A Few Quotations

"I am sure it is everyone's experience as it has been mine that a discovery we make about ourselves or the meaning of life is never like a scientific discovery, a coming upon something entirely new and unsuspected. I think it is rather coming to conscious recognition of something which we really knew all the time, but because we were unwilling or unable to formulate it correctly, we did not hitherto know we knew."

-- W. H. Auden

"We come to terms as well as we can with our lifelong exposure to the world, and we use whatever devices we may need to survive. But eventually, of course, our knowledge depends upon the living relationship between what we see going on and ourselves. If exposure is essential, still more so is the reflection. Insight doesn't happen often on the click of the moment, like a lucky snapshot, but comes in its own time and more slowly and from nowhere but within. The sharpest recognition is surely that which is charged with sympathy as well as shock -- it is a form of human struggle through any pain or darkness in nothing but the hope that we may receive it, and through any term of work in the prayer to keep it."

-- Eudora Welty, One Time, One Place (1971)

"You don't need supernatural powers to do things that are not allowed in this world of ours. You can find the cloak of invisibility wherever you are. It is a cloak made from a humble, insignificant weave. If you occupy a lowly station in life, you're sure to be "seen through", to be treated as if you were invisible. . . . Dressed in this cloak of invisibility, you can achieve things nobody can ever take away. . . .

The ways of the world and the complexity of human relations are even more delightful and intriguing than the bright moon and the clear breeze. They can be read like a book or enjoyed like a play. . . .

The real world is often stranger than fiction, so strange that it leaves us shocked and astounded. It possesses a more vital worth, a more wondrous ability to delight. Only the humble person has the opportunity of observing the reality behind the ways of the world, as opposed to the spectacle of the art performed for an audience."

-- Yang Jiang, in a 1987 essay in Geremie Barme and Linda Jaivin,
New Ghosts, Old Dreams: Chinese Rebel Voices

"When people go to the ocean, they like to see it all day. . . . There's nobody living who couldn't stand all afternoon in front of a waterfall. It's a simple experience, you become lighter and lighter in weight, you wouldn't want anything else. Anyone who can sit on a stone in a field awhile can see my painting. Nature is like a curtain; you go into it. I want to draw a certain response like this. . . . Not a specific response but that quality of response from people when they leave themselves behind, often experienced in nature-- an experience of simple joy. . . the simple, direct going into a field of vision as you would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean."

-- Agnes Martin, at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1992)

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