Blessing or curse?
“An Oriental wise man always used to ask the divinity in his prayers to be so kind as to spare him from living in an interesting era. As we are not wise, the divinity has not spared us and we are living in an interesting era. In any case, our era forces us to take an interest in it.”
“The writers of today know this. If they speak up, they are criticized and attacked. If they become modest and keep silent, they are vociferously blamed for their silence. In the midst of such din the writer cannot hope to remain aloof in order to pursue the reflections and images that are dear to him.”
“Until the present moment, remaining aloof has always been possible in history. When someone did not approve, he could always keep silent or talk of something else.”
“Today everything is changed and even silence has dangerous implications.”
“The moment that abstaining from choice is itself looked upon as a choice and punished or praised as such, the artist is willy-nilly impressed into service. ‘Impressed’ seems to me a more accurate term in this connection than “committed.” Instead of signing up, indeed, for voluntary service, the artist does his compulsory service.”
“For about a century we have been living in a society that is not even the society of money (gold can arouse carnal passions) but that of the abstract symbols of money.”
“The society of merchants can be defined as a society in which things disappear in favor of signs. When a ruling class measures its fortunes, not by the acre of land or the ingot of gold, but by the number of figures corresponding ideally to a certain number of exchange operations, it thereby condemns itself to setting a certain kind of humbug at the center of its experience and its universe.”
“A society founded on signs is, in its essence, an artificial society in which man’s carnal truth is handled as something artificial.”
“There is no reason for being surprised that such a society chose as its religion a moral code of formal principles and that it inscribes the words “liberty” and “equality” on its prisons as well as on its temples of finance. However, words cannot be prostituted with impunity.”
“The most misrepresented value today is certainly the value of liberty.”
“Art, by virtue of that free essence I have tried to define, unites whereas tyranny separates.”
“It is not surprising, therefore, that art should be the enemy marked out by every form of oppression. It is not surprising that artists and intellectuals should have been the first victims of modern tyrannies…”
“The loftiest work will always be… the work that maintains an equilibrium between reality and man’s rejection of that reality, each forcing the other upward in a ceaseless overflowing, characteristic of life itself at its most joyous and heart-rending extremes.”
“Then, every once in a while, a new world appears, different from the everyday world and yet the same, particular but universal, full of innocent insecurity — called forth for a few hours by the power and longing of genius.”
“That’s just it and yet that’s not it; the world is nothing and the world is everything — this is the contradictory and tireless cry of every true artist, the cry that keeps him on his feet with eyes ever open and that, every once in a while, awakens for all in this world asleep the fleeting and insistent image of a reality we recognize without ever having known it.“
~ Albert Camus
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