In the two posts, World Crises And The Fiction Writer ~ Can They Help Humanity? and Two Post Mashup + A Video ~ Writers’ Responsibilities, various ideas of the writer’s responsibilities to society were explored.
One of the comments, from a man who has taught English for over 40 years, was challenging enough that I felt compelled to feature it in this post. I encourage you to also visit his blog for some equally challenging sonnets.
I’m hoping that those who read the following comment will let all their heart-felt thoughts pour into comments of their own…
“It is odd that while we know that in the greatest periods of any particular art, its purpose was religious in scope, not at all subjective but objective in its presentation of the ideas and beliefs; the persecution of so many of the artists of any given period of greatness before their ultimate acceptance implies that whatever the message or content of a work, it “hit home” in such a way as to enrage the secular and religious leadership who openly opposed such artists of stature who are today revered as the “greats” of the past.
“Ultimately the works of such artists outlived their opponents. In the struggle to make the transition between zeitgeists comes the problem of what to say and what not to say; what to portray and what not to portray, with the confusion being that in the transition, there is no precedent for the artist’s work while at the same time, it has become patently obvious that what passed for art in the past was no longer capable of either sustaining or maintaining the old world order.
“The result, then, is that literature and the other arts are reduced to what amounts to mere entertainment with no true purpose but to while away the hours of some very bored audiences and/or readers. I think we are there at present. For the most part, artists seem to me to be ‘closet entrepreneurs’ no matter how seemingly positive their apparent productions or the causes they appear to be furthering.
“The past is finished; the future is not yet here. This leads both producers and consumers of the arts with no choice but to demand the ‘quick fix’ that is the very definition of entertainment rather than the didactic purpose of the arts in their generic state. Socrates was sentenced to death for his assertions; Galileo was merely told to shut his mouth about the now obvious position of the earth vis-à-vis the solar system.
“How long the present state of affairs will continue is at best a guestimate but I suspect it will continue right up to the moment of the physical results of mental and spiritual deprivation; in short, nothing short of an atomic bomb or a Third World War or repeated warnings in the form of earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear accidents as were see recently in Japan and Haiti will jumpstart the present state of the arts to begin to move forward into anything other than hortatory goals.
“It does not mean that writers should cease writing, but it does preclude expectations in kudos or even remuneration for writing except in rare cases of accidental acclaim.
“Writing for the joy of it achieves a great end in and of itself because it is free of the active prostitution of the arts and connects with the few in this world who hold to integrity above the advantages of fascist circles of ‘quick fixes’ that leave the ‘mainstream’ at the top and everything else so far off the chart that there is no register in the chart at all.”
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