Saturday, July 28, 2007

What artists need ...

An extract from Elif Shafak's interview that resonated within me: So she's happy to be back amid the inspirational hubbub of Istanbul after a couple of years of teaching in the "sterile, quiet and tidy" liberal enclave of Tucson, Arizona. "This can be good if you want to write a book," she reflects. "But if you want to establish a lifestyle, I don't think it's good for art, for literature.

Art needs conflict, and other forces... Cities like Istanbul, or New York, or London: they might have more problems, they might make life more difficult, but I think these are the right places for writers and artists."

Istanbul is one of those cities you should experience before you die.

And then she said this: For Shafak, art must struggle to safeguard its space of free enquiry from the dead hand of doctrine: "Because the world we live in is so polarised and politicised, many people are not willing to understand that art and literature has an autonomous zone of existence...

I'm not saying there is no dialectic between art and politics – there is, indeed – but art cannot be under the shadow of politics. Art has the capacity constantly to deconstruct its own truths... That's again why I think there's a link between Sufism and literature. For me, both of them are about transcending the self, the boundaries given by birth."

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