Thursday, May 16, 2013
To tell honest fiction, fiction that inspires for good, then we as writers must understand evil and be able to portray it so others will recognize it for what it is. Such classics as Lord of the Flies and 1984 endure, not because they are fun to read but because they help us feel repulsed, wrong, angry. In another post here at the Cove, I talked about books of that sort as "broken", meaning they show evil winning, or good losing, or the world left in a wrong state. These books still can, and do, inspire us -- they prompt us, urge us to walk away from their pages with a determination to fix the wrongs of the world.
When I was fifteen, I lived for a few months in Germany, and as part of that stay I visited the Dachau Concentration Camp. It was a shock for me to realize the extent of man's inhumanity to man. To see gas chambers and firing walls and cremation ovens, so institutionalized, so systematic. To see pictures and film of the walking dead, dressed in rags, skin stretched tight over skeletons. Of the tortures and atrocities, the human experimentation committed by Nazi socialists on the "inferior" races.
There is a huge statue in one corner of the compound. From far away, it looked like a giant iron section of barbed wire. When I got closer, it became clear that it was a sculpture of twisted human bodies. As I stepped up to the base of the artwork, I already felt to echo what the plaque said, written in a dozen languages: "Never Again".
That creative work marshaled the feelings I had from viewing everything at Dachau. It helped me feel a resolve to move forward and always be on guard against tyranny. That is what great art can do, it can change us and thereby change the world.
I remember once hearing someone ask Orson Scott Card what sci-fi books he had enjoyed recently, and he replied that he didn't read much of it anymore, but instead read biographies and histories to inform his writing. I didn't really get that at the time -- but I do now.
So how has history deepend your appreciation for story?
Posted by Amber Mitchell at 7:01 PM