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Tuesday 18 December 2007

"Life is what our thoughts make it"

Who decides what people want to read or what kind of music they want to hear? Who has the right to make a judgement about what kind of art, literature or music people appreciate?

An established publisher once told me that my biography of one of the most remarkable members of Queen Victoria's family - Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, whose life led her from the glittering Romanov Court, to the slums of Moscow, to being murdered by the Bolsheviks - would not appeal to people because (a direct quote!): "it lacks sufficient scandal for the public taste". Beg your pardon?? For whose taste?
More recently I was told by someone that readers want only to read about 'the dark side of life'. How very odd!

If, as Marcus Aurelius said, "life is what our thoughts make it" or, to quote Robert Shuller, "You are what you think about all day long", is it any wonder that so many lives are steeped in dissatisfaction if we are being fed a diet of scandal and 'the dark side'?

My belief is that none of these assumptions about what people want, is true. This is the philosophy behind giving school children dross that passes for poetry ( http://christinacroft.blogspot.com/2007/11/poetry-and-dross.html ).

Is this the result of a few huge companies monopolizing much of the publishing market, and those companies being led not by people with an interest in literature, but rather by marketing and sales departments, and perhaps even by people with a very cynical view of the world. Is this the same philosophy that says only horror stories and scandal sell newspapers?
Do we really want only to dwell on unpleasantness? Don't we have enough of that from the news? What a low opinion of people, those who make these decisions must have!
People are, by nature, always striving for something better, something more beautiful, something more real and uplifting. Literature isn't meant to drag people down, but rather to raise them up, to entertain and to lead to a deeper understanding of what it is to be human.
Well...if some people believe that to be human means dwelling on the dark side and wanting to be fed only scandal, it is a great pity for them.
To return to Marcus Aurelius, if life is what our thoughts make it, and we all have a responsibility for the life of the world, then we surely have a duty to write and read and fill our minds with what is noble, good and beautiful.

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