Arundhati Roy asks the tough questions in her essay, Power Politics. She begs, “What is the role of writers and artists in society? Do they have a definable role? Can it be fixed, described, characterized in any definite way? Should it be?” All of those questions in hand force a boundary that maybe has already been set by a standard in society. Each writer individually takes a pen to paper for a different reason. Roy’s argument of responsibility to the literate audience may take a precedent when it comes to a political stance; however, even if I’m a literate member of society in an actively political society, does that mean I have the responsibility to state my opinion.
The role of the writer is undefinable. The role to ones’ self is also. Virginia Woolf once said, “Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.” She wrote about women’s rights and how women should act out and write, but not just on the political issues. I myself enjoy writing for the fun of it. I do know, however, that in the future, I do want to publish and write for the financial responsibility of my life. Roy says, “There is an intricate web of morality, rigor, and responsibility that art, that writing itself, imposes on a writer. It’s singular, it’s individual, but nevertheless, it’s there.” Roy may have a good argument here, but art itself is meant to break the boundaries of responsibility and force the artist to interact with their own thoughts.
I believe that writing the political is meant to restore faith in the artist. Losing faith is easy, especially in today’s world. Roy believes the artist is “accountable” to write the truth, the political, but I say that isn’t always the case. Being political and speaking out can be an internal thing, not necessarily a public domain. Roy is almost advocating the idea of selling out to produce her goal. She is expressing that it is the responsibility of the writer to publish political works to get a message across. It seems like if “people” don’t have the same views as Roy, however, that she’ll shut it down. Roy’s argument is bias because she has such a strong opinion.
Roy, Arundhati. “Power Politics.” Boston: South End Press, 2002.