Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category

Quote of the Day

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What poem ever ceased to be good because someone had analyzed it badly? The purpose of analysis is not to destroy beauty but to identify its sources. There is no such thing as a beautiful object without characteristics. If one cares about the nature of the beautiful object, he is well occupied in studying what makes it beautiful, and that study necessarily demands a look at the artist’s management of his art.

John Ciardi, How Does a Poem Mean?

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November 20, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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[Music] is not a question of new chords one may be inventing, or new musical resources one may be trying to glorify by a more elegant harmony…but what new projections one is making into musical space, and one’s own musical strength in the tightness of the abstractions you may or may not succeed in making.

George Antheil, “Abstraction and Time in Music”

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November 19, 2018 at 7:30 am

Contemplating the Sphinx

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History is a catalog of endings, but poetry speaks of being, of beginnings…Poetry tends to have an ambivalent relationship toward any temporal function to which it is assigned. Unlike most other human endeavors, at certain moments, often its best ones, it cloaks itself in obscurity, withdraws from everyday life and takes the form of a static, receptive object. A process made to be acted upon, germinative, wood and oxygen waiting to be ignited by a determinant, though not necessarily parallel, flash of thought. And this is how it transcends history and is not only to be recognized and remembered, but contemplated, like the Sphinx.

Nick Piombino, “Writing and Remembering”

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November 18, 2018 at 7:30 am

Clinging to the iceberg

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One of the things always looming is that I have a reputation as a money writer and—this sounds very bullshitty—I’ve never written for money. By which, I don’t mean that I am artistic and pure. What I mean is, money has happened. It’s gone along with what I’ve written—especially in film. And I like to think one of the reasons for that is I’ve wanted to do what I’ve done. I have gotten very few compliments that I treasure in my life, but one of them is from Stanley Donen, a wonderful director who is now out of repute…He said, “You’re very tough.” And I said, “Why?” And he said, “Because you cost a lot, and you have to want to do it.” I think that’s true, and I treasure that, because I do have to want to do it. I think that’s true basically of almost everybody I know in the picture business that’s above the water level on the iceberg. We’re all clinging to the iceberg, and the water level is rising constantly…

The other compliment which I treasure is from a friend of mine. These are the only two. A friend of mine said to me, “Whatever part of you is a writer you really protect.” It seems to me that’s essential, because the minute you start getting involved with reviews, or interviews…or hype on movies, or any kind of extracurricular lecturing or answering fan letters or any kind of stuff like that—it has nothing to do with writing. And you can begin to become Peter Bogdanovich and believe your own press clippings, and then it’s disaster time. It seems to me that it’s essential to maintain a low profile and go about your business as quietly as possible.

William Goldman, to John Brady in The Craft of the Screenwriter

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November 17, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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November 16, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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We [are] obsessed with our own lives, which lives being now language, the emphasis has moved. The emphasis is persistently centric, so that where once one sought a vocabulary for ideas, now one seeks ideas for vocabularies.

Lyn Hejinian, “If Written is Writing”

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November 15, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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On the whole it is safe for the writer to leave semantic theory unexplored. We favor the standards of the more precise stylists if only because we cannot be more permissive without risking their disapproval, whereas those who do not object to less exacting usage are not likely to be offended.

Susan Bee and Charles Bernstein, “Style”

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November 14, 2018 at 7:30 am

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