As has too often been the case of late, it has been a difficult week in America.
“Difficult” is of course a euphemism, the least vulgar word I can choose just days removed from national tragedies in El Paso, and an hour away in Dayton.
As regular readers of this newsletter know, I frequently turn to prose and poetry during weeks such as these. I had already written an encomium revolving around the words of Toni Morrison when the news broke earlier today that the greatest novelist of the last 50 years had passed away.
An Ohioan, a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner, a towering figure who was a brilliant editor before she was a brilliant writer whose first book–The Bluest Eye–was published at age 39, Toni Morrison’s searing, unapologetic storytelling and her incendiary insights and contributions make her one of the most influential Americans in our nation’s history.
She is eminently quotable, her incisive, transcendent prose well-suited for our abbreviated times. She gave us brilliant lines worthy of our most sacred books–“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined”; “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”; “Something that is loved is never lost.” And that’s just from her masterwork, Beloved.
If you have not yet been acquainted with her work, please do it the justice it deserves and get past the excerpts and visit or revisit the whole of which she has written.
And with apologies for abridging her brilliance, let me share one favored line from when she was awarded the Nobel in 1993: “How lovely it is, this thing we have done – together.”
The challenges we must overcome, as a sector, as a city, as a country–they are extraordinary. But so are we. Let us solve them together.