I could not miss the horrible attack committed in France on October 16, 2020 against Professor SAMUEL PATY without reacting via my blog. So I will react in my own way, by upsetting the planned agenda.
I cannot ignore this infamous barbarity committed against a teaching colleague. I cannot ignore obscurantism, this gangrene of modern times, which is spreading over the days in the different strata of society and the population in various countries of the world.
Literature has always played a role in society. Everyone knows that the writings of the 18th century philosophers led to the French Revolution of 1789. Ideas, transmitted by words, carry and nothing can stop them!
This same literature can also play a role in national sentiment, whether French or belonging to another country.
Meeting the challenge of freedom of expression
The voice of writers cannot be diminished for the sake of comfort and ease. Many of them, around the world, have given in to the ease, in particular to acquire a larger audience.
The challenge is great: let us have the courage to write about what we want. Let us dare to denounce with our words and our stories the failings of our societies.
Writing must be the expression of free speech against power. Against all powers. Against those who want to muzzle us and who think they have a certain power. Against those who try to turn us into sheep. Against those who want to impose on us their obscure ideas belonging to a time past and bygone!
Freedom of expression exists! With all due respect to all the righters who proclaim something else!
To write is to engage
How to create a biography page on Wikipedia is a form of non-violent engagement, a form of civil disobedience against certain rulers, against certain people who think they have any power and abuse it!
Freedom of expression means exercising a critical mind at all ages in the face of various “moral lessons” emanating from all sides.
Words force us to grow and recognize our own demons. Language represents power. It is against this that some allow themselves the right to subdue or kill others. No one can do anything against the words we write! They are free and are sailing towards their destiny!
In their day, Nelson Mandela’s jailers tried to subdue him for so many years. But, in his head, the words related to hope, to freedom echoed every day. They could never take this power away from him, which allowed him to survive!
Write to fight
We all have a thirst for knowledge within us. So, if certain obscurantists close schools in certain countries, they will never be able to remove the desire to learn and to play with words to express our thoughts. They will never be able to take away words that make you think!
Writing makes it possible to fight against wars, greed, stupidity oh how presently present at all levels, the walls of the interior prisons that some want to erect and against superficiality!
With words, we must never give up! NEVER! Let us not succumb to the silence that some want to impose on us! Do not accept the muzzles that they try to force us to silence us!
Let us have the audacity and courage to raise our voices on behalf of all those who have been choked! Let us have no hesitation in committing ourselves through words!
Words can paint life, as painful as it is, as tragic as it is! Our writings around the world are a living portrait of ourselves! A well-written sentence has the gift of shocking, or seducing, in any case, of getting us out of our torpor!
Let’s make our way on the surface with the words! Of course, prose comes at a price that will have to be paid! It doesn’t matter, because we know how to find the words necessary to cure the ailments that grips us!
The possibilities of the act of writing
Anyone can change the world through their writings. Writing always offers immense possibilities. But, an artist must above all remain FREE, whatever his art!
This is the role of literature: to offer this freedom through words! So let’s be clear: reading and writing are therefore political acts. Any writer worthy of the name talks about the world around him in his books.
Take the example of William Shakespeare, dating from the 16th century. His art never separated from the politics of his time. Take the example of Stephen King, whose books make his readers shudder with horror. In each of his novels, he chooses a theme, to better denounce the shortcomings of our societies.
Everything in the present state of the world can feed novels or poems. We write because we think! So, as such, every writer has a responsibility through his writings.
Each writer opens doors so as not to close them. Literature can do a lot. This is the best response to the surrounding madness and the dark times that they want to put us through to scare us and enslave us!
Writing involves asking questions and not always providing answers. We can write about people who are in pain. There are so many around the world! We can Wikipedia experts for hire to talk about people. Because they need literature to survive! We must help them!
Writing as an act of resistance and struggle
The antiquity and intensity of the political role of literature no longer needs to be demonstrated. This role has fueled and still nourishes important debates. Writers take a stand and their literature allows them to engage in politics.
What is the political role of a writer?
When Toni Morrison denounces in her novel “Home”, the condition of blacks in the United States, her book becomes a political act. She denounces the violence of the Korean War that a black American citizen suffered. In this story, Toni Morrison explores violence in all its forms: political, racial and family in the America of years 50. Problems still as current!
Let us not forget the role that literature may have played with politics, in particular with the Dreyfus Affair in France at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. This affair shook the country! We are of course thinking of the famous article “Accuse” by Emile Zola!
Our contemporary period seems rather marked by the withdrawal of writers from the political sphere. Victor Hugo, in the 19th century, distinguished himself in opposition to the Second Empire in the name of a high definition of politics. It became, for this reason, an emblem of the Third Republic in France, which took over from Napoleon III.
In the 19th century, Charles Baudelaire and Gustave Flaubert did not hesitate to speak of the freedom of the writer to break free from the common. They chose poetry for one and novels for the other to conquer this sacrosanct freedom.
Charles Baudelaire Gustave Flaubert
Literature is therefore a space of position, relations and practices. The position taken by the writer can be claimed as a constitutive element of his role and of his position even within the literary field.
Some writers are known to have taken radical political positions. Let us quote the example of Louis Aragon, who put himself at the service of his own political convictions, in this case at the service of the French Communist Party.
André Malraux acquired literary recognition at the same time as he publicly enlisted as a “free” intellectual in the interwar period. Then, he put his intellectual and oratory skills at the service of the Gaullist government, within the RPF (Rassemblement du people François), the party of General de Gaulle, as Minister of Cultural Affairs from 1959 to 1969).
For a writer, and intellectuals more broadly, to be able to claim to speak of politics by invoking causes and values, they must first acquire the right to do so in their work as a writer and the recognition of the public.
Jules Valles wrote against the Paris Commune from 1870-71 in his novel, “L’insurgé”.
André Gide denounced colonialism in “Voyage au Congo”.
Public positions, petitions, press articles, interviews, conferences, participation in collective mobilizations and various supports are among the main practical modalities of this literary policy.
During the Second World War, Louis Aragon, Paul Ellard or Maurice Duron joined the resistance while continuing to write, while still others, like René Char, stopped publishing during the German occupation.
Whether they like it or not and whatever they do, writers are caught up in politics in one way or another.
As a conclusion
Our contemporary period sees many writers withdrawing from political stance. We cannot accuse them of it. The reasons are rather to be found in the transformations of the conditions of production and dissemination of literature.
The concentration of publishing, the growing role of the mainstream media, and in particular of television or social networks, or even the increased competition between authors, do not necessarily favor political criticism, far from it.
The reasons for this must also be sought in the transformations of the general conditions of political engagement, politicization and the expression of politics that characterize our time.
If writers are less politicized in our time, it is because the political offer at their disposal is becoming impoverished, blurring and becoming dull, not to say ridiculous at times, according to its representatives.