Tag Archives: Society

Reading in the Age of Fake News

“In order to have an overall developed personality to cope with modern-day crisis, it becomes vital not only to study literature, but also see its relevance in economic, political and class terms. Such is the coalescing of radical sociology and the humanities, more so at a time when the old certainties are questioned and a civil society is being built around new identities and forms of empowerment.

“In Praise of Literature [the authors] argue for the redirection of sociology and literature towards active politics, justice and freedom. In other words, art and literature can never be cordoned off from social sciences and social theory. Literary scholars bring perceptive readings to bear upon social and political texts in the same way as sociologists throw light on the human condition. For instance, Greek Tragedy is aptly used in putting across a case in criminal law having direct bearing on social welfare, or Plato and Gibbon facilitate the understanding of diplomacy or important aspects of human value and the meaning of life, the chief concern of liberal arts.

“The crossing over from literary practice to social theory or vice versa gives a broader critical and philosophical grounding to the study of ideology and resistance, knowledge and power, the major concerns of humanities in a world overtaken by ‘pseudo modernism’ that spells disaster for our pulverised culture of ‘unreliable Wikipedia and blogs.’”

From, and more: https://www.tribuneindia.com/mobi/news/spectrum/books/words-that-drive-society/303323.html

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Literature’s Battleground

Literature is “obligated to join the oppressed in the trenches and become a partisan for truth, justice and the higher ideals […], such as tolerance, personal and collective freedoms, equity in the distribution of public wealth and equality of opportunity. In a word, those who love literature have a big role to play in building a just and open society where ideas are free to compete and where it is not criminal to hold divergent views. Literature, indeed all art, is therefore expected to engage in the difficult task of remaking society. It has a responsibility to guard society from what Bob Dylan, the Nobel prize winning crooner, called “the morals of despair”. It also has the onerous duty of standing up to those who seek to “choke the breath of conscience”. As the English Romantic poet, Percy Shelley famously observed, “the most unfailing herald, companion, and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution, is poetry”.

From: nation.co.ke/lifestyle/weekend/writers-stood-up-for-democracy-and-higher-ideals/1220-4317766-7o48im/index.html

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Write to be Heard

“while it’s conventional that wisdom exists in literature, creative writing has always been seen as more rarefied or intimidating. It has been celebrated as personally palliative, yes, but it’s never been considered a method to increase participation in society. After all, what good is composing poetry and writing stories when you need a job, or a nation must be founded, or a war has to be won, or cancer is ravaging the bodies both human and politic?

But creative writing can be anyone’s best training for speaking out – and if you’ve ever read novels, heard scripture, watched movies or TV, listened to songs, or learned folklore, then you’ve been studying your entire life how storytelling works. By applying your hand at creating it, you are not just attempting art, you are learning vital skills and life lessons.

Fiction teaches us about characters and empathy, plot and consequences, and the value of nuance to truth. Poetry teaches us how to distil language, value silence, and understand metaphor. Non-fiction (which certainly includes journalism) teaches us accountability to facts, critical thinking about the systems in society, and the importance of getting out into the world to listen to others. These are but a few of the skills one learns from writing creatively.

Are those life lessons not vital to democracy? To have a voice is to have a vote. To have a vote is to be represented in society. To represent ourselves clearly and confidently empowers us citizens to air our own concerns and our community’s grievances, to be accountable for ourselves, and to demand the accountability of our leaders. If we are not trained to articulate our arguments properly, we will never be heard legitimately, and we can be ignored too conveniently.

… while art itself might not change the world, it’s abundantly clear that it can empower those who will.”

From, and read more: http://ewn.co.za/2017/05/11/art-and-literature-are-vital-to-democracy-here-s-why

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Literature will set us free

“Nothing can defend us better against ignorance, prejudice, racism, nothing better than good literature. […] good books are the best defense that we have against prejudices, against distorted views of people of different languages, different beliefs, different customs. We discover that in spite of all differences, the common denominator among men and women of different traditions is much more important, because we are all humans and we are all challenged by very similar kinds of problems and obstacles that we have to overcome in order to survive, in order to live.

If free and democratic societies are to carry on as such, it is imperative that their citizens be trained by reading good literature not only for the great pleasure the activity affords, but also for its great potential to stimulate the critical mind, which is the real engine of historical change and the best protector of liberty.”

From: cnnphilippines.com/life/culture/literature/2016/11/09/mario-vargas-llosa.html

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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

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To Write Something One Must be Something

“Art brings into play the subjective impressions and imagination of the artist. But these impressions and this imagination carry weight and endure, in the end, only in so far as they correspond—in accordance with art’s distinctive mirrors—to life and reality as they are.

We are not dictating this state of affairs—but it is a fact that only the art with something to say about the decisive questions facing masses of people, however indirectly or poetically, will be of great interest in the years to come. Self-absorption and social indifference will be looked on with as much astonishment as contempt.

The great novelist Leo Tolstoy had contributed to the 1905 Revolution in Russia although he was no revolutionary. “Everything that Tolstoy stated publicly” about the cruelty, irrationality and dishonesty of tsarist Russia “in thousands of ways … seeped into the minds of the laboring masses … And the word became deed.”

This is our conception too, that art has the ability to alter the thinking and feeling of masses of human beings. To have that sort of influence, however, the artist must know something important about the world, about society and history. To do something one must be something, as Goethe observed.”

FROM: wsws.org/en/articles/2016/06/01/awr2-j01.html

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Publishing is about much more than book sales

“When we talk about publishing these days, we have to talk about much more than book sales, even more than the written word and books themselves. We need to talk about all the things we do with and around books, our engagement with book culture.

In other words, we need to talk about publishing as a cultural practice, as something that contributes to or even constitutes who we are as individuals, who we are as citizens. We need to talk about publishing as a socio-cultural activity that helps us to understand our place in the world.

Publishing expresses and shapes our societies. It even plays a part in the kind of nations we live in. It would be wise, therefore, to broaden the conversation about it to more than sales figures.

In short, we need to shift our attention from publishing as a business process to thinking about publishing as an act of culture.”

From: theconversation.com/publishing-should-be-more-about-culture-than-book-sales-54173

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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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Revolution Will Not Come From Materialistic Writers

“Though the mouth has hardly ever ceased to be “muzzled by the food it eats to live,” nature has always had this quaint way of producing those daring ones determined to go against the grain.”

“No doubt one has to have the conviction of steel to take such a stand, and this decision will not appeal to a highly materialist writer. The very rich who write for kicks are not too fussy about integrity or conviction, though they can be if they so desire.”

“There are stories galore about writers with a passion for truth but who under pressure were forced to compromise.”

“well-to-do folks with their full quota of daily calories, can write well but have nothing to say, as against poor folks who do the hard work and get the least calories, and have much to say but can’t write. Lao Tzu said: “Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know”.

“writers and artists of integrity are most often found outside looking in armed with their criticism … for that’s where the revolution happens.”

From: stabroeknews.com/2015/opinion/letters/08/01/writing-always-has-a-reason/

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What are we without stories

Stories serve as the foundation of any intelligent society. Stories serve not only to entertain, but also to instruct, to inform and to engage. Stories have substance; they contain characters that we can empathize with, plot lines we can relate to and life lessons we can learn without actually having to make the mistakes ourselves.

When we read we think, we imagine and we dream. Take that away and what would we become as a society? We need books to inspire us, to challenge our way of thinking, to take us to far-away places and give us experiences that we never would have had otherwise.

We need to encourage the importance of stories […] to get people thinking and imagining, anything to get people to form their own opinions in a country where we are still allowed to do so.

From: independentcollegian.com/2014/10/14/opinion/budrevich-we-read-we-imagine-we-dream/

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