All of us are consumers and enjoyers of creative works - the written word, visual arts, the performing arts - while many are also creators of these things. In this chapter, poets, painters, musicians, and others probe the meaning and appeal of these works, plus the process that results in their creation. Here is a peppering of them:
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
A painting is a symbol for the universe. Inside it, each piece relates to the other. Each piece is only answerable to the rest of that little world. So, probably in the total universe, there is that kind of total harmony, but we get only little tastes of it. That's why people listen to music or look at paintings. To get in touch with that wholeness.
Everything we think of as great has come to us from neurotics. It is they and they alone who found religions and create great works of art. The world will never realize how much it owes to them, and what they have suffered in order to bestow their gifts on it.
Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood.
You don’t have to write a book in order to reflect reality. You can also write a book to create reality.
The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.
Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.
I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.
Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.
If you hear a voice within you say, “You cannot paint,”
then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
—Vincent van Gogh
Audience member at a lecture: How do you become a prophet?
Allen Ginsberg: Tell your secrets.
The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.
—George Bernard Shaw
Many say that life entered the human body by the help of music, but the truth is that life itself is music.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.
We consider the artist a special sort of person. It is more likely that each of us is a special sort of artist.