Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for September 24th, 2016

The exact placing of a comma

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Paul Valéry

It happened at certain stages in my life that poetry became a way of cutting myself off from the world…It is no bad thing if certain men have the strength of mind to attach more value and significance to determining a remote decimal number, or to the exact placing of a comma, than to the most resounding of news items, the most terrible catastrophe, or even to their own lives…

To outlaw the arbitrary: to shut out accidents, politics, the chaos of events, and the fluctuations of fashion; to attempt to draw from oneself some work more exquisite than one might have hoped for; to find strength in oneself not to be satisfied with less than prolonged struggles, to set about a passionate quest for the solving of problems imperceptible to most people, in defiance of the headlong rush, the distractions (however affecting) that intrude from the outside world—this is something that appeals to me…In circumstances so appalling, what could be done except to endure, destitute as one was of any means of action that might cope with the extraordinary commotion of a world gone mad?

Paul Valéry, Collected Works

Written by nevalalee

September 24, 2016 at 7:30 am

Posted in Quote of the Day, Writing

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