Books, Uncategorized

The Right To Offend

The right to offend and insult is the most important human right. When a writer insults a religion or group, or person, people consider it an annoying kookiness. But, this is an important aspect of writing. I have heard  people saying that they despise Rushdie because they value decency over talent. This is a projection of ones vices onto others. It is not Rushdie’s fault that others are bigots. But, decency is merely an effect. Decency flourishes when people are not offended by the truth, when people are not offended by what someone writes on a piece of paper. If you are offended by what someone writes, it is your problem. You should respect yourself more. If you find it hard to respect yourself, like almost everyone, you should learn how to earn it. I do not give a hoot for the feelings of the people I write about, even if it destroys families, even if it is that of mine. Curiously enough, people tend to think of writing as a luxury. It is as if the writers have a choice, to not write about certain things. Of course, it is true that they have, but then people have the choice never to engage in any sexual activity in their whole lives. Should they, if it offends people? But, there is something about writing that only the best writers understand:

“Before the success of Menagerie I’d reached the very, very bottom. I would have died without the money. I couldn’t have gone on any further, baby, without money, when suddenly, providentially, The Glass Menagerie made it when I was thirty-four. I couldn’t have gone on with these hand-to-mouth jobs, these jobs for which I had no aptitude, like waiting on tables, running elevators, and even being a teletype operator. None of this stuff was anything I could have held for long. I started writing at twelve, as I said. By the time I was in my late teens I was writing every day, I guess, even after I was in the shoe business for three years. I wrecked my health, what there was of it. I drank black coffee so much, so I could stay up nearly all night and write, that it exhausted me physically and nervously. So if I suddenly hadn’t had this dispensation from Providence with Menagerie, I couldn’t have made it for another year, I don’t think.”-Tennessee Williams, The Paris Review

“In the spring of 1773, Smith, having, as he thought, virtually completed the Wealth of Nations, set out with the manuscript for London, to give it perhaps some finishing touches and then place it in the hands of a publisher. But his labours had told so seriously on his health and spirits that he thought it not improbable he might die, and even die suddenly, before the work got through the press, and he wrote Hume a formal letter before he started on his journey, constituting him his literary executor, and giving him directions about the destination of the various unpublished manuscripts that lay in his depositories, to destroy them without examination.”-John Rae, The Life Of Adam Smith.

“Yes, one is drained. These careers are so slow—I write a book, and at the end of it I am so tired. Something is wrong with my eyes; I feel I’m going blind. My fingers are so sore that I wrap them in tape. There are all these physical manifestations of a great labor. Then there is a process of just being nothing—utterly vacant. For the past nine months, really, I’ve been vacant.”-V. S. Naipaul, The Paris Review

“Ayn Rand experienced a profound depression following the publication of Atlas Shrugged. She wasn’t “happy enough.” Depression often drains all interest in sex or love. She was totally preoccupied with her position in the culture and could think of very little else. For two years, that’s almost all we talked about. The atmosphere was that of being in a hospital. In light of the fabulous sales of Atlas Shrugged, I was never fully able to understand her attitude. I knew it wasn’t the attacks that hurt her so much as it was the lack of a significant intellectual defense from someone outside our circle. I kept waiting for her life force — I don’t know what else to call it — to reassert itself. It never really did. Something was gone and gone irretrievably.”-Nathaniel Branden, Full Context

“It took a novelist named Malcolm Lowry 20 years to write Under the Volcano while he was drinking himself to death, and every page of that book has the 20 years of suffering on it. If Chetan Bhagat took 20 years to write a book, it would still be Five Point Someone and would sell just as much. So why would he want to team up with angst and agony?”-In Defense Of The Uncreative, Open Magazine

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