When we speak, in gestures or signs, we fashion a real object in the world; the gesture is seen, the words and the song are heard. The arts are simply a kind of writing, which, in one way or another, fixes words or gestures, and gives body to the invisible.
(Alain [Emile-Auguste Chartier] (1868-1951), French philosopher. The Gods, introduction (1934, trans. 1988). . . .
All official institutions of language are repeating machines: school, sports, advertising, popular songs, news, all continually repeat the same structure, the same meaning, often the same words: the stereotype is a political fact, the major figure of ideology.
(Roland Barthes (1915-1980), French semiologist. "Modern," The Pleasure of the Text (1975).)
I think you overestimate our dear Viennese, my friend. Do you know you didn't even give them a good bang at the end of songs, to let them know when to clap.
(Peter Shaffer (b. 1926), British playwright, screenwriter. Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), Amadeus, to Mozart (Tom Hulce), explaining why the public didn't embrace his opera, The Marriage of Figaro (1984).)
Old age cannot be cured. An epoch or a civilization cannot be prevented from breathing its last. A natural process that happens to all flesh and all human manifestations cannot be arrested. You can only wring your hands and utter a beautiful swan song.
(Renee Winegarten (b. 1922), British author, critic. "The Idea of Decadence," Commentary (New York, Sept. 1974).)
None but a maid is roused by a love song. And this was a maid, an old maid.
(Honoré De Balzac (1799-1850), French novelist. In The Works of Honoré de Balzac, vol. IV, trans. by George Saintsbury (1971). Narrator, in Pierrette, originally named Pierrette Lorrain, in Le Siècle (1840); included in the Comédie humaine as a Scène de la Vie de Province (1843).)
In song and dance man expresses himself as a member of a higher community: he has forgotten how to walk and speak and is on the way toward flying up into the air, dancing.
(Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher, classical scholar, critic of culture. Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, eds. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Berlin, de Gruyter 1980. Basic Writings of Nietzsche, p. 37, trans. and ed. By Walter Kaufmann, New York, Modern Library (1968). The Birth of Tragedy, section 1 (1872).)