Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams

“I don’t know what to tell you. A statement is easy, and here it is: Be yourself. Try to matter. Be a good friend. Love freely, even if you are likely–almost guaranteed–to be hurt, betrayed. Do what you were created to do. You’ll know what this is, because it is what you keep creeping up to, peering at, dreaming of. Do it. If you don’t, you’ll be punching clocks and eating time doing precisely what you shouldn’t, and you’ll become mean and you’ll seek to punish any and all who appear the slightest bit happy, the slightest bit comfortable in their own skin, the slightest bit smart. Cruelty is a drug, as well, and it’s all around us. Don’t imbibe.”- Tennessee Williams

via Follies Of God


“I would suggest that you go and support all bold things. There are really only a handful of plots or situations in the world, and we only expand upon them when we risk something. One’s art–not to mention one’s heart–shrivels if you have too rigid an expectation for everything you see or read or hear. You do not know everything; you have not seen everything. Surprise yourself. Let others surprise you.

“Get out more.

“See everything.

“Love it. Argue about it. Take the shards from what you saw and apply it to what you’re working on.

“Pass it on. Meet the deadline. Go to the pale judgment.

“There is no mystery to how these things begin or how they are implemented. The mystery is when it all works.”-Tennessee Williams/Interview with James Grissom


“Progress is another myth. Progress is fine, but it is not to be confused with success or worth. I wanted to be a great writer, and I might have made some progress toward my goal, but that is not to say that I became a great writer. We cannot infantilize ourselves any longer. Baby steps are fine for a baby. We are no longer babies. Aim high and fail big, but don’t look for the star on your report card or a pat on the back. Instead get back to work and the big goal.

“What is progress, anyway? The half of the bottle I didn’t drink? The feeling I didn’t hurt in my travels today? The responsibility I didn’t shirk?

“We can only be rewarded by continuing the work–of being artists and being decent humans. We do not deserve a star or a pat on the back. We have earned our place.”– Tennessee Williams


“In the midst of hurricanes, we let people into our homes who had been flooded or who were in what were called ‘vulnerable’ locations. Kindness abounded; cabinets were emptied of food and everyone ate; friends surrounded us. Well, life is the most vulnerable of all locations, and storms–emotional and physical–are bearing down on us at all times. So open the doors and the cabinets and your heart and let some people in from their storms, and allow your care to ease your own. This I did not do, and my place is vulnerable and battered and empty.”-Tennessee Williams/Interview with James Grissom


“You cannot–must not–speak of [Maria] Callas as a woman, as an artist. She’s so much bigger and more important than both those things. Callas is like a mountain or a country or the moon. I would sacrifice several hundred stars in the sky for the decades she dazzled me, dazzled us. Very rarely, but very beautifully, God makes a wonderful mistake on that assembly line of humanity onto which he throws some plasma, some platitudes, and a vestige of industry and he creates something remarkable. Callas is in the small group of remarkable things.”-Tennessee Williams/Interview with James Grissom


“There’s magic in the world. There is. People will tell you there isn’t–they just want you to get back to work and be quiet and not ask questions. These are people who don’t know where to look or who were not blessed with eyes that could see magic. Magical eyes. If you have them, develop them.”-Tennessee Williams


“One of the most painful realizations we must come to as artists is that the tale of the artistic trade-off being eventually satisfied is a myth. Whatever maladjustments or cruelties we felt we were dealt as a child remain with us forever, and that Achilles heel or Cassandra truth about us–that awful thing that dogs us perpetually–is never alleviated by applause or money or recognition by those we feel have what we lack or those who witness what we do.”


“What the true artists have done–and all true artists are also survivors, so rid yourself of the self-image of an open wound–is to incorporate all of these flaws into the beautiful tapestry they have decided they will become. They do not delude themselves about their flaws; they glory in them and put them to use. Whatever else, these flaws are what help us to write what we write, or act what is acted. And once you’re mature, you find that that is no small reward.”


“Stop spreading your fear. Spread some love. The cross borne by most people is not love but rage–rage against someone who is doing better or against someone who has the audacity to do the things for which you lack the courage or the equipment. Therefore it must be a sin and they must be destroyed. Someone, somewhere is dying on a cross each and every day because of this piece of narrative fiction called religion that we invented to make our sleep a bit easier.

“There is within all of us–no matter how feral–a kernel of love. Develop it.”–Tennessee Williams

One Response

  1. Michael

    Lovely. I want to know more about Mr. Williams.

    July 30, 2015 at 5:47 pm

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