magic starSummarize by Aili

Opinion | Art Isn’t Supposed to Make You Comfortable

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the tendency of some readers to confuse art with moral instruction, and how this can lead to a dangerous oversimplification of complex issues in literature and art.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Art Isn't Supposed to Make You Comfortable

1. What is the main point the author makes about the relationship between art and morality?

  • The author argues that there is a "peculiar American illness" where people confuse art with moral instruction, and vice versa.
  • This leads to a dangerous oversimplification of complex issues in literature and art, where readers demand that art conform to their moral views.
  • The author uses examples of angry reader reviews of classic novels like "Paradise Lost," "Rabbit, Run," and "Lolita" to illustrate this tendency.

2. How does the author's personal background inform their perspective on this issue?

  • The author was born in the US but partially raised in other countries, which has given them a different perspective on the "sheer uncompromising force of American morality."
  • The author finds this American tendency to view art through a moral lens "mesmerizing and terrifying."

3. What does the author suggest may be driving this tendency to moralize art?

  • The author proposes two possible reasons:
    • The instability and extremism of American political discourse leads people to seek moral simplicity in the stories they consume.
    • The increased calling out of past transgressions like misogyny, racism, and homophobia has made people overly focused on openly naming these "ills" in art, rather than acknowledging the complexity of human nature.

[02] The Humanity of Perpetrators

1. What is the key insight the author gained from reading Shusaku Endo's novel "The Sea and Poison"?

  • The novel showed the author how, in the right social circumstances, even ordinary people can delude themselves into making choices that lead to atrocities.
  • Rather than focusing on the suffering of the victim, the novel explores the "humanity" of the perpetrators - their confusion, self-justifications, and willingness to lie to themselves.

2. How has this insight from "The Sea and Poison" stayed with the author?

  • The author has read the novel multiple times over nearly two decades, as it has "haunted" them, suggesting the profound impact it had.
  • The author sees parallels between the novel's exploration of human nature and the tendency of some readers to oversimplify the morality of complex literary works.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
© 2024 NewMotor Inc.