"A painter like Pollock for instance was gambling everything on the fact that he was the greatest painter in America, for if he wasn't, he was nothing, and the drips would turn out to be random splashes from the brush of a careless housepainter. It must often have occurred to Pollock that there was just a possibility that he wasn't an artist at all, that he had spent his life 'toiling up the wrong road to art' as Flaubert said of Zola. But this very real possibility is paradoxically just what makes the tremendous excitement in his work. It is a gamble against terrific odds. Most reckless things are beautiful in some way, and recklessness is what makes experimental art beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibility that they are founded on nothing. We would all believe in God if we knew He existed, but would this be much fun?"
—John Ashbery (from "The Invisible Avant-Garde")
[I consider John a dear friend, though we haven't spoken in years due to my own moves and challenges and forgetfulness etc. But in the years when we spent time hanging out, I found him to be one of the most original thinkers I'd ever encountered, and it's that that this excerpt exemplifies to my mind, his way of seeing things and articulating it. It also seems like an analysis of his own art (poetry and collages) and approach to it.]