Honi soit qui mal y pense: Two Quotes

What separates the atemporal pleiad of creators of texts from the general run of writers acclaimed by critics and applauded by the public at large, is the fact they perceive what the latter reckon buzzes with life to be either worked out or dead. The innovative author insensitive to the applause and reproaches of his contemporaries, knows he is surrounded by colleagues who are dead–whatever fuss these people make accumulating honours and prizes and aspiring, in the manner of some second-rate academics, to the glory of immortality.

Juan Goytisolo, “To Read or to Re-Read”

Geniuses have a rough time of it, because geniuses are not all equal. First come your run-of-the-mill and middling geniuses, that is, of the third order, whose minds are unable to go much beyond the horizon of their times. They are often recognized and even come into money and fame. The geniuses of the second order are already too difficult for their contemporaries and therefore fare worse. Nonetheless, recognition awaits the geniuses of the second order, in the form of a triumph beyond the grave. In addition, there exist, for there must exist, geniuses of the highest category. The intermediate types are discovered by either the succeeding generation or by some later one; the geniuses of the first order are never known–not by anyone, not in life, not after death. For they are creators of truths so unprecedented, purveyors of proposals so revolutionary, that not a soul is capable of making head or tail of them. Therefore, permanent obscurity constitutes the normal lot of the Geniuses of the Highest Class.

Stanislaw Lem, “Odysseus of Ithaca”

Both of these quotes dance around the word “crank,” though I do think of it as appealing to a particularly American self-consciousness. But Bruce Murray points out about Karlheinz Stockhausen: “Think he’s zealous crank!” (Frighteningly, “kilohertz can shake sun” is also appropriate.)

More about these matters soon….

One thought on “Honi soit qui mal y pense: Two Quotes

  1. Hope you have a comment notification mechanism, given the context of this comment. The University of Alabama link is broken now. Also your site builder may like to know that after I came into your blog from a google on Bolano the archives would all “404” from the specific post page and I had to hit the home button before they worked properly.

    So it was Bolano that brought me here after I heard Amulet being discussed on the wireless. You have been writing online and in general far longer than I, but I am lately thinking to change the position of my Blog from the highly general to a specific similar to yours with an entirely literature based content (both reading and writing, but perhaps less lit crit and more populist than yours…

    Anyway, you’ll be going to my blogroll whenever I get the mechanical overhaul of my blog done, thought I’d let you know and put it all in the comment!

Leave a Reply