Quotes by Quentin S. Crisp

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In the meditation, of course, the question is repeated and repeated until you run out of answers - or so I hear. more...

More or less the first thing that comes into my head is that some people are always looking for what they want to do in life and never finding it. I'm not one of those people. It has been very obvious to me from an early age who I am, and this has been tied up with creativity, and, specifically, with writing. more...

People often refer to a creative ability as a 'gift', and, of course, it is, in that, if I had sat down and logically tried to work out who I was and what I should do, I would never have come up with the idea of writing. It was already there, gratis, a given - a gift. more...

The weird thing is, I'm not entirely sure that I am meant to think that such a gift is who I am according to the philosophy underlying Vedanta. But I have long been stubborn like that, for some reason. It's a gift, as I say. more...

This strong sense of who I am that I've always had, since I was very young, is what makes me write. more...

The quality of that 'who I am', is what I hope comes out in the writing. more...

When we fail to live up to our ideals, for instance, we might begin to wonder who we are - most people are aware of a discrepancy, I think. There are idiosyncrasies and foibles, but we're not sure if these are essential. Some people think they are the most essential things of all. more...

I would say that, apart from being a writer, I have also always been very conscious of the idea of a 'world elsewhere'. more...

I was born in the seventies, age of bad haircuts and grainy colour photos. more...

I grew up in North Devon, by the sea, and feel a special affinity for the landscape there, despite a lack of actual ancestry. more...

I was in just the right generation to have taken feminism seriously by osmosis - also the generation when the breakdown of the family really began and for whom The Smiths were something new and essential. more...

I grew up with tarot cards and the reading of tea leaves. more...

I've never been baptised. more...

My favourite tea is lapsang souchong. more...

I'm more a dog person than a cat person. more...

I don't believe in sexual love. more...

I've drifted in and out of vegetarianism for years. more...

I seem to be less depressed but also less hopeful now in my thirties. My widow's peak bothers me. I think a lot about the end of the human race. And so on. more...

I feel almost as if I had been born in a vacuum of innocence, and then had to come to terms with the fact that actually, I was born into the middle of history - the rather grimy normality of the 70s, which did, indeed, retain some traces of human innocence, but were also girded about by the demons of experience. more...

I think I'm probably too close to the seventies to be able to analyse them (it?) effectively. more...

I mean, in 1979 I was seven. I do remember punk, though, as a playground phenomenon, and remember that it was exciting to us. It really was, to a five- or six-year-old, quite a thrilling enticement to revolt. The anarchy sign scratched in desk tops, and so on. more...

To me the seventies represent normality, and, of course, it is a normality that is now anachronistic. more...

This is the strange thing about existing in time. As [Philip] Larkin puts it, "truly, though our element is time, we are not used to the strange perspectives open at each moment of our lives" - something like that. more...

Anyway, yes, telephones but not mobile phones, fish and chips still wrapped in actual newspaper and still with some kind of flavour, people visiting each other without having to consult their appointment diaries, not being able to record anything from the television; if you missed it you missed it - these were all the kinds of thing that made up the normality of the seventies. more...

When I think back on it, I have a sense of relaxation, as if in the seventies no one had to try to be anyone other than who they were. I'm sure that's not really true, but that's how I remember it, and I suppose it might be relatively true. more...

On the other hand, the seventies were drab. That is, I am utterly fascinated by the fifties and sixties. more...

We're all more or less interested in the 'swinging sixties', of course, but that's not what I mean. I'm interested in the particular naive glamour that clings to the post-war and pre-Hendrix era. more...

I don't know if Britain ever really achieved that much glamour. We had post-war austerity rather than post-war prosperity, and our cultural products of the time include some pretty dour kitchen-sink dramas of the A Kind of Loving variety. (This kind of film seems disillusioned with the sixties before they've even really begun.) more...

The cultural products of America from this period [ fifties and sixties] are like a vision of paradise or something. I find it utterly intoxicating. more...

Speaking of [Philip] Larkin, in his poem about the First World War he wrote something like, "Never such innocence, before or since, that turned itself to past without a word". more...

I can't imagine anyone ever again being able to make a film like, say, Summer Holiday, for instance, to give a British example, actually. And there will never be another Annette Funicello. I suppose it's the slight starchiness of the innocence that makes it unrepeatable. more...

If there is innocence on Earth again, I tend to imagine it in more [Henry David]Thoreau sort of terms. more...

I think the seventies caught the last red rays of the dying sun of this innocence, but were already a little cold and drab. more...

I don't want to give too much away, but something horrible happens in 1977. That was also the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee. I remember this jubilee. I remember receiving a commemorative coin from the school. I think it was a fifty pence piece. That was its monetary value, but it was not a normal fifty pence piece, and it would have been strange to try and use it in a shop. more...

I think I still have [commemorative coin ] somewhere. Why was this given to me? I think every child in the country must have received one [ from Queen's Silver Jubilee]. That's the last time that I recall something of an innocent, more-or-less unquestioning monarchist patriotism in Britain. more...

1977 was also, of course, the year that Derek Jarman made his iconoclastic film Jubilee, which was so much part of the punk movement. more...

I suppose I could say that to be interested in innocence already suggests a remove from innocence, perhaps a longing for something that is lost. more...

I'm not sure if there is a cultural loss of innocence specifically associated with the seventies. The oil crisis? The Watergate scandal? I really don't know. There's nothing there on the scale of Hiroshima. more...

I feel like the seventies was a decade where things ran out, and where other things set in. There was just a lurking graininess and seediness about the decade, a slight grogginess of the hangover from the sixties. more...

People didn't talk about paedophiles in the seventies, I don't think. more...

As children in the seventies we were told about nebulous 'strangers'. By definition, we didn't know who these strangers were, and we didn't know what they wanted to do, but only that they were sinister. I think that was the stage the seventies were at. more...

Lots of things were there [in the seventies], in the social experience, but not quite named, lurking like a stranger on the edge of the playground. more...

Perhaps I can also add something about the rural setting of Remember You're a One-Ball! The countryside is a place - in mythological and perhaps in very real terms - of mixed innocence and sin. It is seen by townsfolk as idyllic, lazy, free of urban crime and social problems. But those who grow up in the country can tell stories that often surprise those who grow up in the towns. more...

We all know about the car breaking down on a deserted road scenario. That's cliche. I'm thinking more of Cider with Rosie, as in, the dark side. more...

I also remember a line from a song by Smog [Bill Callahan], which seems to describe the experience of a town-dweller moving to the country: "I was raised in a pit of snakes/Blink your eyes - I was raised on cake." more...

I associate my childhood with two things, mainly: the North Devon countryside and a sense of connection to another world. more...

It's interesting, the sense of pastoral utopia that exists in so much fantasy - in [Edward ] Dunsany, [John R.R.] Tolkien and so on. more...

I think the natural is, for many people, the gateway to something supernatural or otherworldly. more...

The urban, on the other hand, is often seen as more real and mundane, even though it is obviously far more recent in terms of planetary development. I think this might be because nature corresponds to the unconscious and the artificial world of the city and human culture to the conscious mind. more...

I have a bit of a struggle with some aspects of or forms of Buddhism, but Zen I find to be mainly congenial. more...

Zen is influenced by Daoism, which is not so much a nature-religion in the animistic sense as a nature-philosophy in a cosmic sense. more...

Some people have described Daoism as pantheist, and although there's something in me that resists this designation, I can see that Daoism is consistent with pantheism. If there is any way in which pantheism makes sense and is not redundant, then it is the way (or 'the Way') presented in Daoism. more...

Non-pantheist models for god seem almost completely untenable to me, though not without interest. more...

There's a possible qualification I can make here about a non-pantheist god that is in some way tenable, and that is the idea of a god that has in some way discharged the universe from its own substance (I associate this with the word 'tzimtzum'), possibly even by a form of suicide - a suicide that might have been the Big Bang. more...

What I find difficult about Buddhism, though it is also one of its significant fascinations, is the focus on what is immediately and physically present. To me, this seems a denial of the imagination, and the imagination is very important to me. more...

I think [imagination] very austere element of Buddhism is also linked with a strong antinatalist strain in the philosophy. The Buddha was enlightened when he destroyed the house of body and soul into which he would otherwise have been forever reborn. This is clearly antinatalism. more...

The peculiar thing is that, in focusing only on the here and now, Buddhism seems to despise the world. more...

You focus on the here and now in order to escape existence forever and vanish into Nirvana. There is another religious impulse that is the opposite of this. It uses a world elsewhere in order to affirm life and give a reason to "go forth and multiply". more...

The imagination is fertile. From seeds of the imagination, much is made manifest. more...

There's a strong aspect of Buddhism which is geared towards ending all fertility. more...

Zen, on the other hand, is not so dogmatically sterile, though there are certainly traces and more than traces of this austerity. However, with Zen we have not only the void, but the fertile void. The ink lines in a sumi-e painting show this fertility of the void ever ready to brim over into existence. more...

I think there's a good case for antinatalism. Stephen Hawking has told us recently that we must colonise space to survive, not long after telling us to beware of aliens because they'll probably just do to us as the conquistadors did to the native peoples of the Americas. So . . . exactly why do we want to go on and on, to go forth and multiply in a hostile final frontier? Why? more...

If we do want to do that [ colonise space to survive, ], then vacuous materialism is not going to be enough for us. more...

If future history is not to be just one damned thing after another in space, then what we really have to do is in some way overcome this linear experience of time that makes all existence a quest for something that will never be found.And philosophies such as Zen seem to hint that this is possible. more...

If we do overcome linear time, I would hope this means dwelling more directly in the fertility of the imagination rather than denying it, as some aspects of Buddhism seem to. more...

If you look at the ox-herding pictures - specifically the newer set of ten pictures rather than the older set of eight - you see that after the blank circle of the void, the cycle comes back to a river flowing by the roots of a tree (both strong symbols of nature, the life-force, the unconscious) and to the wanderer returning to the market place, which is the realm of human society and activity. more...

Some Buddhists, however, never seem to get past the void, and I suppose I view this as a kind of Buddhist 'Old Testament' that I don't especially like. more...

I suppose what I can say is that I do feel I have a natural spiritual sensibility. more...

I'm not claiming anything like sainthood - merely a native perception. more...

I never went to church as a child. I did not . more...

I did not understand the differences between Catholic and Protestant until I was an adult. more...

I do not think that my spiritual apprehensions are as dogmatically cultural as those of many people who have been brought up strictly in a particular tradition. more...

You might call this innocence. I had a sense of another world that had not been spoken of to me. more...

Apart from the underlying mystery of all things, there is also another possible specific mystery in this situation: Why did I become so interested in Buddhism, Zen and so on? I seem to have a Buddhist voice in my head, and someone asked me about this recently, saying he was intrigued. more...

[Someone] said that what I described as the Buddhist voice - the life-denying voice of censure and guilt - sounded to him very much like a Catholic voice. This is, indeed, a mystery, and it intrigues me, too. more...

It's true that Eastern philosophy and religion were not unknown to me as a child, since my father has explored much in that area, and written books more or less in that area, too. more...

Nonetheless, I'm not sure this entirely accounts for my Buddhist voice, which tells me forever to give up writing, to give up on relationships, simply to give up. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to me to be the voice of innocence. more...

I went on a meditation retreat. In 10 or so days, I spent about a hundred hours meditating, observing 'noble silence' the whole time, and so on. This was an interesting experience, which has had some beneficial effects for me. more...

I began researching and writing what I intended as a book-length essay entitled Fascination and Liberation, exploring the question of whether there is a conflict between creativity and the Eastern form of enlightenment. I don't know if I'll ever finish that essay, because I had an experience, after I'd written two or three chapters, in which it seemed to me that my psychic antibodies decisively rejected Buddhism. Interestingly, the rejection felt as if it happened in Zen terms. more...

I seemed to recall some words from an old Zen master, something like, "My Zen cuts down mountains." My rejection of Buddhism was a cutting down of mountains; that is precisely how it felt to me. more...

I feel a little as if the Buddhism is creeping back, but I mention all this simply in order to illustrate that there is, in my life, a fundamental sense of conflict between something that I am calling 'Buddhism' and my creative impulse. more...

People may wish to say that the thing that is in conflict with my creativity is not Buddhism - that's fine. more...

I understand that words can mean different things to different people, and, further, that people can have different relationships with complex abstract entities such as Buddhism. To me, anyway, the entity in my life that conflicts with my creativity is Buddhism. more...

Another part of the rejection I mention was the realisation that Buddhism quite simply ignores or dismisses a whole hemisphere of human experience that finds expression in and is enshrined by the mystery religions. more...

I'm not an expert here. I'm talking about an experience I had rather than something I intellectually worked out. From what I can gather, the original mystery religions are still, largely, as the name suggests, mysterious. But they are associated with intoxication, fertility and resurrection. more...

I have a sense of them being Easter religions, for some reason. Christianity, of course, is a mystery religion, too, and I believe that Arthur Machen was one of those especially interested in the link between the pagan mysteries and the Christian ones. So, my experience was also a Machenesque experience. more...

I like the concept of an anti-muse, though I'm not quite sure what that is. If there is such a thing in my life, I suppose it is just this weariness, this sense that it is more fulfilling not to exist, to efface all traces, than to limit oneself to the determined expression of manifestation. more...

I do have a muse. I am not sure how to describe her. She can be very elusive. She was born in England but has Mediterranean ancestry. more...

[My muse] feels nostalgic for Japan, and, perhaps strangely, for the pioneer days of America. more...

[My muse] is, in fact, a woman of the world, and precisely because of this, hopes that a diversity of cultures will endure, and that one bland monoculture does not swamp everything. more...

She [me muse] feels most at home in autumn, nonetheless, she is glad of the other seasons and loves them all. Without the others she would be unable to feel most at home in autumn, besides which, she almost feels most at home in all of them. more...

My muse can take the form of a landscape, an era, a style of writing, a piece of music, and, perhaps that which I find strangest of all for a muse, a human female. Of course, she's also adept at taking the form of toothless old Japanese men or young English lads with tattoos. more...

[My muse] likes to inhabit tea leaves, sunlight filtered through bamboo, melancholy clouds over the Devon coastline, a weedy railroad crossing in the Southern States, bubblegum pop from the sixties, torch songs from the forties, undersea caves where B-movie octopi grapple with men in loincloths, sacred groves of pink anime dryads, Victorian fairy paintings executed by gentlemen in lunatic asylums and so on. more...

The research reading I did for Fascination and Liberation included some Jung, and I noticed that he had a similar impression of Buddhism to myself, that, if it weren't for certain qualifying clauses, the philosophy would be downright suicidal. more...

This is part of the fundamental character of Buddhism that I find problematic - that it is not interested in anything. Hence the 'Fascination' in the title of the essay, the fascination of art and creativity, stands in opposition to what is called 'Liberation'. more...

Anyway, to cut off one's biological dreams seems to me the most fundamental form of psychic castration that you could imagine. more...

I really think [William] Burroughs was onto something here, when he said, "Dreams are a biologic necessity and your lifeline into space." more...

[william] Burroughs, incidentally, took up the slogan that we are "Here to go", which contradicts the tendency in Eastern mysticism to advocate staying where you are because there's nowhere to go anyway. I feel conflicted on this one. more...

Western progress (from one damned thing to another) seems to be essentially the MO of nowhere fast. But, on the other hand, the don't-set-foot-outside-your-own-village/cave ideal or injunction that you find in Buddhism and even in the Daoism of which I'm fonder, seems . . . defeatist. And more than that, it is in contradiction to what nature actually does. Somewhere, somehow, I feel as if these two opposing principles have to be reconciled. more...

It would be hard to say that exactly, but antinatalism is a reality in my life, not just an interesting idea. I can feel it in the chilled and weary marrow of my bones. more...

In terms of what is expressed, antinatalism is a strong presence, not always explicit, in what I write. more...

[Antinatalism ] seems to oppose the idea of writing anything at all. To reproduce is to pass on genes. To write is to pass on memes. In that sense, it really is a kind of reproduction, which antinatalism should, theoretically, oppose, or at least which I feel that it opposes emotionally in my own experience. more...

I'm constantly struggling with the futility and even sinfulness, from an antinatalist point of view, of creativity. And that struggle itself seems part of the creativity, though I sometimes suspect that it's nothing but a burden and an obstacle. more...

I went for a walk in the rain. Recently, whenever it rains, I feel like I want to go for a walk. more...

I never seem to find what I'm looking for, though. I suppose I feel, these days, too aware of schedules and things, to let myself get lost in the rain. Anyway, I came back home, and it was still raining, and as I was approaching the driveway of the house, and the front garden with its bushy flower bed, I caught a cooking smell from somewhere on the air. I don't know why, exactly, but it appealed to me as a Nagai Kafu moment. more...

I feel that Nagai Kafu was a writer who cold stitch together apparently meaningless moments like these into a lyrical whole, and has enhanced my ability to do the same with my own life. more...


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