July 29, 2017

Hemingway’s “grace under pressure” – original uses & interesting variations...

The New Yorker, Nov 30, 1929 - grace under pressure QC


“Exactly what do you mean by ‘guts’?”
“I mean,” Ernest Hemingway said, “grace under pressure.”
       Ernest Hemingway‘s definition of guts (or courage), as quoted by Dorothy Parker in her profile of Hemingway in the November 30, 1929 issue of New Yorker magazine.             
       Some books and websites mistakenly claim that Hemingway said, “Courage is grace under pressure.” He didn’t. However, according to Parker, what he did say was part of a conversation about courage.
       Here’s the full context of the quote in Parker’s article:
       “That brings me to the point which I have been trying to reach all this time: Ernest Hemingway’s definition of courage...Mr. Hemingway did not use the term ‘courage.’ Ever the euphemist, he referred to the quality as ‘guts,’ and he was attributing its possession to an absent friend.
       “Now just a minute,” somebody said, for it was one of those argumentative evenings. “Listen. Look here a minute. Exactly what do you mean by ‘guts’?”
       “I mean,” Ernest Hemingway said, “grace under pressure.”

       Parker’s profile of Hemingway, titled “The Artist’s Reward,” made the phrase “grace under pressure” famous. But Hemingway had used it before. One previous recorded use was in a letter Hemingway wrote to his fellow writer and frenemy F. Scott Fitzgerald on April 20, 1926.
       Fitzgerald had mentioned to “Papa” that he’d told a mutual friend something Hemingway once said about the bravery involved in bullfighting. Interestingly, in the 1926 letter, Hemingway specified that he “was not referring to guts but to something else. Grace under pressure. Guts never made any money for anybody except violin string manufacturers.”
       Thus, either Hemingway later changed his mind about the meaning “grace under pressure” or Parker put that spin on it in her New Yorker piece.
       In the book Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise, author Sally Cline documents a third reported use of “grace under pressure” by Hemingway and suggests it may have been a favorite phrase he liked to use. It also appears that Hemingway coined the phrase, since his is the earliest documented use.
       EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to my friend, environmental activist Tamela Fish, for asking me about the origin of “grace under pressure,” which led to this post.

Peter Murtagh


“I went to a bullfight once in Mallorca. It was ghastly; horrific. No grace under pressure, no death with dignity. Just cruelty and butchery and degradation of man and beast.”
       Peter Murtagh             
       Irish journalist and author.
       An observation he makes in the book Buen Camino!, co-written with his daughter Natasha            



“Real courage is not grace under pressure. It’s doing the right thing when it’s frightening and hurts.”
       Ramsey Clark
       American lawyer and activist who served at U.S. Attorney General under Lyndon B. Johnson 
       A comment he made about feisty attorney Stephen Yagman, who is known for taking unpopular cases, particularly lawsuits against local and federal law enforcement officials, in an article in George magazine, June 1998.            

A-Rod & Derek Jeter


“It is a bonus for baseball fans that Derek Jeter’s final season as a New York Yankee will be one that Alex Rodriguez spends in baseball banishment. Jeter will be feted in 2014, A-Rod will be forgotten. It would have been indecorous and incongruous to see them sharing the left side of the Yankees infield, Jeter at shortstop and Rodriguez at third base, the captain and the charlatan, grace under pressure next to disgrace under pressure.”
       Christopher L. Gasper
       Sports columnist for the Boston Globe
       In his February 14, 2014 column in the Boston Globe
       Gasper went on to explain: “Jeter will be remembered as one of baseball’s classiest competitors and a consummate winner. A-Rod, sitting out the 2014 season with the longest performance-enhancing drug suspension in major league history, will be remembered as one of baseball’s biggest frauds and fallen heroes.”            

dead cat graphic bd


“When they make the Bill Frist biopic, it's got to be called Disgrace Under Pressure. (Either that or Silence of the Kittens, given his med-school penchant for adopting shelter kitties and then dissecting them for ‘science.’)”
       Shelley Lewis
       American journalist, news producer and writer             
       One of the comments Lewis makes about William H. Frist in her book Naked Republicans: A Full-frontal Exposure of Right-wing Hypocrisy and Greed
       Frist is a doctor who became a Conservative Republican politician, serving two terms as U.S. Senator for Tennessee. As noted by his political opponents and critics like Lewis, when Frist was a medical school student in the 1970s he performed fatal medical experiments on cats he acquired from animal shelters by falsely claiming he wanted to adopt them.

Jeff Danziger cartoon - Ivanka Trump


“It took real courage for Ivanka to stand before 35 million Americans...to help advance substantive policies that will dramatically improve U.S. law in favor of all women, parents and children. Grace under pressure is what she does best.”
       Jared Kushner             
       Wealthy businessman and husband of Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump
       In an he wrote article titled “Why Ivanka Trump Is the Perfect Champion for Women’s Issues,” published in Variety magazine in September 2016
       (Cartoon by the great political cartoonist Jeff Danziger. To read some of the news stories behind it, click this link.)

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July 14, 2017

“I paint what I see” – or not...

J.M.W. Turner & Manet montage 02


“I paint what I see.”
       Widely attributed to both J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) and Edouard Manet (1832-1883).
       Many books and websites credit this proverbial artists’ response to criticism or questions about their work to British landscape artist Joseph Mallord William Turner. Many others credit it French artist Edouard Manet.
       The attribution to Turner is derived from an anecdote noted by British art critic John Ruskin in a lecture he gave at the University of Oxford on February 29, 1872 titled “The Eagle’s Nest.” (Later reprinted in Vol. 22 of Ruskin’s widely-read collected works, published in 1906.)
       Ruskin said Turner once showed a drawing he’d made of Plymouth Harbor at sunset to a friend who was a naval officer. His friend “objected with very justifiable indignation” that the ships in the drawing had no portholes.
       “No,” said Turner, “certainly not. If you will walk up to Mount Edgecumbe, and look at the ships against the sunset, you will find you can’t see the portholes.”
       The naval officer said “Well, but you know the portholes are there.”
       “Yes,” said Turner, “I know that well enough; but my business is to draw what I see, and not what I know is there.”
       Later retellings changed draw to paint, probably because Turner was famous as a painter. Eventually he was wrongly credited with saying “I paint what I see.”
       The second common attribution is based on another legendary art anecdote, this one about the pioneering Impressionist painter Edouard Manet. As a young man, Manet studied at the studio of traditionalist painter Thomas Couture. According Manet’s biographers, Couture once criticized a painting by Manet that presaged his non-traditional style.
       Manet’s insolent response is variously given as “I paint what I see and not what it pleases others to see” or “I paint what I see, and not what others like to see” (with the emphasis on the word I, not see.)
       I suspect that “I paint what I see” was already a philosophical principle and an inside joke familiar to many artists even before Manet said it.

Pablo Picasso with Cubist painting


“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.”
       Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
       Spanish artist who pioneered new styles in art in the 20th Century, most notably Cubism
       A quote by Picasso included in John Golding’s influential book Cubism: a History and Analysis (1959), later cited by thousands of books and websites

Edvard Munch & The Scream 02


“I do not paint what I see, but what I saw.”
       Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
       Norwegian Expressionist painter and printmaker
        An oft-quoted comment he is said to have made in 1890 regarding the key role his personal emotional memories played in his choice of subjects and distinctive style, as embodied in paintings like “The Scream” (1893)

Edgar Degas & The Absinthe Drinker, 1876


“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”             
       Attributed to Edgar Degas (1834-1917)             
       Many books and sites say Degas write those words, but I’ve been unable to find the original source. If you know it, please send me an email and let me know or post a comment on The Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Norman Rockwell self portrait cropped


“I paint what I like to paint. And somehow, for some reason, a good part of the time it coincides with what a lot of people like, it’s popular. Which some (the art critics, for instance) would say, makes me a low type, mediocre, slightly despicable, et cetera. And it may be true (when I’m depressed I think it is)... But there’s really nothing I can do about it. I paint the way I do because that’s the way I'm made...I paint what I do the way I do because that’s how I feel about things.”
       Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
       American illustration artist
       In his autobiography My Adventures as an Illustrator (1960)

David Hockney, A Bigger Splash 1967


“I paint what I like, when I like, and where I like, with occasional nostalgic journeys.”
       David Hockney (b. 1937)
       British Pop artist             
       From the “personal statement” he submitted for a catalogue about a 1962 art show that included his work           

Gahan Wilson I Paint What I See book


“I Paint What I See”
       Gahan Wilson (b. 1937)
       American illustrator known for his dark-humored magazine cartoons depicting monsters, horror and fantasy             
       For the cover of his book I Paint What I See (1971) Wilson used an illustration he did of himself working on a painting of “scary” creatures, suggesting that they are the kinds of things he sees.

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