can literature effect social change?

A short excerpt from an exchange with my correspondent in Chicago:

Ariel: can literature effect any social change?

i asked my grandfather once.

he might be the wisest man i know. he said,

turgenev, fathers and sons. i kind of saw his point.

but now? is there a point? is there anyone listening?

(besides the FBI i mean, obviously. always listening)

oh im so plaintive. wow.

me: yeah

apparently chat is hard to monitor

thus, the page scandal in washington


can it affect social change?

I think we’re asked to treat writers decoratively in this country

and also to think of them decoratively

and this admits that we’re powerful

sort of like the way women are asked to be decorative

when in fact they are vital to all life.



that’s what I think about it.

Sent at 10:17 PM on Thursday


  1. There is some terrible fear of intelligence in this country. I think that has a lot to do with the negative attitude, if you can call it that, towards art. Somehow, if you actually care about or appreciate art, you are somehow setting yourself above the common man. I know that art and music and literature have changed my life for the better.
    I have no problem with those whose intellectual ambitions go no further than keeping up with TV series. I do however get annoyed that I become the object of some sort of sullen annoyance because I choose to entertain myself in other ways that I find more satisfying.

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