In fact, when the period in which a man of talent is obliged to live is dull and stupid, the artist, though unconsciously, is haunted by a nostalgia of some past century. Finding himself unable to harmonize, save at rare intervals, with the environment in which he lives and not discovering sufficient distraction in the pleasures of observation and analysis, in the examination of the environment and its people, he feels in himself the dawning of strange ideas.
Confused desires for other lands awake and are clarified by reflection and study. Instincts, sensations and thoughts bequeathed by heredity, awake, grow fixed, assert themselves with an imperious assurance. He recalls memories of beings and things he has never really known and a time comes when he escapes from the penitentiary of his age and roves, in full liberty, into another epoch with which, through a last illusion, he seems more in harmony. With some, it is a return to vanished ages, to extinct civilizations, to dead epochs; with others, it is an urge towards a fantastic future, to a more or less intense vision of a period about to dawn, whose image, by an effect of atavism of which he is unaware, is a reproduction of some past age.
Joris-Karl Huysmans – À rebours (1884)
To my mind, an evocative quote as most of us have some kind of talent and are certainly obliged to live in dull and stupid times. The media don’t tell us so, but there is a lot of depth and variety of talent around if comments on this blog and others I read are any guide.
Of course, the here and now doesn’t have to be dull and stupid. We don’t have to watch the World Cup, join in the climate change hysteria or pretend Joe Biden is fit to be US President. We don’t have to clap the NHS or bend the knee to the politics of violence, and this can be an escape, even if other people think we have some strange ideas.
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