6 Ways To Define “Melk En Honing” according to John Barth

  • «I. Nothing has intrinsic value.
    II. The reasons for which people attribute value to things are always ultimately irrational.
    III. There is, therefore, no ultimate ‘reason’ for valuing anything.
    IV. Living is action. There’s no final reason for action.
    V. There’s no final reason for living.»
  • «Am I boring you? I don’t really care, I suppose, but I’ll be more comfortable if I knew all this interested you. No doubt when I get the hang of storytelling, after a chapter or two, I’ll go faster and digress less often.»
  • «The reader! You, dogged, uninsultable, print-oriented bastard, it’s you I’m addressing, who else, from inside this monstrous fiction. You’ve read me this far, then? Even this far? For what discreditable motive? How is it you don’t go to a movie, watch TV, stare at a wall, play tennis with a friend, make amorous advances to the person who comes to your mind when I speak of amorous advances? Can nothing surfeit, saturate you, turn you off? Where’s your shame?»
  • «He wishes he had never entered the funhouse. But he has. Then he wishes he were dead. But he’s not. Therefore he will construct funhouses for others and be their secret operator — though he would rather be among the lovers for whom funhouses are designed.»
  •  «Let me tell you: my whole life, atleast a great part of it, has been directed toward the solution of a problem, or mastery of a fact. It is a matter of attitudes, of stances – of masks, if you wish, though the term has a pejorativeness that I won’t accept. During my life I’ve assumed four or five such stances, based on certain conclusions, for I tend, I’m afraid, to attribute to abstract ideas a life-or-death significance. Each stance, it seemed to me at the time, represented the answer to my dilemma, the mastery of my fact; but always something would happen to demonstrate its inadequacy, or else the stance would simply lose its persuasiveness, imperceptibly, until suddenly it didn’t work – quantitative change, as Marx has it, suddenly becoming qualitative change – and then I had the job to face again of changing masks: a slow and, for me, painful process, if often an involuntary one.»
  •  «In art as in lovemaking, heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal and so does heartless skill, but what you want is passionate virtuosity.»