Category archives for quotations
“Now listen to me, please: On a winter day, when you were a lycée student, it was snowing, and you were lost in thought. You could hear God inside you, and you were trying to forget him. You could see that the world was one, but you thought that if you could close your eyes to this vision, you could be more unhappy and also more intelligent. And you were right. Only people who are very intelligent and very unhappy can write good poems. So you heroically undertook to endure the pains of faithlessness, just to be able to write good poems. But you didn’t realize then that when you lost that voice inside you, you’d end up all alone in an empty universe.”
Orhan Pamuk, Snow
Art elevates us by intensifying and densifying the world. Of course, this is true only of good art; the least trace of anything awkward or amateurish, and we remain in our unelevated state, our reality of blushing, stumbling, idiotic misunderstandings and blunders.
— Karl Ove Knausgaard’s “Saga” for the New York Times, one of the most awkward essays I’ve ever read, but some densifying I’m on the fence about.
Duchenne was the first to observe that a spontaneously joyful smile cannot be faked, because it results from the simultaneous contraction of two muscles, only one of which is ordinarily under conscious control. Most people can voluntarily lift the corners of the mouth, but authentic joy lives in the eyes. It requires contractions of the orbicularis oculi, the sphincter muscle surrounding the eye socket, which, Duchenne wrote, “is only put in play by the sweet emotions of the soul.” The effect of this muscle is unmistakable: it subtly lifts the lower eyelids and pushes the skin around the eyes inward, and the eyes seem to sparkle.
Jonathan Kalb, The Last Time I Smiled