Remains Of The Day Book Quotes

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Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)
I couldn't help thinking that if I, by pure chance, had found a whole universe in a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1))
It was Russia, January 5, 1943, and just another icy day. Out among the city and snow, there were dead Russians and Germans everywhere. Those who remained were firing into the blank pages in front of them. Three languages interwove. The Russian, the bullets, the German.
Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)
Max," she said. He turned and briefly closed his eyes as the girl continued. There was once a strange, small man,"she said. Her arms were loose but her hands were fists at her side. "But there was a word shaker,too." One of the Jews on his way to Dachau had stopped walking now. He stood absolutely still as the others swerved morosely around him, leaving him completely alone. His eyes staggered, and it was so simple. The words were given across from the girl to the Jew. They climbed on to him. The next time she spoke, the questions stumbled from her mouth. Hot tears fought for room in her eyes as she would not let them out. Better to stand resolute and proud. Let the words do all of it. "Is it really you? the young man asked," she said. " Is it from your cheek that I took the seed.?" Max Vandenburg remained standing. He did not drop to his knees. People and Jews and clouds all stopped. They watched. As he stood, Max looked first at the girl and then stared directly into the sky who was wide and blue and magnificent. There were heavy beams-- planks of son-- falling randomly, wonderfully to the road. Clouds arched their backs to look behind as they started again to move on. "It's such a beautiful day," he said, and his voice was in many pieces. A great day to die. A great day to die,like this. Liesel walked at him. She was courageous enought to reach out and hold his bearded face. "Is it really you,Max?" Such a brilliant German day and its attentive crowd. He let his mouth kiss her palm. "Yes, Liesel, it's me," and he held the girl's hand in his face and cried onto her fingers. He cried as the soldiers came and a small collection of insolent Jews stood and watched.
Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)
As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help being overcome by a sense of sadness. I couldn't help thinking that if I, by pure chance, had found a whole universe in a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1))
Innocence is only a virtue, lass, when it is temporary. You must pass from it to look back and recognize its unsullied purity. To remain innocent is to twist beneath invisible and unfathomable forces all your life, until one day you realize that you no longer recognize yourself, and it comes to you that innocence was a curse that had shackled you, stunted you, defeated your every expression of living.
Steven Erikson (House of Chains (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #4))
I read a lot. I listen a lot. I think a lot. But so little remains. The books I read, their plots, their protagonists fade. The university lectures that I had found pretty impressive on first hearing, have faded away. Now I am listening to one on Pirandello. Names of people, books, cities. They are already fading away. Even the titles of films I’ve seen recently — they have already faded. Authors of thousands of books I’ve read... All that remains are the colours of their bindings, their covers. I don’t remember much about Beauty and the Beast, but I remember clearly, vividly the hear of the day as we were crossing the Rhine bridge, to see the film. Everything that I see, or red, or listen to, connects, translates into moods, bits of surroundings, colors. No, I am not a novelist. No precision of observation, detail. With me, everything is mood, mood, or else —simply nothingness.
Jonas Mekas (I Had Nowhere to Go)
I can tell by my own reaction to it that this book is harmful." But let him only wait and perhaps one day he will admit to himself that this same book has done him a great service by bringing out the hidden sickness of his heart and making it visible.— Altered opinions do not alter a man’s character (or do so very little); but they do illuminate individual aspects of the constellation of his personality which with a different constellation of opinions had hitherto remained dark and unrecognizable.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Your life isn't some prerecorded movie where, no matter how many times you watch it, the ending remains the same. Your life is a book in progress, and you are the author. So if you don't care for the main character or the gloomy scenery or how the twisted plot is unfolding, then do something to change it. You write your own story.
Richelle E. Goodrich (Making Wishes: Quotes, Thoughts, & a Little Poetry for Every Day of the Year)
When a day passes, it is no longer there. What remains of it? Nothing more than a story. If stories weren't told or books weren't written, man would live like the beasts, only for the day. The whole world, all human life, is one long story.
Isaac Bashevis Singer (Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus and Other Stories)
The peculiar predicament of the present-day self surely came to pass as a consequence of the disappointment of the high expectations of the self as it entered the age of science and technology. Dazzled by the overwhelming credentials of science, the beauty and elegance of the scientific method, the triumph of modern medicine over physical ailments, and the technological transformation of the very world itself, the self finds itself in the end disappointed by the failure of science and technique in those very sectors of life which had been its main source of ordinary satisfaction in past ages. As John Cheever said, the main emotion of the adult Northeastern American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education, and culture is disappointment. Work is disappointing. In spite of all the talk about making work more creative and self-fulfilling, most people hate their jobs, and with good reason. Most work in modern technological societies is intolerably dull and repetitive. Marriage and family life are disappointing. Even among defenders of traditional family values, e.g., Christians and Jews, a certain dreariness must be inferred, if only from the average time of TV viewing. Dreary as TV is, it is evidently not as dreary as Mom talking to Dad or the kids talking to either. School is disappointing. If science is exciting and art is exhilarating, the schools and universities have achieved the not inconsiderable feat of rendering both dull. As every scientist and poet knows, one discovers both vocations in spite of, not because of, school. It takes years to recover from the stupor of being taught Shakespeare in English Lit and Wheatstone's bridge in Physics. Politics is disappointing. Most young people turn their backs on politics, not because of the lack of excitement of politics as it is practiced, but because of the shallowness, venality, and image-making as these are perceived through the media--one of the technology's greatest achievements. The churches are disappointing, even for most believers. If Christ brings us new life, it is all the more remarkable that the church, the bearer of this good news, should be among the most dispirited institutions of the age. The alternatives to the institutional churches are even more grossly disappointing, from TV evangelists with their blown-dry hairdos to California cults led by prosperous gurus ignored in India but embraced in La Jolla. Social life is disappointing. The very franticness of attempts to reestablish community and festival, by partying, by groups, by club, by touristy Mardi Gras, is the best evidence of the loss of true community and festival and of the loneliness of self, stranded as it is as an unspeakable consciousness in a world from which it perceives itself as somehow estranged, stranded even within its own body, with which it sees no clear connection. But there remains the one unquestioned benefit of science: the longer and healthier life made possible by modern medicine, the shorter work-hours made possible by technology, hence what is perceived as the one certain reward of dreary life of home and the marketplace: recreation. Recreation and good physical health appear to be the only ambivalent benefits of the technological revolution.
Walker Percy (Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book)
At the end of this day there remains what remained yesterday and what will remain tomorrow: the insatiable, unquantifiable longing to be both the same and other.
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart,” Rainer Maria Rilke writes in his fourth letter to a young poet. “Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
Sue Klebold (A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy)
In the political jargon of those days, the word "intellectual" was an insult. It indicated someone who did not understand life and was cut off from the people. All the Communists who were hanged at the time by other Communists were awarded such abuse. Unlike those who had their feet solidly on the ground, they were said to float in the air. So it was fair, in a way, that as punishment the ground was permanently pulled out from under their feet, that they remained suspended a little above the floor.
Milan Kundera (The Book of Laughter and Forgetting)
We pray that the laws of the land will change to favor all unions, all folks one day. I remain hopeful for our safety and our future.
Kim Michele Richardson (The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek)
Just a few days ago, I thought I had enough of him. Marked him as did-not-finish. But now I feel every part of him will remain to-be-read.
Kelsey Rodkey (Last Chance Books)
When he went blundering back to God, His songs half written, his work half done, Who knows what paths his bruised feet trod, What hills of peace or pain he won? I hope God smiled and took his hand, And said, "Poor truant, passionate fool! Life’s book is hard to understand: Why couldst thou not remain at school?" A poem by Charles Hanson Towne
Mitch Albom (For One More Day)
No encounter occured that day, and I was glad of it; I took out of my pocket a little Homer I had not opened since leaving Marseilles, reread three lines of the Odyssey, learned them by heart; then, finding sufficient sustenance in their rhythm and reveling in them at leisure, I closed the book and remained, trembling, more alive than I had thought possible, my mind numb with happiness.
André Gide (The Immoralist)
And so to read is, in truth, to be in the constant act of creation. The old lady on the bus with her Orwell, the businessman on the Tube with Patricia Cornwell, the teenager roaring through Capote -- they are not engaged in idle pleasure. Their heads are on fire. Their hearts are flooding. With a book, you are the landscape, the sets, the snow, the hero, the kiss -- you are the mathematical calculation that plots the trajectory of the blazing, crashing zeppelin. You -- pale, punchable reader -- are terraforming whole worlds in your head, which will remain with you until the day you die. These books are as much a part of you as your guts and your bone. And when your guts fail and your bones break, Narnia, or Jamaica Inn, or Gormenghast will still be there; as pin-sharp and bright as the day you first imagined them -- hiding under the bedclothes, sitting on the bus. Exhausted, on a rainy day, weeping over the death of someone you never met, and who was nothing more than words until you transfused them with your time, and your love, and the imagination you constantly dismiss as "just being a bit of a bookworm.
Caitlin Moran
Just as life is made up of day and night, and song is made up of music and silence, friendships, because they are of this world, are also made up of times of being in touch and spaces in-between. Being human, we sometimes fill these spaces with worry, or we imagine the silence is some form of punishment, or we internalize the time we are not in touch with a loved one as some unexpressed change of heart. Our minds work very hard to make something out of nothing. We can perceive silence as rejection in an instant, and then build a cold castle on that tiny imagined brick. The only release from the tensions we weave around nothing is to remain a creature of the heart. By giving voice to the river of feelings as they flow through and through, we can stay clear and open. In daily terms, we call this checking in with each other, though most of us reduce this to a grocery list: How are you today? Do you need any milk? Eggs? Juice? Toilet paper? Though we can help each other survive with such outer kindnesses, we help each other thrive when the checking in with each other comes from a list of inner kindnesses: How are you today? Do you need any affirmation? Clarity? Support? Understanding? When we ask these deeper questions directly, we wipe the mind clean of its misperceptions. Just as we must dust our belongings from time to time, we must wipe away what covers us when we are apart.
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have)
Instead of a book, what if we're actually writing (or not writing) in the margins of our lives? What if our lives are books? What is the sign of our presence? Are we pressing into the margins our interpretations and questions? Are we circling offending verbs and drawing furious arrows to the margin where we scrawl "irony," "frustration," "voiceless," "unfair!" Or do we simply turn the pages, passively receiving what's given, furiously disagreeing but remaining silent about it?
Patti Digh (Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally)
Today at school I will learn to read at once; then tomorrow I will begin to write, and the day after tomorrow to cipher. Then with my acquirements I will earn a great deal of money, and with the first money I have in my pocket I will immediately buy for my papa a beautiful new cloth coat. But what am I saying? Cloth, indeed! It shall be all made of gold and silver, and it shall have diamond buttons. That poor man really deserves it; for to buy me books and to have me taught he has remained in his shirt sleeves... And in this cold! It is only fathers who are capable of such sacrifices!...
Carlo Collodi
One day or another, it is true, dust, supposing it persists, will probably begin to gain the upper hand over domestics, invading the immense ruins of abandoned buildings, deserted dockyards; and, at that distant epoch, nothing will remain to ward off night-terrors, for lack of which we have become such great book-keepers...
Georges Bataille (Encyclopaedia Acephalica: Comprising the Critical Dictionary & Related Texts (Archive 3))
Having lost his mother, father, brother, an grandfather, the friends and foes of his youth, his beloved teacher Bernard Kornblum, his city, his history—his home—the usual charge leveled against comic books, that they offered merely an escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually to be a powerful argument on their behalf… The escape from reality was, he felt—especially right after the war—a worthy challenge… The pain of his loss—though he would never have spoken of it in those terms—was always with him in those days, a cold smooth ball lodged in his chest, just behind his sternum. For that half hour spent in the dappled shade of the Douglas firs, reading Betty and Veronica, the icy ball had melted away without him even noticing. That was the magic—not the apparent magic of a silk-hatted card-palmer, or the bold, brute trickery of the escape artist, but the genuine magic of art. It was a mark of how fucked-up and broken was the world—the reality—that had swallowed his home and his family that such a feat of escape, by no means easy to pull off, should remain so universally despised.
Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay)
Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that! I cry. And at the moment such is the astonishing vibration and saturation and intensification that he procures—there’s something sexual in it—that I feel I can write like that, and seize my pen and then I can’t write like that. Scarcely anyone so stimulates the nerves of language in me: it becomes an obsession. But I must return to Swann. My great adventure is really Proust. Well—what remains to be written after that? I’m only in the first volume, and there are, I suppose, faults to be found, but I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyes. How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped—and made it too into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance? One has to put the book down and gasp. The pleasure becomes physical—like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and intense vitality combined. Jacques Raverat...sent me a letter about Mrs Dalloway which gave me one of the happiest moments days of my life. I wonder if this time I have achieved something? Well, nothing anyhow compared with Proust, in whom I am embedded now. The thing about Proust is his combination of the utmost sensibility with the utmost tenacity. He searches out these butterfly shades to the last grain. He is as tough as catgut & as evanescent as a butterfly's bloom. And he will I suppose both influence me & make out of temper with every sentence of my own.
Virginia Woolf
My husband claims I have an unhealthy obsession with secondhand bookshops. That I spend too much time daydreaming altogether. But either you intrinsically understand the attraction of searching for hidden treasure amongst rows of dusty shelves or you don't; it's a passion, bordering on a spiritual illness, which cannot be explained to the unaffected. True, they're not for the faint of heart. Wild and chaotic, capricious and frustrating, there are certain physical laws that govern secondhand bookstores and like gravity, they're pretty much nonnegotiable. Paperback editions of D. H. Lawrence must constitute no less than 55 percent of all stock in any shop. Natural law also dictates that the remaining 45 percent consist of at least two shelves worth of literary criticism on Paradise Lost and there should always be an entire room in the basement devoted to military history which, by sheer coincidence, will be haunted by a man in his seventies. (Personal studies prove it's the same man. No matter how quickly you move from one bookshop to the next, he's always there. He's forgotten something about the war that no book can contain, but like a figure in Greek mythology, is doomed to spend his days wandering from basement room to basement room, searching through memoirs of the best/worst days of his life.) Modern booksellers can't really compare with these eccentric charms. They keep regular hours, have central heating, and are staffed by freshly scrubbed young people in black T-shirts. They're devoid of both basement rooms and fallen Greek heroes in smelly tweeds. You'll find no dogs or cats curled up next to ancient space heathers like familiars nor the intoxicating smell of mold and mildew that could emanate equally from the unevenly stacked volumes or from the owner himself. People visit Waterstone's and leave. But secondhand bookshops have pilgrims. The words out of print are a call to arms for those who seek a Holy Grail made of paper and ink.
Kathleen Tessaro (Elegance)
Through being fired I was given the perfect circumstances to finally answer my calling and live my dream, and I remain grateful to this day for that television network firing me. Without them, I would have refused the call to follow my dream, and I would have missed living the most exciting and fulfilling journey of my life.
Rhonda Byrne (Hero (The Secret, #4))
It seems important to me that beginning writers ponder this—that since 1964, I have never had a book, story or poem rejected that was not later published. If you know what you are doing, eventually you will run into an editor who knows what he/she is doing. It may take years, but never give up. Writing is a lonely business not just because you have to sit alone in a room with your machinery for hours and hours every day, month after month, year after year, but because after all the blood, sweat, toil and tears you still have to find somebody who respects what you have written enough to leave it alone and print it. And, believe me, this remains true, whether the book is your first novel or your thirty-first.
Joseph Hansen
The deep bowl of frozen air that lay still across the land promised to make the clear night colder than the day. Through the warm glow of the dining room window, we could see Standback and a woman taking their meal. A servant came in to say something to him, and he looked out the window at our approach in the remaining daylight. Standback met us on the porch as we walked our horses up.
Phil Truman (Dire Wolf of the Quapaw: a Jubal Smoak Mystery (Jubal Smoak Mysteries Book 1))
There is a larger lesson here, because the book encompasses not just the lives of prisoners in a Soviet prison camp, but every one of us. Shukhov squeezes everything he can out of a mouthful of soup or a bite of bread…So frozen that he can’t even feel his feet, he trowels cement and lays a cinder block wall with care and patience…Shukhov takes pride in his work. In fact, even though he is starving, he can barely tear himself away at the end of the long day to go eat. He cares about his work and in that way he remains a man. Isn’t this kind of pride and gratitude and ironic detachment valuable for all people?
Eric Bogosian (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich)
I suppose that is why it often makes me sad to read about history, or even natural history, as you do; I cannot help but think of everyone whose tale cannot fit in one book, those poor creatures who remain lost or forgotten. Do you think that one day, some Mary of the future will sketch our bones and wonder what we might have been in life?
C.E. McGill (Our Hideous Progeny)
The only thing I can recall is that it rained all day and all night, and that when I asked my father whether heaven was crying, he couldn't bring himself to reply. Six years later my mother's absence remained in the air around us, a deafening silence that I had not yet learned to stifle with words.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1))
It is growing worse every day. At night "I get up to catch my breath. If I remained "flat on my back I believe I would die.
Muriel Rukeyser (The Book of the Dead)
I honestly believe that in this day and age of informational ubiquity and nanosecond change, teamwork remains the one sustainable competitive advantage that has been largely untapped.
Patrick Lencioni (Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators (J-B Lencioni Series Book 44))
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look at thousands of working people displaced from their jobs with reduced incomes as a result of automation while the profits of the employers remain intact, and say: “This is not just.” It will look across the oceans and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing to prevent us from paying adequate wages to schoolteachers, social workers and other servants of the public to insure that we have the best available personnel in these positions which are charged with the responsibility of guiding our future generations. There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American citizen whether he be a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid or day laborer. There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum—and livable—income for every American family. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from remolding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy Book 2))
Mornings, out in the garden, she would, at times, read aloud from one of her many overdue library books. Dew as radiant as angel spit glittered on the petals of Jack's roses. Jack was quite the gardener. Miriam thought she knew why her particularly favored roses. The inside of a rose does not at all correspond with its exterior beauty. If one tears off all the petals of the corolla, all that remains is a sordid-looking tuft. Roses would be right up Jack's alley, all right. "Here's something for you, Jack," Miriam said. You'll appreciate this. Beckett describes tears as 'liquified brain.' "God, Miriam," Jack said. "Why are you sharing that with me? Look at this day, it's a beautiful day! Stop pumping out the cesspit! Leave the cesspit alone!
Joy Williams
Such are contrasts we see every day in the world. Joy and Sorrow! But Joy is an exile from Heaven who does not remain in any one place. Sorrow is a son of Hell who does not release his prey until he has torn it to pieces.
Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (Sab and Autobiography (Texas Pan American Series))
The free spirit again draws near to life - slowly, to be sure, almost reluctantly, almost mistrustfully. It again grows warmer about him, yellower as it were; feeling and feeling for others acquire depth, warm breezes of all kind blow across him. It seems to him as if his eyes are only now open to what is close at hand. he is astonished and sits silent: where had he been? These close and closest things: how changed they seem! what bloom and magic they have acquired! He looks back gratefully - grateful to his wandering, to his hardness and self-alienation, to his viewing of far distances and bird-like flights in cold heights. What a good thing he had not always stayed "at home," stayed "under his own roof" like a delicate apathetic loafer! He had been -beside himself-: no doubt about that. Only now does he see himself - and what surprises he experiences as he does so! What unprecedented shudders! What happiness even in the weariness, the old sickness, the relapses of the convalescent! How he loves to sit sadly still, to spin out patience, to lie in the sun! Who understands as he does the joy that comes in winter, the spots of sunlight on the wall! They are the most grateful animals in the world, also the most modest, these convalescents and lizards again half-turned towards life: - there are some among them who allow no day to pass without hanging a little song of praise on the hem of its departing robe. And to speak seriously: to become sick in the manner of these free spirits, to remain sick for a long time and then, slowly, slowly, to become healthy, by which I mean "healthier," is a fundamental cure for all pessimism.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits)
I mean, by such flightiness, something that feels unsatisfied at the center of my life — that makes me shaky, fickle, inquisitive, and hungry. I could call it a longing for home and not be far wrong. Or I could call it a longing for whatever supersedes, if it cannot pass through, understanding. Other words that come to mind: faith, grace, rest. In my outward appearance and life habits I hardly change — there’s never been a day that my friends haven’t been able to say, and at a distance, “There’s Oliver, still standing around in the weeds. There she is, still scribbling in her notebook.” But, at the center: I am shaking; I am flashing like tinsel. Restless. I read about ideas. Yet I let them remain ideas. I read about the poet who threw his books away, the better to come to a spiritual completion. Yet I keep my books. I flutter; I am attentive, maybe I even rise a little, balancing; then I fall back.
Mary Oliver (Long Life: Essays and Other Writings)
At Ge 1:1 God used a matrix of sevens: (1) Seven words. (2) 28 letters (28 ÷ 4 = 7). (3) First three words contain 14 letters (14 ÷ 2 = 7). (4) Last four words contain 14 letters (14 ÷ 2 = 7). (5) Fourth and fifth words have seven letters. (6) Sixth and seventh words have seven letters. (7) Key words (God, heaven, earth) contain 14 letters (14 ÷ 2 = 7). (8) Remaining words contain 14 letters (14 ÷ 2 = 7). (9) Numeric value of first, middle and last letters equal, 133 (133 ÷ 19 = 7). (10) Numeric value of the first and last letters of all seven words equal 1,393 (1,393 ÷ 199 = 7). (11) The book of Genesis has 78,064 letters (78,064 ÷ 11,152 = 7). So, what is the big deal about seven? Jesus is our Shiva (7), our Shabbat (7th day). (Lu 6:5) You couldn’t see this messianic reference, however, unless you are reading in Hebrew. This book is the beginning of an amazing pilgrimage.
Michael Ben Zehabe (The Meaning of Hebrew Letters: A Hebrew Language Program For Christians (The Jonah Project))
In the days to come, when it will seem as if I were entombed, when the very firmament threatens to come crashing down upon my head, I shall be forced to abandon everything except what these spirits implanted in me. I shall be crushed, debased, humiliated. I shall be frustrated in every fiber of my being. I shall even take to howling like a dog. But I shall not be utterly lost! Eventually a day is to dawn when, glancing over my own life as though it were a story or history, I can detect in it a form, a pattern, a meaning. From then on the word defeat becomes meaningless. It will be impossible ever to relapse. For on that day I become and I remain one with my creation. On another day, in a foreign land, there will appear before me a young man who, unaware of the change which has come over me, will dub me "The Happy Rock." That is the moniker I shall tender when the great Cosmocrator demands-" Who art thou?" Yes, beyond a doubt, I shall answer "The Happy Rock!" And, if it be asked-"Didst thou enjoy thy stay on earth?"-I shall reply: "My life was one long rosy crucifixion." As to the meaning of this, if it is not already clear, it shall be elucidated. If I fail then I am but a dog in the manger. Once I thought I had been wounded as no man ever had. Because I felt thus I vowed to write this book. But long before I began the book the wound had healed. Since I had sworn to fulfill my task I reopened the horrible wound. Let me put it another way. Perhaps in opening my own wound, I closed other wounds.. Something dies, something blossoms. To suffer in ignorance is horrible. To suffer deliberately, in order to understand the nature of suffering and abolish it forever, is quite another matter. The Buddha had one fixed thought in mind all his life, as we know it. It was to eliminate human suffering. Suffering is unnecessary. But, one has to suffer before he is able to realize that this is so. It is only then, moreover, that the true significance of human suffering becomes clear. At the last desperate moment-when one can suffer no more!-something happens which is the nature of a miracle. The great wound which was draining the blood of life closes up, the organism blossoms like a rose. One is free at last, and not "with a yearning for Russia," but with a yearning for ever more freedom, ever more bliss. The tree of life is kept alive not by tears but the knowledge that freedom is real and everlasting.
Henry Miller
I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch – hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into – some fearful, devastating scourge, I know – and, before I had glanced half down the list of “premonitory symptoms,” it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it. I sat for awhile, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of despair, I again turned over the pages. I came to typhoid fever – read the symptoms – discovered that I had typhoid fever, must have had it for months without knowing it – wondered what else I had got; turned up St. Vitus’s Dance – found, as I expected, that I had that too, – began to get interested in my case, and determined to sift it to the bottom, and so started alphabetically – read up ague, and learnt that I was sickening for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another fortnight. Bright’s disease, I was relieved to find, I had only in a modified form, and, so far as that was concerned, I might live for years. Cholera I had, with severe complications; and diphtheria I seemed to have been born with. I plodded conscientiously through the twenty-six letters, and the only malady I could conclude I had not got was housemaid’s knee. ... I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck. I went to my medical man. He is an old chum of mine, and feels my pulse, and looks at my tongue, and talks about the weather, all for nothing, when I fancy I’m ill; so I thought I would do him a good turn by going to him now. “What a doctor wants,” I said, “is practice. He shall have me. He will get more practice out of me than out of seventeen hundred of your ordinary, commonplace patients, with only one or two diseases each.” So I went straight up and saw him, and he said: “Well, what’s the matter with you?” I said: “I will not take up your time, dear boy, with telling you what is the matter with me. Life is brief, and you might pass away before I had finished. But I will tell you what is NOT the matter with me. I have not got housemaid’s knee. Why I have not got housemaid’s knee, I cannot tell you; but the fact remains that I have not got it. Everything else, however, I HAVE got.” And I told him how I came to discover it all. Then he opened me and looked down me, and clutched hold of my wrist, and then he hit me over the chest when I wasn’t expecting it – a cowardly thing to do, I call it – and immediately afterwards butted me with the side of his head. After that, he sat down and wrote out a prescription, and folded it up and gave it me, and I put it in my pocket and went out. I did not open it. I took it to the nearest chemist’s, and handed it in. The man read it, and then handed it back. He said he didn’t keep it. I said: “You are a chemist?” He said: “I am a chemist. If I was a co-operative stores and family hotel combined, I might be able to oblige you. Being only a chemist hampers me.” I read the prescription. It ran: “1 lb. beefsteak, with 1 pt. bitter beer every 6 hours. 1 ten-mile walk every morning. 1 bed at 11 sharp every night. And don’t stuff up your head with things you don’t understand.” I followed the directions, with the happy result – speaking for myself – that my life was preserved, and is still going on.
Jerome K. Jerome (Three Men in a Boat (Three Men, #1))
I would like to beg of you, dear friend, as well as I can, to have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)
You are not surprised at the force of the storm— you have seen it growing. The trees flee. Their flight sets the boulevards streaming. And you know: he whom they flee is the one you move toward. All your senses sing him, as you stand at the window. The weeks stood still in summer. The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel it wants to sink back into the source of everything. You thought you could trust that power when you plucked the fruit: now it becomes a riddle again and you again a stranger. Summer was like your house: you know where each thing stood. Now you must go out into your heart as onto a vast plain. Now the immense loneliness begins. The days go numb, the wind sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves. Through the empty branches the sky remains. It is what you have. Be earth now, and evensong. Be the ground lying under that sky. Be modest now, like a thing ripened until it is real, so that he who began it all can feel you when he reaches for you. - Onto a Vast Plain
Rainer Maria Rilke (Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God)
Already we know almost literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don’t know with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories.
George Orwell (1984)
Without further ado I left the place, finding my route by the marks I had made on the way in. As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help being overcome by a sense of sadness. I couldn't help thinking that if I, by pure chance, had found a whole universe in a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Your life is a Book; it may be a volume of larger or smaller size; and conversion is but the title-page or the preface. The Book itself remains to be written; and your years and weeks and days are its chapters and leaves and lines. It is a Book written for eternity; see that it be written well. It is a Book for the inspection of enemies as well as friends; be careful of every word. It is a Book written under the eye of God; let it be done reverently; without levity, yet without constraint or terror. Let
Horatius Bonar (Follow the Lamb)
Have you ever wondered What happens to all the poems people write? The poems they never let anyone else read? Perhaps they are Too private and personal Perhaps they are just not good enough. Perhaps the prospect of such a heartfelt expression being seen as clumsy shallow silly pretentious saccharine unoriginal sentimental trite boring overwrought obscure stupid pointless or simply embarrassing is enough to give any aspiring poet good reason to hide their work from public view. forever. Naturally many poems are IMMEDIATELY DESTROYED. Burnt shredded flushed away Occasionally they are folded Into little squares And wedged under the corner of An unstable piece of furniture (So actually quite useful) Others are hidden behind a loose brick or drainpipe or sealed into the back of an old alarm clock or put between the pages of AN OBSCURE BOOK that is unlikely to ever be opened. someone might find them one day, BUT PROBABLY NOT The truth is that unread poetry Will almost always be just that. DOOMED to join a vast invisible river of waste that flows out of suburbia. well Almost always. On rare occasions, Some especially insistent pieces of writing will escape into a backyard or a laneway be blown along a roadside embankment and finally come to rest in a shopping center parking lot as so many things do It is here that something quite Remarkable takes place two or more pieces of poetry drift toward each other through a strange force of attraction unknown to science and ever so slowly cling together to form a tiny, shapeless ball. Left undisturbed, this ball gradually becomes larger and rounder as other free verses confessions secrets stray musings wishes and unsent love letters attach themselves one by one. Such a ball creeps through the streets Like a tumbleweed for months even years If it comes out only at night it has a good Chance of surviving traffic and children and through a slow rolling motion AVOIDS SNAILS (its number one predator) At a certain size, it instinctively shelters from bad weather, unnoticed but otherwise roams the streets searching for scraps of forgotten thought and feeling. Given time and luck the poetry ball becomes large HUGE ENORMOUS: A vast accumulation of papery bits That ultimately takes to the air, levitating by The sheer force of so much unspoken emotion. It floats gently above suburban rooftops when everybody is asleep inspiring lonely dogs to bark in the middle of the night. Sadly a big ball of paper no matter how large and buoyant, is still a fragile thing. Sooner or LATER it will be surprised by a sudden gust of wind Beaten by driving rain and REDUCED in a matter of minutes to a billion soggy shreds. One morning everyone will wake up to find a pulpy mess covering front lawns clogging up gutters and plastering car windscreens. Traffic will be delayed children delighted adults baffled unable to figure out where it all came from Stranger still Will be the Discovery that Every lump of Wet paper Contains various faded words pressed into accidental verse. Barely visible but undeniably present To each reader they will whisper something different something joyful something sad truthful absurd hilarious profound and perfect No one will be able to explain the Strange feeling of weightlessness or the private smile that remains Long after the street sweepers have come and gone.
Shaun Tan (Tales from Outer Suburbia)
M. Proust was more severe than M. de Caillavet on Anatole France: "He was selfish and supercilious. He had read so much that he had left his heart in other people's books, and all that remained was dryness. One day I asked him how he came to know so much. He said, 'Not by being such a handsome young man as you. I wasn't in demand, and instead of going out I studied and learned'.
Céleste Albaret (Monsieur Proust)
Well -- there are two kinds of loneliness, aren't there? There's the loneliness of absolute solitude -- the physical fact of living alone, working alone, as I have always done. This need not be painful. For many writers it's necessary. Others need a female staff of family servants to type their bloody books and keep the their egos afloat. Being alone for most of the day means that you listen to different rhythms, which are not determined by other people. I think it's better so. But there is another kind of loneliness which is terrible to endure....And that is the loneliness of seeing a different world from that of the people around you. Their lives remain remote from yours. You can see the gulf and they can't. You live among them. They walk on earth. You walk on glass. They reassure themselves with conformity, with carefully constructed resemblances. You are masked, aware of your absolute difference.
Patricia Duncker (Hallucinating Foucault)
Best followed now is this life, by hurrying, like itself, to a close. Few things remain. He was repulsed in efforts after a pension by certain caprices of law. His scars proved his only medals. He dictated a little book, the record of his fortunes. But long ago it faded out of print--himself out of being--his name out of memory. He died the same day that the oldest oak on his native hills was blown down.
Herman Melville (Israel Potter)
From our vantage point in a time when muck is being raked (and flung) vehemently and constantly twenty-four hours a day, the question of effectiveness is overwhelmed by the question of whether any person in America with access to the media remains shockable or persuadable.
Jessica Mitford (Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking (New York Review Books Classics))
THE OPENING OF EYES After R. S. Thomas That day I saw beneath dark clouds, the passing light over the water and I heard the voice of the world speak out, I knew then, as I had before, life is no passing memory of what has been nor the remaining pages in a great book waiting to be read. It is the opening of eyes long closed. It is the vision of far off things seen for the silence they hold. It is the heart after years of secret conversing, speaking out loud in the clear air. It is Moses in the desert fallen to his knees before the lit bush. It is the man throwing away his shoes as if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished, opened at last, fallen in love with solid ground.
David Whyte (River Flow: New & Selected Poems)
So things remained until one day, many years later, I happened upon a line in a poem by Heine: “Death is the cooling night.” That childhood memory, lost for so long, suddenly restored itself to my quivering heart, returning freshly washed, in limpid clarity, never again to leave me. If literature truly possesses a mysterious power, I think perhaps it is precisely this: that one can read a book by a writer of a different time, a different country, a different race, a different language, and a different culture and there encounter a sensation that is one’s very own. Heine put into words the feeling I had as a child when I lay napping in the morgue. And that, I tell myself, is literature.
Yu Hua (十個詞彙裡的中國)
In those days before the Great War when the events narrated in this book took place, it had not yet become a matter of indifference whether a man lived or died. When one of the living had been extinguished another did not at once take his place in order to obliterate him: there was a gap where he had been, and both close and distant witnesses of his demise fell silent whenever they became aware of his gap. When fire had eaten away a house from the row of others in a street, the burnt-out space remained long empty. Masons worked slowly and cautiously. Close neighbors and casual passers-by alike, when they saw the empty space, remembered the aspect and walls of the vanished house. That was how things were then. Everything that grew took its time in growing and everything that was destroyed took a long time to be forgotten. And everything that had once existed left its traces so that in those days people lived on memories, just as now they live by the capacity to forget quickly and completely.
Joseph Roth (The Radetzky March (Von Trotta Family, #1))
As to the other means of grace, I would say, I fell into the snare into which so many young believers fall, the reading of religious books in preference to the Scriptures. I read tracts, missionary papers, sermons, and biographies of godly persons. I never had been at any time of my life in the habit of reading the Holy Scriptures. When under fifteen years of age, I occasionally read a little of them at school; afterwards God's precious book was entirely laid aside, so that I never read one single chapter of it till it pleased God to begin a work of grace in my heart. Now the scriptural way of reasoning would have been: God himself has consented to be an author, and I am ignorant about that precious book, which his Holy Spirit has caused to be written through the instrumentality of his servants, and it contains that which I ought to know, the knowledge of which will lead me to true happiness; therefore I ought to read again and again this most precious book of books, most earnestly, most prayerfully, and with much meditation; and in this practice I ought to continue all the days of my life. But instead of acting thus, my difficulty in understanding it, and the little enjoyment I had in it, made me careless of reading it; and thus, like many believers, I practically preferred, for the first four years of my divine life, the works of uninspired men to the oracles of the living God. The consequence was, that I remained a babe, both in knowledge and grace.
George Müller (The Autobiography Of George Muller)
And not only our own particular past. For if we go on forgetting half of Europe’s history, some of what we know about mankind itself will be distorted. Every one of the twentieth-century’s mass tragedies was unique: the Gulag, the Holocaust, the Armenian massacre, the Nanking massacre, the Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian revolution, the Bosnian wars, among many others. Every one of these events had different historical, philosophical, and cultural origins, every one arose in particular local circumstances which will never be repeated. Only our ability to debase and destroy and dehumanize our fellow men has been—and will be—repeated again and again: our transformation of our neighbors into “enemies,” our reduction of our opponents to lice or vermin or poisonous weeds, our re-invention of our victims as lower, lesser, or evil beings, worthy only of incarceration or explusion or death. The more we are able to understand how different societies have transformed their neighbors and fellow citizens from people into objects, the more we know of the specific circumstances which led to each episode of mass torture and mass murder, the better we will understand the darker side of our own human nature. This book was not written “so that it will not happen again,” as the cliché would have it. This book was written because it almost certainly will happen again. Totalitarian philosophies have had, and will continue to have, a profound appeal to many millions of people. Destruction of the “objective enemy,” as Hannah Arendt once put it, remains a fundamental object of many dictatorships. We need to know why—and each story, each memoir, each document in the history of the Gulag is a piece of the puzzle, a part of the explanation. Without them, we will wake up one day and realize that we do not know who we are.
Anne Applebaum (Gulag)
And so to read is, in truth, to be in the constant act of creation. The old lady on the bus with her Orwell, the businessman on the Tube with Patricia Cornwell, the teenager roaring through Capote -- they are not engaged in idle pleasure. Their heads are on fire. Their hearts are flooding. With a book, you are the landscape, the sets, the snow, the hero, the kiss -- you are the mathematical calculation the plots the trajectory of the blazing, crashing zeppelin. You -- pale, punchable reader -- are terraforming whole worlds in your head, which will remain with you until the day you die. These books are as much a part of you as your guts and your bone. And when your guts fail and your bones break, Narnia, or Jamaica Inn, or Gormenghast will still be there; as pin-sharp and bright as the day you first imagined them -- hiding under the bedclothes, sitting on the bus. Exhausted, on a rainy day, weeping over the death of someone you never met, and who was nothing more than words until you transformed them with your time, and your love, and the imagination you constantly dismiss as "just being a bit of a bookworm.
Caitlin Moran (Moranifesto)
I first met Winston Churchill in the early summer of 1906 at a dinner party to which I went as a very young girl. Our hostess was Lady Wemyss and I remember that Arthur Balfour, George Wyndman, Hilaire Belloc and Charles Whibley were among the guests… I found myself sitting next to this young man who seemed to me quite different from any other young man I had ever met. For a long time he seemed sunk in abstraction. Then he appeared to become suddenly aware of my existence. He turned on me a lowering gaze and asked me abruptly how old I was. I replied that I was nineteen. “And I,” he said despairingly, “am thirty-two already. Younger than anyone else who counts, though, “he added, as if to comfort himself. Then savagely: “Curse ruthless time! Curse our mortality. How cruelly short is this allotted span for all we must cram into it!” And he burst forth into an eloquent diatribe on the shortness of human life, the immensity of possible human accomplishment—a theme so well exploited by the poets, prophets, and philosophers of all ages that it might seem difficult to invest it with new and startling significance. Yet for me he did so, in a torrent of magnificent language which appeared to be both effortless and inexhaustible and ended up with the words I shall always remember: “We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow worm.” By this time I was convinced of it—and my conviction remained unshaken throughout the years that followed. Later he asked me whether I thought that words had a magic and music quite independent of their meaning. I said I certainly thought so, and I quoted as a classic though familiar instance the first lines that came into my head. Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. His eyes blazed with excitement. “Say that again,” he said, “say it again—it is marvelous!” “But I objected, “You know these lines. You know the ‘Ode to a Nightengale.’ ” He had apparently never read or heard of it before (I must, however, add that next time I met him he had not learned not merely this but all of the odes to Keats by heart—and he recited them quite mercilessly from start to finish, not sparing me a syllable). Finding that he liked poetry, I quoted to him from one of my own favorite poets, Blake. He listened avidly, repeating some lines to himself with varying emphases and stresses, then added meditatively: “I never knew that old Admiral had found so much time to write such good poetry.” I was astounded that he, with his acute susceptibility to words and power of using them, should have left such tracts of English literature entirely unexplored. But however it happened he had lost nothing by it, when he approached books it was “with a hungry, empty mind and with fairly srong jaws, and what I got I *bit*.” And his ear for the beauty of language needed no tuning fork. Until the end of dinner I listened to him spellbound. I can remember thinking: This is what people mean when they talk of seeing stars. That is what I am doing now. I do not to this day know who was on my other side. Good manners, social obligation, duty—all had gone with the wind. I was transfixed, transported into a new element. I knew only that I had seen a great light. I recognized it as the light of genius… I cannot attempt to analyze, still less transmit, the light of genius. But I will try to set down, as I remember them, some of the differences which struck me between him and all the others, young and old, whom I have known. First and foremost he was incalculable. He ran true to no form. There lurked in his every thought and world the ambush of the unexpected. I felt also that the impact of life, ideas and even words upon his mind, was not only vivid and immediate, but direct. Between him and them there was no shock absorber of vicarious thought or precedent gleaned either from books or other minds. His relationship wit
Violet Bonham Carter
He had in his Bronx apartment a lodger less learned than himself, and much fiercer in piety. One day when we were studying the laws of repentance together, the lodger burst from his room. "What!" he said. "The atheists guzzles his whiskey and eats pork and wallows with women all his life long, and then repents the day before he dies and stands guiltless? While I spend a lifetime trying to please God?" My grandfather pointed to the book. "So it is written," he said gently.—"Written!" the lodger roared. "There are books and there are books." And he slammed back into his room. The lodger's outrage seemed highly logical. My grandfather pointed out afterward that cancelling the past does not turn it into a record of achievement. It leaves it blank, a waste of spilled years. A man had better return, he said, while time remains to write a life worth scanning. And since no man knows his death day, the time to get a grip on his life is the first hour when the impulse strikes him.
Herman Wouk (This is My God: A Guidebook to Judaism)
One day a young fugitive, trying to hide himself from the enemy, entered a small village. The people were kind to him and offered him a place to stay. But when the soldiers who sought the fugitive asked where he was hiding, everyone became very fearful. The soldiers threatened to burn the village and kill every man in it unless the young man were handed over to them before dawn. The people went to the minister and asked him what to do. The minister, torn between handing over the boy to the enemy or having his people killed, withdrew to his room and read his Bible, hoping to find an answer before dawn. After many hours, in the early morning his eyes fell on these words: “It is better that one man dies than that the whole people be lost.” Then the minister closed the Bible, called the soldiers and told them where the boy was hidden. And after the soldiers led the fugitive away to be killed, there was a feast in the village because the minister had saved the lives of the people. But the minister did not celebrate. Overcome with a deep sadness, he remained in his room. That night an angel came to him, and asked, “What have you done?” He said: “I handed over the fugitive to the enemy.” Then the angel said: “But don’t you know that you have handed over the Messiah?” “How could I know?” the minister replied anxiously. Then the angel said: “If, instead of reading your Bible, you had visited this young man just once and looked into his eyes, you would have known.” While versions of this story are very old, it seems the most modern of tales. Like that minister, who might have recognized the Messiah if he had raised his eyes from his Bible to look into the youth’s eyes, we are challenged to look into the eyes of the young men and women of today, who are running away from our cruel ways. Perhaps that will be enough to prevent us from handing them over to the enemy and enable us to lead them out of their hidden places into the middle of their people where they can redeem us from our fears.
Henri J.M. Nouwen (The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society (Doubleday Image Book. an Image Book))
Lewis, anything but dull, suffered from an excess of misguided cleverness: he could disparage himself brilliantly in a matter of seconds. He knew literature, art, the theater, history; and his knowledge surpassed what a college normally provides. His knowledge led nowhere, certainly not into the world where he was supposed to earn a living. Lewis had once gone to work in the bookstore of his school because he loved handling books and looked forward to being immersed in them. He was then instructed to keep careful accounts of merchandise that might as well have been canned beans. He soon lost interest in his simple task, failed to master it, and quit after three days. Eight years later, he was still convinced of his practical incompetence. College friends familiar with his tastes would suggest modest ways for him to get started: they knew of jobs as readers in publishing houses, as gofers in theatrical productions, as caretakers at galleries. Lewis rejected them all. While he saw that they might lead to greater things, they sounded both beneath and beyond him--the bookstore again. Other chums who had gone on to graduate school urged their choice on him. Lewis harbored an uneasy scorn for the corporation of scholars, who seemed as unfit for the world as he. He remained desperate, lonely, and spoiled.
Harry Mathews (Cigarettes)
For war was not just a military campaign but also a parable. There were lessons of camaraderie and duty and inscrutable fate. There were lessons of honor and courage, of compassion and sacrifice. And then there was the saddest lesson, to be learned again and again in the coming weeks as they fought across Sicily, and in the coming months as they fought their way back toward a world at peace: that war is corrupting, that it corrodes the soul and tarnishes the spirit, that even the excellent and the superior can be defiled, and that no heart would remain unstained.
Rick Atkinson (The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (The Liberation Trilogy Book 2))
Having to amuse myself during those earlier years, I read voraciously and widely. Mythic matter and folklore made up much of that reading—retellings of the old stories (Mallory, White, Briggs), anecdotal collections and historical investigations of the stories' backgrounds—and then I stumbled upon the Tolkien books which took me back to Lord Dunsany, William Morris, James Branch Cabell, E.R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake and the like. I was in heaven when Lin Carter began the Unicorn imprint for Ballantine and scoured the other publishers for similar good finds, delighting when I discovered someone like Thomas Burnett Swann, who still remains a favourite. This was before there was such a thing as a fantasy genre, when you'd be lucky to have one fantasy book published in a month, little say the hundreds per year we have now. I also found myself reading Robert E. Howard (the Cormac and Bran mac Morn books were my favourites), Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and finally started reading science fiction after coming across Andre Norton's Huon of the Horn. That book wasn't sf, but when I went to read more by her, I discovered everything else was. So I tried a few and that led me to Clifford Simak, Roger Zelazny and any number of other fine sf writers. These days my reading tastes remain eclectic, as you might know if you've been following my monthly book review column in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I'm as likely to read Basil Johnston as Stephen King, Jeanette Winterson as Harlan Ellison, Barbara Kingsolver as Patricia McKillip, Andrew Vachss as Parke Godwin—in short, my criteria is that the book must be good; what publisher's slot it fits into makes absolutely no difference to me.
Charles de Lint
The sheer vital energy of the Woolfs always astonishes me when I stop to consider what they accomplished on any given day. Fragile she may have been, living on the edge of psychic disturbance, but think what she managed to do nonetheless -- not only the novels (every one a breakthrough in form), but all those essays and reviews, all the work of the Hogarth Press, not only reading mss. and editing, but, at least at the start, packing the books to go out! And besides all that, they lived such an intense social life. (When I went there for tea, they were always going out for dinner and often to a party later on.) The gaiety and the fun of it all, the huge sense of life! The long, long walks through London that Elizabeth Bowen told me about. And two houses to keep going! Who of us could accomplish what she did? There may be a lot of self-involvement in A Writer's Diary, but there is no self-pity (and what has to be remembered is that what Leonard published at that time was only a small part of all the journals, the part that concerned her work, so it had to be self-involved). It is painful that such genius should evoke such mean-spirited response at present. Is genius so common that we can afford to brush it aside? What does it matter if she is major or minor, whether she imitated Joyce (I believe she did not), whether her genius was a limited one, limited by class? What remains true is that one cannot pick up a single one of her books and read a page without feeling more alive. If art is not to be life-enhancing, what is it to be?
May Sarton (Journal of a Solitude)
Education, in order to keep up the mighty delusion, encourages a species of ignorance. People are not taught to be really virtuous, but to behave properly. We are wicked because we are frightfully self-conscious. We nurse a conscience because we are afraid to tell the truth to others; we take refuge in pride because we are afraid to tell the truth to ourselves. How can one be serious with the world when the world itself is so ridiculous! The spirit of barter is everywhere. Honour and Chastity! Behold the complacent salesman retailing the Good and True. One can even buy a so-called Religion, which is really but common morality sanctified with flowers and music. Rob the Church of her accessories and what remains behind? Yet the trusts thrive marvelously, for the prices are absurdly cheap, --a prayer for a ticket to heaven, a diploma for an honourable citizenship. Hide yourself under a bushel quickly, for if your real usefulness were known to the world you would soon be knocked down to the highest bidder by the public auctioneer. Why do men and women like to advertise themselves so much? Is it not but an instinct derived from the days of slavery?
Kakuzō Okakura (The Book of Tea)
Sparks come from the very source of light and are made of the purest brightness—so say the oldest legends. When a human Being is to be born, a spark begins to fall. First it flies through the darkness of outer space, then through galaxies, and finally, before it falls here, to Earth, the poor thing bumps into the orbits of planets. Each of them contaminates the spark with some Properties, while it darkens and fades. First Pluto draws the frame for this cosmic experiment and reveals its basic principles—life is a fleeting incident, followed by death, which will one day let the spark escape from the trap; there’s no other way out. Life is like an extremely demanding testing ground. From now on everything you do will count, every thought and every deed, but not for you to be punished or rewarded afterward, but because it is they that build your world. This is how the machine works. As it continues to fall, the spark crosses Neptune’s belt and is lost in its foggy vapors. As consolation Neptune gives it all sorts of illusions, a sleepy memory of its exodus, dreams about flying, fantasy, narcotics and books. Uranus equips it with the capacity for rebellion; from now on that will be proof of the memory of where the spark is from. As the spark passes the rings of Saturn, it becomes clear that waiting for it at the bottom is a prison. A labor camp, a hospital, rules and forms, a sickly body, fatal illness, the death of a loved one. But Jupiter gives it consolation, dignity and optimism, a splendid gift: things-will-work-out. Mars adds strength and aggression, which are sure to be of use. As it flies past the Sun, it is blinded, and all that it has left of its former, far-reaching consciousness is a small, stunted Self, separated from the rest, and so it will remain. I imagine it like this: a small torso, a crippled being with its wings torn off, a Fly tormented by cruel children; who knows how it will survive in the Gloom. Praise the Goddesses, now Venus stands in the way of its Fall. From her the spark gains the gift of love, the purest sympathy, the only thing that can save it and other sparks; thanks to the gifts of Venus they will be able to unite and support each other. Just before the Fall it catches on a small, strange planet that resembles a hypnotized Rabbit, and doesn’t turn on its own axis, but moves rapidly, staring at the Sun. This is Mercury, who gives it language, the capacity to communicate. As it passes the Moon, it gains something as intangible as the soul. Only then does it fall to Earth, and is immediately clothed in a body. Human, animal or vegetable. That’s the way it is. —
Olga Tokarczuk (Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead)
Ecclesiastes This is a book of the Old Testament. I don't believe I've ever read this section of the Bible - I know my Genesis pretty well and my Ten Commandments (I like lists), but I'm hazy on a lot of the other parts. Here, the Britannica provides a handy Cliff Notes version of Ecclesiastes: [the author's] observations on life convinced him that 'the race is not swift, nor the battle strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all' (9:11). Man's fate, the author maintains, does not depend on righteous or wicked conduct but is an inscrutable mystery that remains hidden in God (9:1). All attempts to penetrate this mystery and thereby gain the wisdom necessary to secure one's fate are 'vanity' or futile. In the face of such uncertainty, the author's counsel is to enjoy the good things that God provides while one has them to enjoy. This is great. I've accumulated hundreds of facts in the last seven thousand pages, but i've been craving profundity and perspective. Yes, there was that Dyer poem, but that was just cynical. This is the real thing: the deepest paragraph I've read so far in the encyclopedia. Instant wisdom. It couldn't be more true: the race does not go to the swift. How else to explain the mouth-breathing cretins I knew in high school who now have multimillion-dollar salaries? How else to explain my brilliant friends who are stuck selling wheatgrass juice at health food stores? How else to explain Vin Diesel's show business career? Yes, life is desperately, insanely, absurdly unfair. But Ecclesiastes offers exactly the correct reaction to that fact. There's nothing to be done about it, so enjoy what you can. Take pleasure in the small things - like, for me, Julie's laugh, some nice onion dip, the insanely comfortable beat-up leather chair in our living room. I keep thinking about Ecclesiastes in the days that follow. What if this is the best the encyclopedia has to offer? What if I found the meaning of life on page 347 of the E volume? The Britannica is not a traditional book, so there's no reason why the big revelation should be at the end.
A.J. Jacobs
The essential criterion for running a bookstore is less "Do you like books?" than "Do you like people?" Ironically, we find that having unlimited access to more reading material than we ever could have imagined means we read less. Chuck and Dee Robinson own Village Books [...]He once said in an interview with business writer Rober Spector, "If you're opening a bookstore because you love reading books, then become a night watchman because you'll be able to read more books that way." He was right. It's amazing how just the sight of so much intellectual fodder quells the appetite, let alone how little time remains to read once the shelves have been straightened, the day's swap credits assessed and put away, and the sales taxes tallied.
Wendy Welch (The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book)
But the secrets of such a book are not perpetual. Once they are known, they become relegated to a lesser sphere, which is that of the knower. Having lost the prestige they once enjoyed, these former secrets now function as tools in the excavation of still deeper ones which, in turn, will suffer the same corrosive fate. And this is the fate of all the secrets of the universe. Eventually the seeker of a recondite knowledge may conclude—either through insight or sheer exhaustion—that this ruthless process is never-ending, that the mortification of one mystery after another has no terminus beyond that of the seeker's own extinction. And how many still remain susceptible to the search? How many pursue it to the end of their days with undying hope of some ultimate revelation? Better not to think in precise terms just how few the faithful are.
Thomas Ligotti (Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe)
Let us suppose you give your three-year-old daughter a coloring book and a box of crayons for her birthday. The following day, with the proud smile only a little once can muster, she presents her first pictures for inspection. She has colored the sun black, the grass purple, and the sky green. In the lower right-hand corner, she has added woozy wonders of floating slabs and hovering rings; on the left, a panoply of colorful, carefree squiggles. You marvel at her bold strokes and intuit that her psyche is railing against its own cosmic puniness in the face of a big, ugly world. Later at the office, you share with your staff your daughter's first artistic effort and you make veiled references to the early work of van Gogh. A little child can not do a bad coloring; nor can a child of God do bad prayer. "A father is delighted when his little one, leaving off her toys and friends, runs to him and climbs into his arms. As he holds hi little one close to him, he cared little whether the child is looking around, her attention flittering from one thing to another or just settling down to sleep. Essentially the child is choosing to be with the father, confident of the love, the care, the security that is hers in those arms. Our prayer is much like that. We settle down in our Father's arms, in his loving hands. Our minds, our thoughts, our imagination may flit about here and there; we might even fall asleep; but essentially we are choosing for this time to remain intimately with our Father, giving ourselves to him, receiving his love and care, letting him enjoy us as he will. It is very simple prayer. It is very childlike prayer. It is prayer that opens us out to all the delights of the kingdom.
Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel)
As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help being overcome by a sense of sadness. I couldn't help thinking that if I, by pure chance. had found a whole universe in a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1))
Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate; I desire, therefore, in this narration, to state those facts which led to my predilection for that science. When I was thirteen years of age, we all went on a party of pleasure to the baths near Thonon: the inclemency of the weather obliged us to remain a day confined to the inn. In this house I chanced to find a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa. I opened it with apathy; the theory which he attempts to demonstrate, and the wonderful facts which he relates, soon changed this feeling into enthusiasm. A new light seemed to dawn upon my mind; and, bounding with joy, I communicated my discovery to my father. My father looked carelessly at the title page of my book, and said, "Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash." If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded, and that a modern system of science had been introduced, which possessed much greater powers than the ancient, because the powers of the latter were chimerical, while those of the former were real and practical; under such circumstances, I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside, and have contented my imagination, warmed as it was, by returning with greater ardour to my former studies. It is even possible that the train of my ideas would never have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin. But the cursory glance my father had taken of my volume by no means assured me that he was acquainted with its contents; and I continued to read with the greatest avidity.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankenstein)
have always been fascinated by relationships. I grew up in Britain, where my dad ran a pub, and I spent a lot of time watching people meeting, talking, drinking, brawling, dancing, flirting. But the focal point of my young life was my parents’ marriage. I watched helplessly as they destroyed their marriage and themselves. Still, I knew they loved each other deeply. In my father’s last days, he wept raw tears for my mother although they had been separated for more than twenty years. My response to my parents’ pain was to vow never to get married. Romantic love was, I decided, an illusion and a trap. I was better off on my own, free and unfettered. But then, of course, I fell in love and married. Love pulled me in even as I pushed it away. What was this mysterious and powerful emotion that defeated my parents, complicated my own life, and seemed to be the central source of joy and suffering for so many of us? Was there a way through the maze to enduring love? I followed my fascination with love and connection into counseling and psychology. As part of my training, I studied this drama as described by poets and scientists. I taught disturbed children who had been denied love. I counseled adults who struggled with the loss of love. I worked with families where family members loved each other, but could not come together and could not live apart. Love remained a mystery. Then, in the final phase of getting my doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, I started to work with couples. I was instantly mesmerized by the intensity of their struggles and the way they often spoke of their relationships in terms of life and death.
Sue Johnson (Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love (The Dr. Sue Johnson Collection Book 1))
In his book Politics, which is the foundation of the study of political systems, and very interesting, Aristotle talked mainly about Athens. But he studied various political systems - oligarchy, monarchy - and didn't like any of the particularly. He said democracy is probably the best system, but it has problems, and he was concerned with the problems. One problem that he was concerned with is quite striking because it runs right up to the present. He pointed out that in a democracy, if the people - people didn't mean people, it meant freemen, not slaves, not women - had the right to vote, the poor would be the majority, and they would use their voting power to take away property from the rich, which wouldn't be fair, so we have to prevent this. James Madison made the same pint, but his model was England. He said if freemen had democracy, then the poor farmers would insist on taking property from the rich. They would carry out what we these days call land reform. and that's unacceptable. Aristotle and Madison faced the same problem but made the opposite decisions. Aristotle concluded that we should reduce ineqality so the poor wouldn't take property from the rich. And he actually propsed a visin for a city that would put in pace what we today call welfare-state programs, common meals, other support systems. That would reduce inequality, and with it the problem of the poor taking property from the rich. Madison's decision was the opposite. We should reduce democracy so the poor won't be able to get together to do this. If you look at the design of the U.S. constitutional system, it followed Madison's approach. The Madisonian system placed power in the hands of the Senate. The executive in those days was more or less an administrator, not like today. The Senate consisted of "the wealth of the nation," those who had sympathy for property owners and their rights. That's where power should be. The Senate, remember, wasn't elected. It was picked by legislatures, who were themselves very much subject to control by the rich and the powerful. The House, which was closer to the population, had much less power. And there were all sorts of devices to keep people from participation too much - voting restrictions and property restrictions. The idea was to prevent the threat of democracy. This goal continues right to the present. It has taken different forms, but the aim remains the same.
Noam Chomsky (Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire (American Empire Project))
Mary was proud of her husband, not merely because he was a musician, but because he was a blacksmith. For, with the true taste of a right woman, she honored the manhood that could do hard work. The day will come, and may I do something to help it hither, when the youth of our country will recognize that, taken in itself, it is a more manly, and therefore in the old true sense a more _gentle_ thing, to follow a good handicraft, if it make the hands black as a coal, than to spend the day in keeping books, and making up accounts, though therein the hands should remain white--or red, as the case may be. Not but that, from a higher point of view still, all work, set by God, and done divinely, is of equal honor; but, where there is a choice, I would gladly see boy of mine choose rather to be a blacksmith, or a watchmaker, or a bookbinder, than a clerk. Production, making, is a higher thing in the scale of reality, than any mere transmission, such as buying and selling. It is, besides, easier to do honest work than to buy and sell honestly. The more honor, of course, to those who are honest under the greater difficulty! But the man who knows how needful the prayer, "Lead us not into temptation," knows that he must not be tempted into temptation even by the glory of duty under difficulty. In humility we must choose the easiest, as we must hold our faces unflinchingly to the hardest, even to the seeming impossible, when it is given us to do.
George MacDonald (Mary Marston)
Now we can see what makes mathematics unique. Only in mathematics is there no significant correction-only extension. Once the Greeks had developed the deductive method, they were correct in what they did, correct for all time. Euclid was incomplete and his work has been extended enormously, but it has not had to be corrected. His theorems are, every one of them, valid to this day. Ptolemy may have developed an erroneous picture of the planetary system, but the system of trigonometry he worked out to help him with his calculations remains correct forever. Each great mathematician adds to what came previously, but nothing needs to be uprooted. Consequently, when we read a book like A History of Mathematics, we get the picture of a mounting structure, ever taller and broader and more beautiful and magnificent and with a foundation, moreover, that is as untainted and as functional now as it was when Thales worked out the first geometrical theorems nearly 26 centuries ago. Nothing pertaining to humanity becomes us so well as mathematics. There, and only there, do we touch the human mind at its peak.
Isaac Asimov
AS the falling rain prepares the earth for the future crops of grain and fruit, so the rains of many sorrows showering upon the heart prepare and mellow it for the coming of that wisdom that perfects the mind and gladdens the heart. As the clouds darken the earth but to cool and fructify it, so the clouds of grief cast a shadow over the heart to prepare it for nobler things. The hour of sorrow is the hour of reverence. It puts an end to the shallow sneer, the ribald jest, the cruel calumny; it softens the heart with sympathy, and enriches the mind with thoughtfulness. Wisdom is mainly recollection of all that was learned by sorrow. Do not think that your sorrow will remain; it will pass away like a cloud. Where self ends, grief passes away.
James Allen (JAMES ALLEN'S BOOK OF MEDITATIONS FOR EVERY DAY IN THE YEAR)
The truth is that we never know from whom we originally get the ideas and beliefs that shape us, those that make a deep impression on us and which we adopt as a guide, those we retain without intending to and make our own. From a great-grandparent, a grandparent, a parent, not necessarily ours? From a distant teacher we never knew and who taught the one we did know? From a mother, from a nursemaid who looked after her as a child? From the ex-husband of our beloved, from a ġe-bryd-guma we never met? From a few books we never read and from an age through which we never lived? Yes, it's incredible how much people say, how much they discuss and recount and write down, this is a wearisome world of ceaseless transmission, and thus we are born with the work already far advanced but condemned to the knowledge that nothing is ever entirely finished, and thus we carry-like a faint booming in our heads-the exhausting accumulated voices of the countless centuries, believing naively that some of those thoughts and stories are new, never before heard or read, but how could that be, when ever since they acquired the gift of speech people have never stopped endlessly telling stories and, sooner or later, everything is told, the interesting and the trivial, the private and the public, the intimate and the superfluous, what should remain hidden and what will one day inevitably be broadcast, sorrows and joys and resentments, certainties and conjectures, the imagined and the factual, persuasions and suspicions, grievances and flattery and plans for revenge, great feats and humiliations, what fills us with pride and what shames us utterly, what appeared to be a secret and what begged to remain so, the normal and the unconfessable and the horrific and the obvious, the substantial-falling in love-and the insignificant-falling in love. Without even giving it a second thought, we go and we tell.
Javier Marías (Poison, Shadow, and Farewell (Your Face Tomorrow, #3))
Equally disagreeable is the man who, when leaving in the middle of the night, takes care to fasten the cord of his headdress. This is quite unnecessary; he could perfectly well put it gently on his head without tying the cord. And why must he spend time adjusting his cloak or hunting costume? Does he really think that someone may see him at this time of night and criticize him for not being impeccably dressed? A good lover will behave as elegantly at dawn as at any other time. He drags himself out of bed with a look of dismay on his face. The lady urges him on: “Come, my friend, it’s getting light. You don’t want anyone to find you here.” He gives a deep sigh, as if to say that the night has not been nearly long enough and that it is agony to leave. Once up, he does not instantly pull on his trousers. Instead, he comes close to the lady and whispers whatever was left unsaid during the night. Even when he is dressed, he still lingers, vaguely pretending to be fastening his sash. Presently he raises the lattice, and the two lovers stand together by the side door while he tells her how he dreads the coming day, which will keep them apart; then he slips away. The lady watches him go, and this moment of parting will remain among her most charming memories. Indeed, one’s attachment to a man depends largely on the elegance of his leave-taking. When he jumps out of bed, scurries about the room, tightly fastens his trouser-sash, rolls up the sleeves of his Court cloak, over-robe, or hunting costume, stuffs his belongings into the breast of his robe and then briskly secures the outer sash—one really begins to hate him.
Sei Shōnagon (The Pillow Book)
Days in the past cover up little by little those that preceded them and are themselves buried beneath those that follow them. But each past day has remained deposited in us, as in a vast library where, even of the oldest books, there is a copy which doubtless nobody will ever ask to see. And yet should this day from the past, traversing the translucency of the intervening epochs, rise to the surface and spread itself inside us until it covers us entirely, then for a moment names resume their former meaning, people their former aspect, we ourselves our state of mind at the time, and we feel, with a vague suffering which however is endurable and will not last for long, the problems which have long ago become insoluble and which caused us such anguish at the time....Incessant upheavals raise to the surface ancient deposits.
Marcel Proust (In Search of Lost Time, Volume VI)
Well, the Story Girl was right. There is such a place as fairyland—but only children can find the way to it. And they do not know that it is fairyland until they have grown so old that they forget the way. One bitter day, when they seek it and cannot find it, they realize what they have lost; and that is the tragedy of life. On that day the gates of Eden are shut behind them and the age of gold is over. Henceforth they must dwell in the common light of common day. Only a few, who remain children at heart, can ever find that fair, lost path again; and blessed are they above mortals. They, and only they, can bring us tidings from that dear country where we once sojourned and from which we must evermore be exiles. The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and story-tellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way
L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables Collection: 11 Books)
The number 6 was the first perfect number, and the number of creation. The adjective "perfect" was attached that are precisely equal to the sum of all the smaller numbers that divide into them, as 6=1+2+3. The next such number, incidentally, is 28=1+2+4+7+14, followed by 496=1+2+4+8+16+31+62+124+248; by the time we reach the ninth perfect number, it contains thirty-seven digits. Six is also the product of the first female number, 2, and the first masculine number, 3. The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus of Alexandria (ca. 20 B.C.-c.a. A.D. 40), whose work brought together Greek philosophy and Hebrew scriptures, suggested that God created the world in six days because six was a perfect number. The same idea was elaborated upon by St. Augustine (354-430) in The City of God: "Six is a number perfect in itself, and not because God created the world in six days; rather the contrary is true: God created the world in six days because this number is perfect, and it would remain perfect, even if the work of the six days did not exist." Some commentators of the Bible regarded 28 also as a basic number of the Supreme Architect, pointing to the 28 days of the lunar cycle. The fascination with perfect numbers penetrated even into Judaism, and their study was advocated in the twelfth century by Rabbi Yosef ben Yehudah Ankin in his book, Healing of the Souls.
Mario Livio (The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number)
Senor sempere and I were friends for almost forty years, and in all that time we spoke about God and the mysteries of life on only one occasion. Almost nobody knows this, but Sempere had not set foot in a church since the funeral of his wife Diana, to whose side we bring him today so that they might lie next to one another forever. Perhaps for that reason people assumed he was an atheist, but he was truly a man of faith. He believed in his friends, in the truth of things and in something to which he didn't dare put a name or a face because he said as priests that was our job. Senor Sempere believed we are all a part of something, and that when we leave this world our memories and our desires are not lost, but go on to become the memories and desires of those who take our place. He didn't know whether we created God in our own image or whether God created us without quite knowing what he was doing. He believed that God, or whatever brought us here, lives in each of our deeds, in each of our words, and manifests himself in all those things that show us to be more than mere figures of clay. Senor Sempere believed that God lives, to a smaller or greater extent, in books, and that is why he devoted his life to sharing them, to protecting them and to making sure their pages, like our memories and our desires are never lost. He believed, and made me believe it too, that as long as there is one person left in the world who is capable of reading them and experiencing them, a small piece of God, or of life, will remain. I know that my friend would not have liked us to say our farewells to him with prayer and hymns. I know that it would have been enough for him to realsie that his friends, many of whom have come here today to say goodbye, will never forget him. I have no doubt that the Lord, even though old Sempere was not expecting it, will recieve our dear friend at his side, and I know that he will live forever in the hearts of all those who are here today, all those who have discovered the magic of books thanks to him, and all those who, without even knowing him, will one day go through the door of his little bookshop where, as he liked to say, the story has only just begun. May you rest in peace, Sempere, dear friend, and may God give us all the opportunity to honour your memory and feel grateful for the priviledge of having known you.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why every man's story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of every consideration. In each individual the spirit has become flesh, in each man the creation suffers, within each one a redeemer is nailed to the cross. Few people nowadays know what man is. Many sense this ignorance and die the more easily because of it, the same way that I will die more easily once I have completed this story. I do not consider myself less ignorant than most people. I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. My story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious, as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams--like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves. Each man's life represents a road toward himself, an attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path. No man has ever been entirely and completely himself. Yet each one strives to become that--one in an awkward, the other in a more intelligent way, each as best he can. Each man carries the vestiges of his birth--the slime and eggshells of his primeval past--with him to the end of his days. Some never become human, remaining frog, lizard, ant. Some are human above the waist, fish below. Each represents a gamble on the part of nature in creation of the human. We all share the same origin, our mothers; all of us come in at the same door. But each of us--experiments of the depths--strives toward his own destiny. We can understand one another; but each of us is able to interpret himself to himself alone.
Hermann Hesse (Demian. Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend)
Massive changes may have occurred in libraries in recent years, with new digital resources and services supplementing the old traditional resources and services, the dog-eared card catalogues ripped up and destroyed, workstations suddenly everywhere, but one essential aspect of “libraryness” has not changed: libraries remain places dedicated to storage. Books continue to be published in greater and greater numbers – so great in fact that there are no accurate figures as to exactly how many are published: some say one every thirty seconds, others four thousand per day, others a million per year – and somehow, whether through the off-site storage of the physical books themselves, or microfilm copying, or digital scanning, we remain obliged to keep up with or afloat in this vast deluge of paper. Even the new, high-tech rebranded libraries opened to great fanfare in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in the 1990s could not get away from this essential fact of paper hoarding: they were called “Idea Stores.” - p.56
Ian Sansom (Paper: An Elegy)
A beggar came to an emperor’s palace. The emperor was just in the garden so he heard the beggar. The man on the gate was going to give something, but the beggar said, ”I have one condition. I always take from the master, never from servants.” The emperor heard. He was taking a walk so he came to look at this beggar, because beggars don’t have conditions. If you are a beggar how can you have conditions? ”Seems to be a rare beggar.” So he came to look – and he WAS a rare beggar. The emperor had never seen such an emperor-like man before; he was nothing. This man had some glory around him, a grace. Tattered his dress was, almost naked, but the begging bowl was very very precious. The emperor said, ”Why this condition?” The beggar said, ”Because servants are themselves beggars and I don’t want to be rude to anybody. Only masters can give. How can servants give? So if you are ready, you can give and I will accept it. But then too I have a condition, and that is: my begging bowl has to be completely filled.” A small begging bowl! The emperor started laughing. He said, ”You seem to be mad. Do you think I cannot fill your begging bowl?” And then he ordered his ministers to bring precious stones, incomparable, unique, and fill the begging bowl with them. But they got into a difficulty, because the more they filled the begging bowl, the stones would fall in it and they would not even make a sound, they would simply disappear. And the begging bowl remained empty. Then the emperor was in a fix, his whole ego was at stake. He, a great emperor who ruled the whole earth, could not fill a begging bowl! He ordered, ”Bring everything, but this begging bowl has to be filled!” His treasures... for days together all his treasuries were emptied, but the begging bowl remained empty. There was no more left. The emperor had become a beggar, all was lost. The emperor fell to the beggar’s feet and said, ”Now I am also a beggar and I beg only one thing. Tell me the secret of this bowl, it seems to be magical!” The beggar said, ”Nothing. It is made of human mind, nothing magical.” Every human mind is just this begging bowl. You go on filling it, it remains empty. You throw the whole world, worlds together, and they simply disappear without making any sound. You go on giving and it is always begging. Give love, and the begging bowl is there, your love has disappeared. Give your whole life, and the begging bowl is there, looking at you with complaining eyes. ”You have not given anything. I am still empty.” And the only proof that you have given is if the begging bowl is full – and it is never full. Of course, the logic is clear: you have not given. You have achieved many many things – they have all disappeared in the begging bowl. The mind is a self-destructive process. Before the mind disappears you will remain a beggar. Whatsoever you can gain will be in vain; you will remain empty. And if you dissolve this mind, through emptiness you become filled for the first time. You are no more, but you have become the whole. If you are, you will remain a beggar. If you are not, you become the emperor.
Osho (Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing)
For a year or two past my 'publisher,' falsely so called, has been writing from time to time to ask what disposition should be made of the copies of 'A Week on the Concord and the Merrimack Rivers' still on hand, and at last suggesting that he had use for the room they occupied in his cellar. So I had them all sent to me here, and they have arrived to-day by express, filling the man's wagon,--706 copies out of an edition of 1000 which I bought of Munroe four years ago and have been ever since paying for, and have not quite paid for yet. The wares are sent to me at last, and I have an opportunity to examine my purchase. They are something more substantial than fame, as my back knows, which has borne them up two flights of stairs to a place similar to that to which they trace their origin. Of the remaining two hundred and ninety, seventy-five were given away, the rest sold. I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself. Is it not well that the author should behold the fruits of his labor?
Henry David Thoreau
He spent two years in the extermination camp at Auschwitz. According to his own reluctant account, he came this close to going up a smokestack of a crematorium there: "I had just been assigned to the Sonderkommando," he said to me, "when the order came from Himmler to close the ovens down." Sonderkommando means special detail. At Auschwitz it meant a very special detail indeed--one composed of prisoners whose duties were to shepherd condemned persons into gas chambers, and then to lug their bodies out. When the job was done, the members of the Sonderkommando were themselves killed. The first duty of their successors was to dispose of their remains. Gutman told me that many men actually volunteered for the Sonderkommando. "Why?" I asked him. "If you would write a book about that," he said, "and give the answer to that question, that 'Why?'--you would have a very great book." "Do you know the answer?" I said. "No," he said, "That is why I would pay a great deal of money for a book with the answer in it." "Any guesses?" I said. "No," he said, looking me straight in the eye, "even though I was one of the ones who volunteered." He went away for a little while, after having confessed that. And he thought about Auschwitz, the thing he liked least to think about. And he came back, and he said to me: "There were loudspeakers all over the camp," he said, "and they were never silent for long. There was much music played through them. Those who were musical told me it was often good music--sometimes the best." "That's interesting," I said. "There was no music by Jews," he said. "That was forbidden." "Naturally," I said. "And the music was always stopping in the middle," he said, "and then there was an announcement. All day long, music and announcements." "Very modern," I said. He closed his eyes, remembered gropingly. "There was one announcement that was always crooned, like a nursery rhyme. Many times a day it came. It was the call for the Sonderkommando." "Oh?" I said. "Leichentärger zu Wache," he crooned, his eyes still closed. Translation: "Corpse-carriers to the guardhouse." In an institution in which the purpose was to kill human beings by the millions, it was an understandably common cry. "After two years of hearing that call over the loudspeakers, between the music," Gutman said to me, "the position of corpse-carrier suddenly sounded like a very good job.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Mother Night)
More recently, Dallas Willard put it this way: Desire is infinite partly because we were made by God, made for God, made to need God, and made to run on God. We can be satisfied only by the one who is infinite, eternal, and able to supply all our needs; we are only at home in God. When we fall away from God, the desire for the infinite remains, but it is displaced upon things that will certainly lead to destruction.5 Ultimately, nothing in this life, apart from God, can satisfy our desires. Tragically, we continue to chase after our desires ad infinitum. The result? A chronic state of restlessness or, worse, angst, anger, anxiety, disillusionment, depression—all of which lead to a life of hurry, a life of busyness, overload, shopping, materialism, careerism, a life of more…which in turn makes us even more restless. And the cycle spirals out of control. To make a bad problem worse, this is exacerbated by our cultural moment of digital marketing from a society built around the twin gods of accumulation and accomplishment. Advertising is literally an attempt to monetize our restlessness. They say we see upward of four thousand ads a day, all designed to stoke the fire of desire in our bellies. Buy this. Do this. Eat this. Drink this. Have this. Watch this. Be this. In his book on the Sabbath, Wayne Muller opined, “It is as if we have inadvertently stumbled into some horrific wonderland.”6 Social media takes this problem to a whole new level as we live under the barrage of images—not just from marketing departments but from the rich and famous as well as our friends and family, all of whom curate the best moments of their lives. This ends up unintentionally playing to a core sin of the human condition that goes all the way back to the garden—envy. The greed for another person’s life and the loss of gratitude, joy, and contentment in our own.
John Mark Comer (The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World)
American Indians share a magnificent history — rich in its astounding diversity, its integrity, its spirituality, its ongoing unique culture and dynamic tradition. It's also rich, I'm saddened to say, in tragedy, deceit, and genocide. Our sovereignty, our nationhood, our very identity — along with our sacred lands — have been stolen from us in one of the great thefts of human history. And I am referring not just to the thefts of previous centuries but to the great thefts that are still being perpetrated upon us today, at this very moment. Our human rights as indigenous peoples are being violated every day of our lives — and by the very same people who loudly and sanctimoniously proclaim to other nations the moral necessity of such rights. Over the centuries our sacred lands have been repeatedly and routinely stolen from us by the governments and peoples of the United States and Canada. They callously pushed us onto remote reservations on what they thought was worthless wasteland, trying to sweep us under the rug of history. But today, that so-called wasteland has surprisingly become enormously valuable as the relentless technology of white society continues its determined assault on Mother Earth. White society would now like to terminate us as peoples and push us off our reservations so they can steal our remaining mineral and oil resources. It's nothing new for them to steal from nonwhite peoples. When the oppressors succeed with their illegal thefts and depredations, it's called colonialism. When their efforts to colonize indigenous peoples are met with resistance or anything but abject surrender, it's called war. When the colonized peoples attempt to resist their oppression and defend themselves, we're called criminals. I write this book to bring about a greater understanding of what being an Indian means, of who we are as human beings. We're not quaint curiosities or stereotypical figures in a movie, but ordinary — and, yes, at times, extraordinary — human beings. Just like you. We feel. We bleed. We are born. We die. We aren't stuffed dummies in front of a souvenir shop; we aren't sports mascots for teams like the Redskins or the Indians or the Braves or a thousand others who steal and distort and ridicule our likeness. Imagine if they called their teams the Washington Whiteskins or the Washington Blackskins! Then you'd see a protest! With all else that's been taken from us, we ask that you leave us our name, our self-respect, our sense of belonging to the great human family of which we are all part. Our voice, our collective voice, our eagle's cry, is just beginning to be heard. We call out to all of humanity. Hear us!
Leonard Peltier (Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance)
If Paul brought the first generation of Christians the useful skills of a trained theologian, Origen was the first great philosopher to rethink the new religion from first principles. As his philosophical enemy, the anti-Christian Porphyry, summed it up, he 'introduced Greek ideas to foreign fables' -- that is, gave a barbarous eastern religion the intellectual respectability of a philosophical defense. Origen was also a phenomenon. As Eusebius put it admiringly, 'even the facts from his cradle are worth mentioning'. Origen came from Alexandria, the second city of the empire and then it's intellectual centre; his father's martyrdom left him an orphan at seventeen with six younger brothers. He was a hard working prodigy, at eighteen head of the Catechetical School, and already trained as a literary scholar and teacher. But at this point, probably in 203, he became a religious fanatic and remained one for the next fifty years. He gave up his job and sold his books to concentrate on religion. he slept on the floor, ate no meat, drank no wine, had only one coat and no shoes. He almost certainly castrated himself, in obedience to the notorious text, Matthew 19:12, 'there are some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake.' Origen's learning was massive and it was of a highly original kind: he always went back to the sources and thought through the whole process himself. This he learned Hebrew and, according to Eusebius, 'got into his possession the original writings extant among the Jews in the actual Hebrew character'. These included the discovery of lost texts; in the case of the psalms, Origen collected not only the four known texts but three others unearthed, including 'one he found at Jericho in a jar'. The result was an enormous tome, the Hexapla, which probably existed in only one manuscript now lost, setting out the seven alternative texts in parallel columns. He applied the same principles of original research to every aspect of Christianity and sacred literature. He seems to have worked all day and though most of the night, and was a compulsive writer. Even the hardy Jerome later complained: 'Has anyone read everything Origen wrote?'
Paul Johnson (A History of Christianity)
When I first went to Rwanda, I was reading a book called Civil War, which had been receiving great critical acclaim. Writing from an immediate post-Cold War perspective, the author, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, a German, observed, “The most obvious sign of the end of the bipolar world order are the thirty or forty civil wars being waged openly around the globe,” and he set out to inquire what they were all about. This seemed promising until I realized that Enzensberger wasn’t interested in the details of those wars. He treated them all as a single phenomenon and, after a few pages, announced: “What gives today’s civil wars a new and terrifying slant is the fact that they are waged without stakes on either side, that they are wars about nothing at all.” In the old days, according to Enzensberger—in Spain in the 1930s or the United States in the 1860s—people used to kill and die for ideas, but now “violence has separated itself from ideology,” and people who wage civil wars just kill and die in an anarchic scramble for power. In these wars, he asserted, there is no notion of the future; nihilism rules; “all political thought, from Aristotle and Machiavelli to Marx and Weber, is turned upside down,” and “all that remains is the Hobbesian ur-myth of the war of everyone against everyone else.” That such a view of distant civil wars offers a convenient reason to ignore them may explain its enormous popularity in our times. It would be nice, we may say, if the natives out there settled down, but if they’re just fighting for the hell of it, it’s not my problem. But it is our problem. By denying the particularity of the peoples who are making history, and the possibility that they might have politics, Enzensberger mistakes his failure to recognize what is at stake in events for the nature of those events. So he sees chaos—what is given off, not what’s giving it off—and his analysis begs the question: when, in fact, there are ideological differences between two warring parties, how are we to judge them? In the case of Rwanda, to embrace the idea that the civil war was a free-for-all—in which everyone is at once equally legitimate and equally illegitimate—is to ally oneself with Hutu Power’s ideology of genocide as self-defense.
Philip Gourevitch (We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families)
The World At Large Ice-age heat wave, can't complain. If the world's at large, why should I remain? Walked away to another plan. Gonna find another place, maybe one I can stand. I move on to another day, to a whole new town with a whole new way. Went to the porch to have a thought. Got to the door and again, I couldn't stop. You don't know where and you don't know when. But you still got your words and you got your friends. Walk along to another day. Work a little harder, work another way. Well uh-uh baby I ain't got no plan. We'll float on maybe would you understand? Gonna float on maybe would you understand? Well float on maybe would you understand? The days get shorter and the nights get cold. I like the autumn but this place is getting old. I pack up my belongings and I head for the coast. It might not be a lot but I feel like I'm making the most. The days get longer and the nights smell green. I guess it's not surprising but it's spring and I should leave. I like songs about drifters - books about the same. They both seem to make me feel a little less insane. Walked on off to another spot. I still haven't gotten anywhere that I want. Did I want love? Did I need to know? Why does it always feel like I'm caught in an undertow? The moths beat themselves to death against the lights. Adding their breeze to the summer nights. Outside, water like air was great. I didn't know what I had that day. Walk a little farther to another plan. You said that you did, but you didn't understand. I know that starting over is not what life's about. But my thoughts were so loud I couldn't hear my mouth. My thoughts were so loud I couldn't hear my mouth. My thoughts were so loud.
Modest Mouse
Before the troops left Rome, the consul Varro made a number of extremely arrogant speeches. The nobles, he complained, were directly responsible for the war on Italian soil, and it would continue to prey upon the country's vitals if there were any more commanders on the Fabian model. He himself, on the contrary, would bring it to an end on the day he first caught sight of the enemy. His colleague Paullus spoke only once before the army marched, and in words which though true were hardly popular. His only harsh criticism of Varro was to express his surprise about how any army commander, while still at Rome, in his civilian clothes, could possibly know what his task on the field of battle would be, before he had become acquainted either with his own troops or the enemy's or had any idea of the lie and nature of the country where he was to operate--or how he could prophesy exactly when a pitched battle would occur. As for himself, he refused to recommend any sort of policy prematurely; for policy was moulded by circumstance, not circumstance by policy. . . . [T]o strengthen [Paullus'] determination Fabius (we are told) spoke to him at his departure in the following words. 'If, Lucius Aemilius, you were like your colleague, or if--which I should much prefer--you had a colleague like yourself, anything I could now say would be superfluous. Two good consuls would serve the country well in virtue of their own sense of honour, without any words from me; and two bad consuls would not accept my advice, nor even listen to me. But as things are, I know your colleague's qualities and I know your own, so it is to you alone I address myself, understanding as I do that all your courage and patriotism will be in vain, if our country must limp on one sound leg and one lame one. With the two of you equal in command, bad counsels will be backed by the same legal authority as good ones; for you are wrong, Paullus, if you think to find less opposition from Varro than from Hannibal. Hannibal is your enemy, Varro your rival, but I hardly know which will prove the more hostile to your designs; with the former you will be contending only on the field of battle, but with the latter everywhere and always. . . . [I]t is not the enemy who will make it difficult and dangerous for you to tread, but your fellow-countrymen. Your own men will want precisely what the enemy wants; the wishes of Varro, the Roman consul, will play straight into the hands of Hannibal, commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian armies. You will have two generals against you; but you will stand firm against both, if you can steel yourself to ignore the tongues of men who will defame you--if you remain unmoved by the empty glory your colleague seeks and the false infamy he tries to bring upon yourself. . . . Never mind if they call your caution timidity, your wisdom sloth, your generalship weakness; it is better that a wise enemy should fear you than that foolish friends should praise. Hannibal will despise a reckless antagonist, but he will fear a cautious one. Not that I wish you to do nothing--all I want is that your actions should be guided by a reasoned policy, all risks avoided; that the conduct of the war should be controlled by you at all times; that you should neither lay aside your sword nor relax your vigilance but seize the opportunity that offers, while never giving the enemy a chance to take you at a disadvantage. Go slowly, and all will be clear and sure. Haste is always improvident and blind.
Livy (The History of Rome, Books 21-30: The War with Hannibal)
This book deals with four ultimate concerns: death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness. The individual's confrontation with each of these facts of life constitutes the content of the existential dynamic conflict. Death. The most obvious, the most easily apprehended ultimate concern is death. We exist now, but one day we shall cease to be. Death will come, and there is no escape from it. It is a terrible truth, and we respond to it with mortal terror. "Everything," in Spinoza's words, "endeavors to persist in its own being";3 and a core existential conflict is the tension between the awareness of the inevitability of death and the wish to continue to be. Freedom. Another ultimate concern, a far less accessible one, is freedom. Ordinarily we think of freedom as an unequivocally positive concept. Throughout recorded history has not the human being yearned and striven for freedom? Yet freedom viewed from the perspective of ultimate ground is riveted to dread. In its existential sense "freedom" refers to the absence of external structure. Contrary to everyday experience, the human being does not enter (and leave) a well-structured universe that has an inherent design. Rather, the individual is entirely responsible for-that is, is the author of-his or her own world, life design, choices, and actions. "Freedom" in this sense, has a terrifying implication: it means that beneath us there is no ground-nothing, a void, an abyss. A key existential dynamic, then, is the clash between' our confrontation with groundlessness and our wish for ground and structure. Existential Isolation. A third ultimate concern is isolation-not interpersonal isolation with its attendant loneliness, or intrapersonal isolation (isolation from parts of oneself), but a fundamental isolation-an isolation both from creatures and from world-which cuts beneath other isolation. No matter how close each of us becomes to another, there remains a final, unbridgeable gap; each of us enters existence alone and must depart from it alone. The existential conflict is thus the tension between our awareness of our absolute isolation and our wish for contact, for protection, our wish to be part of a larger whole. Meaninglessness. A fourth ultimate concern or given of existence is meaninglessness. If we must die, if we constitute our own world, if each is ultimately alone in an indifferent universe, then what meaning does life have? Why do we live? How shall we live? If there is no preordained design for us, then each of us must construct' our own meanings in life. Yet can a meaning of one's own creation be sturdy enough to bear one's life? This existential dynamic conflict stems from the dilemma of a meaning-seeking creature who is thrown into a universe that has no meaning.
Irvin D. Yalom (Existential Psychotherapy)
He couldn’t have known it, but among the original run of The History of Love, at least one copy was destined to change a life. This particular book was one of the last of the two thousand to be printed, and sat for longer than the rest in a warehouse in the outskirts of Santiago, absorbing the humidity. From there it was finally sent to a bookstore in Buenos Aires. The careless owner hardly noticed it, and for some years it languished on the shelves, acquiring a pattern of mildew across the cover. It was a slim volume, and its position on the shelf wasn’t exactly prime: crowded on the left by an overweight biography of a minor actress, and on the right by the once-bestselling novel of an author that everyone had since forgotten, it hardly left its spine visible to even the most rigorous browser. When the store changed owners it fell victim to a massive clearance, and was trucked off to another warehouse, foul, dingy, crawling with daddy longlegs, where it remained in the dark and damp before finally being sent to a small secondhand bookstore not far from the home of the writer Jorge Luis Borges. The owner took her time unpacking the books she’d bought cheaply and in bulk from the warehouse. One morning, going through the boxes, she discovered the mildewed copy of The History of Love. She’d never heard of it, but the title caught her eye. She put it aside, and during a slow hour in the shop she read the opening chapter, called 'The Age of Silence.' The owner of the secondhand bookstore lowered the volume of the radio. She flipped to the back flap of the book to find out more about the author, but all it said was that Zvi Litvinoff had been born in Poland and moved to Chile in 1941, where he still lived today. There was no photograph. That day, in between helping customers, she finished the book. Before locking up the shop that evening, she placed it in the window, a little wistful about having to part with it. The next morning, the first rays of the rising sun fell across the cover of The History of Love. The first of many flies alighted on its jacket. Its mildewed pages began to dry out in the heat as the blue-gray Persian cat who lorded over the shop brushed past it to lay claim to a pool of sunlight. A few hours later, the first of many passersby gave it a cursory glance as they went by the window. The shop owner did not try to push the book on any of her customers. She knew that in the wrong hands such a book could easily be dismissed or, worse, go unread. Instead she let it sit where it was in the hope that the right reader might discover it. And that’s what happened. One afternoon a tall young man saw the book in the window. He came into the shop, picked it up, read a few pages, and brought it to the register. When he spoke to the owner, she couldn’t place his accent. She asked where he was from, curious about the person who was taking the book away. Israel, he told her, explaining that he’d recently finished his time in the army and was traveling around South America for a few months. The owner was about to put the book in a bag, but the young man said he didn’t need one, and slipped it into his backpack. The door chimes were still tinkling as she watched him disappear, his sandals slapping against the hot, bright street. That night, shirtless in his rented room, under a fan lazily pushing around the hot air, the young man opened the book and, in a flourish he had been fine-tuning for years, signed his name: David Singer. Filled with restlessness and longing, he began to read.
Nicole Krauss
The men who had inhabited prehistoric Egypt, who had carved the Sphinx and founded the world‘s oldest civilization, were men who had made their exodus from Atlantis to settle on this strip of land that bordered the Nile. And they had left before their ill-fated continent sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, a catastrophe which had drained the Sahara and turned it into a desert. The shells which to-day litter the surface of the Sahara in places, as well as the fossil fish which are found among its sands, prove that it was once covered by the waters of a vast ocean. It was a tremendous and astonishing thought that the Sphinx provided a solid, visible and enduring link between the people of to-day and the people of a lost world, the unknown Atlanteans. This great symbol has lost its meaning for the modern world, for whom it is now but an object of local curiosity. What did it mean to the Atlanteans? We must look for some hint of an answer in the few remnants of culture still surviving from peoples whose own histories claimed Atlantean origin. We must probe behind the degenerate rituals of races like the Incas and the Mayas, mounting to the purer worship of their distant ancestors, and we shall find that the loftiest object of their worship was Light, represented by the Sun. Hence they build pyramidal Temples of the Sun throughout ancient America. Such temples were either variants or slightly distorted copies of similar temples which had existed in Atlantis. After Plato went to Egypt and settled for a while in the ancient School of Heliopolis, where he lived and studied during thirteen years, the priest-teachers, usually very guarded with foreigners, favoured the earnest young Greek enquirer with information drawn from their well-preserved secret records. Among other things they told him that a great flat-topped pyramid had stood in the centre of the island of Atlantis, and that on this top there had been build the chief temple of the continent – a sun temple. […] The Sphinx was the revered emblem in stone of a race which looked upon Light as the nearest thing to God in this dense material world. Light is the subtlest, most intangible of things which man can register by means of one of his five senses. It is the most ethereal kind of matter which he knows. It is the most ethereal element science can handle, and even the various kind of invisible rays are but variants of light which vibrate beyond the power of our retinas to grasp. So in the Book of Genesis the first created element was Light, without which nothing else could be created. „The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the Deep,“ wrote Egyptian-trained Moses. „And God said, Let there be Light: and there was Light.“ Not only that, it is also a perfect symbol of that heavenly Light which dawns within the deep places of man‘s soul when he yields heart and mind to God; it is a magnificent memorial to that divine illumination which awaits him secretly even amid the blackest despairs. Man, in turning instinctively to the face and presence of the Sun, turns to the body of his Creator. And from the sun, light is born: from the sun it comes streaming into our world. Without the sun we should remain perpetually in horrible darkness; crops would not grow: mankind would starve, die, and disappear from the face of this planet. If this reverence for Light and for its agent, the sun, was the central tenet of Atlantean religion, so also was it the central tenet of early Egyptian religion. Ra, the sun-god, was first, the father and creator of all the other gods, the Maker of all things, the One, the self-born [...] If the Sphinx were connected with this religion of Light, it would surely have some relationship with the sun.
Paul Brunton (A Search in Secret Egypt)
It is already the fashion to diminish Eliot by calling him derivative, the mouthpiece of Pound, and so forth; and yet if one wanted to understand the apocalypse of early modernism in its true complexity it would be Eliot, I fancy, who would demand one's closest attention. He was ready to rewrite the history of all that interested him in order to have past and present conform; he was a poet of apocalypse, of the last days and the renovation, the destruction of the earthly city as a chastisement of human presumption, but also of empire. Tradition, a word we especially associate with this modernist, is for him the continuity of imperial deposits; hence the importance in his thought of Virgil and Dante. He saw his age as a long transition through which the elect must live, redeeming the time. He had his demonic host, too; the word 'Jew' remained in lower case through all the editions of the poems until the last of his lifetime, the seventy-fifth birthday edition of 1963. He had a persistent nostalgia for closed, immobile hierarchical societies. If tradition is, as he said in After Strange Gods--though the work was suppressed--'the habitual actions, habits and customs' which represent the kinship 'of the same people living in the same place' it is clear that Jews do not have it, but also that practically nobody now does. It is a fiction, a fiction cousin to a myth which had its effect in more practical politics. In extenuation it might be said that these writers felt, as Sartre felt later, that in a choice between Terror and Slavery one chooses Terror, 'not for its own sake, but because, in this era of flux, it upholds the exigencies proper to the aesthetics of Art.' The fictions of modernist literature were revolutionary, new, though affirming a relation of complementarity with the past. These fictions were, I think it is clear, related to others, which helped to shape the disastrous history of our time. Fictions, notably the fiction of apocalypse, turn easily into myths; people will live by that which was designed only to know by. Lawrence would be the writer to discuss here, if there were time; apocalypse works in Woman in Love, and perhaps even in Lady Chatterley's Lover, but not n Apocalypse, which is failed myth. It is hard to restore the fictive status of what has become mythical; that, I take it, is what Mr. Saul Bellow is talking about in his assaults on wastelandism, the cant of alienation. In speaking of the great men of early modernism we have to make very subtle distinctions between the work itself, in which the fictions are properly employed, and obiter dicta in which they are not, being either myths or dangerous pragmatic assertions. When the fictions are thus transformed there is not only danger but a leak, as it were, of reality; and what we feel about. all these men at times is perhaps that they retreated inso some paradigm, into a timeless and unreal vacuum from which all reality had been pumped. Joyce, who was a realist, was admired by Eliot because he modernized myth, and attacked by Lewis because he concerned himself with mess, the disorders of common perception. But Ulysses ,alone of these great works studies and develops the tension between paradigm and reality, asserts the resistance of fact to fiction, human freedom and unpredictability against plot. Joyce chooses a Day; it is a crisis ironically treated. The day is full of randomness. There are coincidences, meetings that have point, and coincidences which do not. We might ask whether one of the merits of the book is not its lack of mythologizing; compare Joyce on coincidence with the Jungians and their solemn concordmyth, the Principle of Synchronicity. From Joyce you cannot even extract a myth of Negative Concord; he shows us fiction fitting where it touches. And Joyce, who probably knew more about it than any of the others, was not at tracted by the intellectual opportunities or the formal elegance of fascism.
Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction)
Jesus himself remains an enigma. There have been interesting attempts to uncover the figure of the ‘historical’ Jesus, a project that has become something of a scholarly industry. But the fact remains that the only Jesus we really know is the Jesus described in the New Testament, which was not interested in scientifically objective history. There are no other contemporary accounts of his mission and death. We cannot even be certain why he was crucified. The gospel accounts indicate that he was thought to be the king of the Jews. He was said to have predicted the imminent arrival of the kingdom of heaven, but also made it clear that it was not of this world. In the literature of the Late Second Temple period, there had been hints that a few people were expecting a righteous king of the House of David to establish an eternal kingdom, and this idea seems to have become more popular during the tense years leading up to the war. Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius all note the importance of revolutionary religiosity, both before and after the rebellion.2 There was now keen expectation in some circles of a meshiah (in Greek, christos), an ‘anointed’ king of the House of David, who would redeem Israel. We do not know whether Jesus claimed to be this messiah – the gospels are ambiguous on this point.3 Other people rather than Jesus himself may have made this claim on his behalf.4 But after his death some of his followers had seen him in visions that convinced them that he had been raised from the tomb – an event that heralded the general resurrection of all the righteous when God would inaugurate his rule on earth.5 Jesus and his disciples came from Galilee in northern Palestine. After his death they moved to Jerusalem, probably to be on hand when the kingdom arrived, since all the prophecies declared that the temple would be the pivot of the new world order.6 The leaders of their movement were known as ‘the Twelve’: in the kingdom, they would rule the twelve tribes of the reconstituted Israel.7 The members of the Jesus movement worshipped together every day in the temple,8 but they also met for communal meals, in which they affirmed their faith in the kingdom’s imminent arrival.9 They continued to live as devout, orthodox Jews. Like the Essenes, they had no private property, shared their goods equally, and dedicated their lives to the last days.10 It seems that Jesus had recommended voluntary poverty and special care for the poor; that loyalty to the group was to be valued more than family ties; and that evil should be met with non-violence and love.11 Christians should pay their taxes, respect the Roman authorities, and must not even contemplate armed struggle.12 Jesus’s followers continued to revere the Torah,13 keep the Sabbath,14 and the observance of the dietary laws was a matter of extreme importance to them.15 Like the great Pharisee Hillel, Jesus’s older contemporary, they taught a version of the Golden Rule, which they believed to be the bedrock of the Jewish faith: ‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the message of the Law and the Prophets.
Karen Armstrong (The Bible: A Biography (Books That Changed the World))