Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fiction is not Stupid, HWA

This might be difficult. This is about HWA, art, fiction specifically, and his effect.

HWA in his autobiography, in which he completely 'forgets' to tell us about his many false prophecies, (1936, Mussolini as Beast, Hitler as Beast) he does remember to tell us that he has not read much fiction.

That winter, beside the warm fire of burning oak logs, I read through three or four books of fiction -- about the only fiction reading of my entire life. I did what I could to help on the farm, but that wasn't much, and my wife, of course, did the cooking, and housework. (Chapter 13.)
He also remembered to tell us his personal views on fiction.

I confined my reading in magazines to informative and thought-provoking articles, resisting fiction almost altogether. Fiction is the lazy man's reading. Like the movies, and today's TV programs, it is merely a ready-made daydream, inducing habits of mind-drifting. (Chapter 8.)
And then (strangely) just a few words later he lecture us about 'vision.'
This is the quality, rare among people (but why should it be? [It might have something to do with your authoritarian ways, HWA.-Redfox712]), called VISION....the big majority never think beyond their present jobs -- never think out ways to do the job better, or to develop or expand their own job into something bigger, or to be preparing themselves for the better jobs ahead and promotions to them
How is vision, which here means dreaming about future possibilities, different from dreaming about possibilities experienced through reading fiction?

His view on fiction is wrong and is completely ignorant of the tremendous power fiction can achieve in its readers. Fiction is not "lazy man's reading" it is an exploration of human creativity, a way of expanding the mind. Fiction is story telling. So is history. So is any other written narrative. Many of those historical books seen on libraries or the hallowed halls of academic institutions tell stories. HWA does not see the power of fiction.

Fiction can be used to inspire people and even have dramatic impact upon people's lives. It is extremely simplistic and ignorant for HWA to just dismiss it all as vanity. He did not qualify it by saying it was just his opinion, he stated it as though it was the uncontestable truth.

I am sorry to say this but I was so taken in by HWA that after I read these words I very seriously considered giving up reading fiction all together. I shudder at the thought of how much power his words had over me.

Thankfully after reading a particularly exciting story I decided that reading fiction and dreaming up your own fictional scenarios was perfectly fine and did not contradict God's will.

Herman Hoeh did not let HWA's prejudices stop him from reading fiction. As related to us by Mike Snyder:

I took the time to examine the many shelves of books he had. I was struck by the fact that he had the entire collection of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. I asked him about it, thinking that they were intended to be donated. He replied that they were his, to my great surprise. His explanation? “The ability to read is a gift. What we place into our minds by using this gift must be selected with care, as everything we read influences us. Those books [Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew] are simple but satisfying for a tired mind desiring entertainment. They always end with justice being served. In my view, they represent a suitable alternative to the rubbish that many unfortunately prefer.”
HWA's view of fiction is absolutely wrong. Yet another matter in which he is totally wrong and in error.

1 comment:

  1. Let's put it this way, it was hard out there for "creative" types in the historic WCG. Trust me, I know what I speak. I hope to write about it somebody myself.