24.4.10

A Question of Style

Yesterday I was talking with Aravis and, as all good co-dependent bibliholics do, we talked about books. I mentioned my current read, Episodes, and said that I really didn't like it.

When I read a "meh" book, I question why the publisher decided to waste time, effort and trees on that particular publication. In this case, I know why: the author is a high-functioning autistic. This book is supposed to give us insight into what life is like for someone with that type of mental process - in Blaze's case, he apparently sees things as discrete episodes in various television series (for example, his freshman year of school). As Sondheim wrote, you gotta have a gimmick, and the conceit here is that the book is written as though it were a large TV Guide or retrospective of some television show.

So reading this, not being particularly excited by the content and being annoyed by the gimmick, I felt guilty. As I said to Aravis, I feel a little like someone that sees a mediocre painting and then learns that it was painted by a blind person: does that mean it is somehow elevated from mediocre? Should we hold that painter (or author, or composer, or whatever) to a lower standard, or can we say "this doesn't do it for me"?

2 comments:

Sherri said...

Wow, that leads into the (long running) conversation about whether we can consider the art as a thing separate from the artist, and if disliking the artist means we will/must/should dislike the art.

My personal take is that if I don't like something, I plain don't like it. I can consider the artist but that doesn't mean I have to cut any slack on the my opinion of the art. It doesn't mean I will automatically dismiss other art that artist creates -- maybe that blind painter who doesn't wow me is a great sculptor. But I feel perfectly free to dislike the blind person's painting as much as I can dislike the tone-deaf person's singing.

Either your art works or it doesn't, for a given audience. I'm a big meany.

Aravis said...

I really liked that comparison, btw.