Notion Of Life Quotes

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Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'
Isaac Asimov
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
Isaac Asimov
Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.
Thomas Henry Huxley (Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley - Volume 1)
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.
Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
All I can think about is how fucked up it would be for your life to end here, now. I mean I know that your life if fucked up no matter what now, forever. And I'm not dumb enough to think that I can undo that, that anyone can. But I can't wrap my mind around the notion of you not getting old, having kids, going to Juilliard, getting to play that cello in front of a huge audience, so that they can get the chills the way I do every time I see you pick up your bow, every time I see you smile at me.
Gayle Forman (If I Stay (If I Stay, #1))
What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original. Much would have been gained if, through timely advice and instruction, young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.
Arthur Schopenhauer
There's a reason we refer to "leaps of faith" - because the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don't care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn't. If faith were rational, it wouldn't be - by definition - faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
The sharpest minds often ruin their lives by overthinking the next step, while the dull win the race with eyes closed.
Bethany Brookbank (Write like no one is reading)
It's been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home -- only the millions of last moments . . . nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments.
Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow)
It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream--making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams...No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream-alone...
Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness)
The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.
Peter Singer
Stupidity is much the same all the world over. A stupid person's notions and feelings may confidently be inferred from those which prevail in the circle by which the person is surrounded. Not so with those whose opinions and feelings are an emanation from their own nature and faculties.
John Stuart Mill (The Subjection of Women)
Fire sat unbreathing. A life that was an apology for the life of his father: It was a notion she could understand, beyond words and thought. She understood it the way she understood music.
Kristin Cashore (Fire (Graceling Realm, #2))
At the most difficult moments of my life, when it seemed that every door was closed to me, the taste of those apricots comes back to comfort me with the notion that abundance is always within reach, if only one knows how to find it.
Isabel Allende (Paula)
If throughout your life you abstain from murder, theft, fornication, perjury, blasphemy, and disrespect toward your parents, church, and your king, you are conventionally held to deserve moral admiration even if you have never done a single kind, generous or useful action. This very inadequate notion of virtue is an outcome of taboo morality, and has done untold harm.
Bertrand Russell
I did not count the days or the weeks or the months. Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time.
Yann Martel
Islam and Christianity promise eternal paradise to the faithful. And that is a powerful opiate, certainly, the hope of a better life to come. But there's a Sufi story that challenges the notion that people believe only because they need an opiate. Rabe'a al-Adiwiyah, a great woman saint of Sufism, was seem running through the streets of her hometown, Basra, carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When someone asked her what she was doing, she answered, 'I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it on the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven of fear of hell, but because He is God.
John Green (Looking for Alaska)
How poetic you are," she said. "I've a notion that poetry is the highest form of self-deception.
Gregory Maguire (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1))
There is something profoundly cynical, my friends, in the notion of paradise after death. The lure is evasion. The promise is excusative. One need not accept responsibility for the world as it is, and by extension, one need do nothing about it. To strive for change, for true goodness in this mortal world, one must acknowledge and accept, within one's own soul, that this mortal reality has purpose in itself, that its greatest value is not for us, but for our children and their children. To view life as but a quick passage alone a foul, tortured path – made foul and tortured by our own indifference – is to excuse all manner of misery and depravity, and to exact cruel punishment upon the innocent lives to come. I defy this notion of paradise beyond the gates of bone. If the soul truly survives the passage, then it behooves us – each of us, my friends – to nurture a faith in similitude: what awaits us is a reflection of what we leave behind, and in the squandering of our mortal existence, we surrender the opportunity to learn the ways of goodness, the practice of sympathy, empathy, compassion and healing – all passed by in our rush to arrive at a place of glory and beauty, a place we did not earn, and most certainly do not deserve.
Steven Erikson (The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #6))
In psychology (okay, Twilight) they teach you about the notion of imprinting, and I think it applies here. I reverse-imprinted with athleticism. Ours is the great non-love story of my life.
Mindy Kaling (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns))
I hold an old-fashioned notion that a happy marriage is the crown of a woman’s life.
Beatrix Potter
The notion of freedom proclaimed by the modern world is anti-discipline. But true freedom cannot be separated from discipline.
Matthew Kelly (Rediscover Catholicism)
Altogether, if I'd been looking at nothing but the media all these years, I would be a much more discouraged person-especially given the notion that only conflict is news, and that objectivity means being evenhandedly negative.
Gloria Steinem (My Life on the Road)
I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy... So long as we persist in this inborn error... the world seems to us full of contradictions. For at every step, in things great and small, we are bound to experience that the world and life are certainly not arranged for the purpose of maintaining a happy existence... hence the countenances of almost all elderly persons wear the expression of what is called disappointment.
Arthur Schopenhauer
Ann Druyan suggests an experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot of the preceding chapter. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn’t strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?
Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)
There is a certain way of being human that is my way. I am called upon to live my life in this way, and not in imitation of anyone else's life. But this notion gives a new importance to being true to myself. If I am not, I miss the point of my life; I miss what being human is for me.
Charles Taylor (Multiculturalism)
He tried to give his wife pleasure in little ways, because he had come to realize, after nearly two decades together, how often he disappointed her in the big things. It was never intentional. They simply had very different notions of what ought to take up most space in life.
J.K. Rowling (The Casual Vacancy)
The love of your life is the person who makes you forget what all your standards and preconceived notions about love and romance even were.
Carla Neggers (Tempting Fate)
It's not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It's a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life.
John C. Holt
Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don't change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow.
Woody Guthrie
In the pits of our souls - if I amuse myself with the notion that I have a soul - Elian and I aren't so different. Two kingdoms that come with responsibilities we each have trouble bearing. Him, the shackles of being pinned to one land and one life. Me, trapped in the confines of my mother's murderous legacy. And the ocean, calling out to us both. A song of freedom and longing.
Alexandra Christo (To Kill a Kingdom)
I spend the rest of the afternoon trying to explain to Zoe one of the very saddest notions in love and life: sometimes the timing is wrong--and sometimes you realize the heart of the matter way to late in the game.
Emily Giffin (Baby Proof)
Not basing your principles of sex based on the judgment of other or on hearsay, uphold yourself to virtues that you believe in. Before any laws created by man, religion, and culture; the universe has always held us under the principles of love in all endeavors in life, and this applies to sex as well. Sex is a very personal experience and the morals you follow under this act are a personal notion that you create yourself for the sake of your personal happiness.
Forrest Curran (Purple Buddha Project: Purple Book of Self-Love)
I think therapy is a rather misguided notion of capitalist societies whereby the self-indulgent examination of one's life supersedes the actual living of said life.
Peter Cameron (Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You)
Do you know that feeling - The feeling of being alive and dead, both at the same time? When it seems like you are just going through with different notions of life, without actually living it. I do, I know that feeling very well. I live with it, eat with it and often sleep with it.
Bhavya Kaushik (The Other Side of the Bed)
Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time." Page 212.
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
Single ladies, the only thing we need to be rescued from is the notion that we need to be rescued.
Mandy Hale (The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass)
There is an alternative: the unfashionable but powerful notion of letting time use you, approaching life not as an opportunity to implement your predetermined plans for success but as a matter of responding to the needs of your place and your moment in history.
Oliver Burkeman (Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals)
Love is something girls hope for when they don't know better, something women long for when they lie awake at night, and something they'll only ever get from their children. Men don't have time for such notions.
Cora Reilly (Bound by Honor (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #1))
Veganism is an act of nonviolent defiance. It is our statement that we reject the notion that animals are things and that we regard sentient nonhumans as moral persons with the fundamental moral right not to be treated as the property or resources of humans.
Gary L. Francione
We must abandon completely the notion of blaming the past for any kind of situation we're in and reverse our thinking and see that the past always flows back form the present. That now is the creative point of life. So you see its like the idea of forgiving somebody, you change the meaning of the past by doing that...Also watch the flow of music. The melody as its expressed is changed by notes that come later. Just as the meaning of a sentence...you wait till later to find out what the sentence means...The present is always changing the past.
Alan W. Watts
Moods are such an essential part of the substance of life, of one's notion of oneself, that even psychotic extremes in mood and behavior somehow can be seen as temporary, even understandable, reactions to what life has dealt.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
I reject the notion that thinness is the goal, that thin = better—that I am an unfinished thing and that my life can really start when I lose weight. That then I will be a real person and have finally succeeded as a woman. I am not going to waste another second of my life thinking about this. I don’t want to have another fucking conversation with another fucking woman about what she’s eating or not eating or regrets eating or pretends to not regret eating to mask the regret. OOPS I JUST YAWNED TO DEATH.
Lindy West (Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman)
We are so used to the notion of our own inevitability as life’s dominant species that it is hard to grasp that we are here only because of timely extraterrestrial bangs and other random flukes. The one thing we have in common with all other living things is that for nearly four billion years our ancestors have managed to slip through a series of closing doors every time we needed them to.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
The notion of my future suddenly snapped into focus: it didn't exist yet. I was making it, standing there, breathing, fixing the air around my body with stillness, trying to capture something—a thought, I guess—as though such a thing were possible, as though I believed in the delusion described in those paintings—that time could be contained, held captive.
Ottessa Moshfegh (My Year of Rest and Relaxation)
For there is always a sanctuary more, a door that can never be forced, a last inviolable stronghold that can never be taken, whatever the attack; your vote can be taken, you name, you innards, or even your life, but that last stonghold can only be surrendered. And to surrender it for any reason other than love is to surrender love.
Ken Kesey (Sometimes a Great Notion)
If women allow themselves to be consoled for their culturally determined lack of access to the modes of intellectual debate by the invocation of hypothetical great goddesses, they are simply flattering themselves into submission (a technique often used on them by men). All the mythic versions of women, from the myth of the redeeming purity of the virgin to that of the healing, reconciliatory mother, are consolatory nonsenses; and consolatory nonsense seems to me a fair definition of myth, anyway. Mother goddesses are just as silly a notion as father gods. If a revival of the myths gives women emotional satisfaction, it does so at the price of obscuring the real conditions of life. This is why they were invented in the first place.
Angela Carter (The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography)
If you accept a punitive notion of God, who punishes or even eternally tortures those who do not love him, then you have an absurd universe where most people on this earth end up being more loving than God!
Richard Rohr (Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life)
The soul of wit may become the very body of untruth. However elegant and memorable, brevity can never, in the nature of things, do justice to all the facts of a complex situation. On such a theme one can be brief only by omission and simplification. Omission and simplification help us to understand - but help us, in many cases, to understand the wrong thing; for our comprehension may be only of the abbreviator's neatly formulated notions, not of the vast, ramifying reality from which these notions have been so arbitrarily abstracted.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World Revisited)
In everyone there is some willingness to merge with the anonymous crowd and to flow comfortably along with it down the river of pseudo-life. This is much more than a simple conflict between two identities. It is something far worse: it is a challenge to the very notion of identity itself.
Václav Havel (The Power of the Powerless)
I despised their antics because I took life seriously and had a much more lofty and tender notion of romance. But I would have liked to get their attention just the same.
Alice Munro (The Love of a Good Woman)
The closer you get to real matter, rock air fire and wood, boy, the more spiritual life is. All these people thinking they're hardheaded materialistic practical types, they don't know shit about matter, their heads are full of dreamy ideas and notions.
Jack Kerouac (The Dharma Bums)
But one never does form a just idea of anybody beforehand. One takes up a notion and runs away with it.
Jane Austen (Emma)
I, being born a woman and distressed By all the needs and notions of my kind, Am urged by your propinquity to find Your person fair, and feel a certain zest To bear your body's weight upon my breast; So subtly is the fume of life designed, To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind, And leave me once again undone, possessed. Think not for this, however, the poor treason Of my stout blood against my staggering brain, I shall remember you with love, or season My scorn with pity, - let me make it plain: I find this frenzy insufficient reason For conversation when we meet again.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
All myth is an enriched pattern, a two-faced proposition, allowing its operator to say one thing and mean another, to lead a double life. Hence the notion found early in ancient thought that all poets are liars. And from the true lies of poetry trickled out a question. What really connects words and things?
Anne Carson (The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos)
Life is too short to have anything but delusional notions about yourself.
Gene Simmons
I had as yet no notion that life every now and then becomes literature—not for long, of course, but long enough to be what we best remember, and often enough so that what we eventually come to mean by life are those moments when life, instead of going sideways, backwards, forward, or nowhere at all, lines out straight, tense and inevitable, with a complication, climax, and, given some luck, a purgation, as if life had been made and not happened.
Norman Maclean (A River Runs Through It and Other Stories)
Would you walk to the edge of the ocean Just to fill my jar with sand Just in case I get the notion To let it run through my hand
The Band Perrry
The notion is called wabi-sabi life, like the cherry blossom, it is beautiful because of its impermanence, not in spite of it, more exquisite for the inevitability of loss.
Peggy Orenstein (Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother)
It was always the same; other people gave up loving before she did. They got spoilt, or else they went away; in any case, they were partly to blame. Why did it happen so? She herself never changed; when she loved anyone, it was for life. She could not understand desertion; it was something so huge, so monstrous that the notion of it made her little heart break.
Émile Zola (Une page d'amour)
Presque tous les malheurs de la vie viennent des fausses idées que nous avons sur ce qui nous arrive. Connaître à fond les hommes, juger sainement des événements, est donc un grand pas vers le bonheur." ("Almost all our misfortunes in life come from the wrong notions we have about the things that happen to us. To know men thoroughly, to judge events sanely, is, therefore, a great step towards happiness.") [Journal entry, 10 December 1801]
Stendhal (The Private Diaries of Stendhal)
We are familiar with people who seek out solitude: penitents, failures, saints, or prophets. They retreat to deserts, preferably, where they live on locusts and honey. Others, however, live in caves or cells on remote islands; some-more spectacularly-squat in cages mounted high atop poles swaying in the breeze. They do this to be nearer God. Their solitude is a self-moritification by which they do penance. They act in the belief that they are living a life pleasing to God. Or they wait months, years, for their solitude to be broken by some divine message that they hope then speedily to broadcast among mankind. Grenouille's case was nothing of the sort. There was not the least notion of God in his head. He was not doing penance or wating for some supernatural inspiration. He had withdrawn solely for his own pleasure, only to be near to himself. No longer distracted by anything external, he basked in his own existence and found it splendid. He lay in his stony crypt like his own corpse, hardly breathing, his heart hardly beating-and yet lived as intensively and dissolutely as ever a rake lived in the wide world outside.
Patrick Süskind (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)
the intensity, glory, and absolute assuredness if my mind's flight made it very difficult for me to believe once i was better, that the illness was one i should willingly give up....moods are such an essential part of the substance of life, of one's notion of oneself, that even psychotic extremes in mood and behavior somehow can be seen as temporary, even understandable reactions to what life has dealt....even though the depressions that inevitably followed nearly cost me my life.
Kay Redfield Jamison
In my life I’ve discovered that if I cling to the notion that something’s not possible, I’m arguing in favor of limitation. And if I argue for my limitations, I get to keep them.
Gay Hendricks (The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level)
There's no such thing as life without bloodshed. I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.
Cormac McCarthy
The mistaken and unhappy notion that a man is an enduring unity is known to you. It is also known to you that a man consists of a multitude of souls, of numerous selves. The separation of the unity of the personality into these numerous pieces passes for madness. Science has invented the name schizomania for it. Science is in this so far right as no multiplicity maybe dealt with unless there be a series, a certain order and grouping. It is wrong insofar as it holds that one only and binding lifelong order is possible for the multiplicity of subordinate selves. This error of science has many unpleasant consequences, and the single advantage of simplifying the work of the state-appointed pastors and masters and saving them the labors of original thought. In consequence of this error many persons pass for normal, and indeed for highly valuable members of society, who are incurably mad; and many, on the other hand, are looked upon as mad who are geniuses...This is the art of life. You may yourself as an artist develop the game of your life and lend it animation. You may complicate and enrich it as you please. It lies in your hands. Just as madness, in a higher sense, is the beginning of all wisdom, so is schizomania the beginning of all art and all fantasy.
Hermann Hesse (Steppenwolf)
Sometimes we self-sabotage just when things seem to be going smoothly. Perhaps this is a way to express our fear about whether it is okay for us to have a better life. We are bound to feel anxious as we leave behind old notions of our unworthiness. The challenge is not to be fearless, but to develop strategies of acknowledging our fears and finding out how we can allay them.
Maureen Brady (Beyond Survival: A Writing Journey for Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse)
She found out that having something to do prevented you from feeling seasick, and that even a job like scrubbing a deck could be satisfying, if it was done in a seamanlike way. She was very taken with this notion, and later on she folded the blankets on her bunk in a seamanlike way, and put her possessions in the closet in a seamanlike way, and used 'stow' instead of 'tidy' for the process of doing so. After two days at sea, Lyra decided that this was the life for her.
Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1))
My ideal life is a quiet one. I like to read, to sit still in the same chair, with the lampshade at a certain angle, alone, or with Meagan nearby, and now and then, if I'm lucky, I'll come across a lovely phrase or fine sentiment, look up from my book, and feel the harmony of some notion, the justice of it, and know that everything is there. That's life to me, those privately discovered moments.
Charles D'Ambrosio (The Dead Fish Museum)
The biologist and intellectual E. O. Wilson was once asked what represented the most hindrance to the development of children; his answer was the soccer mom. He did not use the notion of the Procrustean bed, but he outlined it perfectly. His argument is that they repress children's natural biophilia, their love of living things. But the problem is more general; soccer moms try to eliminate the trial and error, the antifragility, from children's lives, move them away from the ecological and transform them into nerds working on preexisting (soccer-mom-compatible) maps of reality. Good students, but nerds--that is, they are like computers except slower. Further, they are now totally untrained to handle ambiguity. As a child of civil war, I disbelieve in structured learning . . . . Provided we have the right type of rigor, we need randomness, mess, adventures, uncertainty, self-discovery, near-traumatic episodes, all those things that make life worth living, compared to the structured, fake, and ineffective life of an empty-suit CEO with a preset schedule and an alarm clock.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder)
Decentralization is based on the simple notion that it is easier to macrobull***t than microbull***t. Decentralization reduces large structural asymmetries.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life (Incerto))
The party in Alobar’s head, which agitation and anxiety were throwing, now was crashed by a notion: existence can be rearranged.
Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
Friedrich Nietzsche
An anarchist is someone who rejects the curious notion that crimes become virtues as they grow in size.
Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski (The Pith of Life: Aphorisms in Honor of Liberty)
Is not life exactly what it ought to be, in a certain sense? Isn't it only the naive who find all of this baffling? If you've a notion of what man's heart is, wouldn't you say that maybe the whole effort of man on earth to build a civilization is simply man's frantic and frightened attempt to hide himself from himself?
Richard Wright
How many who love never come nearer than to behold each other as in a mirror; seem to know and yet never know the inward life; never enter the other soul; and part at last, with but the vaguest notion of the universe on the borders of which they have been hovering for years?
George MacDonald (Phantastes)
Or is life so filled with random action that the very notion of caution is futile?
Holly Goldberg Sloan (Counting by 7s)
One can be certain that every generally held idea, every received notion, will be an idiocy, because it has been able to appeal to a majority.
Nicolas Chamfort
Sasha: Men don't understand a lot of things. Every young girl is going to be drawn more to a failure than to a successful man, because they're all attracted by the notion of active love... Do you understand? Active. Men are busy with their work, and therefore for them love is something right in the background. A conversation with the wife, a stroll with her in the garden, a nice time, a cry on her grave - that's all. But for us love is life. I love you, that means that I dream of how I'll cure you of your depression, of how I'll go with you to the ends of the earth... When you're up, so am I; when you're down, so am I. ... The more work there is, the better love is ...
Anton Chekhov (Ivanov)
Westerners are fond of the saying ‘Life isn’t fair.’ Then, they end in snide triumphant: ‘So get used to it!’ What a cruel, sadistic notion to revel in! What a terrible, patriarchal response to a child’s budding sense of ethics. Announce to an Iroquois, ‘Life isn’t fair,’ and her response will be: ‘Then make it fair!
Barbara Alice Mann
I wasn't even sure I wanted a man in my life again; by that time I'd exhausted the notion that the answer to a man is another man, and I was out of breath.
Margaret Atwood (Cat's Eye)
David Bowie is detached from everything, yet open to everything; stripped of the notion that both art and life are impossible.
Morrissey (Autobiography)
Notions and scruples were like spilt needles, making one afraid of treading, or sitting down, or even eating.
George Eliot (Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life)
Immanuel, God with us-that He would leave the spiritual realm and be present in the flesh and blood in such an act of humility is a staggering notion. As it is, He willingly gave His blood, in the flesh, so that others might find life, for it is written: "He did not come by water only, but by blood," and "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." Now blood is required to give new life to the dead. I tell you, He did not give only a small amount to satisfy this requirement. He was beaten and crushed and pierced until that blood flowed like a river for the sake of love. It was for love, not religion, that He died. There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins. And those plunged beneath that watery grave to drink of His blood will never be the same.
Ted Dekker (Immanuel's Veins)
I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist. It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened enthusiasms, that inform one’s life, change the nature and direction of one’s work, and give final meaning and color to one’s loves and friendships.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
It seemed a ruse that fear of death should be the sole motivation for living and, yet, to quell this fear made the prospect of living itself seem all the more absurd; to extend this further, the notion of living one’s life for the purposes of pondering the absurdity of living was an even greater absurdity in and of itself, which thus, by reductio ad absurdum, rendered the fear of death a necessary function of life and any lack thereof, a trifling matter rooted in self-inflicted incoherence.
Ashim Shanker (Only the Deplorable (Migrations, Volume II))
The liberal story instructs me to seek freedom to express and realise myself. But both the ‘self’ and freedom are mythological chimeras borrowed from the fairy tales of ancient times. Liberalism has a particularly confused notion of ‘free will’. Humans obviously have a will, they have desires, and they are sometimes free to fulfil their desires. If by ‘free will’ you mean the freedom to do what you desire – then yes, humans have free will. But if by ‘free will’ you mean the freedom to choose what to desire – then no, humans have no free will.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
The only real difficulty with becoming disciplined is when you buy into the notion that happiness comes at the price of sacrifice. The reality is this: Discipline becomes freedom when you are doing what you love.
Shannon L. Alder
There was another thing I heartily disbelieved in - work. Work, it seemed to me even at the threshold of life, is an activity reserved for the dullard. It is the very opposite of creation, which is play… The part of me which was given up to work, which enabled my wife and child to live in the manner which they unthinkingly demanded, this part of me which kept the wheel turning - a completely fatuous, ego-centric notion! - was the least part of me. I gave nothing to the world in fulfilling the function of breadwinner; the world exacted its tribute of me, that was all.
Henry Miller
Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality of the men who, surrounded by a skeptical world, have shown the way to kindred spirits scattered wide through the world and through the centuries. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength. A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.
Albert Einstein (The World As I See It)
The notion that he had a life outside our life, outside our friendship, was deeply hurtful to me.
John Boyne (The Heart's Invisible Furies)
Sally at this time gave up any notion of being a co-operative member of a family, named herself "Tiger" and settled down to an unceasing, and seemingly endless, war against clothes, toothbrushes, all green vegetables, and bed.
Shirley Jackson (Life Among the Savages)
To have more peace, as well as more time, start by letting go of the notion that time can be manipulated. Then, let go of the idea that it confines you. Instead, set out to use the time that is there for its true and best purpose – as the space within which you can live your life to the fullest.
Michelle Passoff
We also have to give up the notion of a divine savior, which has nothing to do with what religion we belong to, but refers to the idea of someone or something who will save us without our having to go through any pain. In fact, giving up that kind of false hope is the first step. We have to be with ourselves. We have to be real people. There is no way of beating around the bush, hoping for the best. If you are really interested in working with yourself, you can’t lead that kind of double life, adopting ideas, techniques, and concepts of all kinds, simply in order to get away from yourself.
Chögyam Trungpa (Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery)
The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure.
Baruch Spinoza
Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being... Wherever we may come alive, that is the area in which we are spiritual.
David Steindl-Rast
And it occurred to me that the reason she makes it work, probably, is because she's so comfortable with herself. And you know, that's not such a bad notion, in the whole life-lesson business. Being comfortable with yourself. Because if you're not okay with who you are, why should anyone else be?
Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Front and Center (Dairy Queen, #3))
To encapsulate the notion of Mardi Gras as nothing more than a big drunk is to take the simple and stupid way out, and I, for one, am getting tired of staying stuck on simple and stupid. Mardi Gras is not a parade. Mardi Gras is not girls flashing on French Quarter balconies. Mardi Gras is not an alcoholic binge. Mardi Gras is bars and restaurants changing out all the CD's in their jukeboxes to Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers, and it is annual front-porch crawfish boils hours before the parades so your stomach and attitude reach a state of grace, and it is returning to the same street corner, year after year, and standing next to the same people, year after year--people whose names you may or may not even know but you've watched their kids grow up in this public tableau and when they're not there, you wonder: Where are those guys this year? It is dressing your dog in a stupid costume and cheering when the marching bands go crazy and clapping and saluting the military bands when they crisply snap to. Now that part, more than ever. It's mad piano professors converging on our city from all over the world and banging the 88's until dawn and laughing at the hairy-shouldered men in dresses too tight and stalking the Indians under Claiborne overpass and thrilling the years you find them and lamenting the years you don't and promising yourself you will next year. It's wearing frightful color combination in public and rolling your eyes at the guy in your office who--like clockwork, year after year--denies that he got the baby in the king cake and now someone else has to pony up the ten bucks for the next one. Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once.
Chris Rose (1 Dead in Attic: Post-Katrina Stories)
In the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as a truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were the truths and they were all beautiful. [...] There was the truth of virginity and the truth of passion, the truth of wealth and of poverty, of thrift and of profligacy, of carelessness and abandon. Hundreds and hundreds were the truths and they were all beautiful. And then the people came along. Each as he appeared snatched up one of the truths and some who were quite strong snatched up a dozen of them. It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The old man had quite an elaborate theory concerning the matter. It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.
Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio)
What do we know,” he had said, “of the world and the universe about us? Our means of receiving impressions are absurdly few, and our notions of surrounding objects infinitely narrow. We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with a wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses we have. I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers.
H.P. Lovecraft
I recommend readers to be adventurous and to try things they’ve never heard of or considered reading before. Get out of the comfort zone and discover something new and exciting. If you’d never be caught dead in the mystery section go and read some George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly or many others. If you only read thrillers get deep into the literary fiction aisle and let yourself be seduced. If you only read non-fiction pick up a Ian McDonald novel or a Joyce Carol Oates novel. If you only read comic books, get acquainted with the great Charles Dickens or a certain Monsieur Dumas. Pick up something at random and read a page. Feel the texture of the language, the architecture of the imagery, the perfume of the style… There’s so much beauty, intelligence and excitement to be had between the pages of the books waiting for you at your local bookstore the only thing you need to bring is an open mind and a sense of adventure. Disregard all prejudices, all pre-conceived notions and all the rubbish some people try to make you think. Think for yourself. Regarding books or anything in life. Think for yourself.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Mother goddesses are just as silly a notion as father gods. If a revival of the myths of these cults gives woman emotional satisfaction, it does so at the price of obscuring the real conditions of life. This is why they were invented in the first place.” - Angela Carter (1940-1992)
Angela Carter
This person had arrived, he had illuminated her, he had ensorcelled her with notions of miracle and beauty, he had both understood and misunderstood her, he had married her, he had broken her heart, he had looked upon her with those sad and hopeless eyes, he had accepted his banishment, and now he was gone. What a stark and stunning thing was life- that such a cataclysm can enter and depart so quickly, and leave such wreckage behind!
Elizabeth Gilbert (The Signature of All Things)
Ego-identification with things creates attachment to things, which in turn creates our consumer society and economic structures where the only measure of progress is always more. The unchecked striving for more, for endless growth, is a dysfunction and a disease. It is the same dysfunction the cancerous cell manifests, whose only goal is to multiply itself, unaware that it is bringing about its own destruction by destroying the organism of which it is a part. Some economists are so attached to the notion of growth that they can't let go of that word, so they refer to recession as a time of "negative growth".
Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose)
Take stock of those around you and you will … hear them talk in precise terms about themselves and their surroundings, which would seem to point to them having ideas on the matter. But start to analyse those ideas and you will find that they hardly reflect in any way the reality to which they appear to refer, and if you go deeper you will discover that there is not even an attempt to adjust the ideas to this reality. Quite the contrary: through these notions the individual is trying to cut off any personal vision of reality, of his own very life. For life is at the start a chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his “ideas” are not true, he uses them as trenches for the defense of his existence, as scarecrows to frighten away reality.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
It came to him that he had turned away from the buffalo not because of a womanish nausea at blood and stench and spilling gut; it came to him that he had sickened and turned away because of his shock at seeing the buffalo, a few moments before proud and noble and full of the dignity of life, now stark and helpless, a length of inert meat, divested of itself, or his notion of its self, swinging grotesquely, mockingly, before him. It was not itself; or it was not that self that he had imagined it to be. That self was murdered; and in that murder he had felt the destruction of something within him, and he had not been able to face it. So he had turned away.
John Williams (Butcher's Crossing)
Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than with night. Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself. With lights and ever more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea; the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs? Be the answer what it will, to-day's civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night. Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd and evil as to know only artificial day.
Henry Beston (The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod)
Estella was the inspiration of it, and the heart of it, of course. But, though she had taken such strong possession of me, though my fancy and my hope were so set upon her, though her influence on my boyish life and character had been all-powerful, I did not, even that romantic morning, invest her with any attributes save those she possessed. I mention this in this place, of a fixed purpose, because it is the clue by which I am to be followed into my poor labyrinth. According to my experience, the conventional notion of a lover cannot be always true. The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.
Charles Dickens (Great Expectations)
It is the poet and philosopher who provide the community of objectives in which the artist participates. Their chief preoccupation, like the artist, is the expression in concrete form of their notions of reality. Like him, they deal with the verities of time and space, life and death, and the heights of exaltation as well as the depths of despair. The preoccupation with these eternal problems creates a common ground which transcends the disparity in the means used to achieve them.
Mark Rothko (The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art)
Perhaps the answer is that it is necessary to slow down, finally giving up on economistic fanaticism and collectively rethink the true meaning of the word “wealth.” Wealth does not mean a person who owns a lot, but refers to someone who has enough time to enjoy what nature and human collaboration place within everyone’s reach. If the great majority of people could understand this basic notion, if they could be liberated from the competitive illusion that is impoverishing everyone’s life, the very foundations of capitalism, would start to crumble (p. 169).
Franco "Bifo" Berardi
It's not about knowin where you are. It's about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody's. You don't start over. That's what it's about. Ever step you take is forever. You can't make it go away. None of it. You understand what I'm sayin? You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don't count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it's made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I don't know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who's layin there?
Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men)
Clearly, an open mind is a necessity when dealing with randomness. Popper believed that any idea of Utopia is necessarily closed owing to the fact that it chokes its own refutations. The simple notion of a good model for society that cannot be left open for falsification is totalitarian. I learned from Popper, in addition to the difference between an open and a closed society, that between an open and a closed mind.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets)
He knew something was going to happen and his entire system was waiting on it. He thought it was going to be one of the supreme moments in life but apart from that, he didn't have the vaguest notion what it might be. He pictured himself, after it was over, as an entirely new man, with an even better personality than he had now. He sat there for about fifteen minutes and nothing happened.
Flannery O'Connor
When you become vulnerable, any ideal or perfect image of yourself falls away. (...) Many people are addicted to perfection, and in their pursuit of the ideal, they have no patience with vulnerability. (...) Every poet would like to write the ideal poem. Though they never achieve this, sometimes it glimmers through their best work. Ironically, the very beyondness of the idea is often the touch of presence that renders the work luminous. The beauty of the ideal awakens a passion and urgency that brings out the best in the person and calls forth the dream of excellence. The beauty of the true ideal is its hospitality towards woundedness, weakness, failure and fall-back. Yet so many people are infected with the virus of perfection. They cannot rest; they allow themselves no ease until they come close to the cleansed domain of perfection. This false notion of perfection does damage and puts their lives under great strain. It is a wonderful day in a life when one is finally able to stand before the long, deep mirror of one's own reflection and view oneself with appreciation, acceptance, and forgiveness. On that day one breaks through the falsity of images and expectations which have blinded one's spirit. One can only learn to see who one is when one learns to view oneself with the most intimate and forgiving compassion.
John O'Donohue (Beauty: The Invisible Embrace)
During his life, the witcher had met thieves who looked like town councilors, councilors who looked like beggars, harlots who looked like princesses, princesses who looked like calving cows and kings who looked like thieves. But Stregobor always looked as, according to every rule and notion, a wizard should look. He was tall, thin and stooping, with enormous bushy gray eyebrows and a long, crooked nose. To top it off, he wore a black, trailing robe with improbably wide sleeves, and wielded a long staff capped with a crystal knob.
Andrzej Sapkowski (The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5))
I am not so foolish as to equate what happens under the influence of mescalin or of any other drug, prepared or in the future preparable, with the realization of the end and ultimate purpose of human life: Enlightenment, the Beatific Vision. All I am suggesting is that the mescalin experience is what Catholic theologians call "a gratuitous grace," not necessary to salvation but potentially helpful and to be accepted thankfully, if made available. To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large—this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.
Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception)
In fact, Lig never formally resigned his editorship—he merely left his office late one morning, and has never returned since. Though well over a century has now passed, many members of the Guide staff still retain the romantic notion that he has simply popped out for a sandwich and will yet return to put in a solid afternoon's work. Strictly speaking, all editors since Lig Lury Jr., have therefore been designated acting editors, and Lig's desk is still preserved the way he left it, with the addition of a small sign that says LIG LURY, JR., EDITOR, MISSING, PRESUMED FED.
Douglas Adams (Life, the Universe and Everything (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #3))
...the average Frenchman would shrug, as if to say: "These notions of yours are all very fascinating, no doubt, but we make a decent living. Nobody has ulcers. I have time to work on my monograph about Balzac, and my foreman enjoys his espaliered pear trees. I think as a matter of fact, we do not wish to make the changes that you suggest.
Julia Child (My Life in France)
Outside of my professional life, I have known many couples over the years who had passion and electricity between them and who treated each other well. But unfortunately there is wide acceptance in our society of the unhealthy notion that passion and aggression are interwoven and that cruel verbal exchanges and bomblike explosions are the price you pay for a relationship that is exciting, deep, and sexy. Popular romantic movies and soap operas sometimes reinforce this image.
Lundy Bancroft (Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men)
This symmetrical composition--the same motif at the beginning and at the end--may seem quite "novelistic" to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as "fictive," "fabricated," and "untrue to life" into the word "novelistic." Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion.
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
The world' is man's experience as it appears to, and is moulded by, his ego. It is that less abundant life, which is lived according to the dictates of the insulated self. It is nature denatured by the distorting spectacles of our appetites and revulsions. It is the finite divorced from the Eternal. It is multiplicity in isolation from its non-dual Ground. It is time apprehended as one damned thing after another. It is a system of verbal categories taking the place of the fathomlessly beautiful and mysterious particulars which constitute reality. It is a notion labelled 'God'. It is the Universe equated with the words of our utilitarian vocabulary.
Aldous Huxley (The Devils of Loudun)
There wasn’t a man alive in Pern who hadn’t secretly cherished the notion that he might be able to Impress a dragon. That he could be linked for life to the love and sustaining admiration of these gentle great beasts. That he could transverse Pern in a twinkling, astride his dragon. That he would never suffer the loneliness that was the condition of most men - a dragonrider always had his dragon.
Anne McCaffrey (Dragonquest (Dragonriders of Pern, #2))
The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and to be loved. Indeed, if partial emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be sweetheart and mother, is synonymous with being slave or subordinate. It will have to do away with the absurd notion of the dualism of the sexes, or that man and woman represent two antagonistic worlds.
Emma Goldman
When we die, we die. No more. Once the spider-thread of life is severed, the human body is but a mass of corrupting vegetable matter. A feast for worms. That is all. Tell me, what is more ridiculous than the notion of an immortal soul; than the belief that when a man is dead, he remains alive, that when his life grinds to a halt, his soul -- or whatever you call it -- takes flight?
Marquis de Sade
In theory, the risk of business failure can be reduced to a number, the probability of failure multiplied by the cost of failure. Sure, this turns out to be a subjective analysis, but in the process your own attitudes toward financial risk and reward are revealed. By contrast, personal risk usually defies quantification. It's a matter of values and priorities, an expression of who you are. "Playing it safe" may simply mean you do not weigh heavily the compromises inherent in the status quo. The financial rewards of the moment may fully compensate you for the loss of time and fulfillment. Or maybe you just don't think about it. On the other hand, if time and satisfaction are precious, truly priceless, you will find the cost of business failure, so long as it does not put in peril the well-being of you or your family, pales in comparison with the personal risks of no trying to live the life you want today. Considering personal risk forces us to define personal success. We may well discover that the business failure we avoid and the business success we strive for do not lead us to personal success at all. Most of us have inherited notions of "success" from someone else or have arrived at these notions by facing a seemingly endless line of hurdles extending from grade school through college and into our careers. We constantly judge ourselves against criteria that others have set and rank ourselves against others in their game. Personal goals, on the other hand, leave us on our own, without this habit of useless measurement and comparison. Only the Whole Life Plan leads to personal success. It has the greatest chance of providing satisfaction and contentment that one can take to the grave, tomorrow. In the Deferred Life Plan there will always be another prize to covet, another distraction, a new hunger to sate. You will forever come up short.
Randy Komisar (The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur)
Psychologists call it “learned helplessness” when a person believes, as I did during my youth, that the choices I made had no effect on the outcomes in my life. From Middletown’s world of small expectations to the constant chaos of our home, life had taught me that I had no control. Mamaw and Papaw had saved me from succumbing entirely to that notion, and the Marine Corps broke new ground. If I had learned helplessness at home, the Marines were teaching learned willfulness. The
J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis)
Well, in a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization—against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. (Come to think of it, our nonwaking moments as well: Ambien, anyone?) It is to reject the debilitating notion that, at least while we’re at home, production is work best done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption. This dependence marketers call “freedom.
Michael Pollan (Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation)
They were part of a forest, an ecosystem that is perfect because of its wide variety of species, dominant because nothing is not allowed to be there. In the forest, everything that is inclined to thrive really does, and has a job, and some jobs are to grow things up and some jobs are to take things apart and everything is accepted because there is no notion—among bacteria and moss and busy mice—there is no notion of who deserves to do something or be in a place. There are only lives to be lived, and they are everywhere.
Jenny Slate (Little Weirds)
Naive people tend to generalize people as—-good, bad, kind, or evil based on their actions. However, even the smartest person in the world is not the wisest or the most spiritual, in all matters. We are all flawed. Maybe, you didn’t know a few of these things about Einstein, but it puts the notion of perfection to rest. Perfection doesn’t exist in anyone. Nor, does a person’s mistakes make them less valuable to the world. 1. He divorced the mother of his children, which caused Mileva, his wife, to have a break down and be hospitalized. 2.He was a ladies man and was known to have had several affairs; infidelity was listed as a reason for his divorce. 3.He married his cousin. 4.He had an estranged relationship with his son. 5. He had his first child out of wedlock. 6. He urged the FDR to build the Atom bomb, which killed thousands of people. 7. He was Jewish, yet he made many arguments for the possibility of God. Yet, hypocritically he did not believe in the Jewish God or Christianity. He stated, “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.
Shannon L. Alder
We’ve all heard the usual examples: Michael Jordan cut from his high school basketball team, Walt Disney fired by a newspaper editor for not being creative enough, the Beatles turned away by a record executive who told them that “guitar groups are on their way out.” In fact, many of their winning mantras essentially describe the notion of falling up: “I’ve failed over and over again in my life,” Jordan once said, “and that is why I succeed.” Robert F. Kennedy said much the same: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” And Thomas Edison, too, once claimed that he had failed his way to success.
Shawn Achor (The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work)
Red Fox The red fox crosses the ice intent on none of my business. It's winter and slim pickings. I stand in the bushy cemetery, pretending to watch birds, but really watching the fox who could care less. She pauses on the sheer glare of the pond. She knows I'm there, sniffs me in the wind at her shoulder. If I had a gun or dog or a raw heart, she'd smell it. She didn't get this smart for nothing. She's a lean vixen: I can see the ribs, the sly trickster's eyes, filled with longing and desperation, the skinny feet, adept at lies. Why encourage the notion of virtuous poverty? It's only an excuse for zero charity. Hunger corrupts, and absolute hunger corrupts absolutely, or almost. Of course there are mothers, squeezing their breasts dry, pawning their bodies, shedding teeth for their children, or that's our fond belief. But remember - Hansel and Gretel were dumped in the forest because their parents were starving. Sauve qui peut. To survive we'd all turn thief and rascal, or so says the fox, with her coat of an elegant scoundrel, her white knife of a smile, who knows just where she's going: to steal something that doesn't belong to her - some chicken, or one more chance, or other life.
Margaret Atwood (Morning in the Burned House)
Not long ago, I learned that if I let other people tell me how God was supposed to work in my life I would be dead. If I would have given into someone else’s version of God then I would have done nothing to improve my situation. The notion that “if it was meant to be, it will be”, is a pacifying, yet harmful quote, that many spiritualists use to soften the blow of anger. God is not passive. He is relentless, and he will build you through fire. He will put in your heart a need for answers. The intensity of what bothers your soul is often his voice trying to take you from the limited vision of mankind to the full view of the best life he would like to offer you. He is above any pastor, any bishop, any prophet, any church, any cleverly crafted sermon or multi-meaning verse. He is the master of his craft and the author of your forever. Inner peace is only found through action. Fear may darken the trail, but the light of peace stands at the end of such a journey ----waiting with truth.
Shannon L. Alder
There is great beauty in the notion of desire. Each of us is a child of the desire of our parents for each other. We are creatures of desire because we are creations of desire. The human heart discovers its most touching music when desire and love inform each other. When we love, we leave our separate solitudes and come toward union, where we complement each other. It is this ancient desire in every heart to discover and come home to its lost other half that awakens and activates its capacity for love and belonging. There are certain things that can happen to us only in solitude, and every life needs a rhythm of solitude in order to experience this. However, the experience of self-discovery, psychological integration, and spiritual growth can happen to us only when our desire draws us out of our shells and toward the precarious and life-giving sanctuary of another heart.
John O'Donohue (To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Invocations and Blessings)
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)
In particular those who are condemned to stagnation are often pronounced happy on the pretext that happiness consists in being at rest. This notion we reject, for our perspective is that of existentialist ethics. Every subject plays his part as such specifically through exploits or projects that serve as a mode of transcendence; he achieves liberty only through a continual reaching out towards other liberties. There is no justification for present existence other than its expansion into an indefinitely open future. Every time transcendence falls back into immanence, stagnation, there is a degradation of existence into the ‘en-sois’ – the brutish life of subjection to given conditions – and of liberty into constraint and contingence. This downfall represents a moral fault if the subject consents to it; if it is inflicted upon him, it spells frustration and oppression. In both cases it is an absolute evil. Every individual concerned to justify his existence feels that his existence involves an undefined need to transcend himself, to engage in freely chosen projects.
Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex)
Karl Marx famously called religion 'the opiate of the masses'. Buddhism, particularly as it is popularly practiced, promises improvement through karma. Islam and Christianity promise eternal life to the faithful. And that is a powerful opiate, certainly, the hope of a better life to come. But there's a Sufi story that challenges the notion that people believe only because they need an opiate. Rabe'a al-Adiwiyah, a great woman saint of Sufism, was seen running through the streets of her hometown, Basra, carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When someone asked her what she was doing, she answered, 'I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it on the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven or fear of hell, but because He is God.
John Green
He had theologically redefined the Christian life as something active, not reactive. It had nothing to do with avoiding sin or with merely talking or teaching or believing theological notions or principles or rules or tenets. It had everything to do with living one’s whole life in obedience to God’s call through action. It did not merely require a mind, but a body too. It was God’s call to be fully human, to live as human beings obedient to the one who had made us, which was the fulfillment of our destiny. It was not a cramped, compromised, circumspect life, but a life lived in a kind of wild, joyful, full-throated freedom—that was what it was to obey God.
Eric Metaxas (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy)
What is "grace"? It is God's own life, shared by us. God's life is love. Deus caritas est. By grace we are able to share in the infinitely selfless love of Him Who is such pure actuality that He needs nothing and therefore cannot conceivably exploit anything for selfish ends. Indeed, outside of Him there is nothing, and whatever exists exists by His free gift of its being, so that one of the notions that is absolutely contradictory to the perfection of God is selfishness.
Thomas Merton (The Seven Storey Mountain)
Often, people build stories in their mind which have no basis in the contours of reality. Those which build these images, are building such images which are based on their relatively limited sense of understanding about the particular subject or person. This is a "fill in the blank" reality, which often manifests itself into the hearts and the minds of those who have a "fill in the blank" mindset, not the person with the here said reality. The universe is designed in a way that reflects itself, just like a mirror, showing you exactly who you are to yourself, not who others are. Your largest and most concealed insecurities have their way of presenting themselves to you in a fashion that is relative to your self designed way of communication. This short writing is a reminder that your preconceived notions on a particular subject or person, are a construct of your inner mind and emotional-relational well being and not of others. This is one of the largest fundamental truths in which you must have large insight to carefully watch who and what you massacre with your personal thoughts. Having a keen sense of control on this subject will lead you to enlightenment in many platforms of life.
Will Barnes (The Expansion of The Soul)
When you are dying and coming to life in each moment, would-be scientific predictions about what will happen after death are of little consequence. The whole glory of it is that we do not know. Ideas of survival and annihilation are alike based on the past, on memories of waking and sleeping, and, in their different ways, the notions of everlasting continuity and everlasting nothingness are without meaning. It needs but slight imagination to realize that everlasting time is a monstrous nightmare, so that between heaven and hell as ordinarily understood there is little to choose.
Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity)
You might hide in some Freudian jungle most of your miserable life, baying at the moon and shouting curses at God, but at the end, right down there at the damned end when it counts... you would sure as anything clear up just enough to realize the moon you have spent so many years baying at is nothing but the light globe up there on the ceiling, and God is just something placed in your bureau drawer by the Gideon Society. Yes, I sighed again, in the long run insanity would be the same old coldhearted drag of too solid flesh, too many slings and arrows, and too much outrageous fortune.
Ken Kesey (Sometimes a Great Notion)
I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist. It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened enthusiasms, that inform one's life, change the nature and direction of one's work, and give final meaning and color to one's loves and friendships.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
Evil is not one large entity, but a collection of countless, small depravities brought up from the muck by petty men. Many have traded the enrichment of vision for a gray fog of mediocrity--the fertile inspiration of striving and growth, for mindless stagnation and slow decay--the brave new ground of the attempt, for the timid quagmire of apathy. Many of you have traded freedom not even for a bowl of soup, but worse, for the spoken empty feelings of others who say that you deserve to have a full bowl of soup provided by someone else. Happiness, joy, accomplishment, achievement . . . are not finite commodities, to be divided up. Is a child’s laughter to be divided and allotted? No! Simply make more laughter! Every person’s life is theirs by right. An individual’s life can and must belong only to himself, not to any society or community, or he is then but a slave. No one can deny another person their right to their life, nor seize by force what is produced by someone else, because that is stealing their means to sustain their life. It is treason against mankind to hold a knife to a man’s throat and dictate how he must live his life. No society can be more important than the individuals who compose it, or else you ascribe supreme importance, not to man, but to any notion that strikes the fancy of the society, at a never-ending cost of lives. Reason and reality are the only means to just laws; mindless wishes, if given sovereignty, become deadly masters. Surrendering reason to faith in unreasonable men sanctions their use of force to enslave you--to murder you. You have the power to decide how you will live your life. Those mean, unreasonable little men are but cockroaches, if you say they are. They have no power to control you but that which you grant them!
Terry Goodkind (Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, #6))
And so we know the satisfaction of hate. We know the sweet joy of revenge. How it feels good to get even. Oh, that was a nice idea Jesus had. That was a pretty notion, but you can't love people who do evil. It's neither sensible or practical. It's not wise to the world to love people who do such terrible wrong. There is no way on earth we can love our enemies. They'll only do wickedness and hatefulness again. And worse, they'll think they can get away with this wickedness and evil, because they'll think we're weak and afraid. What would the world come to? But I want to say to you here on this hot July morning in Holt, what if Jesus wasn't kidding? What if he wasn't talking about some never-never land? What if he really did mean what he said two thousand years ago? What if he was thoroughly wise to the world and knew firsthand cruelty and wickedness and evil and hate? Knew it all so well from personal firsthand experience? And what if in spite of all that he knew, he still said love your enemies? Turn your cheek. Pray for those who misuse you. What if he meant every word of what he said? What then would the world come to? And what if we tried it? What if we said to our enemies: We are the most powerful nation on earth. We can destroy you. We can kill your children. We can make ruins of your cities and villages and when we're finished you won't even know how to look for the places where they used to be. We have the power to take away your water and to scorch your earth, to rob you of the very fundamentals of life. We can change the actual day into actual night. We can do these things to you. And more. But what if we say, Listen: Instead of any of these, we are going to give willingly and generously to you. We are going to spend the great American national treasure and the will and the human lives that we would have spent on destruction, and instead we are going to turn them all toward creation. We'll mend your roads and highways, expand your schools, modernize your wells and water supplies, save your ancient artifacts and art and culture, preserve your temples and mosques. In fact, we are going to love you. And again we say, no matter what has gone before, no matter what you've done: We are going to love you. We have set our hearts to it. We will treat you like brothers and sisters. We are going to turn our collective national cheek and present it to be stricken a second time, if need be, and offer it to you. Listen, we-- But then he was abruptly halted.
Kent Haruf (Benediction (Plainsong, #3))
Every person's life is theirs by right. An individual's life can and must belong only to himself, not to any society or community, or he is then but a slave. No one can deny another person their right to life nor seize by force what is produced by someone else, because that is stealing their means to sustain their life. It is treason against mankind to hold a knife to a man's throat and dictate how he must live his life. No society can be more important than individuals who compose it, or else you ascribe supreme importance, not to man, but any notion that strikes the fancy of that society, at a never-ending cost of lives. Reason and reality are the only means to just laws; mindless wishes, if given sovereignty, becomes deadly masters.
Terry Goodkind (Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, #6))
Every now and then, I’m lucky enough to teach a kindergarten or first-grade class. Many of these children are natural-born scientists - although heavy on the wonder side and light on scepticism. They’re curious, intellectually vigorous. Provocative and insightful questions bubble out of them. They exhibit enormous enthusiasm. I’m asked follow-up questions. They’ve never heard of the notion of a ‘dumb question’. But when I talk to high school seniors, I find something different. They memorize ‘facts’. By and large, though, the joy of discovery, the life behind those facts, has gone out of them. They’ve lost much of the wonder, and gained very little scepticism. They’re worried about asking ‘dumb’ questions; they’re willing to accept inadequate answers; they don’t pose follow-up questions; the room is awash with sidelong glances to judge, second-by-second, the approval of their peers.
Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark)
When bad things happen to good people, we have a problem. We know consciously that life is unfair, but unconsciously we see the world through the lens of reciprocity. The downfall of an evil man (in our biased and moralistic assessment) is no puzzle: He had it coming to him. But when the victim was virtuous, we struggle to make sense of his tragedy. At an intuitive level, we all believe in karma, the Hindu notion that people reap what they sow. The psychologist Mel Lerner has demonstrated that we are so motivated to believe that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get that we often blame the victim of a tragedy, particularly when we can’t achieve justice by punishing a perpetrator or compensating the victim.
Jonathan Haidt (The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom)
Certitude leads to violence. This is a proposition that has an easy application and a difficult one. The easy application is to ideoologues, dogmatists, and bullies--people who think that their rigtness justifies them in imposing on anyone who does not happen to suscribe to their particular ideology, dogma or notion of turf. If the conviction of rightness is powerful enough, resistance to it will be met, sooner or later by force. There are people like this in every sphere of life, and it is natural to feel that the world would be a better place without them!
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
When I give something I do not possess, I give a false and dangerous gift, a gift that looks like love but is, in reality, loveless—a gift given more from my need to prove myself than from the other’s need to be cared for. That kind of giving is not only loveless but faithless, based on the arrogant and mistaken notion that God has no way of channeling love to the other except through me. Yes, we are created in and for community, to be there, in love, for one another. But community cuts both ways: when we reach the limits of our own capacity to love, community means trusting that someone else will be available to the person in need.
Parker J. Palmer (Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation)
Probably the only place where a man can feel really secure is in a maximum security prison, except for the imminent threat of release. The problem of recidivism ought to have shown young men like John Greenaway just what sort of a notion security is, but there is no indication that he would understand it. Security is when everything is settled, when nothing can happen to you; security is the denial of life. Human beings are better equipped to cope with disaster and hardship than they are with unvarying security, but as long as security is the highest value in a community they can have little opportunity to decide this for themselves.
Germaine Greer (The Female Eunuch)
New skin, a new land! And a land of liberty, if that is possible! I chose the geology of a land that was new to me, and that was young, virgin, and without drama, that of America. I traveled in America, but instead of romantically and directly rubbing the snakeskin of my body against the asperities of its terrain, I preferred to peel protected within the armor of the gleaming black crustacean of a Cadillac which I gave Gala as a present. Nevertheless all the men who admire and the women who are in love with my old skin will easily be able to find its remnants in shredded pieces of various sizes scattered to the winds along the roads from New York via Pittsburgh to California. I have peeled with every wind; pieces of my skin have remained caught here and there along my way, scattered through that "promised land" which is America; certain pieces of this skin have remained hanging in the spiny vegetation of the Arizona desert, along the trails where I galloped on horseback, where I got rid of all my former Aristotelian "planetary notions." Other pieces of my skin have remained spread out like tablecloths without food on the summits of the rocky masses by which one reaches the Salt Lake, in which the hard passion of the Mormons saluted in me the European phantom of Apollinaire. Still other pieces have remained suspended along the "antediluvian" bridge of San Francisco, where I saw in passing the ten thousand most beautiful virgins in America, completely naked, standing in line on each side of me as I passed, like two rows of organ-pipes of angelic flesh with cowrie-shell sea vulvas.
Salvador Dalí (The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí)
What made more sense was that the bargain she was bound to was to go on living as she had been doing. The bargain was already in force. Days and years and feelings much the same, except that the children would grow up, and there might be one or two more of them and they too would grow up, and she and Brendan would grow older and then old. It was not until now, not until this moment, that she had seen so clearly that she was counting on something happening, something which would change her life. She had accepted her marriage as one big change, but not as the last one. So, nothing now but what she or anybody else could sensibly foresee. That was to be her happiness, that was what she had bargained for, nothing secret, or strange. Pay attention to this, she thought. She had a dramatic notion of getting down on her knees. This is serious... It was a long time ago that this happened. In North Vancouver, when they lived in the Post and Beam house. When she was twenty-four years old and new to bargaining.
Alice Munro (Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories)
I am in this same river. I can't much help it. I admit it: I'm racist. The other night I saw a group (or maybe a pack?) or white teenagers standing in a vacant lot, clustered around a 4x4, and I crossed the street to avoid them; had they been black, I probably would have taken another street entirely. And I'm misogynistic. I admit that, too. I'm a shitty cook, and a worse house cleaner, probably in great measure because I've internalized the notion that these are woman's work. Of course, I never admit that's why I don't do them: I always say I just don't much enjoy those activities (which is true enough; and it's true enough also that many women don't enjoy them either), and in any case, I've got better things to do, like write books and teach classes where I feel morally superior to pimps. And naturally I value money over life. Why else would I own a computer with a hard drive put together in Thailand by women dying of job-induced cancer? Why else would I own shirts mad in a sweatshop in Bangladesh, and shoes put together in Mexico? The truth is that, although many of my best friends are people of color (as the cliche goes), and other of my best friends are women, I am part of this river: I benefit from the exploitation of others, and I do not much want to sacrifice this privilege. I am, after all, civilized, and have gained a taste for "comforts and elegancies" which can be gained only through the coercion of slavery. The truth is that like most others who benefit from this deep and broad river, I would probably rather die (and maybe even kill, or better, have someone kill for me) than trade places with the men, women, and children who made my computer, my shirt, my shoes.
Derrick Jensen (The Culture of Make Believe)
My mother's suffering grew into a symbol in my mind, gathering to itself all the poverty, the ignorance, the helplessness; the painful, baffling, hunger-ridden days and hours; the restless moving, the futile seeking, the uncertainty, the fear, the dread; the meaningless pain and the endless suffering. Her life set the emotional tone of my life, colored the men and women I was to meet in the future, conditioned my relation to events that had not yet happened, determined my attitude to situations and circumstances I had yet to face. A somberness of spirit that I was never to lose settled over me during the slow years of my mother's unrelieved suffering, a somberness that was to make me stand apart and look upon excessive joy with suspicion, that was to make me keep forever on the move, as though to escape a nameless fate seeking to overtake me. At the age of twelve, before I had one year of formal schooling, I had a conception of life that no experience would ever erase, a predilection for what was real that no argument could ever gainsay, a sense of the world that was mine and mine alone, a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter, a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering. At the age of twelve I had an attitude toward life that was to endure, that was to make me seek those areas of living that would keep it alive, that was to make me skeptical of everything while seeking everything, tolerant of all and yet critical. The spirit I had caught gave me insight into the sufferings of others, made me gravitate toward those whose feelings were like my own, made me sit for hours while others told me of their lives, made me strangely tender and cruel, violent and peaceful. It made me want to drive coldly to the heart of every question and it open to the core of suffering I knew I would find there. It made me love burrowing into psychology, into realistic and naturalistic fiction and art, into those whirlpools of politics that had the power to claim the whole of men's souls. It directed my loyalties to the side of men in rebellion; it made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life.
Richard Wright (Black Boy (American Hunger))
All zoos, even the most enlightened, are built upon the idea both beguiling and repellent—the notion that we can seek out the wildness of the world and behold its beauty, but that we must first contain that wildness. Zoos argue that they are fighting for the conservation of the Earth, that they educate the public and provide refuge and support for vanishing species. And they are right. Animal-rights groups argue that zoos traffic in living creatures, exploiting them for financial gain and amusement. And they are right. Caught inside this contradiction are the animals themselves, and the humans charged with their well-being.
Thomas French (Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives)
The lesson Holmes took from the war can be put in a sentence. It is that certitude leads to violence. This is a proposition that has an easy application and a difficult one. The easy application is to ideologues, dogmatists, and bullies—people who think that their rightness justifies them in imposing on anyone who does not happen to subscribe to their particular ideology, dogma, or notion of turf. If the conviction of rightness is powerful enough, resistance to it will be met, sooner or later, by force. There are people like this in every sphere of life, and it is natural to feel that the world would be a better place without them.
Louis Menand (The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America)
My book was Kennedyan and accepted the notion of moral progress. What was really wanted was a Nixonian book with no shred of optimism in it. Let us have evil prancing on the page... up to the very last line... Such a book would be sensational, and so it is. But I do not think it is it fair picture of human life. I do not think so because, by definition, a human being is endowed with free will. He can use this to choose between good and evil. If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange-meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil... It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil. The important thing is moral choice... Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.
Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)
You want to know what I really learned? I learned that people don’t consider time alone as part of their life. Being alone is just a stretch of isolation they want to escape from. I saw a lot of wine-drinking, a lot of compulsive drug use, a lot of sleeping with the television on. It was less festive than I anticipated. My view had always been that I was my most alive when I was totally alone, because that was the only time I could live without fear of how my actions were being scrutinized and interpreted. What I came to realize is that people need their actions to be scrutinized and interpreted in order to feel like what they’re doing matters. Singular, solitary moments are like television pilots that never get aired. They don’t count. This, I think, explains the fundamental urge to get married and have kids[…]. We’re self-conditioned to require an audience, even if we’re not doing anything valuable or interesting. I’m sure this started in the 1970s. I know it did. I think Americans started raising offspring with this implicit notion that they had to tell their children, “You’re amazing, you can do anything you want, you’re a special person.” [...] But—when you really think about it—that emotional support only applies to the experience of living in public. We don’t have ways to quantify ideas like “amazing” or “successful” or “lovable” without the feedback of an audience. Nobody sits by himself in an empty room and thinks, “I’m amazing.” It’s impossible to imagine how that would work. But being “amazing” is supposed to be what life is about. As a result, the windows of time people spend by themselves become these meaningless experiences that don’t really count. It’s filler.
Chuck Klosterman (The Visible Man)
We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God's property. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way–to depend on no one–to have to think of nothing out of sight, to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man–that it is an unnatural state–will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end …'" Mustapha Mond paused, put down the first book and, picking up the other, turned over the pages. "Take this, for example," he said, and in his deep voice once more began to read: "'A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false–a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.'" Mustapha Mond shut the book and leaned back in his chair. "One of the numerous things in heaven and earth that these philosophers didn't dream about was this" (he waved his hand), "us, the modern world. 'You can only be independent of God while you've got youth and prosperity; independence won't take you safely to the end.' Well, we've now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God. 'The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.' But there aren't any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous. And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma? of something immovable, when there is the social order?
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World)
In the cage is the lion. She paces with her memories. Her body is a record of her past. As she moves back and forth, one may see it all: the lean frame, the muscular legs, the paw enclosing long sharp claws, the astonishing speed of her response. She was born in this garden. She has never in her life stretched those legs. Never darted farther than twenty yards at a time. Only once did she use her claws. Only once did she feel them sink into flesh. And it was her keeper's flesh. Her keeper whom she loves, who feeds her, who would never dream of harming her, who protects her. Who in his mercy forgave her mad attack, saying this was in her nature, to be cruel at a whim, to try to kill what she loves. He had come into her cage as he usually did early in the morning to change her water, always at the same time of day, in the same manner, speaking softly to her, careful to make no sudden movement, keeping his distance, when suddenly she sank down, deep down into herself, the way wild animals do before they spring, and then she had risen on all her strong legs, and swiped him in one long, powerful, graceful movement across the arm. How lucky for her he survived the blow. The keeper and his friends shot her with a gun to make her sleep. Through her half-open lids she knew they made movements around her. They fed her with tubes. They observed her. They wrote comments in notebooks. And finally they rendered a judgment. She was normal. She was a normal wild beast, whose power is dangerous, whose anger can kill, they had said. Be more careful of her, they advised. Allow her less excitement. Perhaps let her exercise more. She understood none of this. She understood only the look of fear in her keeper's eyes. And now she paces. Paces as if she were angry, as if she were on the edge of frenzy. The spectators imagine she is going through the movements of the hunt, or that she is readying her body for survival. But she knows no life outside the garden. She has no notion of anger over what she could have been, or might be. No idea of rebellion. It is only her body that knows of these things, moving her, daily, hourly, back and forth, back and forth, before the bars of her cage.
Susan Griffin (Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her)
We’re only given as much as the heart can endure,” “What does not kill you makes you stronger,” “Our sorrows provide us with the lessons we most need to learn”: these are the kinds of phrases that enrage my injured friend. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to come up with a spiritual lesson that demands becoming a quadriparalytic. The tepid “there must be a reason for it” notion sometimes floated by religious or quasi-religious acquaintances or bystanders, is, to her, another form of violence. She has no time for it. She is too busy asking, in this changed form, what makes a livable life, and how she can live it.
Maggie Nelson (Bluets)
In youth he had felt the hidden beauty and ecstasy of things, and had been a poet; but poverty and sorrow and exile had turned his gaze in darker directions, and he had thrilled at the imputations of evil in the world around. Daily life had for him come to be a phantasmagoria of macabre shadow-studies; now glittering and leering with concealed rottenness as in Beardsley's best manner, now hinting terrors behind the commonest shapes and objects as in the subtler and less obvious work of Gustave Dore. He would often regard it as merciful that most persons of high Intelligence jeer at the inmost mysteries; for, he argued, if superior minds were ever placed in fullest contact with the secrets preserved by ancient and lowly cults, the resultant abnormalities would soon not only wreck the world, but threaten the very integrity of the universe. All this reflection was no doubt morbid, but keen logic and a deep sense of humour ably offset it. Malone was satisfied to let his notions remain as half-spied and forbidden visions to be lightly played with; and hysteria came only when duty flung him into a hell of revelation too sudden and insidious to escape.
H.P. Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories (20th-Century Classics))
There’s no reason, on paper at least, why I need these pills to get through life. I had a great childhood, loving parents, the whole package. I wasn’t beaten, abused, or expected to get nothing but As. I had nothing but love and support, but that wasn’t enough somehow. My friend Erin says we all have demons inside us, voices that whisper we’re no good, that if we don’t make this promotion or ace that exam we’ll reveal to the world exactly what kind of worthless sacks of skin and sinew we really are. Maybe that’s true. Maybe mine just have louder voices. But I don’t think it’s as simple as that. The depression I fell into after university wasn’t about exams and self-worth, it was something stranger, more chemical, something that no talking cure was going to fix. Cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, psychotherapy—none of it really worked in the way that the pills did. Lissie says she finds the notion of chemically rebalancing your mood scary, she says it’s the idea of taking something that could alter how she really is. But I don’t see it that way; for me it’s like wearing makeup—not a disguise, but a way of making myself more how I really am, less raw. The best me I can be.
Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin 10)
Many people—particularly the young—have been persuaded that such a search is futile. They have been told from their preschool days on that one person’s opinion is as good as another’s, that each person can pick his or her own truth from a multicultural smorgasbord. If one choice proves unsavory, pick another, and so on, until, in a consumerist fashion, we pick the truth we like best. I think the despair of Generations X, Y, and now E comes from this fundamental notion that there’s no such thing as reality or the capital-T truth. Almost every new movie I see these days features a bright, good-looking, talented young man who is so downright sad, he can barely lift his head. I want to scream, “What’s wrong with this guy?” Then I feel a profound compassion because his generation has been forbidden the one thing that makes life such a breathtaking challenge: truth.
Charles W. Colson (The Good Life)
Whenever I’m home for a few days, I start to feel this despair at being back in the place where I had spent so many afternoons dreaming of getting away, so many late nights fantasizing about who I would be once I was allowed to be someone apart from my family, once I was free to commit mistakes on my own. How strange it is to return to a place where my childish notions of freedom are everywhere to be found—in my journals and my doodles and the corners of the room where I sat fuming for hours, counting down the days until I could leave this place and start my real life. But now that trying to become someone on my own is no longer something to dream about but just my ever-present reality, now that my former conviction that I had been burdened with the responsibility of taking care of this household has been revealed to be untrue, that all along, my responsibilities had been negligible, illusory even, that all along, our parents had been the ones watching over us—me and my brother—and now that I am on my own, the days of resenting my parents for loving me too much and my brother for needing me too intensely have been replaced with the days of feeling bewildered by the prospect of finding some other identity besides “daughter” or “sister.” It turns out this, too, is terrifying, all of it is terrifying. Being someone is terrifying. I long to come home, but now, I will always come home to my family as a visitor, and that weighs on me, reverts me back into the teenager I was, but instead of insisting that I want everyone to leave me alone, what I want now is for someone to beg me to stay. Me again. Mememememememe.
Jenny Zhang (Sour Heart)
And there was something that frightened me much more. If I went to the doctor's tomorrow, and was cured by, say, the weekend, there'd be no relief from anxiety, just different anxiety. Even as the antibiotics hosed down my genitals, the mind's bacteria would be forming new armies. I'd come up with something to get me down... Was this the case with everyone -- everyone, that is, who wasn't already a thalidomide baked-bean, or a gangrenous imbecile, or degradingly poor, or irretrievably ugly, and would therefore have pretty obvious targets for their worries? If so, the notion of 'having problems' -- or 'having a harder life than most people', or 'having a harder life than you usually had' -- was spurious. You don't have problems, only a capacity for feeling anxious about them, which shifts and jostles but doesn't change.
Martin Amis (The Rachel Papers)
Health is being in harmony with the world view. Health is an intuitive perception of the universe and all its inhabitants as being of one fabric. Health is maintaining communication with the animals and plants and minerals and stars. It is knowing death and life and seeing no difference. It is blending and melding, seeking solitude and seeking companionship to understand one's many levels. Unlike the more "modern" notions, in shamanic society health is not the absence of feeling; no more so is it the absence of pain. Health is seeking out all of the experiences of Creation and turning them over and over, feeling their texture and multiple meanings. Health is expanding beyond one's singular state of consciousness to experience the ripples and waves of the universe.
Jeanne Achterberg
Understand: the greatest generals, the most creative strategists, stand out not because they have more knowledge but because they are able, when necessary, to drop their preconceived notions and focus intensely on the present moment. That is how creativity is sparked and opportunities are seized. Knowledge, experience, and theory have limitations: no amount of thinking in advance can prepare you for the chaos of life, for the infinite possibilities of the moment. The great philosopher of war Carl von Clausewitz called this “friction”: the difference between our plans and what actually happens. Since friction is inevitable, our minds have to be capable of keeping up with change and adapting to the unexpected. The better we can adapt our thoughts to changing circumstances, the more realistic our responses to them will be. The more we lose ourselves in predigested theories and past experiences, the more inappropriate and delusional our response.
Robert Greene (The 33 Strategies of War)
There is something profoundly cynical, my friends, in the notion of paradise after death. The lure is evasion. The promise is excusative. One need not accept responsibility for the world as it is, and by extension, one need do nothing about it. To strive for change, for true goodness in this mortal world, one must acknowledge and accept, within one’s own soul, that this mortal reality has purpose in itself, that its greatest value is not for us, but for our children and their children. To view life as but a quick passage along a foul, tortured path – made foul and tortured by our own indifference – is to excuse all manner of misery and depravity, and to exact cruel punishment upon the innocent lives to come. I defy this notion of paradise beyond the gates of bone. If the soul truly survives the passage, then it behooves us – each of us, my friends – to nurture a faith in similitude: what awaits us is a reflection of what we leave behind, and in the squandering of our mortal existence, we surrender the opportunity to learn the ways of goodness, the practice of sympathy, empathy, compassion and healing – all passed by in our rush to arrive at a place of glory and beauty, a place we did not earn, and most certainly do not deserve.
Steven Erikson (The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #6))
For my present purpose I require a word which shall embrace both the Sub-Creative Art in itself, and a quality of strangeness and wonder in the Expression, derived from the Image: a quality essential to fairy-story. I propose, therefore, to arrogate to myself the powers of Humpty-Dumpty, and to use Fantasy for this purpose: in a sense, that is, which combines with its older and higher use as an equivalent of Imagination the derived notions of 'unreality' (that is, of unlikeness to the Primary World), of freedom from the dominion of 'observed fact,' in short of the fantastic. I am thus not only aware but glad of the etymological and semantic connexions of fantasy with fantastic: with images of things that are not only 'not actually present,' but which are indeed not to be found in our primary world at all, or are generally believed not to be found there. But while admitting that, I do not assent to the depreciative tone. That the images are of things not in the primary world (if that indeed is possible) is, I think, not a lower but a higher form of Art, indeed the most nearly pure form, and so (when achieved) the most Potent. Fantasy, of course, starts out with an advantage: arresting strangeness. But that advantage has been turned against it, and has contributed to its disrepute. Many people dislike being 'arrested.' They dislike any meddling with the Primary World, or such small glimpses of it as are familiar to them. They, therefore, stupidly and even maliciously confound Fantasy with Dreaming, in which there is no Art; and with mental disorders, in which there is not even control; with delusion and hallucination. But the error or malice, engendered by disquiet and consequent dislike, is not the only cause of this confusion. Fantasy has also an essential drawback: it is difficult to achieve. . . . Anyone inheriting the fantastic device of human language can say the green sun. Many can then imagine or picture it. But that is not enough -- though it may already be a more potent thing than many a 'thumbnail sketch' or 'transcript of life' that receives literary praise. To make a Secondary World inside which the green sun will be credible, commanding Secondary Belief, will probably require labour and thought, and will certainly demand a special skill, a kind of elvish craft. Few attempt such difficult tasks. But when they are attempted and in any degree accomplished then we have a rare achievement of Art: indeed narrative art, story-making in its primary and most potent mode.
J.R.R. Tolkien
The notion that we should promote “happy” or “humane” exploitation as “baby steps” ignores that welfare reforms do not result in providing significantly greater protection for animal interests; in fact, most of the time, animal welfare reforms do nothing more than make animal exploitation more economically productive by focusing on practices, such as gestation crates, the electrical stunning of chickens, or veal crates, that are economically inefficient in any event. Welfare reforms make animal exploitation more profitable by eliminating practices that are economically vulnerable. For the most part, those changes would happen anyway and in the absence of animal welfare campaigns precisely because they do rectify inefficiencies in the production process. And welfare reforms make the public more comfortable about animal exploitation. The “happy” meat/animal products movement is clear proof of that. We would never advocate for “humane” or "happy” human slavery, rape, genocide, etc. So, if we believe that animals matter morally and that they have an interest not only in not suffering but in continuing to exist, we should not be putting our time and energy into advocating for “humane” or “happy” animal exploitation.
Gary L. Francione
There are six canons of conservative thought: 1) Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. A narrow rationality, what Coleridge called the Understanding, cannot of itself satisfy human needs. "Every Tory is a realist," says Keith Feiling: "he knows that there are great forces in heaven and earth that man's philosophy cannot plumb or fathom." True politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which ought to prevail in a community of souls. 2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems; conservatives resist what Robert Graves calls "Logicalism" in society. This prejudice has been called "the conservatism of enjoyment"--a sense that life is worth living, according to Walter Bagehot "the proper source of an animated Conservatism." 3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a "classless society." With reason, conservatives have been called "the party of order." If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum. Ultimate equality in the judgment of God, and equality before courts of law, are recognized by conservatives; but equality of condition, they think, means equality in servitude and boredom. 4) Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Economic levelling, they maintain, is not economic progress. 5) Faith in prescription and distrust of "sophisters, calculators, and economists" who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs. Custom, convention, and old prescription are checks both upon man's anarchic impulse and upon the innovator's lust for power. 6) Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress. Society must alter, for prudent change is the means of social preservation; but a statesman must take Providence into his calculations, and a statesman's chief virtue, according to Plato and Burke, is prudence.
Russell Kirk (The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot)
Not long ago-incredible though it may seem-I heard a clerk of Oxford declare that he 'welcomed' the proximity of mass-production robot factories, and the roar of self-obstructive traffic, because it brought his university into 'contact with real life.' He may have meant that the way men were living and working in the twentieth century was increasing in barbarity at an alarming rate, and that the loud demonstration of this in the streets of Oxford might serve as a warning that it is not possible to preserve for long an oasis of sanity in a desert of unreason by mere fences, without actual offensive action (practical and intellectual). I fear he did not. In any case the expression 'real life' in this context seems to fall short of academic standards. The notion that motor-cars are more 'alive' than, say, centaurs or dragons is curious; that they are more 'real' than, say, horses is pathetically absurd. How real, how startlingly alive is a factory chimney compared with an elm tree: poor obsolete thing, insubstantial dream of an escapist!
J.R.R. Tolkien (Tree and Leaf: Includes Mythopoeia and The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth)
Dickens has not seen it all. The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply: life is their only weapon against life, life is all that they have. This is why the dispossessed and starving will never be convinced (though some may be coerced) by the population-control programs of the civilized. I have watched the dispossessed and starving laboring in the fields which others own, with their transistor radios at their ear, all day long: so they learn, for example, along with equally weighty matters, that the pope, one of the heads of the civilized world, forbids to the civilized that abortion which is being, literally, forced on them, the wretched. The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their ‘vital interests’ are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the ‘sanctity’ of human life, or the ‘conscience’ of the civilized world. There is a ‘sanctity’ involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it. Dreadful indeed it is to see a starving child, but the answer to that is not to prevent the child’s arrival but to restructure the world so that the child can live in it: so that the ‘vital interest’ of the world becomes nothing less than the life of the child. However—I could not have said any of this then, nor is so absurd a notion about to engulf the world now. But we were all starving children, after all, and none of our fathers, even at their most embittered and enraged, had ever suggested that we ‘die out.’ It was not we who were supposed to die out: this was, of all notions, the most forbidden, and we learned this from the cradle. Every trial, every beating, every drop of blood, every tear, were meant to be used by us for a day that was coming—for a day that was certainly coming, absolutely certainly, certainly coming: not for us, perhaps, but for our children. The children of the despised and rejected are menaced from the moment they stir in the womb, and are therefore sacred in a way that the children of the saved are not. And the children know it, which is how they manage to raise their children, and why they will not be persuaded—by their children’s murderers, after all—to cease having children.
James Baldwin (The Devil Finds Work)
But that's a good match for the way I've always approached life. I've always believed in motion and action, in following connections wherever they take me, and in not getting entrenched. My life has been more poetry than prose, more about unpredictable leaps and links than simple steady movement, or worse, stagnation. It's allowed me to stay open to the next thing without feeling held back by a preconceived notion of what I'm supposed to be doing next. Stories have ups and downs and moments of development followed by moments of climax; the storyteller has to keep it all together, which is an incredible skill. But poetry is all climax, every word and line pops with the same energy as the whole; even the spaces between the words can feel charged with potential energy. It fits my style to rhyme with high stakes riding on every word and to fill every pause with pressure and possibility. And maybe I just have ADD, but I also like my rhymes to stay loose enough to follow whatever ideas hijack my train of thought, just like I like my mind to stay loose enough to absorb everything around me.
Jay-Z (Decoded)
It was a sound like . . . I remember thinking . . . a sound kind of like Joe’s little girl Squeaky made the time she come running in from the barn hollering that her special cat was in the bottom of the milk can drowned and where was everything? She wasn’t crying or carrying on, just hollering my cat got drowned where is everybody? She wouldn’t calm down till she’d gone all over the whole house and talked to everybody and seen everything. That was the same notion I got hearing that lost goose honking: that he wasn’t so much just asking where the lost flock was—he was wanting to know where the river was, and the bank, and everything hooked up with his life. Where is my world? he was wanting to know, and where the hell am I if I can’t locate it? He had lost his way and was out there flying the river, out of his head looking for it. He was trying to check around quick and get everything in its place, like Squeaky had needed to do when she’d lost her cat, and like me wanting to see them logs again. Only with me, I couldn’t figure what I thought I’d lost: no cats that I could think of, and I don’t know as I was missing a flock . . . or ever even had a way. But I still knew the feeling.
Ken Kesey (Sometimes a Great Notion)
In short order, I became America’s foremost “irregardless” apologist. I recorded a short video for Merriam-Webster’s website refuting the notion that “irregardless” wasn’t a word; I took to Twitter and Facebook and booed naysayers who set “irregardless” up as the straw man for the demise of English. I continued to find evidence of the emphatic “irregardless” in all sorts of places—even in the oral arguments of a Supreme Court case. One incredulous e-mail response to my video continued to claim “irregardless” wasn’t a real word. “It’s a made-up word that made it into the dictionary through constant use!” the correspondent said, and I cackled gleefully before responding. Of course “irregardless” is a made-up word that was entered into the dictionary through constant use; that’s pretty much how this racket works. All words are made-up: Do you think we find them fully formed on the ocean floor, or mine for them in some remote part of Wales? I began telling correspondents that “irregardless” was much more complex than people thought, and it deserved a little respectful respite, even if it still was not part of Standard English. My mother was duly horrified. “Oh, Kory,” she tutted. “So much for that college education.” —
Kory Stamper (Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries)
When we finally achieve the full right of participation in American life, what we make of it will depend upon our sense of cultural values, and our creative use of freedom, not upon our racial identification. I see no reason why the heritage of world culture—which represents a continuum—should be confused with the notion of race. Japan erected a highly efficient modern technology upon a religious culture which viewed the Emperor as a god. The Germany which produced Beethoven and Hegel and Mann turned its science and technology to the monstrous task of genocide; one hopes that when what are known as the “Negro” societies are in full possession of the world’s knowledge and in control of their destinies, they will bring to an end all those savageries which for centuries have been committed in the name of race. From what we are now witnessing in certain parts of the world today, however, there is no guarantee that simply being non-white offers any guarantee of this. The demands of state policy are apt to be more influential than morality. I would like to see a qualified Negro as President of the United States. But I suspect that even if this were today possible, the necessities of the office would shape his actions far more than his racial identity.
Ralph Ellison (Shadow and Act)
All Mad" 'He is mad as a hare, poor fellow, And should be in chains,' you say, I haven't a doubt of your statement, But who isn't mad, I pray? Why, the world is a great asylum, And the people are all insane, Gone daft with pleasure or folly, Or crazed with passion and pain. The infant who shrieks at a shadow, The child with his Santa Claus faith, The woman who worships Dame Fashion, Each man with his notions of death, The miser who hoards up his earnings, The spendthrift who wastes them too soon, The scholar grown blind in his delving, The lover who stares at the moon. The poet who thinks life a paean, The cynic who thinks it a fraud, The youth who goes seeking for pleasure, The preacher who dares talk of God, All priests with their creeds and their croaking, All doubters who dare to deny, The gay who find aught to wake laughter, The sad who find aught worth a sigh, Whoever is downcast or solemn, Whoever is gleeful and gay, Are only the dupes of delusions— We are all of us—all of us mad.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Early in the novel that Tereza clutched under her arm when she went to visit Tomas, Anna meets Vronsky in curious circumstances: they are at the railway station when someone is run over by a train. At the end of the novel, Anna throws herself under a train. This symmetrical composition - the same motif appears at the beginning and at the end - may seem quite "novelistic" to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as "fictive," "fabricated," and "untrue to life" into the word "novelistic." Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion. They are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven's music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual's life. Anna could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unforgettably bound to the birth of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress. It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences (like the meeting of Anna, Vronsky, the railway station, and death or the meeting of Beethoven, Tomas, Tereza, and the cognac), but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.
Milan Kundera
She looked now at the drawing-room step. She saw, through William’s eyes, the shape of a woman, peaceful and silent, with downcast eyes. She sat musing, pondering (she was in grey that day, Lily thought). Her eyes were bent. She would never lift them. . . . [N]o, she thought, one could say nothing to nobody. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low. Then one gave it up; then the idea sunk back again; then one became like most middle-aged people, cautious, furtive, with wrinkles between the eyes and a look of perpetual apprehension. For how could one express in words these emotions of the body? Express that emptiness there? (She was looking at the drawing-room steps; they looked extraordinarily empty.) It was one’s body feeling, not one’s mind. The physical sensations that went with the bare look of the steps had become suddenly extremely unpleasant. To want and not to have, sent all up her body a hardness, a hollowness, a strain. And then to want and not to have – to want and want – how that wrung the heart, and wrung again and again! Oh, Mrs. Ramsay! she called out silently, to that essence which sat by the boat, that abstract one made of her, that woman in grey, as if to abuse her for having gone, and then having gone, come back again. It had seemed so safe, thinking of her. Ghost, air, nothingness, a thing you could play with easily and safely at any time of day or night, she had been that, and then suddenly she put her hand out and wrung the heart thus. Suddenly, the empty drawing-room steps, the frill of the chair inside, the puppy tumbling on the terrace, the whole wave and whisper of the garden became like curves and arabesques flourishing round a centre of complete emptiness. . . . A curious notion came to her that he did after all hear the things she could not say. . . . She looked at her picture. That would have been his answer, presumably – how “you” and “I” and “she” pass and vanish; nothing stays; all changes; but not words, not paint. Yet it would be hung in the attics, she thought; it would be rolled up and flung under a sofa; yet even so, even of a picture like that, it was true. One might say, even of this scrawl, not of that actual picture, perhaps, but of what it attempted, that it “remained for ever,” she was going to say, or, for the words spoken sounded even to herself, too boastful, to hint, wordlessly; when, looking at the picture, she was surprised to find that she could not see it. Her eyes were full of a hot liquid (she did not think of tears at first) which, without disturbing the firmness of her lips, made the air thick, rolled down her cheeks. She had perfect control of herself – Oh, yes! – in every other way. Was she crying then for Mrs. Ramsay, without being aware of any unhappiness? She addressed old Mr. Carmichael again. What was it then? What did it mean? Could things thrust their hands up and grip one; could the blade cut; the fist grasp? Was there no safety? No learning by heart of the ways of the world? No guide, no shelter, but all was miracle, and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air? Could it be, even for elderly people, that this was life? – startling, unexpected, unknown? For one moment she felt that if they both got up, here, now on the lawn, and demanded an explanation, why was it so short, why was it so inexplicable, said it with violence, as two fully equipped human beings from whom nothing should be hid might speak, then, beauty would roll itself up; the space would fill; those empty flourishes would form into shape; if they shouted loud enough Mrs. Ramsay would return. “Mrs. Ramsay!” she said aloud, “Mrs. Ramsay!” The tears ran down her face.
Virginia Woolf
Seasons is a wise metaphor for the movement of life, I think. It suggests that life is neither a battlefield nor a game of chance but something infinitely richer, more promising, more real. The notion that our lives are like the eternal cycle of the seasons does not deny the struggle or the joy, the loss or the gain, the darkness or the light, but encourages us to embrace it all-and to find in all of it opportunities for growth. If we lived close to nature in an agricultural society, the seasons as metaphor and fact would continually frame our lives. But the master metaphor of our era does not come from agriculture-it comes from manufacturing. We do not believe that we "grow" our lives-we believe that we "make" them. Just listen to how we use the word in everyday speech: we make time, make friends, snake meaning, make money, make a living, make love. I once heard Alan Watts observe that a Chinese child will ask, "How does a baby grow?" But an American child will ask, "How do you make a baby?" From an early age, we absorb our culture's arrogant conviction that we manufacture everything, reducing the world to mere "raw material" that lacks all value until we impose our designs and labor on it.
Parker J. Palmer (Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation)
In my lifelong study of the scores of species of ants to be found in the tropical forests of Dal Hon, I am led to the conviction that all forms of life are engaged in a struggle to survive, and that within each species there exists a range of natural but variable proclivities, of physical condition and of behaviour, which in turn weighs for or against in the battle to survive and procreate. Further, it is my suspicion that in the act of procreation, such traits are passed on. By extension, one can see that ill traits reduce the likelihood of both survival and procreation. On the basis of these notions, I wish to propose to my fellow scholars at this noble gathering a law of survival that pertains to all forms of life. But before I do so, I must add one more caveat, drawn from the undeniable behavioural characteristics of, in my instance of speciality, ants. To whit, success of one form of life more often than not initiates devastating population collapse among competitors, and indeed, sometimes outright extinction. And that such annihilation of rivals may in fact be a defining feature of success. Thus, my colleagues, I wish to propose a mode of operation among all forms of life, which I humbly call-in my four-volume treatise-‘The Betrayal of the Fittest’. Obsessional Scrolls Sixth Day Proceedings Address Of Skavat Gill Unta, Malazan Empire, 1097 Burn's Sleep
Steven Erikson (Dust of Dreams (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #9))
We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God's property. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way–to depend on no one–to have to think of nothing out of sight, to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man–that it is an unnatural state–will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end …'" Mustapha Mond paused, put down the first book and, picking up the other, turned over the pages. "Take this, for example," he said, and in his deep voice once more began to read: "'A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false–a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World)
I maintain, then, that scientific psychology (and, it may be added, the psychology of the same kind that we all unconsciously practise when we try to "figure to ourselves" the stirrings of our own or others' souls) has, in its inability to discover or even to approach the essence of the soul, simply added one more to the symbols that collectively make up the Macrocosm of the culture-man. Like everything else that is no longer becoming but become, it has put a mechanism in place of an organism. We miss in its picture that which fills our feeling of life (and should surely be " soul " if anything is) the Destiny-quality, the necessary directedness of existence, the possibility that life in its course actualizes. I do not believe that the word "Destiny" figures in any psychological system whatsoever — and we know that nothing in the world could be more remote from actual life-experience and knowledge of men than a system without such elements. Associations, apperceptions, affections, motives, thought, feeling, will — all are dead mechanisms, the mere topography of which constitutes the insignificant total of our "soul-science." One looked for Life and one found an ornamental pattern of notions. And the soul remained what it was, something that could neither be thought nor represented, the secret, the ever-becoming, the pure experience.
Oswald Spengler (The Decline of the West, Vol 1: Form and Actuality)
It is a mistake to think of the expatriate as someone who abdicates, who withdraws and humbles himself, resigned to his miseries, his outcast state. On a closer look, he turns out to be ambitious, aggressive in his disappointments, his very acrimony qualified by his belligerence. The more we are dispossessed, the more intense our appetites and illusions become. I even discern some relation between misfortune and megalomania. The man who has lost everything preserves as a last resort the hope of glory, or of literary scandal. He consents to abandon everything, except his name. [ . . . ] Let us say a man writes a novel which makes him, overnight, a celebrity. In it he recounts his sufferings. His compatriots in exile envy him: they too have suffered, perhaps more. And the man without a country becomes—or aspires to become—a novelist. The consequence: an accumulation of confusions, an inflation of horrors, of frissons that date. One cannot keep renewing Hell, whose very characteristic is monotony, or the face of exile either. Nothing in literature exasperates a reader so much as The Terrible; in life, it too is tainted with the obvious to rouse our interest. But our author persists; for the time being he buries his novel in a drawer and awaits his hour. The illusion of surprise, of a renown which eludes his grasp but on which he reckons, sustains him; he lives on unreality. Such, however, is the power of this illusion that if, for instance, he works in some factory, it is with the notion of being freed from it one day or another by a fame as sudden as it is inconceivable. * Equally tragic is the case of the poet. Walled up in his own language, he writes for his friends—for ten, for twenty persons at the most. His longing to be read is no less imperious than that of the impoverished novelist. At least he has the advantage over the latter of being able to get his verses published in the little émigré reviews which appear at the cost of almost indecent sacrifices and renunciations. Let us say such a man becomes—transforms himself—into an editor of such a review; to keep his publication alive he risks hunger, abstains from women, buries himself in a windowless room, imposes privations which confound and appall. Tuberculosis and masturbation, that is his fate. No matter how scanty the number of émigrés, they form groups, not to protect their interests but to get up subscriptions, to bleed each other white in order to publish their regrets, their cries, their echoless appeals. One cannot conceive of a more heart rending form of the gratuitous. That they are as good poets as they are bad prose writers is to be accounted for readily enough. Consider the literary production of any "minor" nation which has not been so childish as to make up a past for itself: the abundance of poetry is its most striking characteristic. Prose requires, for its development, a certain rigor, a differentiated social status, and a tradition: it is deliberate, constructed; poetry wells up: it is direct or else totally fabricated; the prerogative of cave men or aesthetes, it flourishes only on the near or far side of civilization, never at the center. Whereas prose demands a premeditated genius and a crystallized language, poetry is perfectly compatible with a barbarous genius and a formless language. To create a literature is to create a prose.
Emil M. Cioran (The Temptation to Exist)
It is not your time, love. You will not die tonight. All this time she thought herself in love with the notion of Death. His gallantry, his beautiful soul. She believed he loved her because he had spared her from his grip. But it had not been Death, but Black. “Why?” she asked, and her body shook, knowing his sacrifice, knowing he knew her most guarded secret. “Because I loved you,” he murmured. “I couldn’t let you go, because I knew I could no longer see you, I couldn’t live, either.” Black had risked his life to save her from taking her own. He rose, helped her up and clutched her in his arms. “It is too soon for you to make your decision,” he said. “Come to me when you know what you want. My wishes will remain unchanged.” “What do you want?” He kissed her, pressed her body into his hot, hard one. “To be inside you. To lay you out and touch you with my hands, my mouth and tongue. I want to slip deep inside you and never leave. I want to wake up in the morning and open my eyes to find you lying there next to me. I want to look at my children and see you in their little faces.” “Jude,” she whispered, holding him, weakening. “But I want you to want that as much as I do, Isabella.” “We have too many secrets,” she began. “Our pasts…” “Secrets, like passion, are meant to be spent. I will bear all my sins, all my secrets, when you come to me. It’s all I can offer. You see, little love, I’m afraid, too, but the difference between us is that I believe it’s worth it to face that fear if it means that I’ll have you.
Charlotte Featherstone (Seduction & Scandal (The Brethren Guardians, #1))
Oh, those lapses, darling. So many of us walk around letting fly with “errors.” We could do better, but we’re so slovenly, so rushed amid the hurly-burly of modern life, so imprinted by the “let it all hang out” ethos of the sixties, that we don’t bother to observe the “rules” of “correct” grammar. To a linguist, if I may share, these “rules” occupy the exact same place as the notion of astrology, alchemy, and medicine being based on the four humors. The “rules” make no logical sense in terms of the history of our language, or what languages around the world are like. Nota bene: linguists savor articulateness in speech and fine composition in writing as much as anyone else. Our position is not—I repeat, not—that we should chuck standards of graceful composition. All of us are agreed that there is usefulness in a standard variety of a language, whose artful and effective usage requires tutelage. No argument there. The argument is about what constitutes artful and effective usage. Quite a few notions that get around out there have nothing to do with grace or clarity, and are just based on misconceptions about how languages work. Yet, in my experience, to try to get these things across to laymen often results in the person’s verging on anger. There is a sense that these “rules” just must be right, and that linguists’ purported expertise on language must be somehow flawed on this score. We are, it is said, permissive—perhaps along the lines of the notorious leftist tilt among academics, or maybe as an outgrowth of the roots of linguistics in anthropology, which teaches that all cultures are equal. In any case, we are wrong. Maybe we have a point here and there, but only that.
John McWhorter (Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English)
I have argued that this sort of thinking is problematic in at least two regards: First, the notion that nonhuman animals do not have an interest in continued existence—that they do not have an interest in their lives—involves relying on a speciesist concept of what sort of self-awareness matters morally. I have argued that every sentient being necessarily has an interest in continued existence—every sentient being values her or his life—and that to say that only those animals (human animals) who have a particular sort of self-awareness have an interest in not being treated as commodities begs the fundamental moral question. Even if, as some maintain, nonhuman animals live in an “eternal present”—and I think that is empirically not the case at the very least for most of the nonhumans we routinely exploit who do have memories of the past and a sense of the future—they have, in each moment, an interest in continuing to exist. To say that this does not count morally is simply speciesist. Second, even if animals do not have an interest in continuing to live and only have interests in not suffering, the notion that, as a practical matter, we will ever be able to accord those interests the morally required weight is simply fantasy. The notion that we property owners are ever going to accord any sort of significant weight to the interests of property in not suffering is simply unrealistic. Is it possible in theory? Yes. Is it possible as a matter of practicality in the real world. Absolutely not. Welfarists often talk about treating “farmed animals” in the way that we treat dogs and cats whom we love and regard as members of our family. Does anyone really think that is practically possible? The fact that we would not think of eating our dogs and cats is some indication that it is not.
Gary L. Francione
There are countries in which the communal provision of housing, transport, education and health care is so inferior that inhabitants will naturally seek to escape involvement with the masses by barricading themselves behind solid walls. The desire for high status is never stronger than in situations where 'ordinary' life fails to answer a median need for dignity or comfort. Then there are communities—far fewer in number and typically imbued with a strong (often Protestant) Christian heritage—whose public realms exude respect in their principles and architecture, and whose citizens are therefore under less compulsion to retreat into a private domain. Indeed, we may find that some of our ambitions for personal glory fade when the public spaces and facilities to which we enjoy access are themselves glorious to behold; in such a context, ordinary citizenship may come to seem an adequate goal. In Switzerland's largest city, for instance, the need to own a car in order to avoid sharing a bus or train with strangers loses some of the urgency it has in Los Angeles or London, thanks to Zurich's superlative train network, which is clean, safe, warm and edifying in its punctuality and technical prowess. There is little reason to travel in an automotive cocoon when, for a fare of only a few francs, an efficient, stately tramway will provide transport from point A to point B at a level of comfort an emperor might have envied. One insight to be drawn from Christianity and applied to communal ethics is that, insofar as we can recover a sense of the preciousness of every human being and, even more important, legislate for spaces and manner that embody such a reverence in their makeup, then the notion of the ordinary will shed its darker associations, and, correspondingly, the desires to triumph and to be insulated will weaken, to the psychological benefit of all.
Alain de Botton (Status Anxiety)
an empathic and patient listener, coaxing each of us through the maze of our feelings, separating out our weapons from our wounds. He cautioned us when we got too lawyerly and posited careful questions intended to get us to think hard about why we felt the way we felt. Slowly, over hours of talking, the knot began to loosen. Each time Barack and I left his office, we felt a bit more connected. I began to see that there were ways I could be happier and that they didn’t necessarily need to come from Barack’s quitting politics in order to take some nine-to-six foundation job. (If anything, our counseling sessions had shown me that this was an unrealistic expectation.) I began to see how I’d been stoking the most negative parts of myself, caught up in the notion that everything was unfair and then assiduously, like a Harvard-trained lawyer, collecting evidence to feed that hypothesis. I now tried out a new hypothesis: It was possible that I was more in charge of my happiness than I was allowing myself to be. I was too busy resenting Barack for managing to fit workouts into his schedule, for example, to even begin figuring out how to exercise regularly myself. I spent so much energy stewing over whether or not he’d make it home for dinner that dinners, with or without him, were no longer fun. This was my pivot point, my moment of self-arrest. Like a climber about to slip off an icy peak, I drove my ax into the ground. That isn’t to say that Barack didn’t make his own adjustments—counseling helped him to see the gaps in how we communicated, and he worked to be better at it—but I made mine, and they helped me, which then helped us. For starters, I recommitted myself to being healthy. Barack and I belonged to the same gym, run by a jovial and motivating athletic trainer named Cornell McClellan. I’d worked out with Cornell for a couple of years, but having children had changed my regular routine. My fix for this came in the form of my ever-giving mother, who still worked full-time but volunteered to start coming over to our house at 4:45 in the morning several days a week so that I could run out to Cornell’s and join a girlfriend for a 5:00 a.m. workout and then be home by 6:30 to get the girls up and ready for their days. This new regimen changed everything: Calmness and strength, two things I feared I was losing, were now back. When it came to the home-for-dinner dilemma, I installed new boundaries, ones that worked better for me and the girls. We made our schedule and stuck to it. Dinner each night was at 6:30. Baths were at 7:00, followed by books, cuddling, and lights-out at 8:00 sharp. The routine was ironclad, which put the weight of responsibility on Barack to either make it on time or not. For me, this made so much more sense than holding off dinner or having the girls wait up sleepily for a hug. It went back to my wishes for them to grow up strong and centered and also unaccommodating to any form of old-school patriarchy: I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with
Michelle Obama (Becoming)
Hence, it's obvious to see why in AA the community is so important; we are powerless over ourselves. Since we don't have immediate awareness of the Higher Power and how it works, we need to be constantly reminded of our commitment to freedom and liberation. The old patterns are so seductive that as they go off, they set off the association of ideas and the desire to give in to our addiction with an enormous force that we can't handle. The renewal of defeat often leads to despair. At the same time, it's a source of hope for those who have a spiritual view of the process. Because it reminds us that we have to renew once again our total dependence on the Higher Power. This is not just a notional acknowledgment of our need. We feel it from the very depths of our being. Something in us causes our whole being to cry out, “Help!” That's when the steps begin to work. And that, I might add, is when the spiritual journey begins to work. A lot of activities that people in that category regard as spiritual are not communicating to them experientially their profound dependence on the grace of God to go anywhere with their spiritual practices or observances. That's why religious practice can be so ineffective. The real spiritual journey depends on our acknowledging the unmanageability of our lives. The love of God or the Higher Power is what heals us. Nobody becomes a full human being without love. It brings to life people who are most damaged. The steps are really an engagement in an ever-deepening relationship with God. Divine love picks us up when we sincerely believe nobody else will. We then begin to experience freedom, peace, calm, equanimity, and liberation from cravings for what we have come to know are damaging—cravings that cannot bring happiness, but at best only momentary relief that makes the real problem worse.
Thomas Keating (Divine Therapy and Addiction)
The Otherworld does not supply the meaning of life. Rather, the Otherworld describes being alive. Life, in all its glory - warts and all, so to speak. The Otherworld provides meaning by example, by exhibition, by illustration if you will. ... Through the Otherworld we learn what it is be be alive, to be human: good and evil, heartbreak and ecstasy, victory and defeat, everything. ... where does one first learn loyalty? Or honor? Or any higher value, for that matter? ... Where does one learn to value the beauty of a forest and to revere it?' In nature?' Not at all. This can easily be proven by the fact that so many among us do not revere the forests at all - do not even see them, in fact. You know the people I am talking about. You have seen them and their works in the world. They are the ones who rape the land, who cut down forests and despoil oceans, who oppress the poor and tyrannize the helpless, who live their lives as if nothing lay beyond the horizon of their own limited earth-bound visions. But I digress. The question before us is this: where does one first learn to see a forest as a thing of beauty, to honor it, to hold it dear for its own sake, to recognize its true value as a forest, and not just see it as a source of timber to be exploited, or a barrier to be hacked down in order to make room for a motorway? ... the mere presence of the Otherworld kindles in us the spark of higher consciousness, or imagination. It is the stories and tale and visions of the Otherworld - that magical, enchanted land just beyond the walls of the manifest world - which awaken and expand in human beings the very notion of beauty, of reverence, of love and nobility, and all the higher virtues.
Stephen R. Lawhead (The Paradise War (The Song of Albion #1))
The berth belongs to you too. It will always be there when—if you want to come back.” Inej could not speak. Her heart felt too full, a dry creek bed ill-prepared for such rain. “I don’t know what to say.” His bare hand flexed on the crow’s head of his cane. The sight was so strange Inej had trouble tearing her eyes from it. “Say you’ll return.” “I’m not done with Ketterdam.” She hadn’t known she meant it until she said the words. Kaz cast her a swift glance. “I thought you wanted to hunt slavers.” “I do. And I want your help.” Inej licked her lips, tasted the ocean on them. Her life had been a series of impossible moments, so why not ask for something impossible now? “It’s not just the slavers. It’s the procurers, the customers, the Barrel bosses, the politicians. It’s everyone who turns a blind eye to suffering when there’s money to be made.” “I’m a Barrel boss.” “You would never sell someone, Kaz. You know better than anyone that you’re not just one more boss scraping for the best margin.” “The bosses, the customers, the politicians,” he mused. “That could be half the people in Ketterdam—and you want to fight them all.” “Why not?” Inej asked. “One the seas and in the city. One by one.” “Brick by brick,” he said. Then he gave a single shake of his head, as if shrugging off the notion. “I wasn’t made to be a hero, Wraith. You should have learned that by now. You want me to be a better man, a good man. I—“ “This city doesn’t need a good man. It needs you.” “Inej—“ “How many times have you told me you’re a monster? So be a monster. Be the thing they all fear when they close their eyes at night. We don’t go after all the gangs. We don’t shut down the houses that treat fairly with their employees. We go after women like Tante Heleen, men like Pekka Rollins.” She paused. “And think about it this way…you’ll be thinning the competition.” He made a sound that might almost have been a laugh. One of his hands balanced on his cane. The other rested at his side next to her. She’d need only move the smallest amount and they’d be touching. He was that close. He was that far from reach. Cautiously, she let her knuckles brush against his, a slight weight, a bird’s feather. He stiffened, but he didn’t pull away. “I’m not ready to give up on this city, Kaz. I think it’s worth saving.” I think you’re worth saving. Once they’d stood on the deck of a ship and she’d waited just like this. He had not spoken then and he did not speak now. Inej felt him slipping away, dragged under, caught in an undertow that would take him farther and farther from shore. She understood suffering and knew it was a place she could not follow, not unless she wanted to drown too. Back on Black Veil, he’d told her they would fight their way out. Knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. She would fight for him, but she could not heal him. She would not waste her life trying. She felt his knuckles slide again hers. Then his hand was in her hand, his palm pressed against her own. A tremor moved through him. Slowly, he let their fingers entwine.
Leigh Bardugo (Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2))
A Christian people doesn't mean a lot of goody-goodies. The Church has plenty of stamina, and isn't afraid of sin. On the contrary, she can look it in the face calmly and even take it upon herself, assume it at times, as Our Lord did. When a good workman's been at it for a whole week, surely he's due for a booze on Saturday night. Look: I'll define you a Christian people by the opposite. The opposite of a Christian people is a people grown sad and old. You'll be saying that isn't a very theological definition. I agree... Why does our earliest childhood always seem so soft and full of light? A kid's got plenty of troubles, like everybody else, and he's really so very helpless, quite unarmed against pain and illness. Childhood and old age should be the two greatest trials of mankind. But that very sense of powerlessness is the mainspring of a child's joy. He just leaves it all to his mother, you see. Present, past, future -- his whole life is caught up in one look, and that look is a smile. Well, lad, if only they'd let us have our way, the Church might have given men that supreme comfort. Of course they'd each have their own worries to grapple with, just the same. Hunger, thirst, poverty, jealousy -- we'd never be able to pocket the devil once and for all, you may be sure. But man would have known he was the son of God; and therein lies your miracle. He'd have lived, he'd have died with that idea in his noddle -- and not just a notion picked up in books either -- oh, no! Because we'd have made that idea the basis of everything: habits and customs, relaxation and pleasure, down to the very simplest needs. That wouldn't have stopped the labourer ploughing, or the scientist swotting at his logarithms, or even the engineer making his playthings for grown-up people. What we would have got rid of, what we would have torn from the very heart of Adam, is that sense of his own loneliness... God has entrusted the Church to keep [the soul of childhood] alive, to safeguard our candour and freshness... Joy is the gift of the Church, whatever joy is possible for this sad world to share... What would it profit you even to create life itself, when you have lost all sense of what life really is?
Georges Bernanos (The Diary of a Country Priest)
Let us fool ourselves no longer. At the very moment Western nations, threw off the ancient regime of absolute government, operating under a once-divine king, they were restoring this same system in a far more effective form in their technology, reintroducing coercions of a military character no less strict in the organization of a factory than in that of the new drilled, uniformed, and regimented army. During the transitional stages of the last two centuries, the ultimate tendency of this system might b e in doubt, for in many areas there were strong democratic reactions; but with the knitting together of a scientific ideology, itself liberated from theological restrictions or humanistic purposes, authoritarian technics found an instrument at hand that h as now given it absolute command of physical energies of cosmic dimensions. The inventors of nuclear bombs, space rockets, and computers are the pyramid builders of our own age: psychologically inflated by a similar myth of unqualified power, boasting through their science of their increasing omnipotence, if not omniscience, moved by obsessions and compulsions no less irrational than those of earlier absolute systems: particularly the notion that the system itself must be expanded, at whatever eventual co st to life. Through mechanization, automation, cybernetic direction, this authoritarian technics has at last successfully overcome its most serious weakness: its original dependence upon resistant, sometimes actively disobedient servomechanisms, still human enough to harbor purposes that do not always coincide with those of the system. Like the earliest form of authoritarian technics, this new technology is marvellously dynamic and productive: its power in every form tends to increase without limits, in quantities that defy assimilation and defeat control, whether we are thinking of the output of scientific knowledge or of industrial assembly lines. To maximize energy, speed, or automation, without reference to the complex conditions that sustain organic life, have become ends in themselves. As with the earliest forms of authoritarian technics, the weight of effort, if one is to judge by national budgets, is toward absolute instruments of destruction, designed for absolutely irrational purposes whose chief by-product would be the mutilation or extermination of the human race. Even Ashurbanipal and Genghis Khan performed their gory operations under normal human limits. The center of authority in this new system is no longer a visible personality, an all-powerful king: even in totalitarian dictatorships the center now lies in the system itself, invisible but omnipresent: all its human components, even the technical and managerial elite, even the sacred priesthood of science, who alone have access to the secret knowledge by means of which total control is now swiftly being effected, are themselves trapped by the very perfection of the organization they have invented. Like the Pharoahs of the Pyramid Age, these servants of the system identify its goods with their own kind of well-being: as with the divine king, their praise of the system is an act of self-worship; and again like the king, they are in the grip of an irrational compulsion to extend their means of control and expand the scope of their authority. In this new systems-centered collective, this Pentagon of power, there is no visible presence who issues commands: unlike job's God, the new deities cannot be confronted, still less defied. Under the pretext of saving labor, the ultimate end of this technics is to displace life, or rather, to transfer the attributes of life to the machine and the mechanical collective, allowing only so much of the organism to remain as may be controlled and manipulated.
Lewis Mumford
I know people who read interminably, book after book, from page to page, and yet I should not call them 'well-read people'. Of course they 'know' an immense amount; but their brain seems incapable of assorting and classifying the material which they have gathered from books. They have not the faculty of distinguishing between what is useful and useless in a book; so that they may retain the former in their minds and if possible skip over the latter while reading it, if that be not possible, then--when once read--throw it overboard as useless ballast. Reading is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Its chief purpose is to help towards filling in the framework which is made up of the talents and capabilities that each individual possesses. Thus each one procures for himself the implements and materials necessary for the fulfilment of his calling in life, no matter whether this be the elementary task of earning one's daily bread or a calling that responds to higher human aspirations. Such is the first purpose of reading. And the second purpose is to give a general knowledge of the world in which we live. In both cases, however, the material which one has acquired through reading must not be stored up in the memory on a plan that corresponds to the successive chapters of the book; but each little piece of knowledge thus gained must be treated as if it were a little stone to be inserted into a mosaic, so that it finds its proper place among all the other pieces and particles that help to form a general world-picture in the brain of the reader. Otherwise only a confused jumble of chaotic notions will result from all this reading. That jumble is not merely useless, but it also tends to make the unfortunate possessor of it conceited. For he seriously considers himself a well-educated person and thinks that he understands something of life. He believes that he has acquired knowledge, whereas the truth is that every increase in such 'knowledge' draws him more and more away from real life, until he finally ends up in some sanatorium or takes to politics and becomes a parliamentary deputy. Such a person never succeeds in turning his knowledge to practical account when the opportune moment arrives; for his mental equipment is not ordered with a view to meeting the demands of everyday life. His knowledge is stored in his brain as a literal transcript of the books he has read and the order of succession in which he has read them. And if Fate should one day call upon him to use some of his book-knowledge for certain practical ends in life that very call will have to name the book and give the number of the page; for the poor noodle himself would never be able to find the spot where he gathered the information now called for. But if the page is not mentioned at the critical moment the widely-read intellectual will find himself in a state of hopeless embarrassment. In a high state of agitation he searches for analogous cases and it is almost a dead certainty that he will finally deliver the wrong prescription.
Adolf Hitler
We had better want the consequences of what we believe or disbelieve, because the consequences will come! . . . But how can a society set priorities if there are no basic standards? Are we to make our calculations using only the arithmetic of appetite? . . . The basic strands which have bound us together socially have begun to fray, and some of them have snapped. Even more pressure is then placed upon the remaining strands. The fact that the giving way is gradual will not prevent it from becoming total. . . . Given the tremendous asset that the family is, we must do all we can within constitutional constraints to protect it from predatory things like homosexuality and pornography. . . . Our whole republic rests upon the notion of “obedience to the unenforceable,” upon a tremendous emphasis on inner controls through self-discipline. . . . Different beliefs do make for different behaviors; what we think does affect our actions; concepts do have consequences. . . . Once society loses its capacity to declare that some things are wrong per se, then it finds itself forever building temporary defenses, revising rationales, drawing new lines—but forever falling back and losing its nerve. A society which permits anything will eventually lose everything! Take away a consciousness of eternity and see how differently time is spent. Take away an acknowledgement of divine design in the structure of life and then watch the mindless scurrying to redesign human systems to make life pain-free and pleasure-filled. Take away regard for the divinity in one’s neighbor, and watch the drop in our regard for his property. Take away basic moral standards and observe how quickly tolerance changes into permissiveness. Take away the sacred sense of belonging to a family or community, and observe how quickly citizens cease to care for big cities. Those of us who are business-oriented are quick to look for the bottom line in our endeavors. In the case of a value-free society, the bottom line is clear—the costs are prohibitive! A value-free society eventually imprisons its inhabitants. It also ends up doing indirectly what most of its inhabitants would never have agreed to do directly—at least initially. Can we turn such trends around? There is still a wealth of wisdom in the people of this good land, even though such wisdom is often mute and in search of leadership. People can often feel in their bones the wrongness of things, long before pollsters pick up such attitudes or before such attitudes are expressed in the ballot box. But it will take leadership and articulate assertion of basic values in all places and in personal behavior to back up such assertions. Even then, time and the tides are against us, so that courage will be a key ingredient. It will take the same kind of spunk the Spartans displayed at Thermopylae when they tenaciously held a small mountain pass against overwhelming numbers of Persians. The Persians could not dislodge the Spartans and sent emissaries forward to threaten what would happen if the Spartans did not surrender. The Spartans were told that if they did not give up, the Persians had so many archers in their army that they would darken the skies with their arrows. The Spartans said simply: “So much the better, we will fight in the shade!
Neal A. Maxwell