A. Alvarez
Quotations

Twentieth-century art may start with nothing, but it flourishes by virtue of its belief in itself, in the possibility of control over what seems essentially uncontrollable, in the coherence of the inchoate, and in its ability to create its own values.

Despite the hundreds of attempts, police terror and the concentration camps have proved to be more or less impossible subjects for the artist; since what happened to them was beyond the imagination, it was therefore also beyond art and all those human values on which art is traditionally based.

Despair, in short, seeks its own environment as surely as water finds its own level.

No one is promiscuous in his way of dying. A man who has decided to hang himself will never jump in front of a train.

The old guard may grumble and occasionally sue, but in a society where Portnoy's Complaint is a record-breaking best-seller sexual permissiveness is no longer an issue. The real resistance now is to an art which forces its audience to recognize and accept imaginatively, in their nerve-ends, not the facts of life but the facts of death and violence: absurd, random, gratuitous, unjustified, and inescapably part of the society we have created.





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