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Thomas Wictor

A Pledge to not misunderstand

A Pledge to not misunderstand

I just read a horrifying article by an artist whose work I really like. I did it as an experiment. The title of the article intrigued me. I generally never read anything by or about artists I like. Since they’re fallible humans, they say or do things that make me sick, and then I find it hard to appreciate their art as much as I did before. Peter Hook told me the same thing. His hero is Iggy Pop, but he’s never read anything about Iggy, and he never listens to or watches his interviews.

My friend Mark McCann says I take what artists say too seriously and should learn to compartmentalize. I have a feeling, Mark, that if you found out that your favorite actor, singer, painter, writer, or bassist was a pig who thought that everyone who holds your political viewpoints is a moron deserving of execution by hanging, you wouldn’t go out of your way to buy their art anymore.

The article I just read was pretentious, insulting, precious, and humorless. It made the artist look like an idiotic narcissist who thinks that entertainers are the most important people on earth. I wasn’t able to finish the piece.

So, here is a pledge to not misunderstand why you’re here. I will never use my Website to discuss politics or hot-button social issues, I will never attack a particular group for believing or not believing in something, I will never demand that you support a particular cause, and I will never cease to mercilessly poke fun at myself.

There are two reasons for my pledge. The first is that I can’t bring myself to insult, belittle, or attack people I ask for money. The second is that it’s incredibly stupid from a business standpoint to insult, belittle, or attack people I ask for money.

My books are nonpartisan, non-evangelical excursions into weirdness and humor. I want everybody to like them.

Sure, I have my political and social beliefs. So what? I also don’t really want to write about writing. I’d rather just write. That article that I wasn’t able to finish, by the artist whose work I really like? It was about the sanctity of the performer’s arena, the artist’s holy vision, the otherworldliness of the—


Sorry. I just projectile vomited.

Look, all of that is valid in a class full of youngsters who are just embarking on a career in the arts. You want to explain aspects of the medium and describe how to achieve this or that effect, but a grownup shouldn’t have the urge to “teach” other grownups, especially if the other adults are fans or casual consumers of the art. When you dissect it all and explain everything going on in your mind as the Artist, it gets tedious. It robs the art of its magic.

Maybe I’ve just had a bellyful of people telling me what I should be thinking or feeling.

Think or feel whatever you want about my books. In return I won’t bore you with what I’m intending to get across, and I won’t attack you for having different beliefs than I do. There’s a great actress out there who a lot of people hate because of her political activism, which is actually quite obnoxious. If I met her, however, I know we’d have a wonderful time together. Our childhoods were nearly identical. That’s what makes her interesting to me.

Politics are important. No question. But if I had lunch with this actress, I’m sure I’d have her laughing her head off in about two minutes. She and I have a bond that she doesn’t know about.

Some bonds transcend all differences. My goal is to concentrate on what I have in common with everybody, not what separates us. You can’t get any more separate than I am, which perversely makes it easier for me to overlook what I think are non-meaningful glitches in the way humans ought to relate to each other.

The most important thing for me is to never take myself as seriously as that poor artist whose article I had to stop reading. It was…nagging, an aspect of the person’s character I never imagined.

Nagging, dreary, self-important, and uninteresting. What better personality traits can someone have when they’re trying to be an entertainer?

I’d much rather read an article by this guy.