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Quotes of the day: Jean Cocteau

Published Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 11:11 PM EDT
Oct 10 2014

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (July 5, 1889 – October 11, 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. Cocteau is best known for his novel Les Enfants Terribles (1929), and the films Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents Terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orpheus (1949) (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All good music resembles something. Good music stirs by its mysterious resemblance to the objects and feelings which motivated it.

An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.

An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original.

Anything of any importance cannot help but be unrecognizable, since it bears no resemblance to anything already known.

Art is science made clear.

Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.

Be a constant outrage to modesty. There is nothing to fear: modesty is exercised only among the blind.

Be a mere assistant to your unconscious. Do only half the work. The rest will do itself.

Beauty cannot be recognized with a cursory glance.

Disavow anyone who provokes or accepts the extermination of a race to which he does not belong.

Do not fear being ridiculous in relation to the ridiculous.

Do not take up cause against the inaccuracies printed about you. They are your protection.

Expect neither reward nor beatitude. Return noble waves for ignoble.

Fight any instinct to be humorless, for humorlessness is the worst of all absurdities.

Hate only hatred.

History is a combination of reality and lies. The reality of history becomes a lie. The unreality of the fable becomes the truth.

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.

If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.

Know that your work speaks only to those on the same wavelength as you.

Life is a horizontal fall.

Mirrors would do well to reflect a little more before sending back images.

Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs.

One is either judge or accused. The judge sits, the accused stands. Live on your feet.

One must be a living man and a posthumous artist.

Respect movements, flee schools.

See your disappointments as good fortune. One plan's deflation is another's inflation.

Tact in audacity is knowing how far you can go without going too far.

The day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.

The ear disapproves but tolerates certain musical pieces; transfer them into the domain of our nose, and we will be forced to flee.

The extreme limit of wisdom- that's what the public calls madness.

The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.

The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, they finish by loading honors on your head.

The joy of youth is to disobey, but the trouble is that there are no longer any orders.

The poet never asks for admiration; he wants to be believed.

The skin of all of us is responsive to gypsy songs and military marches.

The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.

There are truths which one can only say after having won the right to say them.

There is always a period when a man with a beard shaves it off. This period does not last. He returns headlong to his beard.

This sickness, to express oneself. What is it?

True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.

Understand that some of your enemies are amongst your best friends.

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?

We shelter an angel within us. We must be the guardians of that angel.

Wealth is an inborn attitude of mind, like poverty. The pauper who has made his pile may flaunt his spoils, but cannot wear them plausibly.

What is history after all? History is facts which become lies in the end; legends are lies which become history in the end.

What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.

When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.

You've never seen death? Look in the mirror every day and you will see it like bees working in a glass hive.


(October 11 is also the birthday of Eleanor Roosevelt)

Categories: Jean Cocteau, Quotes of the day


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