Motivation: Money vs Muse

Wg-john-updike-2

“Whatever men make,” she says, “whatever they felt when they made it, is there. If it was made to make money, it will smell of money. That’s why these houses are so ugly, all the corners they cut  are  still in them. All the savings. That’s why the cathedrals are so lovely; nobles and ladies in velvet and ermine dragged stones up the ramps. Think of a painter. He stands in front of the canvas with a color on his brush. Whatever he feels when he makes the mark -if he’s tired or bored or happy and proud -will be there. The same color, but we’ll feel it. Like fingerprints. Like hand-writing. Man is a mechanism for turning things into spirit and turning spirit into things.”

“What’s the point?” Nelson asks.

“The point is ecstasy,” she says. “Energy. Anything that is good is in ecstasy.”

 from Rabbit Redux by John Updike (1932-2010)

Illustration by the late, great David Levine

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