If you address yourself to an audience, you accept from the outset the basic premises that unite the audience. You put on the audience, repeating cliches familiar to it. But artists don’t address audiences. They create audiences. The artist talks to himself out loud. If what he has to say is significant, others will hear and are affected.
The trouble with knowing what to say and saying it fully and clearly, is that clear speaking is generally obsolete thinking. Clear statement is like an art object: It is the afterlife of the process which called it into being.
Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings. The courage, the composure, the confidence; the emotion and principles; every great and every insignificant thought belongs not to the individual but the crowd: to the crowd that believes blindly in the irresistible force of its institutions and of its morals, in the power of the police and its opinion.
Joseph Conrad, An Outpost of Progress
It is not only the difficulty and labour which men take in finding out the truth, nor again that when it is found it imposeth upon men’s thoughts, that doth bring lies in favour; but a natural though corrupt love of the lie itself.
Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out of men’s minds vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like, but it would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?
Banish the tunes of Cheng, and keep plausible men at a distance: The tunes of Cheng are wanton and plausible men are dangerous.
The poem is the cry of its occasion, part of the res itself and not about it.
I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, care, attention, and labor, make himself whatever he pleases, except a good poet.
Phillip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield