Let the past be content

Let the past be content with itself, for man needs forgetfulness as well as memory.

James Stephens

Buying and Selling

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

P. J. O’Rourke

A literary agent

A literary agent is nothing but a cheap salesman (or woman); while a writer is a cheap salesman (or woman) who also has to actually write the books.

John Hodgman

Old Lawyers

Old lawyers would rather tell war stories than eat lunch.

John Grisham, The Guardians

Revision

Some people say revision is like cleaning up after the party. I say revision is the party.

Billy Collins

It takes a lot of neurosis

It takes a lot of neurosis to write a novel. If you were really sensible, you’d do something else.

Lawrence Durrell

You are always new

You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass’d my window home yesterday, I was fill’d with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time…Even if you did not love me I could not help an entire devotion to you.

John Keats, letter to Fanny Brawne

You want accuracy, but not representation

You want accuracy, but not representation. If you know how to make the figuration, it doesn’t work. Anything you can make, you make by accident. In painting, you have to know what you do, not how, when you do it.

. . . .

I want a very ordered image, but I want it to come about by chance.

Francis Bacon

All painting… is an accident

In my case all painting… is an accident. I foresee it and yet I hardly ever carry it out as I foresee it. It transforms itself by the actual paint. I don’t in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things which are very much better than I could make it do.

Francis Bacon

Time, unfortunately

Time, unfortunately, though it makes animals and vegetables bloom and fade with amazing punctuality, has no such simple effect upon the mind of man. The mind of man, moreover, works with equal strangeness upon the body of time. An hour, once it lodges in the queer element of the human spirit, may be stretched to fifty or a hundred times its clock length; on the other hand, an hour may be accurately represented on the timepiece of the mind by one second.

Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography

To me

To me, murder seems to be the ultimate form of social distancing.

J. P. Pulkkinen, Finnish crime novelist

So now do you see why books are hated and feared?

So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.

Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451

The Johnstown Flood

A locomotive whistle was a matter of some personal importance to a railroad engineer. It was tuned and worked (even “played”) according to his own personal choosing. The whistle was part of the make-up of the man; he was known for it as much as he was known for the engine he drove. And aside from its utilitarian functions, it could also be an instrument of no little amusement. Many an engineer could get a simple tune out of his whistle, and for those less musical it could be used to aggravate a cranky preacher in the middle of his Sunday sermon or to signal hello through the night to a wife or lady friend. But there was no horseplay about tying down the cord. A locomotive whistle going without letup meant one thing on the railroad, and to everyone who lived near the railroad. It meant there was something very wrong.
The whistle of John Hess’ engine had been going now for maybe five minutes at most. It was not on long, but it was the only warning anyone was to hear, and nearly everyone in East Conemaugh heard it and understood almost instantly what it meant.

David McCullough, The Johnstown Flood

There is only one place to write

There is only one place to write and that is alone at a typewriter. The writer who has to go into the streets is a writer who does not know the streets. . . when you leave your typewriter you leave your machine gun and the rats come pouring through.

Charles Bukowski

Most cynics

Most cynics are really crushed romantics: they’ve been hurt, they’re sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that’s protecting this tiny, dear part in them that’s still alive.

Jeff Bridges

And it seems people should not build houses anymore

And it seems people should not build houses anymore; it seems people should stop working and sit in small rooms on second floors under electric lights without shades; it seems there is a lot to forget and a lot not to do and in drugstores, markets, bars, the people are tired, they do not want to move, and I stand there at night and look through this house and the house does not want to be built.

Charles Bukowski

PG hasn’t ever read a book by Charles Bukowski and doesn’t think he would necessarily enjoy the experience, but he does enjoy excerpts that include the unique voice of some of Bukowski’s characters and the gritty sense of down and out they convey.

Perhaps it’s time for PG to put up some more Raymond Chandler quotes. He doesn’t have quite the same voice Bukowski does, but they both understand life on mean streets.