“Writing is a way of living. It doesn’t quite matter that there are too many books for the number of readers in the world to read them. It’s a way of being alive, for the writer.”—Rachel Kushner (via mttbll)
“Making choices of where to place the barrier between ego and algorithm is unavoidable in the age of cloud software. Drawing the line between what we forfeit and what we reserve for the heroics of free will is the story of our time.”—Who Owns the Future?
“The writer has a fundamental responsibility to write well or to write the best he can, because if he doesn’t he’s not a writer. And when a writer writes, he’s always referring to a social and historical context. It’s impossible for Argentinian writers not to write as Argentinians, because to be Argentinian is a circumstance of fate, like it is to be Cuban. When you analyze the bourgeois writer’s novel, you see the shortcomings of bourgeois society. Even when you try to write a fantasy story, in some way that fantasy is going to be connected to a reality. But regardless, if someone is a true writer—not an opportunist who wants to be in favor with the government of the day—that person is always going to be for freedom. Because the simple truth is that without freedom, the writer cannot exist. And the writer who is for freedom is, by definition, not for any totalitarian system. So the duty of the writer is to write well and champion freedom. And he champions freedom because he has an obligation—what better obligation than this?”—Reinaldo Arenas (via mttbll)
“If writing a novel has taught me anything it has taught me this: I will never again say ‘I am finishing a novel’ or ‘I’m almost done with my novel’ or ‘This is it! The last draft!’ or ‘I’m getting really close!’ Every time I have ever said, or even thought, any of those things the endpoint has almost immediately receded before me, mirage-like.”—Laura van den Berg (via mttbll)
“What I want is to be fully present in my life — to be really where you are, contemporary with yourself in your life, giving full attention to the world, which includes you. You are not the world, the world is not identical to you, but you’re in it and paying attention to it. That’s what a writer does — a writer pays attention to the world. Because I’m very against this solipsistic notion that you find it all in your head. You don’t, there really is a world that’s there whether you’re in it or not.”—Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview by Jonathan Cott
“Anna despises two classes of people: first, those who own their own homes and have cars and families, and second, everybody else. Constantly she is on the verge of exploding. With rage. A pool of pure red. The pool is filled with speechlessness that talks away at her nonstop. In her there is nothing whatsoever of a lass with a perm or a bobbing pony-tail listening to a hit in a record store and restlessly tapping her foot because the rhythm gets to her. … What she talks about with her brother is of a philosophical or literary nature, but what speaks from within her alone is the language of the sounds produced by the piano. …Autumn always did have a good deal on its conscience. Especially when someone still young in years is responding sensitively to it. Old people are forever thinking of death, young people do so only in autumn, the season of universal decay in the vegetable and animal kingdoms.”—Elfriede Jelinek
Wonderful, Wonderful Times
“When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.
The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, a lover’s quarrel with the world. In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role. If Robert Frost was much honored in his lifetime, it was because a good many preferred to ignore his darker truths. Yet in retrospect, we see how the artist’s fidelity has strengthened the fibre of our national life.
If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.”—President John F. Kennedy: Remarks at Amherst College, October 26, 1963 - See more at: http://arts.gov/about/kennedy#sthash.TLHTpgbA.dpuf
“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”—Ernest Hemingway (via theohpioneer)
“Marcuse’s last texts conclude that the survival of art lies in its transcendence which incorporates lasting aesthetic values that are universal. Disillusioned with art as politics, Marcuse separated himself from his now much quoted Viennese colleagues. He suggested that the authentic artist may escape being penned in by the velvet ropes of the illusion of liberty through poetry and the aesthetic dimension. Art which aspires to this difficult, complex, and elusive level of achievement may thus elude the increasingly effective techniques of accommodation and neutralization employed to repress any genuinely dangerous dissent by the society of total tolerance.”—
“The persistent problem for artists: How can I insist upon the reality of death, for others, and for myself? This is not mere existentialist noodling (though it can surely be that, too). It’s a part of what art is here to imagine for us and with us. (I’m a sentimental humanist: I believe art is here to help, even if the help is painful—especially then.) Elsewhere, death is rarely seriously imagined or even discussed—unless some young man in Silicon Valley is working on permanently eradicating it. Yet a world in which no one, from policymakers to adolescents, can imagine themselves as abject corpses—a world consisting only of thrusting, vigorous men walking boldly out of frame—will surely prove a demented and difficult place in which to live. A world of illusion.”—Man vs. Corpse
The New York Review of Books
dec 5 2013
“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (via bookmania)
“A story usually begins with a single idea or memory or mental picture. The writing of the story is simply a matter of working up to that moment, to explain why it happened or what it caused to follow. A writer is trying to create believable people in credible moving situations in the most moving way he can. Obviously he must use as one of his tools the environment which he knows.”—William Faulkner
“My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.”—Noam Chomsky
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”—Walt Whitman
“What are the effects on the American idea of Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, PATRIOT Acts I and II, warrantless surveillance, Executive Order 13233, corporate contractors performing military functions, the Military Commissions Act, NSPD 51, etc., etc.? Assume for a moment that some of these measures really have helped make our persons and property safer – are they worth it? Where and when was the public debate on whether they’re worth it? Was there no such debate because we’re not capable of having or demanding one? Why not? Have we actually become so selfish and scared that we don’t even want to consider whether some things trump safety? What kind of future does that augur?”—David Foster Wallace, 2007 (via penamerican)
“The open mind and the receptive heart — which are at last and with fortune’s smile the informed mind and the experienced heart — are to be gained anywhere, any time, without necessarily moving an inch from any present address.”—Eudora Welty on writing and the poetics of place (via explore-blog)