Barry Lopez: On Art and Living Well

December 28, 2020 § 8 Comments

The author Barry Lopez passed away on Christmas Day, and we will truly miss him. His sentences were beautiful, and he was as well: setting an example as an artist, a citizen, and a human being.

Thankfully, he left us with so much of his wisdom and heart, including this passage, on the subject of hope and why we make art:

“In conversations over the years with other writers and artists about what we’re actually supposed to be doing, I’ve been struck by how often, deep down, the talk becomes a quest for the same mysterious thing. Underneath the particular image in question, the particular short story or musical composition, we’re looking for a source of hope. When a conversation about each other’s work doesn’t pivot on professional jargon or drift toward the logistics of career management, when it’s instead deferential and accommodating, we’re sometimes able to locate a kind of Rosetta Stone, a key to living well with the vexing and intractable nature of human life. If any wisdom emerges in these conversations, it offers sudden clarification. It’s the Grail shimmer. You feel it, and you can’t wait to get to work.”

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