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Agnes de Mille on uncertainty and leaps

February 16, 2013

“The moment one knows how, one begins to die a little. Living is a form of not being sure, of not knowing what next or how. And the artist before all others never entirely knows. He guesses, and he may be wrong. But then how does one know whom to befriend or, for that matter, to marry? One can’t go through life on hands and knees. One leaps in the dark. For this reason creative technique reduces itself basically to a recognition and a befriending of one’s self. “Who am I?” the artist asks, and he devotes his entire career to answering.

There is one clue: what moves him is his. What amuses or frightens or pleases him becomes by virtue of his emotional participation a part of his personality and history; conversely what neither moves nor involves him, what brings him no joy, can be reckoned as spurious. An artist begins to go wrong exactly at the point where he begins to pretend. But it is difficult sometimes to accept the truth. He has to learn who he in fact is, not who he would like to be, nor even who it would be expedient or profitable to be.”

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