Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Michael Chabon editorial

Author Michael Chabon had this editorial in the New York Times yesterday, on the furor surrounding a violent story a student wrote which resulted in his expulsion and his instructor's contract not being renewed. All this at an art school.

Chabon, on the teenage human condition:

It is in the nature of a teenager to want to destroy. The destructive impulse is universal among children of all ages, rises to a peak of vividness, ingenuity and fascination in adolescence, and thereafter never entirely goes away. Violence and hatred, and the fear of our own inability to control them in ourselves, are a fundamental part of our birthright, along with altruism, creativity, tenderness, pity and love. It therefore requires an immense act of hypocrisy to stigmatize our young adults and teenagers as agents of deviance and disorder.

And, on Imagination as Refuge:

The imagination of teenagers is.....the only sure capital they possess apart from the love of their parents..... During my own adolescence, my imagination, the kingdom inside my own skull, was my sole source of refuge, my fortress of solitude, at times my prison. But a fortress requires a constant line of supply; those who take refuge in attics and cellars require the unceasing aid of confederates; prisoners need advocates, escape plans, or simply a window that gives onto the sky.

Art is communication, and should be responded to in kind, with honest attempts at dialog and more communication.

Art should definitely not be responded to by making the artist cover his light with a basket.

If you cut the kid off from art, his means of communication, and of knowing that somebody else feels the way he does, and you tell the kid that writing such things is Bad, Chabon says, you pave the path of creation for the very ugliness we're seeking to prevent.....


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