Catching Up–April 30 Prompt

“Art Appreciation”

Do you have to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?



I think that people tend to underestimate the power of circumstance. We look and we see people who live lives we’ve never lived, acting completely unlike ourselves, and we fail to recognize that they are responding to what they see, same as us, and that what they see is different. Their weird behavior is exactly what ours would be if we lived what they do.

There is truth in even the most reprehensible perspective. People tell you their truths with their opinions, if you’re paying attention. Think of the poor white Republican and his racism, obviously unacceptable. He’s telling you that he’s barely getting by and that more competition would wipe out his future. With his distaste for social safety nets like SNAP and public housing, he’s telling you that he’s exhausted from working his sixty hour weeks and resents that his superhuman efforts don’t get him ahead. His whole worldview is dated and going out of style, and he can’t modernize in time to make it in the new paradigm. He’s scared out of his mind.

Of course, that doesn’t make him right. One need not be factual or morally sound to be a relevant part of the truth. Any truth with the right to make a claim on the word needs to account for all existing perspectives, even those that are false or abrasive. Neither can anything be omitted if a solution is to be found, for the discontents of one are always shared by many, and a solution that fails to resolve the people’s concerns is not a solution, even if it serves one special interest for a while. The discontented will rise again and demand a new solution, likely in opposition to the one erected without their input, which served it’s makers at the expense of everyone else. If we are to share the world and not be always at war over it, all perspectives must be allotted their share in the truth.

To cut a little closer to the prompt at hand, consider that art is nothing more or less than the artist’s point of view. You need not agree to admit it’s validity, and should respect it’s truth even when the creator is wrong about what is ultimately true. Hate the politics, but appreciate where they’re coming from.

As for whether or not I would contribute to the existence of ideas opposed to mine by sustaining them financially, I say that it depends. Perhaps the ideas are relevant to a sizeable number of people and it serves everyone better if they are given their weight now. If not contributing meant the unpalatable opinion would no longer have a voice, and the result of it not being aired would be detrimental to the the unrepresented people, and ultimately to society, then aiding it’s existence is my responsibility to society, whether any of us like it or not.

If, on the other hand, no one is served by the opinion and it’s continued existence causes harm, and if it can be safely discarded without leaving important underlying concerns unaccounted for, then I would offer it no sustenance. But these conditions are particular, and it’s always hard to say what the consequences of repressing a singular truth might be, so I would be wary of playing God.

Mostly, all things that exist should be encouraged to do so in the open, where they can be evaluated and managed fairly. So no, I need not align with the views of an artist, or anyone, to appreciate their perspective. And sure, I would feed them to keep their distasteful viewpoints alive. The truth is funny like that, always so much bigger than me. I’d rather discover what it is than try to tell it what to be.

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