And, of course, it’s fear that makes us reject art, both individually and in its grand project. In a sense, I think, there’s a way in which Els comes to the realization that close listening, the embrace of things that seem dangerous and troubling and unlikeable, is a way past fear into freedom. You know, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago makes a T-shirt that says, “Fear no art.” Of course they’re right. If we can get to the point where even the scariest art is exciting to us, because it allows us to reflect on the safety that we’ve pulled like blankets and shawls around us, to reassure ourselves about the capacities of our lives, if we can let those go and use the danger and the strangeness and the provocation and the scariness of art to open us up again to experience and to make us hear things that we thought were ugly or noisy or strange or troubling, we don’t lose what we loved already, we’ve expanded our love. We’ve found a kind of freedom to take all kinds of things on the spectrum that we initially were protecting ourselves from and to use them as love.
—Richard Powers, from our interview about his upcoming novel, Orfeo. Read the entire interview here — he’s one of our favorite people to talk to.