Summary of “Iris Murdoch on Storytelling, Why Art Is Essential for Democracy, and the Key to Good Writing – Brain Pickings”

“One of the functions of art,” Ursula K. Le Guin observed in contemplating art, storytelling, and the power of language to transform and redeem, “Is to give people the words to know their own experience Storytelling is a tool for knowing who we are and what we want.” Because self-knowledge is the most difficult of the arts of living, because understanding ourselves is a prerequisite for understanding anybody else, and because we can hardly fathom the reality of another without first plumbing our own depths, art is what makes us not only human but humane.
Literary writing is an art, an aspect of an art form.
“Art is mimesis and good art is, to use another Platonic term, anamnesis,”memory” of what we did not know we knew Art “holds the mirror up to nature.
There is always more bad art around than good art, and more people like bad art than like good art.
Good art is good for people precisely because it is not fantasy but imagination.
Beauty in art is the formal imaginative exhibition of something true, and criticism must remain free to work at a level where it can judge truth in art Training in an art is largely training in how to discover a touchstone of truth; and there is an analogous training in criticism.
A quarter century after Hannah Arendt penned her timeless treatise on how dictatorships use isolation as a weapon of oppression, Murdoch considers this singular virtue of “merciful objectivity” at the heart of art – the selfsame virtue of which totalitarian regimes bereave society by persecuting art and artists.
Complement this particular portion with Rebecca West on storytelling as a survival mechanism, Pablo Neruda’s touching account of what a childhood encounter taught him about why we make art, and Jeanette Winterson on how art redeems our inner lives, then revisit Iris Murdoch on causality, chance, and how love gives meaning to our existence and her devastatingly beautiful love letters.

The orginal article.