And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus

Sunday, March 24, 2024

WEB Dubois - Criteria of Negro Art (1926)

...These are not the things you really want. You realize this sooner than the average white American because, pushed aside as we have been in America, there has come to us not only a certain distaste for the taudry and flamboyant, but a vision of what the world could be if it were really a Beautiful World. If we had the true Spirit, if we had the Seeing Eye, the cunning hand, the feeling heart. If we had, to be sure, not perfect happiness, but plenty of good hard work, the inevitable suffering that always comes with life sacrifice, and waiting. All that, but nevertheless lived in a world where men know, where men create, where they realize themselves, and where they enjoy life. It is that sort of world we want to create for ourselves and for all America. 

After all, who shall describe Beauty? What is it? I remember tonight four beautiful things. The Cathedral at Cologne, a forest in stone set in light and changing Shadow, echoing with sunlight and solemn song. A village of the vails in West Africa, a little thing of mauve and purple, quiet, lying content and shining in the Sun. A black and Velvet room where, on a throne rests in old and yellowing marble, the broken curves of the Venus de Milo. A single phrase of Music in the South, utter Melody, haunting and appealing, suddenly arising out of night and Eternity beneath the moon. 

Such is Beauty. Its' variety is infinite. Its' possibility is endless. In normal life all may have it, and have it yet again. The world is full of it, and yet today the mass of human beings are choked away from it, and their lives distorted, and made made ugly. This is not only wrong, it is silly. Who shall write this well nigh Universal failing? Who shall let this world be beautiful? Who shall restore to men the glory of Sunset, and the Peace of quiet sleep?

We Black Folk may help, for we have within us as a race new stirrings. Stirrings of the beginning of a new appreciation of joy, of a new desire to create, of a new will to be. As though, in this morning of group life, we had awakened from some sleep that at once dimly Mourns the past, and dreams a splendid future.

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