Wallace Stevens on reality, creativity, and resisting the pressure of the news, Camus on the single most important question of existence, and more

Wallace Stevens on Reality, Creativity, and Our Greatest Self-Protection from the Pressure of the News

“A society must assume that it is stable,” James Baldwin wrote in his timeless treatise on the creative process“but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”And yet, paradoxically, in the very act of exposing the abiding instability of existence, art moors us to a sense of the eternal and becalms our momentary tumults against the raging ocean that has always washed, and will always wash, the shoreline of the human spirit. The poet Robert Penn Warren captured this beautifully in his meditation on the vital role of art in a thriving democracy, in which he asserted that art “is the process by which, in imagining itself and the relation of individuals to one another and to it, a society comes to understand itself, and by understanding, discover its possibilities of growth.”

A generation earlier, Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879–August 2, 1955), another Pulitzer-winning poet, examined a complementary aspect of the relationship between culture and creativity in his astonishingly timely 1951 book The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination (public library), titled after a line from one of Stevens’s most beloved poems: “I am the necessary angel of earth, / Since, in my sight, you see the earth again, / Cleared of its set and stubborn, man-locked set…”

Wallace Stevens

Stevens controverts the notion that the imagination is a counterpoint to reality and instead insists that the two are in essential interplay:

The imagination loses vitality as it ceases to adhere to what is real… There are degrees of the imagination, as, for example, degrees of vitality and, therefore, of intensity. It is an implication that there are degrees of reality

http://mailchi.mp/brainpickings/wallace-stevens-on-reality-creativity-and-resisting-the-pressure-of-the-news-camus-on-the-single-most-important-question-of-existence-and-more?e=14dcd33f32

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