"When I was in Paris for the first time when I was 19, when I had just come out of the RAF, I went along to this so-called atelier in the Rue de Seine run by Raymond Duncan who was the brother of the famous dancer Isadora. Raymond had come to Paris, made a pair of sandals for himself, and other people saw them and asked him if he could make them some like that, and suddenly it was a business and made him a fortune. He became a millionaire several times during his life and then spent it all again, made huge fortunes. Now Raymond regarded himself basically as a poet and an idealist and when I went along to see him he invited me to move into this place on the Rue de Seine. He said: ‘What we are trying to teach people like you is that if you are an idealistic poet, you’d be a far better poet if you can actually mend a leak or do various other practical things’.
“I believed him absolutely totally. It was a conclusion I’d already arrived at, that we must have this practical, down-to-earth spirit, enjoying the real world and real life. I could see what had killed off all these Outsiders was the fact that they’d been Romantics, and they’d been flapping around up there in the ethers, and getting themselves into terrible states, and that actually what they really needed was a far more practical attitude. This was a very deep feeling of mine.
“The proper way to get away from the problem of the Outsider was simply to become more and more practical about it and to finally begin to see that there must be practical down-to-earth solutions, that the world isn’t somehow loaded against artists, and eternity kills them off, and so on, that Dostoevsky is wrong when he says we’ve got to give God back his entrance ticket because we’re in such an appalling world. In point of fact, once you take a practical down-to-earth attitude towards things - once you try dreaming to some purpose – you suddenly begin to see what things really are about."
From an old interview by the inestimable Colin Wilson.