This post by Craig Snider
I have blogged before about Author (Artist) Intent versus Reader (Audience) Response. I won’t rehash that here, but it does lead me into another aspect of that argument, the nature and responsibility of the artist.
We live in a culture obsessed with celebrity. In a world of talking heads, celebrities float among them, dishing out supposed words of wisdom and beatitudes. Why do we listen to them?
Perhaps we have begun to elevate the artists above the art. I’m as guilty as the rest, if not more so. I’m the first to jump on Wikipedia and explore the past, present, and current love life of any actor, director, writer, musician, or other such interesting persona, especially the crazy ones (lookin’ squarely at you Cruise and Lebouf). I have this overpowering need to know more about the person responsible for creating something I love so much. This is also why we have book series that span into the double digits (a huge pet peeve of mine). We just can’t seem to get enough, so we latch onto the artist themselves, both in the hopes of continuing our high and getting another fix, and also because we possibly want to glean the methodology for their creative process.
I refuse to partake any longer. I’ve seen people I know pimp their art and themselves in an attempt to garner more public affection, to increase the number of Likes and Followers, to see their inboxes light up with the recognition and justification of their work. And, it sickens me. Mostly because I know I wouldn’t be far behind. But, I’m taking a stand. I will not be a part of it.
When I become famous, I shall not do a single interview that does not work to promote something other than my art for the sake of empty commercialism. When I am lauded as the century’s greatest living author, I will refuse to put my picture on the jacket cover, not for fear of people seeing it and wondering if perhaps author stereotypes are true, but because I don’t want that to be a part of my book. When my book sells for six figures, and I can buy a football team, I will do so under a pseudonym, because I don’t want the art to be about me.
Sure, on some level, art is always about the artist trying to express something, trying to divine the nature of the universe and the forever cliched “Human Experience,” but that doesn’t mean we have to go around parading it in front of everyone, does it? Does being a successful artist demand that we become fodder for the public? Does it mean we have to not only sell our work, but ourselves?
If that is the case, perhaps now I understand why someone would write a masterpiece, then leave it in a desk, in a garage, at an abandoned house, never to be read by the all powerful public eye.
To me, art is the important thing. Not the artist. Yes, I love interviews with my favorite artists, but that should be the extent of it. We deify their gifts without ever realizing some of it comes by accident, without invocation, and often without control. Anyone who must tell you of their genius is neither a genius nor an artist, despite the quality of their work.
To this end, it is my life goal to separate art from artist, to excise and exorcise the stain of the creator from the creation. Let us abound instead in the endless worlds that exist, rather than raising up he or she who conjured them from the aether of our collective experiences. Let us view art in a vacuum, allowing the work itself, and all the clues contained within to speak their truths to us from across the void. For, in that moment, as we listen with strained ears, we, the small mortal audience, will be able to hear a choir of angels singing the truth of art to us.
Well, at least until the next Christopher Nolan movie comes out, then I’m totally going to Google the hell out of that sh*t….