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A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth. For example: Four guys go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps on it and takes the blast, but it's a killer grenade and everybody dies anyway. Before they die, though, one of the dead guys says, "The fuck you do that for?" and the jumper says, "Story of my life, man" and other guys start to smile but he's dead. That's a true story that never happened.
Truth is not exciting enough to those who depend on the characters and lives of their neighbors for all their amusement; and if a story is told of more than common interest, ennui is sure to have its joy in adding embellishments. If hours did not hang heavy, what would become of scandal?
Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos; the materials must, in the first place, be afforded: it can give form to dark, shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the substance itself. In all matters of discovery and invention, even of those that appertain to the imagination, we are continually reminded of the story of Columbus and his egg. Invention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject, and in the power of moulding and fashioning ideas suggested to it.
Why should not I call my works 'symphonies', 'arrangements', 'harmonies', and 'nocturnes'?... The vast majority of English folk cannot and will not consider a picture as a picture, apart from any story which it may be supposed to tell. My picture of 'Harmony in Grey and Gold' is an illustration of my meaning – as snow scene with a single black figure and lighted tavern. I care nothing for the past, present, or future of the black figure, placed there because the black was wanted at that spot. All that I know is that my combination of grey and gold is the basis of the picture, Now this is precisely what my friends cannot grasp.
Friend Monkey is really my favorite of all my books because the Hindu myth on which it is based is my favorite — the myth of the Monkey Lord who loved so much that he created chaos wherever he went. … when you read the Ramayana you'll come across the story of Hanuman on which I built my version of that very old myth.
Christmas, in fact, is not an external event at all, but a piece of one's home that one carries in one's heart: like a nursery story, its validity rests on exact repetition, so that it comes around every time as the evocation of one's whole life and particularly of the most distant bits of it in childhood.
Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that.... Yes, yes, it's the most comical thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it's always the same thing. Yes, it's like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don't laugh any more.