Culture Haven

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 23, 2011

William Faulkner, interviewed by the Paris Review. My favorite part:

INTERVIEWER
Then what would be the best environment for a writer?

FAULKNER
Art is not concerned with environment either; it doesn’t care where it is. If you mean me, the best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel. In my opinion it’s the perfect milieu for an artist to work in. It gives him perfect economic freedom; he’s free of fear and hunger; he has a roof over his head and nothing whatever to do except keep a few simple accounts and to go once every month and pay off the local police. The place is quiet during the morning hours, which is the best time of the day to work. There’s enough social life in the evening, if he wishes to participate, to keep him from being bored; it gives him a certain standing in his society; he has nothing to do because the madam keeps the books; all the inmates of the house are females and would defer to him and call him “sir.” All the bootleggers in the neighborhood would call him “sir.” And he could call the police by their first names.

So the only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost. All the wrong environment will do is run his blood pressure up; he will spend more time being frustrated or outraged. My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.

INTERVIEWER
Bourbon, you mean?

FAULKNER
No, I ain’t that particular. Between Scotch and nothing, I’ll take Scotch.

The whole thing is definitely worth reading, and I agree completely with Faulkner’s statement that in order to be a good writer, one must primarily write for oneself.

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