About two weeks ago, I offered a few thoughts on the latest work by Jeanette Winterson, offering one sideline smart passage while mostly urging you to seek out the book itself. Whether you did or not, I advise you to check out this review + interview in Gay City News. (One of the perks of my current job is that I sit next to GCN’s brilliant, singleminded editor, Paul Schindler.) Michael Ehhardt’s smart review articulates the themes and more of the story than I did; I do feel gratified that one of the passages he chose to quote is the same one I did, which he calls typical of Winterson’s “fierce Voltarian satire of future society.”
Interestingly, though, the author herself sounds less like Voltaire (who was, after all, one of the literary world’s first human rights campaigners) than like a cross between Barack Obama and Harvey Milk:
Everywhere I look, kids want to feel, want to care, want things to matter, but strength of feeling is frightening. One of the things that art can do is find a channel for strength of feeling at the same time as prompting thought – so the old split of head and heart is relieved.
This is something I have always followed in my work, and in the repeating worlds and circular mistakes of “The Stone Gods,” the intervention that makes change possible is love. Love of all kinds is crucial, not least because it resolves the head/heart tension too, and when I listen to music or read a poem or go to the theater, I am opening myself up to difference and to change — the possibilities of love. I think the artist is someone who is always falling in love — with life itself, and with the creative playful spirit of human endeavour.
Which means we get our hearts broken every five minutes. Thank god the heart is muscle, and can lift far more than seems possible.