create, solve, thrive, and live. Please don’t walk away when we disagree. I promise to always keep my intellectual and spiritual door open to you. Let’s Zoom or Skype our way into a pleasant online discussion while we savor our favorite coffee, and savor as well our respective geniuses, from which we can both grow to be better people.
More Information: "The Natural" Reviews "The Natural" in IMDB Blu-Ray: "The Natural"
#cooperation #BlackLivesMatter #TheNatural #RobertRedford #RogerEbert #JamesBerardinelli #IMDB #polarization #gettingalong #tolerance #movielover #JohnDonne #Baseball