February 6, 2017

"The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one."

"He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies."

William Faulkner.

40 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Uh, oh. Does Meade know you are writing a book?

Fernandinande said...

What's a Greek urn?
About $4.50 an hour.

EDH said...

If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies.

"What is she doing? I never know what she is doing back there."

mockturtle said...

What's a Greek urn?
About $4.50 an hour.


Or about 40 drachmas a week.

mockturtle said...

Actually, they use Euros, now.

BN said...

Typical.

I am an artist/ruler/lawyer/somebody. I have an excuse for being a bad person. What is your excuse, deplorable you?

mockturtle said...

I've always though Keats just ripped that one off on one semi-drunken afternoon.

Fernandinande said...

mockturtle said...
Actually, they use Euros, now.


It's probably a moot point because Greeks don't earn money anymore, they "borrow" it instead.

But this one works with any currency:
What did the zero say to the eight?
"Nice belt!"

Fernandinande said...

BN said...
What is your excuse, deplorable you?


"There's something in my DNA." White molecules. That's the bad kind.

harryo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Pretentiousness art is like performance art.

rcocean said...

That's fine if you're Faulkner. The problem is that 10,000 mediocre writers and "artists" have the same attitude.

rhhardin said...

The great artists today work in the cellulose mines in Uruguay.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't agree.

n.n said...

Cruel neutrality.

Bad Lieutenant said...

"Norman Mailer to the white courtesy phone.

"Salvador Dali to the white courtesy phone.

"Jack Henry Abbott to the white courtesy phone.

"William S. Burroughs to the white courtesy phone.

"Eldridge Cleaver to the, er, honky courtesy phone.

"Some hippie chick in Madison wants to blow you.

"Please arrange the order among yourselves. Kindly don't kill her, you are merely the first in line."


--There's me trying to write like Laslo (I am not Laslo, unless they're coming for him, in which case, sure, I'm Laslo, bring it). Enjoy!

jr565 said...

"If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies."
i feel the same way about sex. If I have to knock a woman unconscious to get it, I will not hesitate. Sexual gratification is worth any number of young ladies - rapist.

mockturtle said...

Freeman Hunt disagrees: I don't agree.

Me, either. Artists have always used their art as an excuse to be be assholes.

JTR said...

His mother, and any number of old ladies, were most likely worth ten of Faulkner when it came to love, which is the ultimate art.

What a deluded twat. He can go over there and join the others in the grave.

James Kahn said...

I've always found it best to try to ignore what artists say about anything (as they are all too often idiots or moral cretins), and just appreciate (or not) the works on their own merits. Otherwise a good chunk of the greatest art, music, literature, film, would be tainted.

Now off to listen to some Wagner.

Kristy Camas said...

By comparison:

"Even in my worst moments I would not destroy a Greek statue or a fresco by Giotto. Why anything else then? Why, for example, a moment in the life of a human being who could have been happy for that moment." - Simone Weil

mockturtle said...

Now off to listen to some Wagner.

I loved watching Nureyev dance but I didn't want to know about his rude and destructive behavior. Didn't Amadeus capture this dilemma rather well?

BillyTalley said...

I thought of Paul Giamatti's role as Miles in Sideways, when he steals from his mother. Quite a scene.

Kristy Camas said...

I agree that it's an excuse. Even Faulkner couldn't know if this is true. When an artist follows this philosophy, we'll never know what kind of an artist might they might have been if they'd been less willing to throw honor, decency, and little old ladies aside for the sake of art.

David said...

"the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies.”

~But young ones are a completely different matter.

Nancy Reyes said...

how horrible. Essentially he is saying artists can murder because they are above the law, and that old ladies can be offed because their lives are not meaningful to the strong and powerful "artists".
Can you say "ubermensch" and "untermensch" people?
No, a gift of art is a gift of god.
But a human being is a person beloved by God and is more important than any material object.

St. George said...

Most of Faulkner is unreadable. "Absalom, Absalom"? Have fun, ye graduate English students.

Compare the long and short versions of "The Bear," and one quickly realizes how much he benefited from a editor's red pen.

Quaestor said...

Beauty is truth, truth beauty...

Meh. I realize Faulkner is one of the admired novelists, that he's taught everywhere, that tens of thousands of words are written about him and his works in various MLA journals (the usual suspects), but anyone who could claim "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is worth "any number of old ladies" is either making a making a subtle but snide joke about John Keats, or he's off his chump. From the little I know about Faulkner I surmise his humor was more ribald than dry, ergo the old ladies remark wasn't a joke.

Wordsworth is without doubt worth a passel of gray-haired careworn mothers. If it were a choice between an absolute purge of "We Are Seven" and a mass execution of mommies Babi Yar style, I'd say lock an' load the MG 42's, boys! But Keats? Don't make me spew tea out my nose. Keats is the Shaun Cassidy of Regency poets. If Tiger Beat had existed in 1819 English teenyboppers would have made Keats collages from the covers. Faulkner apparently would have done the same. (I always suspected he was a bit light in the loafers.)

At least he didn't equate Absalom, Absalom! with dead grannies. What a bore. It's Dark Shadows without the vampire. Overrated, to put it suitably Trumpian. Many's the slip 'twixt the typewriter and the page when it comes to that Mississippian. Faulkner made such a hash of the screenplay for The Big Sleep that Warner Brothers had to bring in Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman to rescue the project, and even then there remained plot holes big enough for a 747 to cruise through.

buwaya said...

Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dickens, Kipling wrote to make money.

Lyle said...

It must have sucked to have been his friend or to have loved him.

Leora said...

Albert Camus said "I love justice, but I will defend my mother before justice." I think he had his proportions more fight than that drunk Faulkner.

mockturtle said...

Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dickens, Kipling wrote to make money.

Good point. They all do but the honest ones admit it.

Quaestor said...

Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dickens, Kipling wrote to make money.

Being so far unpaid Quaestor writes to make trouble. So, in the Name of Peace! ,,, write me a check.

buwaya said...

"So, in the Name of Peace! ,,, write me a check."

Its a very poor market these days for writers. Those fellows made fortunes, some of them (Dickens and Kipling say), when the public had far better taste and superior intellect.

Quaestor said...

Too bad. I foresee stormy waters ahead.

Get in the barrel, darlin', and we'll do it 'urricane style.

Jupiter said...

It's not clear to me how the failure to rob one's mother would be an obstacle to the creation of art, great or otherwise. Of course, he doesn't actually say that. "If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate" should perhaps be taken as simply a warning to those who know little of writers, from one who knows them all too well.

Roughcoat said...

Yeats ... now there was poet. Yeats and Gerald Manly Hopkins are my favorites. I love Yeats in part because he always wanted to make money and lots of it. He ran the Abbey Theatre with a no-nonsense business rod of iron as a money-making enterprise. It's said that when he won the Nobel Prize for literature his literary agent, fellow named Berti (I think), called to give him the exciting news. First thing Yeats said was: "How much, Bertie? How much?"

Gotta love him.

mockturtle said...

I like Yeats, too. We had a boat we named Innisfree from his 'Lake Isle' work.

Mark Daniels said...

What an absurd and self-worshiping statement.

Jon Ericson said...

Which one, may I ask?