Tag Archives: World

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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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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Why Read Books in Translation

“Sure, I’d dabbled in some Kafka and Garcia Marquez, but those were acclaimed writers who’d, deservedly, long been translated to English and had earned their proper due. Bolaño was my introduction, or perhaps initiation, to the canon of international literature. Naturally, I came to wonder: What else have I not been exposed to?”

“Do other Americans ask themselves similar questions when stumbling upon the work of gifted international writers? Or are the majority of us content with being fascinated by our own nation’s mythology? These questions are worthy of our pondering. In my case, it was an issue of broadening a somewhat narrow worldview. And literature from countries outside of my own, from Chile and France and Japan and Russia, began the work of providing a more holistic education­—one concerned with making sense of the entire world, not just a small portion.”

“It’s simple, really. If we’re only paying mind to the storytellers of our own country, we’re robbing ourselves blind of something rich and meaningful.”

From: prospect.org/article/why-reading-globally-matters

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Reading is a Gift from Heaven

“With not one person to find refuge, I took shelter in books. Reading takes you away from harsh reality and transports you to a better universe — a universe that makes you forget about your own problems and care only for the characters the author created.

Reading makes you realize that you aren’t the only person with a lot on their plate. Reading makes you feel like you’re not alone. Like you’re not alien.

Reading lets you know that the world isn’t so harsh. People who live in this sometimes-cruel-yet-beautiful world crafted those stories and made their own worlds into heavens.

Reading is a gift. A present. A token of love from the heavens above

Reading is a teacher, better than any teacher across this giant, unknown world.

Reading teaches you lessons about love, life, friendship, death, fear, society, anything. Reading and the universes inside those books teach you the morals you swear to live by.”

More from: touch.mcall.com/#story/mc-books-national-library-week-johnson-ithink-0404-20140403/

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Readers vs Non-Readers

“The world is divided between readers and non-readers – and the difference between the two is enormous and unbridgeable.

Readers absorb; non-readers broadcast.

Readers know stuff; non-readers are running on empty.

Readers are curious; non-readers aren’t.

Readers are obsessed with the world beyond themselves; non-readers are self-obsessed.

Reading, like any addiction, has its problems. Once you discover that the best books are better company than most people, you can lose patience with the company of most people. To be caught without a book or a paper in a queue, at an airport or on a train, is extreme agony.The cure for the addiction, though, is easy – always have a book or paper on you; and do your best to minimise your time in the company of boring people – themselves almost always non-readers.”

From: blogs.telegraph.co.uk

Agents of Change – Jesuits and Liberation Theology

The people and the revolution that sent tremors through the United States and the Vatican:

The 1960s sparked revolutionary changes that swept the secular and religious world. At the forefront of the battle for a new – better – world was the most powerful Catholic Order.

Progressive Jesuit priests started a movement that would turn the archaic religious institution into the leading force for change, and in the process put them at odds with the United States.

These Agents of Change saw the need to do away with antiquated political and banking systems, with murderous military-industrial complexes, and flawed educational systems.

They became the biggest threat to U.S. interests…

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SpyWriter Jack King: Agents of Change,

The function of a writer, literature

“The function of a committed writer is to reveal the world so that every reader loses her innocence and assumes all her responsibilities in front of it.”

“The function of a writer is to call a spade a spade. If words are sick, it is up to us to cure them. Instead of that, many writers live off this sickness. In many cases modern literature is a cancer of words. There is nothing more deplorable than the literary practice which, I believe, is called poetic prose and which consists of using words for the obscure harmonics which resound about them and which are made up of vague meanings which are in contradiction with the clear meaning.”

“That is not all: we are living in an age of mystifications. Some are fundamental ones which are due to the structure of society; some are secondary. At any rate, the social order today rests upon the mystification of consciousness, as does disorder as well.” 

“There is no guarantee that literature is immortal. If writers lose it, too bad for us. But also, too bad for society. Of course, all that is not very important. The world can do very well without literature. But it can do without man still better.” 

“Language is our shell and our antennae, it is the prolongation of our senses, a third eye which is going to look into our neighbors heart.” 

“We are within language as within our body.” 

“To speak is to act; anything which one names is already no longer quite the same; it has lost its innocence.”

“Sartre asserts that if a writer is not fully committed to both political and more importantly economic liberty, he is internally at war with the fundamental free nature of literature.”

“Though people say a film, podcast, song or interview changed their life, prose retains a unique ability to not just to crystallize an emotional or intellectual recognition but to spark a chain of insights that illuminates a different path in life.”

More: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-future-is-unknown-but-we-know-the-unsustainable-will-implode-2012-4

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Read novels, make a better world

“While each of us only gets one life, and one span of time in which to live it, reading allows us to enter the lives of other people living in other spans of time.

One can often understand more about these fictional characters with all their hidden thoughts laid bare on the page than many of the flesh and blood people with whom we spend real time, because real people usually don’t confess all their hopes and motivations and secrets the way literary figures do.

When you read a novel, you do feel while you’re reading it that you’re almost living another life.

I’ve wondered myself, many times, whether the world might not be different if more people read more novels. Privately, I’ve thought a few novels might do rigid and judgmental folks a world of good. It’s harder to hate and judge people when you understand them.

People are generally more accepting of those of other races and lifestyles once they get to know a few such people. I think the same process is possible with novels.”

More: http://m.pekintimes.com/svc/wlws.svc/getHtml#article/?sectionId=1202&feedId=1639&articleId=3871227

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The book for the Occupy Movement and the 99%

A book that was published in 1943, but… “One chapter in particular might have been written in 2012, not 1943. Its title: “Political Action for the 99%.”

“Many of us have become cynical where politics is concerned. Corruption, class legislation and political irresponsibility no longer move us to indignation. Instead, we shrug our shoulders, as if to say, ‘What can you expect?’ This attitude threatens the whole democratic fabric of our country.

‘The people’s will must be made effective’

“Let there be no mistake: the political life of the country will be controlled, if not by the people, then by the vested interests. Indifference on our part is precisely the guarantee that special privilege will continue to rule. The people’s will must be made effective. To achieve this end, they must gain control of economic and political power.”

From: http://thetyee.ca/Books/2012/01/06/Prophets-Of-The-Occupiers/

Prefer a novel? Here’s one, published in 2012, for the Occupy Movement, the 99percenters, and whistleblowers: WikiJustice.

A Better World is Possible… without individualism

I was in the dog park, on the beach, completely engrossed in The Brothers Karamazov, when a poodle came up, with a man attached at the other end of the leash.

“Dostoyevsky?” Poo-poohed the poodle (or perhaps it was the man?), its tail in the book.

I looked up, all dazed, my head, my whole being lost in the story.

The poodle went on, “It’s all people sitting and talking.”

At last it got to me (I have a dog, I speak their language.) So I replied, “But did you hear what they have to say?”

The poodle, “I wouldn’t give him a time of day.”

I read out loud:

“And when,” I cried out to him bitterly, “when will that come to pass? and will it ever come to pass? Is not it simply a dream of ours?”

“What then, you don’t believe it,” he said. “You preach it and don’t believe it yourself. Believe me, this dream, as you call it, will come to pass without doubt; it will come, but not now, for every process has its law. It’s a spiritual, psychological process. To transform the world, to recreate it afresh, men must turn into another path psychologically. Until you have become really, in actual fact, a brother to every one, brotherhood will not come to pass. No sort of scientific teaching, no kind of common interest, will ever teach men to share property and privileges with equal consideration for all. Every one will think his share too small and they will be always envying, complaining and attacking one another.  You ask when it will come to pass; it will come to pass, but first we have to go through the period of isolation.”

“What do you mean by isolation?” I asked him.

“Why, the isolation that prevails everywhere, above all in our age—it has not fully developed, it has not reached its limit yet. For every one strives to keep his individuality as apart as possible, wishes to secure the greatest possible fullness of life for himself; but meantime all his efforts result not in attaining fullness of life but self-destruction, for instead of self-realization he ends by arriving at complete solitude. All mankind in our age have split up into units, they all keep apart, each in his own groove; each one holds aloof, hides himself and hides what he has, from the rest, and he ends by being repelled by others and repelling them.  He heaps up riches by himself and thinks, ‘How strong I am now and how secure,’ and in his madness he does not understand that the more he heaps up, the more he sinks into self-destructive impotence. For he is accustomed to rely upon himself alone and to cut himself off from the whole; he has trained himself not to believe in the help of others, in men and in humanity, and only trembles for fear he should lose his money and the privileges that he has won for himself. Everywhere in these days men have, in their mockery, ceased to understand that the true security is to be found in social solidarity rather than in isolated individual effort.  But this terrible individualism must inevitably have an end, and all will suddenly understand how unnaturally they are separated from one another.  It will be the spirit of the time, and people will marvel that they have sat so long in darkness without seeing the light.  But, until then, we must keep the banner flying. Sometimes even if he has to do it alone, and his conduct seems to be crazy, a man must set an example, and so draw men’s souls out of their solitude, and spur them to some act of brotherly love, that the great idea may not die.”

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.