Imagine Life Without Music, Poetry, or Art

“There’s a kind of joy which is possible only after you have been profoundly depressed…There is a kind of music that is possible only after you have been silent for five years.” –Andrew Solomon

A few weeks ago I happened to catch a segment on NPR featuring Andrew Solomon, author and writer, who was relating his experience searching for art in Afghanistan after Taliban rule. Creative expression in art, poetry, and music had been severely restricted during the Taliban regime and I was moved as the artists, writers, and musicians told stories of their newfound freedom.

Even now, words fail me as I imagine what life would be like without the joy of music or art. Consider for a moment how often in the course of your day you encounter music or art in some form. I had tried to count them but I kept losing count, so prevalent were these experiences.

I couldn’t possibly do the gravity of their words justice and so I simply share them here so you may discover your own thoughts in response. I was unable to find the link on NPR itself but was able to find it here on Moth Radio Hour, 401, Segment 1: The segment begins at [03:00]. Particular segments that moved me are highlighted below.

In response to whether an artist’s work reached for innovation: “You come from the West, where the past is safe and so you can make things that are about the future. But for those of us in Afghanistan whose past has been very nearly annihilated we have to secure the past before we can even begin to think about the future.”

A poet’s words: “On the highest escarpment on the sharpest peak inscribe this epitaph of a futureless generation that instead of mother’s milk we were given guns and instead of education we were given war. Don’t blame us. We could do nothing for you.”

One woman’s response to why they continue to wear burqas: “After five years you get used to being invisible. And the prospect of being visible again is very overwhelming.”

I invite you to listen to the whole segment. There is also a great part about finding music in the song of pigeons and doves and another about an all-night impromptu concert.

photo by isafmedia