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“A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses. An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.

The extreme limit of wisdom, that’s what the public calls madness. The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, they finish by loading honors on your head. The poet never asks for admiration; he wants to be believed.

Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time. Take a commonplace, clean it and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and originality and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet’s job. The rest is literature. When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.

The actual tragedies of life bear no relation to one’s preconceived ideas. In the event, one is always bewildered by their simplicity, their grandeur of design, and by that element of the bizarre which seems inherent in them. Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies. Unable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort.

I am a lie who always speaks the truth.”

by Jean Cocteau

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