Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yann Martel on "Combating Indifference" Through the Arts

There is wonderful interview in Writer's Digest with Yann Martel, author of the Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi and most recently Beatrice and Virgil. One of the final questions the interviewer asked was, "Through your actions as well as the themes of your stories, it's clearly very important to you to combat indifference. Can you explain why?"

Here is Martel's beautiful response:

I think indifference in itself is not a good thing, in any field really, but especially in the arts. Art is the greatest tool for thinking about your life, for examining your life. It's a whole-person thing. And it permeates our life. People who say they don't care about the arts, it's not true. The way you dress, the way you eat, the language you speak, these are all cultural emanations. To be indifferent to the arts, to never read a book, never see a play, never read a poem, never see a movie that isn't a conventional Hollywood blockbuster, all that basically means you're shutting down your appreciation of the human experience.

Art is partly to entertain, but partly also to upset. You need those two. That's vital to keep our society alive. As a writer I'm just part of that, and I think every writer does the same. I think every writer, in one way or another, is trying to just push people a little bit and say, "Hey, have you thought about this, or have you realized this, or have you felt this?"

You can read the entire interview in the July/August 2010
issue of Writer's Digest.

Yann Martel's books are available in major bookstores everywhere.


DarcĂ­a Helle said...

Martel makes some great points. I particularly like this: "Art is partly to entertain, but partly also to upset. You need those two. That's vital to keep our society alive." Controversy isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Dallas said...

So true! Often the books that have made the biggest impression on me are the ones that have been upsetting, because they have caused me to think. Thanks for stopping by, Darcia! :)

Virginia S Grenier said...

I haven't gotten my copy yet. Hmmmm. Well I have to agree with Martel. Thanks for sharing. Now to figure out where my issue is.

Anonymous said...

I agree about using art to upset. Art can be a useful vehicle to comabt indifference. And I like the new look of your blog. I haven't been here for a while so not sure how long you've had the change. But it looks great!

Stephen Tremp

Dallas said...

Thanks, Stephen! :)