Of artists and assholes

"Sit down, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time I ate your hamster this morning."Orson Scott Card doesn’t make a hill of beans’ worth of difference to me. I never read him until I was an adult (and haven’t read Ender’s Game), I was underwhelmed with the Alvin Maker series, and aside from his strong views on homosexuality, he has some other truly whacko ideas that also thoroughly and completely offend my libertarian sensibilities.

I weighed in on the controversy over his short story “Hamlet’s Father” because I can’t stand it when people rant about books they haven’t read. That is intellectually dishonest, and the people I saw doing this promote themselves as intellectually honest. Sorry, nope. Get off your fucking high horse and read the fucking book, then come back and talk to me.

A couple of days ago, I was cleaning out my feed reader and old web articles I’d saved and came across this: Broken, by Lefsetz, a music industry critic, in which he opines about the necessity of great art to come out of broken people. So this was already on my mind when I had an email conversation with a friend who is grieving her relationship with Card’s work because he personally is an asshole.

So this is what I said:

You wanna know why lit programs take the author out of the work? Because they don’t want to know what assholes the authors are.

I don’t know why anybody thinks an asshole can’t write empathetic characters. All you have to do is observe people and understand human nature. And in the end, the authors will reveal themselves to you in one of their characters, or leave bits of themselves in all of them (cf this article’s reference to Peter—the villain, I take it?).

Charles DickensDickens was an ass. Scrooge? Maybe parts of him.

Hitler was a talented artist.

Artists, great ones, are depressive, narcissistic, selfish, mentally ill, and sometimes evil. There are some who know how to act in public and some who don’t. It just kinda goes along with the artist thing.

It’s just that now people have access to these artists’ assholery and they don’t like the type of personality it takes to make great art. Not only that, but they don’t want them to self-medicate to mediate the bad personality traits but keep the great art. They want them to be emotionally stable. They want them to be normal.

Oh, hello, Van Gogh. Mozart. Polanski. (Shall we talk about Polanski?)

But art that touches people doesn’t come out of normal.

Card fans are grieving. Deeply, by the tenor of what I’m reading around the web. While I understand it, I’m kind of unsympathetic because people want great art, but they don’t want people to have the characteristics of what it takes to make great art.