No future for newspaper columns, opinions?

Graffiti on the Danube Canal in Vienna

Graffiti on the Danube Canal in Vienna

By Habib Toumi

 Sipping an orange juice with friends as the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day, I was confronted with a “negative” attitude that underestimates writing in the realm of nonfiction.

“Writing editorials and columns is no longer relevant,” some of them said during our conversation.

Their logic is that no columnist should expect people to see their piece or read it, let alone interact with it. Newspaper or online opinion pieces are unreadable and doomed.

Does this mean that we should just move away from what we have been doing for years and decades and resort to a semantic system of stray words and sentences that we paint, artistically, if possible, on walls (graffiti) or scribble in our private and unpublished diaries?

Is writing just an area of free psychological projection, neither ideal nor responsible? Is reading just a free, experimental wandering in building an inductive idea not yet ready for interpretation, becoming at best an option for a study of the subjective and public psyche?

It will not be possible to answer such questions, because they are related to what might be called the philosophy of linguistic residuals, or the symbolic leftover for us to return to the old impulse, to recreate the anxiety of a worried person in a worried civilization that cares about locks much more than about keys, and celebrates readymade answers much more than vital existential questions?

It is clear to us, at least, that writing is no longer a serious act, as French philosopher, writer and literary critic Michel Foucault or German philosopher, cultural critic and philologist Friedrich Nietzsche and other thinkers and philosophers used to say.

Maybe, it is no longer important for writing to form a disciplined, rational system! That is the scary question!

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