Favorite Quotes

“The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself; and the agony of the Artist, far from being the result of the world’s failure to discover and appreciate him, arises from his own personal struggle to discover, to appreciate and finally to express himself.” – E.E. Cummings

 From Brain Pickings: The Agony of the Artist (with a capital A): E.E. Cummings on What It Really Means to Be an Artist and His Little-Known Line Drawings. – Maria Popova

“Life is very singularly made to surprise us (where it does not utterly appall us).” – Rainer Maria Rilke

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

“Leave to your opinions their own quiet undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating.” -Rainer Maria Rilke, via Brain Pickings Rilke on the Lonely Patience of Creative Work, June 24, 2018

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.” – Rainer Maria Rilke, via The Marginalian, formerly Brain Pickings

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.” – Jorge Luis Borges

“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.”- Patti Smith

“The people who are sensitive in life may suffer much more than those who are insensitive, but if they understand and go beyond their suffering, they will discover extraordinary things.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

“It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all. 

There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” – Mary Oliver, Upstream

“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.” – Mary Oliver, Upstream

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen ((September 21, 1934–November 10, 2016)

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters To A Young Poet, 1903. Via Brain Pickings “Live the Questions: Rilke on Embracing Uncertainty and Doubt as a Stabilizing Force

“There is no technology, no time-saving device that can alter the rhythms of creative labor. When the worth of labor is expressed in terms of exchange value, therefore, creativity is automatically devalued every time there is an advance in the technology of work.” -Lewis Hyde, in his book entitled The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World. Via Brain Pickings

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”—Theodore Roosevelt

“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness”

“Beauty is that which, in the presence of it, we feel more alive.” – Krista Tippet, On Being

“Conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls.” – Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (2008). “The Pocket Rumi”, p.145, Shambhala Publications

“There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things other people didn’t see.” John Lennon

“A writer is a world trapped in a person.” – Victor Hugo

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Toni Morrison

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Franz Kafka

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Stories go to the deep part of the brain that theory doesn’t reach. Jesus understood this.” – Dr. Shomit Mitter

“…we all deserve a chance to live our lives to the fullest during our very brief time on Earth.” – Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes

“Talent is a passion or proclivity to master the rules of a domain. The more opportunities you give a person to engage in their passion, the more their talent and potential will grow.”
Scott Barry Kaufman

“In those moments when you feel discouraged or lost in the studio, or when you experience rejection, rest completely assured that what you don’t know about something is also a form of knowledge, though much harder to understand. In many ways, making art is like blindly trying to see the shape of what you don’t yet know. Whenever you catch a little a glimpse of that blind spot, of your ignorance, of your vulnerability, of that unknown, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to stare at it. Instead, try to relish in its profound mystery. Art is about taking the risk of engaging in something somewhat ridiculous and irrational simply because you need to get a closer look at it, you simply need to break it open to see what’s inside.” – Tersita Fernandez via Brain Pickings: What It Really Takes to Be an Artist: MacArthur Genius Teresita Fernández’s Magnificent Commencement Address

“Life is too short to waste it fulfilling others’ dreams.” – Oscar Wilde

“A good theory is an act of the informed imagination — it reaches toward the unknown while grounded in the firmest foundations of the known.” -Maria Popova, in her first New York Times book review, November 25, 2015

“If your position is everywhere, your momentum is zero” – William N. Lipscomb, Jr., winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1976

“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born. That is why many of the earthly miracles have had their genesis in humble surroundings.” – Nikola Tesla

“For me, the creative process, first of all, requires a good 9 hours of sleep a night. Second, it must not be pushed by the need to produce practical applications.” – William N. Lipscomb, Jr., winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1976

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” ― Epictetus

“Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing” – Victor Hugo

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Mahatma Ghandi

“In wilderness is the preservation of the world.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.” – Oscar Wilde

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein

“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.” – Marshall McLuhan

“I think every writer, every journalist, every scholar, should tell you where he’s coming from before he tells you what he knows.” – Jay Rosen, Pressthink, June 25, 2012

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium / that is, of any extension of ourselves / result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” – Marshall McLuhan

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” -Arthur Schopenhauer

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“Will minus intellect constitutes vulgarity.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“Intellect is invisible to the man who has none” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” – Raymond Hull

“The human mind treats a new idea the same way the body treats a strange protein: It rejects it.” – Immunologist P.B. Medawar (Via Christie Nicholson)

“University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” Henry Kissinger

“Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.” François de la Rochefoucauld

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Ernest Hemingway

“So many scientists think that once they figure it out, that’s all they have to do, and writing it up is just a chore. I never saw it that way. Part of the art of any kind of total scholarship is to say it well.”                               – Stephen Jay Gould

“The greatest oak was once a nut that held its ground.” -Unknown

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” -Upton Sinclair

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

“Men who will identify a paradigm shift typically are little committed by prior practice to the traditional rules of normal science and are likely to see that those rules no longer define a playable game and to conceive another set that can replace them” – Thomas Kuhn

“The simplest definition of creativity is the putting together of two or more things that no one (but YOU) would think to put together.” -Elaine Aron

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” – Attributed to Dr. Seuss and Bernard Baruch

“You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.” – Amanda Palmer (via BrainPickings)

“True art, when it happens to us, challenges the ‘I’ that we are.” – Jeanette Winterson (via BrainPickings)

“…the first task of a great interviewer is humility — sublimating his ego in the service of letting his subject shine; the second and more arduous task is understanding, which takes a deliberate investment of time, intention, and effort.” – Jeanette Winterson (via BrainPickings)

“…that delicate dance of giving and receiving, of mutual connection and comprehension, that is art.” – Jeanette Winterson (via BrainPickings)

“Art is a spiritual transaction. Artists are visionaries. We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance — often visible to us, but invisible to those around us. Difficult as it is to remember, it is our work that creates the market, not the market that creates our work. Art is an act of faith, and we practice practicing it.” – Julia Cameron, via Brain Pickings

“It is never too late to start over. It is never past the point of no return for our artist to recover. We can heap years, decades, a lifetime of insult upon our artist and it is so relisient, so powerful and so stubborn that it will come back to life when we give it the smallest opportunity.” – Julia Cameron

“…the demand of the individual to the artist is, in effect, the cry, “Take me out of myself!… The artist in his calling of interpreter creates (the clearest form of demonstration) because he must.” – Joseph Conrad via Brain Pickings

“Thinking is the activity I love best, and writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers. I can write up to 18 hours a day. Typing 90 words a minute, I’ve done better than 50 pages a day. Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up—well, maybe once.”
In Joseph Barbato, Writing for a Good Cause (2000), 151. Attribution uncertain. If you know an original print citation, please contact Webmaster.
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