‘Writing is the most solitary of arts. The very act of withdrawing from the world in order to create a counter-world that is “fictitious”—“metaphorical”—is so curious, it eludes comprehension. Why do we write? Why do we read? What can be the possible motive for metaphor? Why have some of us, writers and readers both, made of the “counter-world” a prevailing culture in which, sometimes to the exclusion of the actual world, we can live? These are questions I’ve considered for much of my life, and I’ve never arrived at any answers that seemed to me final, utterly persuasive. It must be enough to concede, with Sigmund Freud in his late, melancholy essay “Civilization and Its Discontents”, that “beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.”’
– Joyce Carol Oates, The Faith of a Writer
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