*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
True art provides us with truth in a manner analogous to science. Its prophetic dimension – its knack for showing us the side of things that our interests blind us to – make it a source of knowledge, even though it is knowledge of a kind that instrumental reason has little time for. The psychologists who revolutionized our understanding of human psychology in the earliest twentieth century drew on two principal sources to build their concepts: the dream life of their patients and the great art of the past. Without this recognition of the primacy of imagination, Freud and Jung could never have drawn their maps of the psyche. Those who work for a better world would do well to follow their example and find the guiding patterns of life in the prophetic artistic works of the past and present. Only art can act as a counter-weight to that uniquely modern mentality that, wherever it becomes the only game in town, seeks to persuade us that the proper goal of human beings is to contain, dissect, and control everything – that even the most persistent mysteries are just problems to be solved.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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Interviewer: Your work includes a great range of experience, as well as of form. What do you think is the greatest quality a poet can have? Is it formal, or is it a quality of thinking?
Ezra Pound: I don’t know that you can put the needed qualities in hierarchic order, but he must have a continuous curiosity, which of course does not make him a writer. but if he hasn’t got that he will wither. And the question of doing anything about it depends on a persistent energy. A man like Agassiz is never bored, never tired. The transit from the reception of stimuli to the recording, to the correlation, that is what takes the whole energy of a lifetime.
Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews Second Series, edited by George Plimpton and introduced by Van Wyck Brooks
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