Relation End Quotes

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You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative
William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch)
When diplomacy ends, War begins.
Adolf Hitler
…the sad part is, that I will probably end up loving you without you for much longer than I loved you when I knew you. Some people might find that strange. But the truth of it is that the amount of love you feel for someone and the impact they have on you as a person, is in no way relative to the amount of time you have known them.
Ranata Suzuki
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors,' and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, callous 'cash payment.' It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.
Karl Marx (The Communist Manifesto)
You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never compensate for this.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Likewise and during every day of an unillustrious life, time carries us. But a moment always comes when we have to carry it. We live on the future: “tomorrow,” “later on,” “when you have made your way,” “you will understand when you are old enough.” Such irrelevancies are wonderful, for, after all, it’s a matter of dying. Yet a day comes when a man notices or says that he is thirty. Thus he asserts his youth. But simultaneously he situates himself in relation to time. He takes his place in it. He admits that he stands at a certain point on a curve that he acknowledges having to travel to its end. He belongs to time, and by the horror that seizes him, he recognizes his worst enemy. Tomorrow, he was longing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to reject it. That revolt of the flesh is the absurd.
Albert Camus (The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays)
If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament"--it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No--Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest. In peace and quiet, without a lot of relatives prying around, and a string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1))
In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before everything else, for whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame.
José Raúl Capablanca
Let me tell you, you either have chemistry or you don't, and you better have it, or it's like kissing some relative. But chemistry, listen to me, you got to be careful. Chemistry is like those perfume ads, the ones that look so interesting and mysterious but you dont even know at first what they're even selling. Or those menues without the prices. Mystery and intrigue are gonna cost you. Great looking might mean something ve-ry expensive, and I don't mean money. What I'm saying is, chemistry is a place to start, not an end point.
Deb Caletti (The Secret Life of Prince Charming)
Blood does not family make. Those are relatives. Family are those with whom you share your good, bad, and ugly, and still love one another in the end. Those are the ones you select.
Hector Xtravaganza
Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.
Phil Knight (Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike)
So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days, you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon’tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglass-I’veneverlovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgiveme…. There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bunch of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string. The practice of attaching cups to the ends of string came much later. Some say it is related to the irrepressible urge to press shells to our ears, to hear the still-surviving echo of the world’s first expression. Others say it was started by a man who held the end of a string that was unraveled across the ocean by a girl who left for America. When the world grew bigger, and there wasn’t enough string to keep the things people wanted to say from disappearing into the vastness, the telephone was invented. Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence.
Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
Beneath the armor of skin/and/bone/and/mind most of our colors are amazingly the same.
Aberjhani (Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love)
I mean, d'you know what eternity is? There's this big mountain, see, a mile high, at the end of the universe, and once every thousand years there's this little bird-" -"What little bird?" said Aziraphale suspiciously. -"This little bird I'm talking about. And every thousand years-" -"The same bird every thousand years?" -Crowley hesitated. "Yeah," he said. -"Bloody ancient bird, then." -"Okay. And every thousand years this bird flies-" -"-limps-" -"-flies all the way to this mountain and sharpens its beak-" -"Hold on. You can't do that. Between here and the end of the universe there's loads of-" The angel waved a hand expansively, if a little unsteadily. "Loads of buggerall, dear boy." -"But it gets there anyway," Crowley persevered. -"How?" -"It doesn't matter!" -"It could use a space ship," said the angel. Crowley subsided a bit. "Yeah," he said. "If you like. Anyway, this bird-" -"Only it is the end of the universe we're talking about," said Aziraphale. "So it'd have to be one of those space ships where your descendants are the ones who get out at the other end. You have to tell your descendants, you say, When you get to the Mountain, you've got to-" He hesitated. "What have they got to do?" -"Sharpen its beak on the mountain," said Crowley. "And then it flies back-" -"-in the space ship-" -"And after a thousand years it goes and does it all again," said Crowley quickly. There was a moment of drunken silence. -"Seems a lot of effort just to sharpen a beak," mused Aziraphale. -"Listen," said Crowley urgently, "the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right, then-" Aziraphale opened his mouth. Crowley just knew he was going to make some point about the relative hardness of birds' beaks and granite mountains, and plunged on quickly. -"-then you still won't have finished watching The Sound of Music." Aziraphale froze. -"And you'll enjoy it," Crowley said relentlessly. "You really will." -"My dear boy-" -"You won't have a choice." -"Listen-" -"Heaven has no taste." -"Now-" -"And not one single sushi restaurant." A look of pain crossed the angel's suddenly very serious face.
Neil Gaiman (Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch)
Since every country stands in numerous and various relations with the other countries of the world, and many, our own among the number, exercise actual authority over some of these, a knowledge of the established rules of international morality is essential to the duty of every nation, and therefore of every person in it who helps to make up the nation, and whose voice and feeling form a part of what is called public opinion. Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject. It depends on the habit of attending to and looking into public transactions, and on the degree of information and solid judgment respecting them that exists in the community, whether the conduct of the nation as a nation, both within itself and towards others, shall be selfish, corrupt, and tyrannical, or rational and enlightened, just and noble.
John Stuart Mill (Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews, 2/1/1867 (Collected Works))
Love is the opposite of [lust]: respecting the other as an end unto himself or herself. When you love someone as an end unto himself, then there is no feeling of hurt; you become enriched through it. Love makes everybody rich.
Osho (Being in Love: How to Love with Awareness and Relate Without Fear)
You should know that there is little you can seek in this world, that there is no need for you to be so greedy, in the end all you can achieve are memories, hazy, intangible, dreamlike memories which are impossible to articulate. When you try to relate them, there are only sentences, the dregs left from the filter of linguistic structures.
Gao Xingjian (Soul Mountain)
Marie, let’s suppose that two firemen go into a forest to put out a small fire. Afterwards, when they emerge and go over to a stream, the face of one is all smeared with black, while the other man’s face is completely clean. My question is this: which of the two will wash his face? That’s a silly question. The one with the dirty face of course.’ No, the one with the dirty face will look at the other man and assume that he looks like him. And, vice versa, the man with the clean face will see his colleague covered in grime and say to himself: I must be dirty too. I’d better have a wash.’ What are you trying to say?’ I’m saying that, during the time I spent in the hospital, I came to realize that I was always looking for myself in the women I loved. I looked at their lovely, clean faces and saw myself reflected in them. They, on the other hand, looked at me and saw the dirt on my face and, however intelligent or self-confident they were, they ended up seeing themselves reflected in me thinking that they were worse than they were. Please, don’t let that happen to you.
Paulo Coelho (The Zahir)
For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either. The ends of things and their beginnings are impregnably concealed from him in an impenetrable secret. He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed.
Blaise Pascal
Individual cultures and ideologies have their appropriate uses but none of them erase or replace the universal experiences, like love and weeping and laughter, common to all human beings.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
If the idea of loving those whom you have been taught to recognize as your enemies is too overwhelming, consider more deeply the observation that we are all much more alike than we are unalike.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
Your chances of avoiding the nursing home are directly related to the number of children you have,
Atul Gawande (Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End)
And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest "He died.
Suzanne Weyn (Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (Movie Novelization))
Educators may bring upon themselves unnecessary travail by taking a tactless and unjustifiable position about the relation between scientific and religious narratives. We see this, of course, in the conflict concerning creation science. Some educators representing, as they think, the conscience of science act much like those legislators who in 1925 prohibited by law the teaching of evolution in Tennessee. In that case, anti-evolutionists were fearful that a scientific idea would undermine religious belief. Today, pro-evolutionists are fearful that a religious idea will undermine scientific belief. The former had insufficient confidence in religion; the latter insufficient confidence in science. The point is that profound but contradictory ideas may exist side by side, if they are constructed from different materials and methods and have different purposes. Each tells us something important about where we stand in the universe, and it is foolish to insist that they must despise each other.
Neil Postman (The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School)
The world's most primitive people have few possessions, but they are not poor. Poverty is not a certain small amount of goods, nor is it just a relation between means and ends; above all it is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. As such it is the invention of civilization.
Marshall Sahlins (Stone Age Economics)
Any true wizard, faced with a sign like 'Do not open this door. Really. We mean it. We're not kidding. Opening this door will mean the end of the universe,' would automatically open the door in order to see what all the fuss is about. This made signs rather a waste of time, but at least it meant that when you handed what was left of the wizard to his grieving relatives you could say, as they grasped the jar, 'We told him not to.
Terry Pratchett (The Last Continent (Discworld, #22; Rincewind, #6))
4. Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion... shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine therefore candidly what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis as the earth does, should have stopped, should not by that sudden stoppage have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time have resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile, or death in fureâ. ...Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you... In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it... I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost... [Letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, advising him in matters of religion, 1787]
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
His big claim to fame was that the Golden Fleece—that magical sheepskin rug I'm related to—ended up in his kingdom, which made the place immune to disease, invasion, stock-market crashes, visits from Justin Bieber and pretty much any other natural disaster.
Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson's Greek Gods)
Soon after the completion of his college course, his whole nature was kindled into one intense and passionate effervescence of romantic passion. His hour came,—the hour that comes only once; his star rose in the horizon,—that star that rises so often in vain, to be remembered only as a thing of dreams; and it rose for him in vain. To drop the figure,—he saw and won the love of a high-minded and beautiful woman, in one of the northern states, and they were affianced. He returned south to make arrangements for their marriage, when, most unexpectedly, his letters were returned to him by mail, with a short note from her guardian, stating to him that ere this reached him the lady would be the wife of another. Stung to madness, he vainly hoped, as many another has done, to fling the whole thing from his heart by one desperate effort. Too proud to supplicate or seek explanation, he threw himself at once into a whirl of fashionable society, and in a fortnight from the time of the fatal letter was the accepted lover of the reigning belle of the season; and as soon as arrangements could be made, he became the husband of a fine figure, a pair of bright dark eyes, and a hundred thousand dollars; and, of course, everybody thought him a happy fellow. The married couple were enjoying their honeymoon, and entertaining a brilliant circle of friends in their splendid villa, near Lake Pontchartrain, when, one day, a letter was brought to him in that well-remembered writing. It was handed to him while he was in full tide of gay and successful conversation, in a whole room-full of company. He turned deadly pale when he saw the writing, but still preserved his composure, and finished the playful warfare of badinage which he was at the moment carrying on with a lady opposite; and, a short time after, was missed from the circle. In his room,alone, he opened and read the letter, now worse than idle and useless to be read. It was from her, giving a long account of a persecution to which she had been exposed by her guardian's family, to lead her to unite herself with their son: and she related how, for a long time, his letters had ceased to arrive; how she had written time and again, till she became weary and doubtful; how her health had failed under her anxieties, and how, at last, she had discovered the whole fraud which had been practised on them both. The letter ended with expressions of hope and thankfulness, and professions of undying affection, which were more bitter than death to the unhappy young man. He wrote to her immediately: I have received yours,—but too late. I believed all I heard. I was desperate. I am married, and all is over. Only forget,—it is all that remains for either of us." And thus ended the whole romance and ideal of life for Augustine St. Clare. But the real remained,—the real, like the flat, bare, oozy tide-mud, when the blue sparkling wave, with all its company of gliding boats and white-winged ships, its music of oars and chiming waters, has gone down, and there it lies, flat, slimy, bare,—exceedingly real. Of course, in a novel, people's hearts break, and they die, and that is the end of it; and in a story this is very convenient. But in real life we do not die when all that makes life bright dies to us.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin)
In this story, the sun moves. In this story, every night meets a dawn and burns away in the bright morning. In this story, Winter can never hold back the Spring... He is the best of all possible audiences, the only Audience to see every scene, the Author who became a Character and heaped every shadow on Himself. The Greeks were right. Live in fear of a grinding end and a dank hereafter. Unless you know a bigger God, or better yet, are related to Him by blood.
N.D. Wilson (Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World)
Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties?
William Wilberforce
So you love me," said Petra softly when the kiss ended. I'm a raging mass of hormones thet I'm too young to understand," said Bean. "You're a female of a closely related species. According to all the best primatologists, I really have no choice." That's nice," she said...
Orson Scott Card (Shadow Puppets (The Shadow Series, #3))
If we- and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others- do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world
James Baldwin (The Fire Next Time)
The impoverished always try to keep moving, as if relocating might help. They ignore the reality that a new version of the same old problem will be waiting at the end of the trip- the relative you cringe to kiss.
Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)
In light of my distanced telescopic exposure to the mayhem, I refused to plagiarise others’ personal tragedies as my own. There is an authorship in misery that costs more than empathy. Often I’d found myself dumbstruck in failed attempts to simulate that particular unfamiliar dolour. After all, no one takes pleasure in being possessed by a wailing father collecting the decapitated head of his innocent six year old. Even on the hinge of a willing attempt at full empathy with those cursed with such catastrophes, one had to have a superhuman emotional powers. I could not, in any way, claim the ability to relate to those who have been forced to swallow the never-ending bitter and poisonous pills of our inherited misfortune. Yet that excruciating pain in my chest seemed to elicit a state of agony in me, even from far behind the telescope. It could have been my tribal gene amplified by the ripple effect of the falling, moving in me what was left of my humanity.
Asaad Almohammad (An Ishmael of Syria)
The relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others in order to end the racial nightmare and acheive our country.
James Baldwin
Think they’re going to forget that?” “You asked my opinion. Don’t like it? Go fuck yourself.” “You’re such a delicate flower, Annie. How’d you end up NASA’s director of media relations?” “Beats the fuck out of me,” Annie said.
Andy Weir (The Martian)
Alexia had found pregnancy relatively manageable, up to a point. That point having been some three weeks ago, at which juncture her natural reserves of control gave way to sentimentality. Only yesterday she had ended breakfast sobbing over the fried eggs because they looked at her funny. The pack had spent a good half hour trying to find a way to pacify her. Her husband was so worried he looked to start crying himself.
Gail Carriger (Heartless (Parasol Protectorate, #4))
We may not be as perfect as we used to be,’ says Raffe, ‘but it’s all relative.’ I try to give him a dirty look, but I can’t help but laugh. ‘Yes, I’m laughing at you.’ Raffe pulls me closer and kisses me again. I melt into his taut body. I can’t help myself. I’m not even sure I should try
Susan Ee (End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days, #3))
Here is what unsayable about us: Jonathan and I are members of a team so old nobody else could join even if we wanted them to. What binds us is stronger than sex. It is stronger than love. We're related. Each of us is the other born into a different flesh.
Michael Cunningham (A Home at the End of the World)
Other letters simply relate the small events that punctuate the passage of time: roses picked at dusk, the laziness of a rainy Sunday, a child crying himself to sleep. Capturing the moment, these small slices of life, these small gusts of happiness, move me more deeply than all the rest. A couple of lines or eight pages, a Middle Eastern stamp or a suburban postmark . . . I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay.
Jean-Dominique Bauby (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
During the Age of Glass, everyone believed some part of him or her to be extremely fragile. For some it was a hand, for others a femur, yet others believed it was their noses that were made of glass. The Age of Glass followed the Stone Age as an evolutionary corrective, introducing into human relations a new sense of fragility that fostered compassion. This period lasted a relatively short time in the history of love-about a century-until a doctor named Ignacio da Silva hit on the treatment of inviting people to recline on a couch and giving them a bracing smack on the body part in question, proving to them the truth. The anatomical illusion that had seemed so real slowly disappeared and-like so much we no longer need but can't give up-became vestigial. But from time to time, for reasons that can't always be understood, it surfaces again, suggesting that the Age of Glass, like the Age of Silence, never entirely ended.
Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.
Edward R. Murrow
The best music for her was always the stuff you could relate to, the stuff that spoke directly to you and twisted and knotted itself so far into your life you couldn't tell where art ended and reality began.
Stephen Emond (Winter Town)
Now the best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it. It is the contention of these pages that while the best judge of Christianity is a Christian, the next best judge would be something more like a Confucian. The worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgements; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard.
G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man)
A day comes when a man notices or says that he is thirty. Thus he asserts his youth. But simultaneously he situates himself in relation to time. He takes his place in it. He admits that he stands at a certain point on a curve that he acknowledges having to travel to its end. He belongs to time, and by the horror that seizes him, he recognizes his worst enemy. Tomorrow, he was longing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to reject it.
Albert Camus (The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays)
Algebra applies to the clouds, the radiance of the star benefits the rose--no thinker would dare to say that the perfume of the hawthorn is useless to the constellations. Who could ever calculate the path of a molecule? How do we know that the creations of worlds are not determined by falling grains of sand? Who can understand the reciprocal ebb and flow of the infinitely great and the infinitely small, the echoing of causes in the abyss of being and the avalanches of creation? A mite has value; the small is great, the great is small. All is balanced in necessity; frightening vision for the mind. There are marvelous relations between beings and things, in this inexhaustible whole, from sun to grub, there is no scorn, each needs the other. Light does not carry terrestrial perfumes into the azure depths without knowing what it does with them; night distributes the stellar essence to the sleeping plants. Every bird that flies has the thread of the infinite in its claw. Germination includes the hatching of a meteor and the tap of a swallow's beak breaking the egg, and it guides the birth of the earthworm, and the advent of Socrates. Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has a greater view? Choose. A bit of mold is a pleiad of flowers; a nebula is an anthill of stars. The same promiscuity, and still more wonderful, between the things of the intellect and material things. Elements and principles are mingled, combined, espoused, multiplied one by another, to the point that the material world, and the moral world are brought into the same light. Phenomena are perpetually folded back on themselves. In the vast cosmic changes, universal life comes and goes in unknown quantities, rolling everything up in the invisible mystery of the emanations, using everything, losing no dream from any single sleep, sowing a microscopic animal here, crumbling a star there, oscillating and gyrating, making a force of light, and an element of thought, disseminated and indivisible dissolving all, that geometric point, the self; reducing everything to the soul-atom; making everything blossom into God; entangling from the highest to the lowest, all activities in the obscurity of a dizzying mechanism, linking the flight of an insect to the movement of the earth, subordinating--who knows, if only by the identity of the law--the evolutions of the comet in the firmament to the circling of the protozoa in the drop of water. A machine made of mind. Enormous gearing, whose first motor is the gnat, and whose last is the zodiac.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
No story has a beginning, and no story has an end. Beginnings and endings may be conceived to serve a purpose, to serve a momentary and transient intent, but they are, in their fundamental nature, arbitrary and exist solely as a convenient construct in the minds of man. Lives are messy, and when we set out to relate them, or parts of them, we cannot ever discern precise and objective moments when any given event began. All beginnings are arbitrary.
Caitlín R. Kiernan (The Drowning Girl)
All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE. Heaven may ENCORE the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.
G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)
There were some books that reached through the noise of life to grab you by the collar and speak only of the truest things. A Confession was a book like that. In it, Tolstoy related a Russian fable about a man who, being chased by a monster, jumps into a well. As the man is falling down the well, however, he sees there's a dragon at the bottom, waiting to eat him. Right then, the man notices a branch sticking out of the wall, and he grabs on to it, and hangs. This keeps the man from falling into the dragon's jaws, or being eaten by the monster above, but it turns out there's another little problem. Two mice, one black and one white, are scurrying around and around the branch, nibbling it. It's only a matter of time before they will chew through the branch, causing the man to fall. As the man contemplates his inescapable fate, he notices something else: from the end of the branch he's holding, a few drops of honey are dripping. The man sticks out his tongue to lick them. This, Tolstoy says, is our human predicament: we're the man clutching the branch. Death awaits us. There is no escape. And so we distract ourselves by licking whatever drops of honey come within our reach.
Jeffrey Eugenides (The Marriage Plot)
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would not take the garbage out! She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans, Candy the yams and spice the hams, And though her daddy would scream and shout, She simply would not take the garbage out. And so it piled up to the ceilings: Coffee grounds, potato peelings, Brown bananas, rotten peas, Chunks of sour cottage cheese. It filled the can, it covered the floor, It cracked the window and blocked the door With bacon rinds and chicken bones, Drippy ends of ice cream cones, Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, Pizza crusts and withered greens, Soggy beans and tangerines, Crusts of black burned buttered toast, Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . . The garbage rolled on down the hall, It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . . Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs, Globs of gooey bubble gum, Cellophane from green baloney, Rubbery blubbery macaroni, Peanut butter, caked and dry, Curdled milk and crusts of pie, Moldy melons, dried-up mustard, Eggshells mixed with lemon custard, Cold french fried and rancid meat, Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat. At last the garbage reached so high That it finally touched the sky. And all the neighbors moved away, And none of her friends would come to play. And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said, "OK, I'll take the garbage out!" But then, of course, it was too late. . . The garbage reached across the state, From New York to the Golden Gate. And there, in the garbage she did hate, Poor Sarah met an awful fate, That I cannot now relate Because the hour is much too late. But children, remember Sarah Stout And always take the garbage out!
Shel Silverstein
Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident. It can handle anything that comes along. Class has a sense of humor. It knows a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations. Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes. Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small, inconsequential sacrifices. Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. Some wealthy “blue bloods” have no class, while individuals who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it. Class is real. It can’t be faked. Class never tried to build itself by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse. Class can “walk with kings and keep it’s virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch.” Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because that person is comfortable with himself. If you have class, you’ve got it made. If you don’t have class, no matter what else you have, it doesn’t make any difference.
Ann Landers
Long Time. The famous seventeenth-century Ming painter Chou Yung relates a story that altered his behavior forever. Late one winter afternoon he set out to visit a town that lay across the river from his own town. He was bringing some important books and papers with him and had commissioned a young boy to help him carry them. As the ferry neared the other side of the river, Chou Yung asked the boatman if they would have time to get to the town before its gates closed, since it was a mile away and night was approaching. The boatman glanced at the boy, and at the bundle of loosely tied papers and books—“Yes,” he replied, “if you do not walk too fast.” As they started out, however, the sun was setting. Afraid of being locked out of the town at night, prey to local bandits, Chou and the boy walked faster and faster, finally breaking into a run. Suddenly the string around the papers broke and the documents scattered on the ground. It took them many minutes to put the packet together again, and by the time they had reached the city gates, it was too late. When you force the pace out of fear and impatience, you create a nest of problems that require fixing, and you end up taking much longer than if you had taken your time.
Robert Greene (The 48 Laws of Power)
I can only do what's easy. I can only entice and be enticed. I can't, and won't, attempt difficult relations. If I marry it will either be a man who's strong enough to boss me or whom I'm strong enough to boss. So I shan't ever marry, for there aren't such men. And Heaven help any one whom I do marry, for I shall certainly run away from him before you can say 'Jack Robinson.
E.M. Forster (Howards End)
Falling in love with a place and falling in love with a person are related adventures. At first we run around street corners giggling and explore every inch of each other’s skin, over the years we get to know every cobblestone and strand of hair and snore, and the waters of time soften our passion into unfailing love, and in the end the eyes we wake up next to and the horizon outside our window are the same thing: home.
Fredrik Backman (The Winners (Beartown, #3))
Love is never a relationship; love is relating. It is always a river, flowing, unending. Love knows no full stop; the honeymoon begins but never ends. It is not like a novel that starts at a certain point and ends at a certain point. It is an ongoing phenomenon. Lovers end, love continues—it is a continuum. It is a verb, not a noun. And why do we reduce the beauty of relating to relationship? Why are we in such a hurry? Because to relate is insecure, and relationship is a security. Relationship has a certainty; relating is just a meeting of two strangers, maybe just an overnight stay and in the morning we say goodbye. Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow? And we are so afraid that we want to make it certain, we want to make it predictable. We would like tomorrow to be according to our ideas; we don’t allow it freedom to have its own say. So we immediately reduce every verb to a noun. You
Osho (Love, Freedom, and Aloneness: On Relationships, Sex, Meditation, and Silence)
Real fairy tales are not for the faint hearted. In them, children get eaten by witches and chased by wolves; women fall into comas and are tortured by evil relatives. Somehow, all that pain and suffering is worthwhile, though, when it leads to the ending: happily ever after. Suddenly it no longer matters if you got a B- on your midterm in French or if you're the only girl in the school who doesn't have a date for the spring formal. Happily ever after trumps everything. But what if ever after could change?
Samantha van Leer (Between the Lines (Between the Lines, #1))
Poem from Rev. Jim Cotter, as listed on the opening pages of “Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss: ~ God be in my head and in my understanding. God be in my eyes and in my looking. God be in my mouth and in my speaking. God be in my tongue and in my tasting. God be in my lips and in my greeting. ~ God be in my nose and in my smelling/inhaling. God be in my ears and in my hearing. God be in my neck and in my humbling. God be in my shoulders and in my bearing. God be in my back and in my standing. ~ God be in my arms and in my reaching/receiving. God be in my hands and in my working. God be in my legs and in my walking. God be in my feet and in my grounding. God be in my knees and in my relating. ~ God be in my gut and in my feeling. God be in my bowels and in my forgiving. God be in my loins and in my swiving. God be in my lungs and in my breathing. God be in my heart and in my loving. ~ God be in my skin and in my touching. God be in my flesh and in my paining/pining. God be in my blood and in my living. God be in my bones and in my dying. God be at my end and at my reviving.
Caroline Myss (Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing)
But the poetry of that kiss, the wonder of it, the magic that there was in life for hours after it--who can describe that? It is so easy for an Englishman to sneer at these chance collisions of human beings. To the insular cynic and the insular moralist they offer an equal opportunity. It is so easy to talk of "passing emotion," and how to forget how vivid the emotion was ere it passed. Our impulse to sneer, to forget, is at root a good one. We recognize that emotion is not enough, and that men and women are personalities capable of sustained relations, not mere opportunities for an electrical discharge. Yet we rate the impulse too highly. We do not admit that by collisions of this trivial sort the doors of heaven may be shaken open.
E.M. Forster (Howards End)
Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost. While this is obvious, it is something that most people to a greater or lesser degree choose to ignore. They ignore it because our route to reality is not easy. First of all, we are not born with maps; we have to make them, and the making requires effort. The more effort we make to appreciate and perceive reality, the larger and more accurate our maps will be. But many do not want to make this effort. Some stop making it by the end of adolescence. Their maps are small and sketchy, their views of the world narrow and misleading. By the end of middle age most people have given up the effort. They feel certain that their maps are complete and their Weltanschauung is correct (indeed, even sacrosanct), and they are no longer interested in new information. It is as if they are tired. Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true.
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth)
No one is alone in their troubles; there is always someone else thinking, rejoicing, or suffering in the same way, and that gives us the stregnth to confront the challenge before us. Does that include suffering for love? It includes everything. If there is suffering, then it is best to accept it, because it won't go away because you pretend it is not there. If there is joy, then it is best to accept that too, even though you are afraid it might end some day. Some people can only relate to life through sacrifice and renunciation. Some people only feel part of humanity when they think they are happy. I'm in love and I'm afraid of suffering. Dont be afraid. The only way to avoid that suffereing is to refuse love.
Paulo Coelho (The Zahir)
In life, there are no true beginnings or endings. Events flow into each other, and the more you try to isolate them in a container, the more they spill over the sides, like canal-water breaching its artificial banks. A related point is that the things we label 'beginnings' and 'endings' are often, in reality, indistinguishable. They are one and the same thing. This is one of the things the Death card symbolizes in tarot - an end that is also a new beginning.
Gavin Extence (The Universe Versus Alex Woods)
Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. I reflected on the subject of my spare-time literary activities. One Beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with. A good book may have three openings entirely dissimilar and inter-related only in the prescience of the author, or for that matter one hundred times as many endings.
Flann O'Brien
The funny thing about life is that there’s a lot you don’t get to choose. You don’t get to choose whom you’re related to. You don’t get to choose your hair color, your height, or what natural talents you are given. You don’t get to choose where you are born, or who or what the world will see when they look at you. But the best part of life is that in the end, none of that matters. You get to choose who you become. Who you love. You can change your hair color and, to an extent, you can even change your eye color and height. You can learn to be great at something.
Mariana Zapata (Luna and the Lie)
Relations between a man and a woman are always strange: nothing can be foreseen, they have no predictable direction, no law. Sometimes you come to a dead end, where there is nothing to do but sit down and weep; all the words have been said, and to no purpose; all the arguments have been thought of, and shattered. But then sometimes, at a chance look or word, the wall doesn't start to crack, but simply melts away. And where there was nothing but darkness, a clear path appears again, where two people can walk. Just a path — perhaps only for a minute.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The First Circle)
[Standing armies] constantly threaten other nations with war by giving the appearance that they are prepared for it, which goads nations into competing with one another in the number of men under arms, and this practice knows no bounds. And since the costs related to maintaining peace will in this way finally become greater than those of a short war, standing armies are the cause of wars of aggression that are intended to end burdensome expenditures. Moreover, paying men to kill or be killed appears to use them as mere machines and tools in the hands of another (the nation), which is inconsistent with the rights of humanity.
Immanuel Kant (Perpetual Peace)
Indeed it may be said with some confidence that the average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. There are moments when his cogitations are relatively more respectable than usual, but even at their climaxes they never reach anything properly describable as the level of serious thought. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of clichés. What they mistake for thought is simply a repetition of what they have heard. My guess is that well over eighty per cent. of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought. That is to say, they never think anything that has not been thought before and by thousands.
H.L. Mencken (Minority Report (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf))
Another key commitment for succeeding with this strategy is to support your commitment to shutting down with a strict shutdown ritual that you use at the end of the workday to maximize the probability that you succeed. In more detail, this ritual should ensure that every incomplete task, goal, or project has been reviewed and that for each you have confirmed that either (1) you have a plan you trust for its completion, or (2) it’s captured in a place where it will be revisited when the time is right. The process should be an algorithm: a series of steps you always conduct, one after another. When you’re done, have a set phrase you say that indicates completion (to end my own ritual, I say, “Shutdown complete”). This final step sounds cheesy, but it provides a simple cue to your mind that it’s safe to release work-related thoughts for the rest of the day.
Cal Newport (Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World)
Here’s the dead end of social media: after you’ve created your own bubble that reflects only what you relate to or what you identify with, after you’ve blocked and unfollowed people whose opinions and worldview you judge and disagree with, after you’ve created your own little utopia based on your cherished values, then a kind of demented narcissism begins to warp this pretty picture. Not being able or willing to put yourself in someone else’s shoes—to view life differently from how you yourself experience it—is the first step toward being not empathic, and this is why so many progressive movements become as rigid and as authoritarian as the institutions they’re resisting.
Bret Easton Ellis (White)
Someone has already taken out a Minolta cellular phone and called for a car, and then, when I'm not really listening, watching instead someone who looks remarkably like Marcus Halberstam paying a check, someone asks, simply, not in relation to anything, "Why? " and though I'm very proud that I have cold blood and that I can keep my nerve and do what I'm supposed to do, I catch something, then realize it: Why? and automatically answering, out of the blue, for no reason, just opening my mouth, words coming out, summarizing for the idiots: "Well, though I know I should have done that instead of not doing it, I'm twenty-seven for Christ sakes and this is, uh, how life presents itself in a bar or in a club in New York, maybe anywhere, at the end of the century and how people, you know, me, behave, and this is what being Pat rick means to me, I guess, so, well, yup, uh..." and this is followed by a sigh, then a slight shrug and another sigh, and above one of the doors covered by red velvet drapes in Harry's is a sign and on the sign in letters that match the drapes' color are the words THIS IS NOT AN EXIT.
Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho)
Their [girls] sexual energy, their evaluation of adolescent boys and other girls goes thwarted, deflected back upon the girls, unspoken, and their searching hungry gazed returned to their own bodies. The questions, Whom do I desire? Why? What will I do about it? are turned around: Would I desire myself? Why?...Why not? What can I do about it? The books and films they see survey from the young boy's point of view his first touch of a girl's thighs, his first glimpse of her breasts. The girls sit listening, absorbing, their familiar breasts estranged as if they were not part of their bodies, their thighs crossed self-consciously, learning how to leave their bodies and watch them from the outside. Since their bodies are seen from the point of view of strangeness and desire, it is no wonder that what should be familiar, felt to be whole, become estranged and divided into parts. What little girls learn is not the desire for the other, but the desire to be desired. Girls learn to watch their sex along with the boys; that takes up the space that should be devoted to finding out about what they are wanting, and reading and writing about it, seeking it and getting it. Sex is held hostage by beauty and its ransom terms are engraved in girls' minds early and deeply with instruments more beautiful that those which advertisers or pornographers know how to use: literature, poetry, painting, and film. This outside-in perspective on their own sexuality leads to the confusion that is at the heart of the myth. Women come to confuse sexual looking with being looked at sexually ("'s the look you want"); many confuse sexually feeling with being sexually felt ("Gillete razors...the way a woman wants to feel"); many confuse desiring with being desirable. "My first sexual memory," a woman tells me, "was when I first shaved my legs, and when I ran my hand down the smooth skin I felt how it would feel to someone else's hand." Women say that when they lost weight they "feel sexier" but the nerve endings in the clitoris and nipples don't multiply with weight loss. Women tell me they're jealous of the men who get so much pleasure out of the female body that they imagine being inside the male body that is inside their own so that they can vicariously experience desire. Could it be then that women's famous slowness of arousal to men's, complex fantasy life, the lack of pleasure many experience in intercourse, is related to this cultural negation of sexual imagery that affirms the female point of view, the culture prohibition against seeing men's bodies as instruments of pleasure? Could it be related to the taboo against representing intercourse as an opportunity for a straight woman actively to pursue, grasp, savor, and consume the male body for her satisfaction, as much as she is pursued, grasped, savored, and consumed for his?
Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth)
I was reading a book about the cosmos recently,” he says, and then he looks around and goes, “Hold on, trust me, this relates.” The crowd laughs again. “And I was reading about different theories about the universe. I was really taken with this one theory that states that everything that is possible happens. That means that when you flip a quarter, it doesn’t come down heads or tails. It comes up heads and tails. Every time you flip a coin and it comes up heads, you are merely in the universe where the coin came up heads. There is another version of you out there, created the second the quarter flipped, who saw it come up tails. This is happening every second of every day. The world is splitting further and further into an infinite number of parallel universes where everything that could happen is happening. This is completely plausible, by the way. It’s a legitimate interpretation of quantum mechanics. It’s entirely possible that every time we make a decision, there is a version of us out there somewhere who made a different choice. An infinite number of versions of ourselves are living out the consequences of every single possibility in our lives. What I’m getting at here is that I know there may be universes out there where I made different choices that led me somewhere else, led me to someone else.” He looks at Gabby. “And my heart breaks for every single version of me that didn’t end up with you.
Taylor Jenkins Reid (Maybe in Another Life)
Depression, somehow, is much more in line with society's notions of what women are all about: passive, sensitive, hopeless, helpless, stricken, dependent, confused, rather tiresome, and with limited aspirations. Manic states, on the other hand, seem to be more the provenance of men: restless, fiery, aggressive, volatile, energetic, risk taking, grandiose and visionary, and impatient with the status quo. Anger or irritability in men, under such circumstances, is more tolerated and understandable; leaders or takers of voyages are permitted a wider latitude for being temperamental. Journalists and other writers, quite understandably, have tended to focus on women and depression, rather than women and mania. This is not surprising: depression is twice as common in women as men. But manic-depressive illness occurs equally often in women and men, and, being a relatively common condition, mania ends up affecting a large number of women. They, in turn, often are misdiagnosed, receive poor, if any, psychiatric treatment, and are at high risk for suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, and violence. But they, like men who have manic-depressive illness, also often contribute a great deal of energy, fire, enthusiasm, and imagination to the people and world around them.
Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)
I am beginning to be sorry that I ever undertook to write this book. Not that it bores me; I have nothing else to do; indeed, it is a welcome distraction from eternity. But the book is tedious, it smells of the tomb, it has a rigor mortis about it; a serious fault, and yet a relatively small one, for the great defect of this book is you, reader. You want to live fast, to get to the end, and the book ambles along slowly; you like straight, solid narrative and a smooth style, but this book and my style are like a pair of drunks; they stagger to the right and to the left, they start and they stop, they mutter, they roar, they guffaw, they threaten the sky, they slip and fall... And fall! Unhappy leaves of my cypress tree, you had to fall, like everything else that is lovely and beautiful; if I had eyes, I would shed a tear of remembrance for you. And this is the great advantage in being dead, that if you have no mouth with which to laugh, neither have you eyes with which to cry.
Machado de Assis (Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas)
I have found that battling despair does not mean closing my eyes to the enormity of the tasks of effecting change, nor ignoring the strength and the barbarity of the forces aligned against us. It means teaching, surviving and fighting with the most important resource I have, myself, and taking joy in that battle. It means, for me, recognizing the enemy outside and the enemy within, and knowing that my work is part of a continuum of women’s work, of reclaiming this earth and our power, and knowing that this work did not begin with my birth nor will it end with my death. And it means knowing that within this continuum, my life and my love and my work has particular power and meaning relative to others.
Audre Lorde (The Cancer Journals)
Some made the long drop from the apartment or the office window; some took it quietly in two-car garages with the motor running; some used the native tradition of the Colt or Smith and Wesson; those well-constructed implements that end insomnia, terminate remorse, cure cancer, avoid bankruptcy, and blast an exit from intolerable positions by the pressure of a finger; those admirable American instruments so easily carried, so sure of effect, so well designed to end the American dream when it becomes a nightmare, their only drawback the mess they leave for relatives to clean up.
Ernest Hemingway (To Have and Have Not)
First, make sure you get into a relationship for the right reasons. (I’m using the word “right” here as a relative term. I mean “right” relative to the larger purpose you hold in your life.) As I have indicated before, most people still enter relationships for the “wrong” reasons—to end loneliness, fill a gap, bring themselves love, or someone to love—and those are some of the better reasons. Others do so to salve their ego, end their depressions, improve their sex life, recover from a previous relationship, or, believe it or not, to relieve boredom. None of these reasons will work, and unless something dramatic changes along the way, neither will the relationship.
Neale Donald Walsch (The Complete Conversations with God)
...his success in public relations had been due primarily to his masterful utilization of a single public relations technique: identifying himself with a popular cause. This technique was especially advantageous to him because his philosophy--that accomplishment, Getting Things Done, is the only thing that matters, that the end justifies any means, however ruthless--might not be universally popular. By keeping the public eye focused on the cause, the end, the ultimate benefit to be obtained, the technique kept the public eye from focusing on the methods by which the method was to be obtained.
Robert A. Caro (The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York)
The greatest book in the world, the Mahabharata, tells us we all have to live and die by our karmic cycle. Thus works the perfect reward-and-punishment, cause-and-effect, code of the universe. We live out in our present life what we wrote out in our last. But the great moral thriller also orders us to rage against karma and its despotic dictates. It teaches us to subvert it. To change it. It tells us we also write out our next lives as we live out our present. The Mahabharata is not a work of religious instruction. It is much greater. It is a work of art. It understands men will always fall in the shifting chasm between the tug of the moral and the lure of the immoral. It is in this shifting space of uncertitude that men become men. Not animals, not gods. It understands truth is relative. That it is defined by context and motive. It encourages the noblest of men - Yudhishtra, Arjuna, Lord Krishna himself - to lie, so that a greater truth may be served. It understands the world is powered by desire. And that desire is an unknowable thing. Desire conjures death, destruction, distress. But also creates love, beauty, art. It is our greatest undoing. And the only reason for all doing. And doing is life. Doing is karma. Thus it forgives even those who desire intemperately. It forgives Duryodhana. The man who desires without pause. The man who precipitates the war to end all wars. It grants him paradise and the admiration of the gods. In the desiring and the doing this most reviled of men fulfils the mandate of man. You must know the world before you are done with it. You must act on desire before you renounce it. There can be no merit in forgoing the not known. The greatest book in the world rescues volition from religion and gives it back to man. Religion is the disciplinarian fantasy of a schoolmaster. The Mahabharata is the joyous song of life of a maestro. In its tales within tales it takes religion for a spin and skins it inside out. Leaves it puzzling over its own poisoned follicles. It gives men the chance to be splendid. Doubt-ridden architects of some small part of their lives. Duryodhanas who can win even as they lose.
Tarun J. Tejpal (The Alchemy of Desire)
It was the custom in those days for passengers leaving for America to bring balls of yarn on deck. Relatives on the pier held the loose ends. As the "Giulia" blew its horn and moved away from the dock, a few hundred strings of yarn stretched across the water. People shouted farewells, waved furiously, held up babies for last looks they wouldn't remember. Propellers churned; handkerchiefs fluttered, and, up on deck, the balls of yarn began to spin. Red, yellow, blue, green, they untangled toward the pier, slowly at first, one revolution every ten seconds, then faster and faster as the boat picked up speed. Passengers held the yarn as long as possible, maintaining the connection to faces disappearing onshore. But finally, one by one, the balls ran out. The strings of yarn flew free, rising on the breeze.
Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex)
When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies,” but because of the life we saw prior to the words. I’ve lived all five of my acts, Mahoney, and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I’m only asking that you turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest “He died.
Dustin Hoffman
Wonder acts upon a man like a shock, he is "moved" and "shaken", and in the dislocation that succeeds all that he had taken for granted as being natural or self-evident loses its compact solidity and obviousness; he is literally dislocated and no longer knows where he is. If this were only to involve the man of action in all of us, so that a man only lost his sense of certainty of everyday life, it would be relatively harmless; but the ground quakes beneath his feet in a far more dangerous sense, and it is his whole spiritual nature, his capacity to know, that is threatened. It is an extremely curious fact that this is the only aspect of wonder, or almost the only aspect, that comes to evidence in modern philosohpy, and the old view that wonder was the beginning of philosophy takes on a new meaning: doubt is the beginning of philosophy. . . . The innermost meaning of wonder is fulfilled in a deepened sense of mystery. It does not end in doubt, but is the awakening of the knowledge that being, qua being, is mysterious and inconceivable, and that it is a mystery in the full sense of the word: neither a dead end, nor a contradiction, nor even something impenetrable and dark. Rather, mystery means that a reality cannot be comprehended because its light is ever-flowing, unfathomable, and inexhaustible. And that is what the wonderer really experiences. . . . Since the very beginning philosophy has always been characterized by hope. Philosophy never claimed to be a superior form of knowledge but, on the contrary, a form of humility, and restrained, and conscious of this restraint and humility in relation to knowledge. The words philosopher and philosophy were coined, according to legend--and the legend is of great antiquity--by Pythagoras in explicit contrast to the words sophia and sophos: no man is wise, and no man "knows"; God alone is wise and all-knowing. At the very most a man might call himself a lover of wisdom and a seeker after knowledge--a philosopher. --from The Philosophical Act, Chapter III
Josef Pieper (Leisure, the basis of culture, and, The philosophical act!)
My inspiration for writing music is like Don McLean did when he did "American Pie" or "Vincent". Lorraine Hansberry with "A Raisin in the Sun". Like Shakespeare when he does his thing, like deep stories, raw human needs. I'm trying to think of a good analogy. It's like, you've got the Vietnam War, and because you had reporters showing us pictures of the war at home, that's what made the war end, or that shit would have lasted longer. If no one knew what was going on we would have thought they were just dying valiantly in some beautiful way. But because we saw the horror, that's what made us stop the war. So I thought, that's what I'm going to do as an artist, as a rapper. I'm gonna show the most graphic details of what I see in my community and hopefully they'll stop it quick. I've seen all of that-- the crack babies, what we had to go through, losing everything, being poor, and getting beat down. All of that. Being the person I am, I said no no no no. I'm changing this.
Tupac Shakur (Tupac: Resurrection 1971-1996)
State philosophy reposes on a double identity: of the thinking subject, and of the concepts it creates and to which it lends its own presumed attributes of sameness and constancy. The subjects, its concepts, and also the objects in the world to which the concepts are applied have a shared, internal essence: the self-resemblance at the basis of identity. Representational thought is analogical; its concern is to establish a correspondence between these symmetrically structured domains. The faculty of judgment is the policeman of analogy, assuring that each of these terms is honestly itself, and that the proper correspondences obtain. In thought its end is truth, in action justice. The weapons it wields in their pursuit are limitive distribution (the determination of the exclusive set of properties possessed by each term in contradistinction to the others: logos, law) and hierarchical ranking (the measurement of the degree of perfection of a term’s self-resemblance in relation to a supreme standard, man, god, or gold: value, morality). The modus operandi is negation: x = x = not y. Identity, resemblance, truth, justice, and negation. The rational foundation for order. The established order, of course: philosophers have traditionally been employees of the State. The collusion between philosophy and the State was most explicitly enacted in the first decade of the nineteenth century with the foundation of the University of Berlin, which was to become the model of higher learning throughout Europe and in the United States. The goal laid out for it by Wilhelm von Humboldt (based on proposals by Fichte and Schleiermacher) was the ‘spiritual and moral training of the nation,’ to be achieved by ‘deriving everything from an original principle’ (truth), by ‘relating everything to an ideal’ (justice), and by ‘unifying this principle and this ideal to a single Idea’ (the State). The end product would be ‘a fully legitimated subject of knowledge and society’ – each mind an analogously organized mini-State morally unified in the supermind of the State. More insidious than the well-known practical cooperation between university and government (the burgeoning military funding of research) is its philosophical role in the propagation of the form of representational thinking itself, that ‘properly spiritual absolute State’ endlessly reproduced and disseminated at every level of the social fabric.
Gilles Deleuze (A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia)
What we can now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist production is mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will disappear. But what will there be new? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman’s surrender with money or any other social instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man from any other considerations than real love, or to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic consequences. When these people are in the world, they will care precious little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual –and that will be the end of it.
Friedrich Engels (The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State)
Consider an AI that has hedonism as its final goal, and which would therefore like to tile the universe with “hedonium” (matter organized in a configuration that is optimal for the generation of pleasurable experience). To this end, the AI might produce computronium (matter organized in a configuration that is optimal for computation) and use it to implement digital minds in states of euphoria. In order to maximize efficiency, the AI omits from the implementation any mental faculties that are not essential for the experience of pleasure, and exploits any computational shortcuts that according to its definition of pleasure do not vitiate the generation of pleasure. For instance, the AI might confine its simulation to reward circuitry, eliding faculties such as a memory, sensory perception, executive function, and language; it might simulate minds at a relatively coarse-grained level of functionality, omitting lower-level neuronal processes; it might replace commonly repeated computations with calls to a lookup table; or it might put in place some arrangement whereby multiple minds would share most parts of their underlying computational machinery (their “supervenience bases” in philosophical parlance). Such tricks could greatly increase the quantity of pleasure producible with a given amount of resources.
Nick Bostrom (Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies)
Suppose we were planning to impose a dictatorial regime upon the American people—the following preparations would be essential: 1. Concentrate the populace in megalopolitan masses so that they can be kept under close surveillance and where, in case of trouble, they can be bombed, burned, gassed or machine-gunned with a minimum of expense and waste. 2. Mechanize agriculture to the highest degree of refinement, thus forcing most of the scattered farm and ranching population into the cities. Such a policy is desirable because farmers, woodsmen, cowboys, Indians, fishermen and other relatively self-sufficient types are difficult to manage unless displaced from their natural environment. 3. Restrict the possession of firearms to the police and the regular military organizations. 4. Encourage or at least fail to discourage population growth. Large masses of people are more easily manipulated and dominated than scattered individuals. 5. Continue military conscription. Nothing excels military training for creating in young men an attitude of prompt, cheerful obedience to officially constituted authority. 6. Divert attention from deep conflicts within the society by engaging in foreign wars; make support of these wars a test of loyalty, thereby exposing and isolating potential opposition to the new order. 7. Overlay the nation with a finely reticulated network of communications, airlines and interstate autobahns. 8. Raze the wilderness. Dam the rivers, flood the canyons, drain the swamps, log the forests, strip-mine the hills, bulldoze the mountains, irrigate the deserts and improve the national parks into national parking lots. Idle speculations, feeble and hopeless protest. It was all foreseen nearly half a century ago by the most cold-eyed and clear-eyed of our national poets, on California’s shore, at the end of the open road. Shine, perishing republic.
Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire)
I receive remarkable letters. They are opened for me, unfolded, and spread out before my eyes in a daily ritual that gives the arrival of the mail the character of a hushed and holy ceremony. I carefully read each letter myself. Some of them are serious in tone, discussing the meaning of life, invoking the supremacy of the soul, the mystery of every existence. And by a curious reversal, the people who focus most closely on these fundamental questions tend to be people I had known only superficially. Their small talk has masked hidden depths. Had I been blind and deaf, or does it take the harsh light of disaster to show a person's true nature? Other letters simply relate the small events that punctuate the passage of time: roses picked at dusk, the laziness of a rainy Sunday, a child crying himself to sleep. Capturing the moment, these small slices of life, these small gusts of happiness, move me more deeply than all the rest. A couple of lines or eight pages, a Middle Eastern stamp or a suburban postmark... I hoard all these letters like treasure. One day I hope to fasten them end to end in a half-mile streamer, to float in the wind like a banner raised to the glory of friendship. It will keep the vultures at bay.
Jean-Dominique Bauby (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good as well as by evil men. Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon but at other times and places the ends have been racial or territorial security, support of a dynasty or regime, and particular plans for saving souls. As first and moderate methods to attain unity have failed, those bent on its accomplishment must resort to an ever-increasing severity. . . . Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard. It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.
Robert H. Jackson
The relations one has with a woman one loves (and that can apply also to love for a youth) can remain platonic for other reasons than the chastity of the woman or the unsensual nature of the love she inspires. The reason may be that the lover is too impatient and by the very excess of his love is unable to await the moment when he will obtain his desires by sufficient pretence of indifference. Continually, he returns to the charge, he never ceases writing to her whom he loves, he is always trying to see her, she refuses herself, he becomes desperate. From that time she knows, if she grants him her company, her friendship, that these benefits will seem so considerable to one who believed he was going to be deprived of them, that she need grant nothing more and that she can take advantage of the moment when he can no longer bear being unable to see her and when, at all costs, he must put an end to the struggle by accepting a truce which will impose upon him a platonic relationship as its preliminary condition. Moreover, during all the time that preceded this truce, the lover, in a constant state of anxiety, ceaselessly hoping for a letter, a glance, has long ceased thinking of the physical desire which at first tormented him but which has been exhausted by waiting and has been replaced by another order of longings more painful still if left unsatisfied. The pleasure formerly anticipated from caresses will later be accorded but transmuted into friendly words and promises of intercourse which brings delicious moments after the strain of uncertainty or after a look impregnated with such coldness that it seemed to remove the loved one beyond hope of his ever seeing her again. Women divine all this and know they can afford the luxury of never yielding to those who, from the first, have betrayed their inextinguishable desire. A woman is enchanted if, without giving anything, she can receive more than she generally gets when she does give herself.
Marcel Proust (In Search of Lost Time [volumes 1 to 7])
This was the last time I ever saw my mother alive. Just the same, this picture gets all mixed up in my mind with pictures I had of her when she was younger. The way I always see her is the way she used to be on Sunday afternoon, say, when the old folks were talking after the big Sunday dinner. I always see her wearing pale blue. She'd be sitting on the sofa. And my father would be sitting in the easy chair, not far from her. And the living room would be full of church folks and relatives. There they sit, in chairs all around the living room, and the night is creeping up outside, but nobody knows it yet. You can see the darkness growing against the windowpanes and you hear the street noises every now and again, or maybe the jangling beat of a tambourine from one of the churches close by, but it's real quiet in the room. For a moment nobody's talking, but every face looks darkening, like the sky outside. And my mother rocks a little from the waist, and my father's eyes are closed. Everyone is looking at something a child can't see. For a minute they've forgotten the children. Maybe a kid is lying on the rug, half asleep. Maybe somebody's got a kid in his lap and is absent-mindedly stroking the kid's head. Maybe there's a kid, quiet and big-eyed, curled up in a big chair in the corner. The silence, the darkness coming, and the darkness in the faces frighten the child obscurely. He hopes that the hand which strokes his forehead will never stop-- will never die. He hopes that there will never come a time when the old folks won't be sitting around the living room, talking about where they've come from, and what they've seen, and what's happened to them and their kinfolk. But something deep and watchful in the child knows that this is bound to end, is already ending. In a moment someone will get up and turn on the light. Then the old folks will remember the children and they won't talk anymore that day. And when light fills the room, the child is filled with darkness. He knows that every time this happens he's moved just a little closer to that darkness outside. The darkness outside is what the old folks have been talking about. It's what they've come from. It's what they endure. The child knows that they won't talk anymore because if he knows too much about what's happened to them, he'll know too much too soon, about what's going to happen to him.
James Baldwin
So many words get lost. They leave the mough and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon'tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglassI'veneverlovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgiveme... There was a time when it wasn't uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bundle of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard my everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance two people using a string was often small; somtimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string. The practice of attaching cups to the ends of the string came much later. Some say it is related to the irrepressible urge to pressshells to our ears, to hear the still-surviving echo of the world's first expression. Others say it was started by a man who held the end of a string that was unraveled across the ocean by a girl who left for America. When the world grew bigger, and there wasn't enough string to keep the things people wanted to say from disappearing into the wastness, the telephone was invented. Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever for, is conduct a person's silence.
Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
Jonathan Safran Foer’s 10 Rules for Writing: 1.Tragedies make great literature; unfathomable catastrophes (the Holocaust, 9/11) are even better – try to construct your books around them for added gravitas but, since those big issues are such bummers, make sure you do it in a way that still focuses on a quirky central character that’s somewhat like Jonathan Safran Foer. 2. You can also name your character Jonathan Safran Foer. 3. If you’re writing a non-fiction book you should still make sure that it has a strong, deep, wise, and relatable central character – someone like Jonathan Safran Foer. 4. If you reach a point in your book where you’re not sure what to do, or how to approach a certain scene, or what the hell you’re doing, just throw in a picture, or a photo, or scribbles, or blank pages, or some illegible text, or maybe even a flipbook. Don’t worry if these things don’t mean anything, that’s what postmodernism is all about. If you’re not sure what to put in, you can’t go wrong with a nice photograph of Jonathan Safran Foer. 5. If you come up with a pun, metaphor, or phrase that you think is really clever and original, don’t just use it once and throw it away, sprinkle it liberally throughout the text. One particularly good phrase that comes to mind is “Jonathan Safran Foer.” 6. Don’t worry if you seem to be saying the same thing over and over again, repetition makes the work stronger, repetition is good, it drives the point home. The more you repeat a phrase or an idea, the better it gets. You should not be afraid of repeating ideas or phrases. One particularly good phrase that comes to mind is “Jonathan Safran Foer.” 7. Other writers are not your enemies, they are your friends, so you should feel free to borrow some of their ideas, words, techniques, and symbols, and use them completely out of context. They won’t mind, they’re your friends, just like my good friend Paul Auster, with whom I am very good friends. Just make sure you don’t steal anything from Jonathan Safran Foer, it wouldn’t be nice, he is your friend. 8. Make sure you have exactly three plots in your novel, any more and it gets confusing, any less and it’s not postmodern. At least one of those plots should be in a different timeline. It often helps if you name these three plots, I often use “Jonathan,” “Safran,” and “Foer.” 9. Don’t be afraid to make bold statements in you writing, there should always be a strong lesson to be learned, such as “don’t eat animals,” or “the Holocaust was bad,” or “9/11 was really really sad,” or “the world would be a better place if everyone was just a little bit more like Jonathan Safran Foer.” 10. In the end, don’t worry if you’re unsuccessful as a writer, it probably wasn’t meant to be. Not all of us are chosen to become writers. Not all of us can be Jonathan Safran Foer.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Our whole culture is based on the appetite for buying, on the idea of a mutually favorable exchange. Modern man's happiness consists in the thrill of looking at the shop windows, and in buying all that he can afford to buy, either for cash or on installments. He (or she) looks at people in a similar way. For the man an attractive girl—and for the woman an attractive man—are the prizes they are after. 'Attractive' usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after on the personality market. What specifically makes a person attractive depends on the fashion of the time, physically as well as mentally. During the twenties, a drinking and smoking girl, tough and sexy, was attractive; today the fashion demands more domesticity and coyness. At the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of this century, a man had to be aggressive and ambitious—today he has to be social and tolerant—in order to be an attractive 'package'. At any rate, the sense of falling in love develops usually only with regard to such human commodities as are within reach of one's own possibilities for exchange. I am out for a bargain; the object should be desirable from the standpoint of its social value, and at the same time should want me, considering my overt and hidden assets and potentialities. Two persons thus fall in love when they feel they have found the best object available on the market, considering the limitations of their own exchange values. Often, as in buying real estate, the hidden potentialities which can be developed play a considerable role in this bargain. In a culture in which the marketing orientation prevails, and in which material success is the outstanding value, there is little reason to be surprised that human love relations follow the same pattern of exchange which governs the commodity and the labor market.
Erich Fromm (The Art of Loving)
The basic recurring theme in Hindu mythology is the creation of the world by the self-sacrifice of God—"sacrifice" in the original sense of "making sacred"—whereby God becomes the world which, in the end, becomes again God. This creative activity of the Divine is called lila, the play of God, and the world is seen as the stage of the divine play. Like most of Hindu mythology, the myth of lila has a strong magical flavour. Brahman is the great magician who transforms himself into the world and then performs this feat with his "magic creative power", which is the original meaning of maya in the Rig Veda. The word maya—one of the most important terms in Indian philosophy—has changed its meaning over the centuries. From the might, or power, of the divine actor and magician, it came to signify the psychological state of anybody under the spell of the magic play. As long as we confuse the myriad forms of the divine lila with reality, without perceiving the unity of Brahman underlying all these forms, we are under the spell of maya. (...) In the Hindu view of nature, then, all forms are relative, fluid and ever-changing maya, conjured up by the great magician of the divine play. The world of maya changes continuously, because the divine lila is a rhythmic, dynamic play. The dynamic force of the play is karma, important concept of Indian thought. Karma means "action". It is the active principle of the play, the total universe in action, where everything is dynamically connected with everything else. In the words of the Gita Karma is the force of creation, wherefrom all things have their life.
Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism)
What rules, then, can one follow if one is dedicated to the truth? First, never speak falsehood. Second, bear in mind that the act of withholding the truth is always potentially a lie, and that in each instance in which the truth is withheld a significant moral decision is required. Third, the decision to withhold the truth should never be based on personal needs, such as a need for power, a need to be liked or a need to protect one’s map from challenge. Fourth, and conversely, the decision to withhold the truth must always be based entirely upon the needs of the person or people from whom the truth is being withheld. Fifth, the assessment of another’s needs is an act of responsibility which is so complex that it can only be executed wisely when one operates with genuine love for the other. Sixth, the primary factor in the assessment of another’s needs is the assessment of that person’s capacity to utilize the truth for his or her own spiritual growth. Finally, in assessing the capacity of another to utilize the truth for personal spiritual growth, it should be borne in mind that our tendency is generally to underestimate rather than overestimate this capacity. All this might seem like an extraordinary task, impossible to ever perfectly complete, a chronic and never-ending burden, a real drag. And it is indeed a never-ending burden of self-discipline, which is why most people opt for a life of very limited honesty and openness and relative closedness, hiding themselves and their maps from the world. It is easier that way. Yet the rewards of the difficult life of honesty and dedication to the truth are more than commensurate with the demands. By virtue of the fact that their maps are continually being challenged, open people are continually growing people. Through their openness they can establish and maintain intimate relationships far more effectively than more closed people. Because they never speak falsely they can be secure and proud in the knowledge that they have done nothing to contribute to the confusion of the world, but have served as sources of
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth)
Yes, yes, it ended in my corrupting them all! How it could come to pass I do not know, but I remember it clearly. The dream embraced thousands of years and left in me only a sense of the whole. I only know that I was the cause of their sin and downfall. Like a vile trichina, like a germ of the plague infecting whole kingdoms, so I contaminated all this earth, so happy and sinless before my coming. They learnt to lie, grew fond of lying, and discovered the charm of falsehood. Oh, at first perhaps it began innocently, with a jest, coquetry, with amorous play, perhaps indeed with a germ, but that germ of falsity made its way into their hearts and pleased them. Then sensuality was soon begotten, sensuality begot jealousy, jealousy—cruelty . . . Oh, I don't know, I don't remember; but soon, very soon the first blood was shed. They marvelled and were horrified, and began to be split up and divided. They formed into unions, but it was against one another. Reproaches, upbraidings followed. They came to know shame, and shame brought them to virtue. The conception of honour sprang up, and every union began waving its flags. They began torturing animals, and the animals withdrew from them into the forests and became hostile to them. They began to struggle for separation, for isolation, for individuality, for mine and thine. They began to talk in different languages. They became acquainted with sorrow and loved sorrow; they thirsted for suffering, and said that truth could only be attained through suffering. Then science appeared. As they became wicked they began talking of brotherhood and humanitarianism, and understood those ideas. As they became criminal, they invented justice and drew up whole legal codes in order to observe it, and to ensure their being kept, set up a guillotine. They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent. They even laughed at the possibility o this happiness in the past, and called it a dream. They could not even imagine it in definite form and shape, but, strange and wonderful to relate, though they lost all faith in their past happiness and called it a legend, they so longed to be happy and innocent once more that they succumbed to this desire like children, made an idol of it, set up temples and worshipped their own idea, their own desire; though at the same time they fully believed that it was unattainable and could not be realised, yet they bowed down to it and adored it with tears! Nevertheless, if it could have happened that they had returned to the innocent and happy condition which they had lost, and if someone had shown it to them again and had asked them whether they wanted to go back to it, they would certainly have refused. They answered me: "We may be deceitful, wicked and unjust, we know it and weep over it, we grieve over it; we torment and punish ourselves more perhaps than that merciful Judge Who will judge us and whose Name we know not. But we have science, and by the means of it we shall find the truth and we shall arrive at it consciously. Knowledge is higher than feeling, the consciousness of life is higher than life. Science will give us wisdom, wisdom will reveal the laws, and the knowledge of the laws of happiness is higher than happiness.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, and the Little Orphan)
The Idiot. I have read it once, and find that I don't remember the events of the book very well--or even all the principal characters. But mostly the 'portrait of a truly beautiful person' that dostoevsky supposedly set out to write in that book. And I remember how Myshkin seemed so simple when I began the book, but by the end, I realized how I didn't understand him at all. the things he did. Maybe when I read it again it will be different. But the plot of these dostoevsky books can hold such twists and turns for the first-time reader-- I guess that's b/c he was writing most of these books as serials that had to have cliffhangers and such. But I make marks in my books, mostly at parts where I see the author's philosophical points standing in the most stark relief. My copy of Moby Dick is positively full of these marks. The Idiot, I find has a few... Part 3, Section 5. The sickly Ippolit is reading from his 'Explanation' or whatever its called. He says his convictions are not tied to him being condemned to death. It's important for him to describe, of happiness: "you may be sure that Columbus was happy not when he had discovered America, but when he was discovering it." That it's the process of life--not the end or accomplished goals in it--that matter. Well. Easier said than lived! Part 3, Section 6. more of Ippolit talking--about a christian mindset. He references Jesus's parable of The Word as seeds that grow in men, couched in a description of how people are interrelated over time; its a picture of a multiplicity. Later in this section, he relates looking at a painting of Christ being taken down from the cross, at Rogozhin's house. The painting produced in him an intricate metaphor of despair over death "in the form of a huge machine of the most modern construction which, dull and insensible, has aimlessly clutched, crushed, and swallowed up a great priceless Being, a Being worth all nature and its laws, worth the whole earth, which was created perhaps solely for the sake of the advent of this Being." The way Ippolit's ideas are configured, here, reminds me of the writings of Gilles Deleuze. And the phrasing just sort of remidns me of the way everyone feels--many people feel crushed by the incomprehensible machine, in life. Many people feel martyred in their very minor ways. And it makes me think of the concept that a narrative religion like Christianity uniquely allows for a kind of socialized or externalized, shared experience of subjectivity. Like, we all know the story of this man--and it feels like our own stories at the same time. Part 4, Section 7. Myshkin's excitement (leading to a seizure) among the Epanchin's dignitary guests when he talks about what the nobility needs to become ("servants in order to be leaders"). I'm drawn to things like this because it's affirming, I guess, for me: "it really is true that we're absurd, that we're shallow, have bad habits, that we're bored, that we don't know how to look at things, that we can't understand; we're all like that." And of course he finds a way to make that into a good thing. which, it's pointed out by scholars, is very important to Dostoevsky philosophy--don't deny the earthly passions and problems in yourself, but accept them and incorporate them into your whole person. Me, I'm still working on that one.
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Consider the genesis of a single-celled embryo produced by the fertilization of an egg by a sperm. The genetic material of this embryo comes from two sources: paternal genes (from sperm) and maternal genes (from eggs). But the cellular material of the embryo comes exclusively from the egg; the sperm is no more than a glorified delivery vehicle for male DNA—a genome equipped with a hyperactive tail. Aside from proteins, ribosomes, nutrients, and membranes, the egg also supplies the embryo with specialized structures called mitochondria. These mitochondria are the energy-producing factories of the cell; they are so anatomically discrete and so specialized in their function that cell biologists call them “organelles”—i.e., mini-organs resident within cells. Mitochondria, recall, carry a small, independent genome that resides within the mitochondrion itself—not in the cell’s nucleus, where the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes (and the 21,000-odd human genes) can be found. The exclusively female origin of all the mitochondria in an embryo has an important consequence. All humans—male or female—must have inherited their mitochondria from their mothers, who inherited their mitochondria from their mothers, and so forth, in an unbroken line of female ancestry stretching indefinitely into the past. (A woman also carries the mitochondrial genomes of all her future descendants in her cells; ironically, if there is such a thing as a “homunculus,” then it is exclusively female in origin—technically, a “femunculus”?) Now imagine an ancient tribe of two hundred women, each of whom bears one child. If the child happens to be a daughter, the woman dutifully passes her mitochondria to the next generation, and, through her daughter’s daughter, to a third generation. But if she has only a son and no daughter, the woman’s mitochondrial lineage wanders into a genetic blind alley and becomes extinct (since sperm do not pass their mitochondria to the embryo, sons cannot pass their mitochondrial genomes to their children). Over the course of the tribe’s evolution, tens of thousands of such mitochondrial lineages will land on lineal dead ends by chance, and be snuffed out. And here is the crux: if the founding population of a species is small enough, and if enough time has passed, the number of surviving maternal lineages will keep shrinking, and shrinking further, until only a few are left. If half of the two hundred women in our tribe have sons, and only sons, then one hundred mitochondrial lineages will dash against the glass pane of male-only heredity and vanish in the next generation. Another half will dead-end into male children in the second generation, and so forth. By the end of several generations, all the descendants of the tribe, male or female, might track their mitochondrial ancestry to just a few women. For modern humans, that number has reached one: each of us can trace our mitochondrial lineage to a single human female who existed in Africa about two hundred thousand years ago. She is the common mother of our species. We do not know what she looked like, although her closest modern-day relatives are women of the San tribe from Botswana or Namibia. I find the idea of such a founding mother endlessly mesmerizing. In human genetics, she is known by a beautiful name—Mitochondrial Eve.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)