Literary creativity

26 Apr

It has been some time since I have last written a blog. I had a total knee replacement and this slowed me down considerably. This was a source of irritation! Nevertheless, I had time on my hands to think and to catch up on reading. I did some research for an article but also read some popular books. One of the things I have noticed, is that in spite of the advances of the digital century, the hero figure in popular literature is still strong. The literary heroes of my youth were people who fought with swords and had beautiful, intelligent horses as companions in the fight against evil.

Something else that did not change is that there is still a fight between evil and good. The most basic ingredient of the fairy tale, that struggle between good and evil, is still with us. One of my favourite modern fairy tales is the Star Wars series. However, there are some differences between traditional and modern fairy tales. The heroes or heroines these days do not have fairy godmothers and their struggle is much more brutal and physical. Gone are the days when good manners distinguished the good from the evil. From the books that I have read, it is very clear that the heroines of today’s fiction rely on their wits and their physical prowess in a sometimes primitive post-apocalyptic world.

Having said this, I must wonder about the future world that the writers of popular fiction are dreaming about. Does this give us a view of a world that we would like to live in? Do young readers see their world or a possible future world as alien and post-apocalyptic, where civilisation became the enemy of survival?

All writers have visions of writing a book that will be a box office hit. When this happens to a writer, I always wonder if it is the result of someone who read his or her audience so well that the result is a run-away success? I think we may have seen this phenomenon in the Harry Potter series. This series created a reading culture that was almost like a shock in our technology-laden era. Harry Potter, to my mind, falls in the category of Star Wars — a modern fairy tale, complete with monsters, evil men and women, wise wizards and an unlikely hero.

One thing we cannot do is to try and control what young people read. That unfortunately never succeeds. Is there anything we want to do, or can do? Unless you isolate your child from the world, there is very little you can do to control what your child reads. As parents, our opportunity to influence norms and values passes before young people reach the stage of reading what they want to read. If young people can and want to read, they must read. Reading is like playing. The brain selects that what it needs and wants and then moves on to the next level of reading.

Literature and films are very important in terms of creating a future vision for a future reality. If we think about the fictional world of Jules Verne, Asimov or the starship Enterprise and its diverse crew, and compare their worlds to the reality today, we may notice that in some instances, the fiction of yesterday has become the fact of today. In fact, I believe that creative writers are visionaries that show us the way to tomorrow. Therefore the nurturing of literary creativity in schools is just as important as nurturing Math and Science. No society can grow without dreamers and visionaries.

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