Excerpts from Winterson’s Art Objects

Art has deep and difficult eyes and for many the gaze it too insistent. Better to pretend that art is dumb, or at least has nothing to say that makes sense to us. (Page 11)

I do know that the process of art is a series of jolts, or perhaps I mean volts, for art is an extraordinarily faithful transmitter. Our job is to keep our receiving equipment in good working order.’ (Page 13)

..the work falls so outside of the safety of your own experience that in order to keep your world intact, you must deny the other world of the painting. This denial of imaginative experience happens at a deeper level than our affirmation of our daily world. Every day, in countless ways, you and I convince ourselves about ourselves. True art, when it happens to us, challenges the ‘I’ that we are. (Page 14-15)

A work of art is abundant, spills out, gets drunk, sits up with all night and forgets to close the curtains, dries your tears, is your friend, offers you a disguise, a difference, a pose. Cut and cut it through and there is still a diamond at the core. Skim the top and it is rich. …When I read Virginia Woolf, she  is to my spirit, waterfall and wine. (Page 65)

Never lie. Never say something has moved you if you are still in the same place. You can pick up a book but a book can throw you across the room. A book can move from a comfortable armchair to a rocky place where the sea is. A book can separate you from your husband, your wife, your children, all that you are. It can heal you out of a lifetime of pain. Books are kinetic, and like all huge forces, need to be handled with care. (Page 122-123)

The clock is ticking. Let it. In your hands, a book that was in their hands, passed to you through the negligible years of time. Art is indifferent to time, and if you want proof, you have it. Pick up the book, it is still warm. (Page 132)

It is sometimes necessary to be silent for months before the central image of a book can occur. I do not write every day, I read every day, I think every day, work in the garden every day and recognize in nature the same slow complicity. The same inevitability. The moment will arrive, always it does, it can be predicted but it cannot be demanded. I do not think of this as inspiration. I see this as readiness. A writer lives in a constant state of readiness. For me, the fragments of the image I seek are stellar; they beguile me, as stars do, I seek to interpret them, but I cannot possess them, they are too far away. At last and for no straightforward reason, but out of patience and searching, I find that what was remote is in my hands. Still uncut, unworked, but present. (Page 169-170)

First Vintage International Edition, February 1997






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