War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Notes from PhD Land: perfectibility of man

just read John Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize speech and am interested that less than 20 years after World War II that he still held some belief in the perfectibility of man, or rather, that the artist, the writer, must, or so he says, believe in this.

Steinbeck writes: The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement.

Furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit – for gallantry in defeat – for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally-flags of hope and of emulation.

I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man, has no dedication nor any membership in literature.

I posted this quote in the grazing ground of my fellow scholars, that lifeline known as FB (yes! we who toil alone over words and ideas laugh together, cry together in that far from perfect forum!). I am surprised and pleased to see the debate over Steinbeck’s words commencing.

I propose that the idea that the artist might believe in the ‘perfectibility’ of man, just might be the definition of ethics. I’m meditating on this today. send your thoughts if you wish.


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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Notes from PhD Land: perfectibility of man. It was posted here on October 01, 2013.

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