There is a fabulous interview with the always fabulous Margaret Atwood in this month's Monocle. Why does she stay so young at heart, the interviewer asks? (NB she's an amazing Tweeter): "Have you ever looked at early typewriters? Right now we're only at the 'early typewriter' stage of the Internet. Every minute someone has a new idea that's interesting. There are things coming that I feel I still need to explore."
Now, when someone says something like that, the knee-jerk put down is to say "you are naive." How can you be interested in exploring unless you are so naive you don't see all the bad, dystopian, devolutionary things about the world going to hell in a handbasket. Why I am so grateful that Margaret Atwood says that she feels and stays young because this world is so interesting is there is no smarter, more incisive, more clear dystopian writer of fiction in our time than Margaret Atwood. AND she finds this era interesting.
That is very important. Very important. Because my guess is Margaret Atwood would have found 1950 interesting if she had been a writer then---and would also have been writing dystopian, critical, politicaly charged and inspiring works then too. Being interested does not mean being dumb. But assuming that the new is worse than anything that has come before in human history is, for the most part, if not dumb then naive.
Do you see the turn I'm making here? To be a knee-jerk naysayer about "youth today" and about "new technologies": that is the naive position.
Don't call Margaret Atwood naive. Call her "interested." And, yes, forever young.
Thank you yet again, Peggy (as we once all called you). One of my very first books was on Margaret Atwood. She taught me many unusual and important things during summers when I lived in Toronto and was writing quite a lot about Canadian literature. I've not seen her in years but I continue to be inspired by her in so many ways. This blog post is just one. Thank you, Margaret Atwood.
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