Saturday, May 17, 2014

Charles Bukowski on Discrimination and Censorship

Another fascinating letter from Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience.

In 1985, Charles Bukowski's book, Tales of Ordinary Madness, was removed from the shelves at the public library in the Dutch city of Nijmegen.

 Bukowski wrote to a journalist in the city:
Thank you for your letter telling me of the removal of one of my books from the Nijmegen library. And that it is accused of discrimination against black people, homosexuals, and women...

The thing I fear discriminating against is humor and truth.

If I write badly about blacks, homosexuals and women, it is because these who I met were that. There are many "bads"--bad dogs, bad censorship; there are even "bad" white males. Only when you write about "bad'" white males they don't complain about it. And need I say there are "good" blacks, "good" homosexuals and "good" women?...

Censorship is the tool of those who need to hide actualities from themselves and others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can't even vent anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.

I am not dismayed that one of my books was hunted down and dislodged from the shelves of a local library. In a sense I am honored that I have written something that has awakened these from their non-ponderous depths...

[I]n our time, at this moment when any moment may be the last for many of us, it's damned galling and impossibly sad that we still have among us the small bitter people, the witch-hunters and the declaimers of reality. Yet, these too belong with us, they are part of the whole, and I haven't written about them, I should, maybe have here, and that's enough.

1 comment:

  1. The last paragraph is incredibly poignant and remains perfectly relevant today. Perhaps we need waste no more ink on the "small bitter people." The world remains an environment rich in opportunity for those who can see its reality.