Saturday, July 30, 2005

quotations from an old notebook

"Of all vices, [drinking tea] creates the mildest illusions, and an instant hallucination of general brightness. This last is something that coffee fails to do, for coffee merely forces us to think we are awake and fit to face the world."

--Horace Gregory

"[Skepticism:] The attitude assumed by the student in relation to particulars which society adores, but which he sees to be reverend only in their tendency and spirit."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"What a sense of superiority it gives one to escape reading a book which everyone else is reading."

--Alice James

"Life may be compared to a piece of embroidery, of which, during the first half of his time, a man gets a sight of the right side, and during the second half, of the wrong. The wrong side is not so pretty as the right, but it is more instructive; it shows the way in which the threads have been worked together."


"There is a difference between one and another hour of life in their authority and subsequent effect. Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual. Yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to acribe more reality to them than to all other experiences."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Instead of delighting in the artistic object, people delight in their own emotions, the work being only the cause and the alcohol of their pleasure."

--José Ortega y Gasset

"In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Don't put in what you want to say and then fill up the vacuums with slush."

--Ezra Pound

"Contrary to those romantic myths which glorify the speech of mountain men and working people, Irish elves and Phoenician sailors, the words which in our language are worst off are the ones the worst-off use. Poverty and isolation produce impoverished and isolated minds, small vocabularies, a real but fickle passion for slang, most of which is like the stuff which Woolworth's sells for ashtrays, words swung at random, wildly, as though one were clubbing rats, or words misused in an honest but hopeless attempt to make do, like attacking tins with toothpicks; there is a dominance of cliché and verbal stereotype, an abundance of expletives and stammer words: you know, man, like wow! neat, fabulous, far-out, sensaysh. I am firmly of the opinion that people who can't speak have nothing to say. It's one more thing we do to the poor, the deprived: cut out their tongues...allow them a language as lousy as their lives."

--William Gass

"In order to become a great composer, one needs an enormous amount of knowledge...which one does not acquire from listening only to other people's music, but even more from listening to one's own."


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