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David Shields



This sentence is a lie.


Something can be true and untrue at the same time.



The whole content of my being shrieks in contradiction against myself.



ďThe test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.Ē Iíve always disliked the unnecessary comma in the middle of this famous Fitzgerald dictum, suggestive as it is of an inability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time while still retaining etc.



We are, I know not how, double within ourselves, with the result that we do not believe what we believe, and we cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.



Negative capability: capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.



Itís natural to enter into dialogues and disputes with others, because itís natural to enter into disputes with oneself: the mind works by contradiction.



Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings.



One of the tricks in writing a personal essay is that you have to develop a dialogue between the parts of yourself that in a way corresponds to the conflict in fiction. You cop to various tendencies, and then you struggle with these tendencies.



I prefer the epistolary monologue to the drama of fiction.



Ambitious work doesnít resolve contradictions in a spurious harmony but, instead, embodies the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.


David Shields

David Shields is the author of ten books, including Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (forthcoming from Knopf in February) and The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, which was a New York Times bestseller.

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