Consider that in the 1950s and ’60s, a writer like Ralph Ellison, who grew up in a tough way in Oklahoma and had to get to Tuskegee by hopping a freight train, could say that you cannot “allow the single tree of race to obscure our view of the magic forest of art.” He’s talking about segregation, and yet still he can’t reduce the purpose of his novel-writing to the question of whether he can sit at a certain café or be served at a certain lunch counter. That’s how much respect he had for art, and for the universal conception of the human condition that put him in touch with Dostoyevsky, or that made the writings of Hemingway or Thomas Mann resonate with him on a level beyond identity. And though Ellison wrote Invisible Man from an extremely black place, it reached readers all over the world, and many regarded it as the greatest American novel. He had a vision that was consistent with that which has motivated artistic production throughout Western history. He had a vision he didn’t want to diminish, not because he believed things were fine, but because he believed that the realm of art was sacred. Now, people think that’s laughable, that you’re naïve or stupid to say that the realm or art is sacred.
I just bought h1s book.