Friday, February 4, 2011

Writers' Good Will Hunting

Good will is the renown a business acquires on account of past achievements. It implies the expectation that the bearer of the good will in the future will live up to his earlier standards. Good will is not a phenomenon appearing only in business relations. It is present in all social relations. -- Mises, Human Action, 379
The artist has to foster good will with his or her audience as well. The writer's reader expects a certain quality of writing from that writer. Also, they expect a certain style (or, in the case of many of the Modernists, like Faulkner, experiments in style or structure), certain themes, etc. After all, as Howard Bloom once observes, there is only so much time in life, and one cannot waste it on reading bad literature. Best, then, to go with those one trusts -- and one can often trust the good will of others as a guide. Of course,

It does not matter whether the good will is based on real achievements and merits or whether it is only a product of imagination and fallacious ideas. What counts in human action is not truth as it may appear to an omniscient being, but the opinions of people liable to error. -- Human Action, 379
How true is this of not just literature, but of a wide range of ideas, world views, and philosophies! In the end, there is no accounting for taste.

No comments:

Post a Comment