In tumultuous times, art can and must express the turmoil and help us process what’s going on
In the 1997 film “Titanic,” Wallace Hartley, the violinist and leader of the band on the ill-fated ship, turns to his band mates as the water rises around him and says:
“Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight.”
Is the only contribution musicians and other artists can make at this moment in history to bravely go down with the ship, lifting the spirits of fellow passengers?
On its own terms that’s an honorable contribution, but surely we can do more.
It’s often said that a novel, a painting, a song or a motion picture changed the world. What that really means is, it changed how a lot of people thought or felt about the world.
Everything will be up for negotiation, redesign and change.
And artists will have the opportunity and duty to translate the resulting tumultuous human experience into words, images, and music that help people not just to understand these events mentally, but also to come to grips with them viscerally.