Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Random Thoughts

I've been thinking a lot lately about the role of art in this world and if it can really move anything towards change. Ed Abbey thought that in the long run art, and more specifically, a novel could have an impact on the world. But, Ed Abbey was much like Kurt Vonnegut in that he did not see us (or most of us anyway, and in that he differs from KV) long for this place. He was a man of action and respected most those who were greater men--and women--of action. Change, change in the here and now, he thought, could not come from talking about it. You had to do it.

I read in some class or another about literary journalism a quote from a journalist writing in the Vietnam era. He asked something to the extent of if you weren't there, covering and writing about the war, then just what the hell was it you were doing? The unnecessary answer being, of course, nothing. Or what you were writing amounted to that.

This has been on my mind lately; there's just so much wrong with the world. Can poems and short stories and pictures really make anything better...in any real way. I haven't come to any conclusion yet. I tend to lean towards the opinion of Mr. Abbey, but do we have the time?

Anyway, I was pondering this over one night with a new friend--really I just met this girl--and she had these positive things to say about InDigest, which gave me hope. People still surprise me with their kindness, and so I guess I'll believe for a while longer.

"So our conversation at the bookstore the other day, and reading the writing on indigest got me thinking about how having public places to express art, writing, ideas, are central to having a healthy society...I was thinking about how dull and repressed our world would be if people were not allowed to create art and share it with others. I feel like art makes us slow down and pay attention to details. To notice. Sometimes it's the only way to truly express one's experiences. So I don't think you should feel like you are not contributing to the good of society-I think we need more people to connect on those levels."


Mary said...

With regard to this question,

"Can poems and short stories and pictures really make anything better...in any real way?"....

If not, I would have no reason to get up every morning. I know that many good books (poetry, biographies, and novels) have dramatically impacted me, my thinking, my emotions, and my actions. Daily, in my work, I witness the impact on youth, as they discover and experience the power of writing their personal truths. Change happens one person at a time. Trite, but true.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

True, but not trite at all. Thanks, Mary.

One of my favorite quotes about the issue, which you just remided me of, comes from one of my favorites (& yrs to, I know), Ani Difranco: "Art is why I get up in the morning, the definition ends there. You know it doesn't seem fair, I'm working for something I can't even define."

Keep fighting the good fight. I know you will.

About Me

David Luke Doody is a freelance writer and editor. He is a founding editor of InDigest Magazine (www.indigestmag.com), an online literary magazine and the blog editor for Guernica Magazine (www.guernicamag.com). His writing and interviews have appeared in those magazines as well as in The Huffington Post, mnartists.org, The Minnesota Twins Yearbook, and Intentionally Urban Magazine, among others.

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