The Role of Artists in Society, Quote by John Dewey

The freeing of the artist in literary presentation, in other words, is as much a precondition of the desirable creation of adequate opinion on public matters as is the freeing of social inquiry. Men’s conscious life of opinion and judgment often proceeds on a superficial and trivial plane. But their lives reach a deeper level. The function of art has always been to break through the crust of conventionalized and routine consciousness. Common things, a flower, a gleam of moonlight, the song of a bird, not things rare and remote, are means with which the deeper levels of life are touched so that they spring up as desire and thought. This process is art.

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Artists have always been the real purveyors of news, for it is not the outward happening in itself which is new, but the kindling by it of emotion, perception and appreciation.

John Dewey, Search for the Great Community (1927)

A New Decision

The following is a portion of my first diary entry. The parts that are not included in this entry are personal and has nothing to do with writing.

After what seemed like a permanent hiatus, I’ve finally decided to start a diary again. The last time I kept a diary was in my primary school days. I probably had a rather romantic notion about diary keeping which was why I started it then. None of the pages from my childhood still exists. I probably threw it out the last time I cleared my room. Then again, my childish musings could hardly be of any use save for nostalgic amusement. I certainly was no Anne Frank.

This time, I was inspired to restart this habit by two articles that I read today – both of them from The Art of Manliness. The first article was an excerpt from Arnold Bennett about existence and the act of writing a diary. The second article is a more straightforward article about how and why one should start a diary. After giving much thought about it, I realise that both articles have a kernel of truth in it. Besides, now that I’m turning 23 and have been blessed with a decent education, perhaps my thoughts and secrets would be of use to someone – be it my future self or otherwise. The challenge ahead is to be consistent about it.

Those who know me personally will be surprised that I’ve chosen an electronic  medium to write my diary since I’m mostly averse to technology. It would be a beautiful thing if I could spend a couple of hours writing into a leather bound diary with a fountain pen. Alas, I don’t have the luxury of time nor – considering that this is a long term activity – the physical space to keep the diaries. I’ve thought of starting a private blog but that means I’ll not write my most intimate thoughts in it for the fear of someone hacking it or accidentally making the post public. As such, the current arrangement – whatever that is – is the best compromise.

Old but Possibly Interesting Stuff

Dear readers, I would like to thank all new followers to my blog as well as those who have liked and ‘favourited’ my posts. As school has begun, I’m completely swarmed with work and would have very little time to write my thoughts on writing and literature in general. Recently, I’ve rediscovered an old poem I’ve wrote as well as an interview I gave on my thoughts on literature as an editor of the school’s literary journal. I do hope it would be interesting to you. Do let me know your thoughts on my poem as well as my comments on literature!

I wrote the following poem for my cousin’s wedding anniversary.

Anniversary Poem

Here is the interview I gave to my university’s radio station.

If you are wondering what Symbal is about, here is the latest and last issue of Symbal which I will be editing.

Glimpse of Being A Writer

 

After some consideration mixed with procrastination, I finally decided to give writing a serious try. I have been writing since I was 12 but those dashes of words, pseudo poems and naive musings did not translate into anything serious or concrete. In fact, I stopped writing for about 5 years with a feeble excuse that the muse that has left me. Now in my young adulthood and having the opportunity of starting a literary journal for my varsity, I am flushed with envy at the ability of others and realised that the struggles of writing are something that I am willing to go through. The words of others have often lifted me and now I want to try to create something of my own. This summer, I got a sneak peek of what it takes to be a writer as I wrote a short story and a poem for two writing competitions. But one aspect of the process really bugged me.

One thing I had to do which I have not done so far was field research for my works. I knew that I had to be an observer but I did not expect to be an outsider. Anyone would find my assumption silly – if you are observing something, you are standing outside of the action and this obviously means one has to be an outsider. In my defence, I am aware of this implication but I really saw myself observing what is going on as part of the action; like the teenager walking down the street blind because his eyes are on his phone or the tourist running from spot to spot taking pictures of the most mundane things.

Being there at the setting of my story was an alienating experience; I felt very intrusive and was fraught with doubt. What am I doing here? What right do I have to write these people into my story? At that point, writing seemed to be an insidious exercise. While street photography may be more intrusive as everyone will recognise the unwitting subject in the photo, the subject can request for the photo to be deleted. This does not extend to the people in my story; I am invading their privacy expediently. Of course, we all employ artistic licence in crafting our characters but I am still unable to shake that feeling off.

Where do we draw the line between inspiration and intrusion?