Best 88 of William H. Gass quotes - MyQuotes

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William H. Gass
By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

One may decide that the nipple most nearly resembles a newly ripened raspberry (never, be it noted, the plonk of water on a pond at the commencement of a drizzle, a simple bladder nozzle built on the suction principal gum bubble, mole, or birth ward, bumpy metal button, or the painful red eruption of a swelling), but does one care to see his breakfast fruit as a sweetened milky bowl of snipped nips? no.

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

Sing of disappointments more repeated than the batter of the sea, of lives embittered by resentments so ubiquitous the ocean’s salt seems thinly shaken, of letdowns local as the sofa where I copped my freshman’s feel, of failures as frequent as first love, first nights, last stands; do not warble of arms or adventurous deeds or shepherds playing on their private fifes, or of civil war or monarchies at swords; consider rather the slightly squinkered clerk, the soul which has become as shabby and soiled in its seat as worn-out underwear, a life lit like a lonely room and run like a laddered stocking.

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 16 Sep

William H. Gass

He could have set fire to it, the garden was dry enough, and burned it clean—privet, vines, and weeds; but he waited in his rooms through the winter instead, weeping and dreaming.

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 14 Sep

William H. Gass

Surely it's better to live in the country, to live on a prairie by a drawing of rivers, in Iowa or Illinois or Indiana, say, than in any city, in any stinking fog of human beings, in any blooming orchard of machines. It ought to be.

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 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 16 Sep

William H. Gass

Excellence is inconveniently difficult.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

Freud thought that a psychosis was a waking dream, and that poets were daydreamers too, but I wonder if the reverse is not as often true, and that madness is a fiction lived in like a rented house

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

We must take our sentences seriously, which means we must understand them philosophically, and the odd thing is that the few who do, who take them with utter sober seriousness, the utter sober seriousness of right-wing parsons and political saviors, the owners of Pomeranians, are the liars who want to be believed, the novelists and poets, who know that the creatures they imagine have no other being than the sounding syllables which the reader will speak into his own weary and distracted head. There are no magic words. To say the words is magical enough.

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 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 18 Sep

William H. Gass

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

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 16 Sep

William H. Gass

Every day he thought would last forever, and the night forever, and the dawn drag eternally another long and empty day to light forever; yet they sped away, the day, the night...

By Anonym 19 Sep

William H. Gass

These Claudines, then…they want to know because they believe they already do know, the way one who loves fruit knows, when offered a mango from the moon, what to expect; and they expect the loyal tender teasing affection of the schoolgirl crush to continue: the close and confiding companionship, the pleasure of the undemanding caress, the cuddle which consummates only closeness; yet in addition they want motherly putting right, fatherly forgiveness and almost papal indulgence; they expect that the sights and sounds, the glorious affairs of the world which their husbands will now bring before them gleaming like bolts of silk, will belong to the same happy activities as catching toads, peeling back tree bark, or powdering the cheeks with dandelions and oranging the nose; that music will ravish the ear the way the trill of the blackbird does; that literature will hold the mind in sweet suspense the way fairy tales once did; that paintings will crowd the eye with the delights of a colorful garden, and the city streets will be filled with the same cool dew-moist country morning air they fed on as children. But they shall not receive what they expect; the tongue will be about other business; one will hear in masterpieces only pride and bitter contention; buildings will have grandeur but no flowerpots or chickens; and these Claudines will exchange the flushed cheek for the swollen vein, and instead of companionship, they will get sex and absurd games composed of pinch, leer, and giggle—that’s what will happen to “let’s pretend.” 'The great male will disappear into the jungle like the back of an elusive ape, and Claudine shall see little of his strength again, his intelligence or industry, his heroics on the Bourse like Horatio at the bridge (didn’t Colette see Henri de Jouvenel, editor and diplomat and duelist and hero of the war, away to work each day, and didn’t he often bring his mistress home with him, as Willy had when he was husband number one?); the great affairs of the world will turn into tawdry liaisons, important meetings into assignations, deals into vulgar dealings, and the en famille hero will be weary and whining and weak, reminding her of all those dumb boys she knew as a child, selfish, full of fat and vanity like patrons waiting to be served and humored, admired and not observed. 'Is the occasional orgasm sufficient compensation? Is it the prize of pure surrender, what’s gained from all that giving up? There’ll be silk stockings and velvet sofas maybe, the customary caviar, tasting at first of frog water but later of money and the secretions of sex, then divine champagne, the supreme soda, and rubber-tired rides through the Bois de Boulogne; perhaps there’ll be rich ugly friends, ritzy at homes, a few young men with whom one may flirt, a homosexual confidant with long fingers, soft skin, and a beautiful cravat, perfumes and powders of an unimaginable subtlety with which to dust and wet the body, many deep baths, bonbons filled with sweet liqueurs, a procession of mildly salacious and sentimental books by Paul de Kock and company—good heavens, what’s the problem?—new uses for the limbs, a tantalizing glimpse of the abyss, the latest sins, envy certainly, a little spite, jealousy like a vaginal itch, and perfect boredom. 'And the mirror, like justice, is your aid but never your friend.' -- From "Three Photos of Colette," The World Within the Word, reprinted from NYRB April 1977

By Anonym 20 Sep

William H. Gass

Why have You made us the saddest animal? (...) He cannot do it, Henry, that is why. He can’t continue us. All He can do is try to make us happy that we die. Really, He’s a pretty good fellow.

By Anonym 16 Sep

William H. Gass

it strikes me that the spirit of the Fourth, this year, was used up by September's end and fell like an early leaf.

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

I don't know myself, what to do, where to go... I lie in the crack of a book for my comfort... it's what the world offers... please leave me alone to dream as I fancy.

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 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 15 Sep

William H. Gass

What else is soul but a listener?

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 14 Sep

William H. Gass

I write because I hate. A lot. Hard.

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 15 Sep

William H. Gass

Words [are] more beautiful than a found fall leaf.

By Anonym 14 Sep

William H. Gass

So if hunger provokes wailing and wailing brings the breast; if the breast permits sucking and milk suggests its swallow; if swallowing issues in sleep and stomachy comfort, then need, ache, message, object, act, and satisfaction are soon associated like charms on a chain; shortly our wants begin to envision the things which well reduce them, and the organism is finally said to wish.

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 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 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

As a teacher, it's a great help to be teaching philosophical systems you don't believe. You can actually do a better job of presenting them if you leave your beliefs at the door.

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

I should like to suggest that at least on the face of it a stroke by stroke story of a copulation is exactly as absurd as a chew by chew account of the consumption of a chicken's wing.

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 13 Sep

William H. Gass

I hate ideologies of all kinds, so I avoid jargon. I've done enough philosophy to know that some specialized terms are really needed. I don't complain when Kant does it. Or when Aristotle introduces all kinds of new words; he needed them. But these other people [modern philosophers] are just obfuscating. It just makes me annoyed.

By Anonym 15 Sep

William H. Gass

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

By Anonym 13 Sep

William H. Gass

[As] authorities "over" us are removed, as we wobble out on our own, the question of whether to be or not to be arises with real relevance for the first time, since the burden of being is felt most fully by the self-determining self.

By Anonym 18 Sep

William H. Gass

So–in short–color is consciousness itself, color is feeling, and shape is the distance color goes securely, as in our life we extend ourselves through neighborhoods and hunting grounds; while form in its turn is the relation of these inhabited spaces, in or out or up or down, and thrives on the difference between kitchen and pantry. This difference, with all its sameness, is yet another quality, alive in time like the stickiness of honey or the gently rough lap of a cat, for color is connection.

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 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

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 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 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 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 19 Sep

William H. Gass

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

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 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 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.