For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded or defeated us in daily life… to fulfil it in its true potential – the imagination.

pointing at you

I want them to live again to the point where pain becomes art

The solace of such work as I do with brain and heart lies in this – that only there, in the silences of the painter or the writer can reality be reordered, reworked and made to show its significant side. Our common actions in reality are simply the sackcloth covering which hides the cloth-of-gold – the meaning of the pattern. For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded or defeated us in daily life; in this way, not to evade destiny, as the ordinary people try to do, but to fulfill it in its true potential – the imagination. Otherwise why should we hurt one another? No, the remission I am seeking, and will be granted perhaps, is not one I shall ever see in the bright friendly eyes of Melissa or the sombre brow-dark gaze of Justine. We have all of us taken different paths now; but in this, the first great fragmentation of my maturity I feel the confines of my art and my living deepened immeasurably by the memory of them. In thought I achieve them anew; as if only here – this wooden table over the sea under an olive tree, only here can I enrich them as they deserve. So that the taste of this writing should have taken something from its living subjects – their breath, skin, voices – weaving them into the supple tissues of human memory. I want them to live again to the point where pain becomes art… Perhaps this is a useless attempt, I cannot say. But I must try.


by Lawrence Durrell (27 February 1912 – 7 November 1990)
from Justine
first book in the Alexandria Quartet
image – Sudhamshu

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One Response to “For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded or defeated us in daily life… to fulfil it in its true potential – the imagination.”

  1. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    This entire passage is so profound. There is a deeper truth here that takes time and contemplation to absorb. I especially love these lines:

    “So that the taste of this writing should have taken something from its living subjects – their breath, skin, voices – weaving them into the supple tissues of human memory.”

    You know Elizabeth, I think human memory is a wonderful, delicate gift; I see it wrapped in a sort of tissue paper of the soul.

    Thanks for posting this one, Clarissa

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