Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Atwood on Handmaid's Tale

Writers-on-writing pieces are my favorites. And, here's Margaret Atwood recently talking about The Handmaid's Tale, and its implications in the age of Trump, over at The New York Times.

Her responses to the three questions she's most frequently asked are classic, and rendered with her typical wit. In addition to answering whether the book is feminist and anti-religion, she's asked whether it's a prediction. She says no, and in her own words, adds:
"But there's a literary form I haven't mentioned yet: the literature of witness. Offred records her story as best she can; then she hides it, trusting that it may be discovered later, by someone who is free to understand it and share it. This is an act of hope: Every recorded story implies a future reader.
....In this divisive climate, in which hate for many groups seems on the rise and scorn for democratic institutions is being expressed by extremists of all stripes, it is a certainty that someone, somewhere - many, I would guess - are writing down what is happening as they themselves are experiencing it."
This so-called age of Trump has many awful aspects, one of which is that it seems we're rising toward an age of Peak Bully.

I have written before of placing Trump's electoral college win into a broader context of Internet harassment culture. Massive amounts of antisocial behavior are normalized in part because political, legal, and corporate responses to it are so severely lacking.

As we navigate these various abuses - not just online, but also the abuses marginalized people experience in physical space - resistance is also a witness, including the writing and documentation of it. Resistance will look different on different people, as we experience abuse in unique ways dependent upon our own life circumstances. Resistance exists in acts small and large, everyday and once-in-a-lifetime, seen and unseen.

We are here, and still we hope.

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