06 June 2008

Guy Davenport -- Quotes

"What we call the twentieth century ended in 1915." Geography of the Imagination.

"Unless the work of art has wholly exhausted its maker's attention, it fails. This is why works of great significance are demanding and why they are infinitely rewarding."

"Fiction's essential activity is to imagine how others feel, what a Saturday afternoon in an Italian town in the second century looked like. My ambition is solely to get some effect, as of light on stone in a forest on a September day. . . . "
"Wittgenstein, huddled in silence on his chair, stammered quietly from time to time. He was committed to absolute honesty. Nothing --- nothing at all --- was to escape analysis. He had nothing up his sleeve; he had nothing to teach. The world was an absolute puzzle, a great lump of opaque pig iron. Can we think about the lump? What is thought? What is the meaning of can, can we, of can we think? What is the meaning of we? If we answer these questions on Monday, are the answers valid on Tuesday? If I answer them at all, do I think the answer, believe the answer, know the answer, or imagine the answer?" from The Geography of the Imagination

"I see a pattern here : a movement from assuming the world to be transparent, and available to lucid thought and language ( - the Victorian realist tradition - ), to assuming .... that the world is opaque. This would seem to be the assumption of Joyce, Borges, Beckett, Barthelme, Ionesco.

"The radical change in twentieth-century narrative is of form. There has been a new understanding that literature is primarily literature and not a useful critique of manners. And there has been a vigorous search for new patterns to the novel. Cubism, a nonsense word for a style of painting invented by Picasso and Braque, was essentially a return to an archaic mode that understands painting to be the same thing as writing....

"Cubism must have developed when the artist considered how much of his sketch must be finished. Finishing involves a stupidity of perception....

"The architectonics of a narrative are emphasized and given a role to play in dramatic effect when novelists become Cubists; that is, when they see the possibilities of making a hieroglyph, a coherent symbol, an ideogram of the total work. A symbol comes into being when an artist sees that it is the only way to get all the meaning in. Genius always proceeds by faith...

"Cubists include visual information which would require several points of view. Perspective commits itself to one point of view. The Sound and the Fury is therefore a Cubist narrative. Les Fauxmonnayeurs, Fowles’ The Collector and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Mandelstam’s The Noise of Time, Cortazar’s Hop-Scotch, Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans." , from "Narrative Tone and Form"

"A work of art is a form that articulates forces, making them intelligible." Forward to Every Force Evolves a Form.

"The prime use of words is for imagery: my writing is drawing." Interview with Hoepner.

"I trust the image; my business is to get it onto the page."

"A page, which I think of as a picture, is essentially a texture of images. [...]The text of a story is therefore a continuous graph, kin to the imagist poem, to a collage (Ernst, Willi Baumeister, El Lissitzky), a page of Pound, a Brakhage film." (Geography of the Imaginationin the essay "Ernst Machs Max Ernst."

"The writer assembles, finds, shapes. There is nothing to be gained by displacing the authentic." Geography of the Imagination.

"I learned from a whole childhood of looking in fields how the purpose of things ought perhaps to remain invisible, no more than half-known. People who know exactly what they are doing seem to me to miss the vital part of any doing." Geography of the Imagination.

"The components of an ideogram cohere as particles in a magnetic field, independent of each other but not of the pattern in which they figure. The ellipse, which we feel to be the absence of predication, is the invisible line of attraction between particle and particle."

"My writing unit is such that I start literally with scraps of paper and pages from notebooks. Every sentence is written by itself; there are very few consecutive sentences in my work.[...] Single sentences, which are revised eight or nine times. And I find a place for them, so that the actual writing of any of the stories of Tatlin! was a matter of turning back and forth in a notebook and finding what I wanted."

"Most language refers not to the world but to itself, is a music of sense rather than sense itself. That language is metaphorical is, in time, its frailty and deterioration. An allusion is a reservation of meaning."

"A work of art easily offers us three angles of interest: how it came to be, what it is, and how the world has honored or neglected it."

1 comment:

Steven Augustine said...

Worthy post (the effort wasn't wasted).