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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Many writers and thinkers in the last century and a half, still more in the last half century, have chosen, whether consciously or not, the side of the irrational—mauvais clercs, in my belief, if ever there were. Many men of action have done the same…Those who take the other side, the side of reason—who try to believe nothing unless there are rational grounds for it, and otherwise to be content with probabilities, or frank uncertainty, may be wrong—or they may be right, yet destined to defeat. None of them can live long enough to know. But at least they will not have frivolously undermined the foundations of their own civilization.

F.L. Lucas, The Search for Good Sense

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May 25, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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There is no reason why a mentally well-balanced young painter should not exhibit, but he must remember that there is danger in being “discovered” before he has a firm understanding of his own vision, of his own metaphor. In recent years young painters have been pushed all the way to national success on the strength of too limited vision, on the strength of “difference” supplied by gimmicks…The only real way is paint until a genuine and new metaphor has been fully understood—its images, laws, future possibilities—then make the move into the public domain.

Hiram Williams, Notes for a Young Painter

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May 24, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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There are pragmatic reasons for using convention in architecture, but there are expressive justifications as well…Through unconventional organization of conventional parts [the architect] is able to create new meanings within the whole. If he uses convention unconventionally, if he organizes familiar things in an unfamiliar way, he is changing their contexts, and he can use even the cliché to get a fresh effect. Familiar things seen in an unfamiliar context become perceptually new as well as old.

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture

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May 23, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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We may rather regard [genius] as a highly sensitive and complexly developed adjustment of the nervous system along special lines, with concomitant tendency to defect along other lines…Hence it is that so many men of the highest intellectual aptitudes have so often shown the tendency to muscular incoordination and clumsiness which marks idiots, and that even within the intellectual sphere, when straying outside their own province, they have frequently shown a lack of perception which placed them on scarcely so high a level as the man of average intelligence.

Havelock Ellis, A Study of British Genius

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May 22, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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We have been impressed, and I must say I never stop being impressed, by the great sweep of general order in which particulars are recognized as united…One may say, I suppose, that science is a search for regularity and order in those domains of experience which have proven accessible to it.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, The Open Mind

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May 21, 2018 at 7:30 am

The final coordination

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The scientist’s temporary relief from constant dissatisfaction with his own accomplishment comes with those interludes in which he projects his technical and theoretical training into a problem of practical application…It is an erroneous impression, fostered by sensational popular biography, that scientific discovery is often made by inspiration—a sort of coup de foudre—from on high. This is rarely the case. Even Archimedes’ sudden inspiration in the bathtub; Newton’s experience in the apple orchard; Descartes’s geometrical discoveries in his bed; Darwin’s flash of lucidity on reading a passage in Malthus; Kekulé’s vision of the closed carbon ring which came to him on top of a London bus; and Einstein’s brilliant solution of the Michelson puzzle in the patent office in Berne, were not messages out of the blue. They were the final coordinations by minds of genius of innumerable accumulated facts and impressions which lesser men could grasp only in their uncorrelated isolation, but which—by them—were seen in entirety and integrated into general principles. The scientist takes off from the manifold observations of predecessors, and shows his intelligence, if any, by his ability to discriminate between the important and the negligible, by selecting here and there the significant stepping-stones that will lead across the difficulties to new understanding. The one who places the last stone and steps across to the terra firma of accomplished discovery gets all the credit. Only the initiated know and honor those whose patient integrity and devotion to exact observation have made the last step possible.

Hans Zinsser, As I Remember Him

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May 20, 2018 at 7:30 am

The space between the stanzas

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In a short multistanza poem, the poem generally tends toward a greater density the closer the number of stanzas accords with the number of divisions of action or intellection which the poem undertakes. That is, the number of stanzas into which the poem is divided should itself express something; the number should not give the impression of being accidental…Another way of saying the same thing is to suggest that the white space between stanzas means something. If nothing is conceived to be taking place within it, if no kind of silent pressure or advance or reconsideration or illumination or perception seems to be going on in that white space, the reader has a legitimate question to ask: Why is that white space there, and what am I supposed to do with it?

Paul Fussell, Poetic Meter and Poetic Form

Written by nevalalee

May 19, 2018 at 7:30 am

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