Words of Others

My creative work often involves word and image explorations. When I’m at a loss for words, I find the words of others often help to get the creative juices flowing. This area is a repository of other people’s wisdom.


Clarity, simplicity, brevity and humanity.

– William Zinsser, On Writing Well


All play moves and has its being within a play-ground marked off beforehand either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course. Just as there is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the ‘consecrated spot’ cannot be formally distinguished from the play-ground. The arena, the card-table, the magic circle, the temple, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc, are all in form and function play-grounds, i.e. forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.

– Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens


A reminder of how NOT to write. Also a reminder that we can all still suck sometimes. Judith Butler’s insane sentence for which she was award Philosophy and Literature Journal’s Bad Writing Prize in 1998:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

– Judith Butler


On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.

When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.

– Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking


Make it simple, but significant.

– Don Draper, Madmen


“…the game’s out there, and it’s play or get played”.

– Omar Little, The Wire


Dash glow reveals sleep-haunted faces, eyes filled to overflow. Outside, the endless streams of red and white, like water frozen by a strobe, divided into its component drops. Time has no meaning anymore; it’s the sizzle of tires on wet streets, while sleep eludes us in rented rooms…Let it wash over you, sear and anneal; only mass can stop sound. Remember? The sunken rose garden, and its dusky cartography of trailing scents? It grows louder while, all along, you think to yourself, ‘nothing could possibly be louder than this enormous night’.

– Rachels/Matmos


Entredeux: A moment in a life where you are not entirely living, where you are almost dead. Where you are not dead. Where you are no yet in the process of reliving.

– Hélène Cixous


Let everything be more than everything, and still be all.

– Maurice Blanchot, Awaiting Oblivion


Grow strong, my comrade…that you may stand unshaken when I fall; that I may know the shattered fragments of my song will come at last to finer melody in you; that I may tell my heart that you begin where passing I leave off, and fathom more.

– Will Durant, dedication from The Story of Philosophy


Life is nothing until it is lived; but it is yours to make sense of, and the value of it is nothing other than the sense you choose.

– J.P. Sartre


The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.

– Saul Steinberg


We die only once, and for such a long time.

– Molière


The more you realize the transient nature of perception the more you realize that your perception is absolutely unique.

– Walter Jule


The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…

– Jack Kerouac


Myth: A type of speech. A system of communication, mode of signification or form.

Myth is not defined by the object of its message, but by the way in which it utters this message.

– Roland Barthes, Mythologies


If one reports one’s reactions to a work of art – or life – rather than describing or analyzing, it is one’s sensitivity and one’s truthfulness that determines the worth of this confession.

– Adrian Piper, Area Relocation Series, 1969, page from The Village Voice, May 29, 1969


…the package of attitudes and values known as lifestyle.

…not to detail my own feelings but only to understand the hidden trigger of experience, the little delves and swerves that make a state of being.

How memory conspires with objects of human craft, pressing time flat, inciting a tender reminiscence.

– Don DeLillo, Underworld


By then I knew that everything good and bad left an emptiness when it stopped. But if it was bad, the emptiness filled up by itself. If it was good you could only fill it by finding something better.

– Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast


I am the thought on the bath in the room without mirrors.

– Nadja, Nadja (André Breton)


On every new thing there lies already the shadow of annihilation.

…one of the chief difficulties of writing consisted in thinking, with the tip of the pen, solely of the word to be written, whilst banishing from one’s mind the reality of what one intends to describe.

– W.G. Sebald, Rings of Saturn


Few men are gifted with the capacity of seeing; there are fewer still who possess the power of expression.

– Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life”


I had begun to cherish words excessively for the space they allow around them, for their tangencies with countless other words I did not utter.

– André Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism


Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy.

– Susan Sontag, On Photography


You may see and be affected by other people’s way, you may even use them to find your own, but you will have eventually to free yourself from them.

– Paul Strand


Good food deserves stern treatment.

– Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley


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