art in a time of war.

 

Excerpts from Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Lecture in Literature (1970):

When at last the outer pressure grew a little weaker, my and our horizon broadened and gradually, albeit through a minute chink, we saw and knew “the whole world.” And to our amazement, the whole world was not at all as we had expected, as we had hoped; that is to say, a world living “not by that,” a world leading “not there,”…but instead a world where some weep inconsolate tears and other dance to a light-hearted musical.

***

But who will coordinate these value scales? … Who will direct the anger to that which is most terrible and not to that which is nearer? Who might succeed in transferring such an understanding beyond the limits of his own human experience? Who might succeed in impressing upon a bigoted, stubborn human creature the distant joy and grief of others, an understanding of dimensions and deceptions which he himself has never experienced? Propaganda, constraint, scientific proof – all are useless.

But fortunately there does exist such a means in our world! That means is art.

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