A Writer has a DUTY to Challenge the Mind

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 31st Dec 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3jdv6mrc/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Is it possible? Does it hurt? Where next? These are all questions we have asked ourselves at some point in our lives. To some extent these represent the challenges we face when writing, because to a large extent writing is intended to challenge the mind of the reader, but it is also just as likely to challenge the mind of the writer and they should not, indeed they MUST not waiver from that challenge, the mind of the writer should help us see just what is possible.

Steeped in Controversy

Recently a writer whose items I enjoy reading stated "I... find myself steeped in controversy a lot, and haven't been blocked yet" which made me think about the role of the writer and the DUTY we have to challenge the reader in some small way. Orson Scott Card states "every... story must challenge the reader's experience and learning", I believe that is how he reader will grow from experiencing your work.

To some extent nowadays simply disagreeing is to be controversial and the more I think about it the more it seems we live in a world of "Yes Men (or Women)" who simply follow the corporate line or follow the leader when it is patently clear the leader has not got a clue as to where to go next so all too often we have a scenario of the blind leading the blind along a dead-end street and it seems obvious to any sane person that we should simply stop and scream...

    "Stop I have had ENOUGH of this!!!

...and I can understand why some may scream...

    "Stop this world! I want to GET OFF!

...yet the majority seem intent in simply following the blind leader, because that is where there comfort zone is, Well I do agree that is it time to challenge our personal comfort zones and as a writer we do have a duty to cause people to think in some small way.

Nothing New?

One time I read something that stated if we are not making a new contribution then we are best closing our mouths, but are we?

Now when writing fiction it could be said that you are not writing anything we do not already know about because fiction is largely a commentary on what is known in this world, yet there is every reason why a fiction writer should be challenging the mind, fiction can be an effective medium to allow people's mind's to see new possibilities because we can build a new world, a world that does not have the same shortcomings as the real world, one that is not as blind as this one seems at times. The fiction writer can take us to the world of the fairy tale or beyond our solar system or galaxy indeed anything is possible, they can take to alternative planes, for example the world where JFK was not shot on that fateful day in November 1963 and explore how the world might have been.

The factual writer has other duties, of course they can explore the "what if" but they will do it in a different way, their duty in this regard is to point out how it is possible to do things differently, generally they challenge people in a new and different way. There is room for a simple commentary on what is or what was and the role of the writer here is to educate and inform and not necessarily to challenge the mind, but there is a difference between a simple commentary and the need to challenge people to think differently, indeed the role of the coverage may be to uncover injustice and that alone should make people think about the need for change.

Should Ideas Be Blocked?

In 1933, Nazis burned books written by Jewish and other authors, such as Karl Marx, considered "un-German" in Berlin this may be one of the most well known event that sought to turn the world away from controversial ideas of the day, but we can say that any move to stifle ideas generally becomes on that is consigned to the gutters of history.

You may disagree with Karl Marx and his ideas and that is your right, but the best way to ensure defeat of any idea is to have an alternative, to put forward something different and prove that your thesis to be the the correct approach.

In some respects being banned is the best thing that can happen to a writer, and there are several examples that come to mind. The band Frankie Goes to Hollywood's début single "Relax" was banned by the BBC in 1984 and subsequently topped the UK singles chart and stayed at number 1 for five weeks, before going on to enjoy prolonged chart success throughout that year and ultimately becoming one of the top-ten best-selling UK singles of all time. Another example can be demonstrated from the candid autobiography of a senior British Intelligence Officer Peter Wright called "Spycatcher" which was banned by the British government, instantly making it the most sought after book in the UK, people were asking friends across the world to bring the book when travelling to the UK for holidays.

The fatwah (or death sentence) placed on "Satanic Verses" author Salman Rushdie‎ made an otherwise plain, boring, book a best seller and crated the opposite effect than that intended, had those introducing the fatwah just ignored the book altogether it is likely the book would have disappeared, a forgotten failure.

Attempts to block ideas usually end up giving them an extra life, it is better to portray a different idea than attempt to stifle other ideas. Some of the works that have been banned around the world include:

  • Anne Frank - The diary of a Young Girl
  • George Orwell - Animal Farm
  • JD Salinger - Catcher in the Rye
  • Helen Prejean - Death of Innocents
  • D. H. Lawrence - Lady Chatterley's Lover
  • Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
  • John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath
  • Mary Shelley - Frankenstein
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - The Gulag Archipelago
  • Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf

The last one being the most ironic of all.

Challenge the Mind

I have been involved in editing five books and several editions of a quarterly women's magazine and have been enjoying the world of writing and publishing immensely (not bad for an Information Technology lifer) and it is true that I am always seeking new work in the editing field, while at the same time writing an e-book on the English language, to which this and other articles (on Wikinut and other sites) will contribute.

It is vital to challenge the mind, perhaps mental fitness is even more vital to humanity than physical fitness and perhaps we should challenge the mind more than we do currntly. I ask the question - what have you done today to challenge your mental capacity? We do need this challenge because without it we will surely rot, wither and die. In truth many people die because they do not challenge themselves to do something new, challenge themselves to take a leap of thinking, I am not telling you which direction to go in, just simply to take a long look over the fence that you have been looking at for some time and make the more, give yourself the mental capacity to go one step further, because with every challenge you have to perceive it before you can do it and perception is nine tenths of any challenge and if you perceive it then you can achieve it.

100 Articles and More...

I challenge you to read "100 Articles" by Phyl Campbell then ask yourself what you can do to improve yourself. For some of you the response to that question may be to start writing your own articles and joining Wikinut may be on of the best ways to do that.

To date I have published more than 400 on Wikinut and intend to continue publishing here these are the most recent articles that I have published...

Thinking about making your own personal contribution? You should do something about it now! Your viewpoint is important! The first thing you could do is ADD a comment providing your own thoughts and feedback, which is always appreciated. Sometimes however your thoughts transcend the limits of a simple comment, then you need to make your own contribution of 300 words or more; perhaps penning your own article is more appropriate, well you can make your own views felt Join Wikinut today and have some fun telling the world your viewpoint.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
31st Dec 2013 (#)

I love this Peter and it is so...a wonderful way to go...happy New Year to you and yours...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Jan 2014 (#)

Awwww! Thank you Peter. I just try to write things I am passionate about. Though I sometimes rub people the wrong way, I am happy to be understood and appreciated for the challenges I present. Thank you for finding inspiration in the challenge. Happy New Year's Eve.

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author avatar Retired
1st Jan 2014 (#)

Nice share. Happy new year 2014..

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author avatar Ptrikha
1st Jan 2014 (#)

Surprising to know that
Frankenstein too was banned!

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author avatar snerfu
2nd Jan 2014 (#)

Good article. Have a Merry New Year.

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author avatar Helen Thomas
3rd Jan 2014 (#)

Interesting and informative ~ Peter. Thanks for the share.

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author avatar Virendra Singh Bhanu
21st Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks for sharing, love them! I think you should add your favorite words to favoritewords.com

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