Long Meaningless Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Long Meaningless. Here they are! All 100 of them:

And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of "parties" with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter - they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship - but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever. It is a meaningless word, too. The only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
I figured out years ago that the human species is totally fucked and has been for a long time. I also know that the sick, media-consumer culture in America continues to make this so-called problem worse. But the trick, folks, is not to give a fuck. Like me. I really don't care. I stopped worrying about all this temporal bullshit a long time ago. It's meaningless.
George Carlin
I believe it doesn't matter what it is, as long as you can find something concrete to keep you busy while you are living your meaningless life.
Ruth Ozeki (A Tale for the Time Being)
Oh, how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long, grinding labor, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!
Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago)
In my life long study of human beings, I have found that no matter how hard they try, they have found no way yet to prevent the arrival of Monday morning. And they do try, of course, but Monday always comes, and all the drones have to scuttle back to their dreary workday lives of meaningless toin and suffering.
Jeff Lindsay (Dexter in the Dark (Dexter, #3))
The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.
Brennan Manning (The Furious Longing of God)
They stormed and jeered at one another in long meaningless words of about twenty syllables each.
C.S. Lewis (The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia, #4))
Magic--that's just a label, you know. Completely meaningless. It wasn't so very long ago that people were saying that electricity was magic.
Robert Bloch (Psycho (Psycho, #1))
He tried to read an elementary economics text; it bored him past endurance, it was like listening to somebody interminably recounting a long and stupid dream. He could not force himself to understand how banks functioned and so forth, because all the operations of capitalism were as meaningless to him as the rites of a primitive religion, as barbaric, as elaborate, and as unnecessary. In a human sacrifice to deity there might be at least a mistaken and terrible beauty; in the rites of the moneychangers, where greed, laziness, and envy were assumed to move all men's acts, even the terrible became banal.
Ursula K. Le Guin (The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia)
There was an enjoyment to being alive, he felt, that because of an underlying meaninglessness–like how a person alone for too long cannot feel comfortable when with others; cannot neglect that underlying the feeling of belongingness is the certainty, really, of loneliness, and nothingness, and so experiences life in that hurried, worthless way one experiences a mistake–he could no longer get at.
Tao Lin (Eeeee Eee Eeee)
There's always a but. It's a magical word. You can say anything you want, go on for as long as you want, and then all you have to do is add the magic word and instantly everything you said is erased, turned meaningless, just like that.
Charles Benoit (You)
Oh, if only it were possible to find understanding,” Joseph exclaimed. “If only there were a dogma to believe in. Everything is contradictory, everything tangential; there are no certainties anywhere. Everything can be interpreted one way and then again interpreted in the opposite sense. The whole of world history can be explained as development and progress and can also be seen as nothing but decadence and meaninglessness. Isn’t there any truth? Is there no real and valid doctrine?” The master had never heard him speak so fervently. He walked on in silence for a little, then said: “There is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist. Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend. Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself. The deity is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived, not taught. Be prepared for conflicts, Joseph Knecht - I can see that they already have begun.
Hermann Hesse (The Glass Bead Game)
Nothing had changed. Their lives had been expended in the cheerless labor, their wills broken, their intelligences numbed. Now they were in the earth to which they had given their lives; and slowly, year by year, the earth would take them. Slowly the damp and rot would infest the pine boxes which held their bodies, and slowly it would touch their flesh and finally it would consume the last vestiges of their substances. And they would become a meaningless part of that stubborn earth to which they had long ago given themselves.
John Williams (Stoner)
There is no living being on earth at this moment except myself. I could walk down the halls, and empty rooms would yawn mockingly at me from every side. God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of 'parties' with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter — they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship — but the loneliness of the soul in it's appalling self-consciousness, is horrible and overpowering.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
And the point of Rachel the Film should really have been to express how awful and shitty that loss was, that she would have become a person with a long awesome life if she had been allowed to continue living, and that this was just a stupid meaningless loss, a motherfucking loss, a loss loss loss fucking loss, there was no fucking meaning to it, there was nothing that could come out of it...
Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
As long as you and I understand salvation as checking off a box to get to God, we will find ourselves in the meaningless sea of world religions that actually condemn the human race by exalting our supposed ability to get to God. On the other hand, when you and I realize that we are morally evil, dead in sin and deserving of God's wrath with no way out on our own, we begin to discover our desperation for Christ.
David Platt (Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream)
Sometimes I felt as if there were no tomorrows, that everything, my whole life, was crammed into one long day. A continuous stretch of meaningless time. Sometimes I even wished there was no tomorrow, if this was all I had to look forward to.
Julie Anne Peters (Keeping You a Secret)
If only there were a dogma to believe in. Everything is contradictory, everything is tangential; there are no certainties anywhere. Everything can be interpreted one way and then again interpreted in the opposite sense. The whole of world history can be explained as development and progress and can also be seen as nothing but decadence and meaninglessness. Isn't there any truth? Is there no real and valid doctrine?" Joseph Knect said to his Music Master "there is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist. Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend rather, you should long for perfection in yourself. The deity is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived not taught
Hermann Hesse (The Glass Bead Game)
People,” the doctor said sadly, “are always so anxious to get things out into the open where they can put a name to them, even a meaningless name, so long as it has something of a scientific ring.
Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House)
There was no meaning in life, and man by living served no end. It was immaterial whether he was born or not born, whether he lived or ceased to live. Life was insignificant and death without consequence. Philip exulted, as he had exulted in his boyhood when the weight of a belief in God was lifted from his shoulders: it seemed to him that the last burden of responsibility was taken from him; and for the first time he was utterly free. His insignificance was turned to power, and he felt himself suddenly equal with the cruel fate which had seemed to persecute him; for, if life was meaningless, the world was robbed of its cruelty. What he did or left undone did not matter. Failure was unimportant and success amounted to nothing. He was the most inconsiderate creature in that swarming mass of mankind which for a brief space occupied the surface of the earth; and he was almighty because he had wrenched from chaos the secret of its nothingness. Thoughts came tumbling over one another in Philip's eager fancy, and he took long breaths of joyous satisfaction. He felt inclined to leap and sing. He had not been so happy for months. 'Oh, life,' he cried in his heart, 'Oh life, where is thy sting?
W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage)
Guilt isn't in cat vocabulary. They never suffer remorse for eating too much, sleeping too long or hogging the warmest cushion in the house. They welcome every pleasurable moment as it unravels and savour it to the full until a butterfly or falling leaf diverts their attention. They don't waste energy counting the number of calories they've consumed or the hours they've frittered away sunbathing. Cats don't beat themselves up about not working hard enough. They don't get up and go, they sit down and stay. For them, lethargy is an art form. From their vantage points on top of fences and window ledges, they see the treadmills of human obligations for what they are - a meaningless waste of nap time.
Helen Brown (Cleo: How an Uppity Cat Helped Heal a Family)
Connor barely blinks before he says, “Normally I wouldn’t even waste words on someone who I find parochial and meaningless, but maybe I pity you just enough to say this: in the next two centuries, my wife and I will still exist. We will live beyond you through minds and words and hearts. If that makes you feel weak and insignificant, then maybe you should reevaluate your own stance in the world—and not attempt to beat at mine with two flailing hands.
Krista Ritchie (Long Way Down (Calloway Sisters, #4))
Capitalist ideology in general, Zizek maintains, consists precisely in the overvaluing of belief - in the sense of inner subjective attitude - at the expense of the beliefs we exhibit and externalize in our behavior. So long as we believe (in our hearts) that capitalism is bad, we are free to continue to participate in capitalist exchange. According to Zizek, capitalism in general relies on this structure of disavowal. We believe that money is only a meaningless token of no intrinsic worth, yet we act as if it has a holy value. Moreover, this behavior precisely depends upon the prior disavowal - we are able to fetishize money in our actions only because we have already taken an ironic distance towards money in our heads.
Mark Fisher (Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?)
I have never really understood exactly what a ‘liberal’ is, since I have heard ‘liberals’ express every conceivable opinion on every conceivable subject. As far as I can tell, you have the extreme right, who are fascist racist capitalist dogs like Ronald Reagan, who come right out and let you know where they’re coming from. And on the opposite end, you have the left, who are supposed to be committed to justice, equality, and human rights. And somewhere between those two points is the liberal. As far as I’m concerned, ‘liberal’ is the most meaningless word in the dictionary. History has shown me that as long as some white middle-class people can live high on the hog, take vacations to Europe, send their children to private schools, and reap the benefits of their white skin privilege, then they are ‘liberal’. But when times get hard and money gets tight, they pull off that liberal mask and you think you’re talking to Adolf Hitler. They feel sorry for the so-called underprivileged just as long as they can maintain their own privileges.
Assata Shakur
It wasn't a meaningless act for me either," Marcus said, his raspy whisper tickling her ear. "Yesterday I finally realized that all the things that I thought were wrong about you were actually the things I enjoyed most. I don't give a damn what you do, so long as it pleases you. Run barefoot on the front lawn. Eat pudding with your fingers. Tell me to go to hell as often as you like. I want you just as you are. After all, you're the only woman aside from my sisters who has ever dared to tell me to my face that I'm an arrogant ass. How could I resist you?" His mouth moved to the soft cushion of her cheek. "My dearest Lillian," he whispered, easing her head back to kiss her eyelids. "If I had the gift of poetry, I would shower you with sonnets. But words have always been difficult for me when my feelings are strongest. And there is one word in particular that I can't bring myself to say to you...'goodbye'. I couldn't bear the sight of you walking away from me. If you won't marry me for the sake of your honor, then do it for the sake of everyone who would have to tolerate me otherwise. Marry me because I need someone who will help me to laught at myself. Because someone has to teach me how to whistle. Marry me, Lillian...because I have the most irresistable fascination for your ears.
Lisa Kleypas (It Happened One Autumn (Wallflowers, #2))
For some people, their lives are ruled by one shocking event reverberating through their survival instincts. Life shrinks into a trap made up of a shimmering moment in the past, a trap where they endlessly repeat that singular moment when they were surest of being alive. That moment is short, but long after it has passed, good times as well as bad slip like sand through their fingers as they meaninglessly repeat and confirm their survival.
Bora Chung (Cursed Bunny)
When was the last time you were kissed?" he went on easily. "And I'm not talking about the dry, noncommittal, meaningless kiss you forget about as soon as it's over." I scrambled out of my stupor long enough to quip, "Like last night's kiss?" He cocked an eyebrow. "That so? I wonder, then, why you moaned my name after you drifted to sleep." "I did not!" "If only I'd had a video recorder. When was the last time you were really kissed?" he repeated. "You seriously think I'm going to tell you?" "Your ex?" he guessed. "And if he was?" "Was it your ex who taught you to be ashamed and uncomfortable with intimacy? He took from you what he wanted, but never seemed to be around when you wanted something back, isn't that right? What do you want, Britt?" he asked me point-blank. "Do you really want to pretend like last night never happened?" "Whatever happened between me and Calvin isn't your business,” I fired back. "For your information, he was a really great boyfriend. I-I wish I was with him right now!" I exclaimed untruthfully. My careless comment made him flinch, but he recovered quickly. "Does he love you?" "What?" I said, flustered. "If you know him so well, it shouldn't be a hard question. Is he in love with you? Was he ever in love with you?" I tossed my head back haughtily. "I know what you're doing. You're trying to cut him down because you're-you're jealous of him!" "You're damn right I'm jealous,” he growled. "When I kiss a girl, I like to know she's thinking about me, not the fool who gave her up.
Becca Fitzpatrick (Black Ice)
What men classify as living is often but the discontentment of making oneself itch just to enjoy the scratch.
Criss Jami (Healology)
The cause of our current social crises, he would have said, is a genetic defect within the nature of reason itself. And until this genetic defect is cleared, the crises will continue. Our current modes of rationality are not moving society forward into a better world. They are taking it further and further from that better world. Since the Renaissance these modes have worked. As long as the need for food, clothing and shelter is dominant they will continue to work. But now that for huge masses of people these needs no longer overwhelm everything else, the whole structure of reason, handed down to us from ancient times, is no longer adequate. It begins to be seen for what it really is…emotionally hollow, esthetically meaningless and spiritually empty.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
Changes in Meaning: Finally, chronically traumatized people lose faith that good things can happen and people can be kind and trustworthy. They feel hopeless, often believing that the future will be as bad as the past, or that they will not live long enough to experience a good future. People who have a dissociative disorder may have different meanings in various dissociative parts. Some parts may be relatively balanced in their worldview, others may be despairing, believing the world to be a completely negative, dangerous place, while other parts might maintain an unrealistic optimistic outlook on life
Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology))
You’re running out of tomorrows.” Running out of tomorrows, I repeated to myself in my room, sprawling across my bed to begin another midnight marathon of homework. Sometimes I felt as if there were no tomorrows, that everything, my whole life, was crammed into one long day. A continuous stretch of meaningless time. Sometimes I even wished there was no tomorrow, if this was all I had to look forward to.
Julie Anne Peters (Keeping You a Secret)
I laughed when she said “utilize” and she said “what?” and I said “just utilize, it’s a meaningless word” and then she tried to tell me that it “communicated” something different from the word “use” and the way she looked at me, chuckling, glancing over at James like “oh, how sweet, it tried to talk,” made me so mad that I might have said, maybe, something along the lines of “yeah, it communicates something, it’s a real first-gen-college-grad kind of word, like your parents are small-town conservative Christians who didn’t have any books in the house, and you’re self-conscious about your upbringing so you want to stand out by using elitist intellectual language, but you don’t actually know any long words, so you just truss up the word ‘use’ for no fucking reason other than to try to make people feel like you’re the one with the big mental dick, even though ‘utilize’ is basically just administrative jargon and completely déclassé to them that knows.
Halle Butler (The New Me)
Hold childhood in reverence, and do not be in any hurry to judge it for good or ill. Leave exceptional cases to show themselves, let their qualities be tested and confirmed, before special methods are adopted. Give nature time to work before you take over her business, lest you interfere with her dealings. You assert that you know the value of time and are afraid to waste it. You fail to perceive that it is a greater waste of time to use it ill than to do nothing, and that a child ill taught is further from virtue than a child who has learnt nothing at all. You are afraid to see him spending his early years doing nothing. What! is it nothing to be happy, nothing to run and jump all day? He will never be so busy again all his life long. Plato, in his Republic, which is considered so stern, teaches the children only through festivals, games, songs, and amusements. It seems as if he had accomplished his purpose when he had taught them to be happy; and Seneca, speaking of the Roman lads in olden days, says, "They were always on their feet, they were never taught anything which kept them sitting." Were they any the worse for it in manhood? Do not be afraid, therefore, of this so-called idleness. What would you think of a man who refused to sleep lest he should waste part of his life? You would say, "He is mad; he is not enjoying his life, he is robbing himself of part of it; to avoid sleep he is hastening his death." Remember that these two cases are alike, and that childhood is the sleep of reason. The apparent ease with which children learn is their ruin. You fail to see that this very facility proves that they are not learning. Their shining, polished brain reflects, as in a mirror, the things you show them, but nothing sinks in. The child remembers the words and the ideas are reflected back; his hearers understand them, but to him they are meaningless. Although memory and reason are wholly different faculties, the one does not really develop apart from the other. Before the age of reason the child receives images, not ideas; and there is this difference between them: images are merely the pictures of external objects, while ideas are notions about those objects determined by their relations.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Emile, or On Education)
Pretentiousness isn't always just big words and meaningless jargon, but also pretty words that either when put into action don't mean beans or hurt you in the long run. Oftentimes, the former appeals to the intellect whereas the latter appeals to the heart.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
In our romantic lives, these moments of jealousy, which scorch our lover’s initials into our flesh and seem to brand us, often vanish into thin air sooner or later. But maybe, if we don’t cave in to them, they’ll vanish sooner, and we’ll be able sooner to try to describe what happened with phrases that fall apart in our hands, meaningless descriptions in voices clouded with scraps of holocaust, memorized episodes that have no context unless you’re inside the story trying to live through it. Once you’re out, all there are are empty spaces strewn in the past where the pain was too great and red-hot jealousy tore through our rooms, or why else would we have painted them all black? Nothing remains, as we look back, but a smile, and “Oh, yes, one night I crouched under a window . . .” But it’s a window too dark to peer through, and you find yourself saying, “I never knew real jealousy. . . .” It elapses into long ago.
Eve Babitz (Black Swans: Stories)
In long-term relationships, all the romantic gestures in the world are meaningless if you aren’t trustworthy or don’t do your share of the work.
Paul Joannides (Guide To Getting It On--8th edition (2015): A book about the wonders of sex)
Freedom in society is gauged by our success in getting what we want and conditioned by status and power, by race, class and gender. In the internal world of the psyche, however, freedom means something very different. It is the ability to opt for our long-term physical and spiritual well-being as opposed to our immediate urges. Absent that ability, any talk of ‘free will’ or ‘choice’ becomes nearly meaningless.
Gabor Maté (In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction)
It is really incredible how meaningless and insignificant when seen from without, and how dull and senseless when felt from within, is the course of life of the great majority of men. It is weary longing and worrying, a dreamlike staggering through the four ages of life to death, accompanied by a series of trivial thoughts. They are like clockwork that is wound up and goes without knowing why. Every time a man is begotten and born the clock of human life is wound up anew, to repeat once more its same old tune that has already been played innumerable times, movement by movement and measure by measure, with insignificant variations. Every individual, every human apparition and its course of life, is only one more short dream of the endless spirit of nature, of the persistent will-to-live, is only one more fleeting form, playfully sketched by it on its infinite page, space and time; it is allowed to exist for a short while that is infinitesimal compared with these, and is then effaced, to make new room. Yet, and here is to be found the serious side of life, each of these fleeting forms, these empty fancies, must be paid for by the whole will-to-live in all its intensity with many deep sorrows, and finally with a bitter death, long feared and finally made manifest. It is for this reason that the sight of a corpse suddenly makes us serious.
Arthur Schopenhauer (The World as Will and Representation, Volume I)
The world was fucking awful. It was a wretched, desolate place, a desert of meaninglessness, a heartless wasteland, where horrific things happened all the time for no reason and nothing good lasted for long. He'd been right about the world, but he was wrong about himself. The world was a desert, but he was a magician, and to be a magician was to be a secret spring - a moving oasis. He wasn't desolate, and he wasn't empty. He was full of emotion, full of feelings, bursting with them, and when it came down to it, that's what being a magician was. They weren't ordinary feelings - they weren't the tame, domesticated kind. Magic was wild feelings, the kind that escaped out of you and into the world and changed things. There was a lot of skill to it, and a lot of learning, and a lot of work, but that was where the power began: the power to enchant the world.
Lev Grossman (The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3))
She knew what bothered her at the store...It was that the store intensified things that had always bothered her, as long as she could remember. It was the pointless actions, the meaningless chores that seemed to keep her from doing what she wanted to do, might have done-and here it was the complicated procedures with moneybags, coat checkings, and time clocks that kept people from even serving the store as efficiently as they might-the sense that everyone was incommunicado with everyone else and living on an entirely wrong plane, so that the meaning, the message, the love, or whatever it was that each life contained, never could find its expression.
Patricia Highsmith (The Price of Salt, or Carol)
I am an accountant.” Baru wished she could close her ears to the screams of the sectioned, smoking crowd. “I deal in costs, not faiths.” “But you are part of this.” Tain Hu was a little taller and she moved with purposeful force. Her words, no matter how soft, were not unintimidating. “This is a cost. This is the cost we pay for broad roads and hot water, for banks and new crops. This is the trade you demand.” And there was no doubt who she meant, for she used Aphalone’s singular you. “This resistance is meaningless,” Baru said. “If they want change, they must make themselves useful to Falcrest. Find a way up from within.” “A people can only bear the lash so long in silence. Some things are not worth being within.
Seth Dickinson (The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1))
In the state of despair there is nobody and nothing that accepts. But there is the power of acceptance itself which is experienced. Meaninglessness, as long as it is experienced, includes an experience of the "power of acceptance". To accept this power of acceptance consciously is the religious answer of absolute faith, of a faith which has been deprived by doubt of any concrete content, which nevertheless is faith and the source of the most paradoxical manifestation of the courage to be.
Paul Tillich (The Courage to Be)
As I look back on the trip now, as I try to sort out fact from fiction, try to remember how I felt at that particular time, or during that particular incident, try to relive those memories that have been buried so deep, and distorted so ruthlessly, there is one clear fact that emerges from the quagmire. The trip was easy. It was no more dangerous than crossing the street, or driving to the beach, or eating peanuts. The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision. And I knew even then that I would forget them time and time again and would have to go back and repeat those words that had become meaningless and try to remember. I knew even then that, instead of remembering the truth of it, I would lapse into a useless nostalgia. Camel trips, as I suspected all a long, and as I was about to have confirmed, do not begin or end, they merely change form.
Robyn Davidson (Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback)
A person’s shadow stood for his legacy, his impact on the world. Some people cast hardly any shadow at all. Some cast long, deep shadows that endured for centuries. I thought about what the ghost Setne had said—how he and I had each grown up in the shadow of a famous father. I realized now that he hadn’t just meant it as a figure of speech. My dad cast a powerful shadow that still affected me and the whole world. If a person cast no shadow at all, he couldn’t be alive. His existence became meaningless. Execrating Apophis by destroying his shadow would cut his connection to the mortal world completely. He’d never be able to rise again. I finally understood why he’d been so anxious to burn Setne’s scrolls, and why he was afraid of this spell.
Rick Riordan (The Serpent's Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, #3))
Are you an atheist?" "Oh no, I honor all the gods." "And how many belong to that all?" "Countless. And one." "How meaningless!" "'Oliness, let me hear you count to one." "One." "Point at that one." Brownpony stirred restlessly. Finally he tapped his index finger against his temple. Wooshin laughed quietly. "Wrong. You had to think about it too long. And you didn't count to one. You counted from one and stopped. The one is countless.
Walter M. Miller Jr. (Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman)
Oh, how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long , grinding labor, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!
Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
The arbitrary and meaningless tests to decide black from Coloured or Coloured from white often resulted in tragic cases where members of the same family were classified differently, all depending on whether one child had a lighter or darker complexion. Where one was allowed to live and work could rest on such absurd distinctions as the curl of one’s hair or the size of one’s lips.
Nelson Mandela (Long Walk to Freedom)
He winced at her efforts to mollify him. Why didn't she say she was disgusted with his behaviour, with his long absence, his infrequent superficial letters? And if she did say it - would he defend himself? Would he give reasons, try to explain how meaningless every endeavour seemed to him? No. For then she would start crying again, he would tell her to stop being silly, she would ask for details, and he would tell her to mind her own business.
Rohinton Mistry (A Fine Balance)
They laid me down again while somebody fetched a stretcher. As soon as I knew that the bullet had gone clean through my neck I took it for granted that I was done for. I had never heard of a man or an animal getting a bullet through the middle of the neck and surviving it. The blood was dribbling out of the comer of my mouth. ‘The artery's gone,’ I thought. I wondered how long you last when your carotid artery is cut; not many minutes, presumably. Everything was very blurry. There must have been about two minutes during which I assumed that I was killed. And that too was interesting—I mean it is interesting to know what your thoughts would be at such a time. My first thought, conventionally enough, was for my wife. My second was a violent resentment at having to leave this world which, when all is said and done, suits me so well. I had time to feel this very vividly. The stupid mischance infuriated me. The meaninglessness of it! To be bumped off, not even in battle, but in this stale comer of the trenches, thanks to a moment's carelessness! I thought, too, of the man who had shot me—wondered what he was like, whether he was a Spaniard or a foreigner, whether he knew he had got me, and so forth. I could not feel any resentment against him. I reflected that as he was a Fascist I would have killed him if I could, but that if he had been taken prisoner and brought before me at this moment I would merely have congratulated him on his good shooting. It may be, though, that if you were really dying your thoughts would be quite different.
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
How many times, by God’s bloody prick, have I longed to be able to detonate planets, to destroy the sun itself, to pluck it from the universe and crash it into the earth, annihilating all Creation and replacing it with a lightless void of violence. Ah, that would be a crime! A cosmic crime, dwarfing the petty misdemeanours we are committing here, limited as we are to snuffing out a few meaningless souls
Marquis de Sade (The 120 Days of Sodom)
This exquisite state of unconcerned immersion in oneself is not, unfortunately, of long duration. It is liable to be disturbed from inside. As though sprung from nowhere, moods, feelings, desires, worries and even thoughts incontinently rise up, in a meaningless jumble.... The only successful way of rendering this disturbance inoperative is to keep on breathing quietly and unconcernedly, to enter into friendly relations with whatever appears on the scene, to accustom oneself to it, to look at it equably and at last grow weary of looking.
Eugen Herrigel (Zen in the Art of Archery)
You told me, if something is not used it is meaningless, and took my temperature, which I had thought to save for a more difficult day. In the mirror, every night, the same face, a bit more threadbare, a dress worn too long. The moon was out in the cold, along with the restless, dissatisfied wind that seemed to change the location of the sycamores. I expected reproaches because I had mentioned the word love, but you only accused me of stealing your pencil, and sadness disappeared with sense. You made a ceremony out of holding your head in your hands because, you said, it could not be contained in itself.
Rosmarie Waldrop
Technology has its own ethic of expediency and efficiency. What can be done efficiently must be done in the most efficient way—even if what is done happens, for example, to be genocide or the devastation of a country by total war. Even the long-term interests of society, or the basic needs of man himself, are not considered when they get in the way of technology. We waste natural resources, as well as those of undeveloped countries, iron, oil, etc., in order to fill our cities and roads with a congestion of traffic that is in fact largely useless, and is a symptom of the meaningless and futile agitation of our own minds.
Thomas Merton (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander)
How will people remember you when you are gone? And for how long until they forget? Were you selfish or selfless? A gossip or a patient listener? Did you add value to the world, or did you simply take from it? Did you add value to the lives of others, or did you take the value out of someone's life? Were you a plus or negative? Meaningful or meaningless? Do you live to take or live to give?
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
It seemed to k. as if all contact with him had been cut and he was more of a free agent than ever. He could wait here, in a place usually forbidden to him, as long as he liked, and he also felt as if he gad won that freedom with more effort than most people could manage to make, and no one could touch him or drive him away, why, they hardly had a right even to adress him. But at the same time - and this feeling was at least as strong - he felt as if there were nothing more meaningless and more desperate than this freedom, this waiting, this invulnerability.
Franz Kafka (The Castle)
In the days to come, when it will seem as if I were entombed, when the very firmament threatens to come crashing down upon my head, I shall be forced to abandon everything except what these spirits implanted in me. I shall be crushed, debased, humiliated. I shall be frustrated in every fiber of my being. I shall even take to howling like a dog. But I shall not be utterly lost! Eventually a day is to dawn when, glancing over my own life as though it were a story or history, I can detect in it a form, a pattern, a meaning. From then on the word defeat becomes meaningless. It will be impossible ever to relapse. For on that day I become and I remain one with my creation. On another day, in a foreign land, there will appear before me a young man who, unaware of the change which has come over me, will dub me "The Happy Rock." That is the moniker I shall tender when the great Cosmocrator demands-" Who art thou?" Yes, beyond a doubt, I shall answer "The Happy Rock!" And, if it be asked-"Didst thou enjoy thy stay on earth?"-I shall reply: "My life was one long rosy crucifixion." As to the meaning of this, if it is not already clear, it shall be elucidated. If I fail then I am but a dog in the manger. Once I thought I had been wounded as no man ever had. Because I felt thus I vowed to write this book. But long before I began the book the wound had healed. Since I had sworn to fulfill my task I reopened the horrible wound. Let me put it another way. Perhaps in opening my own wound, I closed other wounds.. Something dies, something blossoms. To suffer in ignorance is horrible. To suffer deliberately, in order to understand the nature of suffering and abolish it forever, is quite another matter. The Buddha had one fixed thought in mind all his life, as we know it. It was to eliminate human suffering. Suffering is unnecessary. But, one has to suffer before he is able to realize that this is so. It is only then, moreover, that the true significance of human suffering becomes clear. At the last desperate moment-when one can suffer no more!-something happens which is the nature of a miracle. The great wound which was draining the blood of life closes up, the organism blossoms like a rose. One is free at last, and not "with a yearning for Russia," but with a yearning for ever more freedom, ever more bliss. The tree of life is kept alive not by tears but the knowledge that freedom is real and everlasting.
Henry Miller
There was nothing worse, Veppers thought, than a loser who’d made it. It was just part of the way things worked – part of the complexity of life, he supposed – that sometimes somebody who absolutely deserved nothing more than to be one of the down-trodden, the oppressed, the dregs of society, lucked out into a position of wealth, power and admiration. At least people who were natural winners knew how to carry themselves in their pomp, whether their ascendancy had come through the luck of being born rich and powerful or the luck of being born ambitious and capable. Losers who’d made it always let the side down. Veppers was all for arrogance – he possessed the quality in full measure himself, as he’d often been informed – but it had to be deserved, you had to have worked for it. Or at the very least, an ancestor had to have worked for it. Arrogance without cause, arrogance without achievement – or that mistook sheer luck for true achievement – was an abomination. Losers made everybody look bad. Worse, they made the whole thing – the great game that was life – appear arbitrary, almost meaningless. Their only use, Veppers had long since decided, was as examples to be held up to those who complained about their lack of status or money or control over their lives: look, if this idiot can achieve something, so can anybody, so can you. So stop whining about being exploited and work harder. Still, at least individual losers were quite obviously statistical freaks. You could allow for that, you could tolerate that, albeit with gritted teeth. What he would not have believed was that you could find an entire society – an entire civilization– of losers who’d made it.
Iain Banks (Surface Detail (Culture, #9))
Transhumanism encapsulates a long-lived error among the headliners of science: in a world without a destination, we cannot even break ground on our Tower of Babel, and no amount of rush and hurry on our part will change that. That we are going nowhere is not a curable condition; that we must go nowhere at the fastest possible velocity just might be curable, though probably not. And what difference would it make to retard our progress to nowhere?
Thomas Ligotti (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race)
And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter — they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship — but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
What Ye disliked most was seeing the waves that slowly crawled across the display, a visual record of the meaningless noise Red Coast picked up from space. Ye felt this interminable wave was an abstract view of the universe: one end connected to the endless past, the other to the endless future, and in the middle only the ups and downs of random chance—without life, without pattern, the peaks and valleys at different heights like uneven grains of sand, the whole curve like a one-dimensional desert made of all the grains of sand lined up in a row, lonely, desolate, so long that it was intolerable. You could follow it and go forward or backward as long as you liked, but you’d never find the end. On
Liu Cixin (The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1))
Yurii Andreievich kept trying to get up and go. The commissar's naïveté embarrassed him, but the sly sophistication of the commandant and his aide—two sneering and dissembling opportunists—was no better. The foolishness of the one was matched by the slyness of the others. And all this was expressed itself in a torrent of words, superfluous, utterly false, murky, profoundly alien to life itself. Oh, how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long, grinding labor, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!
Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago)
In the meantime, I hope you will not consign her to a windowless environment populated entirely by unsocialized clones who long ago abandoned the reading and discussion of literature in favor of creating ever more restrictive and meaningless ways in which humans are intended to make themselves known to one another.
Julie Schumacher (Dear Committee Members)
I am thirty-five years old, and it seems to me that I have arrived at the age of grief. Others arrive there sooner. Almost no one arrives much later. I don’t think it is years themselves, or the disintegration of the body. Most of our bodies are better taken care of and better-looking than ever. What it is, is what we know, now that in spite of ourselves we have stopped to think about it. It is not only that we know that love ends, children are stolen, parents die feeling that their lives have been meaningless. It is not only that, by this time, a lot of acquaintances and friends have died and all the others are getting ready to sooner or later. It is more that the barriers between the circumstances of oneself and of the rest of the world have broken down, after all—after all that schooling, all that care. Lord, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me. But when you are thirty-three, or thirty-five, the cup must come around, cannot pass from you, and it is the same cup of pain that every mortal drinks from. Dana cried over Mrs. Hilton. My eyes filled during the nightly news. Obviously we were grieving for ourselves, but we were also thinking that if they were feeling what we were feeling, how could they stand it? We were grieving for them, too. I understand that later you come to an age of hope, or at least resignation. I suspect it takes a long time to get there.
Jane Smiley (The Age of Grief)
Any human being who does not wish to be part of the masses need only stop making things easy for himself. Let him follow his conscience, which calls out to him: "Be yourself! All that you are now doing, thinking, desiring, all that is not you." Every young soul hears this call by day and by night and shudders with excitement at the premonition of that degree of happiness which eternities have prepared for those who will give thought to their true liberation. There is no way to help any soul attain this happiness, however, so long as it remains shackled with the chains of opinion and fear. And how hopeless and meaningless life can become without such a liberation! There is no drearier, sorrier creature in nature than the man who has evaded his own genius and who squints now towards the right, now towards the left, now backwards, now in any direction whatever.
Friedrich Nietzsche
terrified of being abandoned and all narcissists need Narcissistic Supply Sources. These narcissists prefer to direct their furious rage at people who are meaningless to them and whose withdrawal will not constitute a threat to the narcissists' precariously-balanced personalities. They explode at an underling, yell at a waitress, or berate a taxi driver. Alternatively, they sulk (silent treatment). Many narcissists feel anhedonic, or pathologically bored, drink or do drugs - all forms of self-directed aggression. From time to time, no longer able to pretend and to suppress their rage, they have it out with the real source of their anger. Then they lose all vestiges of self-control and rave like lunatics. They shout incoherently, make absurd accusations, distort facts, and air long-suppressed grievances, allegations and suspicions. These episodes are followed by periods of saccharine sentimentality and excessive flattering and submissiveness towards the target of the latest rage attack. Driven by the mortal fear of being abandoned or ignored, the narcissist debases and demeans himself to the point of provoking repulsion in the beholder. These pendulum-like emotional swings make life with the narcissist exhausting.
Sam Vaknin (Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited)
There's always a but. It's a magical word. You can say anything you want, go on for as long as you want, and then all you have to do is add the magic word and instantly everything you said is erased, turned meaningless, just like that. You're a really nice guy... Your mother thinks you need a new computer... You've been working harder in class... But. You keep looking at Mr. Nagle as he explains how a few zero homework grades really knock down your average. You nod, and you're thinking that everything he is saying is true. You are smarter than this. You could be getting all As. You could be on the High Honor Roll. And that if you don't straighten up soon, you won't get into college. You won't be able to find a decent job. You won't amount to anything. And you know it's all true. But.
Charles Benoit (You)
If we were all looking for something 'easy come and easy go', then all of our lives would be easy. The problem is that we look for something real, don't we? And it is this longing for what is real, that makes finding the right person to be the most difficult task in the world. You can marry someone and promise the rest of your life to the person, only to find out later that this person makes you feel lonely. If we had no innate longing for true love and for true partnership, then none of us would have any problems! Therefore, the most frightening question to ponder upon, is, 'what if true love does not exist; what if the real stuff isn't real at all?' In such a case, life would be meaningless. I suppose I would rather believe in love relentlessly, than live in this world meaninglessly.
C. JoyBell C.
In an egalitarian and democraticised society (in the broader sense of the term); in a society in which there are no longer any casts, functional organic classes or Orders; in a society in which ‘culture’ is standardised, extrinsic, utilitarian, and tradition is no longer a living, forming force; in a society in which Pindar’s ‘be thyself’ has become but a meaningless phrase;19 in a society in which character amounts to a luxury that only fools can afford, whereas inner weakness is the norm; in a society, finally, in which whatever lies above racial, ethnic and national difference has been replaced by what effectively lies below all this and which, therefore, has a shapeless and hybrid character — in such a society, forces are at work that in the long run are bound to influence the very constitution of individuals, thus affecting everything typical and differentiated, even in the psycho-physical field.
Julius Evola (The Bow and the Club)
Man's inhumanity to man will continue as long as man loves God more than he loves his fellow man. The love of God means wasted love. 'For God and Country' means a divided allegiance—a 50 per cent patriot. The most abused word in the language of man is the word 'God.' The reason for this is that it is subject to so much abuse. There is no other word in the human language that is as meaningless and incapable of explanation as is the word 'God.' It is the beginning and end of nothing. It is the Alpha and Omega of Ignorance. It has as many meanings as there are minds. And as each person has an opinion of what the word God ought to mean, it is a word without premise, without foundation, and without substance. It is without validity. It is all things to all people, and is as meaningless as it is indefinable. It is the most dangerous in the hands of the unscrupulous, and is the joker that trumps the ace. It is the poisoned word that has paralyzed the brain of man. 'The fear of the Lord' is not the beginning of wisdom; on the contrary, it has made man a groveling slave; it has made raving lunatics of those who have attempted to interpret what God 'is' and what is supposed to be our 'duty' to God. It has made man prostitute the most precious things of life—it has made him sacrifice wife, and child, and home. 'In the name of God' means in the name of nothing—it has caused man to be a wastrel with the precious elixir of life, because there is no God.
Joseph Lewis (An Atheist Manifesto)
Garraty thought that memories were like a line drawn in the dirt. The further back you went the scuffier and harder to see that line got. Until finally there was nothing but smooth sand and the black hole of nothingness that you came out of. The memories were in a way like the road. Here it was real and hard and tangible. But that early road, that nine in the morning road, was far back and meaningless.
Stephen King (The Long Walk)
The drug war’s simplistic account of what drugs do and are, as well as its insistence on lumping them all together under a single meaningless rubric, has for too long prevented us from thinking clearly about the meaning and potential of these very different substances. The legal status of this or that molecule is one of the least interesting things about it. Much like a food, a psychoactive drug is not a thing—without a human brain, it is inert—so much as it is a relationship; it takes both a molecule and a mind to make anything happen.
Michael Pollan (This Is Your Mind on Plants)
Here I am, a bundle of past recollections and future dreams, knotted up in a reasonably attractive bundle of flesh. I remember what this flesh has gone through; I dream of what it may go through. I record here the actions of optical nerves, of taste buds, of sensory perception. And, I think: I am but one more drop in the great sea of matter, defined, with the ability to realize my existence. Of the millions, I, too, was potentially everything at birth. I, too, was stunted, narrowed, warped, by my environment, my outcroppings of heredity. I, too, will find a set of beliefs, of standards to live by, yet the very satisfaction of finding them will be marred by the fact that I have reached the ultimate in shallow, two-dimensional living - a set of values. This loneliness will blur and diminish, no doubt, when tomorrow I plunge again into classes, into the necessity of studying for exams. But now, that false purpose is lifted and I am spinning in a temporary vacuum. At home I rested and played, here, where I work, the routine is momentarily suspended and I am lost. There is no living being on earth at this moment except myself. I could walk down the halls, and empty rooms would yawn mockingly at me from every side. God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of "parties" with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter - they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship - but the loneliness of the soul in it's appalling self-consciousness, is horrible and overpowering.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
People aren’t really needed for anything else in the Griftopia, but since Americans require the illusion of self-government, we have elections. To make sure those elections are effectively meaningless as far as Wall Street is concerned, two things end up being true. One is that voters on both sides of the aisle are gradually weaned off that habit of having real expectations for their politicians, consuming the voting process entirely as culture-war entertainment. The other is that millions of tenuously middle-class voters are conned into pushing Wall Street’s own twisted greed ethos as though it were their own. The Tea Party, with its weirdly binary view of society as being split up cleanly into competing groups of producers and parasites—that’s just a cultural echo of the insane greed-is-good belief system on Wall Street that’s provided the foundation/excuse for a generation of brilliantly complex thievery. Those beliefs have trickled down to the ex-middle-class suckers struggling to stay on top of their mortgages and their credit card bills, and the real joke is that these voters listen to CNBC and Fox and they genuinely believe they’re the producers in this binary narrative. They don’t get that somewhere way up above, there’s a group of people who’ve been living the Atlas dream for real—and building a self-dealing financial bureaucracy in their own insane image.
Matt Taibbi (Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America)
Whore. How many men had embraced her? How many gritty chins against her cheek? Always something to be endured. All of them punishing her for their need. Monotony had made them seem laughable, a long queue of the weak, the hopeful, the ashamed, the angered, the dangerous. How easily one grunting body replaced the next, until they became abstract things, moments of a ludicrous ceremony, spilling bowel-hot libations upon her, smearing her with their meaningless paint. One no different from the next.
R. Scott Bakker (The Warrior Prophet (The Prince of Nothing, #2))
There was a long pause. “you know,” he went on, “I sometimes think mankind is dangerously arrogant. We do a few sums, and then claim we have the universe off pat. we measure the spaces between the stars, and declare them empty. We set a limit on infinity. We are like the occupants of a closed room; having worked out everything within the range of our knowledge, we announce that the room and its contents are all that exists. Nothing beyond. Nothing unseen or unknown, incalculable or neffable. This is it. And then every so often God lifts the veil—twitches the curtain—and gives us a glimpse, just a glimpse, of something more. As if He wishes to show us how narrow is our vision, how meaningless the boundaries we have set for ourselves. I felt that when Fern was talking. Just for a minute I though: This is truth, there’s a world beyond all the jargon of unbelief.
Jan Siegel (Prospero's Children (Fern Capel))
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labor power without producing anything that can be consumed. The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another, but though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs.
George Orwell (1984)
Fame requires every kind of excess. I mean true fame, a devouring neon, not the somber renown of waning statesmen or chinless kings. I mean long journeys across gray space. I mean danger, the edge of every void, the circumstance of one man imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic. Understand the man who must inhabit these extreme regions, monstrous and vulval, damp with memories of violation. Even if half-mad he is absorbed into the public's total madness; even if fully rational, a bureaucrat in hell, a secret genius of survival, he is sure to be destroyed by the public's contempt for survivors. Fame, this special kind, feeds itself on outrage, on what the counselors of lesser men would consider bad publicity-hysteria in limousines, knife fights in the audience, bizarre litigation, treachery, pandemonium and drugs. Perhaps the only natural law attaching to true fame is that the famous man is compelled, eventually, to commit suicide. (Is it clear I was a hero of rock'n'roll?) Toward the end of the final tour it became apparent that our audience wanted more than music, more even than its own reduplicated noise. It's possible the culture had reached its limit, a point of severe tension. There was less sense of simple visceral abandon at our concerts during these last weeks. Few cases of arson and vandalism. Fewer still of rape. No smoke bombs or threats of worse explosives. Our followers, in their isolation, were not concerned with precedent now. They were free of old saints and martyrs, but fearfully so, left with their own unlabeled flesh. Those without tickets didn't storm the barricades, and during a performance the boys and girls directly below us, scratching at the stage, were less murderous in their love of me, as if realizing finally that my death, to be authentic, must be self-willed- a succesful piece of instruction only if it occured by my own hand, preferrably ina foreign city. I began to think their education would not be complete until they outdid me as a teacher, until one day they merely pantomimed the kind of massive response the group was used to getting. As we performed they would dance, collapse, clutch each other, wave their arms, all the while making absolutely no sound. We would stand in the incandescent pit of a huge stadium filled with wildly rippling bodies, all totally silent. Our recent music, deprived of people's screams, was next to meaningless, and there would have been no choice but to stop playing. A profound joke it would have been. A lesson in something or other. In Houston I left the group, saying nothing, and boarded a plane for New York City, that contaminated shrine, place of my birth. I knew Azarian would assume leadership of the band, his body being prettiest. As to the rest, I left them to their respective uproars- news media, promotion people, agents, accountants, various members of the managerial peerage. The public would come closer to understanding my disappearance than anyone else. It was not quite as total as the act they needed and nobody could be sure whether I was gone for good. For my closest followers, it foreshadowed a period of waiting. Either I'd return with a new language for them to speak or they'd seek a divine silence attendant to my own. I took a taxi past the cemetaries toward Manhattan, tides of ash-light breaking across the spires. new York seemed older than the cities of Europe, a sadistic gift of the sixteenth century, ever on the verge of plague. The cab driver was young, however, a freckled kid with a moderate orange Afro. I told him to take the tunnel. Is there a tunnel?" he said.
Don DeLillo
Shae gave a nod of silent understanding. Niko had put into words something she'd felt for a long time -- a sense that she struggled not only against the Mountain and all the other enemies of the clan, but against something even larger and more inexorable. Niko lowered his gaze to his hands. "I thought I could escape and find some other meaning in my life. But if the clan crumbles, either quickly or slowly, if it becomes as obsolete and irrelevant as people like Jim Sunto believe, then everything that made me, including my father's murder and my mother's execution, would be meaningless. Every drop of blood spilled, every sacrifice made, every child ever trained to wear jade as a Green Bone warrior of Kekon over centuries of history.... That's what the Pillar carries. That's our power, and ours alone." He looked back toward the school with a small, sad smile. "Ru tried so hard to tell me that I was a selfish fool to run away from it. He was right.
Fonda Lee (Jade Legacy (The Green Bone Saga, #3))
One by one our skies go black. Stars are extinguished, collapsing into distances too great to breach. Soon, not even the memory of light will survive. Long ago, our manifold universes discovered futures would only expand. No arms of limit could hold or draw them back. Short of a miracle, they would continue to stretch, untangle and vanish – abandoned at long last to an unwitnessed dissolution. That dissolution is now. Final winks slipping over the horizons share what needs no sharing: There are no miracles. You might say that just to survive to such an end is a miracle in itself. We would agree. But we are not everyone. Even if you could imagine yourself billions of years hence, you would not begin to comprehend who we became and what we achieved. Yet left as you are, you will no more tremble before us than a butterfly on a windless day trembles before colluding skies, still calculating beyond one of your pacific horizons. Once we could move skies. We could transform them. We could make them sing. And when we fell into dreams our dreams asked questions and our skies, still singing, answered back. You are all we once were but the vastness of our strangeness exceeds all the light-years between our times. The frailty of your senses can no more recognize our reach than your thoughts can entertain even the vaguest outline of our knowledge. In ratios of quantity, a pulse of what we comprehend renders meaningless your entire history of discovery. We are on either side of history: yours just beginning, ours approaching a trillion years of ends. Yet even so, we still share a dyad of commonality. Two questions endure. Both without solution. What haunts us now will allways hunt you. The first reveals how the promise of all our postponements, ever longer, ever more secure – what we eventually mistook for immortality – was from the start a broken promise. Entropy suffers no reversals. Even now, here, on the edge of time’s end, where so many continue to vanish, we still have not pierced that veil of sentience undone. The first of our common horrors: Death. Yet we believe and accept that there is grace and finally truth in standing accountable before such an invisible unknown. But we are not everyone. Death, it turns out, is the mother of all conflicts. There are some who reject such an outcome. There are some who still fight for an alternate future. No matter the cost. Here then is the second of our common horrors. What not even all of time will end. What plagues us now and what will always plague you. War.
Mark Z. Danielewski (One Rainy Day in May (The Familiar, #1))
At any other time it's better. You can do the things you feel you should; you're an expert at going through the motions. Your handshakes with strangers are firm and your gaze never wavers; you think of steel and diamonds when you stare. In monotone you repeat the legendary words of long-dead lovers to those you claim to love; you take them into bed with you, and you mimic the rhythmic motions you've read of in manuals. When protocol demands it you dutifully drop to your knees and pray to a god who no longer exists. But in this hour you must admit to yourself that this is not enough, that you are not good enough. And when you knock your fist against your chest you hear a hollow ringing echo, and all your thoughts are accompanied by the ticks of clockwork spinning behind your eyes, and everything you eat and drink has the aftertaste of rust.
Dexter Palmer (The Dream of Perpetual Motion)
One night, Ye was working the night shift. This was the loneliest time. In the deep silence of midnight, the universe revealed itself to its listeners as a vast desolation. What Ye disliked most was seeing the waves that slowly crawled across the display, a visual record of the meaningless noise Red Coast picked up from space. Ye felt this interminable wave was an abstract view of the universe: one end connected to the endless past, the other to the endless future, and in the middle only the ups and downs of random chance—without life, without pattern, the peaks and valleys at different heights like uneven grains of sand, the whole curve like a one-dimensional desert made of all the grains of sand lined up in a row, lonely, desolate, so long that it was intolerable. You could follow it and go forward or backward as long as you liked, but you’d never find the end.
Liu Cixin (The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1))
As soon as I knew that the bullet had gone clean through my neck I took it for granted that I was done for. I had never heard of a man or an animal getting a bullet through the middle of the neck and surviving it. The blood was dribbling out of the corner of my mouth. 'The artery's gone,' I thought. I wondered how long you last when your carotid artery is cut; not many minutes, presumably. Everything was very blurry. There must have been about two minutes during which I assumed that I was killed. And that too was interesting - I mean it is interesting to know what your thoughts would be at such a time. My first thought, conventionally enough, was for my wife. My second was a violent resentment at having to leave this world which, when all is said and done, suits me so well. I had time to feel very vividly. The stupid mischance infuriated me. The meaninglessness of it!
George Orwell (Homage to Catalonia)
I realized that I had been lost, and how I had become lost. I had strayed not so much because my ideas had been incorrect as because I had lived foolishly. I realized that I had been blinded from the truth not so much through mistaken thoughts as through my life itself, which had been spent in satisfying desire and in exclusive conditions of epicureanism. I realized that my questions as to what my life is, and the answer that it is an evil, was quite correct. The only mistake was that I had extended an answer that related only to myself to life as a whole. I had asked myself what my life was and had received the answer that it is evil and meaningless. And this was quite true, for my life of indulgent pursuits was meaningless and evil, but that answer applied only to my life and not to human life in general. I understood a truism that I subsequently found in the gospels: that people often preferred darkness to light because their deeds were evil. For he who acts maliciously hates light and avoids it so as not to throw light on his deeds. I understood that in order to understand life it is first of all necessary that life is not evil and meaningless, and then one may use reason in order to elucidate it. I realized why I had for so long been treading so close to such an obvious truth without seeing it, and that in order to think and speak about human life one must think and speak about human life and not about the lives of a few parasites. The truth has always been the truth, just as 2 x 2 = 4, but I had not admitted it, because in acknowledging that 2 x 2 = 4 I would have to admit that I was a bad man. And it was more important and necessary for me to feel that I was good than to admit that 2 x 2 = 4. I came to love good people and to loathe myself, and I acknowledged the truth. And then it all became clear to me.
Leo Tolstoy (A Confession and Other Religious Writings)
My position was terrible. I knew that I could find nothing in the way of rational knowledge except a denial of life; and in faith I could find nothing except a denial of reason, and this was even more impossible than a denial of life. According to rational knowledge, it followed that life is evil, and people know it. They do not have to live, yet they have lived and they do live, just as I myself had lived, even though I had known for a long time that life is meaningless and evil. Try as he might, Tolstoy could identify only four means of escaping from such thoughts. One was retreating into childlike ignorance of the problem. Another was pursuing mindless pleasure. The third was “continuing to drag out a life that is evil and meaningless, knowing beforehand that nothing can come of it.” He identified that particular form of escape with weakness: “The people in this category know that death is better than life, but they do not have the strength to act rationally and quickly put an end to the delusion by killing themselves….” Only the fourth and final mode of escape involved “strength and energy. It consists of destroying life, once one has realized that life is evil and meaningless.” Tolstoy relentlessly followed his thoughts: Only unusually strong and logically consistent people act in this manner. Having realized all the stupidity of the joke that is being played on us and seeing that the blessings of the dead are greater than those of the living and that it is better not to exist, they act and put an end to this stupid joke; and they use any means of doing it: a rope around the neck, water, a knife in the heart, a train.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
Man, the bravest of animals and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse that lay over mankind so far―and the ascetic ideal offered man meaning! It was the only meaning offered so far; any meaning is better than none at all; the ascetic ideal was in every sense the "faute de mieux" par excellence so far. In it, suffering was interpreted; the tremendous void seemed to have been filled; the door was closed to any kind of suicidal nihilism. This interpretation - there is no doubt of it - brought fresh suffering with it, deeper, more inward, more poisonous, more life-destructive suffering: it placed all suffering under the perspective of guilt. But all this notwithstanding - man was saved thereby, he possessed a meaning, he was henceforth no longer 1ike a leaf in the wind, a plaything of nonsense - the "sense-less" - he could now willsomething; no matter at first to what end, why, with what he willed: the will itself was saved. We can no longer conceal from ourselves what is expressed by all that willing which has taken its direction from the ascetic ideal: this hatred of the human, and even more of the animal, and more still of the material, this horror of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and beauty, this longing to get away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, wishing, from longing itself. All this means - let us dare to grasp it - a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental presuppositions of life; but it is and remains a will. Man would rather will nothingness than not will at all.
Friedrich Nietzsche (On the Genealogy of Morals)
This life is back to front. It’s terrible, unendurable. . . . No one comes back from the dead, no one has come into the world without crying. No one asks when you want to enter the world, no one asks when you want to leave . . . How empty and meaningless life is. We bury a person; follow him to the grave, throw three shovels of dirt over him. We drive out in a coach and drive back in a coach, and console ourselves with the thought of our own long lives. But really, how long is three score and ten? Why not just get it over with straight away? Why not stay out there, hop down into the grave ourselves and draw lots to see who has the bad luck to be the last one alive, the one to throw the last three shovels of dirt over the last dead person? (Either/Or, 1843) In
Robert Ferguson (Life Lessons From Kierkegaard)
I should have done it a long time ago. When there were three bullets in the gun instead of two. I was stupid. We’ve been over all of this. I didnt bring myself to this. I was brought. And now I’m done. I thought about not even telling you. That would probably have been best. You have two bullets and then what? You cant protect us. You say you would die for us but what good is that? I’d take him with me if it werent for you. You know I would. It’s the right thing to do. You’re talking crazy. No, I’m speaking the truth. Sooner or later they will catch us and they will kill us. They will rape me. They’ll rape him. They are going to rape us and kill us and eat us and you wont face it. You’d rather wait for it to happen. But I cant. I cant. She sat there smoking a slender length of dried grapevine as if it were some rare cheroot. Holding it with a certain elegance, her other hand across her knees where she’d drawn them up. She watched him across the small flame. We used to talk about death, she said. We dont any more. Why is that? I dont know. It’s because it’s here. There’s nothing left to talk about. I wouldnt leave you. I dont care. It’s meaningless. You can think of me as a faithless slut if you like. I’ve taken a new lover. He can give me what you cannot. Death is not a lover. Oh yes he is.
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
To speak of certain government and establishment institutions as “the system” is to speak correctly, since these organizations are founded upon the same structural conceptual relationships as a motorcycle. They are sustained by structural relationships even when they have lost all other meaning and purpose. People arrive at a factory and perform a totally meaningless task from eight to five without question because the structure demands that it be that way. There’s no villain, no “mean guy” who wants them to live meaningless lives, it’s just that the structure, the system demands it and no one is willing to take on the formidable task of changing the structure just because it is meaningless. But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
The essence of cool, after all, is not giving a fuck. And let’s face it: I most definitely give a fuck now. I give a huge fuck. The hugest. Everything else—everything—pales. To pretend otherwise, by word or deed, would be a monstrous lie. There will be no more Dead Boys T-shirts. Whom would I be kidding? Their charmingly nihilistic worldview in no way mirrors my own. If Stiv Bators were still alive and put his filthy hands anywhere near my baby, I’d snap his neck—then thoroughly cleanse the area with baby wipes. There is no hope of hipness. As my friend A. A. Gill points out, after your daughter reaches a certain age—like five—the most excruciating and embarrassing thing she could possibly imagine is seeing her dad in any way threatening to rock. Your record collection may indeed be cooler than your daughter’s will ever be, but this is a meaningless distinction now. She doesn’t care. And nobody else will. If you’re lucky, long after you’re gone, a grandchild will rediscover your old copy of Fun House. But it will be way too late for you to bask in the glory of past coolness. There is nothing cool about “used to be cool.” All of this, I think, is only right and appropriate.
Anthony Bourdain (Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook)
He could seek no object in life now, because now he had faith—not faith in any sort of principles, or words, or ideas, but faith in a living, ever-palpable God. In old days he had sought Him in the aims he set before himself. That search for an object in life had been only a seeking after God; and all at once in his captivity he had come to know, not through words or arguments, but by his own immediate feeling, what his old nurse had told him long before; that God is here, and everywhere. In his captivity he had come to see that the God in Karataev was grander, more infinite, and more unfathomable than the Architect of the Universe recognised by the masons. He felt like a man who finds what he has sought at his feet, when he has been straining his eyes to seek it in the distance. All his life he had been looking far away over the heads of all around him, while he need not have strained his eyes, but had only to look in front of him. In old days he had been unable to see the great, the unfathomable, and the infinite in anything. He had only felt that it must be somewhere, and had been seeking it. In everything near and comprehensible, he had seen only what was limited, petty, everyday, and meaningless. He had armed himself with the telescope of intellect, and gazed far away into the distance, where that petty, everyday world, hidden in the mists of distance, had seemed to him great and infinite, simply because it was not clearly seen. Such had been European life, politics, freemasonry, philosophy, and philanthropy in his eyes. But even then, in moments which he had looked on as times of weakness, his thought had penetrated even to these remote objects, and then he had seen in them the same pettiness, the same ordinariness and meaninglessness. Now he had learnt to see the great, the eternal, and the infinite in everything; and naturally therefore, in order to see it, to revel in its contemplation, he flung aside the telescope through which he had hitherto been gazing over men’s heads, and looked joyfully at the ever-changing, ever grand, unfathomable, and infinite life around him. And the closer he looked at it, the calmer and happier he was. The terrible question that had shattered all his intellectual edifices in old days, the question: What for? had no existence for him now. To that question, What for? he had now always ready in his soul the simple answer: Because there is a God, that God without whom not one hair of a man’s head falls.
Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace)
She knew what bothered her at the store. It was the sort of thing she wouldn’t try to tell Richard. It was that the store intensified things that had always bothered her, as long as she could remember. It was the waste actions, the meaningless chores that seemed to keep her from doing what she wanted to do, might have done—and here it was the complicated procedures with money bags, coat checkings, and time clocks that kept people even from serving the store as efficiently as they might—the sense that everyone was incommunicado with everyone else and living on an entirely wrong plane, so that the meaning, the message, the love, or whatever it was that each life contained, never could find its expression. It reminded her of conversations at tables, on sofas, with people whose words seemed to hover over dead, unstirrable things, who never touched a string that played. And when one tried to touch a live string, looked at one with faces as masked as ever, making a remark so perfect in its banality that one could not even believe it might be subterfuge. And the loneliness, augmented by the fact one saw within the store the same faces day after day, the few faces one might have spoken to and never did, or never could. Not like the face on the passing bus that seems to speak, that is seen once and at least is gone forever.
Patricia Highsmith (The Price of Salt)
167 It’s one of those days when the monotony of everything oppresses me like being thrown into jail. The monotony of everything is merely the monotony of myself, however. Each face, even if seen just yesterday, is different today, because today isn’t yesterday. Each day is the day it is, and there was never another one like it in the world. Only our soul makes the identification – a genuinely felt but erroneous identification – by which everything becomes similar and simplified. The world is a set of distinct things with varied edges, but if we’re near-sighted, it’s a continual and indecipherable fog. I feel like fleeing. Like fleeing from what I know, fleeing from what’s mine, fleeing from what I love. I want to depart, not for impossible Indias or for the great islands south of everything, but for any place at all – village or wilderness – that isn’t this place. I want to stop seeing these unchanging faces, this routine, these days. I want to rest, far removed, from my inveterate feigning. I want to feel sleep come to me as life, not as rest. A cabin on the seashore or even a cave in a rocky mountainside could give me this, but my will, unfortunately, cannot. Slavery is the law of life, and it is the only law, for it must be observed: there is no revolt possible, no way to escape it. Some are born slaves, others become slaves, and still others are forced to accept slavery. Our faint-hearted love of freedom – which, if we had it, we would all reject, unable to get used to it – is proof of how ingrained our slavery is. I myself, having just said that I’d like a cabin or a cave where I could be free from the monotony of everything, which is the monotony of me – would I dare set out for this cabin or cave, knowing from experience that the monotony, since it stems from me, will always be with me? I myself, suffocating from where I am and because I am – where would I breathe easier, if the sickness is in my lungs rather than in the things that surround me? I myself, who long for pure sunlight and open country, for the ocean in plain view and the unbroken horizon – could I get used to my new bed, the food, not having to descend eight flights of stairs to the street, not entering the tobacco shop on the corner, not saying good-morning to the barber standing outside his shop? Everything that surrounds us becomes part of us, infiltrating our physical sensations and our feeling of life, and like spittle of the great Spider it subtly binds us to whatever is close, tucking us into a soft bed of slow death which is rocked by the wind. Everything is us, and we are everything, but what good is this, if everything is nothing? A ray of sunlight, a cloud whose shadow tells us it is passing, a breeze that rises, the silence that follows when it ceases, one or another face, a few voices, the incidental laughter of the girls who are talking, and then night with the meaningless, fractured hieroglyphs of the stars.
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
Despite the intervening six decades of scientific inquiry since Selye’s groundbreaking work, the physiological impact of the emotions is still far from fully appreciated. The medical approach to health and illness continues to suppose that body and mind are separable from each other and from the milieu in which they exist. Compounding that mistake is a definition of stress that is narrow and simplistic. Medical thinking usually sees stress as highly disturbing but isolated events such as, for example, sudden unemployment, a marriage breakup or the death of a loved one. These major events are potent sources of stress for many, but there are chronic daily stresses in people’s lives that are more insidious and more harmful in their long-term biological consequences. Internally generated stresses take their toll without in any way seeming out of the ordinary. For those habituated to high levels of internal stress since early childhood, it is the absence of stress that creates unease, evoking boredom and a sense of meaninglessness. People may become addicted to their own stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, Hans Selye observed. To such persons stress feels desirable, while the absence of it feels like something to be avoided. When people describe themselves as being stressed, they usually mean the nervous agitation they experience under excessive demands — most commonly in the areas of work, family, relationships, finances or health. But sensations of nervous tension do not define stress — nor, strictly speaking, are they always perceived when people are stressed. Stress, as we will define it, is not a matter of subjective feeling. It is a measurable set of objective physiological events in the body, involving the brain, the hormonal apparatus, the immune system and many other organs. Both animals and people can experience stress with no awareness of its presence. “Stress is not simply nervous tension,” Selye pointed out. “Stress reactions do occur in lower animals, and even in plants, that have no nervous systems…. Indeed, stress can be produced under deep anaesthesia in patients who are unconscious, and even in cell cultures grown outside the body.” Similarly, stress effects can be highly active in persons who are fully awake, but who are in the grip of unconscious emotions or cut off from their body responses. The physiology of stress may be triggered without observable effects on behaviour and without subjective awareness, as has been shown in animal experiments and in human studies.
Gabor Maté (When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress)
Antidepression medication is temperamental. Somewhere around fifty-nine or sixty I noticed the drug I’d been taking seemed to have stopped working. This is not unusual. The drugs interact with your body chemistry in different ways over time and often need to be tweaked. After the death of Dr. Myers, my therapist of twenty-five years, I’d been seeing a new doctor whom I’d been having great success with. Together we decided to stop the medication I’d been on for five years and see what would happen... DEATH TO MY HOMETOWN!! I nose-dived like the diving horse at the old Atlantic City steel pier into a sloshing tub of grief and tears the likes of which I’d never experienced before. Even when this happens to me, not wanting to look too needy, I can be pretty good at hiding the severity of my feelings from most of the folks around me, even my doctor. I was succeeding well with this for a while except for one strange thing: TEARS! Buckets of ’em, oceans of ’em, cold, black tears pouring down my face like tidewater rushing over Niagara during any and all hours of the day. What was this about? It was like somebody opened the floodgates and ran off with the key. There was NO stopping it. 'Bambi' tears... 'Old Yeller' tears... 'Fried Green Tomatoes' tears... rain... tears... sun... tears... I can’t find my keys... tears. Every mundane daily event, any bump in the sentimental road, became a cause to let it all hang out. It would’ve been funny except it wasn’t. Every meaningless thing became the subject of a world-shattering existential crisis filling me with an awful profound foreboding and sadness. All was lost. All... everything... the future was grim... and the only thing that would lift the burden was one-hundred-plus on two wheels or other distressing things. I would be reckless with myself. Extreme physical exertion was the order of the day and one of the few things that helped. I hit the weights harder than ever and paddleboarded the equivalent of the Atlantic, all for a few moments of respite. I would do anything to get Churchill’s black dog’s teeth out of my ass. Through much of this I wasn’t touring. I’d taken off the last year and a half of my youngest son’s high school years to stay close to family and home. It worked and we became closer than ever. But that meant my trustiest form of self-medication, touring, was not at hand. I remember one September day paddleboarding from Sea Bright to Long Branch and back in choppy Atlantic seas. I called Jon and said, “Mr. Landau, book me anywhere, please.” I then of course broke down in tears. Whaaaaaaaaaa. I’m surprised they didn’t hear me in lower Manhattan. A kindly elderly woman walking her dog along the beach on this beautiful fall day saw my distress and came up to see if there was anything she could do. Whaaaaaaaaaa. How kind. I offered her tickets to the show. I’d seen this symptom before in my father after he had a stroke. He’d often mist up. The old man was usually as cool as Robert Mitchum his whole life, so his crying was something I loved and welcomed. He’d cry when I’d arrive. He’d cry when I left. He’d cry when I mentioned our old dog. I thought, “Now it’s me.” I told my doc I could not live like this. I earned my living doing shows, giving interviews and being closely observed. And as soon as someone said “Clarence,” it was going to be all over. So, wisely, off to the psychopharmacologist he sent me. Patti and I walked in and met a vibrant, white-haired, welcoming but professional gentleman in his sixties or so. I sat down and of course, I broke into tears. I motioned to him with my hand; this is it. This is why I’m here. I can’t stop crying! He looked at me and said, “We can fix this.” Three days and a pill later the waterworks stopped, on a dime. Unbelievable. I returned to myself. I no longer needed to paddle, pump, play or challenge fate. I didn’t need to tour. I felt normal.
Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run)
is turning all life into a unified flow experience. If a person sets out to achieve a difficult enough goal, from which all other goals logically follow, and if he or she invests all energy in developing skills to reach that goal, then actions and feelings will be in harmony, and the separate parts of life will fit together—and each activity will “make sense” in the present, as well as in view of the past and of the future. In such a way, it is possible to give meaning to one’s entire life. But isn’t it incredibly naive to expect life to have a coherent overall meaning? After all, at least since Nietzsche concluded that God was dead, philosophers and social scientists have been busy demonstrating that existence has no purpose, that chance and impersonal forces rule our fate, and that all values are relative and hence arbitrary. It is true that life has no meaning, if by that we mean a supreme goal built into the fabric of nature and human experience, a goal that is valid for every individual. But it does not follow that life cannot be given meaning. Much of what we call culture and civilization consists in efforts people have made, generally against overwhelming odds, to create a sense of purpose for themselves and their descendants. It is one thing to recognize that life is, by itself, meaningless. It is another thing entirely to accept this with resignation. The first fact does not entail the second any more than the fact that we lack wings prevents us from flying. From the point of view of an individual, it does not matter what the ultimate goal is—provided it is compelling enough to order a lifetime’s worth of psychic energy. The challenge might involve the desire to have the best beer-bottle collection in the neighborhood, the resolution to find a cure for cancer, or simply the biological imperative to have children who will survive and prosper. As long as it provides clear objectives, clear rules for action, and a way to concentrate and become involved, any goal can serve to give meaning to a person’s life. In the past few years I have come to be quite well acquainted with several Muslim professionals—electronics engineers, pilots, businessmen, and teachers, mostly from Saudi Arabia and from the other Gulf states. In talking to them, I was struck with how relaxed most of them seemed to be even under strong pressure. “There is nothing to it,” those I asked about it told me, in different words, but with the same message: “We don’t get upset because we believe that our life is in God’s hands, and whatever He decides will be fine with us.” Such implicit faith used to be widespread in our culture as well, but it is not easy to find it now. Many of us have to discover a goal that will give meaning to life on our own, without the help of a traditional faith.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)
It might be useful here to say a word about Beckett, as a link between the two stages, and as illustrating the shift towards schism. He wrote for transition, an apocalyptic magazine (renovation out of decadence, a Joachite indication in the title), and has often shown a flair for apocalyptic variations, the funniest of which is the frustrated millennialism of the Lynch family in Watt, and the most telling, perhaps, the conclusion of Comment c'est. He is the perverse theologian of a world which has suffered a Fall, experienced an Incarnation which changes all relations of past, present, and future, but which will not be redeemed. Time is an endless transition from one condition of misery to another, 'a passion without form or stations,' to be ended by no parousia. It is a world crying out for forms and stations, and for apocalypse; all it gets is vain temporality, mad, multiform antithetical influx. It would be wrong to think that the negatives of Beckett are a denial of the paradigm in favour of reality in all its poverty. In Proust, whom Beckett so admires, the order, the forms of the passion, all derive from the last book; they are positive. In Beckett, the signs of order and form are more or less continuously presented, but always with a sign of cancellation; they are resources not to be believed in, cheques which will bounce. Order, the Christian paradigm, he suggests, is no longer usable except as an irony; that is why the Rooneys collapse in laughter when they read on the Wayside Pulpit that the Lord will uphold all that fall. But of course it is this order, however ironized, this continuously transmitted idea of order, that makes Beckett's point, and provides his books with the structural and linguistic features which enable us to make sense of them. In his progress he has presumed upon our familiarity with his habits of language and structure to make the relation between the occulted forms and the narrative surface more and more tenuous; in Comment c'est he mimes a virtually schismatic breakdown of this relation, and of his language. This is perfectly possible to reach a point along this line where nothing whatever is communicated, but of course Beckett has not reached it by a long way; and whatever preserves intelligibility is what prevents schism. This is, I think, a point to be remembered whenever one considers extremely novel, avant-garde writing. Schism is meaningless without reference to some prior condition; the absolutely New is simply unintelligible, even as novelty. It may, of course, be asked: unintelligible to whom? --the inference being that a minority public, perhaps very small--members of a circle in a square world--do understand the terms in which the new thing speaks. And certainly the minority public is a recognized feature of modern literature, and certainly conditions are such that there may be many small minorities instead of one large one; and certainly this is in itself schismatic. The history of European literature, from the time the imagination's Latin first made an accommodation with the lingua franca, is in part the history of the education of a public--cultivated but not necessarily learned, as Auerbach says, made up of what he calls la cour et la ville. That this public should break up into specialized schools, and their language grow scholastic, would only be surprising if one thought that the existence of excellent mechanical means of communication implied excellent communications, and we know it does not, McLuhan's 'the medium is the message' notwithstanding. But it is still true that novelty of itself implies the existence of what is not novel, a past. The smaller the circle, and the more ambitious its schemes of renovation, the less useful, on the whole, its past will be. And the shorter. I will return to these points in a moment.
Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction)
Until my thirtieth year, I lived in a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression. It feels now as if I am talking about some past lifetime or somebody else’s life. One night not long after my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. I had woken up with such a feeling many times before, but this time it was more intense than it had ever been. The silence of the night, the vague outlines of the furniture in the dark room, the distant noise of a passing train – everything felt so alien, so hostile, and so utterly meaningless that it created in me a deep loathing of the world. The most loathsome thing of all, however, was my own existence. What was the point in continuing to live with this burden of misery? Why carry on with this continuous struggle? I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for nonexistence, was now becoming much stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live. ‘I cannot live with myself any longer.’ This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. ‘Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.’ ‘Maybe,’ I thought, ‘only one of them is real.’ I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words ‘resist nothing,’ as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that. I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond. Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like. I opened my eyes. The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marvelling at the beauty and aliveness of it all. That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world.
Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment)
Historically, holism had been a break from the reductionist methods of science. Holism (...) is a way of viewing the universe as a web of interactions and relationships. Whole systems (and the universe can be seen as an overarching system of systems) have properties beyond those of their parts. All things are, in some sense, alive, or a part of a living system; the real world of mind and matter, body and consciousness, cannot be understood by reducing it to pieces and parts. 'Matter is mind' – this is perhaps the holists' quintessential belief. The founding theories of holism had tried to explain how mind emerges from the material universe, how the consciousness of all things is interconnected. The first science, of course, had failed utterly to do this. The first science had resigned human beings to acting as objective observers of a mechanistic and meaningless universe. A dead universe. The human mind, according to the determinists, was merely the by-product of brain chemistry. Chemical laws, the way the elements combine and interact, were formulated as complete and immutable truths. The elements themselves were seen as indivisible lumps of matter, devoid of consciousness, untouched and unaffected by the very consciousnesses seeking to understand how living minds can be assembled from dead matter. The logical conclusion of these assumptions and conceptions was that people are like chemical robots possessing no free will. No wonder the human race, during the Holocaust Century, had fallen into insanity and despair. Holism had been an attempt to restore life to this universe and to reconnect human beings with it. To heal the split between self and other. (...) Each quantum event, each of the trillions of times reality's particles interact with each other every instant, is like a note that rings and resonates throughout the great bell of creation. And the sound of the ringing propagates instantaneously, everywhere at once, interconnecting all things. This is a truth of our universe. It is a mystical truth, that reality at its deepest level is an undivided wholeness. It has been formalized and canonized, and taught to the swarms of humanity searching for a fundamental unity. Only, human beings have learned it as a theory and a doctrine, not as an experience. A true holism should embrace not only the theory of living systems, but also the reality of the belly, of wind, hunger, and snowworms roasting over a fire on a cold winter night. A man or woman (or child) to be fully human, should always marvel at the mystery of life. We each should be able to face the universe and drink in the stream of photons shimmering across the light-distances, to listen to the ringing of the farthest galaxies, to feel the electrons of each haemoglobin molecule spinning and vibrating deep inside the blood. No one should ever feel cut off from the ocean of mind and memory surging all around; no one should ever stare up at the icy stars and feel abandoned or alone. It was partly the fault of holism that a whole civilization had suffered the abandonment of its finest senses, ten thousand trillion islands of consciousness born into the pain and promise of neverness, awaiting death with glassy eyes and murmured abstractions upon their lips, always fearing life, always longing for a deeper and truer experience of living.
David Zindell (The Broken God (A Requiem for Homo Sapiens, #1))