Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Possibility as the Great Good

If life were merely a habit, I should commit suicide; but even now, more or less desperate, I cannot but think, "Something wonderful may happen."  It is not optimism, it is a rejection of self-pity (I hope) which leaves a loophole for life. . .I merely choose to remain living out of respect for possibility.  And possibility is the great good. - Frank O'Hara

Monday, November 21, 2011

On Therapy

Marx believed that revolution would change social relations. Instead we prefer a status quo that widens the opportunity for entry into it, but cannot be challenged except at the edges. The challenge of a developing self is to be prepared to change. We can tinker with our own edges and make ourselves more inclusive, more open, and all that is good. But we made need more than that. The purpose of therapy as Freud knew, is to find a safe place for a revolution. That’s a contradiction in terms, but it is accurate. I never used to understand therapy. I thought everything could be done by effort and an act of will and on your own. Very stupid. - Jeanette Winterson

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The eternally present & fleeting fugitive prey of poetry

     [It is not] by absence of mind and dreaming that one can impose on speech such precious and rare arrangements.  The true condition of a true poet is as distinct as possible from the state of dreaming.  I see in it only willed inquiry, suppleness of thought, the soul's assent to exquisite constraints, and the perpetual triumph of sacrifice.
     It is the very one who wants to write down his dream who is obliged to be extremely wide awake. . .
     Whoever says exactness and style invokes the opposite of a dream; whoever meets these in a work must presuppose in its author all the labor and time he needed to resist the permanent dissipation of his thoughts. . . And the more restless and fugitive the prey one covets, the more presence of mind and power of will one needs to make it eternally present in its eternally fleeting aspect. - Paul Valéry

Monday, November 14, 2011

Frank O'Hara on Avoiding Monotony

If de Kooning says that what he really is interested in is Poussin; that's his way of not being bored with Kandinsky when all the world is looking at Kandinsky.  That attitude may only work for two years, but that doesn't matter in the life of the artist as long as it energizes him to produce more works that are beautiful. . .[the painting of Larry Rivers] has taught me to be more keenly interested while I'm still alive.  And perhaps this is the most important thing art can say.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Art vs Habit

Habit devours everything, objects, clothes, furniture, your wife and the fear of war. . . That which we call "art" exists in order to remedy our perception of life, to make things felt, to make the stone stony.  The purpose of art is to evoke in man a sensation of things, to make him perceive things rather than merely recognize them.  In order to do so art uses two devices: making things strange and complicating the form, so as to increase the duration and the difficulty of perception. - Victor Shklovsky

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The tectonic shift of visiting Paris

I come here to live another life, connected to but not identical to my own. I read different books. I speak (not well) a different language. I eat different food and change my usual habits. Consequently I think about things differently, and when that happens, I remember things differently too. This is striking and surprising, as though the layers and layers of time and mind and experience and capacity will re-order themselves if given the opportunity to do so. I felt relief this morning walking over the Pont Neuf with the dog. The relief was not just the happiness of a short break, though it was that too, but it was also a tectonic shift in my social relations with myself and my life. We are in relation to ourselves, and that can change, stretch, recolour, recode. - Jeanette Winterson

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Love of Art (for enhancing consciousness)

We have an interval, and then our place knows us no more. Some spend this interval in listlessness, some in high passions, the wisest, at least among "the children of this world," in art and song. For our one chance lies in expanding that interval, in getting as many pulsations as possible into the given time. Great passions may give us this quickened sense of life, ecstasy and sorrow of love, the various forms of enthusiastic activity, disinterested or otherwise, which come naturally to many of us. Only be sure it is passion - that it does yield you this fruit of a quickened, multiplied consciousness. Of such wisdom, the poetic passion, the desire of beauty, the love of art for its own sake, has most. For art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments' sake. - Walter Pater

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coltrane's Glorious Mistakes

Imperfections are not imperfect, they are indications of a song that is already there, differences, what makes matter matter.  There are no mistakes, there are only failures of recognition.  All problems can be solved musically.  On one of those umpteen Miles Davis box sets, there are three takes of a single song: in the first Coltrane hits an obviously off note, a clam it's called in the recording industry, in the second take he hits it again, at a different point, augments it, chooses it, this is Coltrane, man, so by the third time, it's not a wrong note, it's an integral part of the joyous soul-remaking power of his solo.  The intellect moves us too surely and easily to self-hating and the perfection of death. - Dean Young