When will I be blown up?

From Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech-
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 the 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. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

There is so much awesomeness packed into this simple paragraph. Right here- right, here- he attacks stories that exist only as ratcheting action, against narratives whose only point is more bad shit happens to good people. Because, even though those stories can work just fine, they fail as art if they don’t show conflict in the heart, in the spirit, if they don’t confront what it means to be human. Rather than just action and more action.

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2 thoughts on “When will I be blown up?

  1. That’s what I look for in a book, and I’m disappointed otherwise. Without some kind of emotional core I simply can’t connect. Good stories appeal to my mind, show me something new. Great stories appeal to my heart and mind, leave me changed by some degree forever.

  2. Great excerpt and I totally agree. Without an emotional core, all the flash bang action, sizzling sex scenes and brilliant stunt writing is worthless.

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