Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Dark Thoughts

Welcome back to Michael Chabon central. Or at least it seems that way lately. The author today has an op-ed at the New York Times on the subject of children expressing themselves in writing.

Chabon writes...
It is in the nature of a teenager to want to destroy. The destructive impulse is universal among children of all ages, rises to a peak of vividness, ingenuity and fascination in adolescence, and thereafter never entirely goes away. Violence and hatred, and the fear of our own inability to control them in ourselves, are a fundamental part of our birthright, along with altruism, creativity, tenderness, pity and love. It therefore requires an immense act of hypocrisy to stigmatize our young adults and teenagers as agents of deviance and disorder. It requires a policy of dishonesty about and blindness to our own histories, as a species, as a nation, and as individuals who were troubled as teenagers, and who will always be troubled, by the same dark impulses. It also requires that favorite tool of the hypocritical, dishonest and fearful: the suppression of constitutional rights.
Kids can be violent and dark creatures. As a child I sought out lurid comics, horror movies and read Lovecraft and Poe. And what did I get out of it? A healthy ability to separate fantasy from reality, a tad of creativity, and a morbid sense of humor.

It is important that in the time of the Patriot Act and in the wake of Columbine that we not throw out the baby with the bathwater by stifling our children's creativity in the name of protecting them. What you attempt to suppress comes out in all sorts of ways. Be involved, be aware, but don't block their creativity. They need that outlet. I know I did.

Read Solitude and the Fortresses of Youth

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