Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for the ‘Quote of the Day’ Category

Opening with a fight

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A play begins when a world in some state of equipoise, always uneasy, is broken into by a happening. Since it is not equipoise we have paid to see, but the loosing and binding of an evening’s disorder, the sooner the happening the better; these plays open fast…If the happening has an impact in itself—a ghost at midnight makes a certain claim on our attention—so much sooner will we join in the play. It is hardly by chance that so many openings are violent. The playwright who was my teacher said he liked to open a play “with a fight” because it awoke not only the audience’s interest but his own.

William Gibson, Shakespeare’s Game

Written by nevalalee

July 15, 2018 at 7:30 am

The final secret

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Tim Leary was here last week, lecturing at UC Berkeley. The news arrived that his appeal had been rejected by the New Orleans court and he might have to go back to jail again. Tim didn’t let anybody know about this (I found out from the only person in the room when the news came on the phone); Tim continued to radiate humor, cheer and optimism…Two hours later, at the door, Tim was stopped by one of our guests with a final question before he left. “What do you do, Dr. Leary, when somebody keeps giving you negative energy?”

Tim grinned that special grin of his that so annoys all his critics. “Come back with all the positive energy you have,” he said. And then he dashed off to the car, to the airport, to the next lecture…and to God-knows-what fate in the fourteenth year of his struggle with the legal system.

And so I learned the final secret of the Illuminati.

Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati

Written by nevalalee

July 14, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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It must be emphasized that design, of every kind, is a matter of trial and error. There are always some trial assumptions which no calculation or drawing can verify. Men cannot foresee the future. Design, like war, is an uncertain trade, and we have to make the things we have designed before we can find out whether our assumptions are right or wrong. There is no other way to find out. When we modify our prototype, it is, quite flatly, because we guessed wrong. It is eminently true of design that if you are not prepared to make mistakes, you will never make anything at all. “Research” is very often a euphemism for trying the wrong ways first, as we all must do.

David Pye, The Nature of Design

Written by nevalalee

July 13, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer; he approaches lucid ground warily, like a mariner who is determined not to scrape his bottom on anything solid…There is also the obscurity which is the result of the poet’s wishing to appear mad, even if only a little mad. This is rather common and rather dreadful. I know of nothing more distasteful than the work of a poet who has taken leave of his reason deliberately, as a commuter might of his wife.

E.B. White, One Man’s Meat

Written by nevalalee

July 12, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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A technician, a craftsman, tries to distinguish the things that go into the creation of results, because that kind of analysis enables him to work with other craftsmen. Otherwise, he is able only to work with the audience, and if the audience doesn’t like what he does, he is stymied.

Lee Strasberg, Strasberg at the Actors Studio

Written by nevalalee

July 11, 2018 at 7:30 am

Quote of the Day

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Written by nevalalee

July 10, 2018 at 7:30 am

The same clump of flowers

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I really intend to set up most of my [opera] productions so that people have very different experiences on the same evening. Part of that is just technical—I make too many things happen at once so you have to decide what you’re going to look at, and whatever you’re looking at, you’re not looking at something else. Someone else may be looking at that, and I deliberately set up confusing situations sometimes so that the audience is making their own choices. I like that. It’s what separates live theater from TV or film. In television or film, your gaze is always channeled. You are not consulted; you’re told where we’re going to look next. What I love about opera is that your mind wanders, and my job is to set up an interesting landscape to wander in. No two people come out having smelled the same clump of flowers…

I don’t like to watch people think onstage. I like to watch people do things. I don’t want to know what I think Nixon’s thinking. If I can get Nixon to do the things that Nixon does, then it’s up to the audience to decide what he’s thinking. That’s where it gets interesting. If I say, “Nixon is thinking this,” and stage it accordingly, then it blots out any possibility of interpretation on the part of the audience. So I just say, “Here’s a person who’s done the following things. Now you tell me what he’s thinking.” Then it gets interesting, and the range of reaction becomes wonderful. In theater, psychology is overrated…My way of direction is extremely simple. If I say, “Go over here, pick up the glass of water and drink it,” that’s what I expect.

Peter Sellars, in an interview with Bruce Duffie

Written by nevalalee

July 9, 2018 at 7:30 am

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