Brian Eno on caring

“I think a lot of what artists are doing is trying to figure out, ‘What is it I really like?’ That to me is the most important question you can ask in your life, actually. It’s the sort of guiding star of what you do… It sounds like a trivial question, but actually what it means is, ‘What is it I really care about?’”

— Brian Eno (via)

Kurt Vonnegut on outside influences

“I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

Emily Dickinson on being too much

“Forgive me if I come too much – the time to live is frugal – and good as is a better earth, it will not quite be this.”

— Emily Dickinson

John Porcellino on alternatives

“I had long known that I was not cut out for the normal world, and like many of my peers at the time, set out instead to help create an alternative society, commingled at times with the straight world, but existing independently of it as much as possible. We started, developed, and cultivated our own bands, records labels, performance venues, zines, newspapers, artspaces, distribution networks, and so on. And we largely succeeded in our task, all essentially powered by Seth Tobocman’s motto, ‘You don’t have to fuck people over to survive.’

The ‘indie’ world, the ‘alternative’ world, or the underground, whatever you want to call it, has seen its ups and downs, reckoned with its strengths and weaknesses, ridden waves of outside interest and/or disdain, and continued on apace. I see it in the noise bands that tour American basements and refuse to record, in the zine fests multiplying like rabbits across the world, the self-published comix anthologies and comix collectives, the proliferation of independent presses and print studios, etc. Despite the darkness aboveground, the underground is energetic, bright (even in its despair), and flourishing.

It’s with that mindset that I sit here in Beloit, Wisconsin, USA with my doggies snoozing in their little beds at my feet, and type this, clean up these King-Cat pages, pack these Spit and a Half orders. The world is in rough shape, and all we can do is our fair share… Find the spot that brings us to life and take care of it.”

— John Porcellino (via)

Toni Morrison on fascism

“Fascism… is recognizable by its need to purge, by the strategies it uses to purge, and by its terror of truly democratic agendas. It is recognizable by its determination to convert all public services to private entrepreneurship, all nonprofit organizations to profit-making ones—so that the narrow but protective chasm between governance and business disappears. It changes citizens into taxpayers—so individuals become angry at even the notion of the public good. It changes neighbors into consumers—so the measure of our value as humans is not our humanity or our compassion or our generosity but what we own. It changes parenting into panicking—so that we vote against the interests of our own children; against their health care, their education, their safety from weapons. And in effecting these changes it produces the perfect capitalist, one who is willing to kill a human being for a product (a pair of sneakers, a jacket, a car) or kill generations for control of products (oil, drugs, fruit, gold).”

— Toni Morrison

Lynda Barry on gazing

“When I was 19, my teacher, Marilyn Frasca talked to me about ‘seeing what’s there.’ Our work was not to like or dislike the image we were looking at, not to try to improve it or understand it. The first thing we need to be able to do is really see what is there.

How do we see what’s there beside good or bad? The word ‘gazing’ comes to mind — a kind of open and sustained looking. A certain feeling comes with it…”

— Lynda Barry (via)

Whilce Portacio on learning by seeing

“You learn from everything that you see. And you don’t want to limit yourself to just comics. I got interested in drawing because of a tree that grew in my front yard. One day the tree struck me as being really cool and I thought, ‘What makes that tree totally cool to me?’ Once you stop learning from things around you, you stop becoming an artist and you become what they call jaded.”

— Whilce Portacio

Ursula K. Le Guin on aging

“I want to tell people, ‘Don’t be afraid of getting to fifty, sixty, even seventy. If you got your health and something to live on, they can be really good years.'”

— Ursula K. Le Guin

Michael Bierut on non-design

“More than twenty years ago, I served on a committee that had been formed to explore the possibilities of setting up a New York chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). Almost all of the other committee members were older, well-known—and, in some cases, legendary—designers. I was there to be a worker bee.

I was suddenly in—what seemed to me then, at least—the center of the design universe. There was already so much to see and do, but I wanted more. I was ravenous. Establishing a New York chapter for the AIGA would mean more lectures, more events, more graphic design. For the committee’s first meeting, I had made a list of all designers I would love to see speak, and I volunteered to share it with the group.

A few names in, one of the well-known designers in the group cut me off with a bored wave. ‘Oh God, not more show-and-tell portfolio crap.’ To my surprise, the others began nodding in agreement. ‘Yeah, instead of wallowing in graphic design stuff, we should have something like…a Betty Boop film festival.’ A Betty Boop film festival? I wanted to hear a lecture from Josef Müller-Brockmann, not watch cartoons. I assumed my senior committee members were pretentious and jaded, considering themselves—bizarrely—too sophisticated to admit they cared about the one thing I cared about most: design. I was confused and crestfallen. Please, I wanted to say, can we start talking some sense?

I thought I was a pretty darned good designer back then. A few years before, in my senior year, I had designed something I was still quite proud of: a catalog for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center on the work of visionary theater designer Robert Wilson. The CAC didn’t hire me because I knew anything about Robert Wilson. I had never heard of him. More likely they liked my price.

About a year after my disappointing meeting with the planners of the AIGA New York chapter, I finally saw my first Robert Wilson production. It was the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 1984 revival of Einstein on the Beach. And sitting there in the audience, utterly transported, it came crashing down on me: I had completely screwed up that catalog. Seen live, Wilson’s work was epic, miraculous, hypnotic, transcendent. My stupid layouts were none of those things. They weren’t even pale, dim echoes of any of those things. They were simply no more and no less than a whole lot of empty-headed graphic design. And graphic design wasn’t enough. It never is.”

— Michael Bierut (via 79 Short Essays on Design)

Umberto Eco on books

“It is foolish to think that you have to read all the books you buy, as it is foolish to criticize those who buy more books than they will ever be able to read. It would be like saying that you should use all the cutlery or glasses or screwdrivers or drill bits you bought before buying new ones.

There are things in life that we need to always have plenty of supplies, even if we will only use a small portion.

If, for example, we consider books as medicine, we understand that it is good to have many at home rather than a few: when you want to feel better, then you go to the ‘medicine closet’ and choose a book. Not a random one, but the right book for that moment. That’s why you should always have a nutrition choice!

Those who buy only one book, read only that one and then get rid of it. They simply apply the consumer mentality to books, that is, they consider them a consumer product, a good. Those who love books know that a book is anything but a commodity.”

— Umberto Eco