28 December 2006

Hayden Carruth

[from Hayden Carruth's Reluctantly: Autobiographical Essays]

And luck has a good deal to do with virtue, and with self-control and independence, too. Any artist knows this. A poet or painter must work in exceptional and solitary diligence to sustain technique and the required pliancy of imagination, that is, to keep the artistic apparatus in a state of readiness for the stroke of luck that alone can materialize a genuine work of art when it comes; more than this, the artist must not only work but live in a state of devotion to things greater than himself. But no dereliction from hard work and devotion is implied in deferring to luck. Deference is a recognition of reality, what Wallace Stevens called “the necessary angel,” who must mediate the imaginative procedure. A work of art — a work of virtue — is luck welcomed and accepted, the success of chance. And happiness is the feeling that goes with it.

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