Friday, July 7, 2023

Double Troubles Part 4

A friend recently told me he’d been up to Carmel North Hospital and thought he’d seen me in the distance. “Was that you?” he asked. “Are you OK?” I assured him I was fine but that wasn’t me he’d seen—it was probably my double.

We’re all supposed to have at least one doppelgänger—a “double walker” who so closely resembles us even a close friend would have difficulty spotting the difference. Was the woman my friend saw a Flo from another timeline that intersected with ours for a moment? A long-lost twin the ‘rents neglected to tell me about for some reason? An alien who found my appearance appealing for a disguise? A clone from a secret laboratory under Carmel North?

Here is a fun “A Doppelgänger Field Guide” featuring possibilities I hadn’t thought of:

John has seen my doppelgänger a couple of times. It’s a few days before Christmas, 1979. I start wrapping presents and discover the Stretch Spider-Man we bought for three-year-old Eoin is leaking! This is something he really wants, so that means trekking to Children’s Palace and exchanging it without Eoin figuring out what we are doing. (This is a BIG present for him, a surprise.) John drops me off at the entrance to the store on West 38th St. and he and Eoin wait in the car not far from the front. That night I’m wearing a distinctive grey cape-coat my mom had given me the year before. I didn’t wear it often because, without sleeves, it was impractical for winter weather.

The store is crowded with holiday shoppers coming and going, and John is surprised to see me come out after only 10-15 minutes. Eoin sees me, too, and yells, “It’s Mommy!” They know it’s me because I am wearing the unusual cape-coat, besides being the right height and general size with long brown hair holding a shopping bag that contains a box the right size for the toy. John says, “Let’s go get Mommy!” and pulls up to the entrance, keeping an eye on me the whole time. But then the figure steps behind a pillar—and disappears. He parks the car, gets out, and starts looking around. Then he walks over to the front window and sees me at the Service desk—halfway through a line of forty customers! Why did I go back into the store? How did I get back in there so fast? The figure he’d seen looked exactly like me. Weird.

Fast forward to summer of 1993. I’m job-hunting, laid off from running a mainframe for AARP (the whole shebang shut down, leaving more than 100 people out of a job). I don’t relish the idea of working downtown but figure what the heck, I’ll apply at Merchants Bank for a job in MIS. This time, John sits alone in the food court on the third floor of Claypool Court on the NW corner of Washington and Illinois and waits for me to come up the escalators. After business was taken care of, we planned to get a coke and share fond memories of times spent there with Eoin--one of our favorite things to do as a family was to go downtown and shop at magazine stores that stocked periodicals we couldn’t get at your friendly neighborhood drugstore—computer magazines like Antic, Analog, ST Express and ST World, esoteric ones like Weird Tales and Magical Blend, etc.—not to mention Fangoria, Famous Monsters, and Cinefantastique! (And it was really exciting when the stores selling computer magazines stocked an issue with one of John’s articles in it!) Then we’d tromp over to the food court at Claypool Court for a coke and share our finds.

Anyhow, that day I’m looking very spiffy, wearing new dusky rose slacks and fuchsia suit jacket with a nice flowery blouse, good shoes, long brown-gray hair curled, leather purse over my shoulder and carrying a briefcase. I’d say my hair was my most distinguishing feature (besides the elan with which I carried myself). So, John is waiting for me, doesn’t know how long I’ll be because I might get an interview if they take one glance at my application and decide they must speak to such a qualified candidate immediately, and he sees me riding the first escalator. Same outfit, purse, briefcase, curled hair. Oh, good, he’s thinking, she’s done. He watches me come up the second escalator and get off on the third floor. Then I step behind a post—and promptly disappear! John is looking all around, wondering, What the heck? Did she go into a shop? If one of the stores there was currently stocking a magazine with one of his articles, we’d go in together. A few minutes later he looks down and sees me—same rose and fuchsia outfit, good shoes, leather purse, briefcase, curled hair—coming in the entrance on the ground floor heading for the escalator. There wasn’t time for me to go down two floors—by escalator, elevator, stairs, or bungee cord—and leave the building and come back in and why would I do that in the first place? Strange. (Hey, maybe my double got the job at Merchants, because they never called me in for an interview.)

I always wonder, if it was my double either time, how did she know exactly what I was going to wear when I didn’t even know myself until the last minute, going through clothes in the closet.

Traditionally, doppelgängers are bad omens but I’m not really bothered by the idea—as long as they don’t get too close! I wonder how difficult it would be to impersonate me and take over my life—scary thought!

And what would I do if I met my double face-to-face? What would she do? Would she share my philosophical take on the situation and start asking me a zillion questions or attack me as an impostor?

John has met several people who have encountered his doppelgänger and has written several blogs about it. One guy insisted he was that person, that they hung out all the time, and why was he lying! The guy almost got violent. Here are his blogs about his experiences:

Have you ever encountered your double or someone who has? Has anyone ever treated you strangely because they thought you were someone else? That would be a horror story…

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Wise words


Thoughts on writing from authors born May 23:

from American journalist, critic, and women's rights advocate Margaret Fuller (Woman in the Nineteenth Century) (1810-1850):

Art can only be truly art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.

Essays, entitled critical, are epistles addressed to the public, through which the mind of the recluse relieves itself of its impressions.


from American children’s book author Margaret Wise Brown (Noisy Book series, The Runaway Bunny, Goodnight Moon, The Color Kittens) (1910-1952):

In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child's need for quietness is the same today as it has always been—it may even be greater—for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.

A good picture book can almost be whistled. ... All have their own melodies behind the storytelling.

There is a loving way with words and an unloving way. And it is only with the loving way that the simplicity of language becomes beautiful.

A child's own story is a dream, but a good story is a dream that is true for more than one child.

We speak naturally but spend all our lives trying to write naturally.

I don't think I'm essentially interested in children's books. I'm interested in writing, and in pictures. I'm interested in people and in children because they are people.

I wish I didn't have ever to sign my long name on the cover of a book, and I wish I could write a story that would seem absolutely true to the child who hears it and to myself.


from English children's book author Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising series, The Boggart, King of Shadows) (b. 1935):

The truth is that every book we read, like every person we meet, has the capacity to change our lives. And though we can be sure our children will meet people, we must, must create, these days, their chance to meet books.

Poets find truth by writing about what they love.

Any great gift of power or talent is a burden ... But there is nothing to be done. If you were born with the gift, then you must serve it, and nothing in this world or out of it may stand in the way of that service, because that is why you were born and that is the Law.


from German-born American writer Ursula Hegi (Floating in My Mother's Palm, Stones from the River) (b. 1946):

I don't write for an audience. I write for myself. And if I imagine an audience at all, it's the characters, but I know that I would keep writing even if no one ever published me again, even if no one ever read me again.

"Now the purpose of her stories had changed. She spun them to discover their meaning. In the telling, she found, you reached a point where you could not go back, where-as the stories changed—it transformed you, too.”


from American poet, translator, and essayist Jane Kenyon (From Room to Room, Constance, The Boat of Quiet Hours, Let Evening Come, Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova, A Hundred White Daffodils) (1947-1995):

A poet's job is to find a name for everything; to be a fearless finder of the names of things.

The poet's job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.

Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.

My ear is not working, my poetry ear. I can't write a line that doesn't sound like pots and pans falling out of the cupboard.


from Israeli religious author Yehuda Berg (The 72 Names of God: Technology for the Soul, The Power of Kabbalah) (b. 1972):

Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. What counts is completion. Look at your life and all the half-finished projects sitting on your shelf. Commit to taking on one of these ideas and finishing what you started.


from American non-fiction writer Nicolas Cole (Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, The Art and Business of Online Writing) (b. 1990):

Give away 99% of your best writing for free. Monetize the last 1%.

In the game of Online Writing, volume wins.

The Golden Intersection of great writing is: Answering The Reader’s Question by Telling Them An Entertaining Story

You are not the main character in your story. The reader is.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Wise words

Thoughts on reading and writing from authors born May 16:

from English novelist and short-story writer H. E. Bates CBE (Love for Lydia, The Darling Buds of May, My Uncle Silas) (1905-1974):

The basis of almost every argument or conclusion I can make is the axiom that the short story can be anything the author decides it shall be;...In that infinite flexibility, indeed lies the reason why the short story has never been adequately defined.


from American Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Studs Terkel ("The Good War": An Oral History of World War II) (1912-2008):

People are hungry for stories. It's part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality too. It goes from one generation to another.


from American poet, essayist, and feminist Adrienne Rich (A Change of World, The Diamond Cutters, and Other Poems, Diving into the Wreck, On Lies, Secrets and Silence, Atlas of the Difficult World) (1929-2012):

The moment of change is the only poem.

Art, whose honesty must work through artifice, cannot avoid cheating truth.

Lying is done with words, and also with silence.

[Poetry] is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.

When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.

To write as if your life depended on it; to write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public the words you have dredged; sieved up in dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence—words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist.

Poetry can open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire.

Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language, which is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in the universe.

The words are purposes./The words are maps./I came to see the damage that was done/and the treasures that prevail.

I believe that words can help us move or keep us paralyzed, and that our choices of language and verbal tone have something—a great deal—to do with how we live our lives.


from American young adult fiction author Bruce Coville (The Magic Shop series, My Teacher Is an Alien series, I Was a Sixth Grade Alien series, The Unicorn Chronicles, Shakespeare Retellings) (b. 1950):

But, really, why does anyone create? You feel a...a restlessness inside, a need to make something new, something no one has ever seen before. You want to add to the beauty and the richness of the world with a gift, an offering that is uniquely yours. It's an act of selfishness and generosity, all rolled into one.

Every book is like starting over again. I've written books every way possible—from using tight outlines to writing from the seat of my pants. Both ways work.


from American self-help author Richard Carlson (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff... and it’s all Small Stuff series) (1961-2006):

Reading is a gift. It's something you can do almost anytime and anywhere. It can be a tremendous way to learn, relax, and even escape. So, enough about the virtues of reading. Time to read on.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Wise words


Thoughts on Art from creative people born May 9:

from Spanish philosopher and essayist José Ortega y Gasset (“I am I, and my circumstance”) (España invertebrada, La rebelión de las masas) (1883-1955):

The metaphor is perhaps the most fruitful power of man. Its efficacy verges on magic, and it seems a tool for creation which God forgot inside one of His creatures when He made him.

Poetry is adolescence fermented, and thus preserved.

The poet begins where the man ends. / The man's lot is to live his human life, / the poet's to invent what is nonexistent.


from American author and illustrator of children’s books William Pène du Bois (The Twenty-One Balloons, Bear Party, Lion); co-founded The Paris Review (1916-1993):

Half of this story is true and the other half might very well have happened.


from English Tony-winning dramatist Alan Bennett (Beyond the Fringe, The History Boys); also noted for A Private Function, Prick Up Your Ears, Single Spies, The Madness of George III, Talking Heads, The Lady in the Van (b. 1934):

Books are not about passing time. They're about other lives. Other worlds.

Definition of a classic: a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.

The best moments in reading are when you come across something—a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things—which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.

The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included. Literature, she thought, is a commonwealth; letters a republic.

Authors, she soon decided, were probably best met within the pages of their novels, and were as much creatures of the reader's imagination as the characters in their books. Nor did they seem to think one had done them a kindness by reading their writings. Rather they had done one the kindness by writing them.

I write plays about things that I can't resolve in my mind. I try to root things out.

I'm all in favour of free expression provided it's kept rigidly under control.

You don't put your life into your books, you find it there.


from Serbian American Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Laureate Charles Simic (The World Doesn't End); also noted for Selected Poems 1963-1983, Unending Blues (b. 1938):

The secret wish of poetry is to stop time.

Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them.

Poetry: three mismatched shoes at the entrance of a dark alley.

The highest levels of consciousness are wordless.

One writes because one has been touched by the yearning for and the despair of ever touching the Other.

Poems are other people's snapshots in which we see our own lives.

At least since Emerson and Whitman, there's a cult of experience in American poetry. Our poets, when one comes right down to it, are always saying: This is what happened to me. This is what I saw and felt. Truth, they never get tired of reiterating, is not something that already exists in the world, but something that needs to be rediscovered almost daily.

The religion of the short poem, in every age and in every literature, has a single commandment: Less is always more. The short poem rejects preamble and summary. It's about all and everything, the metaphysics of a few words surrounded by much silence. …The short poem is a match flaring up in a dark universe.

There's no preparation for poetry.

A poem is an instant of lucidity in which / the entire organism participates.

Only poetry can measure the distance between ourselves and the Other.

Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket.

Words make love on the page like flies in the summer heat and the poet is only the bemused spectator.

The world is beautiful but not sayable. That's why we need art.

The poem I want to write is impossible. A stone that floats.


from American Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham (The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994); also noted for The End of Beauty, Sea Change, P L A C E, From the New World: Selected Poems 1976-2014, Fast, Runaway (b. 1950):

What poetry can, must, and always will do for us: it complicates us, it doesn't soothe.

The primary function of the creative use of language—in our age—is to try to constantly restore words to their meanings, to keep the living tissue of responsibility alive.

A poem is a private story, after all, no matter how apparently public. The reader is always overhearing a confession.

If there is anything I love most, in the poems I love, it is the audible braiding of that bravery, that essential empty-handedness, and that willingness to be taken by surprise, all in one voice.

I think I am probably in love with silence, that other world. And that I write, in some way, to negotiate seriously with it. Because there is, of course, always the desire, the hope, that they are not two separate worlds, sound and silence, but that they become each other, that only our hearing fails.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Wise words


Thoughts on Art from creative people born May 2:

from German poet Novalis (Hymns to the Night, Spiritual Songs) (1772-1801):

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.

To romanticize the world is to make us aware of the magic, mystery and wonder of the world; it is to educate the senses to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, the finite as infinite.

In a work of art, chaos must shimmer through the veil of order.

Novels arise out of the shortcomings of history.

Genius in general is poetic. Where genius has been active it has been poetically active. The truly moral person is a poet.


from American detective fiction writer Martha Grimes (Richard Jury series, Emma Graham series) (b. 1931):

You can't be blocked if you just keep on writing words. Any words. People who get “blocked” make the mistake of thinking they have to write good words.

“Polly was a writer of many deadlines. There were the ignorable deadlines, the not-to-be-taken-too-seriously deadlines: the deadlines-before-the-deadlines deadlines, and finally, the no-kidding-around deadlines. She set these various dates, she'd told him, to fool herself." (Rainbow's End)

I read somewhere that we never completely forget a thing, that there are the imprints of everything we’ve ever seen or done, all of these tiny details at the bottoms of our minds, like pebbles and weeds that never surface from a river bottom.

I love stories. I just enjoy telling stories and watching what these characters do—although writing continues to be just as hard as it always was.

There are people who read Tolstoy or Dostoevski who do not insist that their endings be happy or pleasant or, at least, not be depressing. But if you're writing mysteries—oh, no, you can't have an ending like that. It must be tidy.

I'm constantly battling writer's block; it usually takes me two hours to write anything.

Writing is an antisocial act.


from American romance novelist Anne Stuart (Ice series, The House of Rohan series, Banish Misfortune, Falling Angel, Winter's Edge, 100 + more); received Romance Writers of American Lifetime Achievement Award (b. 1948):

The beginning of a story can come from absolutely anywhere. A line in a song. A dog food commercial. A painting. A bad movie (bad movies are quite often good inspiration – you watch them and start thinking about how they could do it right).

I day dream. I scribble notes and ideas in a notebook, so that I have a general form for what I’m going to be writing. And then I jump into it, feet first. Definitely no details, no outlines, just vague scenes. Scenes do come into my head like a movie, but the weird thing is, I’m such a writer I tend to fantasize in words. I’m not kidding.

Characters always take on a life of their own, god bless them. Since I don’t plan too much ahead I’d be royally screwed if they didn’t. Sometimes they go in the wrong direction, and then I have to rein them in, but usually they go places that are fascinating and unexpected and move the story along in exciting ways.

... in order to survive that childhood, I took refuge in fantasy – in reading, and in telling myself stories. And not for a moment would I trade it in for a peaceful, serene life.

If we don't risk it all, we may as well not write at all.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Wise words


Thoughts on Art from creative people born April 25:

from British poet, fiction writer, playwright, and editor Walter de la Mare (Songs of Childhood, Poems, Memoirs of a Midget, Crossings, Come Hither, Collected Stories for Children) (1873-1956):

That is one of the pleasures of reading—you may make any picture out of words you can and will; and a poem may have as many different meanings as there are different minds.

All day long the door of the sub-conscious remains just ajar; we slip through to the other side, and return again, as easily and secretly as a cat.


from American author Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy-Tacey novel series) (1892-1980):

Betsy returned to her chair, took off her coat and hat, opened her book and forgot the world again.

Isn't it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.

I cannot remember back to a year in which I did not consider myself to be a writer, and the younger I was the bigger that capital "W."


from Spanish novelist Corín Tellado ((Boda clandestina, Incomprensión, Lucha Oculta, La Novia viuda, Desde el Corazon, El Testamento); wrote more than 4,000 books (1927-2009):

I'm not a romantic or write romance novels. I am positive and sensitive, and I write novels of feelings, which is not the same. For me, the novel can be sentimental, it does not bother me that I am pigeonholed in the pink novel, but it is evident that many ignore that the pink denomination comes from when the covers of the novel were of that color. Love never goes out of style and although my novels may resemble each other, they are all different. Heartbreak is what is most present in them.

To insinuate he taught me censorship, because he said things clearly and that was rejected. There were months that I was rejected up to 4 novels. Some novels came with so many underlines that there was hardly any black handwriting left. I was taught to insinuate, to suggest rather than to show. I learned to tell the same thing but with subtlety, so I never left anything to say.

I have sacrificed my life to literature. I hurt myself. But I will stop writing, when my head falls on the machine. I don't give up.


from American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author J. Anthony Lukas (“The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzpatrick,” Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families) (1933-1997):

All writers, I think, are to one extent or another, damaged people. Writing is our way of repairing ourselves.

I firmly believe that any good journalist must essentially be temperamentally an outsider. I don't think full sense of belonging and security is conducive to creativity.

If the noun is good and the verb is strong, you almost never need an adjective.


from American Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Laureate Ted Kooser (Delights & Shadows); also noted for Sure Signs, One World at a Time, Weather Central, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry, House Held Up By Trees) (b. 1939):

The poem is the device through which the ordinary world is seen in a new way—engaging, compelling, even beautiful.

There are mornings when everything brims with promise, even my empty cup.

There's nothing wrong with delighting in what you do. In fact, most of the fun you'll have as a poet will come about during the process of writing.

a happy birthday this evening, I sat by an open window and read till the light was gone and the book was no more than a part of the darkness. I could easily have switched on a lamp, but I wanted to ride the day down into night, to sit alone, and smooth the unreadable page with the pale gray ghost of my hand

If I don't take the risk, I'll wind up with a bloodless poem. I have to be out there on the edge.


from English poet and journalist James Martin Fenton (Terminal Moraine, A Vacant Possession, The Memory of War, Children in Exile: Poems 1968-1984, All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of the Pacific Rim, Manilla Envelope, Out of Danger) (b. 1949):

The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.

Imitation, if it is not forgery, is a fine thing. It stems from a generous impulse, and a realistic sense of what can and cannot be done.

My feeling is that poetry will wither on the vine if you don't regularly come back to the simplest fundamentals of the poem: rhythm, rhyme, simple subjects—love, death, war.

A poem with grandly conceived and executed stanzas, such as one of Keats's odes, should be like an enfilade of rooms in a palace: one proceeds, with eager anticipation, from room to room.

I don't see that a single line can constitute a stanza, although it can constitute a whole poem.

For poets today or in any age, the choice is not between freedom on the one hand and abstruse French forms on the other. The choice is between the nullity and vanity of our first efforts, and the developing of a sense of idiom, form, structure, metre, rhythm, line—all the fundamental characteristics of this verbal art.

An aria in an opera—Handel's 'Ombra mai fu,' for example—gets along with an incredibly small number of words and ideas and a large amount of variation and repetition. That's the beauty of it. It's not taxing to the listener's intelligence because if you haven't heard it the first time round, it'll come around again.


from American novelist and memoirist Darcey Steinke (Up Through the Water, Suicide Blonde, Jesus Saves, Milk, Sister Golden Hair, Easter Everywhere) (b. 1962):

When you write you have to reside in the unknown for as long as possible.


from American novelist Seth King (The Summer Remains, All We Ever Wanted) (b. 1989):

If eyes are windows into the soul, books are rabbit holes into the imagination.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Wise words

Thoughts on Art from creative people born April 18:

from English philosopher, writer, critic, editor, actor, and scientist George Henry Lewes (The Biographical History of Philosophy, The Leader, The Life and Works of Goethe, Actors and Acting, Problems of Life and Mind) (1817-1878):

Personal experience is the basis of all real Literature.

Insight is the first condition of Art.

Philosophy and Art both render the invisible visible by imagination.

The object of Literature is to instruct, to animate, or to amuse.

All great authors are seers.

No man was ever eloquent by trying to be eloquent, but only by being so.

Endeavour to be faithful, and if there is any beauty in your thought, your style will be beautiful; if there is any real emotion to express, the expression will be moving.

All bad Literature rests upon imperfect insight, or upon imitation, which may be defined as seeing at second-hand.

Imagination is not the exclusive appanage of artists, but belongs in varying degrees to all men.

The public can only be really moved by what is genuine.

Good writers are of necessity rare.

Speak for yourself and from yourself, or be silent.


from American journalist, novelist, and playwright Richard Harding Davis (Harper's Weekly, Gallegher and Other Stories, Soldier of Fortune, Ransom's Folly) (1864-1916):

The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or a new thing in an old way.


from English-born American conductor Leopold Stokowski (Philadelphia Orchestra) (1882-1977):

Music comes from the heart and returns to the heart... music is spontaneous, impulsive expression... its range is without limit... music is forever growing... music can be one element to help us build a new conception of life in which the madness and cruelty of wars will be replaced by a simple understanding of the brotherhood of man.

The highest reaches of music come thrillingly close to the central core and essence of life itself.

I believe in a passionately strong feeling for the poetry of life—for the beautiful, the mysterious, the romantic, the ecstatic—the loveliness of Nature, the lovability of people, everything that excites us, everything that starts our imagination working, LAUGHTER, gaiety, strength, heroism, love, tenderness, every time we see—however dimly—the godlike that is in everyone and want to kneel in reverence.

As a boy I remember how terribly real the statues of the saints would seem at 7 o'clock Mass—before I'd had breakfast. From that I learned always to conduct hungry.

It's hard to put into words the impact of the perfect lyric, melody or contagious beat that moves you in an unexpected way. Authors, composers and artists have tried—and here we've rounded up our favorite quotes that help to begin forming structure around such an unspoken universal force. Which are most meaningful to you? If you had to sum up the power of music and sound in one sentence, what would you say? "A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence."


from Hungarian-American Oscar-winning composer Miklós Rózsa (Spellbound, A Double Life, Ben-Hur); also noted for Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, The Killers, The Red House, The Asphalt Jungle, Lust for Life, The Power, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1907-1995):

Emotions in a film come from elements that may be completely asymmetrical, like a kaleidoscope. Music is the element that keeps the different elements together, because it has continuity and rhythm. Music is the most abstract element in a film, full of impressionistic effects, but it usually has the most symmetry. That is why music should underline drama, not create it. It may be even worse today, the use of what in Hollywood is called wall-to-wall music, but even then many producers and directors did not understand the importance of silence.

I believe in music as a form of communication; for me it is more an expression of emotion than an intellectual or cerebral crossword puzzle... I am a traditionalist, but I believe tradition can be so recreated as to express the artist’s own epoch while preserving its relationship with the past.


from American experimental writer Kathy Acker (Great Expectations, Blood and Guts in High School, Empire of the Senseless) (1944-1997):

Women need to become literary "criminals," break the literary laws and reinvent their own, because the established laws prevent women from presenting the reality of their lives.

Well, I think writing is basically about time and rhythm. Like with jazz. You have your basic melody and then you just riff off of it. And the riffs are about timing.

The only reaction against an unbearable society is equally unbearable nonsense.

Literature is that which denounces and slashes apart the repressing machine at the level of the signified.

There must be a secret hidden in this book or else you wouldn't bother to read it.

Everytime you read, you are walking among the dead, and, if you are listening, you just might hear prophecies.

First of all, writing at best—certainly fiction writing—more and more I think is magic.

A novel is a book with a lot of pages.


from Ukrainian-Russian-Jewish-American poet and critic Ilya Kaminsky (Dancing in Odessa, Deaf Republic) (b. 1977):

I believe that no great lyric poet ever speaks in the so-called “proper” language of his or her time. Emily Dickinson didn’t write in “proper” English grammar but in slant music of fragmentary perception. Half a world and half a century away, Cesar Vallejo placed three dots in the middle of the line, as if language itself were not enough, as if the poet’s voice needed to leap from one image to another, to make—to use Eliot’s phrase—a raid on the inarticulate. Paul Celan wrote to his wife from Germany, where he briefly visited from his voluntary exile in France: “The language with which I make my poems has nothing to do with one spoken here, or anywhere.”

Erase everything you have written, Mandelstam says, but keep the notes in the margin.