Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why art is important


Baldwin: Art has to be a kind of confession. I don't mean a true confession in the sense of that dreary magazine. The effort, it seems to me, is: if you can examine and face your life, you can discover the terms with which you are connected to other lives, and they can discover, too, the terms with which they are connected to other people.

This has happened to everyone of us, I'm sure. You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discovered it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important.

Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it's true for everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.

Interviewer: Artists are here to disturb the peace?

Baldwin: Yes, they have to disturb the peace. Otherwise, chaos.

James Baldwin interview on July 15, 1961 in WFMT studio in Chicago, IL from Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Fred Standley and Louis Pratt, pg. 21

James Baldwin is the muthfrapin' man.

Source [obia, the 3rd]

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