Weekly Links: To What or Whom is the Artist Responsible?

(1) Stacia L. Brown's essay reflecting on the Oscar-winning success of Lupita Nyong'o, "When a (Comparatively) Carefree Blackgirl Wins An Oscar," will get you thinking.



 "While I don’t get the impression that Nyong’o, having spent the last two years of her life immersing herself in study and portrayal of the American slave experience, would hold the same perception of American blackness as Adichie initially did, it is safe to say she can still hold herself aloft from it. For her, blackness, in a context of white American oppression, is a role. It is not intrinsic to her identity. [...] I already know what Hollywood will try to make her. I know the gradations of blackness they will implore her to learn. But I do not know how she will resist. I do not know what she herself will teach. But she is entering the field with just enough privilege and confidence to inspire my hope that she will do just that: instruct rather than simply accept — and learn from black actresses (rather than white directors) how best to navigate this space."


(2) I'm too afraid to look at how many times I've gone on about Karl Ove Knausgaard in this space. But hey . . . as you can see in this recent piece in the Guardian ("Norway's Proust and a life laid painfully bare"), he gives good copy. Volume three of his absolutely stellar (& provocatively titled) memoir project, My Struggle, will be available in May. Plenty of time to catch up on volumes one and two

"The critical reading of the texts always resulted in parts being deleted. So that was what I did. My writing became more and more minimalist. In the end, I couldn't write at all. For seven or eight years, I hardly wrote. But then I had a revelation. What if I did the opposite? What if, when a sentence or a scene was bad, I expanded it, and poured in more and more? After I started to do that, I became free in my writing. Fuck quality, fuck perfection, fuck minimalism. My world isn't minimalist; my world isn't perfect, so why on earth should my writing be?"


(3) Cory Doctorow has been blowing minds for years in his sci-fi novels. His recent essay for Locus Online, "Cold Equations and Moral Hazard," isn't fiction, but it is no less incendiary. Here he blows the lid off what he sees as the responsibilities of our storytellers, and what's at stake when they don't meet them. 

"The thing about lifeboat rules is that they are an awfully good deal for lifeboat captains.

"Even saints get exasperated with other humans from time to time. What a treat it would be if the rest of the world would just realize that what’s best for you is simply the best course of action, period. That’s the moral hazard in cold equations, the existential crisis of lifeboat rules. If being in a lifeboat gives you the power to make everyone else shut the hell up and listen (or else), then wouldn’t it be awfully convenient if our ship were to go down?

"Every time someone tells you that the environment is important, sure, but we can’t afford to take a bite out of the economy to mitigate global warming, ask yourself what’s out of the frame on this cold equation. Every time you hear that education is vital and taking care of the poor is our solemn duty, but we must all tighten in our belts while our lifeboat rocks in the middle of the precarious, crisis-torn economic seas, ask yourself whether the captain of our lifeboat had any role in the sinking of the ship."