Artists and Climate Change


Writers in a Time of Change

This lecture was presented at the “Festival of Ideas” at the University of Melbourne in June 2009. The theme of the festival was “Climate Change / Cultural Change”.

I recently went to a lecture at the Academy of Science on geothermal power. Looked around – an audience mainly of scientists, I guessed: hatchet faced, piercing attentiveness, blazing intelligences. (Just like this audience. ) Afterwards I got talking to the man sitting next to me – turned out he was a retired professor of physics. When I told him I was a writer his face lit up. A writer? Ah, you are the people the planet needs! You must write about this, get the message out – at this point he obviously thought he’d better spell it out for me in case I hadn’t been listening – the message is simple, just four words – coal is too cheap! Get that into every newspaper and every magazine! Oh well, I mumbled, I’m not that sort of writer. He peered at me. Uh, actually, I blurt out, I’m a fiction writer. His face fell. Fiction? You mean you write…(a pitying tone)… novels?

Coal is too cheap. That was the message that was going to save the planet, and I was not the person who was going to get that message out.

He’s right. As far as I know, the cheapness of coal has never been the subject of a novel. Stung by his dismissal, on the way home I toyed with the idea of writing the great Coal is Too Cheap novel.

Well, one of you may even now be putting the finishing touches to your great novel of coal and its fatal cheapness. I hope so. Because, frankly, I couldn’t see any way to do it. A man and a woman in bed together. Darling, I’ve been thinking – coal is too cheap. Absolutely, sweetheart, and did you know that in 2007, geothermal power produced 14,885 gigawatt hours of electricity?

Then along came the invitation to present this lecture: writers in a time of change. As the hatchet-faced old gentleman had made so painfully clear, the value of fiction, of poetry and of drama & memoirs is much less obvious than the value of non-fiction. I pictured him sceptically listening to whatever feeble thoughts I might have, and decided to say no.

Then there was spell of hot dry windy weather where I live. It seemed as if it would never rain again. Weeds turned up their toes, even the wretched bamboo was wilting. All over my garden, things died.

Of course it rained eventually. I went for a walk, just to enjoy the sight of water dropping out of the sky. The gutters were streaming with dark water – really just mud, I realised. I saw that, everywhere plants had died, the topsoil was being scoured away, leaving nothing a brick-hard clay subsoil. No seed would ever take root in that.

I suddenly understood that within a few years, without anything very remarkable happening in any one week, my leafy suburb could become a landscape of barren dust, like the pictures of Iraq that we see on the news. It could happen. Actually, it had happened. After all, somewhere around Iraq was the former location of the Garden of Eden.

Even someone who can’t really get her head around what a gigawatt-hour is, can understand that. It made me think, I will have to say yes to that lecture.

This is by way of apologising in advance for the fact that I have nothing especially profound to say about writers in a time of change. But a catastrophe is going to overwhelm us unless we do something by around about tomorrow, and getting together to talk about our individual helplessness seems a good place to start feeling less helpless. As Inga Clendinnen puts it: “ we know what we as individuals feel, but we cannot know whether we are idiosyncratic. To investigate that, we have to formulate thoughts into words, and then offer them for discussion.”

That’s what I’m going to do tonight.

First though, let me go back to that word I used so glibly a moment ago – catastrophe.

We’re at the end of a week when a lot of seriously smart people have been talking about things quantifiable. But how should those quantities be interpreted? Is there, in fact, the catastrophe looming that I mentioned a minute ago? And if there is, can we do anything to stop it, or is it just the result of the planet’s own cycles of freeze and boil?

Blaise Pascal was born four hundred years ago and knew nothing of climate change. But there was a big change beginning in his day, a change as important as climate change is to us. The change in his day was about God. Put bluntly, did God exist?

You’re probably familiar with the way he formulated the question as four possibilities, on one of which every human was obliged to bet: “Pascal’s wager”. One, God exists, and we behave as if he does (we behave devoutly, and are rewarded for it in the afterlife). Two, God exists, but we behave as if he doesn’t (we don’t behave devoutly, and get punished in the afterlife). Three, God doesn’t exist, but we behave as if he does (we behave devoutly, but get neither reward nor punishment). Four, God doesn’t exist and we behave as if he doesn’t (we don’t behave devoutly and don’t get either punished or rewarded).

Of the four outcomes, number two is clearly the one a rational person would do anything to avoid.  

On purely rational grounds, Pascal decided that the best bet was to assume that God did exist, and behave accordingly. If you were wrong, the worst outcome would be some time wasted praying when you could have been out making whoopee. But if you bet that God didn’t exist, and it turned out he did, you’d fry in hell for eternity.

So it is with climate change. If it turns that out it was a false alarm, the worst outcome will be that we’ve bought a lot of solar panels we don’t need. If we bet the other way and do nothing, and it turns out that we could have stopped climate change – well, to frying in our own home-made hell will be added remorse.

So this lecture will go forward on the basis on which the overwhelming majority of those who know – climate scientists – agree: that climate change is real, is human-made and is (if we hurry) amenable to us acting. 

What about cultural change?

It may be forced on us – cafe lattes and Sunday afternoon barbies may well be replaced by bunkers in the backyard full of baked beans, and – for when the baked beans run out – instructions about which cuts of human are easiest to grill. Or we might choose to change our cultures in ways that head off the catastrophe. But one way or another, climate change is going to change cultures.

As for “writers” – well, as my friend the physics professor made so painfully clear, the value of non-fiction is self-evident. I’m going to talk about those other kinds of writers, what you might call the “art” writers: – memoirists, dramatists, poets and novelists.

It’s a truism that preventing climate change now is no longer a technological problem – scientists and engineers have provided us with many ways of producing clean energy. The problem is now behavioural. This lecture could really be called “Writers in a time of change-that-isn’t-happening.”

We all know the guilty personal small-scale reality of those grand abstractions about saving the planet. It’s leaving the hall light on because otherwise it’s too spooky out there. It’s turning the heater up rather than putting on another jumper.

We know we should be doing something, and we even know what we should be doing. But … we don’t do it. Just a very small-scale indication of this – how many in this room have solar panels on their roof? Or pay the premium for 100% green power?

So why aren’t we all changing our behaviour, as individuals but also as nations?

I’ve discovered that there’s an entire area of psychology devoted to working out why we don’t do the things we ought to do: the study of “heuristics and biases”. The book I looked at listed 12 ways in which we kid ourselves that everything is going to be okay, and that our judgement about where things are headed can be trusted – and those 12 are apparently just the ones the author was interested in that day. They include, but are not limited to: hindsight bias; confirmation bias; anchoring, adjustment and contamination; scope neglect; calibration and overconfidence; and the need for closure bias. As this author memorably puts it: “People do not become any smarter, just because the survival of humankind is at stake.”

When I first started thinking about this whole business of behaviour, I thought the reason we can’t turn the heater down is because we humans are hard-wired for amelioration. We’re always looking for ways to make our lives better: better than they were before, and better than the next guy’s. If we weren’t, I thought, we’d still be living in caves eating the occasional raw trilobite.

In that case, it’s easy to see why nothing’s happening on preventing climate change. Hard to make yourself turn down the heater if you’re hard-wired to want to be more comfortable. Hard to turn down your own heater when the other bloke might not be turning down his.

And with every improvement we make, our notion of the tolerable shrinks. The idea of living in an unheated house in Hobart, or an un-airconditioned house in Darwin, is harder to see as a possibility.

Then I remembered a story told to me by a filmmaker friend. She was making a documentary about the Afar people in Africa – they live in the hottest place in the world. Every day at 1.30 the goatherds take the goats out to pasture. The filmmakers were running late, of course, so they asked the people if they would take the goats out at 2 o’clock. No, that was impossible. The goats went out at 1.30. They’d always been taken out at 1.30. Taking the goats out at 1.30 was an immutable part of Afar culture.

It makes sense when you think about it. For the Afar, the margin for error is zero. Over generations, taught by who knows what disasters, the Afar had worked out that the safest time to take the goats out was 1.30. Innovation – and its attendant risk of failure – was a luxury that their environment didn’t allow them.

So I had to re-think. What we’ re hard-wired for is not one kind of behaviour over another. We’re hardwired for learning from experience, and then locking it in with the glue of culture.

This is exactly what neuroscience is discovering: there’s a mechanism at work in the brain that rewards correct predictions, and another that gets excited when expectations are wrong. “The brain’s cells measure the mismatch between expectation and outcome. They use their inevitable errors to improve performance.”

Whatever has worked for us in the past – well, that’s what we’re going to keep doing. Or, as Gareth Evans put it rather pungently: “On any spread of options, inertia will have the numbers”.

So it seems the only way we change our behaviour is by learning from experience. Trouble is, learning from experience is a luxury we’re not going to have this time. This time, we have to change what we do before the goats die.

Nature is a conscientious engineer, and has made sure there are redundancies in our design. We have two kidneys, two eyes, we can store glucose in the muscles as well as the liver.

So we might ask, did nature know there’d be times when learning-from-experience wouldn’t save us? Did she provide us with some other bit of hard-wiring as well?

Like many of you here, probably, I was once a smoker. Not a heavy habit, but a habit I couldn’t break. I knew all the stuff about lung cancer, but I went on smoking. Information, cognition, intellect – the smart part of the brain – wasn’t enough to make me stop me lighting up.

I don’t smoke now, so something changed. I remember the instant it happened.

I rather fancied a young man, a bit of a hippy and health fanatic. We were getting on famously until the day I lit up in front of him. I can still see the look on his face: surprise, puzzlement, disgust. He took a step back and I saw him recalibrating his idea of me.

What happened in those few seconds of me watching his face was powerful enough to make me do something that no amount of information had enabled me to do: that afternoon I chucked away the packet of Drum and started running instead of smoking.

What happened in that moment to let me do something I couldn’t do before? It was something to do with emotion: specifically, the emotional response of empathy. I saw myself through his eyes. I felt myself as disgusting, because I felt his disgust as my own. That broke through the walls of resistance I’d developed to the idea of quitting – it gave me a new perspective: not a cognitive one, but an emotional one.

What I think that means is that nature has given us another mechanism, besides the learning-from-experience one, for impelling change, and the way that mechanism works has something to do with emotion.

She’s also given us a tool for harnessing that emotional response, and people who are experts at building just that kind of tool. The tool is art, and those people are artists.

A while ago I was in Canberra walking around one of the parks by the lake. Came across some kind of art work – a great many white poles, different heights. A sign told me it was a memorial to SIEV – Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel – X. It recorded that 146 mothers, 142 children and 65 fathers had drowned when it sank, and that “our message in making this memorial is that kindness is stronger than fear.” Oh yes, I thought, very worthy, very true, how sad. I walked closer, where the poles weren’t a line but doubled back on themselves to enclose a space – and in order to read a second sign I stepped into the space: “the SIEV X vessel was 20 metres long. The exact dimensions are outlined by these 42 poles.” I glanced to right, where the curving rows of poles met, and to the left, where they met at the other end. I was standing in the middle of the boat that had somehow contained 399 other people, all but 47 of whom had drowned.

How can I tell you what I felt in that second? Rather than give it words like terror, grief, sadness, outrage, let me tell you what happened to me physically: my throat closed so that I wasn’t sure I could go on breathing. Something happened around my middle, a kind of butterflies in the stomach, something tremulous and frantic. My eyes seemed to darken so the colours of the morning were bleached into black-and-white. I felt my face lengthen as all the muscles let go and my jaw sagged. The sun was still shining but I was cold. I wanted to lie down and roll into a ball and howl.

All this happened without my choosing. It was an effect that the reading of the numbers hadn’t achieved, nor the worthy words about kindness. As I stood on that patch of Canberra grass I went through an experience beyond my control.

So what’s going on, in that moment when art takes us into a place where normal thinking is suspended?

What it feels like is that the brain is turning from one kind of mode to another: as if a switch is thrown and understanding finds another path, not the path of cognition, but some other more concealed one.

I learned recently what neuroscience is discovering about how we learn to read. We’re hard-wired for language, but not for reading, so when we’re first confronted with that challenge, our brain has no ready-made path for it. What the brain does, apparently, is to make use of existing circuitry, designed for other purposes. It cobbles together the functions of many different parts of the brain and combines them in new ways, to make a way of processing this new thing, reading. Once we’ve learned to read, we no longer have to use bits and pieces of circuitry from all over the brain: we make a new path that’s a shortcut. It seems that in the most literal way, learning to read actually creates new brain circuitry.

The neuroscientists I was reading didn’t extrapolate that idea to the art-experience, but I’m prepared to. Confronted with a rich piece of art – oblique, original and surprising – the brain has no ready-made circuitry to process it. So, as it did with the challenge of learning to read, the brain will put a whole lot of pre-existing circuits together in new ways. If I’m right, experiencing art can – literally – create new circuits. New circuits are new ways of thinking, new tools that the brain can then use for other purposes.

So that feeling we have, that a work of art has flipped the switch over to some new kind of thinking, is literally true. Art is that powerful. It can change the brain. Just as Kafka famously said: “a book is an axe for the frozen sea within us.”

From Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson:

“…she had married the silent Methodist Edmund who wore a necktie and suspenders even to hunt wildflowers, and who remembered just where they grew from year to year, and who dipped his handkerchief in a puddle to wrap the stems, and who put out his elbow to help her over the steep and stony places, with a wordless and impersonal courtesy … The rising of the spring stirred a serious, mystical excitement in him, and made him forgetful of her. He would pick up eggshells, a bird’s wing, a jawbone, the ashy fragment of a wasp’s nest. He would peer at each of them with the most absolute attention, and then put them in his pockets, where he kept his jackknife and his loose change. He would peer at them as if he could read them, and pocket them as if he could own them. This is death in my hand, this is ruin in my breast pocket, where I keep my reading glasses. At such times he was as forgetful of her as he was of his suspenders and his Methodism, but all the same it was then that she loved him best, as a soul all unaccompanied, like her own.”

For some of you, that passage was just words, not especially interesting. For others it might have touched some string and started it resonating, as it did with me.

That’s one of the other things about art: people disagree about it. You could almost say, if it doesn’t make people argue, it’s not art. It’s not just because it’s ambiguous: there’s something else going on as well.

Each of us brings our own experiences, memories and prejudices to a work of art and looks at it through that unique lens. We all heard the same words when I read that bit of Housekeeping, but we all saw different things. In that sense, the work is made afresh by each reader, and even by the same reader at different moments. Each reader is enriched by the writing in a way specific to them.

Far from being a weakness, that’s one of its sources of power. Each time the work of art enters another consciousness, it shape-shifts to engage with what’s already in that consciousness. To use another scientific analogy that will probably horrify any biochemists here, you can liken the art-work to a virus. A virus has no DNA of its own, so it “cannot multiply without pirating the metabolic machinery of the host cell.” As for a virus, so with art: art enters its host and pirates the metabolic machinery of the host cell. This has the effect of fooling the body’s system for attacking foreign bodies. A work of art, once taken into ourselves, doesn’t feel like a foreign body. It won’t be rejected, because it’s become part of us.

We’ve made the work of art ours. Or, perhaps more accurately, it has made us its. As the poet WH Auden says, “a real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.”

So let’s go back to the idea of resisting change. It starts to look as though art might have a couple of unique qualities that might be relevant to that. One, it can change brains. Two, once it’s broken through, the new way of thinking doesn’t feel like something that’s come in from the outside, it feels like part of our very selves.

That means that perhaps we do, after all, have a tool that can break through the icepack of denial, rationalisation etc.

That puts a pretty heavy responsibility on artists. Should we all be writing books about putting on another jumper and sonnets about turning the hall light off? Sure, if that’s the way our creative impulses direct us. But I don’t think art can be done to order. The most powerful art comes from somewhere other than a conscious desire to persuade. In any case, there’s a law of diminishing returns on preaching. We do need books that can put pictures and words to the unimaginable – perhaps like The Road – but I don’t believe we have a responsibility to start writing them.

While I’m on the subject of responsibility, though, there is one responsibility we do have. As writers we’re also citizens and voters – we’re privileged with education and the skills of both writing and reading. As writers in a time of change, the responsibility we do have is to get ourselves informed about all the debates around climate change. We need to be able to refute the arguments of the climate-change sceptic in the supermarket queue and write an informed and convincing letter to the paper or to our MP. As public figures of a kind, we also have a responsibility, I think, to act on our beliefs in whatever public ways we can.

But I have a feeling our greatest contribution might be in recognising that we have some specialised skills and habits that might be useful in a time of change.

These skills aren’t always recognised as such, and sometimes don’t even seem to have names. But they’re the psychic equipment that lets art happen: they’re a kind of parallel universe of the mental skills from the ones we’re taught in school. We may be a bit hazy about gigawatt-hours, but we do have things to offer.

To begin with, we writers work round the edges of our culture and around the edges of the proper economy. We’re used to working because of some passion attached to the work itself, rather than for money or personal gain: in other words to being a bit weird. Our values overlap with those of our society but aren’t identical. You might say we’re in our culture, but not quite of it.

The effect is that writers often seem to sense and articulate a change that’s latent and as-yet unarticulated in the culture: to pick up the first zephyrs of the winds of change and push them forward into the consciousness of the wider society.

We also know about the truth that can be found in untruth. We take bits and pieces from the culture around us and put them together in ways they were never intended for: bits of the past and bits of the future, bits of science and bits of magic. The ways we put them together are all wrong, but they end up being right. Historians know more about the past than we do, scientists know more about the future. What we know about is the continuous present of being human: the mysteries of why we are the way we are and why we do the things we do.

Would any man picking up the ashy fragment of a wasp’s nest really think this is death in my hand and ruin in my breast pocket? In art the answer is always both no and yes. Metaphor is the currency of art, and that’s a coinage that has no measurable exchange rate.

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant –

Success in Circuit lies…”

Writers also have ways of going into the darkest places and taking their readers with them, but coming safely out again. All those clever ways of not looking at the truth that the psychologists know about are really ways of not going into the dark place. It’s scary in there. It might overwhelm us. But without the process of mourning – plunging into the dark places and walking through them till we get somewhere else – we’re doomed to the paralysis of melancholia. Specifically, in the shadow of the change bearing down on us, we’re going to have to confront what we’re about to lose, and why, and not turn away hopelessly from the job of saving it. Writers know that words, like Orpheus’ lute, can give us a way to walk through the dark places with our eyes open.

I flew into Darwin a few days after the 1975 cyclone. Driving from the airport into the city, staring out the car window, was like slowly being stripped of language. What we were looking at out there was nothing you could put words to: it was just inchoate piles of … stuff. Without words, I couldn’t see what I was looking at. And not seeing meant that I’d stopped feeling. No surprise, no horror. Just a wordless blank.

Writers might be the ones to give us ears and eyes and hearts. To put words to the ungraspable, so we can comprehend it. To imagine the unimaginable, and put words to it.

We’re also people who can have a go at rescuing the language from the eco-vandals. How can a shopping bag made of thick strands of woven plastic really be “green”, even if it is green? What are “eco” baked beans? What about the corruption of thinking embedded in this ad for air con that I saw recently: “creating climate change in your own home.”

Above all, we’re experts at a particular kind of problem-solving. Let me give you an example of how it works: you’ve lost your car keys. You know, rationally, that they must be in the house somewhere, because the car’s sitting in the driveway. You look in every place you think they could possibly be. You work yourself into a lather. You get angry at yourself, at the keys, at yourself, at the shelf where they ought to be. Beethoven wrote the sound track for this bit of your day, a piece called Rage Over A Lost Penny.

Finally you give up. To lower your blood pressure you do the dishes. Just as you’re balancing the big white plate against the blue mug and reminding yourself that you’d better buy more detergent, it comes to you in one piercing clear moment of knowledge: your keys are on top of the fridge.

This isn’t usually called problem-solving, it’s called inspiration, or intuition, or daydreaming – ironic, patronising labels. We don’t get diplomas in daydreaming.

And yet this kind of problem-solving is where the answers to the toughest problems come from. Neuroscientists – my new best friends – are working out why.

Inspiration feels as if it comes from outside, a kind of magic. You didn’t know where your keys were, but it did. It is in fact a sophisticated sort of resonance-effect, as I understand it, in the prefrontal cortex – that can keep a lot of different inputs all bouncing around simultaneously. But this can’t happen if you try too hard. The endless chatter of the conscious brain has to be quietened enough for the small voice of it to make itself heard.

Artists use this kind of problem-solving every day. It’s one of the tools of the trade. We’ve learned to trust that not knowing the answer is often better than knowing it. We know how to live for long periods without knowing exactly where we’re going. Who in this room does just one draft? Uncertainty doesn’t make us anxious to rush to a quick fix. We’ve learned to accommodate it and trust a kind of potent receptivity or passivity – what I think Keats meant by “negative capability”.

In the world of art, that can’t be hurried or forced, artists understand the deep truth of that ironic Polish proverb – “sleep fast, we need the pillows”.

So as writers in a time of change, we have a lot to offer.

But, just as there’s resistance to the message that coal is too cheap, there’s also resistance to the contribution that artists and art can make. 200 years ago, Shelley could claim that “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world” and not be laughed out of the room. Somewhere along the line, our axe has turned into a little plastic toy tomahawk.

On the grounds of irrelevancy and elitism, hundreds of years’ worth of our literary heritage is being allowed to fade – it’s “not relevant”, it’s “too hard”. Even when it is taught, its blade is blunted by being presented only in its immediately understandable dimensions: “the journey”, “the individual and society”. The boundaries of what is permitted are being patrolled by a kind of genre police, demanding to see the passports of pieces of writing: are you fiction or non-fiction? Are you history or are you just all made up? The writing, and whatever ideas it might be suggesting, disappears behind a pointless barrage of stuff about how it should be labelled.

I think this resistance comes from the fact that art goes into places in the psyche that aren’t always comfortable to be in. Art can get into your vitals and turn you inside out. That resistance is the impulse to control, to reduce art to the comfortable and the bland.

Difficult art is like the spinach your mother made you eat as a child. Yes, you didn’t enjoy it and no, you didn’t see the point. But if those vitamins and minerals were inserted into in your cells, they’re waiting for you to draw on when you need them later. If they were rejected on the grounds that they didn’t taste nice, there’ll be a gap where that extra bit of value might have been.

Where art sits – in the zone between boundaries, where the real and the imagined collaborate – is where something happens that’s new in the world. The scary place that evades control is the very place where change is going to come from, if it’s going to come from anywhere.

Sidelining it means that the generations of people who are going to be dealing with our impossibly difficult future have never been exposed to the products of centuries of creative problem-solving and wisdom. The people who are going to be catapulted into the most difficult time humans have faced since the last ice age won’t have experienced the humbling and exhilarating knowledge that a work of art might be more complex than they can readily understand. Their brains are going to be denied all the new pathways that would be made by engaging with complex, difficult art.

Cicero put it in a nutshell: “He who knows only his own generation remains always a child.” But what’s ahead of us will need grown-ups on the job.

My mother went to school in the 1920s – a very ordinary country high school. She learned Shakespeare plays and huge amounts of poetry by heart. At any moment of importance in her later life, she had in her memory a piece of literature that spoke to that moment.

By the time I was high school in the 60s, the values of our culture had changed. No one learnt anything by heart any more. As I listened to Mum quote entire poems I marvelled at this inner resource that she had access to. It was clear from the look on her face that, in remembering the words that someone else had written, often hundreds of years before, she was joining her little moment to the bigger moment of the human race. She was being reminded that whatever was happening to her, whatever she was feeling, she was not alone. Others had been there before and felt the same things. They had found ways to give words to their experience, and were articulating their own version of what she was feeling. Having access to their words allowed her to burrow further into what was going on in her emotional life: the words from the past gave her another way of experiencing her own experience and learning something new.

This was her favourite poem. Not surprisingly, it’s a poem about the way art takes us into new and unthought-of places – that is, into a moment of change.

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;

Round many western islands have I been

Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne; 

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

If writers and writing are to have any part in our time of change – if we’re going to be “stakeholders” in it – then our first task is to assert that we have something to contribute. Let’s recognise the power of art to bring about change at the molecular level of the organism. Let’s assert the value of art, in an age where the quantifiable and the immediately-understandable have come to rule.

As writers, let’s pick up our axe and hone it to a fine old edge. Let’s hoist it up onto our shoulders and swing it with a mighty arm. Let us write with passion, let us write deeply into the mysterious folds of the human interior. Let us write as if it matters, because it does.