What are the meanings of the following quotation from Michael Leunig's essay "Memoirs of a Nasty Boy"?
"Life itself is offensive and certainly does not apologise - in fact, it hurts considerably and as we all know is often very rude and troublesome, just as nature or art can be."
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In his autobiography essay “Memoirs of a Nasty Boy” (see link below), Michael Leunig details his history of failing to be pleasant, conventional, and socially acceptable, either in his art, his life, or his speech.
Responding to objections against offensive talk, art, or conduct, he writes,
Life itself is offensive and certainly does not apologise - in fact, it hurts considerably and, as we all know, is often very rude and troublesome, just as nature or art can be. It seems, however, that life, art and nature are not the models for society but, rather, they are objects of study or problems that need to be considerably overcome or mastered.
In other words, life does not obey prim and proper rules. It often offends us, often hurts us, and often creates troubles for us, and it does not bother to apologize for any of this. The same is true of nature, and the same is also true of some kinds of art. Yet we expect social conduct and society in general to be neat, orderly, inoffensive, pleasant, and polite, even though none of these adjectives cannot be easily applied to much of nature, life, or even (sometimes) art. Instead, we scrutinize life, nature, and art and try to tame them rather than accepting their complexities and frequent offensiveness.
Leunig’s essay is in some ways an updating of John Milton’s famous pronouncement that he could not
praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.
Milton here suggests that any attempt to hide from the complexities of reality is cowardly and self-defeating, and Leunig would seem to agree, although it is not at all clear that he shares Milton’s ideas about virtue.
I'm not sure of the context or source of this quote, but it seems to be commenting on the inherent unpleasantness that sometimes happens in life. In comparing life to [nature OR art?], it is stressing the dichotomy between the beautiful and the ugly; just as art and nature can evoke in us a sense of wonder and beauty, so too do they contain elements that are "rude and troublesome" (consider tornadoes, earthquakes, and the fearfully surreal art of Salvador Dali, for instance). In this respect, life, nature, and art are similar.
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