It is better to destroy than to create what is meaningless

Williams opens the last section of Book III of Paterson with the following passage -

It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds.

The passage is reminiscent of a killer line in a song called "Immigration is the Sincerest form of Battery" by the band Every Time I Die: "It is better to destroy than to create what is meaningless."

Williams warns us to destroy all sub-standard work - erase it while you can still control it - before it does any damage. The song makes a similar point.

The song itself, I think, is a reference to a great film called 8 1/2 by Federico Fellini. The film is about a young director struggling to make a film that never gets made. It's basically a film about a film that can't be filmed. Guido, the filmmaker says: "It's better to destroy than create what's unnecessary."

Paterson came first, in 1958. 8 1/2 was made in 1963, and the song was recorded in the 2000s.

It's heady stuff:
The artist as perfectionist / struggling with lack of control
Bad ideas as dangerous / poisonous
The responsibilities of creators
Creator's shame of juvenilia