The words we use, the words of workaday speech, are conventions. Within us a seething cauldron steaming with stenches and suave vapours; or a Noah’s ark crowded with champing, milling, whirling, fluttering beasts and birds, creeping and crawling things, each standing for a something in ourselves, an incipient sensation, an urge, a wisp of thought, a yearning. Recall running eighty years ago. Above a sky ever changing and ambivalent with cloudy symbols of a high romance, but also of terror, horror, doom or of chill, damp, domestic discomfort. How name them, how describe them, how classify them and, hardest of all, how stabilize them so that we end by agreeing on what sounds, what outlines, will invariably call up the same words, the same images? Only those who never have attempted to paint or to write ignore what agony it is to communicate to others what one wants to represent or to say. And the joy of art comes when one is lured to hope that he has found the cypher, the symbol, the generic shape or scrawl, the hieroglyph, the convention, in short, that will do it. The prosaic task is to prove it and fix it with pen and pencil so that to others it will mean almost what it means to ourselves.
Seeing and Knowing