Monday, January 14, 2013

The Arts, Ranked

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Page 2 of 5

One of Nabokovs index cards.
  • One of Nabokov's index cards.

4) Writing

So, I'm going to agree with Virginia Woolf here and say that writing is the least of the arts. Which, you know, I wish it was higher up, because it's what I do. But I have to follow my conscience here, as I do with all things, all the time. Which doesn't mean that writing isn't still an important and potentially beautiful way of conveying the truth of the world. Truth cloaked in constructions, the more depraved the better. Vladimir Nabokov advised young writers to, "Delight in perversity. Burn pedants in pale fire." And that is what great writing can do. It can illuminate the world in a sublime and terrifying way, like a flash of lightning that sets a forest on fire. But also, writing can just be about making stupid lists. So I have no choice but to rank it last.

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