A Minute With Miles: Great Artists, Lousy People

Jul 26, 2019

Credit SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

There are many great creative artists, including great composers, who have been mediocre human beings ⁠— not to mention any number who have been downright reprehensible human beings, or human beings whose private views we would find reprehensible if only we knew what they were. 

It’s all less troubling with minor or insignificant artists ⁠— if we don’t like who they are, or were, we can comfortably ignore them, and it’s no great loss. But genius complicates things. Should we vow never to look at the works of Picasso again, never to listen to the works of Wagner? Those would be valid choices, certainly, but they’d be costly ones. And I should add that they’d only be valid as personal choices, not as choices to be imposed on others. Each of us will inevitably approach these problems from a different point of view, assigning importance in different proportions and often finding ourselves making choices based on emotion and personal taste rather than on a rationally consistent philosophy. 

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.