March 13th, 2021

Mistah Kurtz, He Dead

Isn't it odd that one can admire a work of art- even enjoy it- and yet at the same time dislike it.

For instance, I was watching Apocalypse Now yesterday- having fun watching it- and yet when it was over I just wanted to pick it to bits.

There's much that's wrong with Apocalypse now- failures of craft, of reach and imagination, faults of pacing, inconsistencies of tone- but if I liked it I'd be excusing these things as lovable quirks not using them to prove the whole thing worthless...

Which, of course, it's not.

On the contrary it's tremendous. I know it's tremendous. I just can't warm to it...

I made a list of artworks I admire but dislike to see if they had anything in common. At first I thought the thing might be a certain gigantism- but that didn't cover all of them- and failed to account for my love of some very big buildings and books and movies- and in the end I decided that the gigantism was just a symptom of something else- something it's hard to pin-down, something we might well disagree about with reference to individual works- something metaphysical, which I'm going to call cold-heartedness, or misanthropy.

Which goes hand in hand with self-hatred- and at the extreme topples over into nihilism.

Apocalypse Now isn't the worst offender- it has flashes of humour and humanity- but basically- like its anti-hero Kurtz- a hulking great Satan who sits brooding in darkness- it regards its people as ants...

I feel the sting of its contempt.

It dislikes me and I dislike it back....