one defense—creativity

Against the ruin of the world, there is only one defense—the creative act.


— Kenneth Rexrot

Disengagement, 1957

Source: Disengagement: The Art of the Beat Generation (Rexroth)

Quote in Context:


Music, of course, is not so explicit an art, but anybody who knew Charlie Parker knows that he felt much the same way about his own gift. Both of them did communicate one central theme: Against the ruin of the world, there is only one defense — the creative act. This, of course, is the theme of much art — perhaps most poetry. It is the theme of Horace, who certainly otherwise bears little resemblance to Parker or Thomas. The difference is that Horace accepted his theme with a kind of silken assurance. To Dylan and Bird it was an agony and terror. I do not believe that this is due to anything especially frightful about their relationship to their own creativity. I believe rather that it is due to the catastrophic world in which that creativity seemed to be the sole value.