Rachel Cusk, The Bradshaw Variations (2009)
Downstairs was the ongoing story, plot-filled and relentless, of everything she knew; but in her room there was silence, daylight, an absence of structure. By stepping out of the story she had come upon the emptiness that lay all around it.
Lars Iyer, Nietzsche and the Burbs (2020)
Art, turning the amplifiers up. Listen, man, just listen, he says.
A kind of buzzing. A hum, almost sublminal. Hissing and crackling. Popping. The feeling of forces gathering. Of something about to begin …
Doesn’t it sound cool? Art asks. Have you ever heard anything more exciting?
We’re only going to ruin it by actually playing something, I say.
We should play this, Art says, pressing his ear to the speaker cone. Play all this potential … Like, what we could play, rather than anything we actually play.
[See Peter Markus.]
Jorge Luis Borges, “The Wall and the Books”
Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belaboured by time, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, or have said something we should have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of a revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenon.
Don DeLillo, “The Art of Fiction No. 135,” The Paris Review 128, Fall 1993
Athletes — basketball players, football players — talk about “getting into the zone”. Is there a writer’s zone you get into?
There’s a zone I aspire to. Finding it is another question. It’s a state of automatic writing, and it represents the paradox that’s at the center of a writer’s consciousness — this writer’s anyway. First you look for discipline and control. You want to exercise your will, bend the language your way, bend the world your way. You want to control the flow of impulses, images, words, faces, ideas. But there’s a higher place, a secret aspiration. You want to let go. You want to lose yourself in language, become a carrier or messenger. The best moments involve a loss of control. It’s a kind of rapture, and it can happen with words and phrases fairly often — completely surprising combinations that make a higher kind of sense, that come to you out of nowhere. But rarely for extended periods, for paragraphs and pages — I think poets must have more access to this state than novelists do. In End Zone, a number of characters play a game of touch football in a snowstorm. There’s nothing rapturous or magical about the writing. The writing is simple. But I wrote the passage, maybe five or six pages, in a state of pure momentum, without the slightest pause or deliberation.
Archibald MacLeish, “Ars Poetica,” 1926
A poem should not mean
Harold Brodkey, “The Art of Fiction No. 126,” The Paris Review 121, Winter 1991
I prepare a story and then when I start to write something else emerges.
Carolyn Kizer, “The Art of Poetry No. 81,” The Paris Review 154, Spring 2000
The poem inside is perfect; I have a very clumsy retrieval process for getting it out.
Kevin Breathnach, Tunnel Vision, 2019, p. 40:
It was not an orgasm I was seeking, but the continued build-up to one.
George Shaw, “Anarchy in Coventry: George Shaw’s Greatest Hits” by Tim Jonze. The Guardian, 13 February 2019.
“In a sense, I’m painting my own departure — to keep going, until the final painting is empty, and you’re no longer casting any shadow on it.” He muses on this for a while. “That’s when you paint the greatest painting of your life. But the fact is, you’ll never be around to paint it.”
Sidney Nolan, Nolan: Australia’s Maverick Artist, BBC Four, 2019
It’s a curious kind of life in which you dream one image and you paint another.