From “Brain Pickings,” February 12, 2017

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence,” Toni Morrison wrote in her electrifying piece on the artist’s duty at times of crisis. That refusal can take many forms, but at its richest, it is more than mere resistance — it is, rather, a commitment on behalf of the artist to serve not only truth but beauty by remaining in contact with the timeless and the eternal; to fortify us against the urgencies of a turbulent present and embolden us to transcend our primal reflex of fear, so that we may lift not only our spirits but the whole of our consciousness and continue to evolve toward a more humane humanity. This has always been the duty of the artist, and fragments of it can be found in every single work of art that has endured and has helped humanity endure over millennia of tumult. James Baldwin captured this memorably in his beautiful essay on the poet’s role in a divided society: “It is said that [Shakespeare’s] time was easier than ours, but I doubt it — no time can be easy if one is living through it.”