An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor [group think] of the age and not go flopping along. By doing this he helps us to question and reassess our past, present and future situations, our assumptions and our options.
They are a very decent generous lot of people out here and they don't expect you to listen.... It's the secret of social ease in this country. They talk entirely for their own pleasure. Nothing they say is designed to be heard.
The Roman Catholic Church has the unique power of keeping remote control over human souls which have once been part of her. G.K. Chesterton has compared this to the fisherman's line, which allows the fish the illusion of free play in the water and yet has him by the hook; in his own time the fisherman by a 'twitch upon the thread' draws the fish to land.
She told me later that she had made a kind of note of me in her mind, as, scanning the shelf for a particular book, one will sometimes have one's attention caught by another, take it down, glance at the title page and saying "I must read that, too, when I've the time," replace it and continue the search.
He lay back for a little in his bed thinking about the smells of food . . . of the intoxicating breath of bakeries and dullness of buns. . . . He planned dinners, of enchanting aromatic foods . . . endless dinners, in which one could alternate flavour with flavour from sunset to dawn without satiety, while one breathed great draughts of the bouquet of old brandy.
But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.
Novel-writing is a highly skilled and laborious trade. One does not just sit behind a screen jotting down other people's conversation. One has for one's raw material every single thing one has ever seen or heard or felt, and one has to go over that vast, smoldering rubbish-heap of experience, half stifled by fumes and dust, scraping and delving until one finds a few discarded valuables. Then one has to assemble these tarnished and dented fragments, polish them, set them in order, and try to make a coherent and significant arrangement of them.
If every museum in the New World were emptied, if every famous building in the Old World were destroyed and only Venice saved, there would be enough there to fill a full lifetime with delight. Venice, with all its complexity and variety, is in itself the greatest surviving work of art in the world.
I read the newspapers with lively interest. It is seldom that they are absolutely, point-blank wrong. That is the popular belief, but those who are in the know can usually discern an embryo of truth, a little grit of fact, like the core of a pearl, round which have been deposited the delicate layers of ornament.
The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what's been taught and what's been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn't know existed.
Civilization - and by this I do not mean talking cinemas and tinned food, nor even surgery and hygienic houses, but the whole moral and artistic organization of Europe - has not in itself the power of survival. It came into being through Christianity, and without it has no significance or power to command allegiance ... It is no longer possible, as it was in the time of Gibbon, to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis on which it rests ... Christianity ... is in greater need of combative strength than it... Read more »
He wasn't a complete human being at all. He was a tiny bit of one, unnaturally developed; something in a bottle, an organ kept alive in a laboratory. I thought he was a sort of primitive savage, but he was something absolutely modern and up-to-date that only this ghastly age could produce. A tiny bit of a man pretending to be whole.