"[This is] a time … when something awful is happening to a civilization, when it ceases to produce poets, and, what is even more crucial, when it ceases in any way whatever to believe in the report that only the poets can make. Conrad told us a long time ago…: 'Woe to that man who does not put his trust in life.' Henry James said, 'Live, live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.' And Shakespeare said — and this is what I take to be the truth about everybody’s life all of the time — 'Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.' Art is here to prove, and to help one bear, the fact that all safety is an illusion. In this sense, all artists are divorced from and even necessarily opposed to any system whatever."
"This collision between one’s image of oneself and what one actually is is always very painful and there are two things you can do about it, you can meet the collision head-on and try and become what you really are or you can retreat and try to remain what you thought you were, which is a fantasy, in which you will certainly perish."
"I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."
"I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain."