“People don’t want moral complexity,” Franzen argues. “Moral complexity is a luxury. You might be forced to read it in school, but a lot of people have hard lives. They come home at the end of the day, they feel they’ve been jerked around by the world yet again for another day. The last thing they want to do is read Alice Munro, who is always pointing toward the possibility that you’re not the heroic figure you think of yourself as, that you might be the very dubious figure that other people think of you as. That’s the last thing you’d want if you’ve had a hard day. You want to be told good people are good, bad people are bad, and love conquers all. And love is more important than money. You know, all these schmaltzy tropes. That’s exactly what you want if you’re having a hard life. Who am I to tell people that they need to have their noses rubbed in moral complexity?”The problem with this is that, sometimes, complexity doesn't enter into morality. There is no complexity involved in not taking what is not yours. The moral dimension of literature derives from its fidelity to being. If you accurately and precisely portray things and persons as they are, a mix of the simple, the complex, and all that is in between should become manifest. And you can avoid preaching.
Monday, February 23, 2015
… Literature and the moral question - LA Times.