Received a Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vennegut as as Christmas present this year from Greg Flores (the designer for both covers of The Last Block in Harlem). While my wife was sleeping off the Chinese food from last night’s trip downtown, I cracked open the present. Got through the forward by his son, and the first letter that he wrote while in a hospital recovering from being a prisoner of war. The honesty and straight-forward nature with which he wrote was startling.
Just documenting what happened to him and the world and people around him – how amazing and tragic it is to be a writer in that situation – feeling the need to document everything and then, being the messenger for such things to get out to the rest of the world. The letter he wrote was a shown in its original form – typed up and sent out. The history was in the form as well. In the process. Each man went through such an incredible experience in that war – and in every war for that matter.
I reached to take a sip of my coffee and realized how fortunate I was to have the freedom to even being doing that instead of being marched 60 miles to a POW camp by German soldiers without food, rest or water. Bombs dropping by those trying to save you. How much madness must he have experienced in order to be able to write what he did – How he did.
Now, those books and memories might serve for some to avoid marching us into war again, but from what you see on the television every night, it seems like that might not be true. We are not learning the lessons from the past and that might be because people are reading less and experiencing the words of individuals even less than that. The corporate world, along with the interests of the corporations have seeped into the collective consciousness of most readers.
Is there hope? I believe so. Here’s why? The corporate system is so vast that the loopholes inside of it allow for growth. If subversive literature and art is what the people start clamoring for – if that turns out to be what sells the most, the corporation will have to look at the bottom line profit margins and have to produce the very thing that is meant to destroy it. After all, they are beholden to stock-holders to make as much as they can. It is the very essence of why they exist.
So then, what needs to happen is the demand for thought enhancing work has to increase. If you show the sales charts that you want books to make you think, then that is what will be produced. There are no people out there conspiring to force feed you crap – it is indeed your demand for crap that keeps the steady stream going.
Now, you are up against advertising machines with money to influence you – but that’s no reason to concede. That’s no reason to wither and relent in your quest to end the madness of destruction and bottom line thinking where humans are marginalized and put in a category of marginal loss against significant gains.
What books are you reading today that stirs your mind away from twitter and facebook? What causes you to look up from what you’re reading and at the world that was just reflected in your pages?