Strange Arts & Visual Delights
For years, I've been collecting quotations that catch my eye or ear. Here's a set of roughly related thoughts on style and matter. The flowers were on our now demolished deck.
The fool is disturbed not when we tell him his ideas are false, but when we suggest they have gone out of style.--Nicolas Gomez Davila
Those who yield and adopt the style of the moment are killed the moment after.—Roberto Calasso, The Ruin of Kasch
The only books that matter are those of which it could be said that their author would have suffocated had he not written them.—Julian Green
The weight of our craft stays the same: / To change time into a stanza, / To concentrate fear into meaning.—Tomas Venclova
The greater the probability of a symbol's occurrence in any given situation, the smaller will be its information content. – E.H. Gombrich
Where we can anticipate we need not listen. – E.H. Gombrich, "Art and Illusion"
Today … the range of possible poetic attitudes often excludes such opportunities for satire, argument, and moral opinion as … seen in … [Wordsworth's "Great men have been among us," Shakespeare’s Sonnet 110, and Goldsmith's riff on David Garrick in "Retaliation"], favoring instead detailed particulars of person and setting, confessionalism, and the anti-intellectual role of seeming sincere. These preferences leave out formality and the play of rhetoric, especially any rhetoric with heroic content, as in Wordsworth’s poem. But also in Shakespeare’s 110th sonnet we witness a willingness to explore extremes not of experience only but even of culpability; it is this possibility of guilt that is even further antipathetic to most late-20th-century poets’ threshold of self-esteem.—Mary Kinzie, A Poet's Guide to Poetry.
In the 10th century, when the Kievan knights entered Haggia Sophia...they did not know if there were still on earth or... in heaven.—Czesław Miłosz
[In poetry] straining comes to nothing, for we receive the gift whether we are deserving of it or not.—Czesław Miłosz, Milosz's ABCs, “Ambition.”
Horror is the law of the world of living creatures, and civilization is concerned with masking that truth.—Czesław Miłosz
In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent: / a thing is brought forth which we didn't know we had in us.—Czesław Miłosz
The clothes of my name fall away and disappear.—Czesław Miłosz