quotes, Uncategorized

prone to trust themselves

“Water is friendly to man. The ocean, a part of Nature furthest removed in the unchangeableness and majesty of its might from the spirit of mankind, has ever been a friend to the enterprising nations of the earth. And of all the elements this is the one to which men have always been prone to trust themselves, as if its immensity held a reward as vast as itself.

From the offing the open estuary promises every possible fruition to adventurous hopes…”

– Joseph Conrad, “The Mirror Of The Sea,” chapter 30

I’ve been reading Conrad lately, on trains and things–I got his complete works for the Kindle app on my Ipod. This is from the nonfiction, although you wouldn’t know it. I like pretending that I can hear the Polish underneath the English, and I find his example very inspiring, in terms of a writer becoming comfortable in another language.

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art, quotes, writing

They’re just not what interests me any more.

INTERVIEWER: You once said you based the Wild Things on your elderly, uncouth Jewish relatives. Have you become one yourself?

SENDAK: Apparently I have, and I’m not even a relative. It’s just being Jewish and old age. I’ve become an old person like the old Jews I knew. Sort of bitter, yet not bitter. I would say strangely that this is a good time for me. This is a good time for me to put aside all kinds of things and just to go back what it was like when I fell in love with William Blake and saw the world through his eyes for a minute and was so happy. And that world still exists in spite of us. This is the only time I have ever felt a kind of inner peace.

I mean, it’s great to have a successful book. I’m not so dumb as to not know that is a good thing. But that is not the thing, and that’s why this is a good time. Because the important things – what were considered important to me – are no longer important. They’re not shame-faced, they’re not bad. They’re just not what interests me any more.

Maurice Sendak interviewed in the Globe and Mail. Via Artsjournal. (Happy Rosh Hashanah, everybody.)

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acting, Poland, quotes, the chorus, theater

“Like most poets, I don’t know where I’m going.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dear Milo,

It’s Monday afternoon. I’m sitting in the front room of the dimly lit cafe Mleczarnia, at (I think) the very same table where I first sat with R. when I first came to Wroclaw, two years ago, eating a slice from the same walnut-encrusted cake. (Perhaps not exactly the same cake. But its brother.)

Mleczarnia is one of my favorite places in Wroclaw, and not just because its courtyard adjoins the White Stork Synagogue. It’s also beautiful inside. The walls are covered with black-and-white photographs. The people in the portraits, in black dresses with white collars, in wedding gowns and formal suits, remind me of the one photograph I’ve seen of my grandmother’s mother, Sylvia Schwartz. Candles as tall as rulers stand on tables, next to teapots of dried flowers. And in front of me, a line of actors and tourists and Wroclawians are ordering enormous glasses of Zywiec.

To my great happiness, R. is actually in town, and will be joining me in a few hours!
I have my laptop and my cake and some tea I’ve let overbrew. I have two days of training to tell you about, but first I have a quote. (“Now, sir, what is your text?”)

“Like most poets, I don’t know where I’m going. The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you’re simply using a pen to record what you have thought out. In a poem, the pen is more like a flashlight, a Geiger counter, or one of those metal detectors that people walk around beaches with. You’re trying to discover something that you don’t know exists, maybe something of value.”
–Billy Collins, interviewed in the Paris Review (http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/482/the-art-of-poetry-no-83-billy-collins)

If you read “the performer’s body” for “the pen,” then this quote also applies to our own training. It is necessary to enter the rehearsal room with no more preconceptions than you have when you picks up a pen. (Of course, you often pick up a pen with tons of preconceptions. But the best writing comes when you let them go.)

The only way you can get anywhere is to let yourself not know where you’re going.

Continue reading

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books, quotes

I asked you where you conceal the poison

“Madame, where do you keep the poison you generally use?” said the magistrate, without any introduction, placing himself between his wife and the door.

Madame de Villefort must have experienced something of the sensation of a bird which, looking up, sees the murderous trap closing over its head. A hoarse, broken tone, which was neither a cry nor a sigh, escaped from her, while she became deadly pale. “Monsieur,” she said, “I—I do not understand you.” And, in her first paroxysm of terror, she had raised herself from the sofa, in the next, stronger very likely than the other, she fell down again on the cushions. “I asked you,” continued Villefort, in a perfectly calm tone, “where you conceal the poison by the aid of which you have killed my father-in-law, M. de Saint-Meran, my mother-in-law, Madame de Saint-Meran, Barrois, and my daughter Valentine.”

Alexandre Dumas père, The Count of Monte Cristo, (Ch. 108: The Judge)

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poetry, quotes

Shark attack!

My friend R. sent this to me, and she, in turn, got it from Poets.org and their poem-a-day list. We now bring it to you. SOS has long been a proponent of MelvillePoem.

The Maldive Shark
by Herman Melville

About the Shark, phlegmatical one,
Pale sot of the Maldive sea,
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
How alert in attendance be.
From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw
They have nothing of harm to dread,
But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank
Or before his Gorgonian head;
Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth
In white triple tiers of glittering gates,
And there find a haven when peril’s abroad,
An asylum in jaws of the Fates!
They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey,
Yet never partake of the treat–
Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull,
Pale ravener of horrible meat.

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books, politics, quotes

a serious man with a sense of humor

So, if you actually did examine my bookshelves you could probably reach some reasonably accurate conclusions about my age, class, nationality, sexuality and so on. You would see that I’m not some dangerous, volatile, politically extreme nut job. Rather, you would decide that I’m a bookish, cosmopolitan sophisticate, with broad, quirky and unpredictable interests, a taste for literary experimentation, a sense of history, a serious man with a sense of humor and a wide range of sympathies. At any rate, that’s what I’d like you to think.

– Geoff Nicholson, “The Perils of Literary Profiling,” NYT

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