Jonathan Franzen on Science, Religion, and Art

“To be honest, I’m thinking much more about science than about religion when I’m writing. To me, art itself is a religion and the challenge to it is not religion, it’s the hardcore materialism of science,” novelist Jonathan Franzen said during a press conference at the Hay Festival Cartagena.

“So I spend quite a bit of time trying to make sense of how I seem to have a soul, I have this ghostly consciousness, yet I know as a believer in science that this is just coming from carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules. I think if you take science seriously there are a lot of interesting questions to ask. I would be happy if more novelists, not just science fiction writers, paid attention to that.”

Category: On the Record


3 Responses

  1. Artists are representative of God on earth.There is a very beautiful proverb in Marathi language–“Which sun could not see that poet can see”In all art we look and listen for what we have not experienced quite that way before we want to see to feel to understand to respond new way.

  2. I share with Jonathan an interest in the mystery of “this ghostly consciousness” and how this arises given the material constituents from what we are constructed and which seem reducible to inexorable scientific laws. At long last, I’ve come to the conclusion that the emergent character of reality holds clues to this mystery.

  3. tadpole says:

    Ramesh, I don’t think the poet ‘see’ any reality – poetry reflects great human imagination – not to take that imagination as closer to reality. Poetry stimulates our feelings but doesn’t explain them. To understand our feelings, concepts like imagination, creativity, love, lust or fear we need to take a scientific viewpoint, a material understanding along with theories we develop in our mind that can be tested in material world. Otherwise, all that knowlege ends up being poetry I feel. I like your thought, though I do not agree at all that artists represents God – whatever that word means to you I do not know.

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