How Can Bad People Make Such Good Art?

Art history is littered with unsavory biographies but how can works of such exalted inspiration originate in selfish characters? Extreme devotion to any singular purpose may be inhuman. 

What's the Latest Development?


The list of ground-breaking artists whose lives transgressed substantial moral boundaries is extensive. Wagner was a raging anti-Semite; Pound was a proto-fascist; Picasso was a womanizer; Mailer tried to kill his wife. The list goes on. So how is it possible that art can elevate our tastes, ostensibly to higher moral ground, when many of its makers seem such unsavory characters? "In the case of the artist, badness or goodness is a moral quality or judgment; in the case of his art goodness and badness are terms of aesthetic merit, to which morality does not apply."

What's the Big Idea?

Perhaps selecting the most morally dubious artists of our age is unfair, and we must recognize the great number of sane, even generous, artists who have graced the Earth. Still, there seems something unique about towering creative processes which alters human behavior in a fundamental way: "The creation of truly great art requires a degree of concentration, commitment, dedication, and preoccupation—of selfishness, in a word—that sets that artist apart and makes him not an outlaw, exactly, but a law unto himself." It may be that, good or bad, devotion to making one's art requires a singular, and therefore inhuman, focus.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

Preserving truth: How to confront and correct fake news

Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?

Videos
  • "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
  • The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
  • Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
Keep reading Show less