In every child who is born, no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again: and in him, too, once more, and of each of us, our terrific responsibility toward human life; toward the utmost idea of goodness, of the horror of terror, and of God.— James Agee
The most passioned James Agee quotes that are glad to read
The mere attempt to examine my own confusion would consume volumes.
You must be in tune with the times and prepared to break with tradition.
And a human being whose life is nurtured in an advantage which has accrued from the disadvantage of other human beings, and who prefers that this should remain as it is, is a human being by definition only, having much more in common with the bedbug, the tapeworm, the cancer, and the scavengers of the deep sea.
The goal is the same: life itself; and the price is the same; life itself.
The artist's task is not to alter the world as the eye sees it into a world of aesthetic reality, but to perceive the aesthetic reality within the actual reality. (On photographs by Helen Levitt)
I'm very anxious not to fall into archaism or 'literary' diction.
I want my vocabulary to have a very large range, but the words must be alive.
Just spunk won't be enough; you've got to have gumption.
A mother never realizes that her children are no longer children.
Of those that are drawn away, each is drawn elsewhere toward another: once more a man and a woman, in a loneliness they are not liable at that time to notice, are tightened together upon a bed: and another family has begun.
As small, quick, foolproof cameras became generally available, moreover, the camera has been used so much and so flabbily by so many people that it has acted as a sort of contraceptive on the ability to see.
Well, now, some people learn a little quicker than others.
It's nice to learn fast but it's nice to take your time too.
Truth lies within a little and certain compass, but error is immense.
It is a peculiar part of the good photographer's adventure to know where luck is most likely to lie in the stream, to hook it, and to bring it in without unfair play and without too much subduing it.
It is the middle and pure height and whole of summer and a summer night, the held breath, of a planet's year; high shored sleeps the crested tide: what day of the month I do not know, which day of the week I am not sure, far less what hour of the night.
Children, taught either years beneath their intelligence or miles wide of relevance to it, or both: their intelligence becomes hopelessly bewildered, drawn off its centers, bored, or atrophied.
It is probably well on the conservative side to estimate that during the past ten to fifteen years the camera has destroyed a thousand pairs of eyes, corrupted ten thousand, and seriously deceived a hundred thousand, for every one pair that it has opened, and taught.
The deadliest blow the enemy of the human soul can strike is to do fury honor.
. . . Official acceptance is the one unmistakable symptom that salvation is beaten again, and is the one surest sign of fatal misunderstanding, and is the kiss of Judas.
I suspect the fault...is in me: that I hate any job on earth, as a job and a hindrance and a semi-suicide.
We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.
Some people get where they hope to in this world. Most of us don't.
One thing I feel is this: that a great deal of poetry is the product of adolescence-or of an emotionally adolescent frame of mind: and that as this state of mind changes, poetry is likely to dry up.
He used this great, sad, motionless face to suggest various related things: a one-track mind near the track's end of pure insanity; mulish imperturbability under the wildest of circumstances; how dead a human being can get and still be alive...
As a whole part of psychological education it needs to be remembered that a neurosis can be valuable; also that adjustment to a sick and insane environment is of itself not health but sickness and insanity.
When he ran from a cop his transitions from accelerating walk to easy jog trot to brisk canter to headlong gallop to flogged-piston sprint...were as distinct and as soberly in order as an automatic gearshift.
And no matter what, there's not one thing in this world *or* the next that we can do or hope or guess at or wish or pray that can change it or help it one iota. Because whatever is, is. That's all. And all there is now is to be ready for it, strong enough for it, whatever it may be. That's all. That's all that matters. It's all that matters because it's all that's possible.
The camera seems to me, next to unassisted and weaponless consciousness, the central instrument of our time.
Understanding, and action proceeding from understanding and guided by it, is one weapon against the world's bombardment, the one medicine, the one instrument by which liberty, health, and joy may be shaped . . . in the individual, and in the race.
Isn’t every human being both a scientist and an artist;
and in writing of human experience, isn’t there a good deal to be said for recognizing that fact and for using both methods?
By some chance, here they are, all on this earth;
and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night. May God bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away.
It seems to me curious, not to say obscene and thoroughly terrifying, that it could occur to an association of human beings drawn together through need and chance and for profit into a company, an organ of journalism, to pry intimately into the lives of an undefended and appallingly damaged group of human beings, an ignorant and helpless rural family, for the purpose of parading the nakedness, disadvantage and humiliation of these lives before another group of human beings, in the name of science, of
You've got to bear it in mind that nobody that ever lived is specially privileged; the axe can fall at any moment, on any neck, without any warning or any regard for justice.
I know the most important faculty to develop is one for hard, continuous and varied work and living; but the difference between knowing this and doing anything consistent about it is often abysmal.
I believe that every human being is potentially capable within his 'limits' of fully 'realizing' his potentialities; that this, his being cheated and choked of it, is infinitely the ghastliest, commonest, and most inclusive of all the crimes of which the human world can assure itself.
I'll do what little I can in writing.
Only it will be very little. I'm not capable of it; and if I were, you would not go near it at all. For if you did, you would hardly bear to live
It is clear enough by now to most people that the camera never lies is a foolish saying. Yet it is doubtful whether most people realize how extraordinarily slippery a liar the camera is.
It's kind of a test, Mary, and it's the only kind that amounts to anything.
When something rotten like this happens, then you have your choice. You start to really be alive, or you start to die. That's all.
This continent, an open palm spread frank before the sky.
I know I am making the choice most dangerous to an artist in valuing life above art.
All of consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is
Seems as unfounded ... to say there isn't a God as to say there is.
A girl's brain is mysterious, but only in a superficial way-a way very exasperating to me.
The camera is just a machine, which records with impressive and as a rule very cruel faithfulness.
I prefer a little free speech to no free speech at all;
but how many have free speech or the chance or the mind for it; and is not free speech here as elsewhere clamped down on in ratio of its freedom and danger?