Saturday, August 28, 2010

`The Supreme Sensual Pleasure'

“Art is the supreme sensual pleasure.”

Surpassing even the obvious, which for most of us will abate and disappear in time but so long as one’s sensibility – intellect, imagination, emotions, spirit -- remain vital, Shakespeare, Schubert and Matisse reliably render pleasure.

“Indifference to art is betrayed by the pompous solemnity of the homage often rendered it. True love remains silent or mocks.”

Don’t tell me how you just love Rilke and Les Fleurs du Mal. Show me. You have nothing to prove. In art as in other matters, those who speak the most generally have least to say.

“All literature is contemporary for the reader who knows how to read.”

Montaigne and Samuel Johnson tell us more about how we live, and how we ought to live, than any newspaper or blog. Most of the new soon turns to dust. Homer is fresh and present in a way Ashbery will never be.

“Contemporary literature, in any period, is the worst enemy of culture. The reader’s limited time is wasted by reading a thousand mediocre books that blunt his critical sense and impair his literary sensibility.”

When young we read everything. It’s the only way to hone literary taste and sift the worthy from the worthless. The market and media have product to move, and there’s pressure to consume what’s new and fashionable. And then you wonder: why did I waste my time?

“There are people who admit, without shame, that they `study’ literature.”

And fail to find pleasure or instruction in a word of it.

[The passages quoted above are from Don Colacho’s Aphorisms, a blog operated by “Stephen” and devoted to translating and celebrating the work of Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913-1994), an unclassifiable Spanish writer. The blog is notably well-organized. The citations are drawn from the section titled Art & Letters. In a short time Don Colacho’s Aphorisms has become essential daily reading.]

2 comments:

William A. Sigler said...
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William A. Sigler said...

I love this virtual conversation going on here!

A few quotes that might fit in with the rarefied tastes of this party:

"In the contemplation of beauty we are raised above ourselves, the passions are silenced and we are happy in the recognition of a good that we do not seek to possess." -George Santayana

"He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know" -Lao Tzu

"Any newspaper, from the first line to the last, is nothing but a web of horrors. I cannot understand how an innocent hand can touch one without convulsing in disgust." -Charles Baudelaire

"For a long time the King had an appointed fool. At no time was there an appointed sage." -Denis Diderot

"I have not completed my studies of it [The Troggs' '66-5-4-3-2-1'] but I tentatively believe it to be as least as profound and enduring as Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, excuse me, A la recherche du temps perdu, if not the entire oeuvre of Sakyamuni Bach, the Rimbaud of the Bach family." - Lester Bangs