By Dennis Mellersh
Former New York Times war correspondent, and current social critic and author, Chris Hedges warns us that if an innovative thinker, such as a writer, chases wide approval, they may lose the authenticity of their creative voice.
Speaking in an interview* with David Talbot, Hedges says, “If you measure your success by your impact and you feel you have a significant impact, then you will easily be seduced into re-configuring what you do…”
“…Obviously I want to have an impact. But I don’t want to cater to the wider culture. I won’t speak in ways that they dictate…it is better to reach a smaller but far more astute and intellectually curious audience.”
At one point in the interview Talbot points reminds Hedges that he took calculated risks with his career and life as a war correspondent.
Hedges answered that when he covered the war in Kosovo, readership surveys done by the New York Times showed that readers had Balkan fatigue:
“Only ten percent of the audience was reading what I was writing in Kosovo…[but] I could not get caught up in worrying about the fact that most people weren’t reading it… My goal is to live the moral life. It’s not to be a success.”
*From the book Unspeakable, which is comprised of an extensive six-hour interview plus e-mail follow ups which Talbot conducted with Chris Hedges; Hotbooks, Skyhorse Publishing, New York, 2016, 149 pages plus a preface.