Pearls from artists* # 220November 2, 2016
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
It is the job of the writer to say, look at that. To point. To shine a light. But it isn’t that which is already bright and beckoning that needs our attention. We develop our sensitivity – to use John Berger’s phrase, our “ways of seeing” – in order to bear witness to what is. Our tender hopes and dreams, our joy, frailty, grief, fear, longing, desire – every human being is a landscape. The empathic imagination glimpses the woman working the cash register at a convenience store, the man coming out of the bathroom at the truck stop, the mother chasing her toddler up and down the aisle of the airplane, and knows what it sees. Look at that. This human catastrophe, this accumulation of ordinary blessings, of unbearable losses. And still, a ray of sunlight, a woman doing the wash, a carcass of beef. The life that holds us. The life we know.
Dani Shapiro in Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
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