No money for the arts? Remembering Britain during the Blitz…

J.B. Priestley: one of the best-known voices during the Blitz

J.B. Priestley: one of the best-known voices during the Blitz

“University officials talk endlessly about how hard the financial times are and say that’s why they can’t fund anything but the flashy hardware for the wet and hard sciences. I’m sure that’s true, but I’m not convinced we can just say that and fold. We make choices. Great Britain started its Arts Council during the Blitz. The Nazis bombed British cities every day and while it was going on the Brits worked diligently to make music, theater, poetry and painting available to more and more people. Their notion was, if you just dig in and hide in your bunker, then the Nazis win. Screw the Nazis, the Brits said, we like music and we are going to have music. And they had music. Things happen when there’s the imagination and courage to make music happen.

“I’ve been tap dancing around the past here, but the past is only good for how it helps us see today and get ready for tomorrow. I keep thinking of the line from Kierkegaard that Jerome Groopman quoted in one of his wonderful medical stories in the New Yorker: ‘It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backward. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forward.'”

– Prof. Bruce Jackson, State University of New York at Buffalo


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