quotes & inspirations

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04.08.21
“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

03.25.21
"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

03.01.21
"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

02.12.21
"Reality is simply the loss of ego."
—Ramana Maharshi
(as paraphrased by Pradeep Apte)

Benoit Courti - Monsieur

the latest development of the organic

01.20.21
"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

01.08.21
“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

12.29.20
“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

10.22.20
“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

10.08.20
“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

09.19.20
“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


task failed successfully

08.28.20
“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

06.29.20
“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

03.10.20
“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.”
—Heraclitus
from "I Have Looked Diligently at My Own Mind"
(trans. Guy Davenport)


attribution unknown

I'm afraid I've caught poetry

03.01.20




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

everything has already been said

02.21.20
"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

02.10.20
“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

01.12.20
“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world."
—Voltaire
from The Portable Philosophical Dictionary
Allan Ginsberg dancing

bunch of idiots

09.16.19
“An art whose medium is language will always show a high degree of critical creativeness, for speech is itself a critique of life: it names, it characterizes, it passes judgment, in that it creates."
—Thomas Mann
from a 1929 speech reprinted in Essays of Three Decades
André Breton at a Dada festival in Paris, March 27, 1920, wearing a slogan by Francis Picabia that says: "In order to love something you need to have seen and heard it for a long time bunch of idiots"

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