Should Literature Be Useful?

Should Literature Be Useful?

“There is another way to look at the studies’ conclusions, however. Instead of proclaiming the superiority of fiction to the practical skills allegedly conferred by reading non-fiction, the studies implied that practical effects are an indispensable standard by which to judge the virtues of fiction. Reading fiction is good, according to the studies, because it makes you a more effective social agent. Which is pretty much what being able to read a train schedule does for you, too.”

Fiction’s lack of practical applications is what gives it its special freedom.

Allen Ginsberg’s “Celestial Homework”: A Reading List for His Class “Literary History of the Beats”

Allen Ginsberg’s “Celestial Homework”: A Reading List for His Class “Literary History of the Beats”

Ginsberg epigram from his 1977 class: “Poetry is the realization of the magnificence of the actual.”

Click for larger image ‘Argh, you’re all amateurs in a professional universe!’ roared Allen Ginsberg to a young class of aspiring poets in 1977 at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Their offense? Most of the students had failed to register for meditation instruction.