Monday, May 27, 2002

One of the things that bothers me most in the whole world is the idea some people have that dark, sordid, or depressing things, especially in art/fiction/movies/etc., are somehow more "real" or "true" than light or joyous things. Nothing is more real or true than the laugh of my 16-month-old son, or the all-encompassing love and mercy of God. I doubt there is anything I can do in my lifetime to counteract this misguided hierarchy of truth or of worthiness for art, but I wish I could. I think it will be an uphill battle for me to ever be taken seriously as a writer if I keep writing light or funny things instead of desparing things. And I'm not saying I won't write despairing things, either, because I undoubtedly will...but I think they are all different parts of the truth, and all equally part of human experience. And I do hope to celebrate the glorious, which is so misunderstood or overlooked, instead of just pondering the sordid and feeling somehow more profound for it. (I don't make a lot of distinctions between "high art" or "low art," either, and I have a very egalitarian view of whose views are worth listening to...but that's another subject.)

I also bristle at the idea that authors and artists should write or create whatever they feel they "need" to, regardless of whom they hurt or alienate in the process. Maybe I'm just clueless in this area since I don't currently have any difficult or potentially hurtful stories clamoring to be told, but I have trouble believing that any one person's art is so wonderful or needed that it trumps the needs and feelings of many other flesh-and-blood people. I could be wrong, and am certainly willing to consider anything on a case-by-case basis, but I would want to take a long, hard look at my motives, my goals, and the long-term potential costs and benefits before purposefully doing something that would hurt other people. There will always be exceptions, but most of those painful books that just "had to be written" will end up on the bookstore remainder table for $1 in a year or two, and the authors will be mere footnotes in literary history...will they feel it was worth it then? (But then, I also have trouble understanding how the life of one pet snake could be worth the lives of many mice! I understand it in nature, where it's just the food chain, but not so much with pets. I know I'm a hypocrite, though, because I do seem to value cute little mice over, say, cockroaches!)