In a thought-provoking post for the New Yorker yesterday, Alex Ross considers that ubiquitous Bernstein quote on replying to violence with music and takes a look at whether “in a time of crisis, the ordinary rituals of making art must cease.”
If artists everywhere were to give themselves over to agitprop, something essential would be lost. To create a space of refuge, to enjoy a period of respite, is not necessarily an act of acquiescence.
Ross goes on to note that “artists of integrity will have no choice in how they respond” and touches on the past examples of Copland and Julius Eastman and–more recently–Ted Hearne and Steven Schick. He concludes with a meditation on Wallace Stevens’s 1941 lecture “The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words,” which leads him to the proposition that perhaps in such circumstances “art becomes a model for the concerted action that can only happen outside its sphere.”