Chaim Potok quotes

  • I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Silence #Quality #Dimensions

  • Art is whether or not there is a scream in him wanting to get out in a special way.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Art #Special #Way

  • Something that is yours forever is never precious
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Forever

  • Art begins . . . when someone interprets, when someone sees the world through his own eyes. Art happens when what is seen becomes mixed with the inside of the person who is seeing it.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Art #Eye #World

  • We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? . . .I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Pain #Mean #Eye

  • Two hundred or more years ago most people on the planet were never aware of any reality other than the one into which they were brought up.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Reality #Years #Two

  • Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Tea

  • A writer is a strange instrument of our species, a harp of sorts, fine-tuned to the dark contradictions of life.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Dark #Strange #Contradiction

  • As you grow older you will discover that the most important things that will happen to you will often come as a result of silly things, as you call them --"ordinary things" is a better expression. That is the way the world is.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Life #Silly #Expression

  • ... an artist is a person first. He is an individual. If there is no person, there is no artist.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Artist #Firsts #Individual

  • All of us grow up in particular realities - a home, family, a clan, a small town, a neighborhood. Depending upon how we're brought up, we are either deeply aware of the particular reading of reality into which we are born, or we are peripherally aware of it.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Family #Growing Up #Reading

  • …everything has a past. Everything – a person, an object, a word, everything. If you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present and plan properly for the future.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Past #Plans #Persons

  • I do not know what evil is when it comes to art. I only know what is good art and what is bad art.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Art #Evil #Good Art

  • A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Men #Quality #May

  • You have to want to listen to it, and then you can hear it. It has a strange, beautiful texture. It doesn't always talk. Sometimes-sometimes it cries, and you can hear the pain of the world in it. It hurts to listen to it then. But you have to.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Beautiful #Hurt #Pain

  • But today we become aware of other readings of the human experience very quickly because of the media and the speed with which people travel the planet.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Reading #Media #People

  • I think most serious writers, certainly in the modern period, use their own lives or the lives of people close to them or lives they have heard about as the raw material for their creativity.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Creativity #Thinking #People

  • Yes, there is some thought about making a film of My Name Is Asher Lev.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Names #Film

  • In other words, Judaism is not Calvinism.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Calvinism #Judaism

  • I'm constantly revising. Once the book is written and typed, I go through the entire draft again.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Book

  • If I had a plot that was all set in advance, why would I want go through the agony of writing the novel? A novel is a kind of exploration and discovery, for me at any rate.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Writing #Discovery #Agony

  • There is in my work a very strong religious foreground and background. In the later work some of that tends to diminish, but it's certainly present in the early work.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Religious #Strong #Backgrounds

  • It is inconceivable to me that a million or three million or half a million human beings will think and feel precisely the same way on any single subject.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Thinking #Three #Half

  • To the extent that I come from a deeply religious tradition and have been contending with those beginnings all of my life - that constitutes the subject of much of my early fiction.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Religious #Fiction #Tradition

  • In Russia I went to a great yeshiva, and in America I work in a carnival.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Russia #America #Carnivals

  • We need to listen to one another.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Inspirational #Needs

  • A word is worth one coin, silence is worth two
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Two #Silence #Coins

  • I think that to a very great extent we are partners with the divine in this enterprise called history. That is an ongoing relationship, and there is absolutely no guarantee that things will automatically work out to our best advantage.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Relationship #Thinking #Work Out

  • Seeds must be sown everywhere. Only some will bear fruit. But there would not be the fruit from the few had the many not been sown
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Fruit #Bears

  • Two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul
    -- Chaim Potok

    #True Friend #Two #People

  • It's always easier to learn something than to use what you've learned. . . . You're alone when you're learning. But you always use it on other people. It's different when there are other people involved.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #People #Different #Use

  • Truth has to be given in riddles. People can't take truth if it comes charging at them like a bull. The bull is always killed. You have to give people the truth in a riddle, hide it so they go looking for it and find it piece by piece; that way they learn to live with it.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #People #Giving #Pieces

  • He taught them that the purpose of a man is to make his life holy--every aspect of his life: eating, drinking praying, sleeping. God is everywhere, he told them, and if it seems at times that He is hidden from us, it is only because we have not yet learned to seek Him correctly.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Drinking #Sleep #Men

  • A man is born into this world with only a tiny spark of goodness in him. The spark is God, it is the soul; the rest is ugliness and evil, a shell. The spark must be guarded like a treasure, it must be nurtured, it must be fanned into flame. It must learn to seek out other sparks, it must dominate the shell. Anything can be a shell, Reuven. Anything. Indifference, laziness, brutality, and genius. Yes, even a great mind can be a shell and choke the spark.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Men #Flames #Evil

  • I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Eye #Men #Long

  • A life is measured by how it is lived for the sake of heaven.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Heaven #Sake #Life Is

  • I will go wherever the truth leads me. It is secular scholarship, Rebbe; it is not the scholarship of tradition. In secular scholarship there are no boundaries and no permanently fixed views.” Lurie, if the Torah cannot go out into your world of scholarship and return stronger, then we are all fools and charlatans. I have faith in the Torah. I am not afraid of truth.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Views #Stronger #World

  • If a person has a contribution to make, he must make it in public. If learning is not made public, it is a waste.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Waste #Made #Contribution

  • A non-fiction writer pretty much has the shape of the figure in front of him or her and goes about refining it. A work of non-fiction is not as difficult to write as a work of fiction, but it's not as satisfying in the end.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Writing #Fiction #Shapes

  • A book is sent out into the world, and there is no way of fully anticipating the responses it will elicit. Consider the responses called forth by the Bible, Homer, Shakespeare - let alone contemporary poetry or a modern novel.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Book #World #Way

  • In our time ... a man whose enemies are faceless bureaucrats almost never wins. It is our equivalent to the anger of the gods in ancient times. But those gods you must understand were far more imaginative than our tiny bureaucrats. They spoke from mountaintops not from tiny airless offices. They rode clouds. They were possessed of passion. They had voices and names. Six thousand years of civilization have brought us to this.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Passion #Winning #Men

  • All beginnings are hard.
    -- Chaim Potok

  • I'm not altogether certain that a fundamentalism of necessity has to argue that it is the only reading of the human experience in order to stay alive.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Reading #Order #Alive

  • As a species we are always hungry for new knowledge.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Hungry #Species

  • I think the hardest part of writing is revising. And by that I mean the following: A novelist has to create the piece of marble and then chip away to find the figure in it.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Mean #Writing #Thinking

  • I have faith in the Torah. I am not afraid of truth.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Have Faith #Torah #Not Afraid

  • A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Men #Given

  • I don't work on my Sabbath. I write five-and-a-half or six days a week.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Writing #Half #Six

  • Each work seems to give me the most trouble at the time I'm working on it.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Giving #Trouble

  • Honest differences of opinion should never be permitted to destroy a friendship.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Differences #Lost Friendship #Opinion

  • I get up around 6:30. I work from about 8:00 to 1:00, take a break for lunch, work again until about 5:00, and then go for a long walk and have dinner. Then, if my wife and I have no previous plans, we decide what to do for the evening.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Break Up #Lunch #Long

  • It is impossible to fuse totally with a culture for which you feel a measure of antagonism.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Culture #Impossible #Antagonism

  • Art is a person's private vision expressed in aesthetic forms.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Art #Vision #Form

  • Every man who has shown the world the way to beauty, to true culture, has been a rebel, a 'universal' without patriotism, without home, who has found his people everywhere.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Home #Men #People

  • Reuven listen to me. The Talmud says that a person should do two things for himself. One is to acquire a teacher. Do you remember the other." "Choose a friend," I said. "Yes. You know what a friend is, Reuven? A Greek philosopher said that two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul." I nodded. "Reuven, if you can, make Danny Saunders your friend." "I like him a lot, abba." "No. Listen to me. I am not talking about only liking him. I am telling you to make him your friend and to let him make you his friend.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Teacher #True Friend #Talking

  • My name is Asher Lev... I am a traitor, an apostate, a self-hater, an inflicter of shame upon my family, my friends, my people; also, I am a mocker of ideas sacred to Christians, a blasphemous manipulator of modes and forms revered by Gentiles for two thousand years.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Christian #Self #Years

  • I went away and cried to the Master of the Universe, "What have you done to me? A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul!
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Pain #Heart #Son

  • It's not a pretty world, Papa.' 'I've noticed,' my father said softly.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Father #Papa #World

  • It is when you are angry that you must watch how you talk.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Watches #Angry

  • I looked at my right hand, the hand with which I painted. There was power in that hand. Power to create and destroy. Power to bring pleasure and pain. Power to amuse and horrify. There was in that hand the demonic and the divine at one and the same time. The demonic and the divine were two aspects of the same force. Creation was demonic and divine. Creativity was demonic and divine. I was demonic and divine.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Pain #Creativity #Hands

  • Oh, it makes a difference, I thought. And if it doesn't make a difference you will make it make a difference.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Differences #Making A Difference

  • No one knows he is fortunate until he becomes unfortunate, that's the way the world is.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #World #Way #Unfortunate

  • … the world will indulge you just so long Asher Lev. Then it will stop. You will simply have to grow accustomed to that truth.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Long #World #Grows

  • Literature presents you with alternate mappings of the human experience. You see that the experiences of other people and other cultures are as rich, coherent, and troubled as your own experiences. They are as beset with suffering as yours. Literature is a kind of legitimate voyeurism through the keyhole of language where you really come to know other people's lives--their anguish, their loves, their passions. Often you discover that once you dive into those lives and get below the surface, the veneer, there is a real closeness.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Real #Passion #Other Cultures

  • I won't talk to you about my family and you won't talk to me about yours. Family talk is either boring or self-pitying. Or it's Gothic, like a Faulkner novel. Who needs to talk about it? It's enough to live it.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Self #Needs #Gothic

  • I do not have many things that are meaningful to me. Except my doubts and my fears. And my art.
    -- Chaim Potok

    #Meaningful #Art #Doubt