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One reason why it is as well not to give very much detail is that, no matter how much is given, the eye will always want more; it will know very well that it is not being paid in full. On the other hand, no matter how little one gives, the eye will generally compromise by wanting only a little more. In either case the eye will want more, so one may as well stop sooner or later. Sensible painting, like sensible law, sensible writing, or sensible anything else, consists as much in knowing what to omit as what to insist upon.


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One was kind, out of a bounty that could hardly be exhausted, to old governesses and gardeners, who could be relied upon to give thanks with proper abjection; one performed public duties, for which one was paid in full by deference; one was chaste, refusing to run away from one's husband with other men who for the most part did not ask one to do so, and who in any case had nothing better to offer than one's own home. Knowing no difficulties one was without fortitude; knowing no criteria but one's own achievements one was without taste.

Rebecca West

(in the Italian Renaissance) there was no ‘subject-matter’. What we call subject matter now, was then painting itself. Subject matter came later on when parts of those works were taken out arbitrarily, when a man for no reason is sitting, standing or ling down. He became a bather, she became a bather; she was reclining; het just stood there looking ahead. That is when the posing in panting began... For really, when you think of all the life and death problems in the art of Renaissance, who cares if a Chevalier is laughing or that a young girl has a red blouse on.

Willem de Kooning

It doesn’t matter that your painting is small. Kopecks are also small, but when a lot are put together they make a ruble. Each painting displayed in a gallery and each good book that makes it into a library, no matter how small they may be, serve a great cause: accretion of the national wealth.

Anton Chekhov

Translation is difficult work because the barriers between languages are higher than is generally thought ... knowing how to avoid the traps is not enough to make a good translator. The task is more arduous; it is a matter of transferring from one language to another the expressive force of the text, and this is a superhuman task, so much so that some celebrated translations (for example that of the Odyssey into Latin and the Bible into German) have marked transformations in the history of our civilisation.
Nonetheless, since writing results from a profound interaction between the creative talent of the writer and the language in which he expresses himself, to each translation is coupled an inevitable loss, comparable to the loss of changing money. This diminution varies in degree, great or small according to the ability of the translator and the nature of the original text. As a rule it is minimal for technical or scientific texts (but in this case the translator, in addition to knowing the two languages, needs to understand what he is translating; possess, that is to say, a third competence). It is maximal for poetry...

Primo Levi

You well know ... for which reason I began searching for a number of demonstrations proving a statement due to the ancient Greeks ... and which passion I felt for the subject ... so that you reproached me my preoccupation with these chapters of geometry, not knowing the true essence of these subjects, which consists precisely in going in each matter beyond what is necessary. ... Whatever way he [the geometer] may go, through exercise will he be lifted from the physical to the divine teachings, which are little accessible because of the difficulty to understand their meaning ... and because the circumstance that not everybody is able to have a conception of them, especially not the one who turns away from the art of demonstration.

Abu-Rayhan Biruni
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