Commonplace Book

Commonplace Book

In many manual tasks where there is some danger (of error or breakage, etc) one of the things most needed for their successful completion is not to think about the risk and work confidently ... thus the ancient poets not only did not think about the risk of error but (especially Homer) were broadly aware that it existed, and so they worked with supreme confidence, with that magnificent lack of concern which tells us that this is a work of nature, not of toil.

But we timid souls who not only know that error is possible but always have the example of those who have erred before our own eyes, and so are always thinking of the danger ... do not dare to deviate ... from those rules ... which we may have formed in our own minds.

And so we fly low and never rise up with that negligence, certainty, carelessness, and I would say ignorant confidence, which is necessary in the greatest works of art.

Thus, from fear of doing something really bad we do not achieve something really good, and we produce works of mediocrity.

Leopardi, Notebooks