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Intensity

  • The bow always strung ... will not do.

  • ... vitality ... that dangerous divine gift she had in such abundance, the one gift that no art could counterfeit, and the one the gods give least often and with least wish to be kind.

  • She was so sincere that she would think only one thought at a time; and her whole nature would be behind her thought.

  • Only at the very center of pain or joy was one wholly wretched, wholly joyful. There was only one hour of the night in which sunset or dawn was not present to the mind in memory or hope, only one hour of the day when the sun seemed neither rising nor declining, and the intensity of those hours dulled and blinded.

  • ... I had learnt to seek intensity rather than happiness, not joys and prosperity but more of life, a concentrated sense of life, a strengthened feeling of existence, fullness and concentration of pulse, energy, growth, flowering, beyond the image of happiness or unhappiness.

  • The week's ocean voyage went by like a year. The silly waves dragged on the steamer like a tired child on the skirts of its mother. Haste raged in your veins like a fever. You wanted to throw all the fat, heavy passengers overboard. You wanted to swim ahead with a towing rope in your teeth. You wanted to kill the Captain when he stuttered. You wanted to flay the cook for serving an extra course for dinner.

  • ... the higher the flame shoots the quicker it blacks out.

  • I want to live faster, faster, faster! ... I fear that this desire to live always at high pressure is the presage of a short existence. Who knows?

    • Marie Bashkirtseff,
    • 1874, who died at age twenty-three, in Mary J. Serrano, trans., The Journal of a Young Artist ()
  • Nature formed me fierce ...

  • ... she is so stiff and stand-offish. She is like a drawn bow, and we are afraid we'll get an arrow through our bodies if we come too near.

  • ... the act of longing for something will always be more intense than the requiting of it.

  • I am a stranger to half measures. With life I am on the attack, restlessly ferreting out each pleasure, foraging for answers, wringing from it even the pain. I ransack life, hunt it down. I am the hungry peasants storming the palace gates. I will have my share. No matter how it tastes.

  • Without even knowing it, we are assaulted by a high note of urgency all the time. We end up pacing ourselves to the city rhythm whether or not it's our own. In time we even grow hard of hearing to the rest of the world. Like a violinist stuck next to the timpani, we may lose the ability to hear our own instrument.

  • The streams which would otherwise diverge to fertilize a thousand meadows, must be directed into one deep narrow channel before they can turn a mill.

  • Sometime write me a little poem that isn't intense. A lamp turned too high might shatter its chimney. Please just glow sometimes.

    • Olive Higgins Prouty,
    • letter to Sylvia Plath (1957), in Aurelia Schober Plath, ed., Letters Home ()
  • One intense hour is worth a dreamy day.

  • Sometimes I felt it was almost too much for her, loving and being loved so intensely. The sword was too sharp for the scabbard.

  • ... my throttle was wide open. I approached everything, my job, my family, my romances, with intensity.

  • A flame burns brightest just before it goes out.

  • I say, get it while you can, yeh, get it while you can.

  • I can't tell you the number of times I've been in the middle of a perfunctory conversation, and someone will say, 'Tell us what you really think.' Or 'Maybe you should switch to decaf.'

  • This is the age / of the half-read page / And the quick hash / And the mad dash / The bright night / With the nerves tight / The plane hop / With the brief stop / The lamp tan / In a short span / The Big Shot / In a good spot / And the brain strain / And the heart pain / And the catnaps / Till the spring snaps / And the fun's done.

  • It is not morbidity which draws crowds to scenes of disaster or unusual joy. It is the desire to participate in a moment when life breaks through to some higher level of intensity so that one's own life might take fire from that sudden spurted flame.

    • Maya Deren,
    • "The Artist as God in Haiti," in The Tiger's Eye ()