You probably want to read about the Iowa caucus results right now. God knows why; the whole business strikes me as rather less significant than the pundits pretend.
Right now, I'd like you to chew on a moral conundrum which may or may not have political implications.
The video featured in the post below inspired me to visit various web sites in order to scoop up "Alan Moore stuff." As you probably know, Moore has been engaged in a decades-long battle with DC comics over the rights to his most famous work, Watchmen
, which he never wanted to see adapted as a film. DC now wants to churn out sequels and action figures and god-knows-what-else, all to be created by hirelings.
In the interview here
, Moore reveals that he might have earned a couple of million dollars had he signed over all rights to Watchmen
His refusal of this rather impressive offer strikes me as an honorable decision. Downright saintly.
Then again: What would
be the saintly decision?
Think of the families living in cars who might be able to get into homes if that money were put to charitable purposes. Think of people who need medical treatment...
On the other hand: If all artists refused to take a stand for integrity, then the entire world of art would become like that nightmarish town in China (I forget the name) where thousands of "artists" working under slave-like conditions produce fake Old Master canvasses for Israeli "students" (wink
) to sell in America.
In the interview, Moore details how he allowed a friend of his named Steve Moore (no relation) to write a computer game version of Watchmen
. He gave his assent only because Steve Moore needed the work and his brother had a serious medical condition. Basically, the company used the friendship between the two Moores to perform a rather obvious bit of emotional blackmail. It all ended badly, of course.
Now, I think that Alan Moore has made the correct decision in not taking that two million dollar payoff. Correct for him
The existentialists -- remember them? -- used to place great weight on the concept of authenticity
. Situations often arise in which one cannot hope to perform the morally correct action, because any choice will have a serious downside. Under certain circumstances, one can only act in an authentic fashion -- that is, according to a personal code. Think of Bogie at the end of The Maltese Falcon
The classic example goes back to World War II. You're a young man working on a farm in France; your father is dead, your mother is old, your sister is quite young. The Nazis invade. A friend asks you to join the Resistance. Do you go underground?
If you do, your mother and sister will endure enormous hardship. They may not survive. But when you offer this excuse, your friend sneers: If everyone refused to fight the Nazis on such grounds, the Resistance would not exist.
There is no morally correct choice. There is no holy book which tells you "Under circumstance X, perform action Y."
There can be only an authentic
decision. A decision that is right for you but not necessarily for the next person.
So. Let's say that you are a talented writer. You have created a novel or a comic book or -- how I hate this word! -- a property
that Hollywood wants to adapt. They offer a million bucks. You have every reason to believe that, no matter how cleverly you try to structure the deal, they will rape your work bloody in every conceivable hole.
On the other hand: Think of the good deeds you can do with that money.
(For the purposes of this thought experiment, you are not just a talented writer but a saint, or at least an incredibly wonderful person.)
What is the morally correct thing to do?
If you can't answer that question -- and I doubt that you can -- then try this: What would be the authentic
thing for you to do?