Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category
Long sentences in short compositions are like large rooms in a little house.
A poet, until he arrives at thirty, can see no other good than a poetical reputation. About that era, he begins to discover some other.
Critics must excuse me if I compare them to certain animals called asses, who, by gnawing vines, originally taught us the great advantage of pruning them.
Rhymes, in elegant poetry, should consist of syllables that are long in pronunciation, such as “are, ear, ire, ore, your,” in which a nice ear will find more agreeableness than in these: “gnat, net, knit, knot, nut.”
Prudes allow no quarter to such ladies as have fallen a sacrifice to the gentle passions; either because themselves, being borne away by the malignant ones, perhaps never felt the other so powerful as to occasion them any difficulty; or because no one has tempted them to transgress. It is the same case with some critics, with regard to the errors of ingenious writers.
People in high or distinguished life ought to have a greater circumspection in regard to their most trivial actions. For instance, I saw Mr. Pope—and what was he doing when you saw him?—why, to the best of my memory, he was picking his nose.
Do unto others twenty percent better than you would have them do unto you, in order to allow for subjective error.
Will you please have Mr. Darrow send me a statement of whatever money is due me? [After reading the reviews for Look Homeward, Angel] I shall not write any more books, and since I must begin to make other plans for the future, I should like to know how much money I will have.
Any writer, reading over the typescript of a book for the last time before sending it off to the publisher, must wonder what all the effort was for.
Begin by drawing and painting like the old masters. After that do as you see fit—you will always be respected.
The reaction of each stage is as important as the subject. For this reaction comes from me and not from the subject. It is from the basis of my interpretation that I continually react until my work comes into harmony with me. As someone who writes a sentence, reworks it, makes new discoveries…At each stage, I reach a balance, a conclusion. At the next sitting, if I find that there is a weakness in the whole, I make my way back into the picture by means of the weakness—I re-enter through the breach—and I reconceive the whole. Thus everything becomes fluid again and as each element is only one of the component forces (as in an orchestration), the whole can be changed in appearance but the feeling sought remains the same…
At the final stage the painter finds himself freed and his emotion exists complete in his work. He himself, in any case, is relieved of it.
When I affirm that more can be learned about how to write poetry from Dante than from any English poet, I do not at all mean that Dante’s way is the only right way, or that Dante is thereby greater than Shakespeare, or, indeed, any other English poet. I put my meaning into other words by saying that Dante can do less harm to any one trying to learn to write verse than can Shakespeare. Most great English poets are inimitable in a way in which Dante was not. If you try to imitate Shakespeare you will certainly produce a series of stilted, forced, and violent distortions of language. The language of each great English poet is his own language; the language of Dante is the perfection of a common language. In a sense, it is more pedestrian than that of Dryden or Pope. If you follow Dante without talent, you will at worst be pedestrian and flat; if you follow Shakespeare or Pope without talent, you will make an utter fool of yourself.
Great scientists tolerate ambiguity very well. They believe the theory enough to go ahead; they doubt it enough to notice the errors and faults so they can step forward…If you believe too much you’ll never notice the flaws; if you doubt too much you won’t get started. It requires a lovely balance.
A poet more than thirty years old is simply an overgrown child.
A lot of people thought my work was very tedious, and it can be if you look at it from that point of view, but I never looked upon it as tedious…They don’t know the joy of seeing the film come back and what you had in your mind is on film.
Creative thought must always contain a random component. The exploratory processes—the endless trial and error of mental progress—can achieve the new only by embarking upon pathways randomly presented, some of which when tried are somehow selected for something like survival.
[I]t would depress me a great deal to earn my living just to eat: I earn it very well and as fast as possible so as to have time to do the kind of writing I want to do.
Plot might seem like a matter of choice. It is not. The particular plot is something the novelist is driven to. It is what is left after the whittling-away of alternatives. The novelist is confronted, at a moment (or at what appears to be the moment: actually its extension may be indefinite) by the impossibility of saying what is to be said in any other way.
He is forced towards his plot. By what? By the “what is to be said.” What is “what is to be said?” A mass of subjective matter that has accumulated—impressions received, feelings about experience, distorted results of ordinary observation, and something else—x. This matter is extra matter. It is superfluous to the non-writing life of the writer. It is luggage left in the hall between two journeys, as opposed to the perpetual furniture of rooms. It is destined to be somewhere. It cannot move till its destination is known. Plot is the knowing of destination.
[W]hen Gödel decided to become a U.S. citizen in 1947…he took his preparation for the exam very seriously, studied the Constitution carefully, and (as might be expected by the formulator of the incompleteness theory) found what he believed was a logical flaw. There was an internal inconsistency, he insisted, that could allow the entire government to degenerate into tyranny.
Concerned, Einstein decided to accompany—or chaperone—Gödel on his visit to Trenton to take the citizenship test, which was to be administered by the same judge who had done so for Einstein. On the drive, he and a third friend tried to distract Gödel and dissuade him from mentioning this perceived flaw, but to no avail. When the judge asked him about the Constitution, Gödel launched into his proof that its internal inconsistency made a dictatorship possible. Fortunately, the judge, who by now cherished his connection to Einstein, cut Gödel off. “You needn’t go into all that,” he said, and Gödel’s citizenship was saved.
The relevant question isn’t “Is this a potential friend for me?” but “Is this character alive?”
—Claire Messud, to Publishers Weekly
There was the temptation to make the Pac Mac shape less simple. While I was designing the game, someone suggested we add eyes. But we eventually discarded that idea because once we added eyes, we would want to add glasses and maybe a mustache. There would just be no end to it.