…that if you want to be able to tell a good painting from a bad one, just look at ten thousand paintings, and you’ll know.
Possibly more than any other quote (from Bluebeard, btw, a great novel), that one changed my life. I decided to watch “ten thousand” films (though I’m not keeping more than general [around 2000, I think] track, because I hope to see many more than that in my lifetime; you get the idea). I decided that to grasp the art I would just submerge myself in it, and I’ve never looked back. (I enjoy filmic scholarship, but ultimately, deconstruction is best done in context. Which is what Vonnegut said in Bluebeard, just way better than I could).
There’ve been other (“Do unto others…”) soundbyte type quotes from writers I admire that I took to heart as watchwords, but that Vonnegut one I can say actually made a practical, outward difference in my life. So that’s the kind I’m after from you all, though I’m also happy just to hear quotes people have found personally significant.
Another of mine:
Douglas Adams in Last Chance to See: “It would be easy to think, after the extinction of the dodo, that we are now sadder and wiser, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that we are merely sadder and better informed.”