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To be human is inevitably, to hate oneself sometimes, to hunger for the perfect stability and in a way the perfect justice or at least perfect punishment for our numerous imperfections, called death.
All order, I've come to understand, is theoretical, unreal, a harmless, sensible, smiling mask men slide between the two great, dark realities, the self and the world, two snake-pits.
If there is good to be said, the writer should say it. If there is bad to be said, he should say it in a way that reflects the truth that, though we see the evil, we choose to continue among the living.
Fate often enough will spare a man if his courage holds.
Our noblest hopes grow teeth and pursue us like tigers.
The hero sees values beyond what's possible. That's the nature of a hero. It kills him, of course, ultimately. But it makes the whole struggle of humanity worthwhile.
Beauty requires contrast.
So, when I write a piece of fiction I select my characters and settings and so on because they have a bearing, at least to me, on the old unanswerable philosophical questions. And as I spin out the action, Im always very concerned with springing discoveries, actual philosophical discoveries. But at the same time Im concerned and finally more concerned with what the discoveries do to the character who makes them, and to the people around him. Its that that makes me not really a philosopher, but a novelist.
The true artist plays mad with his soul, labors at the very lip of the volcano, but remembers and clings to his purpose, which is as strong as the dream. He is not someone possessed, like Cassandra, but a passionate, easily tempted explorer who fully intends to get home again, like Odysseus.
By the time you've run your mind through it a hundred times, relentlessly worked out every tic of terror, it's lost its power over you...Soon it's a story on a page or, more precisely, everybody's story on a page.
An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
Ultimately it come down to, are you making or are you destroying? If you try very hard to create ways of living, create dreams of what is possible, then you win. If you don't, you may make a fortune in ten years, but you're not going to be read in twenty years, and that's that.
What art ought to do is tell stories which are moment-by-moment wonderful, which are true to human experience, and which in no way explain human experience.
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