I'm posting this, not because I necessarily agree with Grass' views, nor because I have an axe to grind with Israel. But the article – and the issue at hand – points up a couple of things about writers:
- The pen continues to be as powerful as political and military might, especially in the hands of eminent writers such as Nobel-winning Grass, who dare to counter generally accepted views of the world. What's the nature of the writer's power? The fact that writers express mind – and ideas are at the basis of all human advancement – as well as its failings.
- Writers – unlike politicians and high-level military figures – aren't constrained in their view of the world. Writers by their nature see the world in toto, more often than not as objectively as humanly possible.
What has really upset Germany with Grass, I think, is that he dares to express such an outside-the-box perspective. Such perspectives – although sometimes as naive as that of the child who yelled that the king wore no clothes – force people to rethink their views on politically established mindsets.
And as a postscript, I've just come across a book that carries similar weight: "The Essential Engineer – Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems," by Henry Petroski.
As a former engineer, I had to smile at this partial blurb: "…although the scientist may identify problems, it falls to the engineer to solve them."