“That nasty man who did so much good.”
Is it because Voltaire wasn’t afraid to be nasty that he did so much good? Almost certainly. There is no convincing evidence that writers can do their job by being nice.
And why should they be nice? To be asked to dinner? To be part of a corporation of writers, which like all corporate groups rewards discretion? To be rewarded with money, prizes and titles?
Nice writers are usually working for someone or senile or in the wrong business. Those who have done the most good, as Voltaire pointed out, have “mostly been persecuted.” The nasty sort continue to be persecuted in most countries. In the West they have to deal with more sophisticated assaults such as bankrupting lawsuits and job loss. Worst of all – in this society of expensive communication systems – they are threatened with irrelevance.
What about their messy lives, their greed, their jealousies, their hypocrisy? Who cares? Voltaire himself had a more than average number of flaws and contradictions. He still created the language which ended a regime…
Their only job is to make language work for the reader. That is the basis for free speech. Whatever the vested interests of the day may be, they invariably favour an obscure language of insider’s dialects and received wisdom. So the writer turns nasty. It’s a public service.
— excerpt from The Doubtger’s Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense, John Ralston Saul
The franchise industry has made me a writer. For better or worse, I am that: I can do nothing other than type. And no one is more surprised than me.
I consider what I do to be a public service. I have created an index method for a U.S. $1 trillion per year industry, created an institutional memory of any published article and broken the back of those that enable this modern tyranny.
By any measure I have paid the price and more. I am indebted to no one. I am a free man and choose to associate with others who value freedom.
The time of reckoning coming quickly.