There can be no relation more strange, more critical, than that between two beings who know each other only with their eyes, who meet daily, yes, even hourly, eye each other with a fixed regard, and yet by some whim or freak of convention feel constrained to act like strangers. Uneasiness rules between them, unslaked curiosity, a hysterical desire to give rein to their suppressed impulse to recognize and address each other; even, actually, a sort of strained but mutual regard. For one human being instinctively feels respect and love for another human being so long as he does not know him well enough to judge him; and that he does not, the craving he feels is evidence.
But what is it, to be an artist? Nothing shows up the general human dislike of thinking, and man's innate craving to be comfortable, better than his attitude to this question. When these worthy people are affected by a work of art, they humbly say that that sort of thing is a 'gift.' And because in their innocence they assume that beautiful and uplifting results must have beautiful and uplifting causes, they never dream that the 'gift' in question is a very dubious affair and rests upon extremely sinister foundations. [...] Listen to this. I know a banker, grey-haired business man, who has a gift forwriting stories. He employs this gift in his idle hours, and some of his stories are of thefirst rank. But despiteI say despite-this excellent gift his withers are by no meansunwrung: on the contrary, he has had to serve a prison sentence, on anything but triflinggrounds. Yes, it was actually first in prison that he became conscious of his gift, and hisexperiences as a convict are the main theme in all his works. One might be rash enoughto conclude that a man has to be at home in some kind of jail in order to become a poet.
Δεν υπάρχει τίποτε πιο παράξενο και πιο δύσκολο απ’ τη σχέση δύο ανθρώπων που γνωρίζονται μόνο με τα μάτια –που κάθε μέρα, κάθε ώρα, συναντά, παρατηρεί ο ένας τον άλλον, κι είναι ταυτόχρονα αναγκασμένοι κάτω από την πίεση της ευπρέπειας ή από κάποια δική τους παραξενιά να καμώνονται πως είναι αδιάφοροι και ξένοι μεταξύ τους, δίχως ένα χαιρετισμό ή μία λέξη. Ανάμεσά τους υπάρχει κάτι που αναστατώνει, που κεντρίζει την περιέργεια, μια υστερική επιθυμία, ανικανοποίητη και αφύσικα καταπιεσμένη, να γνωριστούν και να μιλήσουν, και προπαντός ένα είδος σεβασμού μαζί με αγωνία και ένταση. Γιατί ο άνθρωπος αγαπά και σέβεται τον άλλον όσο δεν τον ξέρει αρκετά καλά για να τον κρίνει, και η επιθυμία του είναι αποτέλεσμα ατελούς γνώσης.
A solitary, unused to speaking of what he sees and feels, has mental experiences which are at once more intense and less articulate than those of a gregarious man. They are sluggish, yet more wayward, and never without a melancholy tinge. Sights and impressions which others brush aside with a glance, a light comment, a smile, occupy him more than their due; they sink silently in, they take on meaning, they become experience, emotion, adventure. Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous - to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.