By Nicolás Vergara
There are many many ways to use literature; some people use it for avoiding eye contact on the subway, other people use it for making eye contact at libraries and the rest of the population uses other and even more sophisticated strategies for doing both, but there is a special way of using literature that just belongs to the media: the use of literature to compare reality with fiction, highlighting the figure of the writer as a seer. The logic behind this is the following: journalists need data. When there is no data they use the fact that once upon a time someone in our world was capable of imagining the present times: a writer.
Have you ever noticed that when Americans get in political trouble their media always start to speak about George Orwell? The future, then, has two choices: either we take the utopian way or the dystopian. Really? Since we were young, we have been hearing that it is foolish to see reality as black and white. Smart people know or at least make the effort to see how colourful life is, a nun said to me not so long ago.
Two weeks ago, I read something that could argue against this point of view: structuring the world in black and white works very well when action is necessary, like during a war or a game. This idea was in a book of psychology and it was referring to the different stages of growing up. Problems arise—the book said—when you apply the black-and-white strategy to situations like personal relationships, but if you must have a decision that implies action, it will be stupid to act analytically: it is always better to divide the world in good people and bad people (even though we, humans beings, are made with many many ambiguities, as the old Greeks told us through the voice of the Famous English Bard).
During the first 30 years of the 20th century, a series of manifestos were published across the Western world. They were published in Italy, France and England, and inspired the manifestos developed in the New World in many many ways. In general, each manifesto was an invitation to refuse the past and adopt a series of actions that will satisfy both the future and the ideas that a group of artists defended. They also divided reality into black and white terms.
Politics has always been important, but it has also become a trending topic these days. In many many ways, this is a time for action, manifestos and pink hats (and the colourful hats that are worn by those that don't know how to speak about themselves). Every time that I read something about George Orwell, I think in the dystopian world of Huxley, and how beautiful his books are about drugs as a way of expanding perception. He uses the word gold many many times, and it makes me think in things that I admire, like old metaphors, some rappers and a few hands. When I read what the media has done with the best, Phillip K. Dick, I value his absence as a way of resistance.
Poet Nicolás Vergara (Santiago de Chile, 1981), lives and works in Toronto.