The totalitarian like

While looking for the Danish rules for the order of adjectives, I found another blog that is interesting for the fans of the genre of science fiction; stuff.ommadawn.dk. And on that blog, a personal report from Dublin 2019 Worldcon and some thoughts about liking problematic things.

And now I am getting to it: The panel discussion she witnessed was about what happens when you find out that something you really love is problematic, or that someone whose work you liked a lot is not who you thought they were.

This is a very modern problem and I think that is the reason why people get confused about it.

In fact, it is very simple. The creator and the creation are two separate things. Sure, we can celebrate the creator for his creations but the creation does not have more or less value because of who created it.

Perhaps I am taking the scientific principle too far but bear with me here.

The alternative is in fact untenable, which modern discourse have shown many times. Someone writes a very good book and a lot of people like it. Then, someday, it becomes obvious that the author has an unacceptable opinion and suddenly people shouldn’t have like the book? How is that even possible? How would we ever be able to know the totality of a creator and why should a work of art be judged on something that is outside of that work?

I know it can be difficult, because I have this irrational feeling myself. Currently I keep away from movies with Kevin Spacey in them, even though I loved “The Usual Suspects” and “K-PAX“. I know those movies are still good and someday I’ll probably be able to enjoy them again. I know a whole series of lectures that I like where the presenter, in other contexts, behaved totally inappropriately. The lectures are still good.

Liking something does not mean that we like whoever created it, nor the circumstances it was created in. With ever shifting moral standards and ever shifting boundaries, nothing would ever be acceptable.

And I’ll go even further, drawing in one of the most popular typefaces around, Gill Sans. This, the “British Helvetica”, has been used in many diverse publications and on many sites. The typeface is beautiful. But, when I worked for a graphical design company, I did bring up its creator, Eric Gill, because some of our clients might have an issue with being associated with him. Would I use the typeface? Yes. Do I find Gill despicable and depraved? Yes. Even in his own time and in the context of the prevailing morals, absolutely.

I know that creators put a part of themselves into their creations; they are not machines and they work on the shoulders of giants. But their work should be judged on its own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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