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bunch of idiots


“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"

human consciousness


“Human consciousness: is it the projector
or the screen?”
—Dean Young
from "I Am But A Traveler in This Land & Know Little of Its Ways"

attribution unknown but possibly «Fotograf i model'» by Aleksey Andreyev

he who hides his madman


“He who hides his madman, dies voiceless.”
—Henri Michaux
from “My Properties”

Source unclear—possibly a clip from a performance by the Licedei Clown Troupe (Soviet, 1960's)

one mind's imagining into another


“One of the most mysterious of semi-speculations is, one would suppose, that of one Mind’s imagining into another.”
—John Keats
from his marginalia in Paradise Lost

Wooden sculpture of a monk's head bearing an inscription on the interior, Japan, 1328 from Sign, Image, Symbol (ed. George Kepes)

all those commas


“You mean that’s your idea of desire, with all those commas?”
—Michael Palmer
from “Idem 1"

attribution unknown

you say my way of thinking cannot be tolerated?


“You say that my way of thinking cannot be tolerated? What of it? The man who alters his way of thinking to suit others is a fool. My way of thinking is the result of my reflections. It is part of my inner being, the way I am made. I do not contradict them, and would not even if I wished to. For my system, which you disapprove of, is also my greatest comfort in life, the source of all my happiness—it means more to me than my life itself. ”
—Marquis de Sade
from a letter written to his wife while he was in prison, as quoted in Portrait of De Sade by Walter Lennig

Photograph by Anya Teixeira of Lindsay Kemp performing in Oscar Wilde’s Salomé

most people know what a story is until


“I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.”
—Flannery O’Connor
from The Habit of Being (collected letters)

Carolee Schneemann – still from "Up to and Including Her Limits," 1976

no greater agony


"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
—Maya Angelou
from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Dress sculpture by Louise Richardson

until it shines


“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
—widely attributed to Emily Dickinson
original context unclear

Carl Andre – foot 1963

usefulness from what is not there


Shape clay into a vessel;

It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room;

It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore benefit comes from what is there;

Usefulness from what is not there.
—Lao Tzu
from Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11

Belma Arslan - Afoot

literature is love


"To begin with, let us take the following motto... Literature is love. Now we can continue."
—Vladimir Nabokov
from Despair

Flannery O'Connor as a girl, reading, 
via the Ina Dillard Russell Library, Georgia College & State University

mistranslations result in beauty


"Great literature is written in a sort of foreign language. To each sentence we attach a meaning, or at any rate a mental image, which is often a mistranslation. But in great literature all our mistranslations result in beauty."
—Marcel Proust
as quoted by Gilles Deleuze in Dialogues II

Julius Kirchner, 1914
Blind children studying the hippopatamus

transforming milk


“Overambitious projects may be objectionable in many fields, but not in literature. Literature remains alive only if we set ourselves immeasurable goals, far beyond all hope of achievement. Only if poets and writers set themselves tasks that no one else dares imagine will literature continue to have a function.”
—Italo Calvino
from Six Memos for the Next Millennium

An annotated photograph by Allen Ginsberg of the artist Harry Smith "transforming milk into milk," 1985

nothing, really, dies


"In college I had a physics professor who wrote the date and time in red marker on a sheet of white paper and then lit the paper on fire and placed it on a metallic mesh basket on the lab table where it burned to ashes. He asked us whether or not the information on the paper was destroyed and not recoverable, and of course we were wrong, because physics tells us that information is never lost, not even in a black hole, and that what is seemingly destroyed is, in fact, retrievable. In that burning paper the markings of ink on the page are preserved in the way the flame flickers and the smoke curls. Wildly distorted to the point of chaos, the information is nonetheless not dead. Nothing, really, dies. Nothing dies. Nothing dies."
Nicholas Rombes
from The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing

Tim Rollins and K.O.S. - from the series
The Temptation of Saint Anthony

to gain your own voice


"To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard."
—widely attributed to Allen Ginsberg
original context unclear

Friederike Pezold - Mundwerk, 1974-1975

small objects


My contemporaries like small objects, 
dried starfish that have forgotten the sea, 
melancholy stopped clocks, postcards 
sent from vanished cities, 
and blackened with illegible script, 
in which they discern words 
like “yearning,” “illness,” or “the end.” 
They marvel at dormant volcanoes. 
They don’t desire light.
—Adam Zagajewski
"Small Objects" (trans. Clare Cavanagh)

Christo and Jeanne Claude - Package, 1958
Photo by Eava Inkeri

what is a poet?


“What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music. And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ - that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.”
—Søren Kierkegaard
from Either/Or

Nil Yalter - The Headless Woman or the Belly Dancer, 1974

all is linked


"When he grew old, Aristotle, who is not generally considered a tightrope dancer, liked to lose himself in the most labyrinthine and subtle of discourses… ‘The more solitary and isolated I become, the more I come to like stories,’ he said."
—Michel de Certeau
from The Practice of Everyday Life

Still from Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville

language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square


"Language is my whore, my mistress, my wife, my pen-friend, my check-out girl. Language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen-up wipette. Language is the breath of God, the dew on a fresh apple, it’s the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning sun when you pull from an old bookshelf a forgotten volume of erotic diaries; language is the faint scent of urine on a pair of boxer shorts, it’s a half-remembered childhood birthday party, a creak on the stair, a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, the warm wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl, cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot."
—Stephen Fry
from a Fry and Laurie sketch—watch it here

From LIFE magazine, photographer unknown

Perception of an object costs


Perception of an object costs
Precise the Object’s loss—
—Emily Dickinson

Jakob Mohr - Beweisse (Proofs), ca 1910
from "Traces upon the Wonderblock," a collection of drawings
and books made by psychiatric patients btw 1890 and 1920.
More information here