Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

sábado, mayo 19, 2007

Breeding Bolsheviks?

Is this blog breeding Bolsheviks? One can only hope.

Look, it's 2007, and given the miserable state of education, in all likelihood I'm now supposed explain who the Bolsheviks were. Seriously. Not Busheviks. Bolsheviks. I'm just not willing to do that.

The text that goes with the 1920's Scott ad above is
Is your washroom breeding...Bolsheviks?
ScotTissue Towels- really dry!
Employees lose respect for a company that fails to provide decent facilities for their comfort
The idea is that bad conditions inevitably breed festering discontent. And personal discomfort can lead to industrial strife and even revolution. It's better, if you own a factory, to provide toilet paper than to provoke massive work stoppages. The link between experiencing personal oppression and becoming a participant in organized labor upheaval is obvious. And understood. And even feared. The Industrial Workers of the World, the UMW, the CIO, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party all provide heaps of examples from the era of the ad.

Individually being oppressed has never been a requirement for getting involved, supporting economic justice, the struggles of others on various issues, and even revolution. Sympathy for others, their movements to improve their own lives and solidarity with them has always been enough. Often, all that's required is understanding that others are treated unjustly.

That's what Che Guevara must have meant when he said
At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality
Déjenme decirles, a riesgo de parecer ridículo, que el revolucionario verdadero está guiado por grandes sentimientos de amor. Es imposible pensar en un revolucionario auténtico sin esta cualidad.
The genuine revolutionary's compassion and concern and love for others is the guiding principle and the reason for involvement.

Which brings me to this small, not widely noticed blog. This is just a lit blog. It has writing in it. It isn't overtly political. And it's not really about criticism, though it is about writing and books and literature. But that doesn't matter. Categories and genres don't matter that much. Rather, I hope that woven through the hodgepodge of writing, undergirding it and inspiring it, is a recognition that literature can and must save the world.

How so? I'm sure you already realize this. Writing saves the world a little every time a reader experiences someone else's world, every time a reader cares about a character, every time a reader has feelings about what s/he is reading. This is a small but important thing. It requires skill of the writer, and perhaps attention of the reader. Whenever it happens, it is truly magical. It makes the tiniest of changes. But the change is extremely significant. And this tiny change can be repeated and intensified over and over again. It's amazingly simple. Writing inspires our caring about others. And that, as Che said, is a guiding principle of true change.

Reading good writing is the polar opposite of riding in the back seat of a minivan and watching a DVD. We can only hope it's also the antidote.

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