Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal.— Lionel Trilling
The most contentment Lionel Trilling quotes that are new and everybody is talking about
We are at heart so profoundly anarchistic that the only form of state we can imagine living in is Utopian; and so cynical that the only Utopia we can believe in is authoritarian.
Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood.
Being a Jew is like walking in the wind or swimming: you are touched at all points and conscious everywhere.
The poet is in command of his fantasy, while it is exactly the mark of the neurotic that he is possessed by his fantasy.
Ideology is not the product of thought;
it is the habit or the ritual of showing respect for certain formulas to which, for various reasons having to do with emotional safety, we have very strong ties of whose meaning and consequences in actuality we have no clear understanding.
It is one thing, then, to say, "The Bible contains the religion revealed by God ," and quite another to say, "Whatever is contained in the Bible is religion, and was revealed by God." If the latter be accepted, metaphor and allegory become literal statements and the errors and absurdities of bibliolatry follow.
It is now life and not art that requires the willing suspension of disbelief.
The function of literature, through all its mutations, has been to make us aware of the particularity of selves, and the high authority of the self in its quarrel with its society and its culture. Literature is in that sense subversive.
It is possible that the contemplation of cruelty will not make us humane but cruel; that the reiteration of the badness of our spiritual condition will make us consent to it.
The immature artist imitates. The mature artist steals.
We who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.
At the bottom of at least popular Marxism there has always been a kind of disgust with humanity as it is and a perfect faith in humanity as it is to be.
A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.
The poet may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather.
Literature is the human activity that make the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.
Probably it is impossible for humor to be ever a revolutionary weapon.
Candide can do little more than generate irony.
Every neurosis is a primitive form of legal proceeding in which the accused carries on the prosecution, imposes judgment and executes the sentence: all to the end that someone else should not perform the same process.
We are all ill; but even a universal sickness implies an idea of health.
Our culture peculiarly honors the act of blaming, which it takes as the sign of virtue and intellect.
We properly judge a critic's virtue not by his freedom from error but by the nature of the mistakes he does make, for he makes them, if he is worth reading, because he has in mind something besides his perceptions about art in itself - he has in mind the demands that he makes upon life.
Reasons for not keeping a notebook: 1) the ambiguity of the reader
Freud ... showed us that poetry is indigenous to the very constitution of the mind ; he saw the mind as being, in the greater part of its tendency, exactly a poetry-making faculty.
Some paradox of our natures leads us, when once we have made our fellow men the objects of our enlightened interest, to go on to make them the objects of our pity , then of our wisdom , ultimately of our coercion.
Even the nonreligious may exercise aesthetic judgment in matters of religion, and indeed our age has given the unbelieving a sophisticated taste in religious literature.
Unless we insist that politics is imagination and mind, we will learn that imagination and mind are politics, and of a kind we will not like.
Any historian of the literature of the modern age will take virtually for granted the adversary intention, the actually subversive intention, that characterizes modern writing -- he will perceive its clear purpose of detaching the reader from the habits of thought and feeling that the larger culture imposes, of giving him a ground and a vantage point from which to judge and condemn, and perhaps revise, the culture that produces him.
We have all in some degree become anarchistic.
Reasons for not keeping a notebook: 1) the ambiguity of the reader--it is never quite oneself. 2) I usually hate the sight of my handwriting--it lives too much and I dislike its life--I mean by "lives," of course, betrays too much!
After all, no one is ever taken in by the happy ending, but we are often divinely fuddled by the tragic curtain.
A theory of the middle class: that it is not to be determined by its financial situation but rather by its relation to government. That is, one could shade down from an actual ruling or governing class to a class hopelessly out of relation to government, thinking of government as beyond its control, of itself as wholly controlled by government. Somewhere in between and In gradations is the group that has the sense that gov't exists for it, and shapes its consciousness accordingly.
Educating a son I should allow him no fairy tales and only a very few novels.
This is to prevent him from having 1. the sense of romantic solitude (if he is worth anything he will develop a proper and useful solitude) which identification with the hero gives. 2. cant ideas of right and wrong, absurd systems of honor and morality which never will he be able completely to get rid of, 3. the attainment of ideals, of a priori desires, of a priori emotions. He should amuse himself with fact only: he will then not learn that if the weak younger son do or do not the magical honorable thing he will win the princess with hair like flax.
There is no connection between the political ideas of our educated class and the deep places of the imagination.
In the American metaphysic, reality is always material reality, hard, resistant, unformed, impenetrable, and unpleasant.
This desire to fashion, to shape, a self and a life has all but gone from a contemporary culture whose emphasis, paradoxically enough, is so much on self.
What marks the artist is his power to shape the material of pain we all have.
Somewhere in the child, somewhere in the adult, there is a hard, irreducible, stubborn core of biological urgency, and biological necessity, and biological reason that culture cannot reach and that reserves the right, which sooner or later it will exercise, to judge the culture and resist and revise it.
It is told of Faraday that he refused to be called a physicist;
he very much disliked the new name as being too special and particular and insisted on the old one, philosopher, in all its spacious generality: we may suppose that this was his way of saying that he had not over-ridden the limiting conditions of class only to submit to the limitation of a profession.
Everything which the economist takes from you in the way of life and humanity, he restores to you in the form of money and wealth.
If one defends the bourgeois, philistine virtues, one does not defend them merely from the demonism or bohemianism of the artist but from the present bourgeoisie itself.
Youth is a time when we find the books we give up but do not get over.
I find righteous denunciations of the present state of the language no less dismaying than the present state of the language.
The diminution of the reality of class, however socially desirable in many respects, seems to have the practical effect of diminishing our ability to see people in their difference and specialness.