I’ve been reading Schopenhauer excerpts lately and it has me thinking (duh!). Somewhere in my university literature studies, I think it was an entire class dedicated to the study of Edgar Allan Poe (I couldn’t believe it either); we were discussing Jacques Derrida and his views on literature. Somewhere in there was another discussion on the purpose of literature as didactic—to entertain and instruct.
A: designed or intended to teach
B: intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment
Now, some days ago I posted this on my other page cmiller-incolor.tumblr.com :
“Wherever one goes one immediately comes upon this incorrigible mob of humanity. It exists everywhere in legions; crowding, soiling everything, like flies in summer. Hence the numberless bad books, those rank weeds of literature which extract nourishment from the corn and choke it. They monopolize the time, money and attention which really belong to good books and their noble aims; they are written merely with a view to making money or procuring places. They are not only useless, but they do positive harm. Nine-tenths of the whole of our present literature aims solely at taking a few shillings out of the public’s pocket, and to accomplish this, author, publisher and reviewer have joined forces.”
I got to thinking, possibly an inner dissonance involved. Forget it; certainly inner dissonance, forcing thoughts of my purpose in writing. I am self-convinced that I wish to change lives but not upset the balance that naturally occurs in the world, like changing enough people to see the world a different way, a specific way, but not the lot of them to form a collective view. After reading some of these Schopenhauer excerpts, I’ve posed one question to myself: how do I write something, or make sure that I don’t write the crap he’s talking about?
One could say it’s easy. Write something vaguely philosophical and you’ve made the attempt at something just that, philosophical, with the slightest bit of intelligence, trying, basically. That’s not enough for me. It must be with every bit of my intellectual prowess that I write this first novel, and every bit of writing I do after the first novel. That means every poem, every short story, everything! Elation is the only word to describe my feelings toward stumbling on Schopenhauer’s work. You’re probably thinking “He says he just stumbled on one of the most known philosophers ever…” but that’s how it went. I’m not even sure, or I can’t recall what exactly prompted my search into his philosophy, but it was like one of those whirlpools of wiki searches, leading from one writing or excerpt to another. I loved it. It took repeated reads for the sake of understanding, but I made a short journey with a little suffering.
I still hold my self-affirmed purpose previously mentioned. Mr. Schopenhauer did make me think though, question my own writing and my reasons for writing. He may still have me thinking from this day forth about my writing, and especially my will power after I read arguably his most famous work The World as Will and Representation (Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung). Nevertheless, continuous learning is something I always encourage; this and writing are the things most important to me and my existence as I use them to learn more of myself and the world, or what I perceive the world to be. I only hope to help you see the same, but not to make you into the horse that drinks, just to show you where the water is.