Another one less than enamoured with talent. William Faulkner in a Press conference, University of Virginia, May 20, 1957. (The audio is here)
“At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is … curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got that or not.”
This video is almost worth it just to hear the comment about using technology for something more than just improving businesses.
“Beware of artists. They mix with all classes of society and are therefore the most dangerous”
Alongside taking exercise and eating healthily, one of the things I keep trying to do more of, not always successfully, is check the sources of things like this. I instinctively like it, and, probably too often, take it as a given that it is true. Partly thanks to the wise advice of Euan and others, I’m getting better at catching myself before I swallow these sorts of tasty quotes whole.
Thanks to all Julian’s hard work , I found out the full quote was actually from a letter from Leopold 1 of Belgium to his niece, Queen Victoria.
“To hop to escape censure and calumny is next to impossible, but whatever is considered by the enemy as a fit subject for attack is better modified or avoided. The dealings with artists, for instance, require great prudence; they are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous; they are hardly ever satisfied, and when you have too much to do with them, you are sure to have des ennuis.
…Your devoted Uncle, Leopold R. “
So yes, it’s a similar quote, but I like the add-on of the ennui at the end. I’m somehow happier buying in to the idea of artist as classless dangerous hero with the health-warning of “may become self-congratulatory self-publicist”.
This was read out again last night at Letters Live, this time just as brilliantly by Tom Hollander.