Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Every Generalization is Rubbish

"Every generalization is rubbish. [...] How would you compare the actors? They’re all different. Is India noisy or serene? Well, both. Are the English cold? Not really. They can be. But the function of art is to destroy generalizations. Art is always about the concrete and the specific. It is to take the abstract and to give it flesh. It is to incarnate. That’s why talking about it is actually impossible."
--Declan Donnellan
 British theater producer (The Spectator, 3/30/13)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pleasure vs Happiness

From an essay by the British author/philosopher  Roger Scruton:
"You don't have to be a philosopher, given to abstruse reflection or concepts, to recognise that pleasure and happiness are not the same. There are wicked pleasures, destructive pleasures, addictive pleasures, despicable pleasures: but there is no such thing as wicked, destructive, addictive or despicable happiness. The happy person is in possession of the chief human good; happiness makes no inroads into our freedom; it brings love for others and joy to all who encounter it. It is as far from pleasure as health is from intoxication. And its root is self-approval – the knowledge that what you are it is also good to be. Hence Aristotle's definition of happiness, as 'an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue'."
He makes the vital point that "The beautiful and the sacred are connected in our feelings, and both are essential to the pursuit of happiness."
"Beauty has many forms, of course, and natural beauty is only one of them. There is the beauty of art and architecture, of music and the human form. But in all its varieties beauty has a remarkable quality, which is that it offers consolation without consumption: your enjoyment does not destroy the beautiful object but simply amplifies its power. The enjoyment of beauty is never addictive, however intensely it affects us. And when we come back for more it is not out of craving or need, but rather as a homecoming to ourselves, and in order to understand what we are."
 Read the whole piece HERE.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Doesn't Happen

"It's a novel, and once you've finished a novel, what happened in it is of little importance and soon forgotten.  What matters are the possibilities and ideas that the novel's imaginary plot communicates to us ... Fiction has the ability to show us what we don't know and what doesn't happen."
 --Javier Marias
The Infatuations

I would argue (along with Nabokov, whom Marias has apparently translated) that while ideas may ultimately be more important than plot, it is the quality of the author's artistic sensibility (keen consciousness and appreciation) that is most important of all.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


"The contemplation of beauty, whether it be a uniquely tinted sunset, a radiant face, or a work of art, makes us glance back unwittingly at our personal past and juxtapose ourselves and our inner being with the utterly unattainable beauty revealed to us."
--Vladimir Nabokov