Category Archives: quotes

City Dolls vs. Sturdy Lads

“If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards, in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hamsphire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always like a cat falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance” (1841)

Outside of the Average Knowledge

“In my case, I have tried to live outside of the fashionable trends. This has got me into trouble all the time. I make my own observations, and […] I create my own world view out of the knowledge that I derive from the world itself. When you travel on foot, for example—and I don’t mean backpacking or hiking, I mean, for example, travelling on foot from Munich to Paris—you are given a world view, an insight that is different or outside of the average knowledge. I have a dictum: ‘The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.’ I do not want to explain it any further.”

—Werner Herzog, The New Yorker, April 26, 2022

Exiting Exile

“Everyone must come out of his exile in his own way.”

—Martin Buber

Sit Around and Do Nothing

A quote from my buddy Austin Kleon that I found on Tumblr.

Everything Is Important

“My approach to what I do in my job — and it might even be the approach to my life — is that everything I do is the most important thing I do. Whether it’s a play or the next film. It is the most important thing. I know it’s not going to be the most important thing, and it might not be close to being the best, but I have to make it the most important thing. That means I will be ambitious with my job and not with my career. That’s a very big difference, because if I’m ambitious with my career, everything I do now is just stepping-stones leading to something — a goal I might never reach, and so everything will be disappointing. But if I make everything important, then eventually it will become a career. Big or small, we don’t know. But at least everything was important.”

Mads Mikkelsen

A Manifesto of Sorts

Learn to understand existence as being political.
Avoid art-world strategies.
Erase all known isms.
Don’t succumb to populist aesthetics.
Remove the notion of me.
Eliminate that which qualifies as a narrative.
Learn to live by the philosophy of jazz.
Only fools want to be famous (avoid at all cost).
Remain true to myself.

Jack Whitten, Notes from the Woodshed

(Via.)

Wintering

“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but it crucible.”

—Katherine May, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Everything the Well-Dressed Private Detective Ought to Be

“It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.”

—Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)

All In

“I worked at Office Depot during the day and I was in the studio really late at night sometimes. Work was getting in the way of my focusing on what I needed to do as an artist. When they fired me, I had no excuse. I had to go all in on my career.”

Janelle Monáe

Spurn Set Routes

“I don’t like people who have their itineraries and ideas so clearly sorted out that they say, ‘Today I’ll make three visits, I’ll write four letters, and I’ll finish that book I started.’ My soul is so open to every kind of idea, taste and sentiment; it so avidly receives everything that presents itself!… And why would it turn down the pleasures that are scattered along life’s difficult path? They are so few and far between, so thin on the ground, that you’d need to be mad not to stop, and even turn away from your path, and pick up all of those that lie within reach. There’s no more attractive pleasure, in my view, than following one’s ideas wherever they lead, as the hunter pursues his game, without even trying to keep to any set route.”

—Xavier de Maistre, A Journey Around My Room (1794)

(Via Michael Leddy)