Patrick Rothfuss, author of the Kingkiller Chronicles, has done a live-streamed Q & A. I thought I would address the genuinely interesting question Rothfuss raises between minute 47 and minute 55 of the linked Q & A – the degree to which authors (and creators of art generally) have a responsibility not to “poison the minds” of their audience with bad ideas and unfortunate implications. Case in point, Tolkien’s portrayal of tobacco smoking (which Rothfuss gets to around minute 52).
To be fair to Rothfuss, the format of a Q & A does not lend itself to working through the complexities of this question – and it is a complex question. At one extreme you have the notion that works of art ought to promote only wholesome messages and ideas – which is, to say, moral censorship, either of the self-limiting variety, or in some officially sanctioned form, a…
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