Theodora Goss

Living a Magical Life

"Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers." —Wallace Stevens

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself." —Anna Quindlen

"If everyone had the luxury to pursue a life of exactly what they love, we would all be ranked as visionary and brilliant… . If you got to spend every day of your life doing what you love, you can’t help but be the best in the world at that. And you get to smile every day for doing so. And you’ll be working at it almost to the exclusion of personal hygiene, and your friends are knocking on your door, saying, ‘Don’t you need a vacation?’, and you don’t even know what the word ‘vacation’ means because what you’re doing is what you want to do and a vacation from that is anything but a vacation—that’s the state of mind of somebody who’s doing what others might call visionary and brilliant." —Neil deGrasse Tyson

"We who hobnob with hobbits and tell tales about little green men are used to being dismissed as mere entertainers, or sternly disapproved of as escapists. But I think perhaps the categories are changing, like the times. Sophisticated readers are accepting the fact that an improbable and unmanageable world is going to produce an improbable and hypothetical art. At this point, realism is perhaps the least adequate means of understanding or portraying the incredible realities of our existence. A scientist who creates a monster in the laboratory; a librarian in the library of Babel; a wizard unable to cast a spell; a space ship having trouble getting to Alpha Centauri: all these may be precise and profound metaphors of the human condition. Fantasists, whether they use ancient archetypes of myth and legend or the younger ones of science and technology, may be talking as seriously as any sociologist—and a good deal more directly—about human life as it is lived, and as it might be lived. For after all, as great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope." —Ursula le Guin

Autumn by John Atkinson Grimshaw

"In art, the best is the standard. When you hear a new violinist, you do not compare her to the kid next door; you compare her to Stern and Heifetz. If she falls short, you will not blame her for it, but you will know what she falls short of. And if she is a real violinist, she knows it too. In art, ‘good enough’ is not good enough." —Ursula Le Guin, "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie"

"The work evolves on its own rather than with the author’s intentions, but is always monitored by the critical eye of the writer. What is so difficult about this process is that one must keep the mind focused on two contradictory goals: not to miss the messages whispered by the unconscious and at the same time force it into a suitable form. The first requires openness, the second critical judgment. If these two processes are not kept in constant shifting balance, the flow of writing dries up. After a few hours the tremendous concentration required for this balancing act becomes so exhausting that the writer has to change gears and focus on something else, something mundane. But while it lasts, creative writing is the next best thing to having a world of one’s own in which what’s wrong with the ‘real’ world can be set right." —Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity

A Walk on the Beach by Christian Schloe

"What is fantasy? On one level, it is a game: a pure pretense with no ulterior motive whatsoever. It is one child saying to another child, ‘Let’s be dragons,’ and then they’re dragons for an hour or two. It is escapism of the most admirable kind—the game played for the game’s sake.

"On another level, it is still a game, but a game played for very high stakes. Seen thus, as art, not as spontaneous play, its affinity is not with daydream, but with dream. It is a different approach to reality, an alternative technique for apprehending and coping with experience. It is not anti-rational, but para-rational; not realistic but surrealistic, superrealistic, a heightening of reality. In Freud’s terminology, it employs primary, not secondary process thinking. It employs archetypes, which, as Jung warned us, are dangerous things. Dragons are more dangerous, and a good deal commoner, than bears. Fantasy is nearer to poetry, to mysticism, and to insanity than naturalistic fiction is. It is a real wilderness, and those who go there should not feel too safe. And their guides, the writers of fantasy, should take their responsibility seriously." —Ursula Le Guin, "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie"