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Octavio Paz

(March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998 / Mexico City)

Quotations

  • ''"Art" is an invention of aesthetics, which in turn is an invention of philosophers.... What we call art is a game.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "André Breton or the Quest of the Beginning," Alternating Current (1967).
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  • ''Man does not speak because he thinks; he thinks because he speaks. Or rather, speaking is no different than thinking: to speak is to think.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "André Breton or the Quest of the Beginning," Alternating Current (1967).
  • ''If we are a metaphor of the universe, the human couple is the metaphor par excellence, the point of intersection of all forces and the seed of all forms. The couple is time recaptured, the return to the time before time.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "André Breton or the Quest of the Beginning," Alternating Current (1967).
  • ''Social criticism begins with grammar and the re-establishing of meanings.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "Development and Other Mirages," The Other Mexico: Critique of the Pyramid (1972).
  • ''What distinguishes modern art from the art of other ages is criticism.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "Invention, Underdevelopment, Modernity," Alternating Current (1967).
  • ''Writers, you know, are the beggars of Western society.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. quoted in Independent on Sunday (London, Dec. 30, 1990).
  • ''To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes; to hear it is to see it with our ears.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "Recapitulations," Alternating Current (1967).
  • ''Technology is not an image of the world but a way of operating on reality. The nihilism of technology lies not only in the fact that it is the most perfect expression of the will to power ... but also in the fact that it lacks meaning.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "The Channel and the Signs," Alternating Current (1967).
  • ''Literature is the expression of a feeling of deprivation, a recourse against a sense of something missing. But the contrary is also true: language is what makes us human. It is a recourse against the meaningless noise and silence of nature and history.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "The Exception to the Rule," Alternating Current (1967).
  • ''Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide-awake. But this wide-awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason.''
    Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet, essayist. The Labyrinth of Solitude, ch. 9 (1950, trans. 1961).

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