Another one of my paintings for the book cover design series? This is from 'The Dying of the Light' series, which was inspired by a Hannah Arendt quote: “That even in the darkest of times we have the right to expect some illumination, and that such illumination might well come less from theories and concepts than from the uncertain, flickering, and often weak light that some men and women, in their lives and their works, will kindle under almost all circumstances and shed over the time span that was given to them....” (from Men in Dark Times).
Yesterday I got Rebecca Solnit's 2016 book "Hope in the Dark," and thought of my painting. That's how my brain works. Does yours too or is that just me?
In her book, she makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Solnit argues that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable, and that pessimism and despair rest on an unwarranted confidence about what is going to happen next.
I've been wondering about this issue, art and society, and whether art can bring hope, as a motor for societal channeling of hope into action?
Solnit writes: "It is important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and destruction. The hope I am interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It is also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse one. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings. 'Critical thinking without hope is cynicism, but hope without critical thinking is naivety,' the Bulgarian writer Maria Popova recently remarked." Inspiring.
More 'book cover visons' are in my earlier blog post .