Credo. A word rarely bandied these days, save perhaps in a strictly religious context. Credo. A statement of personal faith. Isn’t that it? Well, yes, taken literally. And I suppose if the purpose is merely part of a regular process to remind oneself, then that meaning is sufficient.
But what about a credo intended for public declaration? Why would anyone declare their faith aloud? And what, for heaven’s sake, has this to do with a literary magazine?
A credo, it seems to me, is actually a matter of rhetoric as well as faith. The speaker is attempting to enlighten and to persuade, to challenge and perhaps to dethrone a few dusty icons. A good credo ain’t for the faint of heart.
In its infinite dimensions art, I believe (he says wryly), is also a matter of faith. Not a particular religious catechism (necessarily), but implicitly a cry of the heart and mind and spirit, an insistence on meaning. Even if for an individual artist that meaning is the denial of all meaning.
As a central part of our 75th anniversary, The Kenyon Review has asked a number of practicing authors–poets and fiction writers and essayists–to step back from their craft and forge individual credos about what it is they are striving to do and why they are striving to do it.
KR’s brilliant fiction editor, Caitlin Horrocks, offers a personal credo here, and I think you’ll find it challenging, illuminating, insightful. This is the first of 12 such aesthetic statements we will be offering on our website to celebrate this signal milestone. We’re also sharing four in print, starting with Carl Phillips’s profound and challenging statement in our Winter 2014 issue.
John Crowe Ransom, poet, philosopher, and the founding editor of The Kenyon Review, collected a series of ten earlier versions of personal credos by some of the most eminent public intellectuals of the 1950s, such as Northrop Frye, William Empson, and Leslie Fiedler. (We will be reprinting one of these each month on kenyonreview.org as well–the first is by Leslie A. Fiedler from the Autumn 1950 issue of KR.)
So I believe this will be a most happy and entertaining birthday. Here’s to it!