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This report is taken from PN Review 93, Volume 20 Number 1, September - October 1993.

Pneumatics Michael Thorp

In an overpopulated world, how let one voice be clearly heard, and felt , and why that voice among so many? This is a fundamental agony of creative commitment, and one so often glibly avoided, not only in the trade of books, but in the trade of all our arts. And avoidance functions, as we daily witness, through acquiescence.

We all trust to or acquiesce in the power of systems beyond our control - writers and artists more than most. The common imbalance of trust between author and publisher does not augur well for any 'shared vision.' Further, in an historically significant act of reclamation, the autonomy of the publishing sector is being rapidly eroded. The largest retail chains can and do dictate what books may be widely published.

And for the Arts Council, too, there are loaded dice. It is no longer 1946. In a political and economic climate explicitly anti-social, but which we inhabit whether we like it or not, its avowed integrity is brittle indeed.

Between the devil and the deep blue sea I would suggest there is little room for complacency. A swelling academia beckons. Most universities have 'industrial' aspirations -and must, by government decree. (I live on the fringes of Catherine Cookson Country. A little to the south, a country is being found for Basil Bunting.)

And so, between the interests of commerce, of academia, and of a parodic 'conscience of the state' (all of which ...

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