I recently returned to a blog post I had written about author Arundhati Roy as she describes the art of writing and its place in our modern world. Here is one jewel of a quote from her lecture, The Graveyard Talks Back.
I mean fiction that attempts to recreate the universe of the familiar, but then makes visible what the Project of Unseeing seeks to conceal.
I had returned to this post after reading an equally powerful essay, On Visiting Auschwitz and Grappling with the Climate of Evil and Injustice by Anna Badkhen. And here is one searing quote from that essay, concerning the art of writing:
The title character of J.M. Coetzee’s novel Elizabeth Costello proposes that [to] broadcast violence is obscene “because such things ought not to take place, and then obscene again because having taken place they ought not to be brought into the light but covered up and hidden for ever in the bowels of the earth, like what goes on in the slaughterhouses of the world, if one wishes to save one’s sanity.”
Years ago, when I first read this passage, I interpreted it as a prohibition against documenting violence. Now I see that it is the last clause—if one wishes to save one’s sanity—that is the key to deciphering the quote: Why must we save our sanity, who said we ought to stay sane, how is it even decent to remain sane in this world we are so recklessly and callously deranging? It is a kind of madness to always hear the keening of the dead, this hurt canticle. It is a madness not to hear.
Both authors’ willingness to enter the violence, the madness and to document it from within succeeded in shoving me onto a trail towards another essay that I am beginning to write concerning the world’s suffering and individuality. I will have more to come on this theme. But in reading both authors today I was reminded of an interview I had done in 2013 through iUniverse after publication of my book UR-Image (now published as The Inception & The Vortex).
This interview in 4 parts also addresses the art of writing
NB: my old website mentioned in the interviews, lighthousedownunder.com should read lighthousedownunder.com.au