Wednesday, March 16, 2016

`A Benign and Conservative Role'

When reading C.H. Sisson, one must remain alert for ricocheting ironies. To keep motionless is to risk being wounded by friendly fire. This is from “The Study of Affairs” (The Avoidance of Literature, 1978):

“In this violent world the man of letters plays a benign and conservative role. He sees himself as one with the animal out of pre-history. If he produces new work which shocks and startles, it is precisely because he is not being destructive as the surgeon or the publicity man aim at being destructive. It is because he is opening up a new area in consciousness, indicating a point to which you may go from the point you now occupy. While the technologist puts something over on you, the poet offers to take you with him, if you feel able to go, which admittedly most people do not.”

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