what a story is until

Carolee Schneemann, still from Up to and Including Her Limits, 1976
“I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.”
—Flannery O’Connor
from The Habit of Being, her collected letters


never do any harm

Allen Ginsberg dancing
“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world."
from The Portable Philosophical Dictionary


let the roots dangle

Dorothea Lange "A Sign of the Times—Depression—
Mended Stockings, Stenographer, San Francisco, 1934"
whatever you have to say,
leave the roots on,
let them dangle
And the dirt
Just to make clear where they come from—
—Charles Olson
from "These Days"


a dry psyche is most skilled

attribution unknown
“The stuff of the psyche is a smoke-like substance of fine particles that give rise to all other things, particles of less mass than any other sustance and constantly in motion: only movement can know movement. . . . The psyche rises as a mist from things that are wet. . . . A dry psyche is most skilled in intelligence and is brightest in virtue. . . . A drunk man, staggering and mindless, must be led home by his son, so wet is his psyche.”
from "I Have Looked Diligently at My Own Mind"
(trans. Guy Davenport)


all those commas

attribution unknown
“You mean that’s your idea of desire, with all those commas?”
— Michael Palmer
from “Idem 1"


literature is love

Flannery O'Connor as a girl, reading
via the Ina Dillard Russell Library Georgia College & State University
To begin with, let us take the following motto... Literature is Love. Now we can continue.
—Vladimir Nabokov
from Despair


things that cannot be regarded as real

Soap films, from Patterns in Nature
by Peter S. Stevens, 1974
“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real…. If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, then you haven’t understood it yet.”
— Niels Bohr


one mind's imagining into another

Wooden sculpture of a monk's head bearing an inscription
on the interior, Japan, 1328
from Sign, Image, Symbol (ed. George Kepes)
One of the most mysterious of semi-speculations is, one would suppose, that of one Mind’s imagining into another.
—John Keats
from his marginalia in Paradise Lost


he who hides his madman

Source unclear—possibly a clip from a performance by the
Licedei Clown Troupe (Soviet, 1960's)
He who hides his madman, dies voiceless.
—Henri Michaux
from “My Properties”


writing proceeds on three levels

a page from Proust's manuscript of Le temps retrouvé
Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed; an architectural one, where it is constructed; and finally, a textile one, where it is woven.
—Walter Benjamin


projector or screen

attribution unknown but possibly «Fotograf i model'»
by Aleksey Andreyev
Human consciousness: is it the projector
or the screen?
—Dean Young
from "I Am But A Traveler in This Land & Know Little of Its Ways"


what is not there

Belma Arslan - Afoot
Shape clay into a vessel;

It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room;

It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore benefit comes from what is there;

Usefulness from what is not there.
—Lao Tzu
from Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11

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