The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it.
But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold, we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.
— Ursula Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” The Wind’s Twelve Quarters
During the years of Buchenwald and Auschwitz, Matisse painted the most charming flowers and fruit that were ever made. That’s why today they still speak more eloquently than the most macabre description of the period. Their creator was faithful not to the tragedy but to the reaction that tragedy kindled in his conscience.
— Odysseus Elytis, translated by Theophanis Stavrou: Books Abroad, Volume 49, no 4, Autumn 1975 [emphasis mine]
I firmly believe that joy is more fertile than pain.
— Maurice Ravel
Thanks to Rob Brezsny for the first two quotes (he’s been on quite a tear lately!).