Quotations about:
    creativity


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I don’t know that it’s an issue for anybody but me, but it’s true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn’t wind up getting the money, either. The things I did because I was excited, and wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down, and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British author, screenwriter, fabulist
Speech (2012-05-17), Commencement, University of the Arts, Philadelphia [06:33]
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Added on 11-Jul-24 | Last updated 11-Jul-24
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The greatest artists have never been men of taste. By never sophisticating their instincts they have never lost the awareness of the great simplicities, which they relish both from appetite and from the challenge these offer to skill in competition with popular art.

jacques barzun
Jacques Barzun (1907-2012) French-American historian, educator, polymath
The Energies of Art: Studies of Authors Classic and Modern, “Whirligig: Last Words on Berlioz” (1956)
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Added on 27-May-24 | Last updated 13-May-24
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The concentration of a small child at play is analogous to the concentration of the artist of any discipline. In real play, which is real concentration, the child is not only outside time, he is outside himself. He has thrown himself completely into whatever it is that he is doing. A child playing a game, building a sand castle, painting a picture, is completely in what he is doing. His self-consciousness is gone; his consciousness is wholly focused outside himself.

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) American writer
A Circle of Quiet, ch. 1, sec. 3 (1972)
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Added on 14-May-24 | Last updated 14-May-24
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An old racetrack joke reminds you that your program contains all the winners’ names. I stare at my typewriter keys with the same thought.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
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Added on 24-Apr-24 | Last updated 24-Apr-24
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Indeed, it is a cruel truth of the history of all art and literature that most would-be poets, writers, and painters fail. The man or woman of real talent is rare, the born genius rarer still. For every book that survives the merciless judgment of time, there are nine hundred and ninety-nine rotting unread in libraries and nine thousand and ninety-nine that were never written in the first place.

michael harrington
Michael Harrington (1928-1989) American writer, political activist, political scientist [Edward Michael Harrington, Jr.]
Fragments of the Century, ch. 2 “The Death of Bohemia” (1973)
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Added on 12-Feb-24 | Last updated 12-Feb-24
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It is erroneous to tie down individual genius to ideal models. Each person should do that, not which is best in itself, even supposing this could be known, but that which he can do best, which he will find out if left to himself. Spenser could not have written Paradise Lost, nor Milton the Faerie Queene. Those who aim at faultless regularity will only produce mediocrity, and no one ever approaches perfection except by stealth, and unknown to themselves.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
“Thoughts on Taste,” Edinburgh Magazine (1819-07)
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Added on 9-Feb-24 | Last updated 12-Feb-24
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A book is never finished, it is abandoned.

Gene Fowler
Gene Fowler (1890-1960) American journalist, author, and dramatist. [b. Eugene Devlan]
Quoted in H. Allen Smith, The Life and Legend of Gene Fowler, ch. 27 (1977)
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Fowler was speaking about publisher deadlines. Others have used similar phrases regarding the creative process as a whole. See Valéry and Abram.
 
Added on 29-Jan-24 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave — let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we’re faking them.
And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it’s joy we’re looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation.
So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British author, screenwriter, fabulist
Blog entry (2012-12-31), “My New Year’s Wish”
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Added on 29-Dec-23 | Last updated 18-Apr-24
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I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British author, screenwriter, fabulist
Blog entry (2008-12-31), “Another Year”
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Added on 28-Dec-23 | Last updated 18-Apr-24
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The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Of Power and Time,” Blue Pastures (1995)
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Added on 27-Dec-23 | Last updated 27-Dec-23
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If there’s no money in poetry, neither is there poetry in money.

Robert Graves
Robert Graves (1895-1985) English poet, novelist, critic
“Mammon,” lecture, London School of Economics and Political Science (1963-12-06)
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Reprinted in Mammon and the Black Goddess (1965).
 
Added on 15-Nov-23 | Last updated 15-Nov-23
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We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled.
The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) American writer, futurist, fabulist
“The Secret Mind,” The Writer (1965-11)
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Reprinted in Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing (1990).
 
Added on 30-Oct-23 | Last updated 30-Oct-23
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Originality is a thing we constantly clamour for, and constantly quarrel with; as if, observes our author himself, any originality but our own could be expected to content us! In fact all strange thing are apt, without fault of theirs, to estrange us at first view, and unhappily scarcely anything is perfectly plain, but what is also perfectly common.

Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
“Jean Paul Friedrich Richter,” Edinburgh Review No. 91, Art. 7 (1827-7/10)
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A review of Heinrich Döring, Jean Paul Friedrich Richter's Life, with a Sketch of his Works (1826).
 
Added on 6-Oct-23 | Last updated 6-Oct-23
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Genius begins great works; but labour alone finishes them.

[Le génie commence les beaux ouvrages, mais le travail seul les achève.]

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist, philosopher, essayist, poet
Pensées [Thoughts], ch. 23 “Des Qualités de l’Écrivain et des Compositions Littéraires [On Writers and Literature]” ¶ 52 (1850 ed.) [tr. Lyttelton (1899), ch. 22, ¶ 19]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Genius begins beautiful works, but only labor finishes them.
[tr. Calvert (1866), ch. 8]

Genius begins great works; labour alone finishes them.
[tr. Attwell (1896), ¶ 335]

Beautiful works. Genius beings them, but labor alone finishes them.
[tr. Auster (1983)], 1801]

 
Added on 25-Jul-23 | Last updated 25-Jul-23
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Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.

Adler - Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one - wist.info quote

Stella Adler
Stella Adler (1901-1992) American actor and acting teacher
Quoted in Barry Paris, ed., Stella Adler on America’s Master Playwrights, Introduction (2012)
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Added on 12-Jun-23 | Last updated 12-Jun-23
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If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) American novelist, journalist
Man Without a Country, ch. 3 “Here Is a Lesson in Creative Writing” (2005)
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Added on 8-Jun-23 | Last updated 8-Jun-23
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A cheerful life is what the Muses love,
A soaring spirit is their prime delight.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) English poet
“From the Dark Chambers of Dejection Freed,” ll. 13-14 (1814)
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Added on 1-Mar-23 | Last updated 1-Mar-23
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We can’t be creative if we refuse to be confused. Change always starts with confusion; cherished interpretations must dissolve to make way for what’s new.

Meg Wheatley
Margaret J. "Meg" Wheatley (b. 1944) American writer, teacher, speaker, management consultant
Turning to One Another, “Willing to Be Disturbed” (2002)
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Added on 27-Jan-23 | Last updated 27-Jan-23
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Perhaps the meaning of all human activity lies in the artistic consciousness, in the pointless and selfless creative act? Perhaps our capacity to create is evidence that we ourselves were created in the image and likeness of God?

Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) Russian film director, screenwriter, film theorist [Андрей Арсеньевич Тарковский]
Sculpting in Time (1986) [tr. Hunter-Blair]
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Added on 3-Nov-22 | Last updated 3-Nov-22
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I don’t enjoy any of the process of writing. I enjoy it when it goes on if it zings and it has great warmth and import and it’s successful. Yeah, that’s when I enjoy it. But during the desperate, tough time of creating it, there’s not much I enjoy about it. It tires me and lays me out, which is sort of the way I feel now. Tired.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
“Rod Serling: The Facts of Life,” interview by Linda Brevelle (4 Mar 1975)
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The interview was held less than four months before his death from cancer.
 
Added on 4-Oct-22 | Last updated 4-Oct-22
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The man who has stolen in order never to thieve again remains a thief. Nobody who has ever betrayed his principles can have a pure relationship with life. Therefore when a film-maker says he will produce a pot-boiler in order to give himself the strength and the means to make the film of his dreams — that is so much deception, or worse, self-deception. He will never now make his film.

Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) Russian film director, screenwriter, film theorist [Андрей Арсеньевич Тарковский]
Sculpting in Time (1986) [tr. Hunter-Blair]
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Added on 26-Sep-22 | Last updated 26-Sep-22
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I write poetry, prose, and everything I do, I do on the principle of Russian borscht. You can throw everything into it — beets, carrots, cabbage, onions, everything you want. What’s important is the result, the taste of the borscht.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) Russian poet, writer, film director, academic [Евге́ний Евтуше́нко, Evgenij Evtušenko]
“Yevtushenko: A Soviet Poet Turns to Movie Making,” New York Times (2 Feb 1986)
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Added on 12-Sep-22 | Last updated 12-Sep-22
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I, for example, do not like poems that resemble hay compressed into a geometrically perfect cube. I like it when the hay, unkempt, uncombed, with dry berries mixed in it, thrown together gaily and freely, bounces along atop some truck—and more, if there are some lovely and healthy lasses atop the hay—and better yet if the branches catch at the hay, and some of it tumbles to the road.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) Russian poet, writer, film director, academic [Евге́ний Евтуше́нко, Evgenij Evtušenko]
“Yevtushenko: A Soviet Poet Turns to Movie Making,” New York Times (2 Feb 1986)
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Added on 22-Aug-22 | Last updated 22-Aug-22
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When a poet is being a poet — that is, when he is writing or thinking about writing — he cannot be concerned with anything but the making of a poem. If the poem is to turn out well, the poet cannot have thought of whether it will be saleable, or of what its effect on the world should be; he cannot think of whether it will bring him honor, or advance a cause, or comfort someone in sorrow. All such considerations, whether silly or generous, would be merely intrusive; for, psychologically speaking, the end of writing is the poem itself.

Richard Wilbur
Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) American poet, literary translator
Acceptance Speech, National Book Award (1957)
 
Added on 16-Aug-22 | Last updated 16-Aug-22
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The relation between the artist and reality is an oblique one, and indeed there is no good art which is not consciously oblique. If you respect the reality of the world, you know that you can approach that reality only by indirect means.

Richard Wilbur
Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) American poet, literary translator
“The Bottles Become New, Too” (1953), Responses: Prose Pieces, 1953-1976 (1976)
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Originally published in Quarterly Review of Literature, Vol. 7, No. 3 (1953).
 
Added on 4-Aug-22 | Last updated 4-Aug-22
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Using Superman’s greatest vulnerability against him — that he is powerless to resist how he is written — to deliberately misrepresent the intentions of his creators or portray him in a way that would best suit some other character strikes me as an oddly blinkered refusal on the part of otherwise imaginative people to even try to conceive what might go on in the mind and motivations of a fictional paragon created to do the right thing with no thought for his own safety.

Grant Morrison
Grant Morrison (b. 1960) Scottish comic book writer and playwright
“SUPERMAN and THE AUTHORITY annotations Pt 2,” blog entry (16 Feb 2022)
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Added on 29-Jul-22 | Last updated 29-Jul-22
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The reason I can’t take myself seriously as a “creative artist,” Guy dear, is because I’m not one. It’s not somehow not in me to bear very patiently with my own mediocrity. If I can’t — and I can’t — be Shakespeare or Goethe, I’d rather raise good cabbages. And that is why I would not write at all, except that there is more money in writing than in cabbages, not only more money, but more freedom. […] This is why I’m not “filled with my art.” I ain’t got no art. I’ve got only a kind of craftsman’s skill, and make stories as I make biscuits or embroider underwear or wrap up packages.

Rose Wilder Lane
Rose Wilder Lane (1886-1968) American journalist, travel writer, novelist, political theorist
Letter to Guy Moyston (25 Jun 1925)
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Quoted in William Holtz, The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane, ch. 9, sec. 5 (1995).
 
Added on 30-Jun-22 | Last updated 30-Jun-22
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So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one’s days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income tax returns and chance conversations, but the stream of the unconscious continues to flow undisturbed, solving problems, planning ahead: one sits down sterile and dispirited at the desk, and suddenly the words come as though from the air: the situations that seemed blocked in a hopeless impasse move forward: the work has been done while one slept or shopped or talked with friends.

Graham Greene (1904-1991) English novelist [Henry Graham Greene]
The End of the Affair, Book 1, ch. 2 (1951)
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Added on 13-Apr-22 | Last updated 13-Apr-22
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Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
“Miscellany: Last Words,” The New Statesman (25 Feb 1933)
 
Added on 29-Mar-22 | Last updated 29-Mar-22
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You damn every poem I write,
Yet you won’t publish those of your own.
Now kindly let yours see the light,
Or else leave my damned ones alone.

[Cum tua non edas, carpis mea carmina, Laeli.
Carpere vel noli nostra vel ede tua.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 91 (1.91) (AD 85-86) [tr. Nixon (1911)]
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"To Lælius". (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Thou blam'st my verses and conceal'st thine own:
Or publish thine, or else let mine alone!
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

You do not publish your own verses, Laelius; you criticise mine. Pray cease to criticise mine, or else publish your own.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Although you don't publish your own, you carp at my poems, Laelius. Either do not carp at mine, or publish your own.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You blame my verse; to publish you decline;
Show us your own or cease to carp at mine.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Although you have not published
Even a single line
Of poetry yourself, you scoff
And sneer and jeer at mine.
Get off my back or publish!
I'd like to hear you whine!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Although you don't punish anything, Laelius,
you keep finding fault with my songs. So please,
stop criticizing my stuff, or publish your own.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Although you don't publish your own poems, Laelius, you carp at mine. Either don't carp at mine or publish your own.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Each poem I publish you loudly bemoan.
Unfair that you never share works of your own.
[tr. Ericsson (1995)]

You don’t write poems, Laelius, you criticise mine. Stop criticising me or write your own.
[tr. Kline (2006)]

With carpings you my works revile.
Your own you never publish.
Without such works, your carpings I'll
Consider snooty rubbish.
[tr. Wills (2007), "The Critic"]

You blast my verses, Laelius; yours aren’t shown.
Either don’t carp at mine or show your own.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You won’t reveal your verse,
but whine that mine is worse.
Just leave me alone
or publish your own.
[tr. Juster (2016)]

You never wrote a poem,
yet criticize mine?
Stop abusing me or write something fine
of your own!
[tr. Burch (c. 2017)]

 
Added on 4-Mar-22 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“The Bluebird”
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Added on 27-Oct-21 | Last updated 27-Oct-21
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Two people getting together to write a book is like three people getting together to have a baby. One of them is superfluous.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
(Attributed)
 
Added on 19-Oct-21 | Last updated 19-Oct-21
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Men write history for the same reason they write poetry, study the properties of numbers, or play football — for the joy of creation; men read history for the same reason they listen to music or watch cricket — for the joy of appreciation.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The Historian,” Manchester Guardian (5 Aug 1938)
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Added on 16-Aug-21 | Last updated 16-Aug-21
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The way you win as a creative person is to learn to love the work and not the applause.

Bob Dylan (b. 1941) American singer, songwriter
(Misattributed)

Attributed to Dylan, but it actually appears to be from an article by Brian Herzog, "Don't Write for Applause" (28 May 2015), which touched on Dylan.
 
Added on 20-Jul-21 | Last updated 20-Jul-21
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The highest exercise of imagination is not to devise what has no existence, but rather to perceive what really exists, though unseen by the outward eye, — not creation, but insight.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Table-talk”
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Added on 28-May-21 | Last updated 28-May-21
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Imagination continually frustrates tradition; that is its function.

John Pfeiffer (1914-1999) American anthropologist, author
“Nature, the Radical Conservative,” New York Times (29 Apr 1979)
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Book review of Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature. This quotation is frequently misattributed to Jules Feiffer.
 
Added on 12-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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JERRY: Writing is also one of those things like … I’d rather fill in all the “o”s in the phone book. [Laughs]. You know what I mean? Anything is more fun than trying to write songs.

BOB: I’d rather be in the dentist’s chair. The blank page is the most frightening, most horrifying, the most toothy, snarling, god-awful thing I can imagine.

JERRY: Any excuse to not do it is good enough.

BOB: Man, look at those dishes mounting up. How can I work in this pigsty?

Jerry Garcia (1942-1995) American singer-songwriter and guitarist
Interview of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir by Jon Sievert, Guitar Player Magazine (1993-05-20)

The interview was reprinted in Best of Guitar Player - Grateful Dead (1993-09). (Many thanks to Ryan Curry for sharing the photo.)
 
Added on 19-Mar-21 | Last updated 17-Jul-23
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Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Thinking and Moral Considerations: A Lecture,” Social Research (Fall 1971)
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Referring to Adolf Eichmann's use of "cliché-ridden language" as a sign of his "thoughtlessness." Reprinted in The Life of the Mind, Part 1 "Thinking," Introduction (1974).
 
Added on 18-Mar-21 | Last updated 18-Mar-21
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No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.

Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) French playwright, actor, director
Van Gogh, the Man Suicided by Society [Le Suicidé de la Société] (1947) [tr. Watson]
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Added on 24-Feb-21 | Last updated 24-Feb-21
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When a little child hears a pleasant sound, it cries, “Again! again!” But soon mere repetition fails to satisfy. The child imitates the sound, and that fails, too. At last it achieves happiness in the creation of a new sound. Older children always sit down to paint or write after they have seen a picture or read a story that appeals to them, and attempt to create. So life ought to be a struggle of desire towards adventures whose nobility will fertilise the soul and lead to the conception of new, glorious things. To avoid the ordeal of emotion that leads to the conception is the impulse of death. Sterility is the deadly sin.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
“The Gospel According to Granville-Parker,” The Freewoman (7 Mar 1912)
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Re-published in The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West, 1911-17 (1982).
 
Added on 15-Feb-21 | Last updated 15-Feb-21
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Artists and scientists realize that no solution is ever final, but that each new creative step points the way to the next artistic or scientific problem. In contrast, those who embrace religious revelations and delusional systems tend to see them as unshakeable and permanent.

Anthony Storr (1920-2001) English psychiatrist and author
Feet of Clay: Saints, Sinners and Madmen, Introduction (1996)
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Added on 11-Feb-21 | Last updated 11-Feb-21
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Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. […] Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
On Writing (2000)
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Added on 4-Feb-21 | Last updated 4-Feb-21
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In religions which have lost their creative spark, the gods eventually become no more than poetic motifs or ornaments for decorating human solitude and walls.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer and philosopher
Zorba the Greek, ch. 12 (1946)
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Added on 26-Oct-20 | Last updated 26-Oct-20
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Most artists, ashamed of their need for encouragement, try to carry their work to term like a secret pregnancy. … We bunker in with our projects, beleaguered by our loneliness and the terrible secret that we carry: We need friends to our art. We need them as desperately as friends to our hearts. Our projects, after all, are our brainchildren, and what they crave is a loving extended family, a place where “How’d it go today?” can refer to a turn at the keys or the easel as easily as a turn in the teller’s cage.”

Julia Cameron (b. 1948) American teacher, author, filmmaker, journalist
“Taking Heart,” The Sound of Paper (2005)
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Added on 10-Sep-20 | Last updated 10-Sep-20
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The wretched Artist himself is alternatively the lowest worm that ever crawled when no fire is in him: or the loftiest God that ever sang when the fire is going.

Caitlin Thomas (1913-1994) British author, wife of Dylan Thomas [née Macnamara]
Not Quite Posthumous Letter to My Daughter (1963)
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Added on 27-Aug-20 | Last updated 27-Aug-20
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Beauty, like truth and goodness, is a quality that may in one sense be predicated of all great art, but the deliberate attempt to beautify can, in itself, only weaken the creative energy. Beauty in art is like happiness in morals: it may accompany the act, but it cannot be the goal of the act, just as one cannot “pursue happiness,” but only something else that may give happiness.

Northrop Frye (1912-1991) Canadian literary critic and literary theorist
Anatomy of Criticism, “Mythical Phase: Symbol as Archetype” (1957)
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It is the artists who make the true value of the world, though at times they may have to starve to do it. They are like earthworms, turning up the soil so things can grow, eating dirt so that the rest of us may eat green shoots.

Eric Jong
Erica Jong (b. 1942) American writer, poet
Serenissima, ch. 4 (1987)
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Added on 13-Aug-20 | Last updated 13-Aug-20
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Ideas come when we do not expect them, and not when we are brooding and searching at our desks. Yet ideas would certainly not come to mind had we not brooded at our desks and searched for answers with passionate devotion.

Max Weber (1864-1920) German sociologist, philosopher, political economist [Maximilian Karl Emil Weber]
“Science as a Vocation [Wissenscahft als Beruf],” Speech, Munich University (1918) [tr. Gerth & Mills (1948)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Ideas come when they are least expected, rather than while you are racking your brains at your desk. But, by the same token, they would not have made their appearance if we had not spent many hours pondering at our desks or brooding passionately over the problems facing us." [tr. Livingstone]
  • "[Ideas] come, at any rate, when one does not expect them, not while racking one's brains and pondering at one's desk. Of course, the ideas would not have occurred to us without our having been through the state of racking our brains and being engaged in impassioned questioning." [tr. Wells (2018)]
 
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In relation to his public, the artist of to-day […] walks at first with his companions, till one day he falls through a hole in the brambles, and from that moment is following the dark rapids of an underground river which may sometimes flow so near the surface that the laughing picnic parties are heard above, only to re-immerse itself in the solitude of the limestone and carry him along its winding tunnel, until it gushes out through the misty creeper-hung cave which he has always believed to exist, and sets him back in the sun.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
“Writers and Society, 1940-3” (1943), The Condemned Playground (1946)
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More gold has been mined from the brains of men than has ever been taken from the earth.

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) American author, motivational writer
Think and Grow Rich (1937)
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In some editions this is given as: "More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has ever been taken from the earth."
 
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The brain is only three pounds of blood, dream, and electricity, and yet from that mortal stew come Beethoven’s sonatas. Dizzy Gillespie’s jazz. Audrey Hepburn’s wish to spend the last month of her life in Somalia, saving children.

Diane Ackerman (b. 1948) American poet, author, naturalist
A Natural History of Love, “Brain-Stem Sonata: The Neurophysiology of Love” (1994)
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The first step — especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money — the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Closing remarks on an eClass forum, Barnes & Noble University (5 Dec 2004)
 
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If the artist does not throw himself into his work as Curtius sprang into the gulf, as a soldier leads a forlorn hope without a moment’s thought, and if when he is in the crater he does not dig as a miner does when the earth has fallen in on him; if he contemplates the difficulties before him instead of conquering them one by one, like the lovers in fairy tales, who to win their princesses overcome ever-new enchantments, the work remains incomplete; it perishes in the studio where creativeness becomes impossible, and the artist looks on the suicide of his own talent.

[Si l’artiste ne se précipite pas dans son oeuvre, comme Curtius dans le gouffre, comme le soldat dans la redoute, sans réfléchir; et si, sans ce cratère, il ne travaille pas comme le mineur enfoui sous un éboulement: s’il contemple enfin les difficultés au lieu de las vaincre une à une, à l’example de ces amoureux des féeries, qui pour obtenir leurs princesses, combattaient des enchantements renaissants, l’oeuvre reste inachevée, elle périt au fond de l’atelier où la production devient impossible, et l’artiste assiste au suicide de son talent.]

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) French novelist, playwright
Cousin Betty [La Cousine Bette] (1846) [tr. Waring (1899)]
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Curtius is the young Roman patrician, Marcus Curtius. In 362 BC, a chasm opened up in Rome's forum, and soothsayers proclaimed it could only be filled by Rome's greatest treasure. Curtius mounted his horse and leapt into the chasm, which then closed over him.

Alt. trans.:
  • "If the artist does not throw himself into his work, like Curtius into the gulf beneath the Forum, like a soldier against a fortress, without hesitation, and if, in that crater, he does not work like a miner under a fall of rock, if, in short, he envisages the difficulties instead of conquering them one-by-one, following the examples of lovers in fairy-tales who, to win their princesses, struggle against recurring enchantments, the work remains unfinished, it expires in the studio, wher production remains impossible and the artist looks on at the suicide of his own talent." [tr. Raphael (1992)]
  • "If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtius flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy's trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one ... he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent." [Source]
  • Original French.
 
Added on 4-Jun-20 | Last updated 4-Jun-20
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An artist’s job is to make order out of chaos. You collect details, look for a pattern, and organize. You make sense out of senseless facts. You puzzle together bits of everything. You shuffle and reorganize. Collage. Montage. Assemble.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Diary (2003)
 
Added on 27-May-20 | Last updated 27-May-20
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business business business
grind grind grind
what a life for a man
that might have been a poet

Don Marquis (1878-1937) American journalist and humorist
“pete the parrot and shakespeare,” archy and mehtabel (1927)
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Added on 28-Apr-20 | Last updated 28-Apr-20
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