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“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or a dishonest tradesman.”
—Oscar Wilde
from the Preface to Dorian Gray

Elisha Pope Fearing Gardner: the “poet” of “Poets Korner” sold peanuts and verses (photographer unknown)

torn apart book


“The novel I am constantly writing is always the same one, and it might be described as a variously sliced-up or torn-apart book of myself.”
—Robert Walser
from Selected Stories

web find, creator unknown

it would take too long


“You can't tell everyone the truth all the time, and you certainly can't tell anyone the whole truth, ever, because it would take too long.”
—Lydia Davis
from "Our Trip"

Daido Moriyama - Memory (2012 publication date)

even a small one


“The day you catch an idea you fall in love with, even a small one, is a beautiful day.”
—widely attributed to David Lynch
original context unclear

From LIFE magazine - photographer unknown



"It would not be adequate even to say that the sterility of literary production is responsible for the sterility of criticism. The real reason for that sterility is the neutralization of culture, which points ahead like houses accidentally spared by the bombs and in whose substantiality no one really believes anymore. In this culture the critic who does not call the culture by its name necessarily becomes its accomplice and falls prey to the irrelevance of his objects, in which the historical forces of the age may appear in the material but hardly ever form the basis of the artistic substance."
—Theodor W. Adorno
from the appendix of Notes to Literature, Volume 2

web find — attribution unknown

the revulsion of literature toward the state


"Language and, presumably, literature are more ancient and inevitable, more durable than any form of social organization. The revulsion, irony, or indifference often expressed by literature toward the state is essentially the reaction of the permanent—better yet, the infinite—against the temporary, against the finite."
—Joseph Brodsky
from "Footnote to a Poem" in the collection Less than One

Ai Weiwei, second panel of the triptych "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn" 1995/2009

I Am (K)Not the Body


"Reality is simply the loss of ego."
—Ramana Maharshi
from I Am (K)Not the Body
(notes taken by Pradeep Apte on Ramana Maharshi's sayings, as recorded by Muruganar and translated by David Godman)
Monsieur by Benoit Courti

the latest development of the organic


"Consciousness is the last and latest development of the organic and hence also what is most unfinished and unstrong."
—Friedrich Nietsche
from The Gay Science
One of a series of photographs of the astronaut John Glenn
taken by an automatic sequence motion picture camera during his
flight on "Friendship 7." Glenn was in a state of weightlessness
traveling at 17,500 mph as these pictures were taken.

Art does not reproduce what we see


“Art does not reproduce what we see. It makes us see.”
— widely attributed to Paul Klee
original context unclear

Rudy Burckhardt, A View From Brooklyn II, 1954

almond blossoms radiate


“How can almond blossoms radiate in my language when I’m an echo?”
—Mahmoud Darwish
from “To Describe Almond Blossoms”
(trans. Fady Joudah)

attribution unknown

things outlast us


“Things outlast us, they know more about us than we know about them: they carry the experience they have had with us inside them and are—in fact—the book of our history opened before us.”
—W.G. Sebald
from Campo Santo, 2003
(trans. Anthea Bell)

Shomei Tomatsu - Statue of an angel shattered by the atomic bomb
at Urakami Cathedral, Nagasaki, 1961.

a universe of qualities


“Words have a universe of qualities other than those of descriptive relation: Hardness, Density, Sound-Shape, Vector-Force, & Degrees of Transparency/Opacity.”
—Clark Coolidge
from his contributor's note to Paul Carroll's anthology The Young American Poets, 1968

First page of Vladimir Nabokov’s first draft of Invitation to a Beheading

Poetry's Impulse


“Poetry’s impulse to use metaphor, to discover resemblance, is not to make comparisons (all comparisons as such are hierarchical) or to diminish the particularity of any event; it is to discover those correspondences of which the sum total would be proof of the indivisible totality of existence. To this totality poetry appeals, and its appeal is the opposite of a sentimental one; sentimentality always pleads for an exemption, for something which is divisible. Apart from reassembling by metaphor, poetry reunites by its reach. It equates the reach of a feeling with the reach of the universe; after a certain point the type of extremity involved becomes unimportant and all that matters is its degree; by their degree alone extremities are joined.”
—John Berger
from “Dream,” in And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos, 1982

Simone Leuck - Cuba TV Series

task failed successfully


“When shall that true poet arise who, disdaining the trivialities of text, shall give the world a book of verse consisting entirely of margin?”
—Kenneth Grahame
from “Marginalia,” in Pagan Papers, 1898

attribution unknown

addicted to stories


“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories."
—Jonathan Gottschall
from The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Catherine Deneuve in Jaques'Demi's Donkey Skin (1971)

a dry psyche is most skilled


“The stuff of the psyche is a smoke-like substance of fine particles that give rise to all other things, particles of less mass than any other sustance and constantly in motion: only movement can know movement. . . . The psyche rises as a mist from things that are wet. . . . A dry psyche is most skilled in intelligence and is brightest in virtue. . . . A drunk man, staggering and mindless, must be led home by his son, so wet is his psyche.”
from "I Have Looked Diligently at My Own Mind"
(trans. Guy Davenport)

attribution unknown

I'm afraid I've caught poetry


Dennis Moore (customer) and John Cleese (shopkeeper) in a skit from Monty Python's Flying Circus, ca. 1973.

everything has already been said


"Everything has already been said, but since nobody listens, we must continually start again."
—André Gide
from Le traite du Narcisse
(my translation)

Early emoticons in the American humor magazine Puck in 1881.
Interesting related article here.

willfully in public


“A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public with his pants down.”
—widely attributed to Edna St. Vincent Millay
original context unclear

Melanie Bourget – The Antidote

let us read and let us dance


“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world."
from The Portable Philosophical Dictionary

Allan Ginsberg dancing