The World on the Moon

“I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original.” An often overlooked genius, he is a towering, dicreet Colossus in terms of genre. How could someone produce oratorios, as The Creation and The Seasons are, with such mastery in spite of…

Winter Notes on Summer Impressions.

Why, we don’t even know what living means now, what it is, and what it is called? Leave us alone without books and we shall be lost and in confusion at once. We shall not know what to join on to, what to cling to, what to love and what to hate, what to respect…

Variations sérieuses.

And do you agree with me, that the first condition of an artist should be to bear respect towards what is great, and to bow to it and acknowledge it, and not attempt to extinguish great flames for the sake of making his own rushlight burn more brightly? – Letter to Wilhelm Taubert, August 27,…

To define is to limit.

Wilde is piously intent in killing whatever remains of my soul, because he says to know an essence, you must stifle it: he wants me to yearn for my soul. Its value depends on how much exertion it takes to destroy it. André Gide about Wilde, in a letter to Valéry from 1891. Wilde was…

Anke Pie and other thoughts.

Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing…

A Weary Hour

“Consciousness of self was an inherent function of matter once it was organized as life, and if that function was enhanced it turned against the organism that bore it, strove to fathom and explain the very phenomenon that produced it, a hope-filled and hopeless striving of life to comprehend itself, as if nature were rummaging…

A Hunger Artist.

“It is as if a person were a prisoner, and he had not only the intention to escape, which would perhaps be attainable, but also, and indeed simultaneously, the intention to rebuild the prison as a pleasure dome for himself. But if he escapes, he cannot rebuild, and if he rebuilds, he cannot escape.” ―…

Eureka!

Suddenly the dying man raised himself on his elbows; his glance seemed like lightning to his terror-stricken children, the hair that fringed his temples rose, every wrinkle in his face quivered with excitement, a breath of inspiration passed over his face and made it sublime. He raised a hand, clenched in frenzy, with the cry…

A Weekend Celebration.

Music is not a delusion but a revelation. And its triumphant force lies precisely in the fact that it opens up to us elements of beauty which would be inaccessible to us in any other sphere, and the contemplation of which reconciles us with life not temporarily but forever. Letter to Nadezha von Meck, 17 December…

Art is never finished, only abandoned.

From the preface of da Vinci’s Thoughts on Art and Life by Lewis Einstein: The genius of Leonardo as a painter came through unfolding the mystery of life. Like Miranda, he had gazed with wonder at the beauty of the world. “Look at the grace and sweetness of men and women in the street,” he wrote….

On Bach.

  “It is a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being. The music is never the same for me, never. Each day it is something new, fantastic and unbelievable….

Que sais-je?

To distract myself from tiresome thoughts, I have only to resort to books; they easily draw my mind to themselves and away from other things. From Montaigne’s Essays. Coincidentally last week I revisited Michel de Montaigne’s essays and was reminded that his birthday was this Sunday. Encouraged, I decided to bake a small treat to celebrate…