Wyndham Lewis quotes:

  • I have been called a Rogue Elephant, a Cannibal Shark, and a crocodile. I am none the worse. I remain a caged, and rather sardonic, lion, in a particularly contemptible and ill-run zoo.

  • Lenin in a top hat and frock coat would be a far greater anomaly than the Grand Lama of Thibet or a Zulu chief in that costume.

  • (Canada) - the most parochial nationette on earth ... I have been living in this sanctimonious icebox ... painting portraits of the opulent Methodists of Toronto. Methodism and money in this city have produced a sort of hell of dullness.

  • With a new familiarity and a flesh-creeping homeliness entirely of this unreal, materialistic world, where all sentiment is coarsely manufactured and advertised in colossal sickly captions, disguised for the sweet tooth of a monstrous baby called the Public, the family as it is, broken up on all hands by the agency of feminist and economic propaganda, reconstitutes itself in the image of the state.

  • The art of advertisement, after the American manner, has introduced into all our life such a lavish use of superlatives, that no standard of value whatever is intact.

  • A hundred things are done today in the divine name of Youth, that if they showed their true colors would be seen by rights to belong rather to old age.

  • Gertrude Stein's prose-song is a cold, black suet-pudding.... Cut it at any point, it is the same thing ... all fat, without nerve.

  • As a result of the feminist revolution, feminine becomes an abusive epithet.

  • If the world would only build temples to Machinery in the abstract then everything would be perfect. The painter and sculptor would have plenty to do, and could, in complete peace and suitably honored, pursue their trade without further trouble.

  • Sadistic excess attempts to reach roughly and by harshness what art reaches by fineness.

  • I feel most at home in the United States, not because it is intrinsically a more interesting country, but because no one really belongs there any more than I do. We are all there together in its wholly excellent vacuum.

  • To be a satirist, at all events. The venom of Pope is what is needed. The sense of delight -- the expansion and the compassion of Shakespeare is no good at all for that. He is a bad comic.

  • Men were only made into 'men' with great difficulty even in primitive society: the male is not naturally 'a man' any more than the woman. He has to be propped up into that position with some ingenuity, and is always likely to collapse.

  • When we say 'science' we can either mean any manipulation of the inventive and organizing power of the human intellect: or we can mean such an extremely different thing as the religion of science, the vulgarized derivative from this pure activity manipulated by a sort of priestcraft into a great religious and political weapon.

  • Almost anything that can be praised or advocated has been put to some disgusting use. There is no principle, however immaculate, that has not had its compromising manipulator.

  • Laughter is an independent, tremendously important, and lurid emotion.

  • In the democratic western countries so-called capitalism leads a saturnalia of 'freedom', like a bastard brother of reform.

  • Prostration is our natural position. A worm-like movement from a spot of sunlight to a spot of shade, and back, is the type of movement that is natural to men.

  • The English certainly and fiercely pride themselves in never praisingthemselves.

  • So-called austerity, the stoic injunction, is the path towards universal destruction. It is the old, the fatal, competitive path. Pull in your belt is a slogan closely related to gird up your loins, or the guns-butter metaphor.

  • Feminism was recognized by the average man as a conflict in which it was impossible for a man, as a chivalrous gentleman, as a respecter of the rights of little nations (like little Belgium), as a highly evolved citizen of a highly civilized community, to refuse the claim of this better half to self-determination.

  • It is more comfortable for me, in the long run, to be rude than polite.

  • The male has been persuaded to assume a certain onerous and disagreeable role with the promise of rewards -- material and psychological. Women may in the first place even have put it into his head. BE A MAN! may have been, metaphorically, what Eve uttered at the critical moment in the garden of Eden.

  • Many great writers address audiences who do not exist; to address passionately and sometimes with very great wisdom people who do not exist has this advantage - that there will always be a group of people who, seeing a man shouting apparently at somebody or other, and seeing nobody else in sight, will think it is they who are being addressed.

  • What every artist should try to prevent is the car, in which is our civilized life, plunging over the side of the precipice -- the exhibitionist extremist promoter driving the whole bag of tricks into a nihilistic nothingness or zero.

  • In a period of such obsessing political controversy as the present, I believe that I am that strange animal, the individual without any politics at all.

  • The streets of a modern city are depressing. They are so aimless and so weak in their lines and their masses, that the mind and senses jog on their way like passengers in a train with blinds down in an overcrowded carriage.

  • If you do not regard feminism with an uplifting sense of the gloriousness of woman's industrial destiny, or in the way, in short, that it is prescribed, by the rules of the political publicist, that you should, that will be interpreted by your opponents as an attack on woman.

  • It is more comfortable for me, in the long run, to be rude than polite....

  • The intelligence suffers today automatically in consequence of the attack on all authority, advantage, or privilege. These things are not done away with, it is needless to say, but numerous scapegoats are made of the less politically powerful, to satisfy the egalitarian rage awakened.

  • Revolution today is taken for granted, and in consequence becomes rather dull.

  • I am an artist, and, through my eye, must confess to a tremendous bias. In my purely literary voyages my eye is always my compass.

  • A sort of war of revenge on the intellect is what, for some reason, thrives in the contemporary social atmosphereThe ideas of a time are like the clothes of a season: they are as arbitrary, as much imposed by some superior will which is seldom explicit. They are utilitarian and political, the instruments of smooth-running government.

  • A man only goes and confesses his faults to the world when his self will not acknowledge or listen to them.

  • A sort of war of revenge on the intellect is what, for some reason, thrives in the contemporary social atmosphere.

  • All orthodox opinion - that is, today, "revolutionary" opinion either of the pure or the impure variety - is anti-man.

  • An artist should be as impartial as God.

  • Art is the expression of an enormous preference.

  • Artists put as much vitality and delight into their saintliness and escape out as most men do their escapes into similar places from respectable existence.

  • Contradict yourself. In order to live, you must remain broken up.

  • Dying for an idea,' again, sounds well enough, but why not let the idea die instead of you?

  • Elephants are VERY BIG. Motor cars go quickly.

  • For the first rate poet, nothing short of a Queen or a Chimera is adequate for the powers of his praise.

  • God is, of course, a terrifying reality. I had thought that I knew all about God, and had Him in a pigeon hole. But I met Him at the corner of a street -- He entered my mind with a bang, and nearly burst my head open.

  • Happiness is the chief material also in the construction of Utopias.

  • If an art has for its function to represent manners and people, I do not see how it can avoid systematizing its sensibility to the extent of showing some figures much as Molière, for instance, did, as absurd or detestable.

  • In life nothing is taken to its ultimate conclusion, life is a half-way house, a place of obligatory compromise; and, in dealing in logical conclusions, a man steps out of life -- or so it would be quite legitimate to argue.

  • Instead of the vast organization to exploit the weakness of the Many, should we not possess one for the exploitation of the intelligence of the Few?

  • Laughter is the climax in the tragedy of seeing, hearing and smelling self-consciously.

  • Laughter is the representative of Tragedy, when Tragedy is away.

  • Laughter is the Wild Body's song of triumph.

  • Lewis sought no disciples, nor does he offer a program or solution, rather his contribution is a critical discipline. Lewis is a stimulant, a mode of perception, rather than a position or practice.

  • Life is art's rival and vice versa.

  • No American worth his salt should go around looking for a root. I advance this in all modesty, as a not unreasonable opinion.

  • People are so overwhelmed with the prestige of their instruments that they consider their personal judgement of hardly any account.

  • Revolution has become a sort of violent and hollow routine.

  • Revolutionary politics, revolutionary art, and oh, the revolutionary mind, is the dullest thing on earth. When we open a revolutionary review, or read a revolutionary speech, we yawn our heads off. It is true, there is nothing else. Everything is correctly, monotonously, dishearteningly revolutionary. What a stupid word! What a stale fuss!

  • Revolutionary politics, revolutionary art, and oh, the revolutionary mind, is the dullest thing on earth... What a stupid word! What a stale fuss!

  • Satire has a great big glaring target. If successful, it blasts a great big hole in the center. Directness there must be and singleness of aim: it is all aim, all trajectory.

  • Sex is of the same clay as Time! -- of the same clay Since both are in their essence but One-Way Time is the one-way dimension: sex its tart And subtle biological counterpart.

  • Spain is an overflow of sombreness . . . a strong and threatening tide of history meets you at the frontier.

  • Surely to root politics out of art is a highly necessary undertaking: for the freedom of art, like that of science, depends entirely upon its objectivity and non-practical, non-partisan passion.

  • The artist is always engaged in writing a detailed history of the future because he is the only person aware of the nature of the present.

  • The earth has become one big village, with telephones laid on from one end to the other, and air transport, both speedy and safe.

  • The Future is distant, like the Past, and therefore sentimental. The mere element "Past" must be retained to sponge up and absorb our melancholy. Everything absent, remote, requiring projection in the veiled weakness of the mind, is sentimental.

  • The ideal of perfect Success is an ideal belonging to the same sort of individual as the inventor of Equal Rights of man and Perfectibility.

  • The ideas of a time are like the clothes of a season: they are as arbitrary, as much imposed by some superior will which is seldom explicit.

  • The puritanical potentialities of science have never been forecast. If it evolves a body of organized rites, and is established as a religion, hierarchically organized, things more than anything else will be done in the name of 'decency.' The coarse fumes of tobacco and liquors, the consequent tainting of the breath and staining of white fingers and teeth, which is so offensive to many women, will be the first things attended to.

  • The Relativity theory, the copernican upheaval, or any great scientific convulsion, leaves a new landscape. There is a period of stunned dreariness; then people begin, antlike, the building of a new human world. They soon forget the last disturbance. But from these shocks they derive a slightly augmented vocabulary, a new blind spot in their vision, a few new blepharospasms or tics, and perhaps a revised method of computing time.

  • The teacher does not have to be, although he has to know: he is the mind imagining, not the executant.

  • Then down came the lid--the day was lost, for art, at Sarajevo. World-politics stepped in, and a war was started which has not ended yet: a "war to end war." But it merely ended art. It did not end war.

  • Then we are assured by Sartre that owing to the final disappearance of God our liberty is absolute! At this the entire audience waves its hat or claps its hands. But this natural enthusiasm is turned abruptly into something much less buoyant when it is learnt that this liberty weighs us down immediately with tremendous responsibilities. We now have to take all God's worries on our shoulders -now that we are become men like gods. It is at this point that the Anxiety and Despondency begin, ending in utter despair.

  • There is nothing contemptible about an intoxicated man - if it is nothing more than a bookful of words or a roomful of notes that he has got drunk on.

  • To begin with, I hold that there is never an end; everything of which our life is composed, pictures and books as much as anything else, is a means only, in the sense that the work of art exists in the body of the movement of life. It may be a strong factor of progress and direction, but we cannot say that it is the end or reason of things, for it is so much implicated with them ; and when we are speaking of art we suddenly find that we are talking of life all the time.

  • To give up another person's love is a mild suicide; like a very bad inoculation as compared to the full disease.

  • We are the first men of a Future that has not materialized. We belong to a "great age" that has not "come off". We moved too quickly for the world. We set too sharp a pace.

  • What is the good of being an island, if you are not a volcanic island?

  • Where there is abundance you can afford waste.

  • Wherever there is objective truth, there is satire.

  • With most people, not describable as artists, all the finer part of their vitality goes into sex. They become third-rate poets during their courtship. All their instincts of drama come out freshly with their wives. The artist is he in whom this emotionality normally absorbed by sex is so strong that it claims a newer and more exclusive field of deployment. Its first creation is the Artist himself, a new sort of person; the creative man.