Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What is Writing?

I remember trying to read Sartre's Literature and Existentialism when I was a student - and I tried several times. If I'm honest, I don't think I really understood it, but it was Sartre and he is always cool. I've been skimming through this book once more, and it turns out that he is just interested in the same stuff that this blog is interested in. As he says in the foreword: "What is writing? Why does one write? For whom? The fact is, it seems that nobody has ever asked himself these questions."

Here's Sartre at the end of chapter one ("What is Writing?):

But since, for us, writing is an enterprise; since writers are alive before being dead; since we think that we must try to be as right as we can in our books; and since, even if the centuries show us to be in the wrong, this is no reason to show in advance that we are wrong; since we think that the writer should engage himself completely in his works, and not as an abject passivity by putting forward his vices, his misfortunes, and his weaknesses, but as a resolute will and as a choice, as this total enterprise of living that each one of us is, it is then proper that we take up this problem at its beginning and that we, in our turn, ask ourselves: "Why does one write?"

If he has any interesting answers, I'll let you know!