The Aug. 7 cover story on Richard Wagner quotes Bard President Leon Botstein as saying, “The sane people are in the audience, not on stage.” This strikes me as a ridiculous attitude. The boundaries of so-called normal behavior are not certain today. Talented people fulfill their own talents and express themselves by playing their hearts out on stages. This does not make them abnormal. People go to concerts to hear something that is emotionally satisfying to them.
I don’t agree with Botstein’s description of performing artists. The world of exceptionally gifted people includes people with the same character limitations as the world of the average people. I don’t think that Beethoven would have become a gas station attendant in today’s world or that his eccentricity would not have been tolerated. We live in a very open society today.