Important Words, Entry #3

“But I have a belief of my own, and it comforts me.”

“What is that?” said Will, rather jealous of the belief.

“That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don’t quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are the divine power after evil—widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower.”

—Dorothea in Middlemarch

Important Words, Entry #2

The novelist Dawn Powell (another essential New Yorker) wrote in her diary, in 1942, that an artist’s work should be “delicate and cutting—nothing will cut New York but a diamond. It should be crystal in quality, sharp as the skyline and relentlessly true.”

Quoted in Rachel Syme's post "Learning from Elaine" for The New Yorker

Fareed Zakaria, on writing

"There is, in modern philosophy, a great debate as to which comes first—thought or language. I have nothing to say about it. All I know is that when I begin to write, I realize that my “thoughts” are usually a jumble of half-baked, incoherent impulses strung together with gaping logical holes between them. It is the act of writing that forces me to think through them and sort them out. Whether you are a novelist, a businessman, a marketing consultant, or a historian, writing forces you to make choices and brings clarity and order to your ideas."

This is an excerpt from Zakaria's Commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College in May. Check out his full speech here.

Literature teacher Ilja Wachs, from an oral history interview in March, 2001, NYC

"There is this visual culture which is everywhere, you know, and which is very powerful in film and television and movies and which I think ... is profoundly destructive. It degrades human faculties to specialize them to the reception of visual stimuli. ... It's very, very important for human depth of thinking and of self-awareness and conscious of the world to continue to read fiction--good fiction... in which they have to translate symbols on a page into an imaginative experience. That translation is crucial in deepening the self and in giving the self actually active power to imagine the world. And I think as the visual becomes more and more pronounced, we have to launch a sort of rear guard counter-attack campaign to stress the sacredness of the book."