Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Even fantasy must be grounded in reality

Of course, my fanciful imaginings of whole cities reading Ghassan Kanafani's fiction and finding their eyes newly opened on the question of Palestine and that making all the difference rely on some assumptions. One is that literature can affect consciousness, or more particularly, that left or revolutionary literature can counter the bourgeois consciousness that pervades almost everyone's brains hereabouts. (It's one thing for the uber-capitalist Ayn Rand to work her proto-fascist magic on impressionable suburban youths with The Fountainhead; this is a case of a novel merely nudging already formed bourgeois consciousness further along on the same class continuum. It's a different level of magnitude altogether, it seems to me, a hugely harder task, for a novel to effect a consciousness shift in toto.) Another is that all this upended consciousness would matter, that the fiction reader, newly enlightened, becomes at least a potential actor on the stage of the class struggle. There may be several more assumptions embedded in my daydream of yesterday as well. One of the things I want to try to do as I keep stumbling along this path is tease them out and test them and try to figure out which of them might be true. The ultimate issue being literature's place in the struggle for revolutionary change.