A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blundering Like Don Quixote

One of my compulsions is to 'collect' quotations. I'd like to share a few which have struck me over recent months . . .

I could not simplify myself.

IVAN TURGENEV From Nezhdanov’s suicide note in Virgin Soil

We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.

HENRY JAMES From The Middle Years

The deeper the feeling, the greater the pain.


How many times now
have I crossed over hill crests

with the image

of blossoms leading me on —

toward nothing but white clouds?


The Lord walks among the pots and pans.


At this stage in my life, I think it's all about the soft stuff. I don't give a damn about what you know or what you do if you can't be kind. I want the art of you before I'll tangle with the science of you. Talk to me so that I might know who you are. Be naked in the vocabulary of kindness.


Everbody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.


A writer is not so much someone who has something to say 
as . . . someone who has found a process that will bring about new 
things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say 

My morning writing would begin for me by getting up about four 
o'clock . . . I lie down on the living room couch in front of a 
big picture window which looks out on our quiet neighbourhood. 
The giant fir trees, . . . rhododendrons and so on outside. I'm lying 
there relaxed, I have a blank sheet in front of me. I put the date on 
top, and I start letting whatever swims into my attention get 
written down on the page . . . I welcome anything that comes along.  
I don't have any standards . . . I am not trying to contend for a 
place in magazines or in books. I'm just letting my attention flow 
where it wants to flow. And the relaxation of it is part of the charm 
for me.

. . . if you're lost enough, then the experience of now is your guide 
to what comes next. None of us knows what comes the next second.

Let me plead, not for ignoring advice from wherever it comes, but 
for allowing in your own life the freedom to pay attention to your 
feelings while finding your way through language . . . Into the 
unknown you must plunge, carrying your compass . . . You must 
make 'mistakes'; that is, you must explore what has not been 
mapped out for you . . . Like Don Quixote . . . you must loosen the 
reins and go blundering into adventures that await any traveller 
in this multilevel world . . . and like Don Quixote you must expect 
some disasters. You must write your bad poems and stories; for to 
write carefully as you rove forward is to guarantee that you will 
not find the unknown, the risky, the surprising. Art is an activity in 
which the actual feel of doing it must be your guide; hence the 
need for confidence, courage, independence.


Armor is fine, but it keeps you from knowing what the weather is like.


You're perfect as you are — and there's always room for improvement.



Anonymous said...

" someone who has found a process that will bring about new
things..." Absolutely. And it applies whatever one is creating.

George said...

What a fabulous and welcome gift on this fine Sunday morning! As a fellow collector of quotes, I don't think I have never seen most of these quotes, and each one is a delight. I would comment on a favorite, but I think they are all favorites at this point.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Human language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when all the time we are longing to move the stars to pity.

All of us are standing in the gutter but few of us are looking at the stars.

Jen said...

You must add the first line of Dante's Inferno!!! Remember, he ended up in Heaven by the end ;)

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark forest,
For the straightforward path had been lost.

Dante Alighieri

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for these extra quotations.

Vagabonde said...

I like your quotations. Here is another, it is in French and I’ll try to translate it.

La vie c'est de l'eau.
Si vous mollissez le creux de la main,
vous la gardez.
Si vous serrez les poings,
vous la perdez." Jean Giono

Life is like water
If you soften the palm of your hand,
You keep it.
If you tighten your fist,
You lose it. – Jean Giono

And here is another good one by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: "On ne peut montrer le chemin
à celui qui ne sait où aller." (We cannot show a path to the one who does not know where to go.)

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Vagabonde, for this further quotation.