29 January 2009


Just received my copy of Time Within Time, the diaries of Andrey Tarkovsky from 1970 to 1986. Did several one-page-tests* and all turned out fascinating. Of note, a quote he wrote down from Gustav Mahler on 26 August 1977:

What our contemporaries say about great art not being necessary for the creation of a work of art is utterly senseless. It would be nearer the truth to say that a huge investment of artistic means into everything from the first, general outline to the last detail, is a necessary condition for the creation of the kind of perfect work that could not be imagined in the wildest dreams of our naturalist friends--those impotent creatures!

And anything that is not imbued with that supreme craftsmanship is doomed to die before it even sees the light of day! (Mahler, quoted by Natalia Bayer-Lekhner, July 1896)

* (The one-page-test being the indisputable measure of a Good Book: open book to a random page; read it; judge the entire book by the contents of that page. Infallible.)

(The notes and drawings and ephemera remind me of another favorite book of mine, The Notebooks of Anton Checkov. )

Ignoring the critical approach of historicism towards this quote, and ignoring Mahler's psychology in general, I was reminded of a Dijkstra quote I'd come across days prior (via Reddit -> Peteris Krumin's blog article "MIT's Introduction to Algorithms, Lectures 17, 18 and 19: Shortest Path Algorithms" -> "Edsger Dijkstra - Discipline in Thought"):

Elegance is not a dispensable luxury but a factor that decides between success and failure.
[ posted by sstrader on 29 January 2009 at 12:57:59 PM in Cinema , Programming ]