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Throughout history, from the French Revolution to the freeing of slaves in America, from the fall of Rome to the creation of electricity, artists have been forced to reconcile the often mutually exclusive roles of objective observers and interpreters, helping those living during and after to make sense of these defining moments. Mark Twain used satire to question the social structures that bound American culture to its old orders. Pablo Picasso did it to depict the horrific violence inflicted during the Spanish Civil War. These artists, singers, poets, dancers, act as mile markers through the years of history, a guide, a key without which we can never hope to truly make sense of the eras that came before us.
To best understand these events as they occur--why they occur--and how we can prevent them from ever coming to pass again, we must look to the creators of our current times, to what they tell and have told us in lyrics, paint, and poem and to, perhaps this time around, perhaps for the first time in history, actually listen to what they have to say.