dasa bausova – ART

Disturbing the Peace

27.08.2010 (4:58 pm) – Filed under: literature ::

Václav Havel,  Disturbing the Peace pg 193

Another thing I should mention here is an interest in language. I’m interested in its ambivalence, its abuse; I’m interested in language as something that fashions life, destinies, and worlds; language as the most important skill; language as ritual and magic charm; the word as a carrier of dramatic movement, as something that legitimizes, as a way of self-affirmation and self-projection. I am interested in clichés and their meaning in a world where verbal evaluation, inclusion in a phraseological context, linguistic interpretation are often more important than reality itself, and “real reality” merely derives from clichés. Someone wrote that the main hero of The Garden Party is the cliché. The cliché organizes life; it expropriates people’s identity; it becomes ruler, defense lawyer, judge, and the law. I enjoy writing rhetorical speeches in which nonsense is defended with crystal-clear logic. I enjoy writing monologues in which pure truths are expressed with veracity and subtlety, truths which are pure lies from beginning to end. Even more, I enjoy writing speeches that balance on a knife’s edge; the audience members identify with the truths expressed in them, yet they sense a scarcely perceptible tinge of mendacity, given the situation and context, and they become uneasy, wondering how it was all meant. In Temptation, for example, Foustka expounds his opinions on the basic questions of being to Marketa, and in doing so he tells her things that are almost identical to what I believe myself and what, in similar words and in all seriousness, I have said elsewhere, such as in my letters from prison, or in this conversation. At the same time, there is something subtly false in what Foustka says. He says it—and this is something we should not miss—partly because he is trying to get Marketa to fall in love with him, and he succeeds. So he is, be it ever so subtly, abusing his own truth, one that he has, by honorable means, arrived at himself.

But is it still truth, then? Isn’t just such a subtle abuse of the truth, and of language, the real beginning of Foustka’s misery, and of the misery of the world we live in? The audience should not be entirely clear about these things; the ambivalence should disquiet them, all the more so because from their own experience—that is, if they are men—they would know that we are often at our most eloquent in formulating important truths when we set out to charm women with them. I remember when The Memorandum was being performed. The main character, in his final speech, defends his own moral degradation by appealing to the general absurdity of the world and to alienation, which he expressed in the then freshly rediscovered jargon of existentialism. Someone asked me how I’d really meant it—that is, whether I’d seriously meant to defend his moral degradation, or whether I had intended, by making fun of that kind of talk to distance myself from modern philosophy’s revival of Marxism. The person concerned was upset, and I couldn’t have asked for a better response. A cliché is always a cliché; there are no “progressive” clichés or “reactionary” clichés; the more “progressive” a phrase is, the less it appears to be a cliché, the more it interests me.

complementary schismogenesis

27.02.2010 (10:26 am) – Filed under: literature ::

Deborah Tannen, PhD   That’s NOT What I MEANT! pg 129

The situation he depicted is something like the practical joke that can be played using a dual-control electric blanket. If you reverse the controls, the first attempt by either person to make an adjustment will set off a cycle of worsening maladjustment – I am cold, I set the controls beside me higher, you get too hot and turn your controls down, so I get colder, and so on. The attempt to correct actually increases the error….Once the wiring is in the wrong place, efforts at change are palliative or worse.

of the beginning of days

27.02.2010 (10:21 am) – Filed under: literature ::

J.R.R. Tolkien   The Simarillion pg 41

Now all is said concerning the manner of the Earth ad its rulers in the beginning of days, and ere the world became such as the Children of Iluvatar have known it. For Elves and Men are the Children of Iluvatar; and since they understood not fully that theme by which the Children entered into the Music, none of the Ainur dared to add anything to their fashion. For which reason the Valar are to these kindreds rather their elders and their chieftains than their masters; and if ever in their dealings with Elves and Men the Ainur have endeavoured to force them when they would not be guided, seldom has this turned to good, howsoever good the intent. The dealings of the Ainur have indeed been mostly with the Elves, for Iluvatar made them more like in nature to the Ainur, though less in might and stature; whereas to Men he gave strange gifts.

For it is said that after the departure of the Valar there was silence, and for an age Iluvatar sate alone in thought. Then he spoke and said: ‘Behold I love the Earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and the Atani! But the Quendi shall be the fairest of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and shall conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world. But to the Atani I will give a new gift.’ Therefore he willed that the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein; but they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else; and of their operation everything should be, in form and deed, completed, and the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest.

But Iluvatar knew that Men, being set amid the turmoils of the powers of the world, would stray often, and would not use their gifts in harmony; and he said: ‘These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.’ Yet the Elves believe that Men are often a grief to Manwe, who knows most of the mind of Iluvatar; for it seems to the Elves that Men resemble Melkor most of all the Ainur, although he has ever feared and hated them, even those that served him.

It is one with this gift of freedom that the children of men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not. Whereas the Elves remain until the end of days, and their love of the Earth and all the world is more single and more poignant therefore, and as the years lengthen ever more sorrowful. For the Elves die not till the world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief (and to both these seeming deaths they are subject); neither does age subdue their strength, unless one grow weary of ten thousand centuries; and dying they are gathered to the halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence they may in time return. But the sons of men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Iluvatar, which as Time wars ever the Powers shall envy. But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope. Yet of old the Valar declared to the Elves in Valinor that Men shall join in the Second music of the Ainur; whereas Iluvatar has not revealed what he purposes for the Elves after the World’s end, and Melkor has not discovered it.

cain and abel

27.03.2009 (9:47 am) – Filed under: literature ::

John Steinbeck  East of Eden pg 355

“I think I can,” Lee answered Samuel. “I think this is the best-known story in the world because it is everybody’s story. I think it is the symbol story of the human soul. I’m feeling my way now – don’t jump on me if I’m not clear. The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime guilt – and there is the story of mankind. I think that if rejection could be amputated, the human would not be what he is. Maybe there would be fewer crazy people. I am sure in myself there would not be many jails. It is all there-the start, the beginning. One child, refused the love he craves, kicks the cat and hides his secret guilt; and another steals so that money will make him loved; and a third conquers the world – and always the guilt and revenge and more guilt. The human is the only guilty animal. No wait! Therefore I think this old and terrible story is important because it is a chart of the soul – the secret, rejected, guilty soul. Mr. Trask, you said you did not kill your brother and then you remembered something. I don’t want to know what it was, but was it very far apart from Cain and Abel? And what do you think of my Oriental patter, Mr. Hamilton? You know I am no more Oriental than you are.”

Samuel had leaned his elbows on the table and his hands covered his eyes and his forehead. “I want to think,” he said. “Damn you, I want to think. I’ll want to take this off alone where I can pick it apart and see. Maybe you’ve tumbled a world for me. And I don’t know what I can build in my world’s place.”

Lee said softly, “Couldn’t the world be built around accepted truth? Couldn’t some pains and insanities be rooted out if the causes were known?”

“I don’t know, damn you. You’ve disturbed my pretty universe. You’ve taken a contentious game and made an answer of it. Let me alone – let me think! Your damned bitch is having pups in my brain already….”


27.03.2009 (9:26 am) – Filed under: literature ::

John Steinbeck  East of Eden pg 394

“Do you remember when you read us the sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis and we argued about them?”

“I do indeed. And that’s a long time ago.”

“Ten years nearly,” said Lee. “Well, the story bit deeply into me and I went into it word for word. The more I thought about the story, the more profound it became to me. Then I compared the translations we have – and they were fairly close. There was only one place that bothered me. The King James version says this  – it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin.”

Samuel nodded. “And his children didn’t do it entirely,” he said.

Lee sipped his coffee. “Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible. It was very new then. And it was different in this passage. It says, ‘Do thou rule over him.’ Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order. And I began to stew about it. I wondered what the original word of the original writer had been that these very different translations could be made.”

Samuel put his palms down on the table and leaned forward and the old young light came into his eyes.

“Lee,” he said, ” don’t tell me you studied Hebrew!”

Lee said, “I’m going to tell you. And it’s a fairly long story….

Pg 396

Samuel sipped the drink. “I want to know why you were so interested,” he said.

“Well, it seemed to me that the man who could conceive this great story would know exactly what he wanted to say and there would be no confusion in his statement.”

“You say ‘the man.’ Do you then not think this is a divine book written by the inky finger of God?”

“I think the mind that could think this story was a curiously divine mind. We have had a few such minds in China too.”

“I just wanted to know,” said Samuel. “You’re not a Presbyterian after all.”

“I told you I was getting more Chinese. Well, to go on, I went to San Francisco to the headquarters of our family association. Do you know about them? Our great families have centers where any member can get help or give it. The Lee family is very large. It takes care of its own.”

“I have heard of them,” said Samuel.

“You mean Chinee hatchet man fightee Tong was over slave girl?”

“I guess so.”

“It’s a little different from that, really,” said lee. “I went there because in our family there are a number of ancient reverend gentlemen who are great scholars. They are thinkers in exactness. A man may spend many years pondering a sentence of the scholar you call Confucius. I thought there might be experts in meaning who could advise me.

“They are fine old men. They smoke their two pipes of opium in the afternoon and it rests and sharpens them, and they sit through the night and their minds are wonderful. I guess no other people have been able to use opium well.”

Lee dampened his tongue in the black brew. “I respectfully submitted my problem to one of these sages, read him the story, and told him what I understood from it. The next night four of them met and called me in. We discussed the story all night long.”

Lee laughed. “I guess it’s funny,” he said. ” I know I wouldn’t dare tell it to many people. Can you imagine four old gentlemen, the youngest is over ninety now, taking on the study of Hebrew? They engaged a learned rabbi. They took to the study as though they were children. Exercise books, grammar, vocabulary, simple sentences. You should see Hebrew written in Chinese ink with a brush! The right to left didn’t bother them as much as it would you, since we write up to down. Oh, there were perfectionists! They went to the root of the matter.”

“And you?” said Samuel.

“I went along with them, marveling at the beauty of their proud clean brains. I began to love my race, and for the first time I wanted to be Chinese. Every two weeks I went to a meeting with them, and in my room here I covered pages with writing. I bought every known Hebrew dictionary. But the old gentlemen were always ahead of me. It wasn’t long before they were ahead of our rabbi; he brought a colleague in. Mr. Hamilton, you should have sat through some of those nights of argument and discussion. The questions, the inspection, oh the lovely thinking – the beautiful thinking.

“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too – ‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”

Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”

Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ – it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”

“Yes, I see. I do see. But you do not believe this is divine law. Why do you feel its importance?”

“Ah!” said Lee. “I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time. I even anticipated your questions and I am well prepared. Any writing which has influenced the thinking and the lives of innumerable people is important. Now, there are many millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.” Lee’s voice was a chant of triumph.

Adam said, “Do you believe that, Lee?”

“Yes, I do. Yes, I do. It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there. And do you know, those old gentlemen who were sliding gently down to death are too interested to die now?”

Adam said, “Do you mean these Chinese men believe the Old Testament?”

Lee said, “These old men believe a true story, and they know a true story when they hear it. They are critics of truth. They know that these sixteen verses are a history of humankind in any age or culture or race. They do not believe a man writes fifteen and three-quarter verses of truth and tells a lie with one verb. Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this – this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cults the feel from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness.”

Adam said, “I don’t see how you could cook and raise the boys and take care of me and still do all this.”

“Neither do I,” said Lee. “But I take my two pipes in the afternoon, no more and no less, like the elders. And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing – maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed because ‘Thou mayest.’ “


27.03.2009 (8:29 am) – Filed under: literature ::

John Steinbeck  East of Eden pg 95

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen and horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies; some are born with no arms, no legs, some with three arms, no legs, some with three arms, some with tails or mouths in odd places. They are accidents and no one’s fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishments for concealed sins.

And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he cannot miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare with others. To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

It is my belief that Cathy Ames was born with the tendencies, or lack of them, which drove and forced her all of her life. Some balance wheel was misweighted, some gear out of ration. She was not like other people, never was from birth. And just as a cripple may learn to utilize his lack so that he becomes more effective in a limited field than the uncrippled, so did Cathy, using her difference, make a painful and bewildering stir in her world.

There was a time when a girl like Cathy would have been called possessed by the devil. She would have been exorcised to cast out the evil spirit, and if after many trials that did not work, she would have been burned as a witch for the good of the community. The one thing that may not be forgiven a witch is her ability to distress people, to make them restless and uneasy and even envious.

Pg 97

Cathy was different from other children in many ways, but one thing in particular set her apart. Most children abhor difference. They want to look, talk, dress, and act exactly like all of the others. If the style of dress in an absurdity, it is pain and sorrow to a child not to wear that absurdity. If necklaces of pork chops were accepted, it would be a sad child who could not wear pork chops. And this slavishness to the group normally extends into every game, every practice, social or otherwise. It is a protective coloration children utilize for their safety.

Cathy had none of this. She never conformed in dress or conduct. She wore whatever she wanted to.  The result was that quite often other children imitated her.

As she grew older the group, the herd, which is any collection of children, began to sense what adults felt, that there was something foreign about Cathy. After a while only one person at a time associated with her. Groups of boys and girls avoided her as though she carried a nameless danger.

Cathy was a liar, but did not lie the way most children do. Hers was no daydream lying, when the thing imagined is told and, to make it seem more real, told as real. That is just ordinary deviation from external reality. I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of truth for the interest of the listener as well as of the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that definition is strictly held to, than a writer of stories is a liar – if he is financially fortunate.

Cathy’s lies were never innocent. Their purpose was to escape punishment, or work, or responsibility, and they were used for profit. Most liars are tripped up either because they forget what they have told or because the lie is suddenly faced with an incontrovertible truth. But Cathy did not forget her lies, and she developed the most effective method of lying. She stayed close enough to the truth so that one could never be sure. She knew two other methods also – either to interlard her lies with truth or to tell a truth as though it were a lie. If one is accused of a lie and it turns out to be the truth, there is a backlog that will last a long time and protect a number of untruths.

Pg 99

Nearly everyone in the world has appetites and impulses, trigger emotions, islands of selfishness, lusts just beneath the surface. And most people either hold such things in check or indulge them secretly. Cathy knew not only these impulses in others but how to use them for her own gain. It is quite possible that she did not believe in any other tendencies in humans, for while she was preternaturally alert in some directions she was completely blind in others.

Cathy learned when she was very young that sexuality with all its attendant yearnings and pains, jealousies and taboos, is the most disturbing impulse humans have. And in that day it was even more disturbing than it is now, because the subject was unmentionable and unmentioned. Everyone concealed that little hell in himself, while publicly pretending it did not exist and he was caught up in it he was completely helpless. Cathy learned that by the manipulation and use of this one part of people she could gain and keep power over nearly anyone. It was at once a weapon and a threat. It was irresistible. And since the blind helplessness seems never to have fallen on Cathy, it is probable that she had very little of the impulse herself and indeed felt a contempt for those who did. And when you think of it in one way, she was right.

What freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality! The only drawback in that freedom is that without it one would not be a human. One would be a monster.


22.03.2009 (5:57 pm) – Filed under: literature ::

John Steinbeck  Of Mice and Men  pg 161

As Happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.

Then gradually time awakened again and moved sluggishly on. the horses stamped on the other side of the feeding racks and the halter chains clinked. Outside, the mens’ voices became louder and clearer.

meaning of life

20.03.2009 (8:03 pm) – Filed under: literature ::

Somerset Maugham  Of Human Bondage pg 589

Thinking of Cronshaw, Philip remembered the Persian rug which he had given him, telling him that it offered an answer to his question upon the meaning of life; and suddenly the answer occurred to him: he chuckled: now that he had it, it was like one of the puzzles which you worry over till you are shown the solution ad then cannot imagine how it could ever have escaped you. The answer was obvious. Life had no meaning. On the earth, satellite of a star speeding through space, living things had arisen under the influence of conditions which were part of the planet’s history; and as there had been a beginning of life upon it so, under the influence of other conditions, there would be an end; man, no more significant than other forms of life, had come not as the climax of creation but as a physical reaction to the environment. Philip remembered the story of the Eastern King who, desiring to know the history of man, was brought by a sage five hundred volumes; busy with affairs of state, he bade him go and condense it; in twenty years the sage retuned and his history now was in no more than fifty volumes, but the King, too old then to read so many ponderous tomes, bade him go and shorten it once more; twenty years passed again and the sage, old and gray, brought a single book in which was the knowledge the King had sought; but the king lay on his death-bed, and he had no time to read even that; and then the sage gave him the history of man in a single line; it was this: he was born, he suffered, and he died. There was no meaning in life, and man by living served no end. It was immaterial whether he was born or not born, whether he lived or ceased to live. Life was insignificant and death without consequence. Philip exulted, as he had exulted in his boyhood when the weight of a belief in God was lifted from his shoulders; it seemed to him that the last burden of responsibility was taken from him; and for the first time he was utterly free. His insignificance was turned to power, and he felt himself suddenly equal with the cruel fate which had seemed to persecute him; for, if life was meaningless, the world was robbed of its cruelty. What he did or left undone did not matter. Failure was unimportant and success amounted to nothing. He was the most inconsiderate creature in that swarming mass of mankind which for a brief space occupied the surface of the earth; and he was almighty because he had wrenched from chaos the secret of its nothingness. Thought came tumbling over one another in Philip’s eager fancy, and he took long breaths of joyous satisfaction. He felt inclined to leap and sing. He had not been so happy for months.

“Oh, life,” he cried in his heart, “Oh life, where is thy sting?”

For the same uprush of fancy which had shown him with all the force of mathematical demonstration that life had no meaning, brought with it another idea; and that was why Cronshaw, he imagined, had given him the a Persian rug. As the weaver elaborated his pattern for no end but the pleasure of his aesthetic sense, so might a man live his life, or of one was forced to believe that his actions were outside his choosing, so might a man look at his life, that is made a pattern. There was as little need to do this as there was use. It was merely something he did for his own pleasure. Out of the manifold events of his life, his deeds, his feelings, his thoughts, he might make a design, regular, elaborate, complicated, or beautiful; and though it might be no more than an illusion that he had the power of selection, though it might be no more than a fantastic legerdemain in which appearances were interwoven with moonbeams, that did not matter; it seemed, and so to him it was. In the vast warp of life, (a river arising from no spring and flowing endlessly to no sea,) with the background to his fancies that there was no meaning that nothing was important, a man might get a personal satisfaction in selection the various strands that worked out the pattern. There was one pattern, the most obvious, perfect and beautiful, in which a man was born, grew to manhood, married, produced children, toiled for his bread, and died; but there were others, intricate and wonderful, in which happiness did not enter and in which success was not attempted; and in them might be discovered a more troubling grace. Some lived, and Hayward’s was among them, the blind indifference of chance cut off while the design was still imperfect; and then the solace was comfortable that it did not matter; other lives, such as Cronshaw’s, offered a pattern which was difficult to follow, the point of view had to be shifted and old standards had to be altered before one could understand that such a life was its own justification. Philip thought that in throwing over the desire for happiness he was casting aside the last of his illusions. His life had seemed horrible when it was measured by its happiness, but now he seemed to gather strength as he realized that it might be measured by something else. Happiness mattered as little as pain. They came in, both of them, as all the other details of his life came in, to the elaboration of the design. He seemed for an instant to stand above the accidents of this existence, and he felt that they could not affect him again as they had done before. Whatever happened to him now would be one more motive to add to the complexity of the pattern, and when the end approached he would rejoice in its completion. It would be a work of art, and it would be none the less beautiful because he alone knew of its existence, and with his death it would at once cease to be.

Philip was happy.


20.03.2009 (8:01 pm) – Filed under: literature ::

Somerset Maugham  Of Human Bondage pg 274

“There is nothing so degrading as the constant anxiety about one’s means of livelihood. I have nothing but contempt for the people who despise money. They are hypocrites or fools. Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five. Without an adequate income half the possibilities of life are shut off. The only thing to be careful about is that you do not pay more than a shilling for the shilling you earn. You will hear people say that poverty is the best spur to the artist. They have never felt the iron of it in their flesh. They do not know how mean it makes you. It exposes you to endless humiliation, it cuts your wings, it eats into your soul like a cancer. It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank, and independent. I pity with all my heart the artist, whether he writes or paints, who is entirely dependent for subsistence upon his art.”

Philip quietly put away the various things which he had shown.

“I’m afraid that sounds as if you didn’t think I had much chance.”

Monsieur Foinet slightly shrugged his shoulders.

“You have a certain manual dexterity. With hard work and perseverance there is no reason why you should not become a careful, not incompetent painter. You would find hundreds who painted worse than you, hundreds who painted as well. I see no talent in anything you have shown me. I see industry and intelligence. You will never be anything but mediocre.”

Philip obliged himself to answer quite steadily.

“I’m grateful to you for having taken so much trouble. I can’t thank you enough.”

Monsieur Foinet got up and made as if to go, but he changed his mind, and stopping, put his hand on Philip’s shoulder.

“But if you were to ask me my advice, I should say; take your courage in both hands and try your luck at something else. It sounds very hard, but let me tell you this; I would give all I have in the world if someone has given me that advice when I was your age and I had taken it.”

Philip looked at him with surprise. The master forced his lips into a smile, but his eyes remained grave and sad.

“It is cruel to discover one’s mediocrity only when it is too late. It does not improve the temper.”


28.02.2009 (2:17 pm) – Filed under: literature ::

W. Somerset Maugham   The Razor’s Edge  pg 269

“Reality. You can’t say what it is; you can only say what it isn’t. It’s inexpressible…It’s nowhere and everywhere. All things imply and depend upon it. It’s not a person, it’s not a thing, it’s not a cause. It has no qualities. It transcends permanence and change; whole and part, finite and infinite. It is eternal because its completeness and perfection are unrelated to time. It is truth and freedom.”