Monday, November 06, 2006

Utterly and magnificently ... useless

Paul Auster on reading and writing, his acceptance speech for the Prince of Asturias Prize for Letters:
In other words, art is useless, at least when compared, say, to the work of a plumber, or a doctor, or a railroad engineer. But is uselessness a bad thing? Does a lack of practical purpose mean that books and paintings and string quartets are simply a waste of our time? Many people think so. But I would argue that it is the very uselessness of art that gives it its value and that the making of art is what distinguishes us from all other creatures who inhabit this planet, that it is, essentially, what defines us as human beings.

To do something for the pure pleasure and beauty of doing it. Think of the effort involved, the long hours of practice and discipline required to become an accomplished pianist or dancer. All the suffering and hard work, all the sacrifices in order to achieve something that is utterly and magnificently ... useless.

I am desperately hoping to find Travels in the Scriptorium under my birthday tree. Even though it won't be released on this continent for months. Even though the verdict on it appears to be "slim" and "disappointing."

One review, and some others.
Digested read.

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