Thursday, July 01, 2010

A conjunction of quotations #10

— edited by Ryland Walker Knight

Jacob Langvad


The attitude that nature is chaotic and that the artist puts order into it is a very absurd point of view, I think. All that we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves.
Willem de Kooning


Nature's above art in that respect. There's your press money. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper. Draw me a clothier's yard. Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace, this piece of toasted cheese will do't. There's my gauntlet. I'll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O, well flown, bird; i' th' clout, i' th' clout — whew! Give the word.
They flattered me like a dog, and told me I had the white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were there. To say "ay" and "no" to everything that I said "ay" and "no" to was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter, when the thunder would not peace at my bidding, there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They told me I was everything; 'this a lie, I am not ague-proof.


The divide between Heaven and Hell isn't a gulf of intellect but of sensibility. Detractors balk at the obstacles to comprehension; defenders prize the challenge and excitement of this same intractability. With the recent passing of Stan Brakhage, no other living film maker has so ceaselessly lived up to Pound's great battle cry: Make it new! That's the simple secret to the passion of those of us who love him.
Nathan Lee


    Fix. Colloquial in America for arrange, prepare, mend. The usage is well established. But bear in mind that this verb is from figere: "to make firm," "to place definitely." These are the preferred meanings of the word.
Strunk & White


Since the Photograph is pure contingency and can be nothing else (it is always something that is represented)—contrary to the text which, by the sudden action of a single word, can shift a sentence from description to reflection—it immediately yields up those "details" which constitute the very raw material of ethnological knowledge. When William Klein photographs "Mayday, 1959" in Moscow, he teaches me how Russians dress (which after all I don't know): I note a boy's big cloth cap, another's necktie, an old woman's scarf around her head, a youth's haircut, etc. I can enter still further into such details, observing that many of the men photographed by Nadar have long fingernails: an ethnographical question: how long were nails worn in a certain period? Photography can tell me this much better than painted portraits. It allows me to accede to an infra-knowledge; it supplies me with a collection of partial objects and can flatter a certain fetishism of mine: for this "me" which likes knowledge, which nourishes a kind of amorous preference for it. In the same way, I like certain biographical features which, in a writer's life, delight me as much as certain photographs; I have called these features "biographemes"; Photography has the same relation to History that the biographeme has to biography.
Roland Barthes


I may not cook the best tripe and onions in England, but whoever gets me won't have to worry about his plumbing.
Cluny Brown


And yet the fact remains that in the broad cultural mainstream of millennial America, men do not wear skirts. If you, the reader, are a US male, and even if you share my personal objections to pants and ream as I do of a cool and genitally unsquishy American Tomorrow, the odds are still 99.9 percent that in 100 percent of public situations you wear pants/slacks/shorts/trunks. More to the point, if you are a US male and also have a US male child, and if that child might happen to come to you one evening and announce his desire/intention to wear a skirt rather than pants to school the next day, I am 100 percent confident that you are going to discourage him from doing so. Strongly discourage him. You could be a Molotov-tossing anti-pants radical or a kilt manufacturer or Dr. Steven Pinker himself—you're going to stand over your kid and be prescriptive about an arbitrary, archaic, uncomfortable, and inconsequentially decorative piece of clothing. Why? Well, because in modern America any little bot who comes to school in a skirt (even, say, a modest all-season midi) is going to get stared at and shunned and beaten up and called a total geekoid by a whole lot of people whose approval and acceptance are important to him.* In our present culture, in other words, a boy who wears a skirt is "making a statement" that is going to have all kinds of gruesome social and emotional consequences for him.
* In the case of little Steve Pinker Jr., these people are the boy's peers and teachers and crossing guards. In the case of adult cross-dressers and drag queens who have jobs in the straight world and wear pants to those jobs, it's bosses and coworkers and customers and people on the subway. For the die-hard slob who nevertheless wears a coat and tie to work, it's mostly his boss, who doesn't want his employees' clothes to send clients "the wrong message." But it's all basically the same thing.
David Foster Wallace


Most women I know are reluctant to say, 'I am better than her, and her, and her - OK, I'll keep going.' And most men I know rely, when necessary, on some formulation of exactly that. Plus women have not only each other to compete against (in devious and exhausting ways, requiring much track-covering and nice-making as they go) but men to envy; because it's still the case that women writers are compared to each other, and the big (as opposed to, say, lyrical) literary novel persists as an essentially male category. Women's books are still not talked about in the same way men's books are, and women are still sensitive to that.
Kathryn Chetkovich


Go, dumb-born book,
Tell her that sang me once that song of Lawes:
Hadst thou but song
As thou hast subjects known,
Then were there cause in thee that should condone
Even my faults that heavy upon me lie,
And build her glories their longevity.

Tell her that sheds
Such treasure in the air,
Recking naught else but that her graces give
Life to the moment,
I would bid them live
As roses might, in magic amber laid,
Red overwrought with orange and all made
One substance and one colour
Braving time.

Tell her that goes
With song upon her lips
But sings not out the song, nor knows
The maker of it, some other mouth,
May be as fair as hers,
Might, in new ages, gain her worshippers,
When our two dusts with Waller's shall be laid,
Siftings on siftings in oblivion,
Till change hath broken down
All things save Beauty alone.

Ezra Pound


In short, representation may well become infinite; it nevertheless does not acquire the power to affirm either divergence or decentering. It requires a convergent and monocentric world: a world in which one is only apparently intoxicated, in which reason acts the drunkard and sings a Dionysian tune while none the less remaining 'pure' reason. The ground or sufficient reason is nothing but a means of allowing the identical to rule over infinity itself, and allowing the continuity of resemblance, the relation of analogy and the opposition of predicates to invade infinity. This is the originality of sufficient reason: better to ensure the subjection of difference to the quadripartite yoke. The damage is done not only by the requirement of finite representation, which consists of fixing a propitious moment for difference, neither too large nor too small, in between excess and default; but also by the apparently contrary requirement of infinite representation, which purports to integrate the infinitely large and the infinitely small of difference, excess and default themselves. The entire alternative between finite and infinite applies very badly to difference, because it constitutes only an antinomy of representation.
Gilles Deleuze


It was rather an opposite frame of mind in which Parmenides found his doctrine of being. On a certain day and in a certain frame of mind he tested his two interactive contradictories, whose mutual desire and hatred constitute the world and all coming-to-be. He tested the existent and the nonexistent, the positive and the negative properties-and suddenly he found that he could not get past the concept of a negative duality, the concept of non-existence. Can some-thing which is not be a quality? Or, more basically, can something which is not, be? For the only single form of knowledge which we trust immediately and absolutely and to deny which amounts to insanity is the tautology A = A. But just this tautological insight proclaims inexorably: What is not, is not. What is, is. And suddently Parmenides felt a monstrous logical sin burdening his whole previous life. Had he not light-heartedly always assumed that there are such things as negative qualities, nonexistent entities, that, in other words, A is not A? But only total perversity of thinking could have done so. To be sure, he reflected, the great mass of people had always made the same perverse judgment; he had merely participated in a universal crime against logic. But the same moment that shows him his crime illuminates him with a glorious discovery. He has found a principle, the key to the cosmic secret, remote from all human illusion. Now, grasping the firm and awful hand of tautological truth about being, he can climb down, into the abyss of all things.


To read is to dream, guided by someone else's hand. To read carelessly and distractedly is to let go of that hand. To be only superficially learned is the best way to read well and be profound.


As the above examples demonstrate, Muriel is cluttered with emblems of itself and its operations. In fact, absolutely everything in the film comes to stand as potential emblem, and Muriel forever runs the risk of seeming utterly overdetermined, an airless and rather literary conceit in which themes and images are forever reflecting back to a central premise. What saves the film from this and sets up its unique tension is its parallel urge to dispersal and expansion—an apparently insatiable and obviously impossible desire to include more and more detail, to record every nook and vantage of the city and to represent the full continuum of the lives of its characters through seemingly random selection, including a fair proportion of the apparently unmarked and "in-between" moments of daily life.
B. Kite


And I been 'fessing double fast
Addressing questions nobody asked
I'll get this joy off of my chest at last
And I will love you 'til the noise has long since passed

And I did not mean to shout, just drive
Just get us out, dead or alive
A road too long to mention, lord, it's something to see!
Laid down by the good intentions paving company

All the way to the thing we've been playing at, darlin'
I can see that you're wearing your staying hat, darlin'
For the time being all is well
Won't you love me a spell?

This is blindness beyond all conceiving
Well, behind us the road is leaving, yeah, leaving
And falling back
Like a rope gone slack

Well, I saw straight away that the lay was steep
But I fell for you, honey, as easy as falling asleep
And that right there is the course I keep...
Joanna Newsom


Love has got to stop somewhere short of suicide.
Sam Dodsworth

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't heard that reading quote before :) It reminded of C.S. Lewis "We read to know we are not alone".