I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness that characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.
It says that if you fool other people into thinking you aren’t afraid than you won’t be. And I don’t believe this at all. I believe that you can only be unafraid if you find out what it is you fear and conquer it. All the pretense in the world won’t help you otherwise. At least that’s what I believe. It is a thin show which covers its thinness with luxury.
-John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel
Sorrow is so woven through us, so much a part of our souls, or at least any understanding of our souls that we are able to attain, that every experience is dyed with its color. This is why, even in moments of joy, part of that joy is the seams of ore that are our sorrow. They burn darkly and beautifully in the midst of joy, and they make joy the complete experience that it is. But they still burn.
Transparence is the highest, most liberating value in art—and in criticism—today. Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are.
Ours is a culture based on excess, on overproduction; the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience. All the conditions of modern life—its material plenitude, its sheer crowdedness—conjoin to dull our sensory faculties…What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.
-Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation
You are the crazy acrobat.
You are the witch, I am your cat.
I want to be a bit like you, I hope you don’t mind
if I do.
I want to be made out of love,
I want to be made into life.
I love the way you take a walk,
and all the things that you see with your eyes.
Oh to be that distant thought,
some growing meaning in your mind.
Acrobat, Angel Olsen
If I’d grown up in a different land,
one with lighter days and slimmer hours,
I would have made for you a great fete,
and my hands would not have held you
the way they often do, clenched and afraid.
I would have been bold and squandered you,
you boundless Now.
I would have hurled you
like a ball
into every billowing delight, so that someone
could catch you and leap
with high hands to meet your fall,
you thing of things.
Rilke, from The Book of Hours