Monday, February 6, 2012


A post or two ago I mentioned I was reading an autobiography of Oscar Wilde. It's dense reading so I am taking it slow, savoring the reflections on art and life that were so much a part of his daily diatribe. O.W. was a believer in art and beauty and his life reflected that belief at every hairpin curve of his impressive life. I am impressed by the depth of his belief.  As I read, I dig deeper to have my own writing reflect the beauty I want to see in the world and that I catch glimpses of as I make my daily trek through normality. Oscar pressed the bounds of propriety in his approach to life and his craft. He believed that literature was the "supreme art..." one that could "transform a painting into words, a life into an artifice."*

I too believe in beauty and love and art. I believe it has the potential to transform those who read it for good... or for ill. A teacher and I once had a discussion about the books she was recommending to her class. At that time she felt they would only read books they could relate to, stories that were spawned from authors who lived similar lives. At this point I offered a suggestion that went a bit against the grain of common knowledge. While I understood why she and her fellow teachers felt they needed to offer reading material that reflected the life kids knew in order to engage them, "How," I queried, "would they imagine more?" How do they imagine a different kind of life than violence and ugliness if all they read are books that have the same reality that takes place in their homes? If they never read a book like A Wrinkle in Time or War of the Worlds will they dream of the stars and what lies beyond? Would they create fantasies of grand adventures and exciting travels if they haven't read Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or The Narnia Chronicles? No, I proposed, I fear they... you and I... would not. Your dreams and aspirations would remain within the realm in which they were created- a world of day to day reality which may include abuse, drugs, alcoholism and gangs.... (fill in the blank)

Too sad to even think about really.

So Oscar Wilde inspires me to do more than write about the day-to-day, regular occurrances. I am emboldened to "take on [the] mask" of the writer in order to speak truth-- a truth that I hope will challenge readers to search for more out of life than what is "normal".

What authors have inspired you?

*Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellman, p. 339.


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