„Befasse dich, auch wo du tadelst, nur mit Erstrangigem.“

—  Jean Cocteau

Hahn und Harlekin (1918) ; in: Jean Cocteau; Band 2: Prosa; Volk und Welt, Berlin 1971. S.286

„Hate only hatred.“

—  Jean Cocteau

Diary of an Unknown (1988)

„History is facts which become lies in the end; legends are lies which become history in the end.“

—  Jean Cocteau

As quoted in The Observer (22 September 1957)
Kontext: What is history after all? History is facts which become lies in the end; legends are lies which become history in the end.

„What is line? It is life. A line must live at each point along its course in such a way that the artist’s presence makes itself felt above that of the model“

—  Jean Cocteau

"De la Ligne" in La Difficulté d’Etre [The Difficulty of Being] (1947)
Kontext: What is line? It is life. A line must live at each point along its course in such a way that the artist’s presence makes itself felt above that of the model... With the writer, line takes precedence over form and content. It runs through the words he assembles. It strikes a continuous note unperceived by ear or eye. It is, in a way, the soul’s style, and if the line ceases to have a life of its own, if it only describes an arabesque, the soul is missing and the writing dies.

„It insists on living its own life. It becomes the pretext for a thousand misunderstandings that go by the name of glory…“

—  Jean Cocteau

Diary of an Unknown (1988), On Invisibility
Kontext: Poetry, being elegance itself, cannot hope to achieve visibility. In that case, you ask me, of what use is it? Of no use. Who will see it? No one. Which does not prevent it from being an outrage to modesty, though its exhibitionism is squandered on the blind. It is enough for poetry to express a personal ethic, which can then break away in the form of a work. It insists on living its own life. It becomes the pretext for a thousand misunderstandings that go by the name of glory...

„Find first, seek later.“

—  Jean Cocteau

Diary of an Unknown (1988)

„Beauty is always the result of an accident. Of a violent lapse between acquired habits and those yet to be acquired.“

—  Jean Cocteau

Diary of an Unknown (1988), On Invisibility
Kontext: Beauty is always the result of an accident. Of a violent lapse between acquired habits and those yet to be acquired. It baffles and disgusts. It may even horrify. Once the new habit has been acquired, the accident ceases to be an accident. It becomes classical and loses its shock value.

„Poetry, being elegance itself, cannot hope to achieve visibility.“

—  Jean Cocteau

Diary of an Unknown (1988), On Invisibility
Kontext: Poetry, being elegance itself, cannot hope to achieve visibility. In that case, you ask me, of what use is it? Of no use. Who will see it? No one. Which does not prevent it from being an outrage to modesty, though its exhibitionism is squandered on the blind. It is enough for poetry to express a personal ethic, which can then break away in the form of a work. It insists on living its own life. It becomes the pretext for a thousand misunderstandings that go by the name of glory...

„Poetry is an ethic. By ethic I mean a secret code of behavior, a discipline constructed and conducted according to the capabilities of a man who rejects the falsifications of the categorical imperative.“

—  Jean Cocteau

Diary of an Unknown (1988), On Invisibility
Kontext: Poetry is an ethic. By ethic I mean a secret code of behavior, a discipline constructed and conducted according to the capabilities of a man who rejects the falsifications of the categorical imperative.
This personal morality may appear to be immorality itself in the eyes of those who lie to themselves, or who live a life of confusion, in such a manner that, for them, a lie becomes the truth, and our truth becomes a lie...

„Poets don’t draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.“

—  Jean Cocteau

Dessins (1924), as quoted by Pierre Chanel in "A Thousand Flashes of Genius", Jean Cocteau and the French Scene (1984)

„Consider metaphysics as an extension of the physical.“

—  Jean Cocteau

Diary of an Unknown (1988)

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