Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Two Post Mashup + A Video ~ Writers’ Responsibilities


Earlier this month, I wrote a post called, World Crises And The Fiction Writer ~ Can They Help Humanity?.

Four days ago, I read Ollin Morales post, What Ever Happened to The Timely Artist?

In his post, Ollin said:

“…artists aren’t willing to exert their power anymore, nor, I would argue, are they taking up the great responsibility conferred upon them to help people understand the mood, or at least tell people, simply:

In the words of Buffalo Springfield:

There’s bad lines being drawn, / and nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong…  / Paranoia strikes deep, / into your life it will creep.  / It starts when you’re always afraid.  / Step out of line, the man comes / and takes you a-way. / Stop, now! What’s that sound? / Everybody look what’s going down!”

In my post, among other questions, I asked:

* Is fiction a proper tool for purposely proposing solutions to world crises?

* Does it go against some “law” of creativity to ask writers to make their fiction conform to some response to world conditions?

* What is the role in society of the fiction writer?

Another question I asked was:

“…can writers be more aware of how their work could include elements of plot or character or theme that, even if in a small way, contribute to a saner, healthier, more tranquil world?”

And, Ollin had said:

“My end goal is to give readers hope, strength and tools to get through a challenging age like this one. It’s not about whether I’ll succeed at this goal, it’s about whether I am trying to succeed. Because that’s my role as an artist in the world.”

The true beauty of blogging is the conversation the comments can become.

Here are some snippets from my readers’ comments:

“I’ve always been impressed with the TV show, Star Trek (the original). Gene Roddenberry challenged the society of that time to consider a world with social and ethnic diversity. It was a very idealistic story, at a time when equal rights was still in its infancy.”

“…now is not the time for writers to be silent. Oh, no. We must strive ever harder to put our words down in the hopes that it will benefit, comfort, and teach some.”

“Creative people are *not* obligated to be propagandists, and most are better off not trying to fill that slot. If nothing else, obvious propaganda has a very short life-span.”

“…I try to incorporate a sense of awareness of various issues into my writing. I should rephrase that. I don’t try to. It sort of happens without much (if any) conscious effort….I don’t know how I’d define humanity, exactly, though I do think it’s much more than a bunch of individuals. How we interrelate is vital. As a group, we can build up or destroy our surroundings and ourselves. Fiction can definitely play a role in awareness. Often, a fiction story has more power than nonfiction. The message seeps in while the reader is engrossed in someone else’s story. What better way to learn than to walk in another’s shoes?”

And, here are some of the comments about Ollin’s post:

“I really think one of the main reasons for books that address our current climate is that we’re sort of stuck in this MTV-era, where only the trendy material will sell.”

“…though I would say that visual art speaking to specific world topics isn’t as widely seen, I respectfully disagree with the overarching statement that artists are not producing this type of work any more.”

“As the world continues spiraling into the recesses of darkness, more and more artists will come out with a desire to speak the truth even if this costs them. Thank you for firing the first salvo to rally the troops.”

“What I do agree with is that the power to create a catalyst for change is in every artists hands.”

“It has taken me some time to realise that the truth must out, and the risks must be taken, if progress is to be made and we are to see ourselves in mirrors of clear reflection.”

I do hope you’ll go to both posts and read all the comments–Ollin and I respond to the comments–they are conversations.

As a writer, I want to help our ailing World; I need to help in whatever way I can…

There’s a Global Art Project called, Inside Out, that boggles my mind and cheers my heart.

Here’s a video of the originator of that project, explaining his wish to help our World.


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17 responses to “Two Post Mashup + A Video ~ Writers’ Responsibilities

  1. Selena March 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Appropriate and so timely. Thanks for the reminder that we, as writers, need to actively participate in world events in the venue we know best.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 22, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      Thank you, Selena, for those encouraging words :-)

      I think my favorite part of the post is this, from Darcia Helle’s comment:

      “Often, a fiction story has more power than nonfiction. The message seeps in while the reader is engrossed in someone else’s story. What better way to learn than to walk in another’s shoes?””

      Like

      • Once March 24, 2011 at 7:49 am

        Well, it was certainly true in Dickens’ case; had he stated as much as was implied in his novels, he might well have been arrested for sedition. In that sense, “Often, a fiction story has more power than nonfiction.”

        Like

        • Alexander M Zoltai March 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm

          Thanks for making that clear, Once :-)

          Like

  2. Ollin March 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing this post. It looks like we both agree that Art needs to play a big part in healing this world. I think we all agree about that fact, it seems like the disagreement comes when we are questioning whether artists are doing that presently or not. I think that mostly, artists are not, others say that mostly, artists are trying to address the issues of the world.

    It’s cause for some heated debate. But it’s a wonderful debate that needs to be had. Thank you.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      Wow!!

      Thank you, Ollin, for stopping by and commenting :-)

      I couldn’t avoid the “time-released” synchronicity between our two posts.

      I’m hoping the comments for this post can continue the discussion we’ve both begun on the other two posts………

      Like

    • Once March 24, 2011 at 8:23 am

      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 produce 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.

      Like

  3. Darcia Helle March 22, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I love that Buffalo Springfield song!

    Alexander, I always enjoy your insight. What JR said about getting his art directly to the people, rather than first holding it out for inspection and approval, really resonated with me. That defines our indie world. He’s an amazing talent that the world might otherwise never had known, if he’d followed conventional channels.

    Awhile back, I was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘One World, One People’. Someone said to me, “That will never happen.” But it has happened, is happening. It has, in fact, always been. The challenge is in bringing awareness, one mind at a time. :)

    Oh, and thank you for including my comments. I’m honored that you thought they were worth repeating.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      I love that video of JR and his site and cause :-)

      Darcia, you’re right, we are already One World–a World with various diseases and maladies, a World at odds with itself, a World that will only become whole and healthy when enough of us are, as you said, Aware of our Oneness………

      “Most” of your comments Are worth repeating :-)

      Like

  4. Karla Telega March 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I don’t know that taking on society’s problems is the only good that our writing can do, nor should it be the responsibility of every writer. We’re an aging population, and I’m hoping that the humor in my fluffy little mystery and my blogs can take some of the anxiety out of many of the challenges that aging can bring. That’s where my heart is.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 23, 2011 at 2:37 am

      You speak of “the humor in my fluffy little mystery”, Karla…

      I think your book is far from fluffy, is a well-crafted mystery, and, even though filled with humor, is a thrilling story about a woman who conquers fear and grows in strength throughout the book. To me, a character like that is a “service” to humanity…

      And, I agree that fiction “…can take some of the anxiety out of many of the challenges that aging can bring.”

      In that other post of mine I link to in this post, I said:

      “…I certainly don’t feel that writers as a group need to be changing their own ideas about what they want their fiction to accomplish. Even though my book is attempting to facilitate some rather huge goals, I still want to read books that entertain me or divert me from the strains of current culture or make me forget about everything but a fantastic tale that has no bearing on political or humanitarian or scientific or religious agendas…”

      Like

  5. cmmarcum March 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Mr. Ollin gives a harsh judgment, and I don’t agree with him. Instead, I think of artists like the band that played on the RMS Titanic, until the deck became to canted and the ocean swallowed them.

    If the world does not listen and learn, it will not be because the writer, the painter, the photographer and the musician did not deliver their messaged. Even now, don’t you labor with your message, my freind?

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 23, 2011 at 2:40 am

      C.M.,

      If you check out the comments of Ollin’s post, you’ll find a woman challenging his claim and Olllin making his contention clearer by saying it applies to “mainstream” writers…

      And, yes, I am laboring for my book’s message to be heard. Yet, I am a small voice in a large and boisterous crowd of writers………………

      Like

      • cmmarcum March 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm

        Well, I don’t read Ollin. I read Zoltai. :)

        Like

  6. Simone Benedict March 23, 2011 at 1:49 am

    Thanks for this post and sharing the comments. It’s insightful and so very refreshing to consider content for a change rather than technique.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai March 23, 2011 at 2:41 am

      Yep…

      Plenty of technique blogs out there :-)

      Like

  7. Pingback: Writer’s Responsibilities ~ Revisited … « Notes from An Alien

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