Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state
which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. That all men are, when
the chips are down, alone, is a banality—a banality because it is very frequently stated,
but very rarely, on the evidence, believed. Most of us are not compelled to linger with
the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this
world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be
exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of
the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great
wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness,
blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its
purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.
- James Baldwin "The Creative Process"