* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Two facts differentiate Daybook from my work in visual art.
The first is the simple safety of numbers. There are 6500 Daybooks in the world. My contribution to them was entirely mental, emotional. I never put my hand on a single copy of these objects until I picked up a printed book. I made no physical effort; no blood, no bone marrow moved from me to them. I do not mean that I made no effort. On the contrary, the effort was excruciating because it was so without physical involvement, so entirely hard-wrought out of nothing physical at all; no matter how little of the material world goes into visual art, something of it always does, and that something keeps you company as you work. There seems to me no essential difference in psychic cost between visual and literary effort, The difference is in what emerges as result. A work of visual art is painfully liable to accident; months of concentration and can be destroyed by a careless shove. Not so 6500 objects. This fact gives me a feeling of security like that of living in a large, flourishing, and prosperous family.
Ancillary to this aspect is the commonplaceness of a book. People do not have to go much out of their way to get hold of it, and they can carry it around with them and mark it up, and even drop it in a tub while reading in a bath. It is a relief to have my work an ordinary part of life, released from the sacrosanct precincts of galleries and museums. A book is also cheap. Its cost is roughly equivalent to its material value as an object, per se. This seems to me more healthy than the price of art, which bears no relation to its quality and fluctuates in the marketplace in ways that leave it open to exploitation. An artist who sells widely has only to mark a piece of paper for it to become worth an amount way out of proportion to its original cost. This aspect of art has always bothered me, and is one reason why I like teaching; an artist can exchange knowledge and experience for money in an economy as honest as that of a bricklayer.
Anne Truitt in Turn: The Journal of an Artist
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What one writes at twenty-one is a cry, does one think of a cry that it ought to have been cried differently? The language is still so thin about one in these years, the cry pierces through and just takes along what is left clinging to it. The development will always be this, that one makes one’s language fuller, thicker, firmer (heavier), and of course there is sense in that only for one who is sure that the the cry too is growing in him ceaselessly, irresistibly, so that later, under the pressure of countless atmospheres, it will issue evenly from every pore of the almost impenetrable medium…
Talent, you understand, scarcely has significance any more in our day, since a certain dexterity of expression has become general, where is it not? Hence succeeding still means something only where the highest, utmost is achieved, and then one is again liable to think that just this unsurpassable something, once it appears in person, is in itself successful.
And so there is no real ground for concern, only that we want never to remain behind our heart and never to be in advance of it: that is probably needful. Thus we arrive at everything, each at what is his.
Jane Bannard Greene and M.D. Herter Norton editors, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1910 – 1926
Comments are welcome!