One good person who is still alive is Jean-Luc Godard. By which I mean, someone whose art = a moral practice. But what does "good" mean to you? A good pitcher? Good cook? Good lay? Good mom?
Are you a good mom?
I mean "a good person."
I think what "good" means to me (or any one individual per say) is not really what we were trying to define, (meaning not a subjective view of goodness) but rather a kind of "objective" goodness (overall goodness, and not as a skill, but more as a moral quality). For example, I think just about everyone would agree that Mother Teresa was "a good person." Who could we agree was a "good person" similarly today? That was all.
So, I don't know Jean-Luc Godard as a person, but my guess would be that he was not completely, in every facet of his life, what everyone would agree constituted a "good person," the way they might with Mother Teresa. As a filmmaker he was radical and extremely political, and when someone is political, it's hard to be "objectively good," b/c people are divided politically, due to social, economic, religious, gender, race, sexual orientation, and other factors. We could talk about his personal life (biography) or the morality (or lack of) of the characters in his films or his films as a kind of character, and his anti-consumerist statements, his Marxism, and how it qualifies or disqualifies him as a "good person" but all this is just semantics and ultimately, boring.
Much more interesting would be the question, is the making of art an objectively good act? I don't think so. Possibly, the contrary. Does art make the world a better place? Yes (the human world anyway), but also, no. In fact, and I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions, but I think there is a kind of divide between Art and Goodness or morality (meaning great artist's by nature, need to have an ego and lack of a moral or political agenda that it takes to produce great art that would seem to directly work against the general definition of a kind of life it takes to qualify as an objectively "good person"). I'm not sure how to say this, but it seems to be an oxy moron or contradiction, the notion that a great artist could be considered an objectively good person. The fact that they spend their lifetime making art would seem to go against any objective definition of a good person. I mean if Mother Teresa spent her life making statues of naked people, even if they were considered some of the greatest statues of naked people ever made, instead of spending her life helping the sick, poor, orphaned and dying, and inspiring millions to do likewise (in some measure), would she still be considered a "good person"? What has a greater impact in the world: Art or goodness? I don't know the answer, and partly I’m playing Devil's advocate here, since art has made me a better person— more capable of empathy, more understanding, thoughtful and filled me with a form of faith, and more importantly, hope that is necessary to live/participate in the world and to try/want to do some objective good in it, i.e., helping children, and other things that I may not have cared about if it were not for my exposure and dedication to a life of art, on the other hand, maybe I would of spent my life like Mother Teresa, instead of living in the woods reading and scribbling poems in notebooks that no one will ever read. I dare you to: Think about it.
Still singing, Sam.
Oh, interesting. I don't think that the quality of goodness is at odds, necessarily, with being a great artist. I guess I feel that, to some extend, goodness is invoked when someone stands up for human freedoms that appear to be in jeopardy and articulate this through well-crafted and seamless art that is controversial within its social context. Yet, we know of many dead and living fine poets, film makers, novelists who are narcissists or complete egomaniacs- which would clearly detract from good intentions, no? How does it work when one puts the goodness of the artistic goal in front of, say, caring for ones family? Maybe that is what makes one a great artist but not a good person. Can you make goodness come from your work and goodness come from your actual life and be a great artist?
Regardless, I definitely don't think that the making of art is an objectively "good" act. Often I wonder, if my writing doesn't get out there and reach people, am I not better off working for an organization that takes a more active role? Seriously. But, taking the time to think things through the way I need to in order to construct poems, to take those moments around me and play with them until they evolve into phrases that might give a new sheen to things- contributes to me being a person with more goodness. I'd hope? That slowing down to absorbe things and unearth things- I think i might be a more careless person.
carelessly yours, jules
I said I love.To me goodness is aspirational - one's behavior needn't be saintly or apolitical to be good. What Godard says (above) is profoundly humanistic, at the point where humanism becomes the mysticism of artist as human being (hola, Sampson!). An artist can show us how to be a human being, And thus, perform the ultimate moral service. One can take a different angle even on Mother Teresa:
That is the promise.
Now, I have to sacrifice myself so that through me the word 'love' means something, so that love may exist in the world. As a reward, at the end of this long undertaking, I will end up being he who loves. That is, I will merit the name I gave myself. A man, nothing but a man, no better than any other, but no other better than he.
Katha Pollitt, the controversial American writer and secular humanist, has observed that Princess Diana and Mother Teresa were both “flowers of hierarchical, feudal, essentially masculine institutions in which they had no structural power but whose authoritarian natures they obscured and prettified”. Both, she found, “despite protestations to the contrary, were in the modern mass-market image business. Neither challenged the status quo that produced the social evils they supposedly helped alleviate. In fact, by promoting the illusion that nuns with no medical training, or selling your dresses for charity, could make a difference on a significant scale, they masked those evils or even (in the case of Mother Teresa’s opposition to abortion and birth control) made them worse.” Why, Pollitt questioned, should children’s hospitals require Di’s fundraising services instead of receiving adequate support from taxpayers. (stolen from here)
thus spaketh Ana