Tag Archives: Censorship

Literature’s Greatest Contribution to the World

“Reading and writing are subversive acts by default. […] this activity develops in societies a critical spirit about the world as it is.

Why do you think that all dictatorships have tried to control literature? […] They have established systems of censorship. They have given special laws to put limits to the fantasy world that literature creates—because they mistrust very much this activity that is producing stories to replace the real world with the fantasy world of literature.

[…] writers don’t need to be politically inclined to make a criticism. Literature itself is critical of the real world.

The critical spirit […] is developed by presenting readers with worlds that are better, more coherent, more rich—in which life has possibilities that real life, the real world, doesn’t have.

And the greatest contribution of literature to the world, is when it gives us ideas that are very critical of the world as it is.”

Mario Vargas Llosa

From: gmanetwork.com/news/story/587427/lifestyle/dictators-like-marcos-are-right-to-fear-writers-mario-vargas-llosa

More Reading Writing Spying:

Writers, Surveillance, and Self-Censorship

“Writers are reluctant to speak about, write about, or conduct research on topics that they think may draw government scrutiny. This has a devastating impact on freedom of information as well: If writers avoid exploring topics for fear of possible retribution, the material available to readers—particularly those seeking to understand the most controversial and challenging issues facing the world today—may be greatly impoverished.”

… “according to the survey, writers living in countries defined as “Free” by U.S.-based NGO watchdog Freedom House expressed an almost equal level of concern about surveillance as those living in countries defined as “Not Free” (75% and 80%, respectively), prompting notable levels of self-censorship.

“The levels of self-censorship reported by writers living in liberal democracies are astonishing, and demonstrate that mass surveillance programs conducted by democracies are chilling freedom of expression among writers,” the report notes. According to the survey, 34 percent of writers living in liberal democracies admitted to self-censoring, compared with 61 percent of writers living in authoritarian countries, and 44 percent in semi-democratic countries.”

From: commondreams.org/news/2015/01/05/fear-government-spying-chilling-writers-speech-worldwide

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Book censorship in America

“Under the First Amendment, the U.S. government cannot outright ban literature in the United States, but […]  books can be hidden from public view or written off as conspiracy theory in order to prevent people from reading them.”

“While censorship is often conducted by corporations and governments to prevent words, images or ideas from entering the mainstream, censorship of literature has been around as early as 399 B.C. and has affected intellectuals and philosophers such as Socrates.” […]

“The urge to censor is hardly the monopoly of any political group. But the greatest threat today comes from the fundamentalist right, with its ideological hostility to other religious or philosophical systems, to homosexuality, to sex education, and indeed to the basic idea of secular education.”

“Whether in print or digital format, books are a precious resource, providing us with information, entertainment, opinions, ideas, and a window on lives far different from our own,” wrote Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association, in a piece to remind Americans that censorship still exists, even with the existence of the Internet.”

“Free access to books and ideas is the foundation of our government and our society, enabling every person to become an educated participant in our democratic republic.”

From: mintpressnews.com/banned-forgotten-book-censorship-u-s/193202/

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Writers in a Surveillance State

Writers are ducking their calling in Surveillance State Amerika:

“A new report from the PEN Center and the FDR Group entitled “Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor” finds that 85 percent of surveyed writers are worried about government surveillance of Americans, and nearly three-quarters (73 percent) “have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today.”

“Sixteen percent of writers have avoided writing or speaking about certain topics due to threatening privacy concerns, and an additional 11 percent have seriously considered such avoidance.”

“Nearly a quarter of the writers surveyed (24 percent) reported deliberately avoiding certain topics in phone or email conversations, and an additional 9 percent have seriously considered such action. A small portion of respondents said they had even declined opportunities to meet with people deemed “security threats by the government” because of privacy fears.”

From: washington.cbslocal.com

Read the report: http://www.google.com/gwt/x?wsc=bf&u=http://www.pen.org/sites/default/files/Chilling%2520Effects_PEN%2520American.pdf&ei=zxCEUq2HF4PSwAKGpYDIBQ

Dumbing down literature

“From Reader’s Digest to Cliff’s Notes to No Fear Shakespeare, simplified novels have infiltrated American society over generations. They seem innocent enough, flaunting an “easy to read” nature meant to appeal to those less versed in complex literature and language. However, while these watered down novels may be convenient for the busy, story-oriented adult reader, they are hardly appropriate for a class focused on critical reading. They’re a skewed kind of censorship that removes students from the benefits of difficult, close reading and dumbs down the English classroom.

Words are taken out that set the entire mood of the piece; phrases that define the moment and add depth to the author’s style are taken out. Removing these aspects eliminates the experience of analyzing the author’s intent and figuring out why that phrase or scene was deemed necessary.”

From: http://tigernewspaper.com/wordpress/2013/03/14/the-dangers-of-watering-down-literature/

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A new Pope. A new Church. A new world:


Literature is Freedom

“Even when a country is not free, its writers are free.” It is, therefore, important for a writer to “speak the truth and keep the conscience. …

“The rulers of the country are not worth the literature the country is producing … literature stands for “freedom of the mind in the past, present and the future”.

When the political atmosphere in a country does not allow for unbridled free speech, metaphors have always served as the “hiding place” for writers. Many have managed to speak between lines through metaphors during the reign of the most draconian rulers.”

From: http://m.thehindu.com/news/states/karnataka/literature-equals-freedom-of-the-mind/article4177593.ece/

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com

What is Literature

“…all literature is civic action: Because it is memory. All literature preserves something which otherwise would die away with the flesh and bones of the writer. Reading is reclaiming the right to this human immortality, because the memory of writing is all-encompassing and limitless. … Our books are accounts of our histories: Of our epiphanies and our atrocities. In that sense all literature is testimonial. But among the testimonies are reflections on those epiphanies and atrocities, words that offer the epiphanies for others to share, and words that surround and denounce the atrocities so that they are not allowed to take place in silence. They are reminders of better things, of hope and consolation and compassion, and hold the implication that of these too, we are all of us capable. Not all of these we achieve, and none of these we achieve all the time. But literature reminds us that they are there, these human qualities, following our horrors as certainly as birth succeeds death. They too define us…

Of course, literature may not be able to save anyone from injustice, or from the temptations of greed, or the miseries of power. But something about it must be perilously effective if every dictator, every totalitarian government, every threatened official tries to do away with it, by burning books, by banning books, by censoring books, by taxing books, by paying mere lip-service to the cause of literacy, by insinuating that reading is an elitist activity. …

Every day, somewhere in the world, someone attempts (sometimes successfully) to stifle a book which plainly or obscurely sounds a warning. And again and again, empires fall and literature continues. Ultimately, the imaginary places writers and their readers invent  — in the etymological sense of “to come upon,” “to discover” — persist at all because they are simply that which we should call reality, because they are the real world revealed under its true name. The rest, as we should have realized by now, is merely shadow without substance, the stuff of nightmares, and will vanish without a trace in the morning.”

More: http://www.salon.com/2012/06/08/is_there_any_reason_to_read/singleton/

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Literary self-censorship

“The suppression of literature is an ancient tradition that probably started with the invention of writing and which thrives today all over the world. In the west we generally venerate those authors who stand up against acts of silencing by the authorities. But what are we to think when an author suppresses himself?

The easiest form of self-suppression is to have an idea and not write it, and we may well wish that more authors would exercise this prerogative. It gets more complicated once the book exists, however – even in unpublished manuscript form. Since we usually don’t know about the successful suppressions, the most famous cases of authorial efforts at self-silencing are those of writers who attempted and failed to quash the publication of works they had written but did not wish to see the light of day.”

Here are some examples of self-censored writers and their works: http://m.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/feb/28/authors-censor-themselves-martin-amis?cat=books&type=article

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Publishing Politics

Writers the world over can relate to this. Readers may not be aware that writers write what publishers publish, not the other way around. To be published writers must make compromises. Below is an ilustrative example.

“His own publishers asked him to leave out portions of the book considered too caustic … it would be seen as unpatriotic. So now it’s no longer in the book.”

An interview with the writer:

Q: So censorship is dangling over a writer’s head, stifling him? 

A: Sadly yes. There are things I want to write, but this [censorship] is at the back of my mind.

Q: Are publishers and writers stopping themselves from breaking new ground in that sense?

A: You bet. There are brilliant new writers out there, and I feel terrible because they know their story will not make it, if they write like that.

Q: Because of fear?

A: Sure. At the end of the day, I am a storyteller. And what is a storyteller without his audience?”

There is nothing quite so liberating as a publisher going bancrupt, as in the case of yours truly, allowing one to write what one wants, not what they want.

Snippets from: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/political-intolerance-limits-authors-nagarkar/221172-40-103.html

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