Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Art and Artists

Art and Artists

 From a Facebook thread on a misogynist artist.  Take your pick.

 If you cannot evaluate art without evaluating the artist you don't understand art. If a person can overcome fundamentalist bigotry to create a work of genius, more power to herm. [As to the mention of] "all men are created equal" who are you to even mention the artist owned slaves. He had no choice in his culture. That he could transcend his culture to create a better world where all are equal (even though we are not there yet after 200+ years) speaks volumes about his character.  J'Carlin 
An artist and herm art are two entirely separate and distinct entities in all cultures.  The art may live and be meaningful long after the artist has returned to dust.  While it is fun to argue about which composers of famous religious music were atheists,  the fact remains that the music they composed is sung and revered by believers in any culture affected by the religion depicted in the composition.  Religious art is by and large atrocious, and the artists justifiably forgotton.  But the stories told by that atrocious art are fundamental to religious belief.  The few exceptions were created by artists that the current crop of religious fundagelicals would probably hate. 

A "critic" is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is a logic in this; he is unbiased - he hates all creative people equally. Lazarus Long Time Enough for Love, 1971, Robert A. Heinlein

There seems to be a current trend among critics to focus on the artist, especially the things about the artist that the critic hates.  Heinlein was a militarist and jingoist, therefore all of his writing is trash.  L Ron Hubbard was a religious charlatan fuggetabout all the Battlefield Earth books.  Jefferson owned and fathered slaves, therefore the Declaration of Independence means nothing.  There is nothing to see here folks.  Move along. 

I have even done it myself:  Abram was a lying, exploitive pimp.  Therefore the God he invented, and the religions that depend on that God are trash.  In my defense I had come to the conclusion that the religions that grew out of the Abrahamic tradition were trash long before I found out Abram was a prick.  I never liked him from the stories that included him, but until recently I had never followed his family and gang of thugs from Ur, to Haram, to Canaan and to Egypt.  They seem to have been a sociopathic bunch.  

[The following is a subsequent edit.  Please note this is a working blog and editing is common before and after comments]

Heinlein was also a misogynist according to any proper feminist.  Note his use of "man" in the quote.  The fact that in the vernacular it was generic for human is lost on the feminists.  The fact that all of his women characters were generally more competent in all respects than the men counts for nothing since they all were interested in procreation. Their choice of competent men to help not only with the sex but with the family as well is lost on the feminists. 

Hubbard was a brilliant student of human wants and needs, in particular their need for a strong community controlled by an unquestioned belief system.  Whether Scientology works depends on whether you ask a believer, an apostate, or a critic.  The fact that Hubbard made more money from Scientology than from writing Science Fiction "at a penny a word" is probably his greatest sin.  

The Republigelical meme that  Jefferson owned and screwed slaves is a bigot’s apologetic for their own hypocrisy.  His actual views about slavery and in particular Sally Hemings is available to any intelligent unbiased student of his life and in particular the society in which he was embedded. The Enlightenment social values were prominent in the patrician South and slavery was part of the picture.  Slaves were generally considered to be valuable chattel and treated well as well treated workers are more productive and useful.  Women slaves were even more valuable chattel as they were also genetic carriers for the slave owner's seed.  Biblical reference intentional.  Red headed stepchildren of slaves were generally favored and successful.  

Politically Jefferson was walking a tightrope.  He needed the political backing of the Southern slave owners to push his egalitarian agenda against the rigid Calvanist religious agenda for the USA.  He couldn't even call himself an atheist, let alone a humanist and survive politically to keep the Black Regiment of New England Calvinists out of the Constitution and God out of the government.  

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