Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.—Karl Marx
There's a window in the room, and through it pass words I won't forget, they aren't my words, but the words of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, an Indonesian writer, a political prisoner on Buru Island from 1965 to 1979—savanna and jungle, mountains in the interior, an island with black-sand beaches, the third largest island of the Maluku Islands—Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who spoke these words to his fellow prisoners so as not to lose them in case he died there and the stories they told couldn't be written. In the second novel of his quartet, a character explains to a Europeanized Native, a young writer with a growing sociopolitical awareness, "It would be a dangerous thing if Mr. Minke made speeches in his writings instead of confining them to his conversations. Mr. Minke doesn't seem to be as clever in nor as inclined to talking as me. And a speech-dominated story is the very worst kind of writing," and farther on: "The piece is very good; I said so just now. But there are signs you are turning your story into a speech. And that tendency will become more prominent in your writings if you are not warned." Good advice when I think I've got something to say.
A breeze blows other words from the same book through the window, words settling in front of me upright like lead soldiers: "A good author, Mr. Minke, should be able to provide his readers with some joy, not a false joy, but some faith that life is beautiful. While suffering is manmade, and not some natural disaster, then it can surely be resisted by men. Give hope to your readers, to your fellow countrymen."
I couldn't do what I do if I hadn't read all that I've read, and continue to read. What I've learned from books, like life itself, taken with a large dose of humor, is immeasurable. But let me stop there.