Pearls from artists* # 519August 10, 2022
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Because the arts are the products of a process that stands apart from so much of our social, economic, and political life, they move us and excite us unlike anything else in our lives. When we rush to label them – as radical, conservative, liberal, gay,straight, feminist, Black, or white – we may describe a part of what they are, but we’ve failed to account for their freestanding value. And without that the arts are nothing. The artist in the act of creation – working through particular words, sounds, colors, shapes, and their infinite combinations – almost inevitably risks irrelevance. But the decision to reject doing in favor of making, which some have described as a retreat into self-absorption and narcissism, is in fact an act of courage. Artists reenter the world by sending the work that they’ve made back into the world, where it lives on – independent, inviolable – in what Auden called ”the valley of its making.” That is a place apart – paradoxically, triumphantly apart.
Jed Perl in Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts
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