I believe that every creative artist of integrity wants one thing above all else from an audience–for her or his art to be appreciated and judged on its own merits.
I believe that is why we create, to make something that can stand apart from us, that exists on its own. The process of creation is intensely personal. When we make art–write, paint, compose, photograph, whatever form our individual talent takes–we are so intimately intertwined with our creations that we lose sight of where we end and the work begins.
When we release it into the world, however, we sever that connection. The art exists, for good or ill, as its own thing. I don’t know if anyone who has not created a work of art can quite understand the artist’s need to step back, to let go, to see the work stand or fall on its own unsteady feet, to take its own faltering steps to meet the world. The book on the shelf, the print on the wall, the recording on the stereo–those are the things that matter. The artist must fade away. Forget me, remember the story I’ve told.
That is why I believe that attacking a work of art because of one’s personal feelings about the artist is evil.
Evil is not a word that I throw around lightly, but it’s the only one that fits the intensity of my feelings on this subject. It is an act which is entirely devoid of any positive attribute. Attacking an artist’s work not for the flaws and virtues of the work, but because of some disagreement with the artist is purely and simply causing pain for the point of causing pain. It is the act of a coward and a bully, a way of striking a blow that cannot be countered.
Fortunately it is also an act that contains the seeds of its own destruction. The only power that a reviewer has stems from his or her integrity. Once it is known that a reviewer is not speaking about art at all, but only expressing his or her petty rage over some imagined slight, any words that reviewer speaks are a waste of breath.
Art is important. It is the way in which the Divine touches the world through our hands. It is what makes us something more that dirt and bone. It is, perhaps, the only truly human virtue. Of all the things that make us different from the beasts of the field, art is the only one that makes us better. It deserves our respect.
If you have a problem with me, take it up with me.
If you have a problem with my books, speak your mind. I built them as solidly as I could, but I know they have flaws. They will fight their own battles, and stand or fall as they can. I will grieve when they fall, as any creator does, but I owe them too much to shield them from any blow fairly landed.
Do not damn my art for my sins.