The Anger of the Artist

August 2016 | Remarks

The Anger of the Artist

THERE are two angers.

The first is an emotion: the raw fury of indignation. An innocent man is shot. Without having to philosophize, our outrage alerts us that some primal covenant has been violated. As with all emotions, anger that is not tempered by prudence proliferates injustice. Yet, rightly trained, feelings of anger prime us for the task of righting a wrong—an undertaking that will require both grace and imagination. Emotional anger catalyzes the creative process of reconciliation. It is the anger of the artist.

The second anger is not a feeling, but an act of the will. It carries the emotion of anger to its calculated extreme, translating outrage into reprisal. This anger bends our ingenuity toward violence and retaliation. Wanton and destructive, it is the anger of the iconoclast.

Can peace emerge from the anger of our times? I firmly believe that it can, but only if we see ourselves for what we really are: potential artists and iconoclasts. Every angry witness to injustice has the capacity to remedy or perpetuate it. Our best hope for harmony lies in allowing the fire of our indignation to make way for the artistry of absolution.


Photograph by Elise Matich