In my teens I was (well still am) obsessed with painting, and at my teenage years Dalí was up there in the pantheon. Somewhere in this time period I realized he was a less than upstanding human being and with this I grappled in my mind which was becoming aware of justice and social ideas.
I came upon a quote at that time that put some ease to my mind for a time, from George Orwell, this quote is in fact oft repeated and encountered with regularity when discussing Dalí, it follows:
“One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other.”
Some time later I came upon the text the above quote had been pulled from, and it turns out I had been duped in my interpretation of Orwell’s words by the fact that they were taken out of context, intentionally in order to preserve Dalí in the best light and in order to paint over his humanistic deficiencies:
“In an age like our own, when the artist is an altogether exceptional person, he must be allowed a certain amount of irresponsibility, just as a pregnant woman is. Still, no one would say that a pregnant woman should be allowed to commit murder, nor would anyone make such a claim for the artist, however gifted. If Shakespeare returned to the earth to-morrow, and if it were found that his favourite recreation was raping little girls in railway carriages, we should not tell him to go ahead with it on the ground that he might write another King Lear. And, after all, the worst crimes are not always the punishable ones. By encouraging necrophilic reveries one probably does quite as much harm as by, say, picking pockets at the races. One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other. The first thing that we demand of a wall is that it shall stand up. If it stands up, it is a good wall, and the question of what purpose it serves is separable from that. And yet even the best wall in the world deserves to be pulled down if it surrounds a concentration camp. In the same way it should be possible to say, “This is a good book or a good picture, and it ought to be burned by the public hangman.” Unless one can say that, at least in imagination, one is shirking the implications of the fact that an artist is also a citizen and a human being.”
So how do we deal with heroes falling from the sky?