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What responsibility?

January 19, 2011 \pm\31 1:43 pm

Over at HTML Giant, Roxane Gay wonders whether writers have a responsibility and to whom.

I feel like the distinction between self and others in this context is superficial. Meaning you are human, part of humanity, your concerns are humanity’s concerns. Therefore, whatever you choose to write about is a thing. No sense in worrying about things that don’t worry you. There’s enough that worries you naturally. Responsibility towards yourself and for yourself is responsibility towards everyone.

An example related to Roxane’s post is Ben Brooks’s An Island of Fifty. ALL of Brooks’s novels are my favorites, but admittedly Island is my least so far. I think because, in it, Ben attempted some bigworld hardhits: capitalism, industrialization, nihilism, societal breakdown, etc. And I believe maybe (I don’t know for sure but plausibly) he had an end, to teach us something of us. His heart was good, his vision keen, certainly ambitious for an 18-year-old or anyone really. I’m sure Lorin Stein would grant him that, even without an MFA. But ultimately the reading felt too intent in showing us something about society, instead of just showing us us, the way his other novels do.

By contrast, I think the reason Noah Cicero’s The Human War, with its telling title, is more ‘novel of the century’ than Franzen’s Freedom* is it’s just this guy and war is going down and the world seems going to shit and this guy is confused and he is scared. And he’s doing what he does. And isn’t that just you.

Anyway, cheers to Gay, Brooks and Cicero for spinning my cogs all sparking.

*Just kidding, yo, I haven’t read Franzen, fuck that shit.

  1. January 19, 2011 \pm\31 4:01 pm 4:01 pm

    Hey Ani. I think we were both composing at the same time and I stole the top o’ the page right after you posted. Didn’t mean to steal your limelight. I feel responsible.

    • January 19, 2011 \pm\31 6:56 pm 6:56 pm

      haha, don’t be silly.

      okay, i’ll admit, my favorite position is me on top but this is the fun of group activities, you don’t know where you’ll end up.

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