From Laszlo Krasznahorkai: “Like a ninja.”

“In this system, nothing is more dangerous for an artist than success”


“Who made artists believe that art can be practiced only ‘successfully’?  Who made them believe that for a book to reach its goal and its readers, the ‘taste-makers’ are absolutely necessary?  How could they have allowed the critics, the editors, the owners of the chain bookstores, and so on, have so much power?  And who made them believe that they are truly artists?  Artists have come to believe that they, too, just like other people, need money and fame, money and fame for everyday life, moreover for being able to lead a lifestyle; and that these two repugnant things are seen as necessary for everything is not only tragic but ridiculous as well.  What kind of artist or writer lives like that?  Who is going to believe even a single line written?  What kind of esteem can the art of our age garner for itself after even one such bout of deal-making?  No, the artist’s needs are few: let there be something for him to eat and a place to live, and then every day he should circumambulate the city and country, like mendicants of old.  Nothing whatever can be more important for him than his own personal dignity, and this is exactly what he loses forever after the very first deal-making transaction…And so what do I recommend?  The taste of failure in place of success, poverty instead of wealth, anonymity in place of renown.  For now, utter concealment as opposed to publicity, perfect camouflage to the point of invisibility, because what the artist who lives in personal freedom and independence finds himself confronting today is unbelievably strong, and seems invincible…above all else, an artist must be cautious.  Like a ninja.”


all excerpts taken from a powerful volume of Music & Literature:


13 thoughts on “From Laszlo Krasznahorkai: “Like a ninja.”

  1. “How are people able to become so oversimplified. Somehow, they put their complicated richness into the larder, and they turn their simplest, most impoverished face to the outside world, and so on; everyone knows more of less what i’m talking about. All of you know, you all know but we don’t do anything, and so our lives will be very shoddy. This is my recommendation: we must live more attentively.” – Krasznahorkai

  2. aubrey

    There is much here that is difficult, and therefore very important and wise. But isn’t creating a work of art about self-expression? It almost seems as if the artist is advised to hide his or her light behind closed doors.

  3. I’m happy you point out that any “position” for a human or advising of behavior or role will always end up being reductionistic… in fact, it may be impossible to speak, express, or opine without forever reducing our inexhaustible possibilities as complex, finite organisms….

  4. This is wonderful. So many points on which to expound. I enjoyed it very much and in a world where Art is kept bound and gagged because it represents freedom and independent thought, artists much carry on and and ignore the critics who work for the repressive state and the status quo. When civilizations begin to collapse the artists are the first to be arrested. There is power in art…it scars them.

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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