“Such are the perfections of fiction...Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness...There is more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce. Graham might conceivably make you sick, so that you might move, go somewhere to get well. But Joyce just sends you out into the street, where the world goes on, solid as a bus. If you met Joyce and said 'Help me,' he’d hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake. You could both cry.” – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quote of the Day: William Gaddis

"--When we were sitting here listening to him read, it didn't occur to me, it's funny, it never occurred to me about him, pictures I've seen of him, and his poems, and the things he says in his poems . . . and I'd wanted to meet him. Esther's eyes had come to rest on the floor, and the shadow there from the chair meaningless until it moved.
    --And you're surprised . . . upset over this?
    --I'd wanted to meet him, she commenced, following the shadow's length back to its roots.
    --Meet him? And now a thing like this . . . I don't understand, you Esther, you're the one who always knows these things about people, these personal things about writers and painters and all the . . .
    --Yes, but . . .
    --Analyzing, dissecting, finding answers, and now . . . What did you want of him that you didn't get from his work? [. . .] this passion for wanting to meet the latest poet, shake hands with the latest novelist, get hold of the latest painter, devour . . . what is it? What is it they want from a man that they didn't get from his work? What do they expect? What is there left of him when he's done his work? What's any artist, but the dregs of his work? The human shambles that follows it around. What's left of the man when the work's done but a shambles of apology.
    --Wyatt, these romantic . . .
    --Yes, romantic, listen . . . Romantics! they marry cows and all kinds of comfort, soon enough their antics betray them to what would have been fatal in the work, I mean being obvious. No, here, it's competence right here in the world that's rewarded with romantic ends, and the romantics battling for competence, something to eat and carfare home . . . Look at the dentist's wife, she's a beauty. Who's the intimate of a saint, it's her Jesuit confessor, and the romantics end up anchorites in the desert."
-- William Gaddis, The Recognitions (pp.94-6)

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