Your feelings don’t matter. Not how you feel, and not how you were stung.
The world doesn’t care what happened in your past, or where you’ve come from. Life moves on. “This offended me,” you said, and so you were offended. What does that mean?
When the art stares at you and holds a mirror to those nasty little things you refuse to look at, there’s no point in cursing the mirror or the holder. Your problems are within.
Perhaps you are scarred from something in the past.
There will always be thorns. Always be things that reach out their limbs and draw blood with their talons. And if your mind resides in any place akin to the real world, there will always be monsters.
People die every single day. People are murdered, raped, abused, snuffed by disease, and shown things that would lead you to believe we are in a living hell. One of the most important purposes art serves is to reflect who we are. How we feel. The human condition. If there isn’t some way for the receiver to connect with the art, the piece loses its impact. It’s important that we avoid losing touch with reality and ourselves, so for our own sake, we must keep our mirrors.
We must look at the monsters, and perhaps fear them so we don’t forget. So we are not at their mercy.
If it’s too much for you to look at, you can always walk away. Put the book down. Turn your face from the canvas and find something else. The art doesn’t deserve to be burned or hidden from the world because you were offended, or because it displays evil, vulgarity, death, or corruption.
The real danger is forgetting the world we are living in. And think of it this way: if there wasn’t anything bad in the world—nothing to invoke fear or disturbance—what would “good” in the world mean? What is evil allows us to appreciate what is good—as subjective as those things are. And even when art displays what is evil, it doesn’t mean the art itself is doing evil to its receivers.
So eliminate trigger warnings. Allow people to decide for themselves what they choose to experience; no one is tied to a chair by a piece of fiction or artwork and forced to witness things they’d rather not see. Let people experience what the artist has to offer with the knowledge that they are free to move on at any point.
And just as there are always those fighting for what is good, there are always monsters. They may live next door to you, serve you breakfast each morning—or worst of all—stare back at you from your bathroom mirror. Remember most of all, that you can’t overcome what you cannot see.
Now excuse me, I need to get back to reading The 120 Days of Sodom. How thrilling.
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