The Art of Words

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
Ansel Adams

Ocean

The word “art” may be a simple three-letter word, but its definition is as broad and deep as the scope of human accomplishments.  Most think of the visual arts of painting, photography, printmaking or sculpture, which engages our eyes to give meaning to the aesthetic experience. Even the performing arts of ballet or contemporary dance employ our ability to observe movement and take pleasure in an intricate choreography.  Nevertheless, art demands the full participation of all of our senses.  We hear music, we touch softness, we smell the freshness of mountain air, and we taste the richness of chocolate.  For me, the art that gives me the greatest delight is found in words.

Earth

A few days ago, my dear blogger friends, Dina, Klausbernd, Siri and Selma, invited me to write a post about quotes and quoting.   It is an invitation I eagerly embraced.  Quotes have been a source of inspiration and challenge over the years.  The proliferation of quotes within our social media venues confirms that others share my enthusiasm.

This month, ChasingART will celebrate the art of quotations.  As with any art form, we become caught up within the artistic undertaking. Words are powerful – they challenge as well as comfort, test our strength as well as confirm our values. We are part of a huge conversation with the past, present and hopefully the future.  May we have the courage to join the dialogue, to offer our thoughts along with others as we move forward in our time line.

“To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”
Ansel Adams

Past & Present

20 thoughts on “The Art of Words

  1. Rebecca you always have the perfect quote and amazing photographs. Ansel Adams is one of my favorite photographers.

    This is my favorite quote from him…

    No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.

  2. Dear Rebecca,

    I am just reading one of my favourite authors Paul Auster. He writes so well and intelligent that I couldn’t believe him being USAmerican at first. But now I know that he sells most of his books in Europe and Canada.
    I could quote Auster a lot, especially as he reminds me in “Moonshine Pallace” on my Gurdjieff teacher, but I always have the feeling to make clear what he says and where I agree I have to quote too long a paragraph.
    But on the other hand I wrote my novel using a lot of quotes, changing and combining them. I love this intertextual relationship in novels like in “Lolita” and “The Name of the Rose”. This post-modern attitude makes clear that the writing is basically writing and no other reality than this of words. This is a subtle form of alienation to produce a reflective distance to what is written. But this is a total different use of quotes.
    Anyway, I just wanted to mention that there are quite a different uses of quotes. Umberto Eco writes a lot about this intertextual relationship in the papers of his lectures at Bologna University.

    My dear friend, I really like our exchange although I have my problems expressing myself in English in all nuances I wish to express. But anyway I hope to be undertstandable.

    All the best. I will vanish in my sauna now :-)
    Lots of love xxx
    from Klausbernd
    and greetings and hugs from Siri and Selma, who love and hate quotes …
    Dina is our quote-lover ;-)

    • Thank you for your insight and for your recommendation of Paul Auster. I have ordered a copy of “Winter Journal” from the Vancouver Public Library. This is the overview: Thirty years after the publication of The Invention of Solitude, in which he wrote so movingly about fatherhood, Auster gives listeners a second unconventional memoir in which he writes about his mother’s life and death. Winter Journal is a highly personal meditation on the body, time, and memory. Looking forward to reading it.

      And then I ordered his novel, “The Brooklyn Follies” Alas!!!! So many good books, so little time…..

      Your thoughts on different use of quotes is something that I would like to pursue further.

      Many hugs coming across the way to the Fabulous Four!!!!

    • Thanks, Cindy! I am looking forward to exploring our desire to use quotes in our daily interactions! Quotes are ubiquitous – they seem to enable us to connect and share ideas.

  3. Dear Rebecca,
    thank you sooo much for taking up the idea to write about quotes.
    As most of the people see quotes quite positive I will now play the advocatus diaboli: It’s a fashion in the blogosphere to combine a quote with a picture. I cannot help to see this as an easy way not think but let the thinking be done by others. The danger is that those quotes are quite often isolated from the whole text and the context. And especially if they are meant in an ironic way which is often overseen. In all those websites where the lazy ones find quotes you come across a lot of quotes which contradict what they are meant to say just because they are isolated from their context and I criticise that those providers of these websites as the users don’t seem to bother to have a look at the whole text and biography of the author.
    It’s correct to read a book and quote from it but it’s not correct to take a quote from one of these quote-pages without bothering what this really means.
    I suppose that most of the folks using quotes are not aware of how much the use of a quote tells about them.
    Anyway these are some ideas about quotes and actually I should end with a quote ;-)
    but I don’t ;-)
    Love from the other side of the world
    xx Klausbernd

    • My dear friend, Klausbernd! I agree wholeheartedly. You have highlighted the inherent risk in parroting quotes. It’s a fashion in the blogosphere to combine a quote with a picture. I cannot help to see this as an easy way not think but let the thinking be done by others. The danger is that those quotes are quite often isolated from the whole text and the context. No one appreciates being misquoted or our ideas misrepresented. To me, quotes are the portal to a new idea or way of thinking. If we are to fully appreciate their significance, then we must understand the context in which it was spoken. And we must respect the person who we are quoting.

      Here’s an example. The first time I heard of Mary Catherine Bateson (Margaret Mead’s daughter), was when I read her quote: “We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.” The thought is straightforward and can stand alone, but when you read her work, the full measure of understanding comes through. This quote led me to her book, “Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom” which came at a time when I was going through a major life transition.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful suggestion for this series of posts. You are so right – the use of quotes tells much about those who use them. Many hugs coming back to the Fabulous Four!!!

    • Dear Rebecca, dear Klausbernd

      many wise men, very often quoted in the blogosphere, didn’t like quotes at all, although I’m sure they would appreciate being quoted so often. ;-) They’re immortal, so to say. :-) or they have made themselves immortal with their words.

      “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
      I don’t agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson. if I quote someone to frame my photos, it’s not because I don’t have words and an opinion.It’s just that I’m looking for a better way to present my work. Words and thoughts, beautifully expressed by someone that I admire, transform my work. Like a wonderful frame may improve the prize of art, (but not the worth of it!)
      I’m looking forward to our project, so I’ll leave it to that at the moment. How do we go on from now? Per mail?

      Have a great day, both of you.
      Sunny greetings from the Rhine Valley
      Dina xxoo

      • I laughed out-loud when I read the quote: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” Isn’t it interesting that those who do want to be quoted, are the ones who are most quoted. But how can we resist with such good words as: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” It speaks to the universal need in all of us…

        Thank you for adding your wisdom and grace to this conversation. Sunny greetings coming back to you along with my hugs. The snowstorm that was promised this past weekend never came. The sun decided to make an appearance to confound our weather predictors.

        I am loving this project!!!!

    • You always make my day brilliant! My “quote journey” started many years ago so I have seen many of the same quotes over and over again. I do not have the capacity to memorize them all. I usually start every day with a quote as a focus point, so I have had many repeats. But sometimes, there are those wonderful moments when something comes that is quite unexpected like “Life is but thought.” by Sara Teasdale.

      What I have found is that I may identify with a specific thought, but not be overly fond of the one who actually made the observation. And then there are those quotes that I will not accept or condone. Yet they have challenged me to come up with valid reasons not to embrace the idea. Aristotle says it better than I could….

      “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle, Metaphysics

  4. Dear Rebecca,
    we’re so happy that you consider us your friends! :-) :-) :-) :-)
    A friendship based on words and the eye of an artist. We’re very much looking forward to this project. I love quotes and I search for them like a lost glove to frame my photos. The three others don’t entirely share my passion, which makes it even more interesting! Klausbernd will be in touch soon!
    Hav a great day, my dear friend.
    Best wishes from the Rhine Valley
    Dina

    “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” – Henry David Thoreau

    • You are indeed a kindred spirit! Every time I come to your blog, you give me new insights and quotes that I have never seen before. To me, quotes connect us with universal thought and experiences. I agree – this is an excellent project, one that will give meaning to the words we speak in our everyday life. We take language for granted, sometimes squandering precious words on petty arguments and hurtful statements. It is as Thoreau said – “not words but meanings.”

      One quote that I was particularly drawn to in one of your posts was: “Why make a fuzz about remembering. Forgetting is the challenge.” Siri and Selma. I found this to be profoundly true in my own experience.

      With much gratitude and many hugs….

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