Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and its Discontents
Writing was in its origin the voice of an absent person; and the dwelling-house was a substitute for the mother’s womb, the first lodging, for which in all liklihood man still longs, and in which he was safe and felt at ease.
Henry de Montherlant, Don Juan:
“Happiness writes in white ink on a white page.”
“Le bonheur écrit à l’encre blanche sur des pages blanches.”
Marcel Duchamp, “The Creative Act” (1957)
In the creative act, the artist goes from intention to realization through a chain of totally subjective reactions. His struggle toward the realization is a series of efforts, pains, satisfaction, refusals, decisions, which also cannot and must not be fully self-conscious, at least on the esthetic plane.
The result of this struggle is a difference between the intention and its realization, a difference which the artist is not aware of.
Consequently, in the chain of reactions accompanying the creative act, a link is missing. This gap, representing the inability of the artist to express fully his intention, this difference between what he intended to realize and did realize, is the personal ‘art coefficient’ contained in the work.
In other words, the personal ‘art coefficient’ is like a arithmetical relation between the unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed.
What art is in reality is this missing link [between intention and realization], not the links which exist. It’s not what you see that is art, art is the gap. I like this idea and even if it’s not true, I accept it for the truth.
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Everything we do, in art and life, is the imperfect copy of what we intended.
Virginia Woolf, letter to Ethel Smyth, 1930
[M]y difficulty is that I am writing to a rhythm and not to a plot.
Robert Browning, “Andrea del Sarto,” 1855
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, / Or what’s a heaven for?
Rachel Cusk, Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation, 2012
I remember from childhood how easy it was to imagine, how hard to create: the difference between what I could conceive of and what I could actually do was bewildering. In adulthood I have learned that to envisage is nothing: success is a hard currency, earned by actual excellence. The vision has to be externalised, and in the case of the cake it remains the prisoner of my imaginings. … Was it because the vision was mine that I was so careless with it? I see the same impatience sometimes when my children undertake something they can’t execute, a sort of disregard — almost contempt — for practicality, perhaps even for reality itself. What they like is what is in their head — how boring it is, how hard and intransigent, this plane on which their imaginings aren’t recognised, where their visions are translated into shapeless nonsensical things!