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John Galsworthy

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Writing not long ago to my oldest literary friend, I expressed in a moment of heedless sentiment the wish that we might have again one of our talks of long-past days, over the purposes and methods of our art. And my friend, wiser than I, as he has always been, replied with this doubting phrase "Could we recapture the zest of that old time?"
I would not like to believe that our faith in the value of imaginative art has diminished, that we think it less worth while to struggle for glimpses of truth and for the words which may pass them on to other eyes; or that we can no longer discern the star we tried to follow; but I do fear, with him, that half a lifetime of endeavour has dulled the exuberance which kept one up till morning discussing the ways and means of aesthetic achievement. We have discovered, perhaps with a certain finality, that by no talk can a writer add a cubit to his stature, or change the temperament which moulds and colours the vision of life he sets before the few who will pause to look at it. And so the rest is silence, and what of work we may still do will be done in that dogged muteness which is the lot of advancing years.
Other times, other men and modes, but not other truth. Truth, though essentially relative, like Einstein's theory, will never lose its ever-new and unique quality perfect proportion; for Truth, to the human consciousness at least, is but that vitally just relation of part to whole which is the very condition of life itself. And the task before the imaginative writer, whether at the end of the last century or all these aeons later, is the presentation of a vision which to eye and ear and mind has the implicit proportions of Truth.
--
Preface to Villa Rubein and Other Stories (1923)

 
John Galsworthy

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To search for truth should be the main goal in one's life. This is a very difficult task. Let us begin by asking what is truth? What is untruth? To make this decision itself is difficult. Once the decision has been made, it is even more difficult to understand the limitations possible even in truth: elements of doubt and illusion. The Ultimate Truth is still far away, even if we are anywhere near relative truth, it should be deemed a great achievement. Those who live by truth sometimes become so dogged in their pursuit that even their truth seems a lie. Without control over passions and practicing neutrality, purity and straightforwardness, do we have a right to seek the truth?

 
Acharya Mahapragya
 

Any form of orthodoxy is just not part of a poet's province ... A poet must be able to claim ... freedom to follow the vision of poetry, the imaginative vision of poetry ... And in any case, poetry is religion, religion is poetry. The message of the New Testament is poetry. Christ was a poet, the New Testament is metaphor, the Resurrection is a metaphor; and I feel perfectly within my rights in approaching my whole vocation as priest and preacher as one who is to present poetry; and when I preach poetry I am preaching Christianity, and when one discusses Christianity one is discussing poetry in its imaginative aspects. ... My work as a poet has to deal with the presentation of imaginative truth.

 
R. S. Thomas
 

Is not the training of an artist a training in the due relation of one thing with another, and in the faculty of expressing that relation clearly; and, even more, a training in the faculty of disengaging from self the very essence of self and passing that essence into other selves by so delicate means that none shall see how it is done, yet be insensibly unified? Is not the artist, of all men, foe and nullifier of partisanship and parochialism, of distortions and extravagance, the discoverer of that jack-o'-lantern Truth; for, if Truth be not Spiritual Proportion I know not what it is. Truth it seems to me is no absolute thing, but always relative, the essential symmetry in the varying relationships of life; and the most perfect truth is but the concrete expression of the most penetrating vision. Life seen throughout as a countless show of the finest works of Art; Life shaped, and purged of the irrelevant, the gross, and the extravagant; Life, as it were, spiritually selected that is Truth; a thing as multiple, and changing, as subtle, and strange, as Life itself, and as little to be bound by dogma. Truth admits but the one rule: No deficiency, and no excess! Disobedient to that rule nothing attains full vitality. And secretly fettered by that rule is Art, whose business is the creation of vital things.

 
John Galsworthy
 

You cannot find truth through anybody else. How can you? Surely, truth is not something static; it has no fixed abode; it is not an end, a goal. On the contrary, it is living, dynamic, alert, alive. How can it be an end? If truth is a fixed point, it is no longer truth; it is then a mere opinion. Sir, truth is the unknown, and a mind that is seeking truth will never find it. For mind is made up of the known; it is the result of the past, the outcome of time which you can observe for yourself. Mind is the instrument of the known; hence it cannot find the unknown; it can only move from the known to the known. When the mind seeks truth, the truth it has read about in books, that "truth" is self-projected, for then the mind is merely in pursuit of the known, a more satisfactory known than the previous one. When the mind seeks truth, it is seeking its own self-projection, not truth. After all, an ideal is self-projected; it is fictitious, unreal. What is real is what is, not the opposite. But a mind that is seeking reality, seeking God, is seeking the known. When you think of God, your God is the projection of your own thought, the result of social influences. You can think only of the known; you cannot think of the unknown, you cannot concentrate on truth. The moment you think of the unknown, it is merely the self-projected known. So, God or truth cannot be thought about. If you think about it, it is not truth. Truth cannot be sought; it comes to you. You can go after only what is known. When the mind is not tortured by the known, by the effects of the known, then only can truth reveal itself. Truth is in every leaf, every tear; it is to be known from moment to moment. No one can lead you to truth; and if anyone leads you, it can only be to the known.

 
Jiddu Krishnamurti
 

"If only there were a dogma to believe in. Everything is contradictory, everything tangential; there are no certainties anywhere. Everything can be interpreted one way and then again interpreted in the opposite sense. The whole of history can be explained as development and progress and can also be seen as nothing but decadence and meaninglessness. Isn't there any truth? Is there no real and valid doctrine?"
The Master had never heard him speak so fervently. He walked on in silence for a little, then said, "There is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist. Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend. Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself. The deity is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived, not taught. Be prepared for conflicts, Joseph Knecht I can see they have already begun."

 
Hermann Hesse
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