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On Literature and Practicability
myragrace - Tuesday, Mar 7, 2006, 8:07 PM
Literature is not a pragmatic discipline.

The study of it does not lead to direct solutions in poverty, AIDS or cancer. Nor does it serve as a step-by-step guide in inventing new technology or improving a country’s economy.
However, literature embodies a set of values that a particular society gives importance to. Those values run deep into their roots, embedded in history and refined by life.

And these roots branch out to other societies as well, so that those who are lacking in values may be nourished.

For values are important. They mirror a certain society’s personality: its dreams and aspirations, its priorities and taboos. Which in turn, are mirrored by literature.

And I believe this is the reason why erudition in First- World literature is significant. Those pieces carry with them certain values juxtaposed with problems that our similar with ours. In a country that is in dire need of values, this proves significant. It is comforting to know that someone shares the same dilemmas as us; moreover, we find it reassuring when somebody actually prevailed over those problems. With palpable evidences of these ideals, we could follow their examples, or better yet, we could compare and contrast our values with their own and use them in our own context. Through it, we could propagate those said values and raise consciousness amongst many. One might call it excessive idealism, but it is not something new. History attests that values-formation was one of the thrusts of English literature way back then.

So literature is not a pragmatic discipline.

The study of it does not lead to direct solutions in poverty, AIDS or cancer. Nor does it serve as a step-by-step guide in inventing new technology or improving a country’s economy.

It takes part in molding, reinforcing and propagating ideals in a society. It shapes collective thought, and gives a group of people not only a reassuring sense of belongingness, but an identity as well.

And that does not make it any less significant.
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