JFK on how the artist corrects politics

Reflecting on Robert Frost, John F. Kennedy (just three weeks before his assassination) spoke of the corrective power of the arts in times when politics becomes unmoored. From a speech at Amherst College in 1963:

When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.

The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state … In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role …

2 thoughts on “JFK on how the artist corrects politics

  • November 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm
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    I’m looking for some really good books on poetry. Any suggestions? The only one I am thinking about is Camille Paglia’s Break, Blow, Burn.

  • November 24, 2016 at 3:37 pm
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    I have no special expertise in that area, Scherie, sorry. Perhaps ask Chicago poet John Enright?

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