An artist is the magician put among men to gratify--capriciously--their urge for immortality. The temples are built and brought down around him, continuously and contiguously, from Troy to the fields of Flanders. If there is any meaning in any of it, it is in what survives as art, yes even in the celebration of tyrants, yes even in the celebration of nonentities. What now of the Trojan War if it had been passed over by the artist's touch? Dust. A forgotten expedition prompted by Greek merchants looking for new markets. A minor redistribution of broken pots. But it is we who stand enriched, by a tale of heroes, of a golden apple, a wooden horse, a face that launched a thousand ships--and above all, of Ulysses, the wanderer, the most human, the most complete of all heroes--husband, father, son, lover, farmer, soldier, pacifist, politician, inventor and adventurer...
Your scorn for mediocrity blinds you to its vast primitive power. You stand in the glare of your own brilliance, unable to see into the dim corners of the room, to dilate your eyes and see the potential dangers of the mass, the wad of humanity. Even as I tell you this, dear student, you cannot quite believe that lesser men, in whatever numbers, can really defeat you. But we are in the age of the mediocre man. He is dull, colorless, boring — but inevitably victorious. The amoeba outlives the tiger because it divides and continues in its immortal monotony. The masses are the final tyrants. See how, in the arts, Kabuki wanes and withers while popular novels of violence and mindless action swamp the mind of the mass reader. And even in that timid genre, no author dares to produce a genuinely superior man as his hero, for in his rage of shame the mass man will send his yojimbo, the critic, to defend him. The roar of the plodders is inarticulate, but deafening. They have no brain, but they have a thousand arms to grasp and clutch at you, drag you down.
They are here to help pack the gold, mistress. The women wouldn't be able to do it quickly enough , but I reverently ask that you don't tell them I said so. The last time I said anything about Cook's culinary arts, I ate burned food for a week and when I said anything to your lady's maid about how she should do more to help to help you, she put double of starch into my sheets when she ironed them.... She scorched a hole in the sheets at the foot of the bed and my toes got caught in it in the middle of the night.
What would you think of an engineer who expounded the art of flying without revealing the secrets of the engine and propeller? That's what you do, you engineer of the human soul. Just that. You're a coward. You want the raisins out of my cake but you don't want the thorns of my roses. Haven't you too, little psychiatrist, been cracking silly jokes about me? Haven't you ridiculed me as "the prophet of bigger and better orgasms"? Have you never heard the whimpering of a young wife whose body has been desecrated by an impotent husband? Or the anguished cry of an adolescent bursting with unfulfilled love? Does your security still mean more to you than your patient? How long will you go on valuing your respectability above your medical mission? How long will you refuse to see that your pussyfooting procrastination is costing millions their lives?
Die Wissenschaft ist ein Land, welches die Eigenschaft hat, um so mehr Menschen beherbergen zu können, je mehr Bewohner sich darin sammeln; sie ist ein Schatz, der um so grösser wird, je mehr man ihn teilt. Darum kann jeder von uns in seiner Art seine Arbeit tun, und die Gemeinsamkeit bedeutet nicht Gleichförmigkeit.Science is one land, having the ability to accommodate even more people, as more residents gather in it; it is a treasure that is the greater the more it is shared. Because of that, each of us can do his work in his own way, and the common ground does not mean conformity.
If there’s a thing, a scene, maybe, an image that you want to see real bad, that you need to see but it doesn’t exist in the world around you, at least not in the form that you envision, then you create it so that you can look at it and have it around, or show it to other people who wouldn’t have imagined it because they perceive reality in a more narrow, predictable way. And that’s it. That’s all an artist does.
Well, Daddy, I used to believe that artists went crazy in the process of creating the beautiful works of art that kept society sane. Nowadays, though, artists make intentionally ugly art that’s only supposed to reflect society rather than inspire it. So I guess we’re all loony together now, loony rats in the shithouse of commercialism.
Beauty! Wasn't that what mattered? Beauty was hardly a popular ideal at that jumpy moment in history. The masses had been desensitized to it, the intelligentsia regarded it with suspicion. To most of her peers, 'beauty' smacked of the rarefied, the indulgent, the superfluous, the effete. How could persons of good conscience pursue the beautiful when there was so much suffering and injustice in the world? Ellen Cherry's answer was that if one didn't cultivate beauty, soon he or she wouldn't be able to recognize ugliness. The prevalence of social ugliness made commitment to physical beauty all the more essential. And the very presence in life of double-wide mobile homes, Magic Marker graffiti, and orange shag carpeting had the effect of making ills such as poverty, crime, repression, pollution, and child abuse seem tolerable. In a sense, beauty was the ultimate protest, and, in that it generally lasted longer than an orgasm, the ultimate refuge. The Venus de Milo screamed 'No!' at evil, whereas the Spandex stretch pant, the macrame plant holder were compliant with it. Ugly bedrooms bred ugly habits. Of course, it wasn't required of beauty that it perform a social function. That was what was valuable about it.
Mockingbirds are the true artists of the bird kingdom. Which is to say, although they're born with a song of their own, an innate riff that happens to be one of the most versatile of all ornithological expressions, mocking birds aren't content to merely play the hand that is dealt them. Like all artists, they are out to rearrange reality. Innovative, willful, daring, not bound by the rules to which others may blindly adhere, the mockingbird collects snatches of birdsong from this tree and that field, appropriates them, places them in new and unexpected contexts, recreates the world from the world. For example, a mockingbird in South Carolina was heard to blend the songs of thirty-two different kinds of birds into a ten-minute performance, a virtuoso display that serve no practical purpose, falling, therefore, into the realm of pure art.
After the monkeys came down from the trees and learned to hurl sharp objects, they had had to move into caves for protection--not only from the big predatory cats but, as they began to lose their monkey fur, from the elements. Eventually, they started transposing their hunting fantasies onto cave walls in the form of pictures, first as an attempt at practical magic and later for the strange, unexpected pleasure they discovered in artistic creation. Time passed. Art came off the walls and turned into ritual. Ritual became religion. Religion spawned science. Science led to big business. And big business, if it continues on its present mindless, voracious trajectory, could land those of us lucky enough to survive its ultimate legacy back into caves again.
That afternoon he told me that the difference between human beings and animals was that human beings were able to dream while awake. He said the purpose of books was to permit us to exercise that faculty. Art, he said, was a controlled madness… He said books weren't made of themes, which you could write essays about, but of images that inserted themselves into your brain and replaced what you were seeing with your eyes.
Others Exonerated the plebs and threw the blame upon the patricians: it was owing to their artful canvassing that the plebeians found the road to office blocked; if the plebs might have a breathing-spell from the mingled prayers and menaces of the nobles, they would think of their friends when they went to vote, and to the protection they had already won would add authority. It was resolved in order to do away with canvassing, that the tribunes should propose a law forbidding anyone to whiten his toga, for the purpose of announcing himself a candidate. This may now appear a trivial thing and one scarcely to be considered seriously, but at the time it kindled a furious struggle between the patricians and the plebs. Yet the tribunes prevailed and carried their law: and it was clear that the plebeians in their irritated mood would support the men of their own order.
Berlin was charismatic in the roguish way of a love... It was a lover who was a little dangerous in ways that didn't always show, keeping you a bit on edge, a bit in love and endlessly forgiving because he made her feel that she was exactly where she was meant to be... Berlin made you like who you were when you were there, as if everything worth being a part of in the world - all those modern ideas about sex and art and women; all that possibility - was right there, in its dark, beating heart.