the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

quotes: klee, miller, winterson, de beauvoir on folly and satisfaction

Posted by rigorousm on February 12, 2011

Satirical Opus:
The happy man is half an idiot for whom all things flourish and bear fruit. He stands on his little estate, one hand holding a watering-can, the other pointing to himself as the navel of the world. Things sprout and blossom. Boughs heavy with fruit bend towards him.

– from Paul Klee’s Journal 316, 1901.

The fellow who is out to burn things up is the counterpart of the fool who thinks he can save the world. The world needs neither to be burned up nor to be saved. The world is, we are. Transients, if we buck it; here to stay, if we accept everything created is also creative.

– Henry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch, p. 144.

Symbolic man surrounds himself with objects as tyrants surround themselves with subjects: ‘These will obey me. Through them I am worshipped. Through them I exercise control.’ These fraudulent kingdoms, hard-headed and practical, are really the soft-centre of fantasy. They are wish fulfillment nightmares when more is piled on more to manufacture the illusion of abundance. They are lands of emptiness and want. Things do not satisfy. In part they fail to satisfy because their symbolic value changes so regularly and what brought whistles of admiration one year is next year’s car boot sale bargain. In part they fail to satisfy because much of what we buy is gadgetry and fashion, which makes objects temporary and the need to be able to purchase them, permanent. In part they fail to satisfy because we do not actually want the things they buy. They are illusion, narcotic, hallucination.

– Jeanette Winterson, Art Objects, pp. 144-145.

The human being, stripped of pretensions and reduced to its simple truth, has something comic, ludicrous and touching about it, and at times something mysterious, as we see in Senecio: the name calls to mind both old age and the flower of the coltsfoot (senecio) and the picture shows us a lunar, childish face.
The title makes one think: for although there is nothing literary about Klee’s painting, words have great importance in it– he brings printed and written letters into his pictures and he chooses his titles with great care, so that they form part of the painting and modify its meaning. It is these interchanges between the written language and that of painting, between the various earthly creatures, and between nature and architecture that give Klee’s world its poetry. His process is the opposite of Picasso’s, for Picasso’s painting breaks reality down and analyses it. Klee sees it as a universal presence that beyond its apparent limits: everything is bound to the cosmos as a whole, and it is the painter’s task to make this connection visible by isolating the analogies that exist between all things.

– Simone de Beauvoir, All Said and Done, pp. 205-206.


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