Dead Men Talking…

Oops.  Dead women talk too!  It so often is the work and words of long deceased writers that affect me.  But, here are some of my favorite quotes from both the living and the dead, male and female.  I hope they become your favorites too:

  • “Be Careless, Reckless!  Be a Lion!  Be a Pirate!  When You Write.”
    (from If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland.)
  • “…sing your faith in what you
    get to eat right up to the
    minute you are eaten
    for you are going
    to be eaten…”
    (from “the robin and the worm,” Archy and Mehitabel, by Don Marquis.)
    (from Barbara Kruger’s installation at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.)
  • Let not young souls be smothered out before
    They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
    It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull,
    It’s poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.
    Not that they starve, but starve so dreamlessly;
    Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap;
    Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve;
    Not that they die, but that they die like sheep.
    (The Leaden-Eyed, by Rachel Lindsay.)
  • “…no book is genuinely free from political bias.  The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.”
    (from Why I Write, by George Orwell.)
  • “Historical truth is not archaeological truth… .  History can convey genuine truth through fictional figures, allegories and myths. …fables can tell a truth.  Fiction is not a fib.  Job existed, whether or not he ‘truly’ existed.  He exists  in the minds of countless readers, who discussed him and argued about him for millennia.  Job, like Macbeth and Ivan Karamazov, exists as textual truth.”                                                   (from Jews and Words, pp. 55-56, by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger.)
  • “…As every journalist knows, truth is never really the issue in the public mind.  The dominant story is what concerns the readers of tabloids and broadsheets alike, and anything which contradicts it, no matter how convincing the evidence, merely becomes a marginalized alternative.”                                                                      (from “The Third Jungle Book,” by Michael Moorcock, in Paraspheres, 2006, at p.64.)
  • “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field [a cosmos ! ].  I’ll meet you there.”
    (Jelaluddin Rumi 1207-1273 )  (I thank Melanie Rae Thon for my exposure to this quote.)
  • “If I’ve accomplished anything at all, it’s not because of work but because of play.”
    (attributed to Mark Twain, in Vladimir Pištalo’s novel, Tesla: A Portrait with Masks.)
  • “There’s nothing worse than stumbling upon a prejudice people believe they don’t have.”
    (from Vladimir Pištalo’s Tesla:  A Portrait with Masks.)
  • “‘Write from your own experience’ is fine for the writing class, useless to the writer.”(from Testimony Against Gertrude Stein in Jeanette Winterson’s book, Art Objects, Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery.)
  • “The riskiness of art, the reason why it affects us, is not the riskiness of its subject matter, it is the risk of creating a new way of seeing, a new way of thinking.”
    ((from Testimony Against Gertrude Stein in Jeanette Winterson’s book, Art Objects, Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery.)
  • Doremus…discovered that mere figures are defenseless against a dream…
    (from It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis.)
  • …write what you know will always be excellent advice for those who ought not to write at all.  Write what you think, what you imagine, what you suspect:  that is the only way out of the dead end of the Serious Novel which so many ambitious people want to write and no one on earth…wants to read.
    (from Gore Vidal’s essay, “Thomas Love Peacock:  The Novel of Ideas,” published in The Second American Revolution and Other Essays (1976-1982), and originally published in the New York Review of Books, December 4, 1980.)
  • “Nothing shows so clearly that they [writers] have been tamed as their concentration on ‘interpersonal relationships’ and the absence from their works of any reference to politics or economics –i.e., to man in his social context… Of course, one has no right to hand the author a list of issues and say, ‘Base your next play or novel on one of these.’ But one does have the right to demand complexity, texture, depth, and a sense of the layerdness and many-sideness of life. This, the prestige writers are, for the most part, unable to convey.”
    (From Margaret Halsey’s The Pseudo Ethic.)