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The Desegregation of Art

May 26, 1970 — annual meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City


 . . the art and literature of sentiment and emotion, however beautiful in itself, however striking in its depiction of actuality, has to go. It cheats us into a sense of involvement with life and society, but in reality it is a segregated activity. In its place I advocate the arts of satire and of ridicule. And I see no other living art form for the future. . . 

And so when I speak of the desegregation of art I mean by this the liberation of our minds from the comfortable cells of lofty sentiment in which they are confined and never really satisfied. 

To bring about a mental environment of honesty and self-knowledge, and sense of the absurd and a general looking-lively to defend ourselves from the ridiculous oppressions of our time, and above all to entertain us in the process, has become the special calling of arts and of letters.



Source: *”The Desegregation of Art,” in Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2nd series, no. 21 (New York: Spiral Press), 1971, pp. 21-27.