November 11, 2017
For most of her life, Sylvia Plath used a pen name. However, her novel 'The Bell Jar', didn't reach the critical acclaim it was, till after her death. This is partly because then we knew the writer was suffering from depression, and her work was trying to reflect her mental state. But, similarly, I admired Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, but when I first heard that Martin Luther King was an adulterer, or that Nelson Mandela deemed fit to marry his own granddaughter. Stephen Hawking left his wife for an abusive nurse. I couldn't see their work in the same light again. Kevin Spacey is a brilliant actor, 'The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist" (Usual Suspects). Kevin Spacey is a brilliant actor and a sexual assaulter. And that he can keep a straight face and perform brilliantly every day, without acknowledging the trauma and the heartbreak he is causing, is quite disturbing. No remorse YET. But can I disassociate his art from his personal life? Or the real question being, should I disassociate his art from his personal life? This could say a lot about me as a person, as well. This puts my own value system in question to the fact that whether I value a persons' skill more than how s/he made people feel. Or should I negate the brilliance of his mind over his lack of conscience? Because what I will accept in my idol statures is what I will accept in my personal life, from others and from my own self. And that is part of my self-identity.
The flipside to this question is, that there are people who have had traumatic past and a lot of struggle. But because they were able to channel their pain or experiences rise above their experiences, and disassociate themselves from their pain and leave behind bigger things they could be remembered for...things which make you feel something. I say disassociation because if they were consumed by what they were going through, they must have been suffering. The human mind is a beautiful wretched thing, wouldn't you agree?