Literature's Weakness Is It's Strength

Myron Magnet, editor of City Journal, doesn’t want you to wonder, “What use is Literature?

… [It] teaches us more about psychology than the psychologists can. The inner life—and its relation to the outer appearance, from which it is often (and proverbially) very different—is literature’s special subject. It is a particularly complex subject, with its interweaving of motives and impulses, as appetites grapple with ideals, as consciousness both registers and distorts external reality, as natural promptings intersect with social ambitions, and the universal in our nature takes on the fashion and the garb of a particular age.

Here literature’s weakness—that, unlike philosophy, it is unsystematic—becomes its great strength. It mobilizes all our faculties of knowledge at once: not just our ability to analyze the outer world but our introspection and intuition as well. We can understand what is going on in the hearts of others because we know what stirs our own hearts, and what could stir them. When a writer imagines his characters’ inner drama, his description rings true to us because we have felt similar impulses or imagined analogous situations, and, further, can identify sympathetically with something beyond our ken. We grasp intuitively the complex internal mix: the simultaneous interplay of feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and hopes, of conscious and subliminal impulses—as pity combines with social anxiety, say, or with eros or vanity or sudden insight to impel a character to behave as he behaves. Literature is the great school of motivation: it teaches us how, out of the complex welter of impulses churning within us, we make the choices that define us and seal our fate.

Via The Editor is Near, who offered up this article to explain why he doesn’t own a TV.

6 responses to “Literature's Weakness Is It's Strength”

  1. Is Myron Magneto’s first name?

  2. Myron Magneto is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe.Myron Magneto is depicted as one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe, possessing the ability to control magnetism. Myron Magneto is also one of the most morally complex characters in American comic books.Characterizations of Myron Magneto have varied through the years, from supervillain to anti-hero to even hero, but Myron Magneto is most often shown as an uncompromising militant and has engaged in acts of terrorism when Myron Magneto felt it was for the benefit of mutantkind. This puts him at odds with his friend Charles Xavier, whose X-Men seek peaceful coexistence with the rest of humanity.

  3. You just copied that from some kind of Wiki, perhaps the Pedia sort! His real name’s Eric. I know because Rogue was always moaning it.

  4. How about this…Myron Man (Myron Magnet) is a fictional comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics universe.Myron Man was originally an anti-communist hero. Throughout the character’s comic book series, technological advancement and national defense were constant themes, but later issues developed Myron Magnet into a more complex and vulnerable character as they depicted his battle with liberalism and other personal difficulties.Writers often portray Myron Man as a symbol of humanity’s creativity as well as its frailties. He is often placed in contrast with his close friends federalism and religion, the former as a comparison between interventionist and cooperative attitudes, and the latter comparing science and the supernatural. Throughout most of his career, Myron Man has been a member of the superhero team the Avengers, and has been featured in several incarnations of his own various comic-book series.

  5. Tony Stark.

  6. What? Aw, come on. Tony Stark sounds like a made-up name.

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