The year is over 30 minutes old – already!
As a change, this first-of-the-month blog post consists completely of quotes (rather than simply being a post riddled with quotes as is my usual custom). Below you’ll find one quote for each month of the year. Bonne année!
January: Robert Schumann, composer, 1810 – 1856. “To send light into the darkness of the human heart—that is the artist’s vocation!” (“Licht senden in die Tiefen des menschlichen Herzens—des Künstlers Beruf!”)
February: Todd Hido, photographer, b. 1968. “Larry Sultan used to say that the act of making art is the act of making many, many, many small decisions. Each question you encounter can lead you down a particular path. If you can be decisive and move forward through the decisions step by step, you’ll be more successful. The real question is: What’s right for you right now? And realizing that what’s right for you changes over time.”
March: Ornette Coleman, musician, 1930 – 2015. [From Adam Shatz’s tribute in the London Review of Books, 16 July 2015] “Coleman insisted, against a mountain of evidence, that he had no style, because style, as he explained to Whitney Balliett, ‘happens when your phrasing hardens.’”
April: Denis Donoghue, critic, b. 1928. “But some critics remain invincibly hostile to aesthetics. I can note only that aesthetics mean perception, the practice of paying attention to objects that ask only to be perceived.”
May: David Hurn, photographer, b. 1934. “The picture is out there, you don’t make the picture, you just have a good visual eye and press the button at the right time. For that you must have an intense curiosity and tenacity, not just a passing visual interest, in the theme of the pictures. This curiosity leads to intense examination, reading, talking, research and many, many failed attempts.”
June: Jeanette Winterson, novelist, b. 1959. “Creative work bridges time because the energy of art is not time-bound. If it were we should have no interest in the art of the past, except as history or documentary. But our interest in art is our interest in ourselves both now and always. Here and forever. There is a sense of the human spirit as always existing. This makes our own death bearable. Life + art is a boisterous communion/communication with the dead. It is a boxing match with time.”
July: Larry Towell, photographer, b. 1953. “Art is between you and a blank piece of paper… and let’s keep it that way.”
August: William Stafford, poet, 1914 – 1993. “One doesn’t learn how to do art, but one learns that it is possible by a certain adjustment of consciousness to participate in art—it’s a natural activity for one not corrupted by mechanical ways.”
September: Emmet Gowin, photographer, b. 1941. “For me, pictures provide a means of holding, intensely, a moment of communication between one human and another.”
October: William Butler Yeats, poet, 1865 – 1939. [From his last published letter, to Lady Elizabeth Pelham, October 1938] “When I try to put all into a phrase I say, ‘Man can embody the truth but he cannot know it.’ I must embody it in the completion of my life. The abstract is not life and everywhere draws out its contradictions. You can refute Hegel but not the Saint or the Song of Sixpence.”
November: John Berryman, poet, 1914 – 1972. “You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve. Otherwise you’re merely imitating yourself, going nowhere, because that’s always easiest.”
December: Harry Callahan, photographer, 1912 – 1999. “Making a picture is like making a prayer – you’re just really hoping for something, you don’t really know what you’re doing.”