It is the very essence of art,' she [Hallie Flanagan: ] told a group gathered in Washington..., 'that it exceed bounds, often including those of tradition, decorum, and that mysterious thing called taste. It is the essence of art that it shatter accepted patterns, advance into unknown territory, challenge the existing order. Art is highly explosive. To be worth its salt it must have in that salt a fair sprinkling of gunpowder.
I am about tribal feminine power. As a leader, I may stumble but my essence lives to the future-- of my people, of my literature, of my art. And when a tribesman turn against its leader, that tribe will become two. It may faulter my course, but it will not stifle my ending. I rule only among my believers.
I think the reason why I don't read so much, is because as I have observed, whole books all boil down to a drop of essence. You can read a book full of ten thousand words and at the end, sum it up in one sentence; I am more for the one sentence. I am more for the essence. It's like how you need a truckload of roses to extract one drop of rose oil; I don't want to bother with the truckload of roses because I would rather walk away with the drop of rose oil. So in my mind, I have written two hundred books. Why? Because I have with me two hundred vials with one drop of essence in each!
Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person's essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?
Living is about capturing the essence of things. I go through my life every day with a vial, a vial wherein can be found precious essential oils of every kind! The priceless, fragrant oils that are the essence of my experiences, my thoughts. I walk inside a different realm from everybody else, in that I am existing in the essence of things; every time there is reason to smile, I hold out my glass vial and capture that drop of oil, that essence, and then I smile. And that is why I have smiled, and so you and I may be smiling at the same time but I am smiling because of that one drop of cherished, treasured oil that I have extracted. When I write, I find no need to memorize an idea, a plot, a sequence of things: no. I must only capture the essence of a feeling or a thought and once I have inhaled that aroma, I know that I have what I need.
[On Schopenhauer in Black and White] Schopenhauer's views of love are flawed. Love can't be merely an illusion of the mind to aid in procreation, but the path to redemption for an otherwise violently selfish species. Past human greatness has proven that when challenged, love can overpower impulsive instinct, and in essence, the vilest aspects of our nature.
We like to stress the commonness of heroes. Essences seem undemocratic. We feel oppressed by the call to greatness. We regard an interest in glory or perfection as a sign of mental unhealthiness, and have decided that high achievers, who are called overachievers, owe their surplus ambition to a defect in mothering (either too little or too much). We want to admire but think we have a right not to be intimidated. We dislike feeling inferior to an ideal. So away with ideals, with essences. The only ideals allowed are healthy ones -- those everyone may aspire to, or comfortably imagine oneself possessing.
What a surprise it is to discover that you have never needed to strive to survive and be happy after all. Like Dorothy in, who discovered that she always had the means for going home, you already have what you need to be happy and safe. You have never really left Home. However, if you don't believe you already have what you need to be happy and safe, it is as if it isn't true: If we don't know the ruby slippers will take us home, it's like not having them. The ego keeps us from seeing the truth about those ruby slippers- it keeps us from seeing the truth about life. Home is right here, right now, but we may not realize it and there for not experience Home, or Essence as much as we might.