“ The worst thing you do when you think is lie — you can make up reasons that are not true for the things that you did, and what you’re trying to do as a creative person is surprise yourself — find out who you really are, and try not to lie, try to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional, and get it out of yourself — making things that you hate and things that you love, you write about these then, intensely. When it’s over, then you can think about it; then you can look, it works or it doesn’t work, something is missing here. And, if something is missing, then you go back and reemotionalize that part, so it’s all of a piece.
But thinking is to be a corrective in our life — it’s not supposed to be a center of our life. Living is supposed to be the center of our life, being is supposed to be the center — with correctives around, which hold us like the skin holds our blood and our flesh in. But our skin is not a way of life — the way of living is the blood pumping through our veins, the ability to sense and to feel and to know. And the intellect doesn’t help you very much there — you should get on with the business of living.
“ I have noticed that when all the lights are on, people tend to talk about what they are doing – their outer lives. Sitting round in candlelight or firelight, people start to talk about how they are feeling – their inner lives. They speak subjectively, they argue less, there are longer pauses. To sit alone without any electric light is curiously creative. I have my best ideas at dawn or at nightfall, but not if I switch on the lights – then I start thinking about projects, deadlines, demands, and the shadows and shapes of the house become objects, not suggestions, things that need to done, not a background to thought.
“ Talent develops in tranquillity, character in the full current of human life.
“The theme of art is the theme of life itself. This artificial distinction between artists and human beings is precisely what we are all suffering from. An artist is only someone unrolling and digging out and excavating the areas normally accessible to normal people everywhere, and exhibiting them as a sort of scarecrow to show people what can be done with themselves.”
"Suleika Jaouad was a senior at Princeton when I was a sophomore. I didn’t know her — she was two years older, and intimidatingly beautiful. After graduation, she moved abroad. Then she was diagnosed with leukemia. Since the end of last year, Suleika has been writing a column for The New York Times’s “Well” blog. With frank insights and tremendous eloquence, Suleika tackles a series of tough topics, from managing pain during chemotherapy, to navigating relationships made complicated by cancer (for example, her brother becoming her bone-marrow donor). Her articles, as well the series of video clips which accompany them, offer an affecting glimpse of what it means to be a young person wrestling with cancer.” —Alyssa Loh
The Art of Distraction, by Hanif Kureishi:
From this point of view — that of drift and dream; of looking out for interest; of following this or that because it seems alive — Ritalin and other forms of enforcement and psychological policing are the contemporary equivalent of the old practice of tying up children’s hands in bed, so they won’t touch their genitals. The parent stupefies the child for the parent’s good. There is more to this than keeping out the interesting: there is the fantasy and terror that someone here will become pleasure’s victim, disappearing into a spiral of enjoyment from which he or she will not return.
It is true, however, that many people have spent their lives being distracted, keeping away, often unknowingly, from that which they most want, thus brewing in themselves a poison of disappointment, bitterness and despair. But there are still […] forms of distraction that can be far more harmful. We can attack ourselves unknowingly: we might call this corrupted desire, as if we are being inhabited by a demon whose whispers are cruel diminutions of the self, destroying creativity and valuable connections, until enervation and self-hatred make a living death.
It is said that distractions are too easy to come by now that most writers use computers, though it’s just as convenient to flee through the mind’s window into fantasy. In the end, a person requires a method. He must be able to distinguish between creative and destructive distractions by the sort of taste they leave, whether they feel depleting or fulfilling. And this can work only if he is, as much as possible, in good communication with himself — if he is, as it were, on his own side, caring for himself imaginatively, an artist of his own life.
“ Even in our weird information-saturated world, there’s so much we don’t, and can’t, know, even about something as mundane as a company. The writer M. F. K. Fisher said: “Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.” Every company, until it breaks (i.e. gets its email subpoenaed Enron-style, I guess) is that egg. Every family is that egg. Every person is that egg. And that’s a wonderful thing, because it means there are always mysteries.
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