a means of self-branding, hardened into postures

Offered without gloss or comment, other than “read the whole thing”.

Nor will a besieged establishment’s loud existential fears of ‘wokeness’ drown out this simple imperative: that to live attentively in our times, when voices long suppressed are beginning to be heard, is necessarily to awaken to centuries of brutal history. There is no question of the urgent need for more scholarship about insidiously steadfast modes of injustice and humiliation, and for fresh ideas about how to rethink our past, and to chart our way out of the present into a liveable future.

But they won’t be enough in themselves, especially if they are reduced to a means of self-branding, hardened into postures, and emptied of their ability to disturb entrenched opinion. No matter how potent and compelling our facts and ideas, we will still want to explore our moral and emotional lives: the intimate realm where the individual stands shorn of vain ideology, full of contradiction and irresolution. We can be most precisely known, and vividly revealed, even through blindingly fast historical change, by imaginative literature. Fiction will continue to speak its truths in the post-truth age.

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