Friday, April 27, 2012

Little Tales of Misanthropy

One of the most disconcerting elements about the search for beauty is its lack of conscience. Creativity and humanism can be strange bed fellows which is another way of saying that many famous artists are shits. Bergman was notorious for his many failed marriages and relationships and if the portrait of the writer in Through a Glass Darkly is any reflection of his parenting, then we can conclude that he wasn’t much interesting in child raising. Updike’s Too Far To Go is a heartbreakingly beautiful description of the breakup of a marriage, but the breakup of Updike’s first marriage was the palette and one can’t help wondering if the breakup were not somehow unconsciously staged for the sake of the writing. Philip Roth’s one time wife Claire Bloom has documented the deficiencies of her former husband’s character and V.S. Naipaul’s extreme sadism towards woman has been described in Patrick French’s biography. Saul Bellow was married five times and fathered a child when he was 84. On the female side Doris Lessing abandoned two young children and husband to pursue her career and reading the way Patricia Highsmith discarded lovers, it’s not surprising that she wrote a collection a collection of stories called Little Tales of Misogyny. In spite of the extended tantrum of fame and the greater amounts of opportunity that fame produces, are these creative geniuses any more narcissistic or sadistic than your average Jack or Jill? Or does the destructive behavior of talented individuals stand out in relief since we consciously or unconsciously idealize those who mirror our heart’s desires? Is the average Joe, the man amongst men, whose goodness derives from his more modest level of self-absorption and ambition, any less selfish and sadistic in either his real or fantasy life, or is the problem simply that we expect more from the artist?

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