How the Author Tackles Ideas about Art and the Artist in the Text “Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo”

Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo by Susan Sontag focuses on Sontag’s experience with conducting her play during a war that occurs during the 1990’s. In this text, she describes the horrific events individuals were facing at that time, the problem and criticism many authors and actors like her faced when it came to staging plays for work, her reason for staging the play at that time and the risk many individuals took to support her. In this text the author tackles ideas about art by showcasing the importance of art within the lives of individuals. Sontag shows that art can bring happiness in the time of despair and help individuals to feel a sense of relief or temporary joy despite the circumstances that they may be currently enduring. In the text “Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo” Sontag states “It’s not true that what everyone in Sarajevo wants is entertainment that offers them an escape from their own reality. In Sarajevo, as anywhere else, there are more than a few people who feel strengthened and consoled by having their sense of reality affirmed and transfigured by art” (89). Here Sontag reveals that although people may not want to be entertained during a time like this, art offers some sort of illusion of reality that can distract from the tragic events. Therefore, Sontag depicts art to be a device that can transform into basically anything that the author desires it to become. Sontag likewise tackles the idea of art by depicting the concept that art has the power to remind us of the past or things we once possessed. Hence, Sontag shows us that art is a concept that we can manipulate to fit our desires, restore broken dreams or lives and rid us of despair by producing happiness.

            In terms of the artist, Sontag tackles these ideas by stating that it is the artist duty to reveal the truth to the public and inform them of the events occurring around them. In the text, she asserts “No longer can a writer consider that the imperative task is to bring the news to the outside world. The news is out. Plenty of excellent foreign journalist (most of them in favor of intervention as I am) have been reporting the lies and the slaughter since the beginning of the siege, while the decisions of the western European powers and the United States not to intervene remains firm, thereby giving the victory to Serb fascism” (87). Here Sontag argues that the artist job is not to stand on the side and watch, but to make a difference by utilizing their talents to provide entertainment to bring some type of happiness to the individuals force to endure this tragedy and to write on truth despite the order given by those in power. For the artist job is to produce a sense of peace,  alleviate these burdens and fear through their work.

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