Saturday, August 12, 2006

Constellation No. 1

"Now female authors like to live in jolly intimacy with their fellows; they rejoice in literary luncheons, publishers' teas and getting books together as if they were charades; male authors like to do their work in solitude and take their pleasure in the company that will distract them least from their serious business; but epicene authors like to huddle together and imagine plots and betrayals."

Evelyn Waugh, "Present Discontents" (1937) in The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh (Donat Gallagher, editor [1984]): p. 240.

"At times Berg no doubt relegated my own philosophical ballast to the category he termed "a bore" [fad]; I joked about it once and he did not seriously contradict me. 'A bore' as a collective term for anything not sensuously appetizing was in fact one of Berg's favorite words. Admittedly I was deadly earnest in those days, which could get on a mature artist's nerves. Out of pure veneration I tried never to say anything I did not consider particularly profound, though I did not always live up to that standard; I had as yet no idea that in their contact with others, emphatically productive people prefer to relax from those extremes of intensity and concentration which at the time I considered their due."

Theodor W. Adorno, "Reminiscence" from Alban Berg: Master of the Smallest Link, (1968), translated by Juliane Brand and Christopher Hailey (Cambridge, 1991): pp. 29-30.
"I have already said (and it was precisely Robert himself who at Balbec had helped me, quite unwittingly, to arrive at this conclusion) what I think about friendship: to wit, that it is so trivial a thing that I find it hard to understand how men with some claim to genius--Nietzsche, for instance--can have been so ingenuous as to ascribe to it a certain intellectual merit, and consequently to deny themselves friendships in which intellectual esteem would have no part."

Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way, Chapter Two, (1981 Vintage edition of the Moncrieff/Kilmartin translation: Vol. II): p. 409.

"Proust, cloistered in bed in Paris, had difficulty appreciating why anyone would be dissatisfied with the idea of spending a holiday on a beach with some young people whose only fault was not to have read Descartes: 'I do my intellectual work within myself, and once with other people, it's more or less irrelevant to me that they're intelligent, as long as they are kind, sincere, etc."

1920 letter to Sidney Schiff, quoted by Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997): p. 122.
"Deep down, I had little respect for the contemporary art scene. Most of the artists I knew behaved exactly like entrepreneurs: they carefully reconnoitered emerging markets, then tried to get in fast. Just like entrepreneurs, they had been at the same few colleges, they were cast from the same mold. There were some differences, however: in the art market, innovation was at a greater premium than in most other professional sectors. Moreover, artists often worked in packs or networks, in contrast to entrepreneurs, who were solitary beings surrounded by enemies--shareholders ready to drop them at a moment's notice, executives always ready to betray them. But in the artists' proposals I dealt with, it was rare for me to come across a sense of genuine inner desire."
Michel Houellebecq, Platform (2001), U.S. (2003) version of the translation by Frank Wynne, p. 132.