Friday, September 05, 2008

Art for Life's Sake

My Reading Declaration in Brief
Chapter Four: Art for Life's Sake

"One of the uses of reading is to prepare ourselves for change, and the final change alas is universal."
Harold Bloom, "Why Read?"

"Art for Art's Sake" has for me the sound of masturbatory pleasure. If art can tell me of nothing but art itself, I will likely say "This is fun, but I have more pressing demands: life demands my engagement, and death is always approaching." But of course I don't abandon literature, for I know that it does offer me something else: it offers me a spiritual journey into myself.

For this reason John Fowles' metafiction moves me. His best novels are thoughtful and innovative reflections on the nature of fiction and literature, but they are not just that: infused in the metafiction are lessons on existential freedom.

For me art provides and demands a deep engagement with the self and the world, but it doesn't matter to me if others don't feel this same demand from art. For I also agree with Harold Bloom that we ought to read to our own purposes. I know mine.

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