Dystopia literally means “not-good place” and is a term used to describe a community or society that is undesirable or frightening. Dystopian novels were all the rage back when during the Cold War, possibly as a way to warn people of the perils of such a totalitarian regime as the Communist one. As a fictional genre, dystopias have the uncanny characteristic of painting a rather hopeless future for society.
Here are four dystopian novels that are eerily close to becoming true:
Henry Miller’s prose is unconventional, unapologetically sexual and philosophical, the topic of much controversy (his books were banned in the US until 1961), which is why he’s the kind of writer who has something to teach you about writing.
“An artist is always alone – if he is an artist.” – Henry Miller
Writing is a lonely job, no doubt about it. And no matter how successful you might become, you’re still alone. It’s the inexorable truth of the writer’s condition: you sit at your desk, in an empty room or in the most crowded coffee shop, yet you’re alone. You just do your thing.
Of course, this poses a rather interesting question: if you spend that much time alone, how do you find stuff to write about?
I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honor, one I neither sought nor solicited. But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened. I don’t make too much of this sort of honor. But at least it gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart.
There’s a part of me that believes art to be a primordial aspect of the human condition. Art inspires, art is a way of achieving greatness, of building a better world. Art turns strangers into friends. Without art, without artists, we wouldn’t be ourselves anymore.
Because I feel that within the confines of any artistic form of expression, we allow ourselves to wear a mask. The artist hides behind words or paints or brushes. And he feels safe. He can be anyone he wants to be. His freedom is limitless. And he plays this bizarre game of hide and seek with the rest of the world, constantly changing the rules, until he decides – maybe on a mere subconscious level – to be himself, thinking that people will never find out.
Okay, so let’s be clear about this: reading is not necessary. It does not satisfy any need, it’s not as if there’s this primordial aspect of humanity that it defines and explores. It does make you smarter, more culture, more empathetic, but all of these are optional. You can be dumb and live and long and happy life.
That being said, in a world where people read, on average, a book per year, here are some incredibly dumb reasons to read…
“if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it.”
― Charles Bukowski
Passion. Defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion. Fire. Defined as a destructive burning of something. Sounds pretty bad now, doesn’t it? But, if you think about it for a while, creation is a destructive process. Or is it the other way around?
But I do wonder, did you find your passion? Are you sure? Is it the thing that controls you? Make you want to jump out of the bed in the morning? The thing you can’t live without?
The artist. A solitary genius. A creator of beauty so sacred that we can’t help but love and fear at the same time.
“He’s a true artist,” we find ourselves saying, and it’s these words put together that conjure up the vision of someone whose inexorable destiny was to create, even at the expense of having to endure a lifetime of humility and frustration and social alienation.
The true artist is often misunderstood. He’s utterly and inconsolably alone with his art. And it is that art, that we all revere, that we’d think of as a bridge, that art is actually a wall. The artist hides behind this wall, refusing to face reality.
But times are changing. The artist has little choice in the matter: he either dies an artist or lives long enough to see himself become a creative entrepreneur.