Quote of the day

Editing work still consumes my waking hours, as you might guess from the lack of blog activity. My two big deadlines are Tuesday and Thursday of next week, so hopefully I’ll have a little more free time after that.

In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite quotes. It’s sat on my hard drive for years, but I’ve never shared it before. It’s about courage in art.

I find funny and silly the pompous kind of self-important talk about the artist who takes risks. Artistic risks are like show-business risks — laughable. Like casting against type, wow, what danger! Risks are where your life is on the line. The people who took risks against the Nazis or some of the Russian poets who stood up against the state — those people are courageous and brave, and that’s really an achievement. To be an artist is also an achievement, but you have to keep it in perspective. I’m not trying to undersell art. I think it’s valuable, but I think it’s overly revered. It is a valuable thing, but no more valuable than being a good schoolteacher, or being a good doctor.

—Woody Allen

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4 responses to “Quote of the day

  1. I must respectfully disagree. Risk, like many things comes in degrees. The potential rewards and dangers also vary widely. A person that decides to spend her life savings to open a small business that she will depend on to support the family may not risk life and limb but is still facing considerable risk. Thinking outside the box is not very risky. ACTING outside the box is potentially very risky regardless of the endeavor. Art, acting, whatever. Careers could be on the line.

    • Sure. It’s all relative, which I think is part of what he’s saying. Risking a career is more courageous than merely trying something different, but less courageous perhaps than standing up to a dictator. Some artists get a rather inflated sense of the importance and danger of their art, and I think that’s the bubble he’s trying to burst.

  2. Or, as Andy Warhol put it: “[I]f you say that artists take ‘risks’ it’s insulting to the men who landed on D-Day, to stuntmen, to baby-sitters, to Evel Knievel, to stepdaughters, to coal miners, and to hitch-hikers, because they’re the ones who really know what ‘risks’ are.”

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