Tag Archives: quote

The preface to “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

–Oscar Wilde

Word. (courtesy of Hunter)


 
(via – or see more Hunter S Thompson quotes here)

Bye bye Maurice

The Guy Quote – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, well clever and well tall. He was only president for four years, from 1861 until his assassination in 1865, but in that short time he led his country through enormous change and adversity. We’re talking constitutional, military and moral crisis (American Civil War), during which he preserved the Union, ended slavery, sorted out the economy and the financial system. And this on top of a brutal route to office. I liked doing this post. His quotes aren’t too fancy, they’re practical and meaty and some of them are very funny. He must have been a very skilled judge of character. Wonder what his voice sounded like.


“Some day I shall be President.”

No silver spoons here. Lincoln was born into a poor family on the western frontier. Mostly self-educated, he started out as a country lawyer, then became a state legislator and a one-term member of the House of Representatives…the rest was grind.

[this next bit is edited from Wikipedia] In 1859-60, he opposed the expansion of slavery in the US in his campaign debates and speeches, secured the Republican nomination and was elected president in 1860. Before Lincoln took office in March, seven southern slave states declared their secession and formed the Confederacy. When war began with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, Lincoln concentrated on both the military and political dimensions of the war effort, seeking to reunify the nation. He vigorously exercised unprecedented war powers, including the arrest and detention without trial of thousands of suspected secessionists. He prevented British recognition of the Confederacy by skillfully handling the Trent affair late in 1861. His efforts toward abolition include issuing his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and encouraging Congress to propose what would become the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including commanding general Ulysses S. Grant. He brought leaders of various factions of his party into his cabinet and pressured them to cooperate…Each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another until finally Grant succeeded in 1865.

As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, Lincoln found his policies and personality were “blasted from all sides”: Radical Republicansdemanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats desired more compromise, Copperheads despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists plotted his death. Politically, Lincoln fought back with patronage, pitted his opponents against each other, and appealed to the American people with his oratory. His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became the most quoted speech in American history. It was an iconic statement of America’s dedication to the principles of nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.

At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. But six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre.

A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Don’t worry when you are not recognised, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.

Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old.

I can make more generals, but horses cost money.

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.

Everybody likes a compliment.

I will prepare and some day my chance will come.

What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.

Whatever you are, be a good one.

No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.

Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.

Avoid popularity if you would have peace.

I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.

When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.

These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all.

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.

When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.

There is another old poet whose name I do not now remember who said, “Truth is the daughter of Time.”

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

He has a right to criticise, who has a heart to help.

Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.

Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible.

The Gettysburg address:

NB. read it out loud, don’t just read it to yourself.

(short backstory – an amazing piece of oratory delivered to commemorate soldiers who fell in the war, ten sentences and two minutes in which he redefined the Civil War as a struggle not just for preserving the Union but as “a new birth of freedom”, also compare it with Pericles’ Funeral Speech if you like this sort of thing)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

[[ps – please check out some of my other quote collections here – The Guy Quote]]

The Guy Quote – Lucian Freud

Freud was born in Berlin but his father, Ernst, moved the family to England in 1933 to skip the rise of Nazism. Grandson of Sigmund Freud, elder brother of Clement Freud (who told the world’s funniest joke), he seems to have chosen to paint without much fuss or fanfare – it’s what he was meant to do. He was one of a group of artists in Britain at the time, the “School of London”, which along with Francis Bacon and a few others concentrated on figurative painting. He had a pretty crazy personal life (many lovers, at least 14 kids) – but there’s plenty on that elsewhere.

Freud’s subjects, who needed to make a very large and uncertain commitment of their time, were often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. He said, “The subject matter is autobiographical, it’s all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really.” However the titles were mostly anonymous, and the identity of the sitter not always disclosed; the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire had a portrait of one of Freud’s daughters as a baby for several years before he mentioned who the model was.

In the 1970s Freud spent 4,000 hours on a series of paintings of his mother, about which art historian Lawrence Gowing observed “it is more than 300 years since a painter showed as directly and as visually his relationship with his mother. And that was Rembrandt.” For me, the ones of his mum are the most emotive of all. She was in a deep depression at the time as Ernst had died, and you can instantly feel that mood in the room, almost disengaged (he couldn’t paint her before because she was too animated and interested in him) as she stares into space.

A prodigious worker, Freud spent a huge amount of time on his paintings, and always needed to have the subject in the room. He’d work in five-hour sessions, and a single painting easily take over two thousand hours to complete. He’d start by drawing in charcoal, then paint a small area of the canvas, and gradually work outward from there. For a new sitter, he often started with the head as a means of “getting to know” the person, then painted the rest of the figure, eventually returning to the head as his comprehension of the model deepened. A section of canvas was intentionally left bare until the painting was finished, as a reminder that the work was in progress. The finished painting is an accumulation of richly worked layers of pigment, as well as months of intense observation.

It’s crazy – the closer you get, the more abstract the paint becomes. I can’t imagine how he could stare intently at someone’s mouth, say, then go to the canvas and carve a green slash into a thick layer of paint on it, and yet, from a metre away, it looks exactly perfectly right in tone and texture and everything. Astonishing. And a lot of people talk about the distance between artist and subject, or the odd perspective (he often painted from above) and the inherent anger, but to be honest I didn’t necessarily get that. To me it almost makes things more intimate, like he’s there, but not necessarily intruding, a bit like Dad coming in and waking you up for school or something. There’s a familiarity to it and passion, but I’m not sure anger is the word I’d use.

I also really like the way he does people’s foreheads. Quotes below – and they’re relevant for all types of artist, writers, singers, painters, the works.

“There is a distinction between fact and truth. Truth has an element of revelation about it. If something is true, it does more than strike one as merely being so.”

“I would wish my portraits to be of the people, not like them. Not having a look of the sitter, being them.”

“The model should only serve the very private function for the painter of providing the starting point for his excitement. The picture is all he feels about it, all he thinks worth preserving of it, all he invests it with.”

“A painter must think of everything he sees as being there entirely for his own use and pleasure.”

“Now that I know what I want, I don’t have to hold on to it quite so much.”

“Painting is sometimes like those recipes where you do all manner of elaborate things to a duck, and then end up putting it on one side and only using the skin.”

“Full, saturated colours have an emotional significance I want to avoid.”

“The aura given out by a person or object is as much a part of them as their flesh.”

“The painter must give a completely free rein to any feeling or sensations he may have and reject nothing to which he is naturally drawn.”

“I remember Francis Bacon would say that he felt he was giving art what he thought it previously lacked. With me, it’s what Yeats called the fascination with what’s difficult. I’m only trying to do what I can’t do.”

“A painter’s tastes must grow out of what so obsesses him in life that he never has to ask himself what it is suitable for him to do in art.”

“The subject matter is autobiographical, it’s all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement really.”

“The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.”

“I paint people, not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”

“What do I ask of a painting? I ask it to astonish, disturb, seduce, convince.”

(To Martin Gayford about his portrait) “The picture of you has always been linked in my head with the one of the back end of the skewbald mare.”

“I think half the point of painting a picture is that you don’t know what will happen. Perhaps if painters did know how it was going to turn out they wouldn’t bother actually to do it.”

“The only secret I can claim to have is concentration, and that’s something that can’t be taught.”

“I could never put anything into a picture that wasn’t actually there in front of me. That would be a pointless lie, a mere bit of artfulness.”

“The painting is always done very much with [the model’s] co-operation. The problem with painting a nude, of course, is that it deepens the transaction. You can scrap a painting of someone’s face and it imperils the sitter’s self-esteem less than scrapping a painting of the whole naked body.”

“I don’t want any colour to be noticeable… I don’t want it to operate in the modernist sense as colour, something independent… Full, saturated colours have an emotional significance I want to avoid.”

“The aura given out by a person or object is as much a part of them as their flesh. The effect that they make in space is as bound up with them as might be their colour or smell … Therefore the painter must be as concerned with the air surrounding his subject as with the subject itself. It is through observation and perception of atmosphere that he can register the feeling that he wishes his painting to give out.”

“A painter must think of everything he sees as being there entirely for his own use and pleasure.”

(On Models) “And, since the model he faithfully copies is not going to be hung up next to the picture, since the picture is going to be there on its own, it is of no interest whether it is an accurate copy of the model.”

The Guy Quote – Alfred Hitchcock

A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it.

Actors are cattle.

I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.

Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.

Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.

Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.

Give them pleasure – the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.

I have a perfect cure for a sore throat: cut it.

I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them.

In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director.

In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man.

Revenge is sweet and not fattening.

Self-plagiarism is style.

Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.

Television is like the American toaster, you push the button and the same thing pops up everytime.

There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.

There is nothing to winning, really. That is, if you happen to be blessed with a keen eye, an agile mind, and no scruples whatsoever.

When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation?, ‘ I say, ‘Your salary.’

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[[ps – please check out some of my other quote collections here – The Guy Quote]]

Love is evil

I’ve blogged a few nuggets by Slovenian philosopher Zlavod Zizek a couple of times before (once on the hypocrisy of conscious consumerism, once on America’s own problems with fundamentalists). Now it’s time to listen to him on love.

The man

does not

hold back.

“Love feels like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all small pleasures.”

Hmm.

Anyway, if you liked that, you might like this article by Kathleen O’Dwyer, which goes into a little more detail on his thoughts on and attempts at unraveling the nature of love. Here’s a taster from the intro:

The postmodern psychoanalyst-philosopher Slavoj Žižek is noted for his flamboyant style, his embrace of contradiction, and his often controversial exposure of the dualities, deceptions and disavowals which characterize contemporary culture. Reflecting on these aspects of Žižek’s work, his biographer Tony Myers states that “Slavoj Žižek is a philosopher. He is, however, no ordinary philosopher, for he thinks and writes in such a recklessly entertaining fashion, he constantly risks making philosophy enjoyable.” What makes Žižek different from ‘ordinary philosophers’, according to Myers, is his persistent sense of wonder and amazement, which he expresses in a limitless questioning of everything: “With all the guile of a child asking his parents why the sky is blue, Žižek questions everything that passes for wisdom about who we are, what we are doing and why we do it.” As an astute commentator on historical and contemporary disasters and difficulties, Žižek examines political, social and individual issues with a combination of philosophical reflection and cultural analysis. One such issue is the concept of neighbourly love.

Žižek’s analysis of the Christian injunction ‘to love one’s neighbour as oneself’ queries both its possibility and its expediency. His argument centres on the assertions that the universal love so promoted disavows that which is unlovable in human nature, and that love must in some sense be an autonomous decision (simply, that love cannot be commanded)…[read the rest here]