Friday, January 20, 2017
Notes for a commonplace book (21)
If a man gives up poetry for power,
He shall have lots of power.
— Mark Strand, "The New Poetry Handbook"
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
— Mark 8:36
A man without a moral code is just an appetite.
— Peter Blegvad, "King Strut"
When I was first in Czechoslovakia, it occurred to me that I work in a society where as a writer everything goes and nothing matters, while for the Czech writers I met in Prague, nothing goes and everything matters.
— Philip Roth (1975 interview)
À l'aurore, armés d'une ardente patience, nous entrerons aux splendides Villes. (At dawn, armed with a burning patience, we shall enter the splendid Cities.)
— Arthur Rimbaud, "Adieu"
You can hold back from the suffering of the world, you have free permission to do so and it is in accordance with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could have avoided.
— Franz Kafka, "Reflections on Sin, Pain, Hope, and the True Way" (Muir translation)
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"
We are ugly but we have the music.*
— Leonard Cohen, "Chelsea Hotel No. 2"
*Also, he could have added, the art, literature, history, nature, science, scholarship, compassion, friendship, integrity, conscience, regret, resistance, subtlety, memory, imagination, humor, seriousness, curiosity...
Image: George Herriman's Krazy Kat, exact source unknown.
Update: one more, too good not to include:
The world is a dog's curly tail – no matter how many times we straighten it out, it keeps curling back. As artists we aspire to console, uplift and inspire. To unite us through sound across boundaries and borders and dissolve lines of demarcation that separate. The beautiful thing is that as human beings, even under the most adverse conditions, we are capable of kindness, compassion and love. Vision and hope. All life is one. Who knows, maybe one day we'll succeed. We go forward.