there is nothing stable under heaven

James Baldwin : “The states of birth, suffering, love and death, are extreme states: extreme, universal, and inescapable. We all know this, but we would rather not know it. The artist is present to correct the delusions to which we fall prey in our attempts to avoid this knowledge. It is for this reason that all societies have battled with…the artist. I doubt that future societies will get on with him any better. The entire purpose of society is to create a bulwark against the inner and the outer chaos, literally, in order to make life bearable and to keep the human race alive. And it is absolutely inevitable that when a tradition has been evolved, whatever the tradition is, that the people, in general will suppose it to have existed from before the beginning of time and will be most unwilling and indeed unable to conceive of any changes in it. They do not know how they will live without those traditions which have given them their identity. Their reaction, when it is suggested that they can or that they must, is panic. And we see this panic, I think, everywhere in the world today… A higher level of consciousness among the people is the only hope we have, now or in the future, of minimizing the human damage… Society must accept some things as real; but the artist must always know that the visible reality hides a deeper one, and that all our action and our achievement rests on things unseen. A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”

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1 Response to there is nothing stable under heaven

  1. Ah, that’s such a nice perspective. And it has to do a bit with acceptance too, which I can get behind. Once we accept that there’s nothing stable, we’ll be empowered to take action. Thanks for this post!

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