Engaged writing

A Night in Tahrir Square - Jacopo Quaranta (Time)
A Night in Tahrir Square – Jacopo Quaranta (Time)

Manuel Castells‘ account of the  networks of outrage and hope that have emerged since the economic collapse of 2008 is as inspiring as it is instructive. I’ve been learning a lot about the world today as well as seeing  connections with the community art movement of 1970s. In explaining why and how he has written this important book for a non-specialist audience, Castells describes the task of an engaged writer:

‘Without pretending to achieve objectivity, I have tried to present the movements in their own words and by their own actions, using some direct observation and a considerable amount of information: some from individual interviews and some from secondary sources that are detailed in the references to each chapter and in the appendices to this book. In fact, I am in full accordance with the basic principle of this leaderless movement of multiple faces: I only represent myself, and this is simply my reflection on what I have seen, heard or read. I am an individual doing what I learned to do throughout my life: investigate processes of social transformation with the hope that this investigation could be helpful to the endeavours of those fighting, at great risk, for a world we would like to live in.’

Manuel Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope2012

The long-promised account of what Regular Marvels is about is progressing, but more slowly than I’d expected. There is so much to try to explain, in theory and ethics, method and politics, art and language. So for now, I wanted to share this brief statement of intent by Manuel Castells: it is at least something to aspire to. And in a world undergoing historic change, that is already a big thing.

A final word from Albert Camus, in his  Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

‘Whatever our personal weaknesses may be, the nobility of our craft will always be rooted in two commitments, difficult to maintain: the refusal to lie about what one knows and the resistance to oppression.’

Albert Camus, Stockholm, December 10, 1957


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