''Decadence is a difficult word to use since it has become little more than a term of abuse applied by critics to anything they do not yet understand or which seems to differ from their moral concepts.''
''A beautiful vacuum filled with wealthy monogamists, all powerful and members of the best families all drinking themselves to death.''
''I wish I could write well enough to write about aircraft. Faulkner did it very well in Pylon but you cannot do something someone else has done though you might have done it if they hadn't.''
''Never confuse movement with action.''
''All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.''
''I do not think I had ever seen a nastier-looking man.... Under the black hat, when I had first seen them, the eyes had been those of an unsuccessful rapist.''
''Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.''
''Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honor.''
''All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.... American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.''
''You write a book like that that you're fond of over the years, then you see that happen to it, it's like pissing in your father's beer.''
''Pound's crazy. All poets are.... They have to be. You don't put a poet like Pound in the loony bin. For history's sake we shouldn't keep him there.''
''Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.''
''If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.''
''That terrible mood of depression of whether it's any good or not is what is known as The Artist's Reward.''
''There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.''
''A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.''
''I still need more healthy rest in order to work at my best. My health is the main capital I have and I want to administer it intelligently.''
''Having books published is very destructive to writing. It is even worse than making love too much. Because when you make love too much at least you get a damned clarte that is like no other light. A very clear and hollow light.''
''All our words from loose using have lost their edge.''
''Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.''
''They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.''
''Honor to a Spaniard, no matter how dishonest, is as real a thing as water, wine, or olive oil. There is honor among pickpockets and honor among whores. It is simply that the standards differ.''
''The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.''
''The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.''
''Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.''
''Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo clock style of architecture.''
''Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.''
''Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don't cheat with it.''
''Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age.''
''I might say that what amateurs call a style is usually only the unavoidable awkwardnesses in first trying to make something that has not heretofore been made.''
''A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.''
''About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.''
''When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying. They are all different and they fly in different ways but the sensation is the same and the last one is as good as the first.''
''In the fall the war was always there but we did not go to it any more.''
''Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination.''
''He was just a coward and that was the worst luck any man could have.''
''The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.''
''When you give power to an executive you do not know who will be filling that position when the time of crisis comes.''
''Grace under pressure.''
''This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste.''
''Scott took LITERATURE so solemnly. He never understood that it was just writing as well as you can and finishing what you start.''
''The only thing that could spoil a day was people.... People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.''
''You see it's awfully hard to talk or write about your own stuff because if it is any good you yourself know about how good it is—but if you say so yourself you feel like a shit.''
''There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.''
''When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.''
''To be a successful father ... there's one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years.''
''Personal columnists ... are jackals and no jackal has been known to live on grass once he had learned about meat—no matter who killed the meat for him.''
''All things truly wicked start from an innocence.''
''Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.''
''If you have a success, you have it for the wrong reasons. If you become popular it is always because of the worst aspects of your work.''
''We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.''
''Only one marriage I regret. I remember after I got that marriage license I went across from the license bureau to a bar for a drink. The bartender said, "What will you have, sir?" And I said, "A glass of hemlock."''
''It wasn't by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.''
''Some people show evil as a great racehorse shows breeding. They have the dignity of a hard chancre.''
''The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life—and one is as good as the other.''
''Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.''
''The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.''
''There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it.''
''About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.''
''Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.''
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