In many of the new nations that emerged in the 20th century, literary fictionists were often expected to supply the myths and legends that an insufficiently imagined community needed in order to become cohesive and coherent. The Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk complains that when he decided to become a writer “literature was allied to the future: its job was to work hand in hand with the state to build a happy and harmonious society, or even nation”.
This type of articles (The Case Against the Global Novel -By Pankaj Mishra) reminds me that the political analyses that comprises most of my reading material has –for the sake of clarity and presenting well-argued cases under the 700-1000 word limit — fallen in the trap of over simplification. Even the more sophisticated articles we read (and write) follow the traditional structure focusing on a single thread aimed at a conclusion. The layering of thoughts and ideas that often raise questions more than providing answers would be easily labeled as unclear and jumbled. In some cases, that could be true. But most writings available now lack the vigor that stimulates the mind beyond the obvious. This is not to say that the attached article is perfect. The writer’s choice of accumulating examples threw me off at times. It could be me accustomed to the traditional structure or maybe due to actual, but tiny, lapses in presenting the argument. Still, the language and the type of writing is more thought-provoking and inspiring than material available for daily consumption, even by my favorite writers. Sometimes lucid writing is not the best, but some wandering of the mind is required as well.
This also applies to Jonathan Franzen’s Guardian article What’s Wrong With the Modern World, despite the criticism it got.
**While reading, check this nod to literature’s role in pushing societies to conform to “traditions”, “realities” and “ideas” that don’t really exist except in their imagination or perception of how everyone else acts.