“I’m a musician. I write songs. I just hope that when the day is done, I’ve been able to tear a little corner off the darkness.”
For the years of the Wedgwood Circle, those words of Bono’s have kept us going. We’re not dreaming of a revolution, but maybe some rethinking, some renewing, some reimagining. Believing that the human vocation is primarily the cultivation of culture, we have worked at this vision for most of ten years now. From early conversations about “what if” to more serious and persistent conversations focused on “how will we do this,” we have now been at it for a decade with a deepening sense of its importance, of why it matters.
The heart of the vision is always human flourishing. And so, whether our work is with singer/songwriters, novelists, filmmakers, graphic novelists, painters, fashion designers, or video game producers, the question is always one more way of asking about human flourishing. What does that require? What are the conditions needed? What stories can be told? In fact, what is a good story?
From the beginning we have kept the argument of Walker Percy, the great American novelist, at the heart of our work. “Bad books always lie. They lie most of all about the human condition.” And we have taken that all over this country, to New York, to Nashville, to Austin, to Los Angeles, and beyond, to Beijing and Bratislava, each time pressing its reality into the conversations we have with creatives of all shapes and sizes. Bad films always lie. They lie most of all about the human condition. Bad songs always lie. They lie most of all about the human condition. Even bad video games always lie. They lie most of all about the human condition. And on and on and on.
All day long we heard from people whose vocations are embedded in the making of art for the marketplace. The producer of the “Spiderman” trilogy, each film a study in human responsibility for history. The creator of ThatGameCompany, and so games like “Journey,” who spoke with unusual insight into what it is that makes us human. The author of “True Crime,” a good novel which became a good film, whose main character is deeply flawed and yet fights for the truth. And so many more, all wonderfully gifted people who gave windows into the artful ways they portray the truth of the human condition, glorious ruins that we are.
Last night we had a performance from several of the musicians we have supported as they make their way into the world of music. Sitting at a table, I looked around me and saw my friends there too—the poet Steve Turner, the painter Mako Fujimura, the visionary Mark Rodgers, the businessman David Kiersznowski. In their own different ways each of the musicians were there for the very reason we began: to “tear a little corner off of the darkness.” And so they are songs that are honest about who we are, songs marked by heartache and hope.