Tag Archives: Writers

Writers’ Words not Relevant beyond their Books

“in terms of having anything useful or helpful to say about their own works, authors might as well be dead. The only intention of the author that counts is what is contained in the text, as understood by readers who interact with it. Any interpretation the author might care to share about his or her own works is, at best, no more relevant than the interpretation of any other reader. Or, to put it in proper literary jargon, the author’s intent is not privileged above other interpretations.” …

“It is generally agreed that the author’s role is finished when the work is completed and published. After that point, the text must speak for itself ’ or, at the most, those few remaining critics who have not altogether abandoned authorial intent might ask the author to clarify what he or she intended (note the past tense) by including certain elements in the text. The writer’s contribution is frozen at the point of time that he or she finished writing.”

“But it seems that nobody has informed the authors of that. Authors, being people, have responses to their own works and they also have responses to the readers who read their works. Just as readers and critics judge authors by how they write, writers judge readers by how they read, and critics by how they criticize. Authors may change their feelings and beliefs about their own work after seeing how the audience responds to it. Many authors are disposed to defend their work against criticism, answer questions, clarify what they see as misunderstandings, and in general do whatever they think will help to enhance reader enjoyment and guide critical discussion into what they see as fruitful paths.”

From: the-leaky-cauldron.org/features/essays/issue9/authordead/

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Suffering and Literature

“In Molotov’s Magic Lantern: A Journey into Russian History (Faber), which is history-cum-travelogue, Rachel Polonsky, a Cambridge academician, asks whether “there is a set of secret maps to be found among a person’s books, a way through the fortifications of the self” that would explain why a person’s deep love and apparent appreciation of literature (and culture in the larger sense) can be responsible for the execution of so many writers during the purges. Is this because, as the Russian scholar Dmitri Likhachev said, “the Russian people perish from an excess of space” that makes its literature “the most significant, the most tragic, the most philosophical”? These are the underlying questions, often asked about the relationship between suffering and literature, that Polonsky pursues in her book as she travels around the former Soviet empire to revisit the ghosts of great Russian writers of the past.”

From: business-standard.com/india/news/v-vjourney-into-russian-history/418671/

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When the Sword is Mightier than the Pen

“PEN’s survey allowed participants to ofer long-form comments on surveillance; PEN also invited members to share their thoughts and personal experiences via email. In reviewing the responses, themes emerged centering on writers’ self-censorship and fear that their communications would bring harm to themselves, their friends, or sources:

1. PEN writers now assume that their communications are monitored.
2. The assumption that they are under surveillance is harming freedom of expression by prompting writers to self-censor their work in multiple ways, including:
a) reluctance to write or speak about certain subjects;
b) reluctance to pursue research about certain subjects; and
c) reluctance to communicate with sources, or with friends abroad, for fear that they will endanger their counterparts by doing so.”

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Creativity a Byproduct of Mental Disorder?

“intelligence doesn’t have much effect on creativity: most creative people are pretty smart, but they don’t have to be that smart [...] But if high IQ does not indicate creative genius, then what does? [...]

What differences in nature and nurture can explain why some people suffer from mental illness and some do not? And why are so many of the world’s most creative minds among the most afflicted? [...]

As research methodology improved over time, the idea that genius might be hereditary gained support. [...]

For many of my subjects from that first study—all writers associated with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—mental illness and creativity went hand in hand. This link is not surprising. The archetype of the mad genius dates back to at least classical times, when Aristotle noted, “Those who have been eminent in philosophy, politics, poetry, and the arts have all had tendencies toward melancholia. [...]

Among those who ended up losing their battles with mental illness through suicide are Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Vincent van Gogh, John Berryman, Hart Crane, Mark Rothko, Diane Arbus, Anne Sexton, and Arshile Gorky. [...]

The creative [...] and their relatives have a higher rate of mental illness than the controls and their relatives do. [...] 

Why does creativity run in families? What is it that gets transmitted? How much is due to nature and how much to nurture? Are writers especially prone to mood disorders because writing is an inherently lonely and introspective activity? What would I find if I studied a group of scientists instead?”

And the answer is: theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/06/secrets-of-the-creative-brain/372299/

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Literary Fame is a Fleeting Moment

“The team also investigated the changing nature of fame over the past two centuries. By looking at the frequency of famous people’s names in literature, they showed that celebrities born in the mid-20th century tended to be younger and more famous than those of the 19th century, but their fame lasted for a shorter period of time. By 1950, celebrities were achieving fame, on average, when they were 29, compared with 43 for celebrities around 1800. “People are getting more famous than ever before,” wrote the researchers, “but are being forgotten more rapidly than ever.”

“Mark Twain is among the most famous writers and among the most famous people,” said Michel. “Among the American presidents, it’s Theodore Roosevelt.”

“Aiden warned against straightforward comparisons of historical figures, however. “It’s comparing apples and oranges comparing presidents from the mid to late 20th century and those that precede them. The reason is that they haven’t really had the full opportunity to reach the height of their fame trajectory. By virtue of having been around longer, someone in the mid-19th century is going to have accrued a lot of fame.”

“By the mid 20th century, the most famous actors tended to achieve fame at around 30 years of age, while writers had to wait until they were 40. For politicians, fame didn’t tend to happen until they reached 50 or above.”

“Science is a poor route to fame. Physicists and biologists eventually reached a similar level of fame as actors but it took them far longer,” wrote the researchers. “Alas, even at their peak, mathematicians tend not to be appreciated by the public.”

From: theguardian.com/science/2010/dec/16/google-tool-english-cultural-trends

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Writers as Activists

“If [...] creative writers, researchers, playwrights, artists and film-makers care more for how the posterity is going to judge their work and their times, then they should not care for publishers of the Establishments, funding agencies, interviews to corporate media, acceptance by ‘refereed journals’ and the so-called international awards, but should consciously orientate their work for directing the struggle to face its due target and for giving confidence and optimism to the masses”…

From:  tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=37252

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Writers Must be Involved in Every Struggle

“The indispensability of every struggle revolves around the collective intellectual pool … an “intellectual” is a person who produces literature – that is, a novelist, poet, dramatist or any other branch of literary genre. I think it is generally true that in all cultures writers have a separate, perhaps even more honorific place.

What are the responsibilities of the intellectual?

Writers and journalists have often been called upon to act as defenders of free speech … and sometimes have had to pay for their words with exile or with their lives. But their role is vital, especially in rousing opposition to dictatorial or otherwise illegitimate regimes. It is the job of the intellectual to give a voice to those who are unable to speak. As I see it, intellectuals are those who have diverse wisdom and foresight, who apply their intellect and forward-looking visions for the purpose of awakening society. They help to divert the masses from what is unwise and wrong toward what is righteous and the good.

Immanuel Kant believed that intellectuals must get involved.”

From: kashmirlife.net/vol06-issue12-3-60030/

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Writers for the Revolution

…”what a work of art must do. And that is to tell the truth in a way that raises the intellectual, spiritual and emotional capabilities of their audiences. It need not be the literal truth; it can be a deeper one that lies at the core of the human heart.”

“Poetry, according to T.S. Eliot, “in proportion to its excellence and vigor, affects the speech and sensibility of a whole nation.”

“That’s true not only of poetry but all the literary arts: poetry, fiction, drama.”

“They can enhance our perception of our social milieu — what that milieu actually is and what it can and should be. Thus literature becomes a force for political development and reform. And if the writer perceives that his social milieu requires not just reform but a revolution, then the writer must harp on the need for a full-blown revolution.”

From: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/opinion/el-indio-telling-truth/

When Writers Draw from Life

“Gonzalo Mosca was a radical on the run. Hunted by Uruguay’s dictators, he fled to Argentina, where he narrowly escaped a military raid on his hideout. “I thought that they would kill me at any moment,” Mosca says.

With nowhere else to turn, he called his brother, a Jesuit priest, who put him in touch with the man he credits with saving his life: Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

It was 1976, South America’s dictatorship era, and the future Pope Francis was a 30-something leader of Argentina’s Jesuit order. At the time, the country’s church hierarchy openly sided with the military junta as it kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of leftists like Mosca.

Critics have argued that Bergoglio’s public silence in the face of that repression made him complicit, too, and they warn against what they see as historical revisionism designed to burnish the reputation of a now-popular pope.

But the chilling accounts of survivors who credit Bergoglio with saving their lives are hard to deny. They say he conspired right under the soldiers’ noses at the theological seminary he directed, providing refuge and safe passage to dozens of priests, seminarians and political dissidents marked for elimination by the 1976-1983 military regime.”

From: http://m.savannahnow.com/latest-news/2014-03-13/survivors-pope-francis-saved-many-dirty-wars

More about Jesuits, Liberation Theology, Death Squads, and Dirty Wars, in AGENTS OF CHANGE:

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Unlikely Revolutionaries take to arms to turn the archaic Catholic Church into the leading force for change, and in the process they become the biggest threat to the U.S.’s interests…

The battle for change erupts and spreads from the Spiritual to the Temporal world. Agents of Change infiltrate the battlefields, and establishments of public and religious life, because with its murderous military-industrial complexes, rogue banksters, backward religious institutions, and corrupt political systems, the world is in need of a dramatic transformation…

Agents of Change right what is wrong…

The Art of Character Killing

“Readers may assume that killing-off a character, and a major one at that, is usually the moment of careful, systematic and exciting plotting for every fiction writer. Or that, it may be nothing further away than ‘a treat’ for the narrator who manoeuvres and ruthlessly employs every brilliant gimmick possible, bring down a character that has succeeded in either winning the hearts of readers or breeding loathing only letters can illustrate. Thus, the writers’ genius creates the monster or angel that must surely be killed. How can this be made tangible? Writers will agree that killing-off a major character in a story takes great writing skill, precision, suspense, style and timing and perhaps a lot more. Without some of these ingredients, a story where a major character (or even a minor one) is killed-off may appear vague, unjustified, irrational and unreal to readers who hold unto every word that leaps out of the paper with an almost total innocence. However, it will not be irrational to conclude that almost every committed fiction reader is far from naivety and digs into the story the writer brings alive, with a fierce critical mind that always produces a quiet plea that seems to say: “convince me that I am not reading fiction but reality reincarnated.”

More: http://m.allafrica.com/stories/201403101776.html/