‘The worst realities of our age are manufactured realities. It is therefore our task, as creative participants in the universe, to redream our world. The fact of possessing imagination means that everything can be redreamed. Each reality can have its alternative possibilities. Human beings are blessed with the necessity of transformation.’
Collections of essays by authors are generally intriguing, providing an insight into the mind of the author, their perspective on the world and of course, their perspective on writing. A Way of Being Free by Booker prize winning novelist, Ben Okri is one of my favourites and one that I refer back to whenever I am in need of soul nourishment. It’s a collection of twelve essays, of which my favourites are ‘The Joys of Storytelling’, ‘The Human Race is Not Yet Free’ and ‘While the World Sleeps. Together, the essays explore inspiration, creativity, religion and the power of storytelling in a beautifully lyrical way.
‘Beware of the storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art: they could unwittingly help along the psychic destruction of their people.’
According to Okri, the stories we tell ourselves are a powerful means of shaping our world. As he states, ‘without fighting, stories have won over more people than all the great wars put together’. Because of the power that stories have to form and to control us, story tellers carry a great responsibility to tell stories that enable liberation of thought and a reconnection with all of life.
‘A great challenge for our age and future ages: to do for storytelling what Joyce did for language – to take it to the highest levels of enchantment and magic; to impact into story infinite richness and convergences; to make story flow with serenity, with eternity.’
As writers we are responsible for our readers, but as readers we also hold a responsibility for our reading choices and the ways in which we read. Instead of skating along the surface of stories seeking only entertainment, we would do well to delve into their depths and allow them to sit within us, helping us to comprehend their meanings because stories can and should encourage us to step outside of our blinkered selves and see the world from a larger perspective, and in the process develop wisdom, empathy and independent thinking, qualities that are vital for each of us
A Way of Being Free is not a new book and can be difficult to come by but it is certainly worth picking up in a second hand book shop or checking local libraries in order to have a read. Okri does however, have a more recent collection of linked essays called, A Time for New Dreams , which has an intriguing title. I’m looking forward to reviewing this one when it arrives in the post. If it is anything like A Way of Being Free then the ideas Okri explores will provoke and surprise, encouraging the reader to view the world from a different perspective. And that’s always welcome!
You are welcome to share articles as long as copyright and contact information are always included. Thank you for your courtesy. Rosie Dub