“Knowledge will break the chains of slavery,” a propaganda poster from 1920s Russia.
- This site is dedicated to literature, arts, and culture. Electoral politics are usually beyond our remit. On a morning like this, when America has chosen a bigot and a xenophobe as its next president, my job feels pointless. But I don’t want to add to the chorus of despair, because I do believe there’s a role for art at a time like this, and I don’t say that lightly—words like these don’t come easily to me. I would rather make fun of things, and I’m struggling against an inborn fatalism. (My iPhone just reminded me to water my plants, and I thought, why bother?) The creative impulse is such a fragile thing, but we have to create now. We owe it to ourselves to do the work. I want to encourage you. If you aspire to write, put aside all the niceties and sureties about what art should be and write something that makes the scales fall from our eyes. Forget the tired axioms about showing and telling, about sense of place—any possible obstruction—and write to destroy complacency, to rattle people, to help people, first and foremost yourself. Lodge your ideas like glass shards in the minds of everyone who would have you believe there’s no hope. And read, as often and as violently as you can. If you have friends, as I do, who tacitly believe that it’s too much of a chore to read a book, just one fucking book, from start to finish, smash every LCD they own. This is an opportunity. There’s too much at stake now to pretend that everything is okay.
- And Ben Fountain, a few days before the election, offered a stern reminder of all that’s been undone since the days of the New Deal—the many ways conservatism has degraded our social contract. “Forty years of well-funded, highly organized laissez-faire proselytizing and government-bashing have done a number on the American mind. The country got conned by a profound ideological shift, starting in the early 1970s as hardcore free market, antigovernment advocates launched a concerted effort to change the political landscape … When faced with this sort of nonsense, one can’t help but think of the little boy who declares independence from his family, and runs away as far as the tree house in his backyard. The worldview of Thiel and company is about as juvenile as that, a kind of nerdy romanticism that recalls the capitalist fantasies of Ayn Rand. If not for the collective (Randians break out in hives when they encounter that word) efforts of American society, the industry in which tech moguls have so fantastically prospered wouldn’t exist.”