I hate it when good artists are crazy.
I mean, I know that this is terrible and wrong and bad and judgemental of me, but there y’are. I was randomly surfing, clicking away at a site that shall remain nameless (nobody I know on LJ, anyhow, and since I am not saying something nice, I will not link, because that would be more than a little rude) and saw a piece of surprisingly competent, fairly interesting art. I was intrigued.
Then I scrolled a little farther, read the associated text and manifesto, and discovered that they were either batshit insane or doing a shockingly good imitation–not the “I’m trying to be edgy and dark!” kind of self-conscious insane, or even the mildly-eccentric I-stay-up-all-night-carving-voluptous-deer-women-with-chainsaws insane, which is fine, I know that guy, he’s great, but the “My houseplants talk to me in my sleep and tell me to wear tinfoil underwear for Christ!” kind of insane. (Which is often surprisingly hard to fake, and I’m not doing it justice at all–absurdly crazy is easy, just sing to the eggplants, but getting that faint patina of rationality right, then diving off the deep end–well, you almost gotta BE crazy, or else have a great ear for dialogue.)
Anyway, I sighed, and stared at the ceiling a bit. I know, I know, critique the art, not the artist, who am I to judge, etc, etc. I know. Yes, beauty produced by a mind that’s across the sanity horizon and picking up speed is still beautiful, and I’m about as equipped to comment on other people’s sanity as a walrus is to hydroponic gardening. I’m not trying to justify this–it’s bad of me. I am 100% in the wrong. But still. Somewhere, on some level, a little voice goes “Aw, nuts,” and throws its hands in the air. It’s sort of like when you learn that an artist you admire is a raging asshole or a raving misogynist or evangelically religious in the bad way. I dunno if it’s some complex thing related to the way that people build their mental image of the artist behind the art, or if it’s just that inevitable twinge of… something …disillusionment? I dunno… when you learn that you are admiring things by people that you maybe wouldn’t choose to admire. Sort of like I feel reading “Cerebus”–he’s a great little aardvark, but man, some of the things Dave Sims says about women outside of the comic make me want to scream “Killer Squid Falls From Above!” and drop off the ceiling with a machete. (Not that this would neccesarily prove anything, but it sounds like it’d be cathartic.)
On some level, I guess we want artists to be paragons, and to think talent is associated with virtue. And hell, if anybody oughta know that we aren’t, it’s me! (Which is not to say, as so many claim, that all good artists are jerks, either–I have known many who would give you their last drink of water in a desert. They’re all individuals, god knows.) But still, there I am, getting that little mental wince. In my defense, it could just be the knee-jerk response to the association of insanity with art, which I really think we gotta get over–out of the garret! Out! But still, that’s no excuse. Obviously enlightenment for this particular artist is still quite a long ways off.