“Irony has only emergency use. Carried over time it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy their cage.”
— Lewis Hyde
“A gift that cannot be given away ceases to be a gift. The spirit of a gift is kept alive by its constant donation.”
“True citizens are not the audience of their government, nor its consumers; they are its makers.”
“The gift finds the man attractive who stands with an empty bowl he does not own.”
“Unlike the sale of a commodity, the giving of a gift tends to establish a relationship between the parties involved. When gifts circulate within a group, their commerce leaves a series of interconnected relationships in its wake, and a kind of decentralized cohesiveness emerges.”
“The passage into mystery always refreshes. If, when we work, we can look once a day upon the face of mystery, then our labor satisfies. We are lightened when our gifts rise from pools we cannot fathom. Then we know they are not a solitary egotism and they are inexhaustible.”
“We forgive when we give up attachment to our wounds.”
“When we are moved by art we are grateful that the artist lived, grateful that he labored in the service of his gifts.”
“An essential portion of any artist’s labor is not creation so much as invocation.”
“Art does not organize parties, nor is it the servant or colleague of power. Rather, the work of art becomes a political force simply through the faithful representation of the spirit. It is a political act to create an image of the self or of the collective.”
“We are only alive to the degree that we can let ourselves be moved.”
“Better to operate with detachment, then; better to have a way but infuse it with a little humor; best, to have no way at all but to have instead the wit constantly to make one’s way anew from the materials at hand.”
“I think of a myth as a story that helps you explain all the different pieces of your life. In that broad sense, there is no way to live without mythology.”
“Science may not be as intimate as the medical profession; nonetheless, it certainly is a community in which ideas are often shared as contributions, not as proprietary things.”
“An essential portion of any artist’s labor is not creation so much as invocation. Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received; and we cannot have this gift except, perhaps, by supplication, by courting, by creating within ourselves that ‘begging bowl’ to which the gift is drawn.”
“An anaesthetic is a poet-killer.”
“But neither money nor machines can create. They shuttle tokens of energy, but they do not transform. A civilization based on them puts people out of touch with their creative powers.”
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