Jean Cocteau
Quotations


After the writer's death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter.

If an addict who has been completely cured starts smoking again he no longer experiences the discomfort of his first addiction. There exists, therefore, outside alkaloids and habit, a sense for opium, an intangible habit which lives on, despite the recasting of the organism. The dead drug leaves a ghost behind. At certain hours it haunts the house.

If a hermit lives in a state of ecstasy, his lack of comfort becomes the height of comfort. He must relinquish it.

One of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends.

Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.

A film is a petrified fountain of thought.

Everything one does in life, even love, occurs in an express train racing toward death. To smoke opium is to get out of the train while it is still moving. It is to concern oneself with something other than life or death.

If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.

Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies. Unable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort.

Poets don't draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.

One must be a living man and a posthumous artist.

Such is the role of poetry. It unveils, in the strict sense of the word. It lays bare, under a light which shakes off torpor, the surprising things which surround us and which our senses record mechanically.

Take a commonplace, clean it and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and originality and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet's job. The rest is literature.

The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.

In Paris, everybody wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator.

When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.

I am a lie who always speaks the truth.

All good music resembles something. Good music stirs by its mysterious resemblance to the objects and feelings which motivated it.

Life is a horizontal fall.

It is not I who become addicted, it is my body.

What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.

The Louvre is a morgue; you go there to identify your friends.

Art is science made clear.

An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original.

True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.

Wealth is an inborn attitude of mind, like poverty. The pauper who has made his pile may flaunt his spoils, but cannot wear them plausibly.

The extreme limit of wisdom, that's what the public calls madness.

Tact in audacity consists in knowing how far we may go too far.

There are truths which one can only say after having won the right to say them.

Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs. That is what's known as infinity.



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