Paul Valéry – Pure Potential

“The ‘value’ of a written work is purely potential – what a reader might make of it, according to his voice, his intelligence, his current state etc.
A ground to be cultivated. –
For potential is the work […] value of the reader.
The most powerful work would be the one that could provoke the most intense developments in the least adequate reader. But that would prove nothing as to the quality of the author – which can only be measured by the resistance of the reader. And then, the specific properties of the said reader and those of the author come into it too.”

– Paul Valéry – Cahiers/Notebooks 2.

One day I plan—there are always plans—to do more than dip into these notebooks. In a way there is almost too much richness within the pages of this wonderful set. I recall from years ago his reflections on inner dialogue and have pages of notes somewhere, also of his theory of literature.

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