A terribly insightful comment from Robin McKinley about the response of readers to writing–I’d say it also applies to the reaction of viewers to art.

People not liking something — or disliking it for the wrong reasons, see above — is depressing; but people liking something too well is disquieting. Like being given a diamond necklace in thanks for a embroidered pillow-case. This doesn’t make you happy, it makes you feel fraudulent.

Which is not to say that I don’t love praise as much as the next person–“Hey, I really like this,” “Hey, you really captured something here,””HA! A lungfish! Lookit his little gills!” are one of the major things that artists live for, but the unfortunate corollary is that it’s terribly hard to explain why people writing “OMG THIS IS MY NEW REASON FOR LIVING!1!” on a painting is a little more creepy than flattering, without sounding like a complete ingrate savaging the fans, which is the last thing I want to do. (I know, I know, we’re all supposed to shun anything other than constructive criticism as mere dross from the masses, unfit for the serious artist who thrives ‘pon savage critique and the bitter bile squeezed from the gall bladders of our harshest critics. Screw it. Criticism is vital in its place, but “OMG! So cool!” is as good a quick pick-me-up as anything. I’m shallow. And I’m comfortable with that.)

I hasten to add that it’s not that anyone’s said anything like that recently, I just tripped over the quote, and it articulated a feeling I’ve had in the past much better than I’ve ever managed to articulate it. (So don’t all start worrying that You, Personally, have left some bizarre comment that has forever thrown me across the weirdness horizon. Seriously. Y’all are cool.)

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