The Prompter Room

For Friday, September 22, 2017:

 

The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise… I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.

Annie Dillard, PILGRIM AT TINKER’S CREEK

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The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, September 19, 2017:

 

 

Art is a special revelation of the higher powers of the human soul. There is in the contemplation of it an unconscious comparison constantly going on in the mind, of the pure forms of beauty and excellence, which are without to those which are within, and native to the human heart. It is a process of soul-awakening self-revelation, a species of new birth, for a new life springs up in the soul with every newly discovered agency, by which the soul is brought into a more intimate knowledge of its own Divine powers and perfections, and is lifted to a higher level of wisdom, goodness, and joy.

Frederick Douglass

 

The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, September 12, 2017:

 

… I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work — the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell — you are not responsible for the world — you are only responsible for your work — so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working — then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to

DO

Sol LeWitt, in a 1965 letter to sculptor Eva Hesse

 

The Prompter Room

For Friday, September 8, 2017:

 

From the most serious to the most comic, the simplest to the most baroque, the most personal to the most political, poems alter the landscape of the given.  This tilting of ordinary reality and ordinary expectation is the gesture that lives in the ink of art’s first impulse.

Jane Hirshfield, ‘The American Poetry Review,’ Sept/Oct 2017

The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, September 5, 2017:

 

The heart of it is something very complex, that has to do with ideas of destiny, and with an almost inexpressible feeling that I am merely an instrument through which something has happened — that I’ve had little to do with it myself.

Rachel Carson, on the writer’s ultimate task

The Prompter Room

For Friday, September 1, 2017:

 

What a singular moment is the first [dream], when you have hardly begun to recollect yourself, after starting from midnight slumber! By unclosing your eyes so suddenly … you find yourself, for a single instant, wide awake in that realm of illusions, whither sleep has been the passport, and behold its ghostly inhabitants and wondrous scenery, with a perception of their strangeness, such as you never attain while the dream is undisturbed.

… If you could choose an hour of wakefulness out of the whole night, it would be this.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Prompter Room

For Friday, August 25, 2017:

 

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

Toni Morrison, “No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear,” in the 150th anniversary issue of The Nation.