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Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma

por Claire Dederer

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3561973,320 (3.96)24
"In this unflinching, deeply personal book that expands on her instantly viral Paris Review essay, "What Do We Do With the Art of Monstrous Men?" Claire Dederer asks: Can we love the work of Hemingway, Polanski, Naipaul, Miles Davis, or Picasso? Should we love it? Does genius deserve special dispensation? Is male monstrosity the same as female monstrosity? Does art have a mandate to depict the darker elements of the psyche? And what happens if the artist stares too long into the abyss? She explores the audience's relationship with artists from Woody Allen to Michael Jackson, asking: How do we balance our undeniable sense of moral outrage with our equally undeniable love of the work? In a more troubling vein, she wonders if an artist needs to be a monster in order to create something great. And if an artist is also a mother, does one identity inexorably, and fatally, interrupt the other? Highly topical, morally wise, honest to the core, Monsters is certain to incite a conversation about whether and how we can separate artists from their art"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 19 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
3.5.

Gave me a lot to think about ( )
  jenkies720 | Jun 7, 2024 |
What are we to do and think about art we love produced by artists who have done what we abhor? Dederer goes through a number of cases of men who abused sexual partners or raped under age girls. The central figure is the monstrous man, overwhelmingly the most common artist-monster in our culture, but also spends time on the child abandoning mother - the woman's entrée to monstrosity. She examines but does not prescribe in what form the reader should find resolution. The examination of the self as a monster and the monsters we nonetheless love were introduced more than dissected, real issues but tangential rather than central to the relationship to the works of monstrous artists. ( )
  quondame | May 25, 2024 |
Well-researched and at times quite powerful exploration of problematic-to-nightmarish artists. However, I've been developing a slight allergy to nonfiction books which turn out to be mostly memoirs. ( )
  Amateria66 | May 24, 2024 |
i want to quote basically every sentence of this book. her writing and analysis and thoughtfulness are all so beautifully done and insightful and interesting and so worth reading. i live under a pop culture rock so am not really familiar with the work of basically any of the people she's talking about (from an artistic standpoint), and i still found this incredible. i can only imagine how much more impactful it could be if i was wresting with the work of these people like she is. amazing work. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | May 7, 2024 |
Should we stop engaging with the art of bad people, monsters? Claire Dederer, like many of us, has wrestled with this question, whether with respect to her love for the films of Roman Polanski and Woody Allen (her discussion of the cringefest that is Manhattan is fantastic) and the writing of Raymond Carver, regard for Picasso, Wagner, Doris Lessing and others. Dederer brings us the answer to the quandary. The answer is, "it is up to you" Whether we do or don't consume the work of bad people is our choice, a choice guided by our unique life experiences. This is not one-sided, she takes down the people who attack people for not separating the art from the artist, for not just looking at form, she does that really well, and she illustrates how gendered that perspective is. Nearly all girls and women have felt the impact of bad men like Allen and Polanski, if not raped at least groped or made to feel insecure through verbal abuse or physical threat. It is easy to only look at the camera work in Manhattan if you were never sexualized by a man twice your age. If you want an answer more cut and dried than that you came to the wrong place.

Dederer, who is delightful, brilliant and funny, provides a framework for our personal consumption considerations (and a reminder that consumption or non-consumption is less important than we like to pretend.) Perhaps most important is the reminder that we all contain monstrosity and we all contain goodness. The thought journey is seeded with her own experiences, which she uses very well. The discussion is rooted in feminism and feminist critical theory, but in the way those things are deployed in conversation by smart people, not in academic papers. Though I agree with a lot of what Dederer presents here, there are points on which we diverge and that is great. I don't have to be the choir to be challenged and energized by the take on the liturgy.

So yeah, big fan, huge. ( )
  Narshkite | May 1, 2024 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 19 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Famed composer Richard Wagner’s anti-Semitism was an obsession:

"'[For Richard Wagner, anti-Semitism] was more than a bizarre peccadillo, beyond a prejudice: it was an obsession, a monomania, a full-blown neurosis. No conversation with Wagner ever occurred without a detour on the subject of Judaism. When, towards the end of Wagner's life, the painter Renoir had a sitting with him, Wagner interrupted his own pleasant flow of small talk with a sudden unprovoked denunciation of Jews which rapidly became rancid,' [said Simon Callow].

"Wagner also wrote at length about his obsession -- that essay Fry would have liked to forestall, 'Judaism in Music,' was pub­lished anonymously in 1850, the same year Lohengrin premiered. It describes the nature of 'the Jew musician' -- we've barely got­ten started and we're already in choppy waters. The use of the word 'Jew' as an adjective is generally speaking not a good sign. My friend Alex Blumberg once observed to me as we walked through the Chicago neighborhood historically known as Jew Town: 'The word Jew is fine as a noun, starts to be a problem as an adjective, and is totally not okay as a verb.'
"Writes Wagner, 'The Jew -- who, as everyone knows, has a God all to himself -- in ordinary life strikes us primarily by his outward appearance, which, no matter to what European nation­ality we belong, has something disagreeably foreign to that nationality: instinctively we wish to have nothing in common with a man who looks like that.'

"Wagner is ramping up, working himself into a frenzy, and the modern reader in turn feels a mounting abhorrence, as well as a kind of lofty disdain for what we perceive as his clueless­ness. But we tell ourselves he didn't know better.

"And yet Wagner bases his entire rant on the fact that he did know better. He positions his screed as a dose of Limbaugh­esque real talk in the face of liberal platitudes calling for an end to anti-Semitism: 'We have to explain to ourselves the involun­tary repellence possessed for us by the nature and personality of the Jews, so as to vindicate that instinctive dislike which we plainly recognise as stronger and more overpowering than our conscious zeal to rid ourselves thereof.'

"He's making the point that he and his brethren don't want to revile Jews. This is some real 'I'm the victim here' shit. Wag­ner insists that he possesses -- we all possess -- a 'conscious zeal to rid ourselves' of the 'instinctive dislike,' but an honest man must wrestle with these feelings of 'involuntary repellence,' Hey, man, he's just describing how everyone really feels. Inci­dentally, this is an example of how insidious the word 'we' can be -- by employing it, Wagner normalizes and universalizes his own demented and hateful perspective, and suggests that all those fighting against anti-Semitism are simply deluded or eva­sive when it comes to their own natures.

"From Wagner's perspective, to say one is not anti-Semitic is to lie: 'Even to-day we only purposely belie ourselves, in this regard, when we think it necessary to hold immoral and taboo all open proclamation of our natural repugnance against the Jewish nature. Only in quite the latest times do we seem to have reached an insight, that it is more rational (vernünftiger) to rid ourselves of that strenuous self-deception' -- he means here the self-deception that we actually might not be repelled by Jews­ -- 'so as quite soberly instead to view the object of our violent sympathy and bring ourselves to understand a repugnance still abiding with us in spite of all our Liberal bedazzlements.'"
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Who has not asked himself at some time or other: am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?
—Clarice Lispector
It is always tempting, of course, to impose one's view rather than to undergo the submission required by art—a submission, akin to that of generosity or love. . .
—Shirley Hazard
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For Lou Barcott and Wil Barcott, my best teachers
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It all began for me in the spring of 2014, when I found myself locked in a lonely—okay, imaginary—battle with an appalling genius. I was researching Roman Polanski for a book I was writing and found myself awed by his monstrousness. It was monumental, like the Grand Canyon, huge and void-like and slightly incomprehensible. -Prologue, The Child Rapist
I started keeping a list.

Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, William Burroughs, Richard Wagner, Sid Vicious, V.S. Naipaul, John Galliano, Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Caravaggio, Floyd Mayweather, though if we start listing athletes we'll never stop. And what about the women? The list becomes much more tentative: Anne Sexton? Joan Crawford? Sylvia Plath? Does self-harm count? Okay, well it's back to the men, I guess: Pablo Picasso, Lead Belly, Miles Davis, Phil Spector. Add your own; add a new one every week, every day. Charlie Rose. Carl Andre. Johnny Depp. -Chapter 1, Roll Call
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"In this unflinching, deeply personal book that expands on her instantly viral Paris Review essay, "What Do We Do With the Art of Monstrous Men?" Claire Dederer asks: Can we love the work of Hemingway, Polanski, Naipaul, Miles Davis, or Picasso? Should we love it? Does genius deserve special dispensation? Is male monstrosity the same as female monstrosity? Does art have a mandate to depict the darker elements of the psyche? And what happens if the artist stares too long into the abyss? She explores the audience's relationship with artists from Woody Allen to Michael Jackson, asking: How do we balance our undeniable sense of moral outrage with our equally undeniable love of the work? In a more troubling vein, she wonders if an artist needs to be a monster in order to create something great. And if an artist is also a mother, does one identity inexorably, and fatally, interrupt the other? Highly topical, morally wise, honest to the core, Monsters is certain to incite a conversation about whether and how we can separate artists from their art"--

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