“Is it better to say nothing politely or to say something poorly?” (18)
“If we keep right on something is bound to happen.” Lawren Harris to EC
“This coming year I must work harder, must go deeper.” December 31, 1930 (47)
“Little book, I have toiled all day and caught nothing.” (95)
“Nothing hurts like nothingness.” (134)
“It must be my fault somewhere, this repelling of mankind and at the same time rebelling at having no one to shake hands with but myself and the right hand weary of shaking the left.” (156)
“Such a lot of folk are licking the icing off the other fellow’s cake.” (160)
“You’ve got to love things right through.” (188)
“Oh, I’m sure I wasn’t nice, not a bit nice to people tonight. They liked my evening and me in spite of me not because of me. I’m a cat.” (204)
“It’s a little person who can’t paint big in a small place.” (233)
“Funny about friends, you want them frightfully, but you can’t find any to fit.” (235)
“The world comes into my room, kicks the silence about, mashes it into smithereens, builds little cobweb bridges so your thoughts can cross to Germany and Russia, to France.” on her new radio (314)
“It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she’s something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are part of.” (383)
“You felt your job, the job of every soul, was to go on as reasonably and unselfishly as possible.” the day WWII was declared (402)
HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS is Emily Carr’s journals, edited and collected in the years after her death. (If you can, read it along with OPPOSITE CONTRARIES, which is the good parts edited out, collected by Susan Crean.) It makes sense that I wrote down a lot more quotes this time around. This book hit me on every page. The entire entry from November 12, 1932 is the best advice for artists. Emily Carr struggled for a long time. Even when she found success, she didn’t believe it because it never lasted very long. Reading how much it hurt to be so far away from the centre of the world (Toronto), but knowing that she could never be happy away from home (Victoria), it’s me.
She has always loomed large on the west coast. She is always hanging in the Vancouver Art Gallery. She is always there when I go hiking in the woods. So to read about a time when people didn’t love Emily Carr hurts a lot. If Canada could ignore her then, who are we ignoring now?