Concepts In Life Quotes

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Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin)
Equality is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who's confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now.
Joss Whedon
It’s not that we have to quit this life one day, but it’s how many things we have to quit all at once: music, laughter, the physics of falling leaves, automobiles, holding hands, the scent of rain, the concept of subway trains... if only one could leave this life slowly!
Roman Payne (Rooftop Soliloquy)
We're taught that in life, we should try to look on the bright side. Not in this case. In this case, assume rejection first. Assume you're the rule, not the exception. It's liberating. But we also know it's not an easy concept. -He's not just into you
Greg Behrendt
The concept of portraying evil and then destroying it - I know this is considered mainstream, but I think it is rotten. This idea that whenever something evil happens someone particular can be blamed and punished for it, in life and in politics is hopeless.
Hayao Miyazaki
California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom.
Don DeLillo (White Noise)
Jobs are a part of life. Maybe you've heard of the concept. It's called work? See, what happens is that you suffer through doing annoying and humiliating things until you get paid not enough money. Like those Japanese game shows, only without all the glory.
Jim Butcher (Blood Rites (The Dresden Files, #6))
People live their lives bound by what they accept as correct and true. That’s how they define Reality. But what does it mean to be “correct” or “true”? Merely vague concepts… Their Reality may all be a mirage. Can we consider them to simply be living in their own world, shaped by their beliefs?
Masashi Kishimoto
The philosophy of Atheism represents a concept of life without any metaphysical Beyond or Divine Regulator. It is the concept of an actual, real world with its liberating, expanding and beautifying possibilities, as against an unreal world, which, with its spirits, oracles, and mean contentment has kept humanity in helpless degradation.
Emma Goldman (Anarchism and Other Essays)
Such a simple concept, yet so true: that which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.
Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain)
The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning. The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man's mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.
Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West)
Busy your mind with the concepts of harmony, health, peace, and good will, and wonders will happen in your life.
Joseph Murphy (The Power of Your Subconscious Mind - (Clickable Table of Contents))
Fairness is a concept that holds only in limited situations. Yet we want the concept to extend to everything, in and out of phase. From snails to hardware stores to married life. Maybe no one finds it, or even misses it, but fairness is like love. What is given has nothing to do with what we seek.
Haruki Murakami (Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World)
Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and new together into a reconciling law.
William James (The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy)
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
Henry Beston (The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod)
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
Ayn Rand
In order to deal with reality successfully - to pursue and achieve the values which his life requires - man needs self-esteem; he needs to be confident of his efficacy and worth.
Ayn Rand (The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism)
The exception is more interesting than the rule. The rule proves nothing; the exception proves everything. In the exception the power of real life breaks through the crust of a mechanism that has become torpid by repetition.
Carl Schmitt (Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty)
Every bit of learning is a little death. Every bit of new information challenges a previous conception, forcing it to dissolve into chaos before it can be reborn as something better. Sometimes such deaths virtually destroy us.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
I’m a modern man, a man for the millennium. Digital and smoke free. A diversified multi-cultural, post-modern deconstruction that is anatomically and ecologically incorrect. I’ve been up linked and downloaded, I’ve been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech low-life. A cutting edge, state-of-the-art bi-coastal multi-tasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond! I’m new wave, but I’m old school and my inner child is outward bound. I’m a hot-wired, heat seeking, warm-hearted cool customer, voice activated and bio-degradable. I interface with my database, my database is in cyberspace, so I’m interactive, I’m hyperactive and from time to time I’m radioactive. Behind the eight ball, ahead of the curve, ridin the wave, dodgin the bullet and pushin the envelope. I’m on-point, on-task, on-message and off drugs. I’ve got no need for coke and speed. I've got no urge to binge and purge. I’m in-the-moment, on-the-edge, over-the-top and under-the-radar. A high-concept, low-profile, medium-range ballistic missionary. A street-wise smart bomb. A top-gun bottom feeder. I wear power ties, I tell power lies, I take power naps and run victory laps. I’m a totally ongoing big-foot, slam-dunk, rainmaker with a pro-active outreach. A raging workaholic. A working rageaholic. Out of rehab and in denial! I’ve got a personal trainer, a personal shopper, a personal assistant and a personal agenda. You can’t shut me up. You can’t dumb me down because I’m tireless and I’m wireless, I’m an alpha male on beta-blockers. I’m a non-believer and an over-achiever, laid-back but fashion-forward. Up-front, down-home, low-rent, high-maintenance. Super-sized, long-lasting, high-definition, fast-acting, oven-ready and built-to-last! I’m a hands-on, foot-loose, knee-jerk head case pretty maturely post-traumatic and I’ve got a love-child that sends me hate mail. But, I’m feeling, I’m caring, I’m healing, I’m sharing-- a supportive, bonding, nurturing primary care-giver. My output is down, but my income is up. I took a short position on the long bond and my revenue stream has its own cash-flow. I read junk mail, I eat junk food, I buy junk bonds and I watch trash sports! I’m gender specific, capital intensive, user-friendly and lactose intolerant. I like rough sex. I like tough love. I use the “F” word in my emails and the software on my hard-drive is hardcore--no soft porn. I bought a microwave at a mini-mall; I bought a mini-van at a mega-store. I eat fast-food in the slow lane. I’m toll-free, bite-sized, ready-to-wear and I come in all sizes. A fully-equipped, factory-authorized, hospital-tested, clinically-proven, scientifically- formulated medical miracle. I’ve been pre-wash, pre-cooked, pre-heated, pre-screened, pre-approved, pre-packaged, post-dated, freeze-dried, double-wrapped, vacuum-packed and, I have an unlimited broadband capacity. I’m a rude dude, but I’m the real deal. Lean and mean! Cocked, locked and ready-to-rock. Rough, tough and hard to bluff. I take it slow, I go with the flow, I ride with the tide. I’ve got glide in my stride. Drivin and movin, sailin and spinin, jiving and groovin, wailin and winnin. I don’t snooze, so I don’t lose. I keep the pedal to the metal and the rubber on the road. I party hearty and lunch time is crunch time. I’m hangin in, there ain’t no doubt and I’m hangin tough, over and out!
George Carlin
Freedom is not a constant attribute which we either "have" or "have not." In fact, there is no such thing as "freedom" except as a word and an abstract concept. There is only one reality: the act of freeing ourselves in the process of making choices. In this process the degree of our capacity to make choices varies with each act, with our practice of life.
Erich Fromm (El corazón del hombre: Su potencia para el bien y para el mal)
After fifty-five years of dedicating his life and work to the story of ethical systems, Sol Weintraub had come to a single, unshakable conclusion: any allegiance to a deity or concept or universal principal which put obedience above decent behavior toward an innocent human being was evil.
Dan Simmons (Hyperion)
Every day is important for us because it is a day ordained by God. If we are bored with life there is something wrong with our concept of God and His involvement in our daily lives. Even the most dull and tedious days of our lives are ordained by God and ought to be used by us to glorify Him.
Jerry Bridges (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)
Micro meditations should be performed with very little activity. These practices should not be associated with any goal, concept or belief.
Amit Ray (Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style)
Never has America lost a war ... But name, if you can, the last peace the United States won. Victory yes, but this country has never made a successful peace because peace requires exchanging ideas, concepts, thoughts, and recognizing the fact that two distinct systems of life can exist together without conflict. Consider how quickly America seems to be facing its allies of one war as new enemies.
Vine Deloria Jr. (Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto)
HAPPY EVER AFTER is a concept I'll never believe in. I would be content to sample some little taste of happiness today, tonight, right now. Though I know without a doubt that tomorrow will come saturated with pain. Life is like that. At least my life. And honestly, I cant think of anyone whose life is any different. The price tag for joy is misery. [...]
Ellen Hopkins (Identical)
The conception of perfection exists only so we have something to strive toward. Impossibility is built into it, which is why we call it perfect instead of extremely good.
Maggie Stiefvater (All the Crooked Saints)
Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow For Thine is the Kingdom Between the conception And the creation Between the emotion And the response Falls the Shadow Life is very long Between the desire And the spasm Between the potency And the existence Between the essence And the descent Falls the Shadow For Thine is the Kingdom For Thine is Life is For Thine is the This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
T.S. Eliot (The Hollow Men)
I suppose now I'm obliged to wish you happiness in your new life. Although happiness in the absence of indoor plumbing is a debatable concept.
Lisa Kleypas (Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways, #1))
Because, you see, God—whatever anyone chooses to call God—is one's highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It's a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own. To imagine a heaven and then not to dream of it, but to demand it.
Ayn Rand (We the Living)
Perhaps it is not-being that is the true state, and all our dream of life is inexistent; but, if so, we feel that these phrases of music, these conceptions which exist in relation to our dream, must be nothing either. We shall perish, but we have as hostages these divine captives who will follow and share our fate. And death in their company is somehow less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps even less probable.
Marcel Proust (Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1))
The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be, 'Seek simplicity and distrust it.
Alfred North Whitehead (The Concept of Nature: The Tarner Lectures Delivered in Trinity College, 11/1919)
My life is not possible to tell. I change every day, change my patterns, my concepts, my interpretations. I am a series of moods and sensations. I play a thousand roles. I weep when I find others play them for me. My real self is unknown. My work is merely an essence of this vast and deep adventure.
Anaïs Nin
Of my conception I know only what you know of yours. It occurred in darkness and I was unconsenting... By some bleak alchemy what had been mere unbeing becomes death when life is mingled with it.
Marilynne Robinson (Housekeeping)
The "right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" begins with "life", and "life" begins at conception.
A.E. Samaan
I used to think that paired opposites were a given, that love was the opposite of hate, right the opposite of wrong. But now I think we sometimes buy into these concepts because it is so much easier to embrace absolutes than to suffer reality. I don't think anything is the opposite of love. Reality is unforgivingly complex.
Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)
Through the present moment, you have access to the power of life itself, that which has traditionally been called "God." As soon as you turn away from it, God ceases to be a reality in your life, and all you are left with is the mental concept of God, which some people believe in and others deny. Even belief in God is only a poor substitute for the living reality of God manifesting every moment of your life.
Eckhart Tolle
To shift your life in a desired direction, you must powerfully shift your subconscious.
Kevin Michel (Moving Through Parallel Worlds To Achieve Your Dreams)
In this world, unity is achievable only by learning to unite in spite of differences, rather than insisting on unity without differences. For their total eradication is an impossibility. The secret of attaining peace in life is tolerance of disturbance of the peace. (p. 99)
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan (The True Jihad: The Concept of Peace, Tolerance and Non Violence in Islam)
HELPED are those who are content to be themselves; they will never lack mystery in their lives and the joys of self-discovery will be constant. HELPED are those who love the entire cosmos rather than their own tiny country, city, or farm, for to them will be shown the unbroken web of life and the meaning of infinity. HELPED are those who live in quietness, knowing neither brand name nor fad; they shall live every day as if in eternity, and each moment shall be as full as it is long. HELPED are those who love others unsplit off from their faults; to them will be given clarity of vision. HELPED are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception, and realize an partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful. HELPED are those who love the Earth, their mother, and who willingly suffer that she may not die; in their grief over her pain they will weep rivers of blood, and in their joy in her lively response to love, they will converse with the trees. HELPED are those whose ever act is a prayer for harmony in the Universe, for they are the restorers of balance to our planet. To them will be given the insight that every good act done anywhere in the cosmos welcomes the life of an animal or a child. HELPED are those who risk themselves for others' sakes; to them will be given increasing opportunities for ever greater risks. Theirs will be a vision of the word in which no one's gift is despised or lost. HELPED are those who strive to give up their anger; their reward will be that in any confrontation their first thoughts will never be of violence or of war. HELPED are those whose every act is a prayer for peace; on them depends the future of the world. HELPED are those who forgive; their reward shall be forgiveness of every evil done to them. It will be in their power, therefore, to envision the new Earth. HELPED are those who are shown the existence of the Creator's magic in the Universe; they shall experience delight and astonishment without ceasing. HELPED are those who laugh with a pure heart; theirs will be the company of the jolly righteous. HELPED are those who love all the colors of all the human beings, as they love all the colors of the animals and plants; none of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them. HELPED are those who love the lesbian, the gay, and the straight, as they love the sun, the moon, and the stars. None of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them. HELPED are those who love the broken and the whole; none of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them. HELPED are those who do not join mobs; theirs shall be the understanding that to attack in anger is to murder in confusion. HELPED are those who find the courage to do at least one small thing each day to help the existence of another--plant, animal, river, or human being. They shall be joined by a multitude of the timid. HELPED are those who lose their fear of death; theirs is the power to envision the future in a blade of grass. HELPED are those who love and actively support the diversity of life; they shall be secure in their differences. HELPED are those who KNOW.
Alice Walker
The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right -- it is the very opposite. It is a deep wound in society.
Benedict XVI
Psychologically, the choice "to think or not" is the choice "to focus or not." Existentially, the choice "to focus or not" is the choice "to be conscious or not." Metaphysically, the choice "to be conscious or not" is the choice of life or death.
Ayn Rand (The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism)
We don't attach to people or to things; we attach to uninvestigated concepts that we believe to tbe true in the moment.
Byron Katie (Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life)
I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that - I don’t mind people being happy - but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position - it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.
Hugh Mackay
The "show business," which is so incorporated into our view of Christian work today, has caused us to drift far from Our Lord's conception of discipleship. It is instilled in us to think that we have to do exceptional things for God; we have not. We have to be exceptional in ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, surrounded by sordid sinners. That is not learned in five minutes.
Oswald Chambers
The Earth, time, concepts, love, life, faith justice, evil - they're all fluid and in transition. They don't stay in one form or in one place forever. The whole universe is like some big FedEx box.
Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)
So I simply don't buy the concept of "Generation X" as the "lost generation." I see too many good kids out there, kids who are ready and willing to do the right thing, just as Jack was. Their distractions are greater, though. There's no more simple life with simple choices for the young.
Johnny Cash (Cash)
But that had been grief--this was joy. Yet that grief and this joy were alike outside all the ordinary conditions of life; they were loopholes, as it were, in that ordinary life through which there came glimpses of something sublime. And in the contemplation of this sublime something the soul was exalted to inconceivable heights of which it had before had no conception, while reason lagged behind, unable to keep up with it.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
Coincidence was a concept he did not entirely trust. As someone who had spent his life exploring the hidden interconnectivity of disparate emblems and ideologies, Langdon viewed the world as a web of profoundly intertwined histories and events. The connections may be invisible, he often preached to his symbology classes at Harvard, but they are always there, buried just beneath the surface.
Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, #2))
... the most important concept ever put forth was that matter, ALL matter, with no exceptions from stone to star to starfish to student to sovereign, is as divine as all else in the cosmos, for all flows from Consciousness, the Word that came before the World - and all, in time, will flow back.
Ki Longfellow (Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria)
That's a spiritual lifestyle, being willing to admit that you don't know everything and that you were wrong about some things. It's about making a list of all the people you've harmed, either emotionally or physically or financially, and going back and making amends. That's a spiritual lifestyle. It's not a fluffy ethereal concept.
Anthony Kiedis (Scar Tissue)
The other night we talked about literature's elimination of the unessential, so that we are given a concentrated "dose" of life. I said, almost indignantly, "That's the danger of it, it prepares you to live, but at the same time, it exposes you to disappointments because it gives a heightened concept of living, it leaves out the dull or stagnant moments. You, in your books, also have a heightened rhythm, and a sequence of events so packed with excitement that I expected all your life to be delirious, intoxicated." Literature is an exaggeration, a dramatization, and those who are nourished on it (as I was) are in great danger of trying to approximate an impossible rhythm. Trying to live up to Dostoevskian scenes every day. And between writers there is a straining after extravagance. We incite each other to jazz-up our rhythm.
Anaïs Nin (The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934)
It {Darwin's theory of evolution] was a concept of such stunning simplicity, but it gave rise, naturally, to all of the infinite and baffling complexity of life. The awe it inspired in me made the awe that people talk about in respect of religious experience seem, frankly, silly beside it. I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.
Douglas Adams (The Salmon of Doubt (Dirk Gently, #3))
Life is life--whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man's own advantage.
Sri Aurobindo
In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children...The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth.
Thomas L. Friedman
A piece of art comes to life, when we can feel, it is breathing, when it talks to us and starts raising questions. It may dispel biased perceptions; make us recognize ignored fragments and remember forsaken episodes of our life story. Art may sometimes even be nasty and disturbing, if we don’t want to consent to its philosophy or concept, but it might, in the end, perhaps reconcile us with ourselves. ("When is Art?")
Erik Pevernagie
Our world is not safe. It is a toxic swamp populated by predators and parasites. The odds are stacked against us from the moment of conception. We survive only because we fight the elements, hunger, disease, each other. And, although civilization promises us safe harbor, that promise is a fairy tale. Only the storm is real. It comes for each of us. And we cannot win. We can only choose how we will suffer our defeat. We can meekly take our beatings, and die like lemmings, finding solace in the belief that we shall one day inherit the earth. Or, we can plunge into the chaos with eyes wide open, taking comfort instead from the bruises, scars, and broken bones which prove that we fought to live and die as gods.
J.K. Franko (Life for Life (Talion #3))
The concept of randomness and coincidence will be obsolete when people can finally define a formulation of patterned interaction between all things within the universe.
Toba Beta (Betelgeuse Incident: Insiden Bait Al-Jauza)
The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters. meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.
Anaïs Nin (The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947)
There are no whys in a person's life, and very few hows. In the end, in search of useful wisdom, you could only come back to the most hackneyed concepts, like kindness, forbearance, infinite patience. Solomon and Lincoln: This too shall pass. Damn right it will. Or Chekhov: Nothing passes. Equally true.
Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding)
Only a catastrophe gets our attention. We want them, we depend on them. As long as they happen somewhere else. This is where California comes in. Mud slides, brush fires, coastal erosion, mass killings, et cetera. We can relax and enjoy these disasters because in our hearts we feel that California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom.
Don DeLillo (White Noise)
Listen, every object's in flux. The Earth, time, concepts, love, life, faith, justice, evil--they're all fluid and in transition. They don't stay in one form or in one place forever. The whole universe is like some big FedEx box.
Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)
Justice is a relative concept in all ages. The fourteenth century is no exception.
Ian Mortimer (The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century)
It's amazing how something that had, in concept, seemed so insignificant to my life could not become my entire world.
A. Meredith Walters (Find You in the Dark (Find You in the Dark, #1))
Besides, if I wanted to hear people speaking wall-to-wall French, all I had to do was remove my headphones and participate in what is known as ‘real life,’ a concept as uninviting as a shampoo cocktail.
David Sedaris
Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky, and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept us safe among them... The animals had rights - the right of man's protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man's indebtedness. This concept of life and its relations filled us with the joy and mystery of living; it gave us reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.
Luther Standing Bear
I handed them a script and they turned it down. It was too controversial. It talked about concepts like, 'Who is God?' The Enterprise meets God in space; God is a life form, and I wanted to suggest that there may have been, at one time in the human beginning, an alien entity that early man believed was God, and kept those legends. But I also wanted to suggest that it might have been as much the Devil as it was God. After all, what kind of god would throw humans out of Paradise for eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. One of the Vulcans on board, in a very logical way, says, 'If this is your God, he's not very impressive. He's got so many psychological problems; he's so insecure. He demands worship every seven days. He goes out and creates faulty humans and then blames them for his own mistakes. He's a pretty poor excuse for a supreme being.
Gene Roddenberry
It is more important to go slow and gain the lessons you need along the journey then to rush the process and arrive at your destination empty.
Germany Kent
Don't bemoan your misspent life quite yet. Forgive me for flaunting my experience, but you have no conception of what a misspent life constitutes.
David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas)
When people want to win they will go to desperate extremes. However, anyone that has already won in life has come to the conclusion that there is no game. There is nothing but learning in this life and it is the only thing we take with us to the grave—knowledge. If you only understood that concept then your heart wouldn’t break so bad. Jealousy or revenge wouldn’t be your ambition. Stepping on others to raise yourself up wouldn’t be a goal. Competition would be left on the playing field, and your freedom from what other people think about you would light the pathway out of hell.
Shannon L. Alder
If you have survived an abuser, and you tried to make things right… If you forgave, and you struggled, and even if the expression of your grief and your anger tumbled out at times in too much rage and too many words… If you spent years hanging on to the concepts of faith, hope, and love, even after you knew in your heart that those intangibles, upon which life is formed and sustained, would fail in the end… And especially, if you stood between your children - or anyone - and him, and took the physical, emotional, and spiritual pummeling in their stead, then you are a hero.
Jenna Brooks
The woman who first gives life, light, and form to our shadowy conceptions of beauty, fills a void in our spiritual nature that has remained unknown to us till she appeared. Sympathies that lie too deep for words, too deep almost for thoughts, are touched, at such times, by other charms than those which the senses feel and which the resources of expression can realise. The mystery which underlies the beauty of women is never raised above the reach of all expression until it has claimed kindred with the deeper mystery in our own souls.
Wilkie Collins (The Woman in White)
It is true that many creative people fail to make mature personal relationships, and some are extremely isolated. It is also true that, in some instances, trauma, in the shape of early separation or bereavement, has steered the potentially creative person toward developing aspects of his personality which can find fulfillment in comparative isolation. But this does not mean that solitary, creative pursuits are themselves pathological.... [A]voidance behavior is a response designed to protect the infant from behavioural disorganization. If we transfer this concept to adult life, we can see that an avoidant infant might very well develop into a person whose principal need was to find some kind of meaning and order in life which was not entirely, or even chiefly, dependent upon interpersonal relationships.
Anthony Storr (Solitude: A Return to the Self)
Life is a concept, like the “universe", that expands as soon as we reach what we think is its edge.
Kamand Kojouri
Holy men tell us life is a mystery. They embrace that concept happily. But some mysteries bite and bark and come to get you in the dark.
Dean Koontz (Darkfall)
Be the girl you want your daughter to be. Be the girl you want your son to date. Be classy, be smart, be real, but most importantly be nice.
Germany Kent
Look, and it can't be seen. Listen, and it can't be heard. Reach, and it can't be grasped. Above, it isn't bright. Below, it isn't dark. Seamless, unnamable, it returns to the realm of nothing. Form that includes all forms, image without an image, subtle, beyond all conception. Approach it and there is no beginning; follow it and there is no end. You can't know it, but you can be it, at ease in your own life. Just realize where you come from: this is the essence of wisdom.
Lao Tzu
There were no whys in a person's life, and very few hows. In the end, in search of useful wisdom, you could only come back to the most hackneyed concepts, like kindness, forbearance, infinite self patience.
Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding)
One guy, seeing that I was hungry, insisted on buying me a huge lunch and when I thanked him for his kindness, he simply said, 'Pass it on.' I liked this selfless concept - repay me by rewarding someone else entirely with a generous dollop of goodwill.
Tony Hawks (Round Ireland with a Fridge)
The concept of “microaggression” is just one of many tactics used to stifle differences of opinion by declaring some opinions to be “hate speech,” instead of debating those differences in a marketplace of ideas. To accuse people of aggression for not marching in lockstep with political correctness is to set the stage for justifying real aggression against them.
Thomas Sowell
At all ages, if [fantasy and myth] is used well by the author and meets the right reader, it has the same power: to generalize while remaining concrete, to present in palpable form not concepts or even experiences but whole classes of experience, and to throw off irrelevancies. Bat at its best it can do more; it can give us experiences we have never had and thus, instead of 'commenting on life,' can add to it.
C.S. Lewis
You think you've been in deep shit before, and then you realise you have absolutely no conception of how deep shit can really be.
Lee Child (The Hard Way (Jack Reacher, #10))
Whether or not we continue to enforce a universal conception of human rights at moments of outrage and incomprehension, precisely when we think that others have taken themselves out of the human community as we know it, is a test of our very humanity.
Judith Butler (Precarious Life)
I wish I could make you see how much fuller the life I offer you is than anything you have a conception of. I wish I could make you see how exciting the life of the spirit is and how rich in experience. It's illimitable. It's such a happy life. There's only one thing like it, when you're up in a plane by yourself, high, high, and only infinity surrounds you. You're intoxicated by the boundless space.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge)
We should fix ourselves firmly in the presence of God by conversing all the time with Him...we should feed our soul with a lofty conception of God and from that derive great joy in being his. We should put life in our faith. We should give ourselves utterly to God in pure abandonment, in temporal and spiritual matters alike, and find contentment in the doing of His will,whether he takes us through sufferings or consolations.
Brother Lawrence
Freedom is more than just a patriotic concept; it is the purest intent of our design. Be you. Be free. Be nice.
Steve Maraboli (Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience)
In life or death situations, my father has only been there once for me. So I'd like to tell him thanks for not pulling out when I needed him the most: conception.
Jarod Kintz (This Book is Not for Sale)
Muhammad introduced the concept of such Glorious and Omnipotent God in Whose eyes all worldly systems are pieces of straw. Islamic equality of mankind is no fiction as it is in Christianity. No human mind has ever thought of such total freedom as established by Muhammad.
Mawde Royden
All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.
Nikola Tesla
We, or at least I, can have no conception of human life and human thought in a hundred years or fifty years. Perhaps my greatest wisdom is the knowledge that I do not know. The sad ones are those who waste their energy in trying to hold it back, for thy can only feel bitterness in loss and no joy in gain.
John Steinbeck (Travels with Charley: In Search of America)
You can neither lie to a neighbourhood park, nor reason with it. 'Artist's conceptions' and persuasive renderings can put pictures of life into proposed neighbourhood parks or park malls, and verbal rationalizations can conjure up users who ought to appreciate them, but in real life only diverse surroundings have the practical power of inducing a natural, continuing flow of life and use.
Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities)
We are afraid of the known and afraid of the unknown. That is our daily life and in that there is no hope, and therefore every form of philosophy, every form of theological concept, is merely an escape from the actual reality of what is. All outward forms of change brought about by wars, revolutions, reformations, laws and ideologies have failed completely to change the basic nature of man and therefore of society.
Thomas Jefferson
Happiness is an inner perception, not an outer realistic conception.
Debasish Mridha
Every aspect of life is an experiment that can be better understood if it is perceived in that way.
John Brockman (This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking)
If we could eliminate the concept of town and return to live in small villages, all world problems were solved.
Rossana Condoleo
Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception. The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know. Planetary scale is your little secret. Life takes on a neat simplicity, too. Time ceases to have any meaning. When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again you get up, and everything in between is just in between. It’s quite wonderful, really. You have no engagements, commitments, obligations, or duties; no special ambitions and only the smallest, least complicated of wants; you exist in a tranquil tedium, serenely beyond the reach of exasperation, “far removed from the seats of strife,” as the early explorer and botanist William Bartram put it. All that is required of you is a willingness to trudge. There is no point in hurrying because you are not actually going anywhere. However far or long you plod, you are always in the same place: in the woods. It’s where you were yesterday, where you will be tomorrow. The woods is one boundless singularity. Every bend in the path presents a prospect indistinguishable from every other, every glimpse into the trees the same tangled mass. For all you know, your route could describe a very large, pointless circle. In a way, it would hardly matter. At times, you become almost certain that you slabbed this hillside three days ago, crossed this stream yesterday, clambered over this fallen tree at least twice today already. But most of the time you don’t think. No point. Instead, you exist in a kind of mobile Zen mode, your brain like a balloon tethered with string, accompanying but not actually part of the body below. Walking for hours and miles becomes as automatic, as unremarkable, as breathing. At the end of the day you don’t think, “Hey, I did sixteen miles today,” any more than you think, “Hey, I took eight-thousand breaths today.” It’s just what you do.
Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail)
No name. No memory today of yesterday’s name; of today’s name, tomorrow. If the name is the thing; if a name in us is the concept of every thing placed outside of us; and without a name you don’t have the concept, and the thing remains in us as if blind, indistinct and undefined: well then, let each carve this name that I bore among men, a funeral epigraph, on the brow of that image in which I appeared to him, and then leave it in peace, and let there be no more talk about it. It is fitting for the dead. For those who have concluded. I am alive and I do not conclude. Life does not conclude. And life knows nothing of names. This tree, tremulous pulse of new leaves. I am this tree. Tree, cloud; tomorrow book or wind: the book I read, the wind I drink. All outside, wandering.
Luigi Pirandello (One, No One and One Hundred Thousand)
A purely mental life may be destructive if it leads us to substitute thought for life and ideas for actions. The activity proper to man is purely mental because man is not just a disembodied mind. Our destiny is to live out what we think, because unless we live what we know, we do not even know it. It is only by making our knowledge part of ourselves, through action, that we enter into the reality that is signified by our concepts.
Thomas Merton (Thoughts in Solitude)
True freedom is when all the stories, all the insights, all the realizations, concepts, beliefs and positions dissolve. What remains is what you are; a vast, conscious, luminous space simply resting in itself, not knowing a thing, at the point where all things are possible.
Enza Vita
Two thousand years ago the night sky looked completely different, and so when you get right down to it, the Greek conceptions of star signs as related to birth dates are grossly inaccurate for today's day and age. It's called the Line of Procession: back then the sun didn't set in Taurus, but in Gemini. A September 24 birthday didn't mean you were a Libra, but a Virgo. And there was a thirteenth zodiac constellation, Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer, which rose between Sagittarius and Scorpio for only four days. The reason it's all off kilter? The earth's axis wobbles. Life isn't nearly as stable as we want it to be.
Jodi Picoult (My Sister's Keeper)
I have always been tormented by the image of multiplicity of selves. Some days I call it richness, and other days I see it as a disease, a proliferation as dangerous as cancer. My first concept about people around me was that all of them were coordinated into a WHOLE, whereas I was made up of multiple selves, of fragments. I know that I was upset as a child to discover that we had only one life. It seems to me that I wanted to compensate for this by multiplying experience. Or perhaps it always seems like this when you follow all your impulses and they take you in different directions. In any case, when I was happy, always at the beginning of a love, euphoric, I felt I was gifted for living many lives fully. It was only when I was in trouble, lost in a maze, stifled by complications and paradoxes that I was haunted or that I spoke of my "madness," but I meant the madness of the poets.
Anaïs Nin
Among the many worlds which man did not receive as a gift of nature, but which he created with his own mind, the world of books is the greatest. Every child, scrawling his first letters on his slate and attempting to read for the first time, in so doing, enters an artificial and complicated world; to know the laws and rules of this world completely and to practice them perfectly, no single human life is long enough. Without words, without writing, and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. And if anyone wants to try to enclose in a small space in a single house or single room, the history of the human spirit and to make it his own, he can only do this in the form of a collection of books.
Hermann Hesse (My Belief)
The main reason I became a teacher is that I like being the first one to introduce kids to words and music and people and numbers and concepts and idea that they have never heard about or thought about before. I like being the first one to tell them about Long John Silver and negative numbers and Beethoven and alliteration and "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" and similes and right angles and Ebenezer Scrooge. . . Just think about what you know today. You read. You write. You work with numbers. You solve problems. We take all these things for granted. But of course you haven't always read. You haven't always known how to write. You weren't born knowing how to subtract 199 from 600. Someone showed you. There was a moment when you moved from not knowing to knowing, from not understanding to understanding. That's why I became a teacher.
Phillip Done (32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching)
It’s not that we have to quit this life one day, but it’s how many things we have to quit all at once: music, laughter, the physics of falling leaves, automobiles, holding hands, the scent of rain, the concept of subway trains... if only one could leave this life slowly!
Roman Payne (Rooftop Soliloquy)
to see beauty is to learn the private language of meaning which is another's life - to recognize and relish what is. beauty must be defined as what we are, or else the concept itself is our enemy. why languish in the shadow of a standard we cannot personify, an ideal we cannot live?
CrimethInc. (Expect Resistance: A Field Manual)
The most important thing in life is your inner energy. If you’re always tired and never enthused, then life is no fun. But if you’re always inspired and filled with energy, then every minute of every day is an exciting experience. Learn to work with these things. Through meditation, through awareness and willful efforts, you can learn to keep your centers open. You do this by just relaxing and releasing. You do this by not buying into the concept that there is anything worth closing over. Remember, if you love life, nothing is worth closing over.
Michael A. Singer (The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself)
Because here’s something that’s weird but true: we don’t actually know what a positive or negative experience is. Some of the most difficult and stressful moments of our lives also end up being the most formative and motivating. Some of the best and most gratifying experiences of our lives are also the most distracting and demotivating. Don’t trust your conception of positive/negative experiences. All that we know for certain is what hurts in the moment and what doesn’t. And that’s not worth much. Just
Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life)
When you are in love, it means that the person you love is of great personal, selfish importance to you and to your life. If you were selfless, it would have to mean that you derive no personal pleasure or happiness from the company and the existence of the person you love, and that you are motivated only by self-sacrificial pity for that person's need of you. I don't have to point out to you that no one would be flattered by, nor would accept, a concept of that kind. Love is not self-sacrifice, but the most profound assertion of your own needs and values. It is for your own happiness that you need the person you love, and that is the greatest compliment, the greatest tribute you can pay to that person.
Ayn Rand
As Miriam released my hand I felt that she and Midwife Bell had returned to a more primitive world, where men never intruded and even their role in conception was unknown. Here the chain of life was mother to daughter, daughter to mother. Fathers and sons belonged in the shadows with the dogs and livestock, like the retriever growling at Midwife Bell's unfamiliar car from the window of my neighbours' living room.
J.G. Ballard (The Kindness of Women (Empire of the Sun, #2))
Neighborhood is a word that has come to sound like a Valentine. As a sentimental concept, 'neighborhood' is harmful to city planning. It leads to attempts at warping city life into imitations of town or suburban life. Sentimentality plays with sweet intentions in place of good sense.
Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities)
The concept of progress must be grounded in the idea of catastrophe. That things are "status quo" is the catastrophe. It is not an ever-present possibility but what in each case is given. Thus hell is not something that awaits us, but this life here and now.
Walter Benjamin (The Arcades Project)
Conception is the beginning of human life. From the time that an ovum is fertilized a new life begins that is neither that of the father nor of the mother. It is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never become human if it were not human already.
~ Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion, 1974
The gospel of Jesus is not a rational concept to be explained in a theory of salvation, but a story about God’s presence in Jesus’ solidarity with the oppressed, which led to his death on the cross. What is redemptive is the faith that God snatches victory out of defeat, life out of death, and hope out of despair.
James H. Cone (The Cross and the Lynching Tree)
On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests tend to suffocate it. This is the real crisis.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
I knelt and prayed, and the strongest truth came over me. Didn't matter if God in his heaven was a Catholic or a Protestant God, or the God of the Hindus. What mattered was something deeper and older and more powerful than any such image - it was a concept of goodness based upon the affirmation of life, the turning away from destruction, from the perverse, from man using and abusing man. It was the affirmation of the human and the natural.
Anne Rice
Most people's reality is an illusion, a great big illusion. You automatically have to succumb to the illusion that 'I am this body'. I am not George. I am not really George. I am this living thing that goes on, always has been, always will be, but at this time I happen to be in 'this' body. The body has changed; was a baby, was a young man, will soon be an old man, and I'll be dead. The physical body will pass but this bit in the middle, that's the only reality. All the rest is the illusion, so to say that somebody thinks we are, the ex- Beatles are removed from reality in their personal concept. It does not have any truth to it just because somebody thinks it. They are the concepts which become layer upon layer of illusion. Why live in the darkness all your life? Why, if you are unhappy, if you are having a miserable time, why not just look at it. Why are you in the darkness? Look for the light. The light is within. That is the big message
George Harrison (I, Me, Mine)
Somewhere, within her, in a deep recess, crouched discontent. She began to lose confidence in the fullness of her life, the glow began to fade from her conception of it. As the days multiplied, her need of something, something vaguely familiar, but which she could not put a name to and hold for definite examination, became almost intolerable. She went through moments of overwhelming anguish. She felt shut in, trapped.
Nella Larsen (Quicksand)
Full sexual consciousness and a natural regulation of sexual life mean the end of mystical feelings of any kind. In other words, natural sexuality is the deadly enemy of mystical religion. The church, by making the fight over sexuality the center of its dogmas and of its influence over the masses, confirms this concept.
Wilhelm Reich
During the play-act of life, errors can clash with our conventional truth and compel us to prepare new ground for another truth concept that will replace the old truth model. Be that as it may, let us fly on the wings of our inspiration, value the day, enjoy the now, and be ready because the new blueprint may only remain valid until it dies by natural death on its turn. (“Measuring space”)
Erik Pevernagie
The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries..acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state. No, I am too firm in my consciousness of the marvellous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural...
Joseph Conrad (The Shadow-Line)
The Taoist and Zen conception of perfection... the dynamic nature of their philosophy laid more stress upon the process through which perfection was sought than upon perfection itself. True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally completed the incomplete. The virility of life and art lay in its possibilities for growth.
Kakuzō Okakura (The Book Of Tea)
I have spent my life watching, not to see beyond the world, merely to see, great mystery, what is plainly before my eyes. I think the concept of transcendence is based on a misreading of creation. With all respect to heaven, the scene of the miracle is here, among us. The eternal as an idea is much less preposterous than time, and this very fact should seize our attention.
Marilynne Robinson (The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought)
I have been studying for forty years, which is to say forty wasted years; I teach others yet am ignorant of everything; this state of affairs fills my soul with so much humiliation and disgust that my life is intolerable. I was born in Time, I live in Time, and do not know what Time is. I find myself at a point between two eternities, as our wise men say, yet I have no conception of eternity. I am composed of matter, I think, but have never been able to discover what produces thought. I do not know whether or not I think with my head the same way that I hold things with my hands. Not only is the origin of my thought unknown to me, but the origin of my movements is equally hidden: I do not know why I exist. Yet every day people ask me questions on all these issues. I must give answers, yet have nothing worth saying, so I talk a great deal, and am confused and ashamed of myself afterwards for having spoken.
Voltaire (Micromegas and Other Short Fictions)
Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren't they? They're all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you're born, you're on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don't want to know about you. They don't want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you're preborn, you're fine; if you're preschool, you're fucked.
George Carlin
Science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without. Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is born. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call 'soul' or 'spirit,' is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the 'soul' or the 'spirit' ceases likewise. I expressed these ideas long before the behaviorists, led by Pavlov in Russia and by Watson in the United States, proclaimed their new psychology. This apparently mechanistic conception is not antagonistic to an ethical conception of life.
Nikola Tesla (Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla)
However, I don’t understand why people insist on pitting the concepts of evolution and creation against each other. Why can’t they see that spiritualism and science are one? That bodies evolve and souls evolve and the universe is a fluid place that marries them both in a wonderful package called a human being. What’s wrong with that idea?
Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain)
Christianity, like genius, is one of the hardest concepts to forgive. We hear what we want to hear and accept what we want to accept, for the most part, simply because there is nothing more offensive than feeling like you have to re-evaluate your own train of thought and purpose in life. You have to die to an extent in your hunger for faith, for wisdom, and quite frankly, most people aren't ready to die.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine. The intellectual and emotional life of ordinary people is a very contemptible affair. Just as they borrow their ideas from a sort of circulating library of thought—-the Zeitgeist of an age that has no soul—-and send them back soiled at the end of each week, so they always try to get their emotions on credit, and refuse to pay the bill when it comes in. You should pass out of that conception of life. As soon as you have to pay for an emotion you will know its quality, and be the better for such knowledge. And remember that the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart. Indeed, sentimentality is merely the bank holiday of cynicism.
Oscar Wilde (De Profundis)
In a fractal conception, I am a cell-sized unit of the human organism, and I have to use my life to leverage a shift in the system by how I am, as much as with the things I do. This means actually being in my life, and it means bringing my values into my daily decision making. Each day should be lived on purpose.
Adrienne Maree Brown (Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds)
Everything she heard, everything she saw seemed to be in disagreement with her own manner of understanding and feeling. To her, the sun did not appear red enough, the nights pale enough, the skies deep enough. Her fleeting conception of things and beings condemned her fatally to a perversion of her senses, to vagaries of the spirit and left her nothing but the torment of an unachieved longing, the torture of unfulfilled desires.
Octave Mirbeau (Le Calvaire)
The necessary consequence of man's right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative. If some "pacifist" society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it.
Ayn Rand (The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism)
It is tragic to see how the religious sentiment of the West has become so individualized that concepts such as "a contrite heart," have come to refer only to the personal experiences of guilt and willingness to do penance for it. The awareness of our impurity in thoughts, words and deeds can indeed put us in a remorseful mood and create in us the hope for a forgiving gesture. But if the catastrophical events of our days, the wars, mass murders, unbridled violence, crowded prisons, torture chambers, the hunger and the illness of millions of people and he unnamable misery of a major part of the human race is safely kept outside the solitude of our hearts, our contrition remains no more than a pious emotion.
Henri J.M. Nouwen (Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life)
You don't love me, Sebastian. You don't have any idea what love really is. You can't love anyone or anything until you love your own existence, first. Love can only grow out of a respect for your own life. When you love yourself, your own existence, then you love someone who can enhance your existence, share it with you, and make it more pleasurable. When you hate yourself and believe your existence is evil, then you can only hate, you can only experience the shell of love, that longing for something good, but you have nothing to base it in but hatred. You taint the very concept of love, Sebastian, with your corrupted longing for it. You want me only to justify your hatred, to be your partner in self-loathing.
Terry Goodkind (The Pillars of Creation (Sword of Truth, #7))
We need to return from the self-centred concept of sincerity to the other-centred concept of truth. We are not isolated free choosers, monarchs of all we survey, but benighted creatures sunk in a reality whose nature we are constantly and overwhelmingly tempted to deform by fantasy. Our current picture of freedom encourages a dream-like facility; whereas what we require is a renewed sense of the difficulty and complexity of the moral life and the opacity of persons. We need more concepts in terms of which to picture the substance of our being; it is through an enriching and deepening of concepts that moral progress takes place. Simone Weil said that morality was a matter of attention not of will. We need a new vocabulary of attention.
Iris Murdoch
Why aren’t you asking a hundred other guys why they don’t write strong women characters? I believe that what I’m doing should not be remarked upon, let alone honoured… Because equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women. And the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who is confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now. 'So, why do you write these strong female characters?' Because you’re still asking me that question." [Equality Now speech, May 15, 2006]
Joss Whedon
Those who speak in spiritual terms routinely refer to God as creator but seldom see "creator" as the literal term for "artist". I am suggesting you take the term "creator" quite literally. You are seeking to forge a creative alliance, artist-to-artist with the Great Creator. Accepting this concept can greatly expand your creative possibilities.
Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity)
Don’t think about why you question, simply don’t stop questioning. Don’t worry about what you can’t answer, and don’t try to explain what you can’t know. Curiosity is its own reason. Aren’t you in awe when you contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure behind reality? And this is the miracle of the human mind—to use its constructions, concepts, and formulas as tools to explain what man sees, feels and touches. Try to comprehend a little more each day. Have holy curiosity. —ALBERT EINSTEIN
Robert Greene (Mastery)
All my moral and intellectual being is penetrated by an invincible conviction that whatever falls under the dominion of our senses must be in nature and, however exceptional, cannot differ in its essence from all the other effects of the visible and tangible world of which we are a self-conscious part. The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is—marvels and mysteries acting upon our emotions and intelligence in ways so inexplicable that it would almost justify the conception of life as an enchanted state. No, I am too firm in my consciousness of the marvelous to be ever fascinated by the mere supernatural which (take it any way you like) is but a manufactured article, the fabrication of minds insensitive to the intimate delicacies of our relation to the dead and to the living, in their countless multitudes; a desecration of our tenderest memories; an outrage on our dignity.
Joseph Conrad (The Shadow-Line)'s what life's all about." "what?" "a search. we're all searching for something to fill up what I like to call that big, God-shaped hole in our souls. some people use alcohol, or sex, or their children, or food, or money, or music, or heroin. a lot of people even use the concept of God itself. I could go on and on. I used to know a girl who used shoes. she had over two-hundred pairs. but it's all the same thing, really. people, for some stupid reason, think they can escape their sorrows.
Tiffanie DeBartolo (God-Shaped Hole)
He never mentioned whether something was fair, however. Fairness itself seemed to hold very little interest for him, which I found fascinating, as people, especially young people, are very interested in what's fair. Fairness is a concept taught to nice children: it is the governing principle of kindergartens and summer camps and playgrounds and soccer fields ... Fairness is for happy people, for people who have been lucky enough to have lived a life defined more by certainties than by ambiguities.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
You act as if I were your enemy. “You are my enemy. You seek to end the things I love.” And is an ending always bad? it asked. Must not all things, even worlds, someday end? “There is no need to hasten that end,” Vin said. “No reason to force it.” All things are subject to their own nature, Vin, Ruin said, seeming to flow around her. She could feel its touch on her—wet and delicate, like mist. You cannot blame me for what I am. Without me, nothing would end. Nothing could end. And therefore, nothing could grow. I am life. Would you fight life itself? Vin fell silent. Do not mourn because the day of this world’s end has arrived, Ruin said. That end was ordained the very day of the world’s conception. There is a beauty in death—the beauty of finality, the beauty of completion. For nothing is truly complete until the day it is finally destroyed.
Brandon Sanderson (The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3))
Don't think about why you question, simply don't stop questioning. Don't worry about what you can't answer, and don't try to explain what you can't know. Curiosity is its own reason. Aren't you in awe when you contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure behind reality? And this is the miracle of the human mind--to use its constructions, concepts, and formulas as tools to explain what man sees, feels and touches. Try to comprehend a little more each day. Have holy curiosity.
Albert Einstein
He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realized what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’ All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered...He saw not only Them; he saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a man.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
No one wants to carry someone when they’re heavy from life. I read a book about that once. A bunch of drivel about two people who kept coming back to each other. The lead male says that to the girl he keeps letting get away. I had to put the book down. No one wants to carry someone when they’re heavy from life. It’s a concept smart authors feed to their readers. It’s slow poison; you make them believe it’s real, and it keeps them coming back for more. Love is cocaine.
Tarryn Fisher (Mud Vein)
Strolling down a white-graveled walk to the cliff above the ocean, he let his eyes rove aimlessly over the expanse of sea and sand: The icy-looking whitecaps, the blinking, faraway sails of boats, the sweeping, constantly searching gulls. Desolation. Eternal, infinite. Like Dostoevski’s conception of eternity, a fly circling about a privy, the few signs of life only emphasized the loneliness.
Jim Thompson (The Grifters)
A goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don't sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, its a system. If you're waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it's a goal. If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or set new goals and reenter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure. All I'm suggesting is that thinking of goals and systems as very different concepts has power. Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good everytime they apply their system. That's a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.
Scott Adams (How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life)
I AM (your true self) is not interested in man’s opinion. All its interest lies in your conviction of yourself. What do you say of the I AM within you? Can you answer and say, “I AM Christ”? Your answer or degree of understanding will determine the place you will occupy in life. Do you say or believe yourself to be a man of a certain family, race, nation, etc.? Do you honestly believe this of yourself? Then life, your true self, will cause these conceptions to appear in your world and you will live with them as though they are real.
Neville Goddard (Your Faith is Your Fortune)
But the life of a Willa Cather, a Lillian Helman, and Virginia Woolf - - - would it not be a series of rapid ascents and probing descents into shades and meanings — into more people, ideas and conceptions? Would it not be in color, rather than black-and-white, or more gray? I think it would. And thus, I not being them, could try to be more like them: to listen, observe, and feel, and try to live more fully.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
Well, if I asked people whether they believed in life, they'd never understand what I meant. It's a bad question. It can mean so much that it really means nothing. So I ask them if they believe in God. And if they say they do -- then, I know they don't believe in life. Because, you see, God -- whatever anyone chooses to call God -- is one's highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It's a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own. To imagine a heaven and then not to dream of it, but to demand it.
Ayn Rand (We the Living)
We also have to give up the notion of a divine savior, which has nothing to do with what religion we belong to, but refers to the idea of someone or something who will save us without our having to go through any pain. In fact, giving up that kind of false hope is the first step. We have to be with ourselves. We have to be real people. There is no way of beating around the bush, hoping for the best. If you are really interested in working with yourself, you can’t lead that kind of double life, adopting ideas, techniques, and concepts of all kinds, simply in order to get away from yourself.
Chögyam Trungpa (Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery)
The belief that we somehow moved on to something else - whether still recognisably ourselves, or quite thoroughly changed - might be a tribute to our evolutionary tenacity and our animal thirst for life, but not to our wisdom. That saw a value beyond itself; in intelligence, knowledge and wit as concepts - wherever and by whoever expressed - not just in its own personal manifestation of those qualities, and so could contemplate its own annihilation with equanimity, and suffer it with grace; it was only a sort of sad selfishness that demanded the continuation of the individual spirit in the vanity and frivolity of a heaven.
Iain Banks
Above and beyond all else it must be borne in mind that hatred tends to dry up the springs of creative thought in the life of the hater, so that his resourcefulness becomes completely focused on the negative aspects of his environment. The urgent needs of the personality for creative expression are starved to death. A man's horizon may become so completely dominated by the intense character of his hatred that there remains no creative residue in his mind and spirit to give to great ideas, to great concepts.
Howard Thurman (Jesus and the Disinherited)
Self-esteem is not a value that, once achieved, is maintained automatically thereafter; like every other human value, including life itself, it can be maintained only by action. Self-esteem, the basic conviction that one is competent to live, can be maintained only so long as one is engaged in a process of growth, only so long as one is committed to the task of increasing one's efficacy. In living entities, nature does not permit stillness: when one ceases to grow, one proceeds to disintegrate--in the mental no less than in the physical.
Ayn Rand (The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism)
Most of us waste this extraordinary thing called life. We have lived forty or sixty years, have gone to the office, engaged ourselves in social activity, escaping in various forms, and at the end of it, we have nothing but an empty, dull, stupid life, a wasted life. Now, pleasure has created this pattern of social life. We take pleasure in ambition, in competition, in acquiring knowledge or power, or position, prestige, status. And that pursuit of pleasure as ambition, competition, greed, envy, status, domination, power is respectable. It is made respectable by a society which has only one concept: that you shall lead a moral life, which is a respectable life. You can be ambitious, you can be greedy, you can be violent, you can be competitive, you can be a ruthless human being, but society accepts it, because at the end of your ambition, you are either so called successful man with plenty of money, or a failure and therefore a frustrated human being. So social morality is immorality.
Jiddu Krishnamurti
Creation and destruction are one, to the eyes who can see beauty. And the greatest praise to India is this: not only are her people beautiful; not only are her daily life and cult beautiful; but, in the midst of the utilitarian, humanitarian, dogmatic world of the present day, she keeps on proclaiming the outstanding value of Beauty for the sake of Beauty, through her very conception of Godhead, of religion and of life.
Savitri Devi
I think the knowledge came to him at last — only at the very last. But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude — and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn’t touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of somber pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror — of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision, — he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath — ‘The horror! The horror!
Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
Maria, lonely prostitute on a street of pain, You, at least, hail me and speak to me While a thousand others ignore my face. You offer me an hour of love, And your fees are not as costly as most. You are the madonna of the lonely, The first-born daughter in a world of pain. You do not turn fat men aside, Or trample on the stuttering, shy ones, You are the meadow where desperate men Can find a moment's comfort. Men have paid more to their wives To know a bit of peace And could not walk away without the guilt That masquerades as love. You do not bind them, lovely Maria, you comfort them And bid them return. Your body is more Christian than the Bishop's Whose gloved hand cannot feel the dropping of my blood. Your passion is as genuine as most, Your caring as real! But you, Maria, sacred whore on the endless pavement of pain, You, whose virginity each man may make his own Without paying ought but your fee, You who know nothing of virgin births and immaculate conceptions, You who touch man's flesh and caress a stranger, Who warm his bed to bring his aching skin alive, You make more sense than stock markets and football games Where sad men beg for virility. You offer yourself for a fee--and who offers himself for less? At times you are cruel and demanding--harsh and insensitive, At times you are shrewd and deceptive--grasping and hollow. The wonder is that at times you are gentle and concerned, Warm and loving. You deserve more respect than nuns who hide their sex for eternal love; Your fees are not so high, nor your prejudice so virtuous. You deserve more laurels than the self-pitying mother of many children, And your fee is not as costly as most. Man comes to you when his bed is filled with brass and emptiness, When liquor has dulled his sense enough To know his need of you. He will come in fantasy and despair, Maria, And leave without apologies. He will come in loneliness--and perhaps Leave in loneliness as well. But you give him more than soldiers who win medals and pensions, More than priests who offer absolution And sweet-smelling ritual, More than friends who anticipate his death Or challenge his life, And your fee is not as costly as most. You admit that your love is for a fee, Few women can be as honest. There are monuments to statesmen who gave nothing to anyone Except their hungry ego, Monuments to mothers who turned their children Into starving, anxious bodies, Monuments to Lady Liberty who makes poor men prisoners. I would erect a monument for you-- who give more than most-- And for a meager fee. Among the lonely, you are perhaps the loneliest of all, You come so close to love But it eludes you While proper women march to church and fantasize In the silence of their rooms, While lonely women take their husbands' arms To hold them on life's surface, While chattering women fill their closets with clothes and Their lips with lies, You offer love for a fee--which is not as costly as most-- And remain a lonely prostitute on a street of pain. You are not immoral, little Maria, only tired and afraid, But you are not as hollow as the police who pursue you, The politicians who jail you, the pharisees who scorn you. You give what you promise--take your paltry fee--and Wander on the endless, aching pavements of pain. You know more of universal love than the nations who thrive on war, More than the churches whose dogmas are private vendettas made sacred, More than the tall buildings and sprawling factories Where men wear chains. You are a lonely prostitute who speaks to me as I pass, And I smile at you because I am a lonely man.
James Kavanaugh (There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves)
The other night we talked about literature's elimination of the unessential, so that we are given a concentrated "dose" of life. I said, almost indignantly, "That's the danger of it, it prepares you to live, but at the same time, it exposes you to disappointments because it gives a heightened concept of living, it leaves out the dull or stagnant moments. You, in your books, also have a heightened rhythm, and a sequence of events so packed with excitement that i expected all your life to be delirious, intoxicated." Literature is an exaggeration, a dramatization, and those who are nourished on it (as I was) are in great danger of trying to approximate an impossible rhythm. Trying to live up to dostoevskian scenes every day. And between writers there is a straining after extravagance. We incite each other to jazz-up our rhythm. It is amusing that, when Henry, Fred, and I talked together, we fell back into a deep naturalness. Perhaps none of us is a sensational character. Or perhaps we have no need of condiments. Henry is, in reality, mild not temperamental; gentle not eager for scenes. We may all write about sadism, masochism, the grand quignol, bubu de montparnasse (in which the highest proof of love is for a pimp to embrace his woman's syphilis as fervently as herself, a noblesse-oblige of the apache world), cocteau, drugs, insane asylums, house of the dead, because we love strong colors; and yet when we sit in the cafe de la place clichy, we talk about henry's last pages, and a chapter which was too long, and richard's madness. "One of his greatest worries," said Henry, "was to have introduced us. He thinks you are wonderful and that you may be in danger from the 'gangster author.
Anaïs Nin
She shook her head. 'Look. We both know life is short, Macy. Too short to waste a single second with anyone who doesn't appreciate and value you.' 'You said the other day life was long,' I shot back. 'Which is it?' ' It's both,' she said, shrugging. 'IT all depends on how you choose to live it. It's like forever, always changing.' 'Nothing can be two opposite things at once,' I said. 'It's impossible.' 'No,' she replied, squeezing my hand,' what's impossible is that we actually think it could be anything other than that. Look, when I was in the hosptal, right after the accident, they thought I was going to die. I was really fucked up, big time.' 'Uh-huh,' Monica said, looking at her sister. 'Then,' Kristy continued, nodding at her, 'life was very short, literally. but now that I'm better it seems so long I have to squint to see even the edges of it. It's all in the view, Macy. That's what I mean about forever, too. For any one of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. You can never know for sure, so you'd better make every second count.' Monica, lighting another cigarette, nodded. 'Mmm-hmm,' she said. 'What you have to decide,' Kristy said to me, leaning foreward, 'is how you want your life to be. If your forever was ending tomorrow, would this be how you'd want to have spent it? It seemed like it was a choice I had already made. I'd spent the last year and a half with Jason, shaping my life to fit his, doing what I had to in order to make sure I had a plae in his perfect world, where things made sense. But it hadn't worked. 'Listen,' Kristy said,' the truth is, nohing is guaranteed. You know that more than anybody.' She looed at me hard, making sure I knew what she meant. I did. 'So don't be afraid. Be alive.' But then, I couldn't imagine, after everything that had happened, how you could live and not constantly be worrying about the dangers all around you. Especially when you'd already gotten teh scare of your life. 'It's the same thing,' I told her. 'What is?' 'Being afraid and being alive.' 'No,' she said slowly, and now it was as if she was speaking a language she knew at first I wouldn't understand, the very words, not to mention the concept, being foreign to me. 'Macy, no. It's not.
Sarah Dessen (The Truth About Forever)
Many individuals are so constituted that their only thought is to obtain pleasure and shun responsibility. They would like, butterfly-like, to wing forever in a summer garden, flitting from flower to flower, and sipping honey for their sole delight. They have no feeling that any result which might flow from their action should concern them. They have no conception of the necessity of a well-organized society wherein all shall accept a certain quota of responsibility and all realize a reasonable amount of happiness. They think only of themselves because they have not yet been taught to think of society. For them pain and necessity are the great taskmasters. Laws are but the fences which circumscribe the sphere of their operations. When, after error, pain falls as a lash, they do not comprehend that their suffering is due to misbehavior. Many such an individual is so lashed by necessity and law that he falls fainting to the ground, dies hungry in the gutter or rotting in the jail and it never once flashes across his mind that he has been lashed only in so far as he has persisted in attempting to trespass the boundaries which necessity sets. A prisoner of fate, held enchained for his own delight, he does not know that the walls are tall, that the sentinels of life are forever pacing, musket in hand. He cannot perceive that all joy is within and not without. He must be for scaling the bounds of society, for overpowering the sentinel. When we hear the cries of the individual strung up by the thumbs, when we hear the ominous shot which marks the end of another victim who has thought to break loose, we may be sure that in another instance life has been misunderstood--we may be sure that society has been struggled against until death alone would stop the individual from contention and evil.
Theodore Dreiser (Sister Carrie)
Let us look at wealth and poverty. The affluent society and the deprived society inter-are. The wealth of one society is made of the poverty of the other. "This is like this, because that is like that." Wealth is made of non-wealth elements, and poverty is made by non-poverty elements. [...] so we must be careful not to imprison ourselves in concepts. The truth is that everything contains everything else. We cannot just be, we can only inter-be. We are responsible fo everything that happens around us.
Thich Nhat Hanh (Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life)
Beyond imagination and insight, the most important component of talent is perseverance—the will to write and rewrite in pursuit of perfection. Therefore, when inspiration sparks the desire to write, the artist immediately asks: Is this idea so fascinating, so rich in possibility, that I want to spend months, perhaps years, of my life in pursuit of its fulfillment? Is this concept so exciting that I will get up each morning with the hunger to write? Will this inspiration compel me to sacrifice all of life's other pleasures in my quest to perfect its telling? If the answer is no, find another idea. Talent and time are a writer's only assets. Why give your life to an idea that's not worth your life?
Robert McKee
The word courage is very interesting. It comes from a Latin root cor, which means “heart.” So to be courageous means to live with the heart. And weaklings, only weaklings, live with the head; afraid, they create a security of logic around themselves. Fearful, they close every window and door—with theology, concepts, words, theories—and inside those closed doors and windows, they hide. The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is to live in insecurity; it is to live in love, and trust; it is to move in the unknown. It is leaving the past and allowing the future to be. Courage is to move on dangerous paths. Life is dangerous, and only cowards can avoid the danger—but then, they are already dead. A person who is alive, really alive, vitally alive, will always move into the unknown. There is danger there, but he will take the risk. The heart is always ready to the the risk, the heart is a gambler. The head is a businessman. The head always calculates—it is cunning. The heart is noncalculating. This
Osho (Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously (Osho Insights for a New Way of Living))
Ages of happiness. - An age of happiness is quite impossible, because men want only to desire it but not to have it, and every individual who experiences good times learns to downright pray for misery and disquietude. The destiny of man is designed for happy moments - every life has them - but not for happy ages. Nonetheless they will remain fixed in the imagination of man as 'the other side of the hill' because they have been inherited from ages past: for the concepts of the age of happiness was no doubt acquired in primeval times from that condition of which, after violent exertion in hunting and warfare, man gives himself up to repose, stretches his limbs and hears the pinions of sleep rustling about him. It is a false conclusion if, in accordance with that ancient familiar experience, man imagines that, after whole ages of toil and deprivation, he can then partake of that condition of happiness correspondingly enhanced and protracted.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits)
The axiom of the empty set is the axiom of zero. It states that there must be a concept of nothingness, that there must be the concept of zero: zero value, zero items. . . . We can say that life is the axiom of the empty set. It begins in zero and ends in zero. We know that both states exist, but we will not be conscious of either experience: they are states that are necessary parts of life, even as they cannot be experienced as life. We assume the concept of nothingness, but we cannot prove it. But it must exist.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
This [oatmeal] represents your soul in its pure state. Your soul on the day you were born. You were perfect. You were happy. You were good. Now, enter Concept Number Two: crap. Don't worry, folks. I don't use actual crap up here. Only imaginary crap. You'll have to supply the crap, using your mind. Now, if someone came up and crapped in your nice warm oatmeal, what would you say? Would you say: 'Wow, super, thanks, please continue crapping in my oatmeal'? Am I being silly? I'm being a little silly. But guess what, in real life people come up and crap in your oatmeal all the time--friends, co-workers, loved ones, even you kids, especially your kids!--and that's exactly what you do. You say, 'Thanks so much!' You say, 'Crap away!' You say, and here the metaphor breaks down a bit, 'Is there some way I can help you crap in my oatmeal?
George Saunders
Human life, distinct from juridical existence, existing as it does on a globe isolated in celestial space, from night to day and from one country to another—human life cannot in any way be limited to the closed systems assigned to it by reasonable conceptions. The immense travail of recklessness, discharge, and upheaval that constitutes life could be expressed by stating that life starts with the deficit of these systems; at least what it allows in the way of order and reserve has meaning only from the moment when the ordered and reserved forces liberate and lose themselves for ends that cannot be subordinated to any thing one can account for. It is only by such insubordination—even if it is impoverished—that the human race ceases to be isolated in the unconditional splendor of material things.
Georges Bataille
In the course of my intellectual life I experienced very acutely the problem of whether it isn't actually presumptuous to say that we can know the truth - in the face of all our limitations. I also asked myself to what extent it might not be better to suppress this category. In pursuing this question, however, I was able to observe and also to grasp that relinquishing truth doesn't solve anything but, on the contrary, leads to the tyranny of caprice. In that case, the only thing that can remain is really what we decide on and can replace at will. Man is degraded if he can't know truth, if everything, in the final analysis, is just the product of an individual or collective decision. In this way it became clear to me how important it is that we don't lose the concept of truth, in spite of the menaces and perils that it doubtless carries with it. It has to remain as a central category. As a demand on us that doesn't give us rights but requires, on the contrary, our humility and our obedience and can lead us to the common path.
Benedict XVI
Reclaimed by the small-time day-to-day, pretending life is Back To Normal, wrapping herself shivering against contingency's winter in some threadbare blanket of first-quarter expenses, school committees, cable-bill irregularities, a workday jittering with low-life fantasies for which "fraud" is often too elegant a term, upstairs neighbors to whom bathtub caulking is an alien concept, symptoms upper-respiratory and lower-intestinal, all in the quaint belief that change will always be gradual enough to manage, with insurance, with safety equipment, with healthy diets and regular exercise, and that evil never comes roaring out of the sky to explode into anybody's towering delusions about being exempt. . .
Thomas Pynchon (Bleeding Edge)
The usual antonym for the word “spiritual” is “material.” That at least is what I believed when I began this inquiry—that the whole issue with spirituality turned on a question of metaphysics. Now I’m inclined to think a much better and certainly more useful antonym for “spiritual” might be “egotistical.” Self and Spirit define the opposite ends of a spectrum, but that spectrum needn’t reach clear to the heavens to have meaning for us. It can stay right here on earth. When the ego dissolves, so does a bounded conception not only of our self but of our self-interest. What emerges in its place is invariably a broader, more openhearted and altruistic—that is, more spiritual—idea of what matters in life. One in which a new sense of connection, or love, however defined, seems to figure prominently.
Michael Pollan (How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence)
My philosophy: Don't get caught with a fixed philosophy, a set of safe beliefs, a particular way of life. Experiment! With live, with love. Run an exploration of the real and the true degrees of freedom of life, of love, of the human condition, inside self and in one's style of life. Move! Into new spaces beyond one's present concepts of possible/probable/certain real spaces. Far vaster than I now know are the innermost/outermost realities. Far more interesting than I now feel are the deeps of the space, the beyond within, the infinite without. Love and loving are basic. Hostility is redundant. Fear is non-sense. "Death" is a myth. I am I.
John C. Lilly
I do not think that life will change for the better without an assault on the Establishment, which goes on exploiting the wretched of the earth. This belief lies at the heart of the concept of revolutionary suicide. Thus it is better to oppose the forces that would drive me to self-murder than to endure them. Although I risk the likelihood of death, there is at least the possibility, if not the probability, of changing intolerable conditions. This possibility is important, because much in human existence is based upon hope without any real understanding of the odds. Indeed, we are all—Black and white alike—ill in the same way, mortally ill. But before we die, how shall we live? I say with hope and dignity; and if premature death is the result, that death has a meaning reactionary suicide can never have. It is the price of self-respect. Revolutionary suicide does not mean that I and my comrades have a death wish; it means just the opposite. We have such a strong desire to live with hope and human dignity that existence without them is impossible. When reactionary forces crush us, we must move against these forces, even at the risk of death. We will have to be driven out with a stick.
Huey P. Newton (Revolutionary Suicide)
The world didn’t have words to measure hate. There were tons, yards, years. Volts, knots, watts. Ronan could explain how fast his car was going. He could describe exactly how warm the day was. He could specifically convey his heart rate. But there was no way for him to tell anyone else exactly how much he hated Aglionby Academy. Any unit of measurement would have to include both the volume and the weight of the hate. And it would also have to include a component of time. The days logged in class, wasted, useless, learning skills for a life he didn’t want. No single word existed, probably, to contain the concept. All, perhaps. He had all the hate for Aglionby Academy. Thief? Aglionby was the thief. Ronan’s life was the dream, pillaged.
Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4))
My mother's suffering grew into a symbol in my mind, gathering to itself all the poverty, the ignorance, the helplessness; the painful, baffling, hunger-ridden days and hours; the restless moving, the futile seeking, the uncertainty, the fear, the dread; the meaningless pain and the endless suffering. Her life set the emotional tone of my life, colored the men and women I was to meet in the future, conditioned my relation to events that had not yet happened, determined my attitude to situations and circumstances I had yet to face. A somberness of spirit that I was never to lose settled over me during the slow years of my mother's unrelieved suffering, a somberness that was to make me stand apart and look upon excessive joy with suspicion, that was to make me keep forever on the move, as though to escape a nameless fate seeking to overtake me. At the age of twelve, before I had one year of formal schooling, I had a conception of life that no experience would ever erase, a predilection for what was real that no argument could ever gainsay, a sense of the world that was mine and mine alone, a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter, a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering. At the age of twelve I had an attitude toward life that was to endure, that was to make me seek those areas of living that would keep it alive, that was to make me skeptical of everything while seeking everything, tolerant of all and yet critical. The spirit I had caught gave me insight into the sufferings of others, made me gravitate toward those whose feelings were like my own, made me sit for hours while others told me of their lives, made me strangely tender and cruel, violent and peaceful. It made me want to drive coldly to the heart of every question and it open to the core of suffering I knew I would find there. It made me love burrowing into psychology, into realistic and naturalistic fiction and art, into those whirlpools of politics that had the power to claim the whole of men's souls. It directed my loyalties to the side of men in rebellion; it made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life.
Richard Wright (Black Boy (American Hunger))
This is not (as you have charged) to paint religion with a broad brush. I am very quick to distinguish gradations of bad ideas; some clearly have no consequences at all (or at least not yet); some put civilization itself in peril. The problem with dogmatism, however, is that one can never quite predict how terrible its costs will be. To use one of my favorite examples, consider the Christian dogma that human life begins at the moment of conception: On its face, this belief seems likely to only improve our world. After all, it is the very quintessence of a life-affirming doctrine. Enter embryonic stem-cell research. Suddenly, this “life begins at the moment of conception” business becomes the chief impediment to medical progress. Who would have thought that such an innocuous idea could unnecessarily prolong the agony of tens of millions of people? This is the problem with dogmatism, no matter how seemingly benign: it is unresponsive to reality. Dogmatism is a failure of cognition (as well as a commitment to such failure); it is the state of being closed to new evidence and new arguments. And this frame of mind is rightly despised in every area of culture, on every subject, except where it goes by the name of “religious faith.” In this guise, parading its most grotesque faults as virtues, it is granted a special dispensation, even in the pages of Nature.
Sam Harris
I especially loved the Old Testament. Even as a kid I had a sense of it being slightly illicit. As though someone had slipped an R-rated action movie into a pile of Disney DVDs. For starters Adam and Eve were naked on the first page. I was fascinated by Eve's ability to always stand in the Garden of Eden so that a tree branch or leaf was covering her private areas like some kind of organic bakini. But it was the Bible's murder and mayhem that really got my attention. When I started reading the real Bible I spent most of my time in Genesis Exodus 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. Talk about violent. Cain killed Abel. The Egyptians fed babies to alligators. Moses killed an Egyptian. God killed thousands of Egyptians in the Red Sea. David killed Goliath and won a girl by bringing a bag of two hundred Philistine foreskins to his future father-in-law. I couldn't believe that Mom was so happy about my spending time each morning reading about gruesome battles prostitutes fratricide murder and adultery. What a way to have a "quiet time." While I grew up with a fairly solid grasp of Bible stories I didn't have a clear idea of how the Bible fit together or what it was all about. I certainly didn't understand how the exciting stories of the Old Testament connected to the rather less-exciting New Testament and the story of Jesus. This concept of the Bible as a bunch of disconnected stories sprinkled with wise advice and capped off with the inspirational life of Jesus seems fairly common among Christians. That is so unfortunate because to see the Bible as one book with one author and all about one main character is to see it in its breathtaking beauty.
Joshua Harris (Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters)
The old adage that people only want what they can’t have or what they can’t tame— is totally primitive. A being of higher origins will know instinctively that life on earth is a series of chances, moments and concepts. That’s really all that you have. So when you find one of these things and it makes you burn, or it makes you feel peace inside, or it makes you look forwards and backwards and here all at the same time— that’s when you know to hold onto it. And you hold onto it with every fiber of your being. Because it’s in the holding on of these chances and moments and concepts that life is lived. Every other kind of living is only in vitro. I don’t care what psychologists say today about how the human mind works. Because one day they will reach this pinnacle and they will see what I see and they will look upon the old ways as primitive. As long and gone. We do not wish to have what we can’t have. We wish to burn in whatever flame we have stepped into.
C. JoyBell C.
...Puritanism has made life itself impossible. More than art, more than estheticism, life represents beauty in a thousand variations; it is indeed, a gigantic panorama of eternal change. Puritanism, on the other hand, rests on a fixed and immovable conception of life; it is based on the Calvinistic idea that life is a curse, imposed upon man by the wrath of God. In order to redeem himself man must do constant penance, must repudiate every natural and healthy impulse, and turn his back on joy and beauty. Puritanism celebrated its reign of terror in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, destroying and crushing every manifestation of art and culture. It was the spirit of Puritanism which robbed Shelley of his children, because he would not bow to the dicta of religion. It was the same narrow spirit which alienated Byron from his native land, because that great genius rebelled against the monotony, dullness, and pettiness of his country. It was Puritanism, too, that forced some of England's freest women into the conventional lie of marriage: Mary Wollstonecraft and, later, George Eliot. And recently Puritanism has demanded another toll--the life of Oscar Wilde. In fact, Puritanism has never ceased to be the most pernicious factor in the domain of John Bull, acting as censor of the artistic expression of his people, and stamping its approval only on the dullness of middle-class respectability.
Emma Goldman (Anarchism and Other Essays)
My task is to explain to you as quickly as possible my essence, that is, what sort of man I am, what I believe in, and what I hope for, is that right? And therefore I declare that I accept God pure and simple. But this, however, needs to be noted: if God exists and if he indeed created the earth, then, as we know perfectly well, he created it in accordance with Euclidean geometry, and he created human reason with a conception of only three dimensions of space. At the same time there were and are even now geometers and philosophers, even some of the most outstanding among them, who doubt that the whole universe, or, even more broadly, the whole of being, was created purely in accordance with Euclidean geometry; they even dare to dream that two parallel lines, which according to Euclid cannot possibly meet on earth, may perhaps meet somewhere in infinity. I, my dear, have come to the conclusion that if I cannot understand even that, then it is not for me to understand about God. I humbly confess that I do not have any ability to resolve such questions, I have a Euclidean mind, an earthly mind, and therefore it is not for us to resolve things that are not of this world. And I advise you never to think about it, Alyosha my friend, and most especially about whether God exists or not. All such questions are completely unsuitable to a mind created with a concept of only three dimensions. And so, I accept God, not only willingly, but moreover I also accept his wisdom and his purpose, which are completely unknown to us; I believe in order, in the meaning of life, I believe in eternal harmony, in which we are all supposed to merge, I believe in the Word for whom the universe is yearning, and who himself was 'with God,' who himself is God, and so on and so forth, to infinity. Many words have been invented on the subject. It seems I'm already on a good path, eh? And now imagine that in the final outcome I do not accept this world of God's, created by God, that I do not accept and cannot agree to accept. With one reservation: I have a childlike conviction that the sufferings will be healed and smoothed over, that the whole offensive comedy of human contradictions will disappear like a pitiful mirage, a vile concoction of man's Euclidean mind, feeble and puny as an atom, and that ultimately, at the world's finale, in the moment of eternal harmony, there will occur and be revealed something so precious that it will suffice for all hearts, to allay all indignation, to redeem all human villainy, all bloodshed; it will suffice not only to make forgiveness possible, but also to justify everything that has happened with men--let this, let all of this come true and be revealed, but I do not accept it and do not want to accept it! Let the parallel lines even meet before my own eyes: I shall look and say, yes, they meet, and still I will not accept it.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)
What is the place of art in the Christian life? Is art- especially the fine arts- simply a way to bring worldliness in through the back door? What about sculpture or drama, music or painting? Do these have any place in the Christian life? Shouldn't a Christian focus his gaze steadily on "religious things" alone and forget about art and culture? As evangelical Christians, we have tended to relegate art to the very fringe of life. The rest of human life we feel is more important. Despite our constant talk about the lordship of Christ, we have narrowed its scope to a very small area of reality. We have misunderstood the concept of the lordship of Christ over the whole man and the whole of the universe and have not taken to us the riches that the Bible gives us for ourselves, for our lives, and for our culture. The lordship of Christ over the whole of life means that there are no platonic areas in Christianity, no dichotomy or hierarchy between the body and the soul. God made the body as well as the soul, and redemption is for the whole man.
Francis A. Schaeffer (Art & the Bible)
Suddenly being her age seemed great. She didn't have to look perfect. Hooray And think of all the senior discounts she had to look forward to not to mention Social Security Medicare and Medicaid. So what if she was afraid of getting old Big whoopdedoowho wasn't She wasn't alone everybody her age was in the same boat. She was going to relax and just let herself get older. Who cared if she wore twoinch heels instead of 3andahalf inch heels her feet hurt and not only that she was going to have a piec eof cake once in a while and she wasn't going to go anywhere she didn't feel like going anymore either. Bring on the Depends And the bunion pads and the Metamucil. And if she liked pretty music and old movies so what She wasn't hurting anyone. Hazel had always said "If you're still breathing you're ahead of the game." And she'd been right. Life itself was something to look forward to and so for whatever time she had left she was going to enjoy every minute wrinkles and all. What a concept
Fannie Flagg (I Still Dream About You)
I have sometimes thought that the mere hearing of those songs would do more to impress some minds with the horrible character of slavery, than the reading of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject could do. I did not, when a slave, understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. I was myself within the circle; so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear. They told a tale of woe which was then altogether beyond my feeble comprehension; they were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from chains. The hearing of those wild notes always depressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sadness. I have frequently found myself in tears while hearing them. The mere recurrence to those songs, even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these lines, an expression of feeling has already found its way down my cheek. To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery. I can never get rid of that conception. Those songs still follow me, to deepen my hatred of slavery, and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds. If any one wishes to be impressed with the soul-killing effects of slavery, let him go to Colonel Lloyd's plantation, and, on allowance-day, place himself in the deep pine woods, and there let him, in silence, analyze the sounds that shall pass through the chambers of his soul, - and if he is not thus impressed, it will only be because "there is no flesh in his obdurate heart." I have often been utterly astonished, since I came to the north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. At least, such is my experience. I have often sung to drown my sorrow, but seldom to express my happiness. Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the jaws of slavery. The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion.
Frederick Douglass (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass)
There's a class of things to be afraid of: it's "those things that you should be afraid of". Those are the things that go bump in the night, right? You're always exposed to them when you go to horror movies, especially if they're not the gore type of horror movie. They're always hinting at something that's going on outside of your perceptual sphere, and they frighten you because you don't know what's out there. For that the Blair Witch Project was a really good example, because nothing ever happens in that movie but it's frightenting and not gory. It plays on the fact tht you do have a category of Those Things Of Which You Should Be Afraid. So it's a category, frightening things. And only things capable of abstraction can come up with something like the caregory of frightenting things. And so Kali is like an embodied representation of the category of frightening things. And then you might ask yourself, well once you come up with the concept of the category of frightening things, maybe you can come up with the concept of what to do in the face of frightening things. Which is not the same as "what do you do when you encounter a lion", or "what do you do when you encounter someone angry". It's a meta question, right? But then you could say, at a philosophical level: "You will encounter elements of the category of all those things which can frighten and undermine you during your life. Is there something that you can do *as a category* that would help you deal with that." And the answer is yeah, there is in fact. And that's what a lot of religious stories and symbolic stories are trying to propose to you, is the solution to that. One is, approach it voluntarily. Carefully, but voluntarily. Don't freeze and run away. Explore, instead. You expose yourself to risk but you gain knowledge. And you wouldn't have a cortex which, you know, is ridiculously disproportionate, if as a species we hadn't decided that exploration trumps escape or freezing. We explore. That can make you the master of a situation, so you can be the master of something like fire without being terrified of it. One of the things that the Hindus do in relationship to Kali, is offer sacrifices. So you can say, well why would you offer sacrifices to something you're afraid of. And it's because that is what you do, that's always what you do. You offer up sacrifices to the unknown in the hope that good things will happen to you. One example is that you're worried about your future. Maybe you're worried about your job, or who you're going to marry, or your family, there's a whole category of things to be worried about, so you're worried about your future. SO what're you doing in university? And the answer is you're sacrificing your free time in the present, to the cosmos so to speak, in the hope that if you offer up that sacrifice properly, the future will smile upon you. And that's one of the fundamental discoveries of the human race. And it's a big deal, that discovery: by changing what you cling to in the present, you can alter the future.
Jordan B. Peterson
Among the many forms of alienation, the most frequent one is alienation in language. If I express a feeling with a word, let us say, if I say "I love you," the word is meant to be an indication of the reality which exists within myself, the power of my loving. The word "love" is meant to be a symbol of the fact love, but as soon as it is spoken it tends to assume a life of its own, it becomes a reality. I am under the illusion that the saying of the word is the equivalent of the experience, and soon I say the word and feel nothing, except the thought of love which the word expresses. The alienation of language shows the whole complexity of alienation. Language is one of the most precious human achievements; to avoid alienation by not speaking would be foolish -- yet one must be always aware of the danger of the spoken word, that it threatens to substitute itself for the living experience. The same holds true for all other achievements of man; ideas, art, any kind of man-made objects. They are man's creations; they are valuable aids for life, yet each one of them is also a trap, a temptation to confuse life with things, experience with artifacts, feeling with surrender and submission.
Erich Fromm (Marx's Concept of Man)
Here one comes upon an all-important English trait: the respect for constituitionalism and legality, the belief in 'the law' as something above the state and above the individual, something which is cruel and stupid, of course, but at any rate incorruptible. It is not that anyone imagines the law to be just. Everyone knows that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. But no one accepts the implications of this, everyone takes for granted that the law, such as it is, will be respected, and feels a sense of outrage when it is not. Remarks like 'They can't run me in; I haven't done anything wrong', or 'They can't do that; it's against the law', are part of the atmosphere of England. The professed enemies of society have this feeling as strongly as anyone else. One sees it in prison-books like Wilfred Macartney's Walls Have Mouths or Jim Phelan's Jail Journey, in the solemn idiocies that take places at the trials of conscientious objectors, in letters to the papers from eminent Marxist professors, pointing out that this or that is a 'miscarriage of British justice'. Everyone believes in his heart that the law can be, ought to be, and, on the whole, will be impartially administered. The totalitarian idea that there is no such thing as law, there is only power, has never taken root. Even the intelligentsia have only accepted it in theory. An illusion can become a half-truth, a mask can alter the expression of a face. The familiar arguments to the effect that democracy is 'just the same as' or 'just as bad as' totalitarianism never take account of this fact. All such arguments boil down to saying that half a loaf is the same as no bread. In England such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in. They may be illusions, but they are powerful illusions. The belief in them influences conduct,national life is different because of them. In proof of which, look about you. Where are the rubber truncheons, where is the caster oil? The sword is still in the scabbard, and while it stays corruption cannot go beyond a certain point. The English electoral system, for instance, is an all but open fraud. In a dozen obvious ways it is gerrymandered in the interest of the moneyed class. But until some deep change has occurred in the public mind, it cannot become completely corrupt. You do not arrive at the polling booth to find men with revolvers telling you which way to vote, nor are the votes miscounted, nor is there any direct bribery. Even hypocrisy is powerful safeguard. The hanging judge, that evil old man in scarlet robe and horse-hair wig,whom nothing short of dynamite will ever teach what century he is living in, but who will at any rate interpret the law according to the books and will in no circumstances take a money bribe,is one of the symbolic figures of England. He is a symbol of the strange mixture of reality and illusion, democracy and privilege, humbug and decency, the subtle network of compromises, by which the nation keeps itself in its familiar shape.
George Orwell (Why I Write)
At the end of that class Demian said to me thoughtfully: "There’s something I don’t like about this story, Sinclair. Why don’t you read it once more and give it the acid test? There’s something about it that doesn’t taste right. I mean the business with the two thieves. The three crosses standing next to each other on the hill are almost impressive, to be sure. But now comes this sentimental little treatise about the good thief. At first he was a thorough scoundrel, had committed all those awful things and God knows what else, and now he dissolves in tears and celebrates such a tearful feast of self-improvement and remorse! What’s the sense of repenting if you’re two steps from the grave? I ask you. Once again, it’s nothing but a priest’s fairy tale, saccharine and dishonest, touched up with sentimentality and given a high edifying background. If you had to pick a friend from between the two thieves or decide which one you’d rather trust, you most certainly wouldn’t choose the sniveling convert. No, the other fellow, he’s a man of character. He doesn’t give a hoot for ‘conversion’, which to a man in his position can’t be anything but a pretty speech. He follows his destiny to it’s appointed end and does not turn coward and forswear the devil, who has aided and abetted him until then. He has character, and people with character tend to receive the short end of the stick in biblical stories. Perhaps he’s even a descendant of Cain. Don’t you agree?" I was dismayed. Until now I had felt completely at home in the story of the Crucifixion. Now I saw for the first time with how little individuality, with how little power of imagination I had listened to it and read it. Still, Demian’s new concept seemed vaguely sinister and threatened to topple beliefs on whose continued existence I felt I simply had to insist. No, one could not make light of everything, especially not of the most Sacred matters. As usual he noticed my resistance even before I had said anything. "I know," he said in a resigned tone of voice, "it’s the same old story: don’t take these stories seriously! But I have to tell you something: this is one of the very places that reveals the poverty of this religion most distinctly. The point is that this God of both Old and New Testaments is certainly an extraordinary figure but not what he purports to represent. He is all that is good, noble, fatherly, beautiful, elevated, sentimental—true! But the world consists of something else besides. And what is left over is ascribed to the devil, this entire slice of world, this entire half is hushed up. In exactly the same way they praise God as the father of all life but simply refuse to say a word about our sexual life on which it’s all based, describing it whenever possible as sinful, the work of the devil. I have no objection to worshiping this God Jehovah, far from it. But I mean we ought to consider everything sacred, the entire world, not merely this artificially separated half! Thus alongside the divine service we should also have a service for the devil. I feel that would be right. Otherwise you must create for yourself a God that contains the devil too and in front of which you needn’t close your eyes when the most natural things in the world take place.
Hermann Hesse (Demian: Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend)
I detest love lyrics. I think one of the causes of bad mental health in the United States is that people have been raised on 'love lyrics'. You're a young kid and you hear all those 'love lyrics', right? Your parents aren't telling you the truth about love, and you can't really learn about it in school. You're getting the bulk of your 'behaviour norms' mapped out for you in the lyrics to some dumb fucking love song. It's a subconscious training that creates desire for an imaginary situation which will never exist for you. People who buy into that mythology go through life feeling that they got cheated out of something. What I think is very cynical about some rock and roll songs -- especially today -- is the way they say: "Let's make love." What the fuck kind of wussy says shit like that in the real world? You ought to be able to say "Let's go fuck", or at least "Let's go fill-in-the-blank" -- but you gotta say "Let's make love" in order to get on the radio. This creates a semantic corruption, by changing the context in which the word 'love' is used in the song. When they get into drooling about love as a 'romantic concept' -- especially in the lyrics of sensitive singer/songwriter types -- that's another shove in the direction of bad mental health. Fortunately, lyrics over the last five or six years have gotten to be less and less important, with 'art rock groups' and new wavers specializing in 'nonjudgemental' or 'purposely inconsequential' lyrics. People have stopped listening to the lyrics -- they are now only 'pitched mouth noises'.
Frank Zappa (The Real Frank Zappa Book)
Previously, as I went through life, I was in full belief of the concept of "blending" (I was fully convinced that I as a person am completely capable of blending myself in the accordance of friendship, in order to give respect to the differences between people and in order for others to feel that I respect them). However, I have come to learn at this time in my life, that such an attitude is all good for a while, but then there does come a point where you must see and identify yourself; also see and identify others! You have to be able to identify yourself as someone who is made happy by this and as someone who doesn't like that; then when you meet people, discern if those same things are the things that make them happy and if those same things are the things that they don't like, because at a point in time it becomes beneficial to you, to not waste time on blending in behalf of virtue but rather it becomes beneficial to you, to see yourself and go into the direction that makes you happy, taking people with you that are already going in that same direction and who also do not like the things that you do not like. At the end of the day, there are those paths in life, and you have to take one of them, you can't walk down all of them.
C. JoyBell C.
It's not the concept of marriage I have a problem with. I'd like to get married too. A couple times. It's the actual wedding that pisses me off. The problem is that everyone who gets married seems to think that they are the first person in the entire universe to do it, and that the year leading up to the event revolves entirely around them. You have to throw them showers, bachelorette weekends, buy a bridesmaid dress, and then buy a ticket to some godforsaken town wherever they decide to drag you. If you're really unlucky, they'll ask you to recite a poem at their wedding. That's just what I want to do- monitor my drinking until I'm done with my public service announcement. And what do we get out of it, you ask? A dry piece of chicken and a roll in the hay with their hillbilly cousin. I could get that at home, thanks. Then they have the audacity to go shopping and pick out their own gifts. I want to know who the first person was who said this was okay. After spending all that money on a bachelorette weekend, a shower, and often a flight across the country, they expect you to go to Williams Sonoma or Pottery Barn and do research? Then they send you a thank-you note applauding you for such a thoughtful gift. They're the one who picked it out! I always want to remind the person that absolutely no thought went into typing in a name and having a salad bowl come up.
Chelsea Handler (My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands)
Because we cannot discover God's throne in the sky with a radiotelescope or establish (for certain) that a beloved father or mother is still about in a more or less corporeal form, people assume that such ideas are "not true." I would rather say that they are not "true" enough, for these are conceptions of a kind that have accompanied human life from prehistoric times, and that still break through into consciousness at any provocation. Modern man may assert that he can dispose with them, and he may bolster his opinion by insisting that there is no scientific evidence of their truth. Or he may even regret the loss of his convictions. But since we are dealing with invisible and unknowable things (for God is beyond human understanding, and there is no means of proving immortality), why should we bother about evidence? Even if we did not know by reason our need for salt in our food, we should nonetheless profit from its use. We might argue that the use of salt is a mere illusion of taste or a superstition; but it would still contribute to our well-being. Why, then, should we deprive ourselves of views that would prove helpful in crises and would give a meaning to our existence? And how do we know that such ideas are not true? Many people would agree with me if I stated flatly that such ideas are probably illusions. What they fail to realize is that the denial is as impossible to "prove" as the assertion of religious belief. We are entirely free to choose which point of view we take; it will in any case be an arbitrary decision. There is, however, a strong empirical reason why we should cultivate thoughts that can never be proved. It is that they are known to be useful. Man positively needs general ideas and convictions that will give a meaning to his life and enable him to find a place for himself in the universe. He can stand the most incredible hardships when he is convinced that they make sense; he is crushed when, on top of all his misfortunes, he has to admit that he is taking part in a "tale told by an idiot." It is the role of religious symbols to give a meaning to the life of man. The Pueblo Indians believe that they are the sons of Father Sun, and this belief endows their life with a perspective (and a goal) that goes far beyond their limited existence. It gives them ample space for the unfolding of personality and permits them a full life as complete persons. Their plight is infinitely more satisfactory than that of a man in our own civilization who knows that he is (and will remain) nothing more than an underdog with no inner meaning to his life.
C.G. Jung (Man and His Symbols)
Dear Jeff, I happened to see the Channel 7 TV program "Hooray for Hollywood" tonight with the segment on Blade Runner. (Well, to be honest, I didn't happen to see it; someone tipped me off that Blade Runner was going to be a part of the show, and to be sure to watch.) Jeff, after looking—and especially after listening to Harrison Ford discuss the film—I came to the conclusion that this indeed is not science fiction; it is not fantasy; it is exactly what Harrison said: futurism. The impact of Blade Runner is simply going to be overwhelming, both on the public and on creative people—and, I believe, on science fiction as a field. Since I have been writing and selling science fiction works for thirty years, this is a matter of some importance to me. In all candor I must say that our field has gradually and steadily been deteriorating for the last few years. Nothing that we have done, individually or collectively, matches Blade Runner. This is not escapism; it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing that, well, after the segment I found my normal present-day "reality" pallid by comparison. What I am saying is that all of you collectively may have created a unique new form of graphic, artistic expression, never before seen. And, I think, Blade Runner is going to revolutionize our conceptions of what science fiction is and, more, can be. Let me sum it up this way. Science fiction has slowly and ineluctably settled into a monotonous death: it has become inbred, derivative, stale. Suddenly you people have come in, some of the greatest talents currently in existence, and now we have a new life, a new start. As for my own role in the Blade Runner project, I can only say that I did not know that a work of mine or a set of ideas of mine could be escalated into such stunning dimensions. My life and creative work are justified and completed by Blade Runner. Thank you...and it is going to be one hell of a commercial success. It will prove invincible. Cordially, Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
To what end the ‘world’ exists, to what end ‘man­kind’ exists, ought not to concern us at all for the moment except as objects of humour: for the presumptuousness of the little human worm is the funniest thing at present on the world’s stage; on the other hand, do ask yourself why you, the individual, exist, and if you can get no other answer try for once to justify the meaning of your existence as it were a posteriori by setting before yourself an aim, a goal, a ‘to this end’, an exalted and noble ‘to this end’ . Perish in pursuit of this and only this - I know of no better aim of life than that of perishing, animae magnae prodigus, in pursuit of the great and the impossible. If, on the other hand, the doctrines of sovereign becoming, of the fluidity of all concepts, types and species, of the lack of any cardinal distinction between man and animal - doctrines which I consider true but deadly - are thrust upon the people for another generation with the rage for instruction that has by now become normal, no one should be surprised if the people perishes of petty egoism, ossification and greed, falls apart and ceases to be a people; in its place sys­tems of individualist egoism, brotherhoods for the rapacious exploitation of the non-brothers, and similar creations of utilitarian vulgarity may perhaps appear in the arena of the future. To prepare the way for these creations all one has to do is to go on writing history from the standpoint of the masses and seeking to derive the laws which govern it from the needs of these masses, that is to say from the laws which move the lowest mud- and clay-strata of society. The masses seem to me to deserve notice in three respects only: first as faded copies of great men produced on poor paper with worn-out plates, then as a force of resistance to great men, finally as instruments in the hands of great men; for the rest, let the Devil and statistics take them!
Friedrich Nietzsche (Untimely Meditations)
There were two things about this particular book (The Golden Book of Fairy Tales) that made it vital to the child I was. First, it contained a remarkable number of stories about courageous, active girls; and second, it portrayed the various evils they faced in unflinching terms. Just below their diamond surface, these were stories of great brutality and anguish, many of which had never been originally intended for children at all. (Although Ponsot included tales from the Brothers Grimm and Andersen, the majority of her selections were drawn from the French contes de fées tradition — stories created as part of the vogue for fairy tales in seventeenth century Paris, recounted in literary salons and published for adult readers.) I hungered for a narrative with which to make some sense of my life, but in schoolbooks and on television all I could find was the sugar water of Dick and Jane, Leave it to Beaver and the happy, wholesome Brady Bunch. Mine was not a Brady Bunch family; it was troubled, fractured, persistently violent, and I needed the stronger meat of wolves and witches, poisons and peril. In fairy tales, I had found a mirror held up to the world I knew — where adults were dangerous creatures, and Good and Evil were not abstract concepts. (…) There were in those days no shelves full of “self–help” books for people with pasts like mine. In retrospect, I’m glad it was myth and folklore I turned to instead. Too many books portray child abuse as though it’s an illness from which one must heal, like cancer . . .or malaria . . .or perhaps a broken leg. Eventually, this kind of book promises, the leg will be strong enough to use, despite a limp betraying deeper wounds that might never mend. Through fairy tales, however, I understood my past in different terms: not as an illness or weakness, but as a hero narrative. It was a story, my story, beginning with birth and ending only with death. Difficult challenges and trials, even those that come at a tender young age, can make us wiser, stronger, and braver; they can serve to transform us, rather than sending us limping into the future.
Terri Windling (Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales)
During the youthful period of mankind's spiritual evolution human fantasy created gods in man's own image, who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate to influence, the phenomenal world. Man sought to alter the disposition of these gods in his own favor by means of magic and prayer. The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a sublimation of that old concept of the gods. Its anthropomorphic character is shown, for instance, by the fact that men appeal to the Divine Being in prayers and plead for the fulfillment of their wishes. Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history. That is, if this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him? (Albert Einstein, Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A 1934 Symposium published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941; from Einstein's Out of My Later Years, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1970, pp. 26-27.)
Albert Einstein
Yes, yes, it ended in my corrupting them all! How it could come to pass I do not know, but I remember it clearly. The dream embraced thousands of years and left in me only a sense of the whole. I only know that I was the cause of their sin and downfall. Like a vile trichina, like a germ of the plague infecting whole kingdoms, so I contaminated all this earth, so happy and sinless before my coming. They learnt to lie, grew fond of lying, and discovered the charm of falsehood. Oh, at first perhaps it began innocently, with a jest, coquetry, with amorous play, perhaps indeed with a germ, but that germ of falsity made its way into their hearts and pleased them. Then sensuality was soon begotten, sensuality begot jealousy, jealousy - cruelty . . . Oh, I don't know, I don't remember; but soon, very soon the first blood was shed. They marvelled and were horrified, and began to be split up and divided. They formed into unions, but it was against one another. Reproaches, upbraidings followed. They came to know shame, and shame brought them to virtue. The conception of honour sprang up, and every union began waving its flags. They began torturing animals, and the animals withdrew from them into the forests and became hostile to them. They began to struggle for separation, for isolation, for individuality, for mine and thine. They began to talk in different languages. They became acquainted with sorrow and loved sorrow; they thirsted for suffering, and said that truth could only be attained through suffering. Then science appeared. As they became wicked they began talking of brotherhood and humanitarianism, and understood those ideas. As they became criminal, they invented justice and drew up whole legal codes in order to observe it, and to ensure their being kept, set up a guillotine. They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent. They even laughed at the possibility o this happiness in the past, and called it a dream. They could not even imagine it in definite form and shape, but, strange and wonderful to relate, though they lost all faith in their past happiness and called it a legend, they so longed to be happy and innocent once more that they succumbed to this desire like children, made an idol of it, set up temples and worshipped their own idea, their own desire; though at the same time they fully believed that it was unattainable and could not be realised, yet they bowed down to it and adored it with tears! Nevertheless, if it could have happened that they had returned to the innocent and happy condition which they had lost, and if someone had shown it to them again and had asked them whether they wanted to go back to it, they would certainly have refused. They answered me: "We may be deceitful, wicked and unjust, we know it and weep over it, we grieve over it; we torment and punish ourselves more perhaps than that merciful Judge Who will judge us and whose Name we know not. But we have science, and by the means of it we shall find the truth and we shall arrive at it consciously. Knowledge is higher than feeling, the consciousness of life is higher than life. Science will give us wisdom, wisdom will reveal the laws, and the knowledge of the laws of happiness is higher than happiness.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, and the Little Orphan)
I know of nothing in all drama more incomparable from the point of view of art, nothing more suggestive in its subtlety of observation, than Shakespeare's drawing of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They are Hamlet's college friends. They have been his companions. They bring with them memories of pleasant days together. At the moment when they come across him in the play he is staggering under the weight of a burden intolerable to one of his temperament. The dead have come armed out of the grave to impose on him a mission at once too great and too mean for him. He is a dreamer, and he is called upon to act. He has the nature of the poet, and he is asked to grapple with the common complexity of cause and effect, with life in its practical realisation, of which he knows nothing, not with life in its ideal essence, of which he knows so much. He has no conception of what to do, and his folly is to feign folly. Brutus used madness as a cloak to conceal the sword of his purpose, the dagger of his will, but the Hamlet madness is a mere mask for the hiding of weakness. In the making of fancies and jests he sees a chance of delay. He keeps playing with action as an artist plays with a theory. He makes himself the spy of his proper actions, and listening to his own words knows them to be but 'words, words, words.' Instead of trying to be the hero of his own history, he seeks to be the spectator of his own tragedy. He disbelieves in everything, including himself, and yet his doubt helps him not, as it comes not from scepticism but from a divided will. Of all this Guildenstern and Rosencrantz realise nothing. They bow and smirk and smile, and what the one says the other echoes with sickliest intonation. When, at last, by means of the play within the play, and the puppets in their dalliance, Hamlet 'catches the conscience' of the King, and drives the wretched man in terror from his throne, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz see no more in his conduct than a rather painful breach of Court etiquette. That is as far as they can attain to in 'the contemplation of the spectacle of life with appropriate emotions.' They are close to his very secret and know nothing of it. Nor would there be any use in telling them. They are the little cups that can hold so much and no more.
Oscar Wilde (De Profundis and Other Writings)
The Idiot. I have read it once, and find that I don't remember the events of the book very well--or even all the principal characters. But mostly the 'portrait of a truly beautiful person' that dostoevsky supposedly set out to write in that book. And I remember how Myshkin seemed so simple when I began the book, but by the end, I realized how I didn't understand him at all. the things he did. Maybe when I read it again it will be different. But the plot of these dostoevsky books can hold such twists and turns for the first-time reader-- I guess that's b/c he was writing most of these books as serials that had to have cliffhangers and such. But I make marks in my books, mostly at parts where I see the author's philosophical points standing in the most stark relief. My copy of Moby Dick is positively full of these marks. The Idiot, I find has a few... Part 3, Section 5. The sickly Ippolit is reading from his 'Explanation' or whatever its called. He says his convictions are not tied to him being condemned to death. It's important for him to describe, of happiness: "you may be sure that Columbus was happy not when he had discovered America, but when he was discovering it." That it's the process of life--not the end or accomplished goals in it--that matter. Well. Easier said than lived! Part 3, Section 6. more of Ippolit talking--about a christian mindset. He references Jesus's parable of The Word as seeds that grow in men, couched in a description of how people are interrelated over time; its a picture of a multiplicity. Later in this section, he relates looking at a painting of Christ being taken down from the cross, at Rogozhin's house. The painting produced in him an intricate metaphor of despair over death "in the form of a huge machine of the most modern construction which, dull and insensible, has aimlessly clutched, crushed, and swallowed up a great priceless Being, a Being worth all nature and its laws, worth the whole earth, which was created perhaps solely for the sake of the advent of this Being." The way Ippolit's ideas are configured, here, reminds me of the writings of Gilles Deleuze. And the phrasing just sort of remidns me of the way everyone feels--many people feel crushed by the incomprehensible machine, in life. Many people feel martyred in their very minor ways. And it makes me think of the concept that a narrative religion like Christianity uniquely allows for a kind of socialized or externalized, shared experience of subjectivity. Like, we all know the story of this man--and it feels like our own stories at the same time. Part 4, Section 7. Myshkin's excitement (leading to a seizure) among the Epanchin's dignitary guests when he talks about what the nobility needs to become ("servants in order to be leaders"). I'm drawn to things like this because it's affirming, I guess, for me: "it really is true that we're absurd, that we're shallow, have bad habits, that we're bored, that we don't know how to look at things, that we can't understand; we're all like that." And of course he finds a way to make that into a good thing. which, it's pointed out by scholars, is very important to Dostoevsky philosophy--don't deny the earthly passions and problems in yourself, but accept them and incorporate them into your whole person. Me, I'm still working on that one.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
(Ivan) Hold your tongue, or I'll kill you! (The devil) You'll kill me? No, excuse me, I will speak. I came to treat myself to that pleasure. Oh, I love the dreams of my ardent young friends, quivering with eagerness for life! 'There are new men,' you decided last spring, when you were meaning to come here, 'they propose to destroy everything and begin with cannibalism. Stupid fellows! they didn't ask my advice! I maintain that nothing need be destroyed, that we only need to destroy the idea of God in man, that's how we have to set to work. It's that, that we must begin with. Oh, blind race of men who have no understanding! As soon as men have all of them denied God -- and I believe that period, analogous with geological periods, will come to pass -- the old conception of the universe will fall of itself without cannibalism, and, what's more, the old morality, and everything will begin anew. Men will unite to take from life all it can give, but only for joy and happiness in the present world. Man will be lifted up with a spirit of divine Titanic pride and the man-god will appear. From hour to hour extending his conquest of nature infinitely by his will and his science, man will feel such lofty joy from hour to hour in doing it that it will make up for all his old dreams of the joys of heaven. Everyone will know that he is mortal and will accept death proudly and serenely like a god. His pride will teach him that it's useless for him to repine at life's being a moment, and he will love his brother without need of reward. Love will be sufficient only for a moment of life, but the very consciousness of its momentariness will intensify its fire, which now is dissipated in dreams of eternal love beyond the grave'... and so on and so on in the same style. Charming! Ivan sat with his eyes on the floor, and his hands pressed to his ears, but he began trembling all over. The voice continued. (The devil) The question now is, my young thinker reflected, is it possible that such a period will ever come? If it does, everything is determined and humanity is settled for ever. But as, owing to man's inveterate stupidity, this cannot come about for at least a thousand years, everyone who recognises the truth even now may legitimately order his life as he pleases, on the new principles. In that sense, 'all things are lawful' for him. What's more, even if this period never comes to pass, since there is anyway no God and no immortality, the new man may well become the man-god, even if he is the only one in the whole world, and promoted to his new position, he may lightheartedly overstep all the barriers of the old morality of the old slaveman, if necessary. There is no law for God. Where God stands, the place is holy. Where I stand will be at once the foremost place... 'all things are lawful' and that's the end of it! That's all very charming; but if you want to swindle why do you want a moral sanction for doing it? But that's our modern Russian all over. He can't bring himself to swindle without a moral sanction. He is so in love with truth-.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)
Over recent years, [there's been] a strong tendency to require assessment of children and teachers so that [teachers] have to teach to tests and the test determines what happens to the child, and what happens to the teacher...that's guaranteed to destroy any meaningful educational process: it means the teacher cannot be creative, imaginative, pay attention to individual students' needs, that a student can't pursue things [...] and the teacher's future depends on it as well as the students'...the people who are sitting in the offices, the bureaucrats designing this - they're not evil people, but they're working within a system of ideology and doctrines, which turns what they're doing into something extremely harmful [...] the assessment itself is completely artificial; it's not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who reach their potential, explore their creative interests and so on [...] you're getting some kind of a 'rank,' but it's a 'rank' that's mostly meaningless, and the very ranking itself is harmful. It's turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank, not into doing things that are valuable and important. It's highly, say, elementary education, you're training kids this way [...] I can see it with my own children: when my own kids were in elementary school (at what's called a good school, a good-quality suburban school), by the time they were in third grade, they were dividing up their friends into 'dumb' and 'smart.' You had 'dumb' if you were lower-tracked, and 'smart' if you were upper-tracked [...] it's just extremely harmful and has nothing to do with education. Education is developing your own potential and creativity. Maybe you're not going to do well in school, and you'll do great in art; that's fine. It's another way to live a fulfilling and wonderful life, and one that's significant for other people as well as yourself. The whole idea is wrong in itself; it's creating something that's called 'economic man': the 'economic man' is somebody who rationally calculates how to improve his/her own status, and status means (basically) wealth. So you rationally calculate what kind of choices you should make to increase your wealth - don't pay attention to anything else - or maybe maximize the amount of goods you have. What kind of a human being is that? All of these mechanisms like testing, assessing, evaluating, measuring...they force people to develop those characteristics. The ones who don't do it are considered, maybe, 'behavioral problems' or some other deviance [...] these ideas and concepts have consequences. And it's not just that they're ideas, there are huge industries devoted to trying to instill them...the public relations industry, advertising, marketing, and so on. It's a huge industry, and it's a propaganda industry. It's a propaganda industry designed to create a certain type of human being: the one who can maximize consumption and can disregard his actions on others.
Noam Chomsky
People spoke to foreigners with an averted gaze, and everybody seemed to know somebody who had just vanished. The rumors of what had happened to them were fantastic and bizarre though, as it turned out, they were only an understatement of the real thing. Before going to see General Videla […], I went to […] check in with Los Madres: the black-draped mothers who paraded, every week, with pictures of their missing loved ones in the Plaza Mayo. (‘Todo mi familia!’ as one elderly lady kept telling me imploringly, as she flourished their photographs. ‘Todo mi familia!’) From these and from other relatives and friends I got a line of questioning to put to the general. I would be told by him, they forewarned me, that people ‘disappeared’ all the time, either because of traffic accidents and family quarrels or, in the dire civil-war circumstances of Argentina, because of the wish to drop out of a gang and the need to avoid one’s former associates. But this was a cover story. Most of those who disappeared were openly taken away in the unmarked Ford Falcon cars of the Buenos Aires military police. I should inquire of the general what precisely had happened to Claudia Inez Grumberg, a paraplegic who was unable to move on her own but who had last been seen in the hands of his ever-vigilant armed forces [….] I possess a picture of the encounter that still makes me want to spew: there stands the killer and torturer and rape-profiteer, as if to illustrate some seminar on the banality of evil. Bony-thin and mediocre in appearance, with a scrubby moustache, he looks for all the world like a cretin impersonating a toothbrush. I am gripping his hand in a much too unctuous manner and smiling as if genuinely delighted at the introduction. Aching to expunge this humiliation, I waited while he went almost pedantically through the predicted script, waving away the rumored but doubtless regrettable dematerializations that were said to be afflicting his fellow Argentines. And then I asked him about Senorita Grumberg. He replied that if what I had said was true, then I should remember that ‘terrorism is not just killing with a bomb, but activating ideas. Maybe that’s why she’s detained.’ I expressed astonishment at this reply and, evidently thinking that I hadn’t understood him the first time, Videla enlarged on the theme. ‘We consider it a great crime to work against the Western and Christian style of life: it is not just the bomber but the ideologist who is the danger.’ Behind him, I could see one or two of his brighter staff officers looking at me with stark hostility as they realized that the general—El Presidente—had made a mistake by speaking so candidly. […] In response to a follow-up question, Videla crassly denied—‘rotondamente’: ‘roundly’ denied—holding Jacobo Timerman ‘as either a journalist or a Jew.’ While we were having this surreal exchange, here is what Timerman was being told by his taunting tormentors: Argentina has three main enemies: Karl Marx, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of society; Sigmund Freud, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of the family; and Albert Einstein, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of time and space. […] We later discovered what happened to the majority of those who had been held and tortured in the secret prisons of the regime. According to a Navy captain named Adolfo Scilingo, who published a book of confessions, these broken victims were often destroyed as ‘evidence’ by being flown out way over the wastes of the South Atlantic and flung from airplanes into the freezing water below. Imagine the fun element when there’s the surprise bonus of a Jewish female prisoner in a wheelchair to be disposed of… we slide open the door and get ready to roll her and then it’s one, two, three… go!
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)