If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Tag: art

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

To avoid the ironic fate of drowning in an ocean of your own micro-variants, you have to be courageous enough to part forever with lovely ideas that only a few minutes earlier you were terribly proud of.

(He was writing of translation, but it seems applicable to creative works in general.)

Frank McConnell – intro to The Sandman, vol. 9 (1996)

Art is the dream of order out of the sense of chaos: the three-cushion shot to the eight ball, the hewn stone that looks like the god Apollo, Charlie Parker improvising on “How High the Moon,” or Fred Astaire, even if he’s only walking across a room.

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

Gibson clearly likes Andrault’s stuff–he just doesn’t consider it art. I find this absurd. In a sense I agree that art has to “voice a human intention”, but the act of selection by Andrault is a deep human intention, just as deep as a photographer’s selection of a scene or an event to capture.

(of Jean-Claude Andrault)

Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

If one is lucky, one has the luxury of becoming totally immersed in an artistic project, letting almost all other things go by the wayside—family, friends, students, colleagues, food, bills, correspondence, neatness, books, music, movies, shopping, and sleep, to give a few examples. The house becomes a pigsty, the kids a bit starved for affection, weight goes down, friends wonder where you are… Fortunately, this monomaniacal state will be transitory, but it seems absolutely necessary, at least in my own case, for the emergence of that overarching frame of mind that allows the project to take on a true unity of purpose and style.

Gene Wolfe – intro to The Sandman, vol. 6 (1993)

What is important and central here is that, time after time, the stories themselves are true. I don’t mean simply that Neil Gaiman’s history is good history and that his myth is good myth—although they are. I mean that you will understand yourself and the world better for having read them, and that you will have been both ennobled and troubled by the experience; that this is not just art—all sorts of ugly and foolish things are art—but great art.

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

The fantastic character of these instruments fascinated him, and he felt a curious delight in the thought that Art, like Nature, has her monsters—things of bestial shape and with hideous voices.

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.


Neil Gaiman – Trigger Warning (2015)

Life imitates art, but clumsily, copying its movements when it thinks it isn’t looking.

(of ‘Feminine Endings’)

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

I get very worried about this idea of art. Having been an English literary graduate, I’ve been trying to avoid the idea of doing art ever since. I think the idea of art kills creativity.

…if somebody wants to come along and say, “Oh, it’s art,” that’s as it may be. I don’t really mind that much. But I think that’s for other people to decide after the fact. It isn’t what you should be aiming to do.

Alan Lightman – Mr. g (2012)

They were aware of themselves, yes. They were thinking, yes. But they were more than thinking. They were feeling. They were feeling the connection of themselves to the galaxies and stars. They were grasping the beauty and depth of their existence and then expressing that experience in musical harmonies and rhythms. And in paintings. In metaphors, and words. In dance. In symbiotic transference. They imagined the cosmos beyond their own bodies. They imagined.