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America Has Great Art Because It’s a Very Chaotic Country
Often the best art emerges from situations of strife because art, in and of itself, is about trying to make sense of the hazy meanings surrounding events.
Joyce Carol Oates is an American author. Oates published her first book in 1963 and has since published over 40 novels, as well as a number of plays and novellas, and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. She has won many awards for her writing, including the National Book Award, for her novel them (1969), two O. Henry Awards, and the National Humanities Medal. Her novels Black Water (1992), What I Lived For (1994), Blonde (2000), and short story collections The Wheel of Love and Other Stories (1970) and Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories (2014) were each nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Oates has taught at Princeton University since 1978 and is currently the Roger S. Berlind '52 Professor in the Humanities with the Program in Creative Writing.
Joyce Carol Oates: Most people I think who write are involved in an attempt to solve a problem of what really happened, what motives are, what the subterranean meanings are in an event. And many people could only do that if they are very introspective and they think about it and maybe write about it over a period of time rather than doing something very haphazard and sort of intuitive. So this is maybe the project of art itself is to understand ourselves and understand the world. And maybe to communicate some meaning because life in itself is a rush and it’s chaotic and in the turmoil, meaning tends to be lost and we feel a malaise and we feel despair if there isn’t evidently meaning in our lives.
So there are times in cultures in crisis where there’s a feeling of an atmosphere of despair like a collective despair. And I think, oddly enough, that art can flourish in those times because art is a way of trying to focus and still the chaos and look for meaning. Writers and artists are all different and everybody has a different way of writing. What seems to be just absolutely natural and brilliant in James Joyce would just not even work and be completely impossible in [Ernest] Hemingway for instance. Hemingway had a very different consciousness. His whole ontological grasp of reality is very, very different from [William] Faulkner's. You can sort of see their prose is so different. So each person has an apprehension of reality that’s different from other people's. Some people are very naturally brooding and introspective and they’re going to go inward and look backward. Somebody like Faulkner and [Marcel] Proust. Somebody else like Hemingway is actually also looking backward, but he doesn’t allow you to know that. So he stays in the present tense and Hemingway’s dramas are very, very tense because a lot is being pushed down in a subterranean way. So yet you feel the force of it.
Then there are writers who are more like almost like comic or ironic or satiric writers. And they skitter along the surface and they’re very compelling and very entertaining. And they too can have a depth of sensibility, but they’re not interested in personal psychology. I’ll give an example of Donald Barthelme or George Saunders. There are excellent writers, but you don’t go to them for human psychology. Emily Dickinson’s very, very short, very precise poems that are so powerful in addressing some of the turmoil of a disintegrating mind, for instance. She writes about people who seem to be teetering on the brink of losing sanity because they’ve had so much dealing with death. She was also writing during the time of the Civil War. So she was writing in a time of crisis, but her poetry has a stillness, almost a crystalline beauty of a great mind being brought to bear on an exemplary human experience, which is an experience of feeling that things are disintegrating, and looking for meaning. So I think that’s one of the projects of the novelist.
Often the best art emerges from situations of strife because art, in and of itself, is about trying to make sense of the hazy meanings surrounding events. Award-winning author Joyce Carol Oates analyzes the reasons why we write while pulling examples from greats such as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and James Joyce.
Oates' most recent book is titled The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Paul Krugman on the Virtues of Selfishness<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7ZtAkm6C" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="828936bf6953080e9018307354c0c02b"> <div id="botr_7ZtAkm6C_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7ZtAkm6C-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> The Nobel Prize-winning economist on the virtues of selfishness.
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Exploring Morality and Selfishness in Modern Times<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="02eX1Cag" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="45cc6180db791f32683988fb52faff26"> <div id="botr_02eX1Cag_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/02eX1Cag-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> Philosopher Peter Singer discusses the state of global ethics.
Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.
Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.
- Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
- "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
- In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.