“Books and films were windows, not mirrors; I didn’t want to see myself reflected, I wanted to see other people’s experiences.”
— Bret Easton Ellis.
The statement above was said in a recent interviewby Bret Easton Ellis while promoting and talking about his latest novel — his first in 13 years — The Shards. I like this statement. I love it, actually. In this odd time we’re living in of cultural division and censorship in the west, it’s nice, refreshing even, to hear people speaking of and championing art’s ability to confront and challenge people.
I’ve never quite understood the supposed need for art to have to reflect the individual. This notion that art should always perform as some kind of parable, that, like a biblical or children’s tale, it should “promote a message”, show only an idealised self. This isn’t so much art as it’s propaganda disguising itself as art. This isn’t so much as art existing to challenge oneself but to instead comfort and pat the oh so noble reader on the back.
Now, I’m not saying that art should not depict things that are familiar to us. Not at all. What I’m saying is that art, the best kind of art, should show us the familiar in the unfamiliar. That’s one of the — or simply the — best things about art. It’s a cliché to say that people who read are more empathetic/sympathetic people, due to their submergence into a variety of different lives and headspaces. Though, that being said, if the current trend of art having to reflect a certain “comrade approved” mentality persists, I would imagine that the saying would soon turn into a platitude.
Still, despite the efforts of a few Neanderthals, art persists. The great works of art, that is. And though only time will tell, I’m willing to bet that there will be a whole lot more windows than there will be mirrors in the future of art.
Link to the video here:
Quality > Quantity.
More of this, please.
Yawn. Vomit, even.
“Checkout that asshole reading a book. Hey, Mr. Morals! Why don’t you just look in a mirror and read a pretentious monologue out loud to yourself? What an insufferable prick that guy is. Yeesh.”
Windows, though, have the inescapable habit of serving up a partial reflection.
Be genuine in your writing, and people will find it and connect with it.