By David Oates
What We Love Will Save Us is about what we can have instead of outrage—joyous creativity, pleasure, delight. These 25 short, intense essays aim to tell the truth about the murderous miserableness of our recent political darkness. But more important, they aim to get past it, into the zone of determined optimism—the kind you work for every day. The kind that’s built of hard work, pleasure and groundedness.
I hope readers will enjoy discovering how far a 700-1,000-word essay can reach. Much of the book is assembled of these intense little jewels—records of wildness and grace breaking out in unexpected places, from city streets to mountain peaks, from ecstatic pleasures to unanswerable questions.
I wrote the title essay deep in the Bush-Cheney years, when a massive state propaganda machine had subverted democracy while committing torture, waste, and war in our name. What is the moral or creative answer for a mere “citizen of the regime,” I asked myself? What should I be doing? I was making myself fairly crazy, trying to see clearly. Turns out, there were millions of us sharing this experience—the yelling-at-the-TV experience—but we were kept in a kind of mute acquiescence by the complicity of the mass media.
What We Love Will Save Us aims to be the record of those millions of silenced individuals. Here’s how it felt to be unheard, to be coopted. Here’s the book that expresses the private rage of our national and individual experience, so far largely unchronicled. But at the same time, it explores a paradox: that the creative work of being alive—fully alive—must always go on, anyway.
Copyright by David Oates. All rights reserved.