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Sunday, August 8, 2010

   The Importance of Literature in Politics
I've spent the past 2 days organizing all of my old high school notes to prepare for university (mostly sorting and throwing out notes). Anyways! I've found the first essay from English class this year (grade 12/senior year) that makes a reference to an anime or manga. In this essay I quote a line from the anime Trigun (English dub; spoken by Vash), and there is a major spoiler warning in the quotation (ye be warned!). Towards the end of the essay I mention Eastern literature in general, though most of my knowledge of Eastern literature comes from manga. ^.~

The underlying focus of my English class during the whole semester that it was taught was Northrop Frye's collection of essays that defend the significance of literature in all aspects of society called The Educated Imagination. The Educated Imagination was initially presented on CBC radio by Frye to encourage Canadians to read more in the '60s, when the majority of Canadians had begun to believe that the study of literature was insignificant. As I was assigned, the essay is to allude to the concepts raised in a letter from Yann Martel to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about making his reading preferences public (I'd post the letter, but it's long and y'all can probably find it using Google). The specific essay "question" from my teacher is: "with three specific examples, evaluate how The Educated Imagination supports Martel's argument that public leaders should read literature."

My essay is not to be plagiarized or used to cheat on any assignments and such. If anybody wants to use the ideas or quote parts of this essay, please properly cite it in your references; that being said, I've lost the bibliography (done in MLA format) for this essay, and I can't write it up again, since I borrowed The Educated Imagination book from my teacher (but for the record, my resources are Martel's letter, Frye's collection of essays, the English dub of the anime Trigun, and an article about former Prime Minister Bennett from the online Canadian Encyclopedia). And feel free to discuss, argue against, question, and edit my essay in the comments. I hope that this is more interesting than my boring life posts. ^.^

My Essay:
The term “educated imagination” implies a combination of intelligence and creativity. According to Northrop Frye, literature expands one’s educated imagination, making literature an important part of society. Politicians need to make major decisions and develop relationships based on their intelligence and creativity. Thus, it is important to have politicians who have thoroughly educated imaginations that are continuously being expanded by reading literature.

It is vital for nations to have leaders who have intelligent and creative ideas that can be applied to make certain decisions. An anime (Japanese animation) called Trigun addresses the impact that the lack of creativity can have on major decisions. “… I’m ending lives. There’s always another choice. There had to be another way; I just didn’t see it in time to do anything about it” (Nishimura). The main character, Vash the Stampede, from Trigun is a pacifist, but when he’s forced to make a difficult decision to save his friends’ lives, he kills his enemy. Political leaders are put under similar pressure, especially in the face of war. War occurs when these political leaders lack the intelligence and creativity to make a better decision. By reading more literature, leaders can expand their imaginations, preventing wars and enabling them to make better decisions.

Furthermore, the important decisions that some politicians make heavily influence future decisions. For example, the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt used his creativity to ease America’s economic struggles during the Great Depression. The Canadian Prime Minister Richard Bedford Bennett tried to do the same, but was less successful. “Unfortunately for Bennett, Canadians did not find his New Deal as convincing as Americans found Roosevelt’s” (English). Prime Minister Bennett displayed his lack of creativity and intelligence by taking President Roosevelt’s economic decisions and applying them incorrectly to unsuitable areas of Canadian society. Although it can be wise to use other ideas that come from a strong educated imagination, in order to use these ideas properly, one must have a considerably strong educated imagination of their own; this demonstrates that literature must be read by all politicians to gain more knowledge to handle individually separate situations.

The knowledge that literature supplies can also develop its reader’s tolerance. “The [world of imagination], I said, was a vision of possibilities, which expands the horizon of belief and makes it both more tolerant and more efficient” (Frye, 55). Tolerance is vital among politicians when serving a multicultural society and developing international relations. Also, tolerance can lead to the acceptance of different types of literature, specifically on an international scale, considering the vast differences between Western and Eastern literature. Thus, the tolerance developed from reading literature can provide many benefits when politicians make decisions for a multicultural society, and develop relationships with foreign politicians.

By strengthening their educated imaginations, politicians can make significantly advantageous and influential decisions and improve the relationships that countries share. In The Educated Imagination, Frye provides numerous reasons for the importance of literature in society. Several of the reasons that Frye gives are particularly important in a political context. Therefore, for a society to achieve its highest standards, it is required that its political leaders consistently read literature in considerably large amounts.

The end. :P Well, I gotta get back to sorting through my notes. If I find another anime/manga-referencing essay, I'll post it here. So far nothing's new in my life; I've just been registering for courses, working, and preparing for university... By the way, I've decided to go to McGill University in Montreal, in case y'all were wondering where I'm going. XD See Yas! ^.^ *hugs*

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