complacency

“We must constantly remember that earlier, at the time of the Impressionists or of Cézanne, modern painting was something you never saw. Or else, when people did open their eyes to it, it caused a scandal . . . Today, provided it doesn’t look like anything that could really be called painting, everything is modern . . . and as soon as it appears it’s a work of genius, and all the rest doesn’t even exist. As though people had suddenly become so perceptive that they knew all about it as soon as it has even begun to take shape. Whereas in reality they see precisely as they always did or even worse. Because now they see in exactly the same way but they imagine they’ve learnt to see properly.”

(Pablo Picasso, 1966, unsourced epigraph to the preface of Gabriel Josipovici’s The World and the Book: a study of modern fiction.)

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