Ralph Waldo Emerson
[Writer and thinker, b. 1803, Boston, Massachusetts, d. 1882, Concord, Massachusetts.]
No man quarrels with his shadow, nor will he when the sun was the painter. Here is no interference, and the distortions are not the blunders of an artist.
Were you ever daguerreotyped, O immortal man? And did you look with all vigor at the lens of the camera... And in your zeal not to blur the image, did you keep every finger in its place with such energy that your hands became clenched as for fight or despair, and in your resolution to keep your face still, did you feel every muscle becoming every moment more rigid... And when, at last you are relieved of your dismal duties, did you find the curtain drawn perfectly, and the coat perfectly, and the hands true, clenched for combat, and the shape of the face and head?—but, unhappily, the total expression escaped from the face and the portrait of a mask instead of a man? Could you not by grasping it very tight hold the stream of a river, or of a small brook, and prevent it from flowing?
‘Tis certain that the Daguerreotype is the true Republican style of painting. The artist stands aside and lets you paint yourself. If you make an ill head, not he but yourself are responsible, and so people who go to Daguerreotyping have a pretty solemn time. They come home lamenting and confessing their sins. A Daguerreotyping Institute is as good as a national Fast. (1841)
To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before and which shall never be seen again.
We live among surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.