Thursday, 7 July 2011

To teach or to preach... ( is that the question?)

In light of sadly misplaced controversy involving the study of literature in Egypt today ~~~
The discord involves two separate criterions: morality & literary analysis. Contentiousness prevails.
Stepping back might help. Here's a bird's-eye view: 
Perhaps literature is nothing else if not comprehensive.
But literature as an art form is more than that:
"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit."  ~John Updike
And now for a closer look with particular discord in mind:
Moral codes of behaviour and thought do not start and stop at sexuality; they include every facet of human strength and frailty.
A work inspired is one that aspires to portray genuine thought and emotion without pre-set conditioning or confines. Expression of an immediate truth perceived can only exist free from the shackles of constraint; advocating what it believes to be true from a relative and personal point of view.
"What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth."
John Keats

The study of literature tackles fact or fiction without setting out to dictate but rather to enable thought, analysis and understanding. It does not aim to alienate us from our moral codes. It does not seek to alienate us from our principles but rather to embrace them more fully through understanding and inner conviction; to evaluate and consider their veracity and worth in a world of ultimate diversity if nothing else.
Literary analysis preoccupies itself with depth and the layers of truth. Our appreciation and esteem for a universal morality can only be enhanced. 
Indeed, the study of literature more often than not recognises that everything verges upon a morality of a kind and that illustration of the mind’s mechanism cannot be confined if content is to be treated with respect.
Sermons, just like any other writing may or may not inspire. Scrutinising all other literature on the basis of dubious morality, snipping and slashing bits we consider may encourage depravity would be to throw away all individuality of expression; to cripple context and make it unfit for analysis.
Literature in its fullness of array does not aim to preach. 

.Appreciation and high regard for religious or moral teachings should not preclude our respect for understanding, for appreciation of works that relate to the psyche of our minds.
"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home."  ~Twyla Tharp ~ a metaphoric message lies within ‘home’ signifying our innermost being.

Validating or dismissing a literary piece or work of art depends almost entirely upon personal wealth of interpretation.
The study of literature seeks to enhance that reserve.
It encourages us to recognise, distinguish & conceptualise.

Sensory perception must be free to explore, to fully assimilate; unrestricted by taboo that a culture instigates: A literary work referring to a business man’s ruthlessness or a miser's greed is no different to one referring to an addict’s weakness, a priest’s inner conflict, the thrill of an adventurer or the lust of two lovers. For indeed, what is our world if not one of diversity and infinite possibilities? A world of good and bad; of black and white and most importantly of so many shades of grey that colour our perceptions, our very thoughts and beliefs. 
Books are humanity in print. Barbara W. Tuchman  
Humanity is far from perfect. A person who abides by the strictest code of moral values cannot ever be free of imperfection.
For art to depict humanity it must be allowed to explore areas of imperfection if only to reflect its essence. 

"A subject that is beautiful in itself gives no suggestion to the artist.  It lacks imperfection." ~Oscar Wilde 

When miracles occur it is sometimes said that life imitates art. Art must surely have something of the miraculous ~ it exists in every speck of nature; it can be found wherever we look.
All writing may be said to be a form of prayer, a connection ultimately sought.
"A man paints with his brains and not with his hands." ~Michelangelo
From epic to greeting card, all literary endeavour seeks to convey a message. Without literary appreciation of a kind, the message would be lost. 
Were we to consider it 'unobjectionable' to rid all literature of content that does not visibly conform or blatantly adhere to moral codes, then no books could remain safely on the shelves. Blinkered judgement would draw in ever closer.
A world without freedom of literature, without imagination, without exploration of thought is an impoverished world; a world lacking in soul, understanding and compassion.
When bereft of empathy and understanding, we can only find ourselves depleted of the highest forms of morality.

To end this embitterment which reflects so very poorly upon a vast and rich culture of ancient and indigenous civilisation, here's a quote that strikes a biting chord: 
However, since all is not lost, a splash of humour may not go amiss:

& continuing on an even lighter note, with special attention to offense caused:
There are three things men can do with women: love them, suffer for them, or turn them into literature. Stephen Stills
:-)How immoral can that be? I ask you.


1 comment:

Amira Nowaira said...

A thought-provoking post Amira. Lovely selection of quotes!I'm sure the man at the heart of the hullaballoo never thought of any of this.