In a recent conversation with a fellow prose writer, I articulated my frustration with writing my artist statement, one of the many documents I crafted on the job market this past fall and one I am still revising. (Is an artist statement ever done?) I told her while I know my work is interested in the relationship between artistic practice and social justice, I don’t yet know what that relationship is. She put down her glass and blinked at me as though I had asked her if paper was thin, then proceeded to tell me that while art itself might not be capable of instituting change in the world, it creates the space for change to be imaginable.
Socially, you can be a hermit if you want to; lock yourself up in a room and just write for two years. No one’s probably going to miss you—there are no required events to attend except for the first day meeting. Even student readings are informal and optional. You can finally experiment on growing that beard thick, long, and covered in crumbs.
I love research. There, I said it. I can never take it back now because the Internet is forever, like memories of a bad boyfriend or your grandmother’s recipe for banana bread. As someone who works in both the English and Library worlds, I have a strong interest in making sure people understand their rights to access information, where information is located, and how to acquire the information they want. As much as I love classic literature and the old-fashioned ideal of a tortured, talented writer sitting alone in a garrett surrounded by piles of typed or handwritten sheets, I’m glad my days of romanticizing that lifestyle are over. For as much as I love solitary afternoons staring into the pine trees, I don’t know if I could ever fully give up the amazing amount of access to information we have these days.
Leslie Jamison answers Antoni’s implied imperative: use yourself, your emotions and your responses, as an analytical and critical tool. Antoni’s ideas illuminate Jamison’s primary techniques—Antoni and Jamison, perhaps, share a working definition of empathy: empathy as an effort of imagination, effort of intellect; empathy as a door through which to enter art, for reader, viewer, and maker; empathy as inquiry; empathy as the site of analysis; empathy as resistance to tradition or traditional tropes; empathy as choice.
‘by A.L. Major’
In April, the Atlantic Monthly published an article that was so ill-advised I hesitate to post a link to the article for fear of increasing its page count and further sensationalizing the author’s bogus argument. The article was about creative writing programs. An impassioned, somewhat jilted, author, Jon Reiner, makes a case for why instead of going to MFA schools, wanna-be published authors should go out and live—similar to arguments for why writers need to have “real-life jobs” before writing. Considering the sheer number of Creative Writing MFA programs in the U.S, there is a high likelihood that young, well-educated, straight-out-of-college aspiring writers are going to slip their way into those cherished programs, but of the many faults, Jon Reiner made, the gravest perhaps is how he grossly misjudges the lives of those “young” students. His stance that younger students have not lived comes from a ridiculously, narrow and American perspective; for he assumes MFA students grew up in American suburbs and were pampered by their middle to upper class families. But, believe me, I don’t want to write a post about his article article, especially so belatedly. In fact, I’ve only mentioned it to say how it got me thinking about my lack of long-term job experience and how as a young girl growing up in a developing country jobs, first jobs especially, didn’t always seem like a job in the quintessential sense.