JEAN COCTEAU (1889-1963)
French Filmmaker & Playwright
Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.
Poets don’t draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.
I am the lie who always speaks the truth.
One must be a living man and a posthumous artist.
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.
If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.
The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.
When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.
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.
What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.
Art is science made clear.
The extreme limit of wisdom, that’s what the public calls madness.
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.
IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Too many pieces of music finish too long after they end.
I don’t write modern music. I only write good music.
A good composer does not imitate; he steals.
What is important for the clear ordering of the work, for its crystallization, is that all the Dionysiac elements which set the imagination of the creator in motion and cause the life sap to rise should be properly subjugated and finally subject to the rule of law before they intoxicate us: for this Apollo demands.
What delivers me from the anguish into which an unrestricted freedom plunges me is the fact that I am always able to turn immediately to the concrete things that are here in question…. My freedom thus consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned myself for each one of my undertakings…. The more constraint one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.
Music comes to reveal itself as a sort of communion with our fellow man—and with the Supreme Being. [Stravinsky] sees the creative process as both rational and unconscious; it becomes intelligible as the formal unity we are seeking is forged without our knowing it and establishes itself within the limits which we impose upon our work.
I maintain that inspiration is in no way a prescribed condition of the creative act, but rather a manifestation that is chronologically secondary…. Step by step, link by link, it will be granted to [the composer] to discover the whole. It is this chain of discoveries, as well as each individual discovery that give rise to the emotion—almost physiological reflex, like that of appetite causing a flow of saliva—this emotion which invariably follows closely the phases of the creative process.
…The faculty of creating is never given to us all by itself. It always goes hand in hand with the gift of observation. And the true creator may be recognized by his ability always to find about him, in the commonest and humblest things, items worthy of note…. One does not contrive an accident t; one observes it to draw inspiration therefrom. An accident is perhaps the only thing that really inspires us. A composer improvises aimlessly the way an animal grubs about…. So we grub about in expectation off our pleasure, guided by our scent, and suddenly we stumble against an unknown obstacle. It gives a jolt a shock, and this shock fecundates our creative power.
The creator’s function is to sift the elements he receives from the imagination, for human activity must impose limits upon itself. The more art is controlled, limited, worked over, the more it is free.
Music is given to us to establish an order in things; to order the chaotic and personal into something perfectly controlled, conscious and capable of lasting vitality.