Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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On the Darkness of Art

Here's an essay that defends two of the greatest purposes in literature: to show the ugliness that humanity can manifest, and to make people think  about it.  This is true throughout art, whether it be genre literature or great paintings or whatever.  It's not supposed to come with a canned meaning.  It's supposed to provoke you, make you feel things, sometimes dark and sometimes light and quite often both at the same time.

I like exploring intense topics.  Some of them are bright, like building intimacy.  Some of them are dark, like when characters give in to base impulses and really hurt someone.  You can usually tell which things are good or bad ideas as you read them.  But the characters  don't always know that.  Sometimes what I write is disturbing precisely because it depicts something horrible through the perspective of someone who thinks is a grand idea.  Officer RAT, for instance, thinks that his prejudices make the world a better place by coming down hard on bad guys.  I rarely come right out and say something like, "Don't murder people; that is bad and wrong."  If you look at the action, however, you'll see that murder tends to have undesirable outcomes.  A lot of my characters are very mixed.  Look at, say, Steel and Dr. Infanta -- they can get incredibly violent if you trigger them.  But that happens because of how badly other people have torn them up in the past.  With people they care about, they're both quite protective.  That invites readers to think about where they draw the lines of what is justified or unjustified, who is a hero and who is a villain, and why.

Don't ever let anyone take that away from you.
Tags: art, networking, reading, writing

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