"Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it "the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul." The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of "Artist."
"To see distinctly the machinery--the wheels and pinions--of any work of Art is, unquestionably, of itself, a pleasure, but one which we are able to enjoy only just in proportion as we do not enjoy the legitimate effect designed by the artist."
"In times like ours, where the growing complexity of life leaves us barely the time to read the newspapers, where the map of Europehas endured profound rearrangements and is perhaps on the brink of enduring yet others, where so many threatening and new problems appear everywhere, you will admit it may be demanded of a writer that he be more than a fine wit who makes us forget in idle and byzantine discussions on the merits of pure form ..."
"A Carpaccio in Venice, la Berma in Phèdre, masterpieces of visual or theatrical art that the prestige surrounding them made so alive, that is so invisible, that, if I were to see a Carpaccio in a gallery of the Louvre or la Berma in some play of which I had never heard, I would not have felt the same delicious surprise at finally setting eyes on the unique and inconceivable object of so many thousands of my dreams."
"True variety is in that plenitude of real and unexpected elements, in the branch charged with blue flowers thrusting itself, against all expectations, from the springtime hedge which seems already too full, while the purely formal imitation of variety ... is but void and uniformity, that is, that which is most opposed to variety...."
"An entertainment is something which distracts us or diverts us from the routine of daily life. It makes us for the time being forget our cares and worries; it interrupts our conscious thoughts and habits, rests our nerves and minds, though it may incidentally exhaust our bodies. Art, on the other hand, though it may divert us from the normal routine of our existence, causes us in some way or other to become conscious of that existence."
"The last publicized center of American writing was Manhattan. Its writers became known as the New York Intellectuals. With important connections to publishing, and universities, with access to the major book reviews, they were able to pose as the vanguard of American culture when they were so obsessed with the two Joes--McCarthy and Stalin--that they were to produce only two artists, Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, who left town."
"There is the falsely mystical view of art that assumes a kind of supernatural inspiration, a possession by universal forces unrelated to questions of power and privilege or the artist's relation to bread and blood. In this view, the channel of art can only become clogged and misdirected by the artist's concern with merely temporary and local disturbances. The song is higher than the struggle."
"To the degree that respect for professors ... has risen in our society, respect for writers has fallen. Today the professorial intellect has achieved its highest public standing since the world began, while writers have come to be called "men of letters," by which is meant people who are prevented by some obscure infirmity from becoming competent journalists."
"What is done for science must also be done for art: accepting undesirable side effects for the sake of the main goal, and moreoverdiminishing their importance by making this main goal more magnificent. For one should reform forward, not backward: social illnesses, revolutions, are evolutions inhibited by a conserving stupidity."
"To love something as an artist ... means to be shaken not by its ultimate value or lack of value, but by a side of it that suddenly opens up. Where art has value it shows things that few have seen. It's conquering, not pacifying."