Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Mutual Influence of Society and Literature
On reading O'Flinn's essay, I could only agree with what he had to say with regards to a piece of literature influencing society and society influencing literature. I believe or agree that we are all products of our society whether we agree with it's doctrines or not, that is to say we are all influenced by our society and we also shape our society. If we are passive or activists we are still nonetheless a part and or a reaction to that society. Would it not take an extreme effort to create a piece of work where the values, the norms, the mores of that society did not penetrate a certain piece of literature, and if one agreed with a critique of a society would that not change the minds that shape that society?
Orwell was writing I believe when the school of thought in regards to the arts was modernism. this explains the notion of "art for art's sake." You were to look at a piece of literature or art with no contextual reference, you were not to take into account the biography of the author, the social climate of the time, the sex, not the name, nor any of the other pieces of work that the author had written. Today we are taught quite the opposite, we are told about the backgrounds of the author, and use their biography as a way to look at the piece of literature. I think Orwell would approve of the direction in which the pedagogy of literature is going.
On the other hand, with regards to the critiques of society, the way in which our society is going, would be startling. His predictions are on the verge of coming true. I took a Political Science course in which I was taught a few items of relevance. One which I took as a fundamental principal was that our senators and congressmen are in the position they are in for power and that their main objective is to hold that power, fortunately for us we still have the power to control their actions as far as policy decisions go. The second is that the government is continually trying to increase it's revenues and thus increase it's power...to increase it's revenues it is coming up with disturbing ways to bring it in. The way I was taught was that first the government comes up with a form of technology that makes life a little more convenience such as GPS in our cars, it is not necessary but everyone wants one. They wait a while until everyone is use to having one, all the cars will come with one pre-installed, next they will make it mandatory that everyone will have one and now they can track where you go and charge you monthly for your mileage use on the pretense that is will encourage energy conservation. This immediately came to mind when I was reading 1984 and the description of the "telescreen."
As frightening as the thoughts are, I do still have hope that the "people" still have the power to influence policy. If we are smart enough not to buy into the fear or the Panoticism of terrorism, we can maintain our (the people's) influence over the direction of our society.