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Octavio Paz (1914 – 1998)


Born Octavio Paz Lozano in Mexico City in the middle of the Mexican Revolution.
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Octavio Paz
To the people of New York, Paris, or London, "death" is a word that is never pronounced because it burns the lips. The Mexican, however, frequents it, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it; it is one of his favorite toys and most steadfast love. Of course, in his attitude perhaps there is as much fear as there is in one of the others; at least he does not hide it; he confronts it face to face with patience, disdain, or irony.
Paz quotes
Only now have I understood that there was a secret relationship between what I have called my expulsion from the present and the writing of poetry. Poetry is in love with the instant and seeks to relive it in the poem, thus separating it from sequential time and turning it into a fixed present. But at that time I wrote without wondering why I was doing it. I was searching for the gateway to the present: I wanted to belong to my time and to my century. A little later this obsession became a fixed idea: I wanted to be a modern poet. My search for modernity had begun.
Paz
To fight evil is to fight ourselves.




Paz Octavio quotes
Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two.
Paz Octavio
Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.
Octavio Paz quotes
If we are a metaphor of the universe, the human couple is the metaphor par excellence, the point of intersection of all forces and the seed of all forms. The couple is time recaptured, the return to the time before time.
Octavio Paz
Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide-awake. But this wide-awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason.
Paz Octavio quotes
Many psychiatrists think, like Huxley, that these substances [hallucinogens] are neither more nor less dangerous than alcohol. It is not necessary to entirely accept this opinion—although to me it seems to be not far from the truth—in order to recognize that the authorities prohibit these drugs not so much in the name of public health as in the name of public morality. They are a challenge to the ideals of activity, utility, progress, work, and similar notions that justify our daily routine. Alcoholism is an infraction of social rules. Everyone tolerates it because the violation confirms the rules. This case is analogous to prostitution: neither the drunk nor the prostitute and her clientele call into doubt the rules they break. Their acts are a disturbance of order, not a criticism of it. The use of hallucinogens, on the other hand, implies a negation of prevailing social values. ... We can now understand the true reason for their condemnation and its severity. The authorities aren’t suppressing a reprehensible practice or a crime. They are suppressing dissidence. ... Prohibition is a battle against a contagion of the spirit—against an opinion. The authorities reveal, in their ideological zeal, that they are pursuing a heresy, not a crime.
Paz
To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes; to hear it is to see it with our ears.
Paz Octavio
"Art" is an invention of aesthetics, which in turn is an invention of philosophers…what we call art is a game.
Octavio Paz
Man does not speak because he thinks; he thinks because he speaks. Or rather, speaking is no different than thinking: to speak is to think.




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