The Price of Literary Glamour and Glitz

Glamour and glitz of literary festivals comes with a price, “And the most expensive item on the bill is the transformation of writers into performers, authors into salesmen. […] For them it is promote or perish. Writers these days have to have their own websites, be active on Facebook, send off tweets every few hours and generally be as visible as possible. Lest the reader forgets him and goes off with whoever is grabbing their attention at that moment.

However

, “The best expression of a writer’s thoughts has to be in his writings, not in his spoken words. That is why he or she has chosen the lonely, uncertain life of a writer.”

We readers too can be like them, by opting to walk the solitary path of reading. If we are content to judge authors by their works and not their personalities, if we are ready to put substance over style, then Lit Fests would lose their relevance. Honestly, how can something as intimate as a novel be turned into a successful live event?

From: firstpost.com/living/literary-festivals-are-anti-reading-why-lit-fests-are-for-performers-not-writers-2542596.html

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Who, if not Writers?

“Literature, whether prose or poetry, as a record, or history, not only of individual’s lives but also of collective’s lives ~ indeed of society’s life. For what purpose would Literature serve if not as a mirror of our reality both at the individual and collective levels? So, while it is soul-satisfying to write and read about the twinkling of stars as well as gushing and gurgling streams by verdant hills, for me it is more imperative that we also write about peace, harmony, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity amongst the human race. Indeed, it is very imperative […] that we write about freedom ~ freedom to think, to feel, to ideate, to write and to read and these freedoms can become a reality only when we create and nurture the atmosphere and environment for them to germinate. So then, we must write about poverty, hunger, mal-nutrition, diseases, injustice, corruption and all the other ills that beset our society and […] sink us in the quick sands of mediocrity.”

“If writers do not double up as activists too, who will change our society and state? Who will create the need and the urge in our people to destroy the status quo and usher in change that would bring out the best in our culture and traditions, and indeed in us? This requires that writers and poets climb down from Ivory Towers and see and feel the real world we live in. This requires that we do not romanticize ourselves, our cultures, our traditions, our society and our state. This further requires that we do not look at Literature as a means to gain popularity, to make a name and to make money, and I know it is hard to ward off the temptations social media offers in today’s technologically-dominated world. But at the same time, it is now imperative that we use social media to disseminate our message. And perhaps less of the messenger?”

FROM: morungexpress.com/creating-change/

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Writers Help Us Grow as People

Literature mirrors “the challenges of societal integrity, cultural sovereignty and the dilemma of self-awareness and self-confidence in us as a people.”

[…] “not only should we read books written by our writers for our people, we should see them while they are alive, touch them and feel them, connect with their humanity from which spring their acute sense of self-awareness, purpose and the dilemmas of reality, which writers are so endowed with.” […]

“Our writers should regularly be invited into our schools, talk to students, share their works and thoughts with them and let our youth grow up knowing their writers who so much influence their thoughts”.

From: graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/53006-writers-must-interact-with-students-prez-mahama.html

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Reading, What is it Good For?

“Reading is a crucial practice in contemporary life. Reading helps us to better ourselves by educating our minds, enriching our knowledge, and exposing us to new and diverse ideas and perspectives, not to mention different lifestyles, worlds, and ways of being. This exposure to diversity and difference, in turn, helps enable us to better understand, not just ourselves, but the world around us.

Reading opens us up to new senses and possibilities. Manguel describes learning to read as “acquiring a new sense, so that now certain things no longer consisted merely of what my eyes could see, my ears could hear, my tongue could taste, my nose could smell, my fingers could feel, but of what my whole body could decipher, translate, give voice to, read”.

Reading makes it possible for us to attain higher levels of awareness, enhancing our other senses, enriching our knowledge, and augmenting and adding to our realities. It therefore opens up new possibilities for us to explore and experience.

There are many other great advantages of and to reading, including strengthening cognition and intellect, improving mental and physical health, and enhancing compassion and empathy.”

From, and read more about the importance of reading: timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20151102/opinion/The-benefits-of-reading.590612

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No Future Without Reading

“Reading does many things: It expands and enriches the mind, clarifies the thought process. It stimulates the mind and provokes research thereby increasing productivity and well being. We must determine to learn new skills, when you have a clear and compelling view of the benefit of learning, you will strongly influence your own future and the attitude of the people around you. […]

The importance of reading and the creative use of the mind cannot be over-emphasized as the fact remains that the difference between the slave and the master, leaders and followers or the rich and the poor is largely determined by knowledge and skills acquired. If you want to attain great height of successful achievement, it is obligatory to seek the discipline afforded by books and study.

[…] through books, Sir Arthur Keith opined: “You can encompass in your imagination the full sweep of world history, you can watch the rise and fall of civilisation, the ebb and flow of mighty battles and the changing patterns of life through the ages.” Indeed, life would be a poor and narrow path without books. Books open the door to the world of creative thought and imagination. You open doors when you open books…doors that swings wide to unlimited knowledge and opportunities.”

From, and read more: ngrguardiannews.com/2015/10/the-imperativeness-of-reading-and-creative-use-of-mind-1/

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Role of Life’s Experiences in the Creative Process

“Spontaneity, freshness, courage and a thousand other advantages inherent to youth [are] conducive” to creativity. However, “maturity and experience — the world accumulated and assimilated in the author’s mind — allow him to convey human problems from a truly universal perspective. The writer in his adulthood, freed from the inseparable emotional interference of youth, with its naive drive to over-analyze experiences, desires, and frustrations, finds himself in the optimal position to blend personal elements with those of others’, be they taken from reality, or existing literature, absorbing them into his own 
writing, and widening his understanding of the creative act of penetrating the complexity of human mystery — the only and true object of the artistry of the novel.”

Vicente Lenero, The Code (my rush translation).

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Literature as a Weapon

“Words matter. A society’s books and movies impact the world. Books, in particular were often internationally influential during the Cold War. …

The CIA funded the production and distribution of individual literary projects. …

Eric Bennett, a professor of English at Providence College and author of the forthcoming Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle and American Creative Writing During the Cold War, wrote that the CIA’s efforts produced lasting and potentially damaging effects.

According to Bennett, the CIA and other conservative organizations actually infiltrated the United States’ leading writing programs and literary journals. The goal was to establish an American literary tradition that would “venerate and fortify the particular, the individual, the situated, the embedded, the irreducible.”

That literary voice would be an alternative to the Soviet Union’s socialist realism — and its selfless heroes sacrificing themselves for good of the revolution.

Soon after Pres. Harry Truman founded the CIA with the National Security Act of 1947, the agency began focusing on the arts.”

From, and continue reading on the CIA role in shaping American literature: isnblog.ethz.ch/intelligence/the-cia-battled-the-kremlin-with-books-and-movies-2

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Are Today’s Writers Irrelevant?

Writers “can make an impact on the social and political life of the nation by using their reputations as thinkers and writers.” But, “When I look at the contemporary scene, it seems to me that writers make no impact at all.”

“Writing, I am afraid, has become a self-promoting activity. To see writers hankering for rewards is to lose faith in their ability to play any role beyond a selfish one. […]”

“…the mystique surrounding the writer has all but disappeared. Writers are now seen at so close at hand that there is no longer any awe surrounding them. By making the writer a celebrity, the media has weakened the writer’s role and taken away to some extent, her freedom. To want to be known and to be known -both these erode the writer’s freedom.”

“Fame brings its own pressures and Virginia Woolf ‘s words say it beautifully: “Now I think Shakespeare was very happy in this that there was no impediment of fame, but his genius flowed out of him.”

From: m.timesofindia.com/life-style/books/features/I-am-frustrated-by-the-impotence-of-writers/articleshow/49308748.cms

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Writers Can Make a Better World

“Literature is constructive as well as reflective, and there is certain power in this.

Novels rising from moments of conflict and hardship sharpen focus on the inequalities and struggles of those times.

… such narratives raise awareness of key social issues and potentially move the culture toward empathy, understanding, change – or else underscore unfortunate cultural resistance, the failure of those things to eventuate.

…writers and artists who direct their work toward the prevailing issues of the time can […] alter the real world, for the better.”

From: theconversation.com/writing-for-good-in-the-contemporary-novel-of-purpose-48104

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Readers – Agents of World Transformation

“In order to truly understand the perspectives of others different from us, we need something more than knowledge alone. We need compassion, empathy and desire to engage in social discourse.

Contrary to nonfiction books, fiction books are cherished for their form as a narrative art, which employs literary locution, syntax and its plot in a way that allows new perspectives to settle in. According to Jacques Rancière, a French philosopher and social activist, fiction is valuable “due to a new balance of the powers of language, to a new way language can act by causing something to be seen and heard. Literature … is a new system of identification.” …

According to Martha Nussbaum, an American philosopher, “Literature makes us better citizens because it trains us to understand others. Narrative imagination is an essential preparation for moral interaction.” …

“Thus, reading great works of fiction turns the reader into a conscious agent of world transformation by bringing to the fore the unseen and unheard.”

From: dailybruin.com/2015/09/18/submission-reading-fiction-crucial-for-broadening-social-awareness/

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