The end of wisdom is to dream high enough to lose the dream in the seeking of it.
Read, read read. Read everything.
The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.
I believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail.
I believe that man will not merely endure. He will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist's way of scribbling "Kilroy was here" on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.
Clocks slay time. Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
People need trouble -- a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it.
People need trouble -- a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it. Artists do; I don't mean you need to live in a rat hole or gutter, but you have to learn fortitude, endurance. Only vegetables are happy.
At first glance the tree seemed alive with frantic squirrels. There appeared to be forty or fifty of them leaping and darting from branch to branch until the whole tree had become one green maelstrom of mad leaves.
Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.
Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth.
Time is a fluid condition which has no existence except in the momentary avatars of individual people. There is no such thing as was -- only is.
Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
A man is the sum of his misfortunes.
A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you'd think misfortune would get tired, but then time is your misfortune.
Any live man is better than any dead man but no live or dead man is very much better than any other live or dead man.
There is no such thing as memory: the brain recalls just what the muscles grope for: no more, no less: and its resultant sum is usually incorrect and false and worthy only of the name of dream.
Memory believes before knowing remembers.
Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.
I don't know anything about inspiration because I don't know what inspiration is; I've heard about it, but I never saw it.
A Democrat is a barefooted Liberal in a cross-country race; a Conservative is a Republican who has learned to read and write.
A fellow running from or toward a gun ain't got time to worry whether the word for what he is doing is courage or cowardice.
That unpaced corridor which I called childhood, which was not living but rather some projection of the lightless womb itself.
That's the one trouble with this country: everything, weather, all, hangs on too long. Like our rivers, our land: opaque, slow, violent; shaping and creating the life of man in its implacable and brooding image.
Only fools imply compliments. The wise man comes right out with it, point-blank. Imply criticism -- unless the criticized isn't within earshot.
And when a man that old takes up money-hunting, it's like when he takes up gambling or whisky or women. He aint going to have time to quit.
Like a fellow running from or toward a gun ain't got time to worry whether the word for what he is doing is courage or cowardice.
I believe man will not merely endure, he will prevail...because he has a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
War is an episode, a crisis, a fever the purpose of which is to rid the body of fever. So the purpose of a war is to end the war.
Listen: it's got to be all honeymoon, always.
Either heaven, or hell:
no comfortable safe peaceful purgatory between
for you and me to wait in until good behavior or forbearance
or shame or repentance overtakes us.
There is that might-have-been which is the single rock we cling to above the maelstrom of unbearable reality.
The most important thing is insight, that is to be -- curious -- to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does.
It's like it ain't so much what a fellow does, but it's the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.
As he strode on, moving almost as fast as a smaller man could have trotted, his body breasting the air her body had vacated,
his eyes touching the objects--post and tree and field and house and hill--her eyes had lost.
Like any good optimist, I don't expect the worst to happen. Only, like any optimist worth his salt, I like to go and look as soon as possible afterward jest in case it did.
He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.
He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
(on Ernest Hemingway.
Necessity has a way of obliterating from our conduct various delicate scruples regarding honor and pride.
You can't beat women anyhow and that if you are wise or dislike trouble and uproar you don't even try to.
Only the peak feels so sound and stable that the beginning of the falling is hidden for a little while.
Learn us all the refinement and education that there's a better use for the mouth than running private opinions through it.
If all the businesses in town are run like country businesses, You are going to have a country town.
But then, in the eyes all of them look like they had no age and knew everything in the world, anyhow.
He remembered his uncle saying once how little vocabulary man really needed to get comfortably and even efficiently through his life, how not only in the individual but within his whole type and race and kind a few simple cliches served his few simple passions and needs and lusts.
Every man has a different idea of what's beautiful, and it's best to take the gesture, the shadow of the branch, and let the mind create the tree.
Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written.
It was as though, so long as the deceit ran along quiet and monotonous, all of us let ourselves be deceived, abetting it unawares or maybe through cowardice, since all people are cowards and naturally prefer any kind of treachery because it has a bland outside.
A writer is trying to create believable people in credible moving situations in the most moving way he can.
Caddy put her arms around me, and her shining veil, and I couldn't smell trees anymore and I began to cry.
To me, all human behavior is unpredictable and, considering man's frailty... and... the ramshackle universe he functions in, it's... all irrational.
The poets are almost always wrong about the facts... That's because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth.
In Europe, being an artist is a form of behavior. In America, it's an excuse for a form of behavior.
Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique.
Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.
Surely heaven must have something of the color and shape of whatever village or hill or cottage of which the believer says, This is my own.
It is not proof that I sought. I, of all men, know that proof is but a fallacy invented by man to justify to himself and his fellows his own crass lust and folly.
Whatever its symbol -- cross or crescent or whatever -- that symbol is man's reminder of his duty inside the human race.
And I will look down and see my murmuring bones and the deep water like wind, like a roof of wind, and after a long time they cannot distinguish even bones upon the lonely and inviolate sand.
When I was a boy I first learned how much better water tastes when it has set a while in a cedar bucket. Warmish-cool, with a faint taste like the hot July wind in Cedar trees smells.
Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death. Good ones don't have time to bother with success or getting rich.
The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.
Thank God you can flee, can escape from that massy five-foot-thick maggot-cheesy solidarity which overlays the earth, in which men and women in couples are ranked like ninepins.
A hack writer who would have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tried out a few of the old proven 'sure-fire' literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.
I learned little save that most of the deeds, good and bad both, incurring opprobrium or plaudits or reward either, within the scope of man's abilities, had already been performed and were to be learned about only from books.
For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863.
The artist is still a little like the old court jester. He's supposed to speak his vicious paradoxes with some sense in them, but he isn't part of whatever the fabric is that makes a nation.
Ever since then I have believed that God is not only a gentleman and a sport; he is a Kentuckian too.
I had learned a little about writing from Soldier's Pay -- how to approach language, words: not with seriousness so much as an essayist does, but with a kind of alert respect, as you approach dynamite; even with joy, as you approach women: perhaps with the same secretly unscrupulous intentions.
Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.
Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.
A pair of jaybirds came up from nowhere, whirled up on the blast like gaudy scraps of cloth or paper and lodged in the mulberries, where they swung in raucous tilt and recover, screaming into the wind that ripped their harsh cries onward and away like scraps of paper or of cloth in turn.
Our most treasured family heirloom are our sweet family memories. The past is never dead, it is not even past.
The reason I don't like interviews is that I seem to react violently to personal questions. If the questions are about the work, I try to answer them. When they are about me, I may answer or I may not, but even if I do, if the same question is asked tomorrow, the answer may be different.
Sometimes i think there must be a sort of pollen of ideas floating in the air, which fertilizes similarly minds here and there which have not had direct contact.
When I was little there was a picture in one of our books, a dark place into which a single weak ray of light came slanting upon two faces lifted out of the shadow.
All men are just accumulations dolls stuffed with sawdust swept up from the trash heaps where all previous dolls had been thrown away.
I reckon it does take a powerful trust in the Lord to guard a fellow, though sometimes I think that Cora's a mite over-cautious, like she was trying to crowd the other folks away and get in closer than anybody else.
I think the serious things really are the things that make for happiness -- people and things that are compatible, love.... So many people are content just to sit around and talk about them instead of getting out and attaining them. As if life were a joke of some kind.
The next time you try to seduce anyone, don't do it with talk, with words. Women know more about words than men ever will. And they know how little they can ever possibly mean.
Sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words.
What's wrong with this world is, it's not finished yet. It is not completed to that point where man can put his final signature to the job and say, It is finished. We made it, and it works.
Man the sum of what have you. A problem in impure properties carried tediously to an unvarying nil: stalemate of dust and desire.
That which is destroying the Church is not the outward groping of those within it nor the inward groping of those without, but the professionals who control it and who have removed the bells from its steeples.
When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me.
It used to be I thought of death as a man something like Grandfather a friend of his a kind of private and particular friend like we used to think of Grandfather's desk not to touch it not even to talk loud in the room where it was.
A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
There are some things for which three words are three too many, and three thousand words that many words too less.
It's the most satisfying occupation man has discovered yet, because you never can quite do it as well as you want to, so there's always something to wake up tomorrow morning to do.
There were many things I could do for two or three days and earn enough money to live on for the rest of the month. By temperament I'm a vagabond and a tramp.
A writer strives to express a universal truth in the way that rings the most bells in the shortest amount of time.
It seems impossible for a man to learn the value of money without first having to learn to waste it.
I love Virginians because Virginians are all snobs and I like snobs. A snob has to spend so much time being a snob that he has little time left to meddle with you.
It is assumed that anyone who makes a million dollars has a unique gift, though he might have made it off some useless gadget.
An artist is completely amoral in that he will rob, beg, borrow, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.
It's always the idle habits you acquire which you will regret.
It's always the idle habits you acquire which you will regret. Father said that. That Christ was not crucified: he was worn away by a minute clicking of little wheels. That had no sister.
It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.
Surely there is something in madness, even the demoniac, which Satan flees, aghast at his own handiwork, and which God looks on in pity.
My ideal job? Landlord of a bordello! The company's good and the mornings are quiet, which is the best time to write.
A man. All men. He will pass up a hundred chances to do good for one chance to meddle where meddling is not wanted. He will overlook and fail to see chances, opportunities, for riches and fame and welldoing, and even sometimes for evil. But he won't fail to see a chance to meddle.
But something held him, as the fatalist can always be held: by curiosity, pessimism, by sheer inertia.
Pleasure, ecstasy, they cannot seem to bear: their escape from it is in violence, in drinking and fighting and apparently inescapable -- -- And so why should not their religion drive them to crucifixion of themselves and one another? he thinks.
The artist is of no importance. Only what he creates is important, since there is nothing new to be said. Shakespeare, Balzac, Homer have all written about the same things, and if they had lived one thousand or two thousand years longer, the publishers wouldn't have needed anyone since.
It wasn't until the Nobel Prize that they really thawed out. They couldn't understand my books, but they could understand $30,000.
Maybe times are never strange to women: it is just one continuous monotonous thing full of the repeated follies of their menfolks.
So long as the deceit ran along quiet and monotonous, all of us let ourselves be deceived, abetting it unawares or maybe through cowardice.
What matters is at the end of life, when you're about to pass into oblivion, that you've at least scratched 'Kilroy was here,' on the last wall of the universe.
It is as though the space between us were time: an irrevocable quality. It is as though time, no longer running straight before us in a diminishing line, now runs parallel between us like a looping string, the distance being the doubling accretion of the thread an not the interval between.
I imagine as long as people will continue to read novels, people will continue to write them, or vice versa; unless of course the pictorial magazines and comic strips finally atrophy man's capacity to read, and literature really is on its way back to the picture writing in the Neanderthal cave.
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do.
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
How do our lives ravel out into the no-wind, no-sound, the weary gestures wearily recapitulant: echoes of old compulsions with no-hand on no-string: in sunset we fall into furious attitudes, dead gestures of dolls.
If you could just ravel out into time. That would be nice. It would be nice if you could just ravel out into time.
He got off on Lincoln and slavery and dared any man there to deny that Lincoln and the negro and Moses and the children of Israel were the same, and that the Red Sea was just the blood that had to be spilled in order that the black race might cross into the Promised Land.
As long as I live under the capitalistic system I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation.
I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.
And we'd sit in the dry leaves that whispered a little with the slow respiration of our waiting and with the slow breathing of the earth and the windless october, the rank smell of the lantern fouling the brittle air, listening to the dog and the echo of louis' voice dying away.
I don't care much for facts, am not much interested in them, you can't stand a fact up, you've got to prop it up, and when you move to one side a little and look at it from that angle, it's not thick enough to cast a shadow in that direction.
So vast, so limitless in capacity is man's imagination to disperse and burn away the rubble-dross of fact and probability, leaving only truth and dream.
I never said anything more. it doesn't do any good. I've found that when a man gets into a rut the best thing you can do is let him stay there.
Gough never pretended to perfection or to sainthood -- well, hardly ever. Although when he set off the metal detector at airport security, he would blame his aura.
I'm a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry ﬁrst, ﬁnds he can't, and then tries the short story, which is the most demanding form after poetry. And, failing at that, only then does he take up novel writing.
Only Southerners have taken horsewhips and pistols to editors about the treatment or maltreatment of their manuscript. This -- the actual pistols -- was in the old days, of course, we no longer succumb to the impulse. But it is still there, within us.
Nothing can injure a man's writing if he's a first-rate writer. If a man is not a first-rate writer, there's not anything can help it much. The problem does not apply if he is not first rate because he has already sold his soul for a swimming pool.
A dream is not a very safe thing to be near... I know; I had one once. It's like a loaded pistol with a hair trigger: if it stays alive long enough, somebody is going to be hurt. But if it's a good dream, it's worth it.