‘The revolutionary epic is never a “finished” narrative, let alone uniquely nefarious. The unruly and dense “archives” that revolutions (or an epic past) embody are liable to tell different stories, stories that bequeath different “lessons” and, thereby, possibilities.’
After the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, the young radical poet Percy Bysshe Shelley proclaimed he was deserting “the odorous gardens of literature” for “the great sandy desert of politics.” Instead, he infused literature with revolutionary political ideas.
“The problem of how to relate to, and retrospectively valorise, the Commune’s failure created a tension in the socialist periodical press between the motivational need to celebrate such a heroic defeat, in order to justify sacrifices both past and present, and the evaluative need critically to assess the reasons that underlay the defeat.”
The great Russian writers between “apocalypse and nihilism.”
Posted in anarchism, fiction, melancholy, Nota Bene, poetry, revolution, violence
Tagged Berdyaev, Blok, Dostoyevsky, Ivanov, Russian Revolution, Tolstoy
“JRC: How can art battle politics in this era of fake news and open hostility and fascist rhetoric?
PW: Art tells the truth. It’s that simple. Fiction, in particular, reveals the truth through fabrication.”
‘The necessary thing to do is to transform shock into a high alertness that prevents anything from being taken for granted — to confront fear and to love the way it makes everything appear strange. Love the new frequencies; what is noise now will be music later. The disintegration of the known world provides a lot of pieces to play with and use in constructing alternatives while being aware that the simple modes of representation are tranquilizers at best, coercion at worst.
What I call for is a literature that craves the conflict and owns the destruction, a split-mind literature that features fear and handles shock, that keeps self-evident “reality” safely within the quotation marks. Never should we assume the sun will rise tomorrow, that America cannot be a fascist state, or that the nice-guy neighbor will not be a murderer because he gives out candy at Halloween.
America, including its literature, is now in ruins, and the next four years will be far worse than anyone can imagine. Which is why we must keep imagining them as we struggle to survive them. To write in and of America, we must be ready to lose everything, to recognize we never had any of it in the first place, to abandon hope and embrace struggle, to fight in the streets and in our sentences.’
Posted in crisis, defeat, disobedience, emergency, fiction, melancholy, Nota Bene, poetry, resistance, revolt, Uncategorized
“Poetry slams and other literary events are being organized nationwide in the run-up to the president-elect’s Jan. 20 inauguration. … But for many men and women of letters, Trump is the galvanizing factor.”