Journey to the End of Decency

‘The pseudo-paradox of the artist who is also a shit has abiding, morbid interest.’*

Indeed, it is abiding. I wrote this in July 2013:

‘It may be true that you don’t have to agree with someone’s political views to appreciate their music, but if Radiohead announced that they had joined UKIP, I’d certainly struggle to enjoy ‘The Tourist’ anymore.’

Quentin Tarantino is currently fending off accusations of unpleasant behaviour. Will his many fans stop watching his films? When I first started reading Philip Larkin, I had no idea that he was a three-timing, Tory racist. Furnished with this knowledge, have I stopped reading his poetry? No, but I have to try hard to forget his views. I learned from the TLS article from which I’ve quoted above that Ezra Pound was awarded a prize by a jury of T.S. Eliot and friends. In Simon Armitage’s poem ‘Poundland’** (which I think is great), I couldn’t detect any reference to Pound’s fascist beliefs. Should there have been? Should literary merits outweigh hate speech (or writings, such as in the case of Céline)? The pseudo-paradox will continue to be debated into the night…

 

*https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/celine-aryan-ghetto-of-one/

** https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/poundland

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