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Writers can only be so conscientious about truth before becoming paralyzed…

We have lousy memories. Proust had a lousy memory. (There is no “little patch of yellow wall” in Vermeer’s “View of Delft.”). Memory is a liar. It’s a heap of dog-eared, smudged, incessantly revised fictions. The stories make cumulative lies – or, give us a break, conjecture – of our lives…

Meaning is so much better than nothing, in that it defines “nothing” as everything that meaning is not. Meaning prevents nothing from being only nothing.


The spectacular writer and art critic Peter Schjeldahl thinks about life as he approaches death.


On meaning and nothing, see also John Cheever:

Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos (no less) and we can accomplish this only by the most vigilant exercise of choice, but in a world that changes more swiftly than we can perceive there is always the danger that our powers of selection will be mistaken and that the vision we serve will come to nothing.

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One Response to ““I can see the paragraphs I’m writing as little jail cells, penning me into perspectives, conceits, ideas, jokes, and memories – stories! Not an original type of anxiety, for a writer.””

  1. Penning « Log24 Says:

    […] Yorker  art critic Peter Schjeldahl  as quoted today by Margaret Soltan […]

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