Hope Index Vol. 8: Personal Authenticity and Media Anesthesia
Welcome back to Hope Index, our weekly round-up of stuff online that won't make your brain go dark. This week we detoured into musings on the nature of reading, the ethics of choosing what to know, and the smug-faced perfection of Charles Wright's answers in an interview. Pretend you're in an Instagram picture with clean sheets, knee socks, and a white mug while you read on.
As readers, what do we hope for? This is a question we ask ourselves a lot here at the magazine and this piece on LitHub addresses it in a curious way. By breaking down the critical arguments for both "writing what we know" and "writing for ourselves," novelist C.B. George decides that the notion of writing with authenticity is a Western obsession, a capitalist construct. ALSO, he revisits the use of "philistine" as an insult, a casual insult. Call someone a philistine today and tell me you don't experience a swell of hope for the English language after all. You're welcome.
I can't even believe I'm typing this, but in a week or two we'll have an interview with Marilyn McEntyre published in this magazine as part of our "Nurturing Craft in an Age of Content" series. In the interim, read McEntyre's thoughts on media congestion, political ignorance, and how to be an ethical reader in a culture of information overload, over at Comment. This article seems especially timely this week in light of haunting images and rumors of media blackouts that have probably been making the rounds on your mobile device over there...
Which brings me to our next piece. Ever wondered what the 1984 writer would have thought about Twitter? Reader, you can know if you click here: George Orwell and Freedom of the Press. Excerpts from an essay intended as the preface to Animal Farm are especially prescient in light of the self-curated and aggressively algorithm-ed "gramophone mind" from which most of us get our information and entertainment. While Orwell doesn't necessarily present a solution to the problem of a self-censored press, he does present a compelling argument that it does, and will continue to, exist.
If you're me (or Ashley), Charles Wright is a name that seems to capture and entice you once or twice a moon cycle, giving pause to serious reflection and revisiting our favorite piece of his (or two). This week we were on our Charles Wright time of the month and Image Journal must have sensed it because they published this conversation with the poetry great about craft, clarity and imagination. He's so certain and restless and tired, you've got to read it. Plot twist: All of Wright's poems are love poems, and he would now pick Buddha over Jesus.
Readers, writers, submitters, hopeful pitchers, and Insta-dreamers, we love you. Have a great weekend.