“Everything beautiful and noble is the result of reason and calculation. Crime, of which the human animal has learned the taste in his mother’s womb, is natural by origin. Virtue, on the other hand, is artificial, supernatural, since at all times and in all places gods and prophets have been needed to teach it to animalized humanity, man being powerless to discover it himself. Evil happens without effort, naturally, fatally; Good is always the product of some art.”

The Painter of Modern Life, Baudelaire

“Having a drink in bed while listening to music and reading a book. As precious to me as a beautiful sunset or good clean air.”

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami

“What was lost was lost. There was no retrieving it, however you schemed, no returning to how things were, no going back.”

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami

“And I add my own love to the history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire, and sought them when they were lost, and tried to preserve them and save them while passing them along literally from hand to hand, singing out brilliantly from the wreck of time to the next generation of lovers, and the next.”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

“And as much as I’d like to believe there’s a truth beyond illusion, I’ve come to believe that there’s no truth beyond illusion. Because, between ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic.”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

“We can’t choose what we want and don’t want and that’s the hard lonely truth. Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us. We can’t escape who we are.”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

“Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence - of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do - is catastrophe.”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

“You can look around when the Bad Seeds are playing and see precisely which version of Nick — the junkie, the outlaw, the lover — each person in the crowd wants to be.”

I am the real Nick Cave, John Wray

“Only here’s what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can’t be trusted? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight towards a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

“A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

“Why am I made the way I am? Why do I care about all the wrong things, and nothing at all for the right ones? Or, to tip it another way: how can I see so clearly that everything I love or care about is illusion, and yet - for me, anway - all that’s worth living for lies in that charm?”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

“And I keep thinking of what Hobie said: beauty alters the grain of reality. And I keep thinking of more conventional wisdom: namely, that the pursuit of pure beauty is a trap, a fast track to bitterness and sorrow, that beauty has to be wedded to something more meaningful.”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

“I liked the idea of a self-contained, endless pursuit of perfection. But I have a problem with perfection. I don’t think perfection is very artful. But there’s something I liked about the image of a skater going in this endless twisted circle that doesn’t have any real endpoint. So the object is not to stop or arrive anywhere; it’s just to make this thing as beautiful as they can.”

Elliott Smith

“And isn’t that the whole point of things - beautiful things - that they connect you to some larger beauty?”

The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

©DH