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Aeon
20 mins | May 13, 2020

Humanity at night

In times of crisis, the arts are weapons for the soul. A violinist plays in a concentration camp, while a refugee carries a book of poetry. When survival is completely uncertain, art is one quality that still persists. In this fascinating piece for Aeon magazine, Sarah Fine, senior lecturer in philosophy at King’s College London, explores why artistic expressions are fundamental components of our lives. "In 2018's 'No Friend but the Mountains', Behrouz Boochani describes some of his own experiences as a refugee fleeing Iran, and then as a prisoner in immigration detention. When he left Tehran, he carried nothing with him but the clothes he was wearing, some cigarettes and ‘a book of poetry’. Of his time in Manus, he explains that he had ‘reached a good understanding of this situation: the only people who can overcome and survive all the suffering inflicted by the prison are those who exercise creativity’. He mentions ‘the quiet singing of folk ballads’ that transported him back to Kurdistan, as well as the lively dance performances in the camp which represented, among other things, a ‘form of resistance’."

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