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Satire on False Perspectives - William Hogarth, 1754

Satire on False Perspectives – William Hogarth, 1754

…I saw this study once many years ago, from Ohio State University, the graduate program there. They did a study of self-identified conservatives and self-identified liberals, and they got a group that self-identified in those categories, and that also both sides identified as fans of [The Colbert Report], and they had them watch the same video, then they said, ‘What do you think his actual political position is here?’ Democrats believed that I was a liberal or liberals believed I was a liberal pretending to be a conservative, and conservatives who enjoyed the show tended to think that I was a conservative pretending to be a liberal pretending to be a conservative…

And I don’t really want to correct either side, because there are times I agree with my character. And I really don’t want the audience to know when I do. I love that, man. That’s the triple gainer. I purposefully jumped over the line a lot at the beginning of the show so people would be confused.

Stephen Colbert, interviewed by Judd Apatow for Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy

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American Train - Hiro Yamagata, 1988

American Train – Hiro Yamagata, 1988

There’s a lot of hip guys in the world, but who can follow Billy Joel in America, you know what I mean? I don’t give a fuck who you are, I don’t give a fuck if you’re Sting or Bono– if you’re onstage in America, there’s a part of you that just hopes Billy Joel doesn’t walk in. I remember going to see Billy and Elton John in concert. I kind of wanted to see Elton a little more, and I came out of it thinking, Billy Joel is actually more American than Bruce Springsteen, you know what I mean? Bruce Springsteen’s a fucking Russian soldier compared to fucking Billy Joel, man…

Chris Rock, in an interview with Judd Apatow from Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy

Josephine Baker - Kees van Dongen, 1925

Josephine Baker – Kees van Dongen, 1925

I saw her a year before she died. She was greeting people at the Rainbow Sign in Berkeley, California. Ntozake Shange, a poet and playwright, coaxed me into the receiving line because I was shy. And when it came my turn I presented her with a copy of [Mumbo Jumbo,] the novel on whose cover I had used an old photo of her to represent two sides of the Vodoun goddess Erzulie. And she flashed that famous smile and squinted those famous eyes and she said, ‘Do you know the young man who wrote this book?’ I was so awestruck, I said, ‘Yes, ma’am, I knows him,’ forgetting that that young man was me. That was Josephine Baker. Such a divine presence she made you forget yourself.

– Ishmael Reed in the New York Times Book Review, December 12, 1976

Ominous - Nicholas Roerich, 1901

Ominous – Nicholas Roerich, 1901

I think prophecy is an important part of writing, at least as important as technique or form. I think there are magical processes going on in writing. Like this raven thing. I’d been writing using the raven myth, and when I went up to Sitka in Alaska, the ravens disappeared. It was very unusual. Then the day before I left they all returned and flew around the totems. It was a strange experience.

Ishmael Reed, in an interview with Jon Ewing for The Daily Californian, 1977
(from Shrovetide in Old New Orleans, 1978)

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The Leper – Rembrandt, 1631

 

I had tried to be fair. It is the one single thing no one will forgive you for, neither the communists nor the fascists, the rightists nor the leftists, the white racists nor the black racists… One will make more enemies by trying to be fair (marked by impartiality and honesty) than trying to tell the truth– no one believes it is possible to tell the truth anyway– but it is just possible that you might be fair.

Chester Himes, The Quality of Hurt
(quoted in Ishmael Reed’s essay “Chester Himes: Writer”)

A Stroke of Luck - Rene Magritte, 1948

A Stroke of Luck – Rene Magritte, 1948

‘If you know a man is wrong, I mean, if you know he did somethin’ bad but you don’t turn him in to the law because he’s your friend, do you think that’s right?

‘All you got is your friends, Easy.’

‘But then what if you know somebody else who did something wrong but not so bad as the first man, but you turn this other guy in?’

‘I guess you figure that that other guy got ahold of some bad luck.’

We laughed for a long time.

Walter Mosley, Devil In a Blue Dress