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Jean Cocteau quotes (58)

A film is a petrified fountain of thought.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Movies

A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Poetry

After the writer's death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter.
Jean Cocteau   Category:

All good music resembles something. Good music stirs by its mysterious resemblance to the objects and feelings which motivated it.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Music

An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.
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An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original.
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Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.
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Art is not a pastime but a priesthood.
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Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Art

Asking an artist to talk about his work is like asking a plant to discuss horticulture.
Jean Cocteau   Category:

Children and lunatics cut the Gordian knot which the poet spends his life patiently trying to untie.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Poetry

Commissions suit me. They set limits. Jean Marais dared me to write play in which he would not speak in the first act, would weep for joy in the second and in the last would fall backward down a flight of stairs.
Jean Cocteau   Category:

Emotion resulting from a work of art is only of value when it is not obtained by sentimental blackmail.
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Everything one does in life, even love, occurs in an express train racing toward death. To smoke opium is to get out of the train while it is still moving. It is to concern oneself with something other than life or death.
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Film will only became an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.
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Here I am trying to live, or rather, I am trying to teach the death within me how to live.
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I am a lie who always speaks the truth.
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I believe in luck: how else can you explain the success of those you dislike?
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I have a piece of great and sad news to tell you: I am dead.
Jean Cocteau   Category:

I have lost my seven best friends, which is to say God has had mercy on me seven times without realizing it. He lent a friendship, took it from me, sent me another.
Jean Cocteau   Category:

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Pet

If a hermit lives in a state of ecstasy, his lack of comfort becomes the height of comfort. He must relinquish it.
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If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.
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In Paris, everybody wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator.
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It is not I who become addicted, it is my body.
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Life is a horizontal fall.
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Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies. Unable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort.
Jean Cocteau   Category:

Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs. That is what's known as infinity.
Jean Cocteau   Category:

One must be a living man and a posthumous artist.
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One of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends.
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Poetry is indispensable - if I only knew what for.
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Poets don't draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.
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Silence moves faster when it's going backward.
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Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Death

Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.
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Tact in audacity is knowing how far you can go without going too far.
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Take a commonplace, clean it and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and originality and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet's job. The rest is literature.
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The actual tragedies of life bear no relation to one's preconceived ideas. In the event, one is always bewildered by their simplicity, their grandeur of design, and by that element of the bizarre which seems inherent in them.
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The day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.
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The ear disapproves but tolerates certain musical pieces; transfer them into the domain of our nose, and we will be forced to flee.
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The extreme limit of wisdom, that's what the public calls madness.
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The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.
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The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, the finish by loading honors on your head.
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The Louvre is a morgue; you go there to identify your friends.
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The poet doesn't invent. He listens.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Poetry

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.
Jean Cocteau   Category: Poetry

The poet never asks for admiration; he wants to be believed.
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The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up.
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The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.
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There are too many souls of wood not to love those wooden characters who do indeed have a soul.
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There are truths which one can only say after having won the right to say them.
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There is always a period when a man with a beard shaves it off. This period does not last. He returns headlong to his beard.
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True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.
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We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?
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What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.
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Whatever the public blames you for, cultivate it; it is yourself.
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When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.
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You've never seen death? Look in the mirror every day and you will see it like bees working in a glass hive.
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