Donald Barthelme Quotes

Like a lot of painters in this century, you seem to enjoy lifting things out of the world, in this case words or phrases, and then... And then, sung to and Simonized, theyre thrown into the mesh.

Donald Barthelme

I look for a particular kind of sentence, perhaps more often the awkward than the beautiful. A broke-back sentence is interesting. Any sentence that begins with the phrase, It is not clear that... is clearly clumsy but preparing itself for greatness of a kind. A way of backing into a storyof getting past the readers hardwon armor.

Donald Barthelme

It is well to be simple once in a while.

Donald Barthelme

One of the beautiful things about words is that you can put words together which in isolation mean nothing, or mean only what the dictionary says they mean, and you put them together and you get extraordinary effects.

Donald Barthelme

I think that the effort is to reach a realm of meaning that is not quite sayable. You stay away from what can be said and you try to reach what cant quite be said. Yet it is nevertheless meaningful. And there is such a realm and it is very difficult to talk about. Its not quite nonverbal, but that comes fairly close.

Donald Barthelme

I certainly dont write to exclude anyone.

Donald Barthelme

...as one reads more and more and more you get more fathers in your hierarchy of fathers. And then, after summoning twenty or thirty fathers, perhaps you are born, or perhaps you are not born.

Donald Barthelme

I enjoy doing layoutproblems of design. I could very cheerfully be a typographer.

Donald Barthelme

There were five children. In the late thirties my father built a house for us, something not too dissimilar to Miess Tugendhat house. It was wonderful to live in but strange to see on the Texas prairie. On Sundays people used to park their cars out on the street and stare. We had a routine, the family, on Sundays. We used to get up from Sunday dinner, if enough cars had parked, and run out in front of the house in a sort of chorus line, doing high kicks.

Donald Barthelme

When you improvise, do you think of the chord changes or the melody? Both. This is an interesting question which Im unable to answer adequately. If the melody is the skeleton of the particular object, then the chord changes are its wardrobe, its changes of clothes. I tend to pay rather more attention to the latter than to the former. All I want is just a trace of skeletonthree bones from which the rest may be reasoned out.

Donald Barthelme

Art is always aimed (like a rifle, if you wish) at the middle class. The working class has its own culture and will have no truck with fanciness of any kind. The upper class owns the world and thus needs know no more about the world than is necessary for its orderly exploitation. The notion that art cuts across class boundaries to stir the hearts of hoe hand and Morgan alike is, at best, a fiction useful to the artist, his Hail Mary. It is the poor puzzled bourgeoisie that is sufficiently uncertain, sufficiently hopeful, to pay attention to art. It follows (as the night the day) that the bourgeoisie should get it in the neck.

Donald Barthelme

One of the pleasures of art is that it enables the mind to move in unanticipated directions, to make connections that may be in some sense errors but are fruitful nonetheless.

Donald Barthelme

The difficulty here is not producing mere run-of-the-mill outrageousnous, but the nature of the transformational process by which aspects of the world are made over into art. How to prevent the ugly (what we have agreed to call ugly) from becoming, in some sense, beautiful (what we now agree to call beautiful) over time, thus losing the electrical charge which made the artist choose it in the first place? You cant. But there are strategies of delay. Cline, with the aid of some truly revolting politics, managed to remain a monster almost to the end.

Donald Barthelme

MTV has severely compromised surrealism, perhaps ruined it forever...

Donald Barthelme

Is it permitted to differ with Kierkegaard? Not only permitted but necessary. If you love him.

Donald Barthelme

As a magician works with the unique compressibility of doves, finding some, losing others in the same silk foulard, so the rebels fold scratchy, relaxed meanings into their smallest actions.

Donald Barthelme

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