Best 88 of William H. Gass quotes - MyQuotes

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William H. Gass
By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

I do have a very conscious desire not to be academic. I'm antiacademic. I hate jargon. I hate that sort of pretension. I am a person who [commits] breaches of decorum - not in private life, but in my work. They are part of my mode of operation. That kind of playfulness is part of my nature in general. The paradox that, in a way, to take something very seriously, you can't always be serious about it.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

We have scarcely gotten home ... when our children's sneezes greet us, skinned knees bleed after waiting all day to do so. There is the bellyache and the burned-out basement bulb, the stalled car and the incontinent cat. The windows frost, the toilets sweat, the body of our spouse is one cold shoulder and the darkness of our bedroom is soon full of the fallen shadows of our failures.

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

Sure, the disease- the inner illness- kills. nevertheless, it's the symptoms - right?- which disfigure, which denude, which scrofulate and scar and maim. it hurts, we say, but we don't care a howl about it; we never cared about it before the pain came, only until the pain came, only because the pain came (perhaps that's why we have to suffer now); and we don't care about it today. we care about the presence of our feeling. period. we want it gone. soonest. make the pain go away doc; rub the spots out; make the quarreling stop; let the war end. peace is the death we rest in under that stone that says so. [...] peace is everybody's favourite teddy, peace is splendiferous, and it's not simply the habit of the sandy-nosed. it's the "get well" word. but after all, without a symptom, what do we see? without an outbreak of anger or impatience, what do we feel? without a heart-warming war, would we ever know or care or concern ourselves with what was wrong? the trouble is that the wrong we care for is soon the war itself, the family wrangle, the bellyache, the coated tongue, the blurry eyes, the fever-ah- the fever in the fevertube.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

If death itself were to die, would it have a ghost, and would the ghost of death visit the dead in the guise of someone alive, if only to fright them from any temptation to return?

By Anonym 19 Sep

William H. Gass

There are few poets today who can equal, in their esthetic exploitation of language, in their depth of commitment to their medium, in their range of conceptual understanding, in the purity of their closed forms, the work of Nabokov, Borges, Beckett, Barth, Broch, Gaddis, or Calvino, or any of half-a-dozen extraordinarily gifted South Americans.

By Anonym 19 Sep

William H. Gass

...until summer becomes ein Zimmer in einem Traum -- a room in a dream.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

Sports, politics, and religion are the three passions of the badly educated.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

The expression to write something down suggests a descent of thought to the fingers whose movements immediately falsify it.

By Anonym 16 Sep

William H. Gass

He hated winter. The same gray sky lay on the ground, day after day, gray as industrial smoke, and in the sky the ground floated like a street that's been salted, and his closets were cold, holes wore through his pockets, and he was lonely, indoors and out, with a loneliness like the loneliness of overshoes or someone else's cough.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

How do we know, then, when a code's been cracked?when we are right?when do we know if we have even received a message? Why, naturally, when, upon one set of substitutions, sense emerges like the outline under a rubbing; when a single tentative construal leads to several; when all the sullen letters of the code cry TEAM! after YEA! has been, by several hands, uncovered.

By Anonym 17 Sep

William H. Gass

My stories are malevolently anti-narrative, and my essays are maliciously anti-expository, but the ideology of my opposition arrived long after my antagonism had become a trait of character." -- William H. Gass, "Finding a Form

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

The hurt heart heals, but the healed heart still hurts. -- From "Exile" in Finding a Form

By Anonym 16 Sep

William H. Gass

Excellence is inconveniently difficult.

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

The censor pretends he is protecting tender hearts, shielding children from sex and violence, keeping the righteous in the right path, guarding against temptation, preserving virtue. How? by burning books, tearing out tongues, stretching necks, stoning women; through torture and imprisonment; by threats of violence against the victim’s friends and family; by force-feeding his own people a philosophy not only false and wicked now but false and wicked the day it was first announced by some imaginary lord and used to purchase or preserve his privileges and hoodwink the world.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

Knowing has two poles, and they are always poles apart: carnal knowing, the laying on of hands, the hanging of the fact by head or heels, the measurement of mass and motion, the calibration of brutal blows, the counting of supplies; and spiritual knowing, invisibly felt by the inside self, who is but a fought-over field of distraction, a stage where we recite the monotonous monologue that is our life, a knowing governed by internal tides, by intimations, motives, resolutions, by temptations, secrecy, shame, and pride.

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

Some screw for science only in the afternoon, while others keep their faith with evening—here Orcutt chuckled—it's a matter of light, I understand, but which makes which I can't remember.

By Anonym 17 Sep

William H. Gass

Normally, we are supposed to say farewell to the page even as we look, to see past the cut of the type, hear beyond the shape of the sound, feel more than the heft of the book, to hear the bird sing whose name has been invoked, and think of love being made through the length of the night if the bird's name is nightingale; but when the book itself has the beauty of the bird, and the words do their own singing; when the token is treated as if it, not some divine intention, was holy and had power; when the bird itself is figured in the margins as though that whiteness were a moon-bleached bough and the nearby type the leaves it trembles; and when indigo turbans or vermilion feathers are, with jasmines, pictured so perfectly that touch falls in love with the finger, eyes light, and nostrils flare; when illustrations refuse to illustrate but instead suggest the inside of the reader's head, where a consciousness is being constructed; then the nature of the simple sign is being vigorously denied, and the scene or line or brief rendition is being treated like a thing itself, returning the attention to its qualities and composition. -- From "The Book As a Container of Consciousness

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

In general, I would think that at present prose writers are much in advance of the poets. In the old days, I read more poetry than prose, but now it is in prose where you find things being put together well, where there is great ambition, and equal talent. Poets have gotten so careless, it is a disgrace. You can’t pick up a page. All the words slide off.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

Blue is therefore most suitable as the color of interior life.

By Anonym 19 Sep

William H. Gass

Try to remember that artists in these catastrophic times, along with the serious scientists, are the only salvation for us, if there is to be any.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

So to the wretched writer I should like to say that there’s one body only whose request for your caresses is not vulgar, is not unchaste, untoward, or impolite: the body of your work itself; for you must remember that your attentions will not merely celebrate a beauty but create one; that yours is love that brings it own birth with it, just as Plato has declared, and that you should therefore give up the blue things of this world in favor of the words which say them

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

Philosophy has a great sort of appeal in terms of an artistic or aesthetic organization of concepts. It's a conceptual art.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

But the body fails us and the mirror knows, and we no longer insist that the gray hush be carried off its surface by the cloth, for we have run to fat, and wrinkles encircle the eyes and notch the neck where the skin wattles, and the flesh of the arms hangs loose like an overlarge sleeve, veins thicken like ropes and empurple the body as though they had been drawn there by a pen, freckles darken, liver spots appear, the hairah, the hair is exhausted and gray and lusterless, in weary rolls like cornered lint.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

What one wants to do with stories is screw them up.

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

So it's true: Being without Being is blue.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

It art can only succeed through the cooperating imagination and intelligence of its consumers, who fill out, for themselves, the artist's world and make it round, and whose own special genius partly determine the ultimate glory of it.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

I do think of my reader, or listener, really, more often, if I give a lecture, for example, and I know that I'm talking to these people; I enjoy sort of preening them a bit. But it's a matter of decorum, basically.

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

Sure, there are good things, lots, sure, blow jobs, chocolate mousse, winning streaks, the warm fire in your enemy’s house, good book, hunk of cheese, flagon of ale, office raise, championship ring, the misfortunes of others, sure, good things, beyond count, queens, kings, old clocks, comfy clothes, lots, innumerable items in stock, baseball cards and bingo buttons, pot-au-feu, listen, we could go on and on like a long speech, sure it’s a great world, sights to see, canyons full of canyon, corn on the cob, the eroded great pyramids, contaminated towns, eroded hillsides, deleafed trees, those whitened limbs stark and noble in the evening light, geeeez, what gobs of good things, no shit, service elevators, what would we do without, and all the inventions of man, Krazy Glue and food fights, girls wrestling amid mounds of Jell-O, drafts of dark beer, no end of blue sea, formerly full of fish, eroded hopes, eruptions of joy, because we’re winning, have won, won, won what? the . . . the Title.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

it is discouraging to leave the past behind only to see it coming toward you like the thunderstorm which drenched you yesterday.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

The things that stayed were things that didn't matter except they stayed, night and day, all seasons the same, and were peaceful to a fault and boded no ill but thought well enough of themselves to repeat their presences.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

I usually have poor to absent relations with editors because they have a habit of desiring changes and I resist changes.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

When reviewers take the trouble to compliment a writer on her style, it is usually because she has made it easy for them to slide from one sentence to another like an otter down a slope.

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

Still, we permit the appearance of our meats, sauces, fruits, and vdgetables to dominate our tongues until it is difficult to divide a twist of lemon or squeeze of lime from the colors of their rinds or separate yellow from its yolk or chocolate from the quenchless brown which seems to be the root, shoot, stalk, and bloom of it. Yet I hardly think the eggplant's taste is as purple as its skin. In fact, there are few flavors at the violet end, odors either, for the acrid smell of blue smoke is deceiving, as is the tooth of the plum, though there may be just a hint of blue in the higher sauces. Perceptions are always profound, associations deceiving. No watermelon tastes red. Apropos: while waiting for a bus once, I saw open down the arm of a midfat, midlife, freckled woman, suitcase tugging at her hand like a small boy needing to pee, a deep blue crack as wide as any in a Roquefort. Split like paper tearing. She said nothing. Stood. Blue bubbled up in the opening like tar. One thing is certain: a cool flute blue tastes like deep well water drunk from a cup.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

I publish a piece in order to kill it, so that I won't have to fool around with it any longer.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

As Borges has taught us, all the books in the library are contemporary. Great poems are like granaries: they are always ready to enlarge their store.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

Works of art are meant to be lived with and loved, and if we try to understand them, we should try to understand them as we try to understand anyone — in order to know them better, not in order to know something else.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

I cannot walk under the wires. The sparrows scatter like handfuls of gravel. Really, wires are voices in thin strips. They are words wound in cables. Bars of connection.

By Anonym 16 Sep

William H. Gass

I'd like to look below my eyes and see not language staring back at me, not sentences or single words or awkward pen lines, but a surface clear and burnished as glass.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

I get very tense working, so I often have to get up and wander around the house. It is very bad on my stomach. I have to be mad to be working well anyway, and then I am mad about the way things are going on the page in addition. My ulcer flourishes and I have to chew lots of pills. When my work is going well, I am usually sort of sick.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

Literature is composed of quarter truths, and the quarters are often spent on penny candy.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

Of course there is enough to stir our wonder anywhere; there's enough to love, anywhere, if one is strong enough, if one is diligent enough, if one is perceptive, patient, kind enough -- whatever it takes.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

If there were genders to genres, fiction would be unquestionably feminine.

By Anonym 16 Sep

William H. Gass

I cannot estimate how much this pleases me. I feel I have succeeded to the idleness of God.

By Anonym 20 Sep

William H. Gass

Writing. Not writing. Twin Terrors. Putting one's mother into words... It may have been easier to put her in her grave.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

I write because I hate. A lot. Hard.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

The world of conceptualized ideas is quite wonderful, even when it's - like Aristotle's Physics - an outmoded book. The physics is not true. But the reasoning is dazzling.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

I was struck by the way in which meanings are historically attached to words: it is so accidental, so remote, so twisted. A word is like a schoolgirl's room--a complete mess--so the great thing is to make out a way of seeing it all as ordered, as right, as inferred and following.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

The word itself has another color. It’s not a word with any resonance, although the e was once pronounced. There is only the bump now between b and l, the relief at the end, the whew. It hasn’t the sly turn which crimson takes halfway through, yellow’s deceptive jelly, or the rolled-down sound in brown. It hasn’t violet’s rapid sexual shudder or like a rough road the irregularity of ultramarine, the low puddle in mauve like a pancake covered in cream, the disapproving purse to pink, the assertive brevity of red, the whine of green.

By Anonym 19 Sep

William H. Gass

There are a few vocations (like the practice of poetry or the profession of philosophy) that are so uncalled for by the world, so unremunerative by ordinary standards, so inherently difficult, so undefined, that to chose them suggests that more lies behind the choice than a little encouraging talent and a few romantic ideals. To persevere in such a severe and unrewarding course requires the mobilization of the entire personality--each weakness as well as every strength, each quirk as well as every normality. For any one of the reasons that a philosopher offers to support the principle he has taken in to feed and fatten, there will be in action alongside it, sometimes in the shade of the great notion itself, coarse and brutal causes in frequently stunning numbers, causes with a notable lack of altruism and nobility, causes with shameful aims and antecedents. This has to be understood and accepted. Valery's belief that every philosophy is an important piece of its author's autobiography need not be rejected as reductive; for whatever the subliminal causes and their kind are like, the principle put forth must stand and defend itself like a tree against the wind; it must make its own way out into who knows what other fields of intelligence, to fall or flourish there. -- From "At Death's Door: Wittgenstein

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

I am firmly of the opinion that people who can’t speak have nothing to say. It’s one more thing we do to the poor, the deprived: cut out their tongues … allow them a language as lousy as their life