Time Will Tell But We Must Speak Up Now

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” ― Rabindranath Tagore

I was very happy to be asked by Atticus Books to participate in a panel discussion of artists, writers and one musician, pondering questions of responsibility around the OCCUPY movement. The discussion is published in three parts, and I believe if you’re tickled by OCCUPY, you’ll enjoy the ride. Please spread the information & leave a comment. Don’t just stand there and stare at the sea!

Arguably the by now global OCCUPY movement has a moral cause. To more and more people, certain cynical commercial activities appear immoral even though they’re not illegal. Alongside with many others, some writers are upset, too. Which is why “Occupy Writers” exists and gets a lot of support up and down the land (and needs it, too).

I’ve written a lot about morality & writing lately. I still feel that I’m often misunderstood because the word “moral” is so terribly charged, esp. in the U.S. If I were a banker, I would perhaps substitute it by “value creation” and there would be no debate. Everybody loves “values”. What I really mean when I say art and writing should be “moral” is that they should be “life-affirming“. This doesn’t take anybody’s rights away to do something else or write with different values in mind, but I prefer to call that art by its true name instead of pretend that it’s all the same because it isn’t: I’d rather be an artistic clown than an agent of death:

«Art is essentially serious and beneficial, a game played against chaos and death, against entropy. It is a tragic game, for those who have the wit to take it seriously, because our side must lose; a comic game—or so a troll might say—because only a clown with sawdust brains would take our side and eagerly join in.»

—John Gardner, from On Moral Fiction

I’ve gathered my own comments from the discussion on a separate page.

2 thoughts on “Time Will Tell But We Must Speak Up Now

  1. Responsibility is the right word, I think. The moment you take fiction in your hand you have to ask yourself “What do I want to do with this?” It is–certainly–a moral decision.

    • …which is handled by your unconscious at first, I suppose, and that is where (for most people) it stays. I presume that looking at yourself and at your work as you suggest, will deepen one’s work. 

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