John Gardner quotes

  • Self pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.
    -- John Gardner

    #Reality #Self #Addiction

  • We read five words on the first page of a really good novel and we begin to forget that we are reading printed words on a page; we begin to see images.
    -- John Gardner

    #Reading #Writing #Pages

  • As every writer knows... there is something mysterious about the writer's ability, on any given day, to write. When the juices are flowing, or the writer is 'hot', an invisible wall seems to fall away, and the writer moves easily and surely from one kind of reality to another... Every writer has experienced at least moments of this strange, magical state. Reading student fiction one can spot at once where the power turns on and where it turns off, where the writer writes from 'inspiration' or deep, flowing vision, and where he had to struggle along on mere intellect.
    -- John Gardner

    #Wall #Moving #Fall

  • People will tell you that writing is too difficult, that it's impossible to get your work published, that you might as well hang yourself. Meanwhile, they'll keep writing and you'll have hanged yourself.
    -- John Gardner

    #Writing #People #Might

  • Fiction does not spring into the world fully grown, like Athena. It is the process of writing and rewriting that makes a fiction original, if not profound.
    -- John Gardner

    #Spring #Inspiration #Writing

  • The true artist plays mad with his soul, labors at the very lip of the volcano, but remembers and clings to his purpose, which is as strong as the dream. He is not someone possessed, like Cassandra, but a passionate, easily tempted explorer who fully intends to get home again, like Odysseus.
    -- John Gardner

    #Dream #Strong #Home

  • I cannot believe such monstrous energy of grief can lead to nothing!
    -- John Gardner

    #Grief #Believe #Energy

  • i understand that the world was nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. i understood that, finally and absolutely, i alone exist. all the rest, i saw, is merely what pushes me, or what i push against, blindly - as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back. i create the whole universe, blink by blink.
    -- John Gardner

    #Saws #Enmity #World

  • As a rule of thumb I say, if Socrates, Jesus and Tolstoy wouldn't do it, don't.
    -- John Gardner

    #Jesus #Thumbs

  • To write with taste, in the highest sense, is to write [...] so that no one commits suicide, no one despairs; to write [...] so that people understand, sympathize, see the universality of pain, and feel strengthened, if not directly encouraged to live on. If there is good to be said, the writer should say it. If there is bad to be said, he should say it in a way that reflects the truth that, though we see the evil, we choose to continue among the living. The true artist [...] gets his sense of worth and honor from his conviction that art is powerful--
    -- John Gardner

    #Suicide #Art #Pain

  • The image-managers encourage the individual to fashion himself into a smooth coin, negotiable in any market.
    -- John Gardner

    #Fashion #Business #Coins

  • The primary subject of fiction is and has always been human emotion, values, and beliefs.
    -- John Gardner

    #Fiction #Belief #Emotion

  • There is no limit to desire but desire's needs.
    -- John Gardner

    #Desire #Needs #Limits

  • Art Gropes. It stalks like a hunter lost in the woods, listening to itself and to everything around it, unsure of itself, waiting to pounce.
    -- John Gardner

    #Art #Writing #Waiting

  • I know everything, you see,' the old voice wheedled. 'The beginning, the present, the end. Everything. You now, you see the past and the present, like other low creatures: no higher faculties than memory and perception. But dragons, my boy, have a whole different kind of mind.' He stretched his mouth in a kind of smile, no trace of pleasure in it. 'We are from the mountaintop: all time, all space. We see in one instant the passionate vision and the blowout.
    -- John Gardner

    #Memories #Boys #Past

  • They watch on, evil, incredibly stupid, enjoying my destruction. 'Poor Grendel's had an accident,' I whisper. 'So may you all.
    -- John Gardner

    #Stupid #Evil #Watches

  • An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
    -- John Gardner

    #Philosophy #Humble #Water

  • Find a pile of gold and sit on it.
    -- John Gardner

    #Gold

  • ...ultimately it come down to, are you making or are you destroying? If you try very hard to create ways of living, create dreams of what is possible, then you win. If you don't, you may make a fortune in ten years, but you're not going to be read in twenty years, and that's that.
    -- John Gardner

    #Dream #Winning #Years

  • Nothing can be more limiting to the imagination than only writing about what you know
    -- John Gardner

    #Writing #Imagination

  • So childhood too feels good at first, before one happens to notice the terrible sameness, age after age.
    -- John Gardner

    #Childhood #Feel Good #Age

  • When I was a child I truly loved: Unthinking love as calm and deep As the North Sea. But I have lived, And now I do not sleep.
    -- John Gardner

    #Children #Sleep #Sea

  • Art, of course, is a way of thinking, a way of mining reality.
    -- John Gardner

    #Art #Reality #Thinking

  • One must be just a little crazy to write a great novel. One must be capable of allowing the darkest, most ancient and shrewd parts of one’s being to take over the work from time to time.
    -- John Gardner

    #Crazy #Writing #Littles

  • In university courses we do exercises. Term papers, quizzes, final examinations are not meant for publication. We move through a course on Dostoevsky or Poe as we move through a mildly good cocktail party, picking up the good bits of food or conversation, bearing with the rest, going home when it comes to seem the reasonable thing to do. Art, at those moments when it feels most like art -- when we feel most alive, most alert, most triumphant -- is less like a cocktail party than a tank full of sharks.
    -- John Gardner

    #Art #Moving #Home

  • What art ought to do is tell stories which are moment-by-moment wonderful, which are true to human experience, and which in no way explain human experience.
    -- John Gardner

    #Art #Stories #Way

  • Poor Grendel's had an accident. So may you all.
    -- John Gardner

    #May #Poor #Accidents

  • It would be, for me, mere pointless pleasure, an illusion of order for this one frail, foolish, flicker-flash in the long dull fall of eternity.
    -- John Gardner

    #Fall #Order #Long

  • I couldn't go on, too conscious all at once of my whispering, my eternal posturing, always transforming the world with words--changing nothing.
    -- John Gardner

    #Goes On #Whispering #World

  • Our noblest hopes grow teeth and pursue us like tigers.
    -- John Gardner

    #Teeth #Grows #Pursue

  • Talking, talking. Spinning a web of words, pale walls of dreams, between myself and all I see.
    -- John Gardner

    #Dream #Wall #Talking