Friday, October 28, 2011

#301 / Faulkner On Fear

As Faulkner makes clear in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, we will "prevail" only when we can overcome fear. He was speaking mainly to writers, about writing, but his observations, I think, have general applicability:
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed--love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse.
Until we escape from our fear, we do live under a curse.

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