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It seems to me that the desire to make art produces an ongoing experience of longing, a restlessness sometimes, but not inevitably, played out romantically, or sexually. Always there seems something ahead, the next poem or story, visible, at least, apprehensible, but unreachable. To perceive it at all is to be haunted by it; some sound, some tone, becomes a torment — the poem embodying that sound seems to exist somewhere already finished. It’s like a lighthouse, except that, as one swims towards it, it backs away.
Are we all not, when we sit in the cinema, in the position of humans in The Matrix, tied to chairs, immersed in the spectacle run by a machine? However, a more appropriate allegory is that of the viewer himself: beneath the illusion that we just look at the perceived objects from a safe distance, freely sliding along them, there is the reality of the innumerable ties that bind us to what we perceive.
It is in our own mind and not in exterior objects that we perceive most things; fools know scarcely anything because they are empty, and their heart is narrow; but great souls find in themselves a number of exterior things; they have no need to read or travel or to listen or to work to discover the highest truths; they have only to delve into themselves and search, if we may say so, their own thoughts.
No, there is now no circumstance known in which it can be affirmed that microscopic beings came into the world without germs, without parents similar to themselves. Those who affirm it have been duped by illusions, by ill-conducted experiments, spoilt by errors that they either did not perceive or did not know how to avoid.
Ayn Rand held that art is a ‘re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgements.’ By its nature, therefore, a novel (like a statue or a symphony) does not require or tolerate an explanatory preface; it is a self-contained universe, aloof from commentary, beckoning the reader to enter, perceive, respond.
Happiness isn’t about what happens to us – it’s about how we perceive what happens to us. It’s the knack of finding a positive for every negative, and viewing a setback as a challenge. If we can just stop wishing for what we don’t have, and start enjoying what we do have, our lives can be richer; more fulfilled – and happier. The time to be happy is now.
It is more parsimonious to assume that the sun goes around the Earth, that atoms at the smallest scale operate in accordance with the same rules that objects at larger scales follow, and that we perceive what is really out there. All of these positions were long defended by argument from parsimony, and they were all wrong.
Marilyn always dreamt of being an actress. She didn’t, by the way, dream of being just a star. She dreamt of being an actress. And she had always lived somehow with that dream. And that is why, despite the fact that she became one of the most unusual and outstanding stars of all time, she herself was never satisfied. When she came to New York, she began to perceive the possibilities of really accomplishing her dream, of being an actress.