*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Interviewer: Well, to begin – do you feel that you were born in a place and a time, and to a family all of which combined favorably to shape you for what you were to do?
Wilder: Comparisons of one’s lot with others’ teaches us nothing and enfeebles the will. Many born in an environment of poverty, disease, and stupidity, in an age of chaos, have put us in their debt. By the standards of many people, and by my own, these dispositions were favorable – but what are our judgments in such matters? Everyone is born with an array of handicaps – even Mozart, even Sophocles – and acquires new ones. In a famous passage, Shakespeare ruefully complains that he was not endowed with another’s “scope”! We are all equally distant from the sun, but we all have a share in it. The most valuable thing I inherited was a temperament that does not revolt against Necessity and that is constantly renewed in Hope. (I am alluding to Goethe’s great poem about the problem of each man’s “lot” – the Orphische Worte).
Thornton Wilder in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews First Series, edited, and with an introduction by Malcolm Crowley
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
I am a storyteller, for better and for worse. I suspect that a feeling for stories, for narrative, is a universal human disposition, going with our powers of language, consciousness of self, and autobiographical memory.
The act of writing, when it goes well, gives me a pleasure, a joy, unlike any other. It takes me to another place – irrespective of my subject – where I am totally absorbed and oblivious to distracting thoughts, worries, preoccupations, or indeed the passage of time. In those rare, heavenly states of mind, I may write nonstop until I can no longer see the paper. Only then do I realize that evening has come and that I have been writing all day.
Over a lifetime, I have written millions of words, but the act of writing seems as fresh, and as much fun, as when I started it nearly seventy years ago.
On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
Comments are welcome!