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I never apologize for anything I create. Do you?

Products of the creative mind may offend, but my advice: never apologize.

If I’ve created something then it came from somewhere. It came from me. Who can understand what lies inside of us? And if we cannot understand it, we are lucky at least to have a look at it, or a facet of it. Maybe it is the observational scientist in me, but I have to accept the view that’s offered, I have to be happy to see it for what it is, I have to welcome it. Censorship makes us dull.

It happens at times that I create something flat, boring, or too short, or too long.  It is an experiment to create, I don’t know how it will come out finally. To be truthful, at times I create something, a drawing, or poem, or story, that disturbs or even horrifies me the next day. In my case, this is most often the little drawing I make that precedes the story, or a photo I’m not sure why I took. I put some of those away in a safe place at the back of the notebook, don’t scan them, don’t share them immediately until I can work on them and understand them.

For example, I’m not sure yet why in Rome the blackbirds fascinated me, or why I had to capture the pigeon in front of the Arc of Augustus, nor on the beautiful beach in Puerto Rico why a dead tree. But I’m working on it.

Still, honestly I’m delighted when creative thoughts emerge, these colorful bits from deep inside me. I’m not sorry. We even need to be disturbed sometimes, we need to stir the subconscious, we need to uncover, to reveal, to see.

Every rule has exceptions.

Two cases come to mind as possible exceptions for apology, Goethe in 1774 for Sorrows of Young Werther, and Orson Welles reading HG Wells in 1938 from War of the Worlds. In both these cases some readers or listeners despaired or panicked or lost hope. Here, “to entertain” crossed over into “to horrify”. In the case of Werther, people died in copycat suicides mimicking the main character of the story, followed by “Werther Effect” concerns.  Even here, the way I understand it, the listener who panics or the reader who despairs is where the action is controlled, rather than the writer as creator being at fault.

What do you think about the agency when art is deemed offensive?

Is it the artist, the art, or the audience?

Please leave a comment to join the discussion.