Friday, June 1, 2012

In times like these, why write?

I am driven to write. The more I do it, the more driven I am. It starts crowding out all the other things I need to do, like make a living. Writers mostly have to do something else to make a living. A sad statement about the culture, really. This isn't just true of writing, but all the arts. The culture doesn't value a masterfully written poem, or a painting that makes one gasp, or question the social and psychological constructs of our world.

But writers are also challenged by the sheer volume of words. Words proliferate. They pour off our computer screens and smart phones with a thousand apps and cable TV. And as they proliferate, they get louder and louder until we are all just shouting at each other trying to be heard. That's how it seems to me, anyway. And I am so weary with all the shouting. So more and more, I just turn it off.

Most of us know that not all words are equal. And we know they can be used to destroy, to manipulate, to construct false worlds, even to shape values, including some very destructive ones (Hitler, for example, was a master of words when up on a platform in front of adoring masses).