quotes



scandal and provocation
"Sterile, today, and foolish is the polemic of those who consider an experiment a failure because of the fact that it is accepted as normal: this means going backward to the worn-out Utopia of the early avant-garde… we will perhaps have to give up that arrière-pansée,… whereby any external scandal caused by a work can be considered a guarantee of its worth. The very dichotomy… between a work for popular consumption and a work for provocation… should perhaps be re-examined… I believe it will be possible to find elements of revolution and contestation in works that apparently lend themselves to facile consumption, and it will also be possible to realize, on the contrary, that certain works, which seem provocative and still enrage the public, do not really contest anything."

/ Umberto Eco (1932 – 2016), afterword "The Name of the Rose"


art
"There's one rule in art, which is eternal: We don't want to be bored."

/ Kurt Tucholsky (1890 - 1935)


communication
"...there is this myth that we can know each other. And I've never really believed it. At the same time, I'm a great believer in the attempt to at least negotiate with mutual unknown-ness. And I'm a great believer in the effort to communicate. But I kind of assume that inarticulacy is the norm and that all we can do is grunt at each other in the dark, really."

/ Tilda Swinton (b. 1960), interviewed by David Schwartz


music
"Music isn't a language; it's not its task to express meanings with its sounds. Music stands for itself, it does not refer to anything beyond itself."

/ Iannis Xenakis (1922 - 2001), in "Balint Andras Varga, Conversations with Iannis Xenakis 1980 – 1989, 1st part (1980)"


painting
"If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint it."

/ Edward Hopper (1882 - 1967)


dance
"If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it."

/ Isadora Duncan (1877 - 1927)


Text
"If you rely on words … words may lead you to certain truths – perhaps also to certain untruths – but certainly not to the entire truth."

/ Douglas R. Hofstadter (b. 1945), "Gödel Escher Bach", 1979 (back-translation from German!)


"About that, of which one cannot speak, one must remain silent."

/ Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951)


pseudo-
intellectualism
"Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loath."

/ Haruki Murakami (b. 1949), "Kafka on the Shore", 2003


discipline
"...For discipline is the channel in which our acts run strong and deep; where there is no direction, the deeds of men run shallow, and wander, and are wasted."

/ Ursula Le Guin (b. 1929), "The Farthest Shore", 1973


fantasy
" –  More strange than true...
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
...
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
...
 –  But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigur'd so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable."

/ William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"


" 'Imagining other worlds,' he explained, 'is the best way to forget how miserable the one we live in is. At least that's what I thought back then. I hadn't realised, that when you imagine other worlds, you end up changing this one, too.' "

/ Umberto Eco (b. 1932), "Baudolino", 2000


"The only thing a work of art can do, is to waken a longing for a different state of the world. And this longing is revolutionary."

/ Heiner Müller (1929 – 1995)


- 'Tell me one last thing', said Harry. 'Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?' ...
- 'Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?' "

/ J. K. Rowling (b. 1965), "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", 2007


balance
- And you,... what do you seek?
- I seek balance.
- Have you lost it then? Have you possessed it?
- It is my profession to lose it evermore, so as to regain it evermore. That is what you call dancing."

/ Michael Ende (1929 - 1995), "Mirror in the Mirror", 1984