To Be

Finley Peter Dunn wrote: A newspaper does everything... Comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable... I have a great personal dislike for new age happy horse **** writing. The kind of writing that tells us "Don't worry. Be happy".  I find that to be a lie as well as a waste of ink.  I feel that a writer's job is much broader than that.  A writer is one of the branches of the Socratic social gadfly, and what is a gadfly without it's buzz.  Good writing asked the hard questions thereby afflicting those in comfortable places, even if one of those persons is the writer himself. Great writing can achieve both affliction and comfort within the same stroke.  I love writing that is raw and exposes the tragic fickleness of life.  The Greek treaties are great for that.  Fate does no spare the high and mighty, in fact, they have a greater fall.  But that is all empty cynicism without comfort.  In the finale scene of Tennessee William Glass Menagerie the mother comforts her daughter after their plans to find her a husband falls apart is both tender and realistic.  They pick up the pieces in the face of defeat and muddle on.  The play both troubles and soothes.  Harper Lee's To kill a Mocking Bird was another great example a writer delving into the great tragedy of life, yet finding some thing good and worthwhile in this world.  And so I think writing is at its best when it troubles us, makes us uncomfortable about our assumptions, yet gives us the vision for going on.
holloway64 holloway64
46-50, M
1 Response Jan 22, 2013

I agree, there's new age surface shock that drives modern music and I think is the reason movie scripts contain explosions instead of dialog. Shock is merely reactive, but a writer can invoke hidden feelings and desires, they can remind the reader of their baser instincts and secret forebodings- shame- and inanities. Simple ideas carry profound repercussions. I like that sort of thing.

I was angry about Wall Street scams and what it did to America. The America I knew and believed in was wounded not by 9/11 but the subsequent incompetence and then the biggest scam in history.

I saw whole neighborhoods sprout foreclosure signs and I though about those bankers protected by their glass towers and twisted law. I thought about burning down their assets. I thought about what would happen if everybody did. And the process made me realize that wouldn't actually be a bad thing. So I wrote Fireclosure.

Of course I made it an adventure and of course I'm not advocating people burn them all down (much).

I understand your position and I appreciate the wealth of humanity and moral challenge in Mockingbird and Menagerie, but I've always been attracted to stories of human spirit and drive for survival as I believe it's all about surviving well. Classical literature still survives and grows in popularity, but the competition grows as well. Sadly, the competition doesn't require or encourage ideas or introspection.

I guess Capra got to me, but so did O'Henry and I'm a sucker for good noir. It takes all kinds to get the message across. And just because we feel the gorge rise when we hear people talk excitedly about American Idol or Lost, at least we know being voted off the island isn't a tragedy, the water is so shallow.

It's the human's ability to struggle on despite the tribulations of life which ends in death, that gives us our bit of nobility.

It's those struggles and tribulations that drive stories. With mine I toss in a bit of danger and morality issues. My Joe Detective character is flawed. He's a better con man than a detective. He thinks of himself as unmoral and deals with the opposition accordingly. It doesn't matter if it's a crook, a murderer, a priest, or the IRS, "there are no roll models when everyone has a price".

Nobility has it's place. I, like most people I've known practice it inadvertently. Having found myself cornered on a number of occasions I've found nobility is similar to good deeds that never go unpunished. That I chose it more often than not just shows how flawed human nature is when in the scheme of things as it's the actual survival that counts. Sometimes we chose how we look on the way over more fundamental instincts. Very risky stuff, nobility.

So what are you writing?