Variety Of Life Quotes

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I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.
Paulo Coelho (Brida)
All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time.
Coco Chanel
Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.
Gene Roddenberry
no form of love is wrong, so long as it is love, and you yourself honour what you are doing. Love has an extraordinary variety of forms! And that is all there is in life, it seems to me. But I grant you, if you deny the variety of love you deny love altogether. If you try to specialize love into one set of accepted feelings, you wound the very soul of love. Love must be multi-form, else it is just tyranny, just death
D.H. Lawrence
Landscapes of great wonder and beauty lie under our feet and all around us. They are discovered in tunnels in the ground, the heart of flowers, the hollows of trees, fresh-water ponds, seaweed jungles between tides, and even drops of water. Life in these hidden worlds is more startling in reality than anything we can imagine. How could this earth of ours, which is only a speck in the heavens, have so much variety of life, so many curious and exciting creatures?
Walt Disney Company
Life is neither static nor unchanging. With no individuality, there can be no change, no adaptation and, in an inherently changing world, any species unable to adapt is also doomed.
Jean M. Auel
To my babies, Merry Christmas. I'm sorry if these letters have caught you both by surprise. There is just so much more I have to say. I know you thought I was done giving advice, but I couldn't leave without reiterating a few things in writing. You may not relate to these things now, but someday you will. I wasn't able to be around forever, but I hope that my words can be. -Don't stop making basagna. Basagna is good. Wait until a day when there is no bad news, and bake a damn basagna. -Find a balance between head and heart. Hopefully you've found that Lake, and you can help Kel sort it out when he gets to that point. -Push your boundaries, that's what they're there for. -I'm stealing this snippet from your favorite band, Lake. "Always remember there is nothing worth sharing, like the love that let us share our name." -Don't take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it. -And Laugh a lot. Never go a day without laughing at least once. -Never judge others. You both know good and well how unexpected events can change who a person is. Always keep that in mind. You never know what someone else is experiencing within their own life. -Question everything. Your love, your religion, your passions. If you don't have questions, you'll never find answers. -Be accepting. Of everything. People's differences, their similarities, their choices, their personalities. Sometimes it takes a variety to make a good collection. The same goes for people. -Choose your battles, but don't choose very many. -Keep an open mind; it's the only way new things can get in. -And last but not least, not the tiniest bit least. Never regret. Thank you both for giving me the best years of my life. Especially the last one. Love, Mom
Colleen Hoover (Slammed (Slammed, #1))
I mean she's Cleopatra... shouldn't she and Antony have known better? They were so different..." "Variety is the spice of life" "And from a thousand miles apart" "Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Ally Carter (Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society, #2))
Of course, we can't visit every place or meet every person or do every job, yet most of what we'd feel in any life is still available. We don't have to play every game to know what winning feels like. We don't have to hear every piece of music in the world to understand music. We don't have to have tried every variety of grape from every vineyard to know the pleasure of wine. Love and laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies. We just have to close our eyes and savour the taste of the drink in front of us and listen to the song as it plays. We are as completely and utterly alive as we are in any other life and have access to the same emotional spectrum.
Matt Haig (The Midnight Library)
Knowledge about life is one thing; effective occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing through your being, is another.
William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience)
Variety's the very spice of life, that gives it all it's flavour.
William Cowper
We make our purpose.
Carl Sagan (The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God)
She knew that what she was going through was nothing special, just garden-variety heartbreak, the sort of thing that poets and novelists had been writing about for hundreds of years, but she also knew, from those same books, that there were people who never recover form it, ones who go on through life beset by a dim and painful longing.
Sarah Dunn
variety is life; uniformity is death
Pyotr Kropotkin
If we are merely matter intricately assembled, is this really demeaning? If there's nothing here but atoms, does that make us less or does that make matter more?
Carl Sagan (The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God)
To put it bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant—inexcusably ignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write.
Daniel C. Dennett (Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life)
…God is a giant quiltmaker. With an infinite variety of designs. And the quilt is grown so big and confusing, the pattern is impossible to see, the squares and diamonds and triangles don’t fit well together anymore, it’s all become meaningless. So He has abandoned it.
Rohinton Mistry (A Fine Balance)
How To Be An Explorer Of The World 1. Always Be LOOKING (notice the ground beneath your feet.) 2. Consider Everything Alive & Animate 3. EVERYTHING Is Interesting. Look Closer. 4. Alter Your Course Often. 5. Observe For Long Durations (and short ones). 6. Notice The Stories Going On Around You. 7. Notice PATTERNS. Make CONNECTIONS. 8. DOCUMENT Your Findings (field notes) In A VAriety Of Ways. 9. Incorporate Indeterminacy. 10. Observe Movement. 11. Create a Personal DIALOGUE With Your Environment. Talk to it. 12. Trace Things Back to Their ORIGINS. 13. Use ALL of the Senses In Your Investigations.
Keri Smith (How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum)
You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time. It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in Arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. It might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety. Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not. If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears the earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. Do you think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine. When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. A hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.
Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park / Congo)
When I say that evil has to do with killing, I do not mean to restrict myself to corporeal murder. Evil is that which kills spirit. There are various essential attributes of life -- particularly human life -- such as sentience, mobility, awareness, growth, autonomy, will. It is possible to kill or attempt to kill one of these attributes without actually destroying the body. Thus we may "break" a horse or even a child without harming a hair on its head. Erich Fromm was acutely sensitive to this fact when he broadened the definition of necrophilia to include the desire of certain people to control others-to make them controllable, to foster their dependency, to discourage their capacity to think for themselves, to diminish their unpredectibility and originalty, to keep them in line. Distinguishing it from a "biophilic" person, one who appreciates and fosters the variety of life forms and the uniqueness of the individual, he demonstrated a "necrophilic character type," whose aim it is to avoid the inconvenience of life by transforming others into obedient automatons, robbing them of their humanity. Evil then, for the moment, is the force, residing either inside or outside of human beings, that seeks to kill life or liveliness. And goodness is its opposite. Goodness is that which promotes life and liveliness.
M. Scott Peck (People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil)
Most of us take for granted that time flies, meaning that it passes too quickly. But in the mindful state, time doesn't really pass at all. There is only a single instant of time that keeps renewing itself over and over with infinite variety.
Deepak Chopra (The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life)
A first premonition of the rich variety of life had come to him; for the first time he thought he had understood the nature of human beings - they needed each other even when they appeared hostile, and it was very sweet to be loved by them.
Stefan Zweig (The Burning Secret and other stories)
It goes with a courageous intent to greet the universe as it really is, not to foist our emotional predispositions on it but to courageously accept what our explorations tell us.
Carl Sagan (The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God)
Fortunately, God made all varieties of people with a wide variety of interests and abilities. He has called people of every race and color who have been hurt by life in every manner imaginable. Even the scars of past abuse and injury can be the means of bringing healing to another. What wonderful opportunities to make disciples!
Charles R. Swindoll
I cannot understand what pleasures and joys they are that drive people to the overcrowded railways and hotels, into the packed cafés with the suffocating and oppressive music, to the Bars and variety entertainments, to World Exhibitions, to the Corsos. I cannot understand nor share these joys, though they are within my reach, for which thousands of others strive. On the other hand, what happens to me in my rare hours of joy, what for me is bliss and life and ecstasy and exaltation, the world in general seeks at most in imagination; in life it finds it absurd. And in fact, if the world is right, if this music of the cafés, these mass enjoyments and these Americanised men who are pleased with so little are right, then I am wrong, I am crazy. I am in truth the Steppenwolf that I often call myself; that beast astray who finds neither home nor joy nor nourishment in a world that is strange and incomprehensible to him.
Hermann Hesse (Steppenwolf)
Were one asked to characterize the life of religion in the broadest and most general terms possible, one might say that it consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.
William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience)
What is talkativeness? It is the result of doing away with the vital distinction between talking and keeping silent. Only some one who knows how to remain essentially silent can really talk--and act essentially. Silence is the essence of inwardness, of the inner life. Mere gossip anticipates real talk, and to express what is still in thought weakens action by forestalling it. But some one who can really talk, because he knows how to remain silent, will not talk about a variety of things but about one thing only, and he will know when to talk and when to remain silent. Where mere scope is concerned, talkativeness wins the day, it jabbers on incessantly about everything and nothing...In a passionate age great events (for they correspond to each other) give people something to talk about. And when the event is over, and silence follows, there is still something to remember and to think about while one remains silent. But talkativeness is afraid of the silence which reveals its emptiness.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
All simple souls must admire and respect one another, saying: 'Let us proceed each one along our path to the same goal, united in purpose and by means of God's order which, in its great variety, is in us all.
Jean-Pierre de Caussade (The Sacrament of the Present Moment)
The middle path makes me wary. . . . But in the middle of my life, I am coming to see the middle path as a walk with wisdom where conversations of complexity can be found, that the middle path is the path of movement. . . . In the right and left worlds, the stories are largely set. . . . We become missionaries for a position . . . practitioners of the missionary position. Variety is lost. Diversity is lost. Creativity is lost in our inability to make love with the world.
Terry Tempest Williams (Leap)
But recently I have learned from discussions with a variety of scientists and other non-philosophers (e.g., the scientists participating with me in the Sean Carroll workshop on the future of naturalism) that they lean the other way: free will, in their view, is obviously incompatible with naturalism, with determinism, and very likely incoherent against any background, so they cheerfully insist that of course they don't have free will, couldn’t have free will, but so what? It has nothing to do with morality or the meaning of life. Their advice to me at the symposium was simple: recast my pressing question as whether naturalism (materialism, determinism, science...) has any implications for what we may call moral competence. For instance, does neuroscience show that we cannot be responsible for our choices, cannot justifiably be praised or blamed, rewarded or punished? Abandon the term 'free will' to the libertarians and other incompatibilists, who can pursue their fantasies untroubled. Note that this is not a dismissal of the important issues; it’s a proposal about which camp gets to use, and define, the term. I am beginning to appreciate the benefits of discarding the term 'free will' altogether, but that course too involves a lot of heavy lifting, if one is to avoid being misunderstood.
Daniel C. Dennett (Consciousness Explained)
Our great mistake in education is, as it seems to me, the worship of book-learning–the confusion of instruction and education. We strain the memory instead of cultivating the mind. The children in our elementary schools are wearied by the mechanical act of writing, and the interminable intricacies of spelling; they are oppressed by columns of dates, by lists of kings and places, which convey no definite idea to their minds, and have no near relation to their daily wants and occupations; while in our public schools the same unfortunate results are produced by the weary monotony of Latin and Greek grammar. We ought to follow exactly the opposite course with children–to give them a wholesome variety of mental food, and endeavor to cultivate their tastes, rather than to fill their minds with dry facts. The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn. What does it matter if the pupil know a little more or a little less? A boy who leaves school knowing much, but hating his lessons, will soon have forgotten almost all he ever learned; while another who had acquired a thirst for knowledge, even if he had learned little, would soon teach himself more than the first ever knew.
John Lubbock (The Pleasures of Life)
I hope that George doesn't internalize her scare tactics. I want to argue with her, tell her that "sins of the flesh" is just a control mechanism -- if you demonize a person's pleasure, then you can control his or her life. I can't say how many times this tool has been wielded against me, in a variety of forms. But I see no sin in a kiss. I only see sin in the condemnation.
David Levithan (Every Day (Every Day, #1))
Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold eternal winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the writer - he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the appetite to fail.
Laurence Sterne
Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of 'Green'? How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye? How aware of variations in heat waves can that eye be? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of color. Imagine a world before the 'beginning was the word.
Stan Brakhage (Metaphors On Vision)
For she had a great variety of selves to call upon, far more than we have been able to find room for, since a biography is considered complete if it merely accounts for six or seven selves, whereas a person may have many thousand…and these selves of which we are built up, one on top of the other, as plates are piled on a waiter’s hand, have attachments elsewhere, sympathies, little constitutions and rights of their own… so that one will only come if it is raining, another in a room with green curtains, another when Mrs. Jones is not there… and some are too wildly ridiculous to be mentioned in print at all.
Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
I thought about how unlikely it was I would ever meet any guy,fall in love, get married, have babies. Especially since I was going to spend the rest of my life in the cellar, where, in the not too distant future, I'd turn into a toadstool. I hoped I'd be the poisonous variety.
Susan Beth Pfeffer (This World We Live In (Last Survivors, #3))
I've often thought that one of us is what we imagine, that each of us normalizes the terrible strangeness of inner life with a variety of convenient fictions.
Siri Hustvedt (The Sorrows of an American)
Gabi glared. "If you want to add some variety to your sex life, why don't you just use your other hand?
Cherise Sinclair (To Command and Collar (Masters of the Shadowlands, #6))
All religions are branches of one big tree. It doesn't matter what you call Him just as long as you call. Just as cinematic images appear to be real but are only combinations of light and shade, so is the universal variety a delusion. The planetary spheres, with their countless forms of life, are naught but figures in a cosmic motion picture. One's values are profoundly changed when he is finally convinced that creation is only a vast motion picture and that not in, but beyond, lies his own ultimate reality.
George Harrison
Being alive, if you had to define it, meant emitting a variety of smells
Haruki Murakami (1Q84 (1Q84 #1-3))
If variety is the spice of life, then my life must be one of the spiciest you ever heard of. A curry of a life. -Paul Child
Julia Child (My Life in France)
If you decide to become a veterinary surgeon you will never grow rich but you will have a life of endless interest and variety.
James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small (All Creatures Great and Small, #1))
It seemed to him [Otto Kugelblitz] obvious that the human life span runs through the varieties of mental disorder as understood in his day—the solipsism of infancy, the sexual hysterias of adolescence and entry-level adulthood, the paranoia of middle age, the dementia of late life ... all working up to death, which at last turns out to be "sanity.
Thomas Pynchon (Bleeding Edge)
Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.
null
The quality of death, like that of life, must be of an infinite variety, and if one has already died once, then what was there to look for in dying for good and all, as he was now?
Ray Bradbury (The Illustrated Man)
Life is never static. Despite catastrophic tragedies, life has persisted in evolving new varieties of unimaginable forms. I find comfort in the narrative of evolutionary history.
Greg Graffin (Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without God)
Inside me there was everything I had believed was outside. There was, in particular, the sun, light, and all colors. There were even the shapes of objects and the distance between objects. Everything was there and movement as well… Light is an element that we carry inside us and which can grow there with as much abundance, variety, and intensity as it can outside of us…I could light myself…that is, I could create a light inside of me so alive, so large, and so near that my eyes, my physical eyes, or what remained of them, vibrated, almost to the point of hurting… God is there under a form that has the good luck to be neither religious, not intellectual, nor sentimental, but quite simply alive.
Jacques Lusseyran (And There Was Light: Autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, Blind Hero of the French Revolution)
With its untold depths, couldn't the sea keep alive such huge specimens of life from another age, this sea that never changes while the land masses undergo almost continuous alteration? Couldn't the heart of the ocean hide the last–remaining varieties of these titanic species, for whom years are centuries and centuries millennia?
Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea)
I see no reason for resigning my right to that inventive freedom which others enjoy; and, as I have no truth to put on record, having lived a very humdrum life, I fall back on falsehood--but falsehood of a more consistent variety; for I now make the only true statement you are to expect--that I am a liar.
Lucian of Samosata (True History and Lucius or The Ass)
When you look more generally at life on Earth, you find that it is all the same kind of life. There are not many different kinds; there's only one kind. It uses about fifty fundamental biological building blocks, organic molecules.
Carl Sagan (The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God)
In other words, serial killers are, by and large, sexual psychopaths of a particularly depraved variety—deviants who can only achieve orgasmic release by making other people die.
Harold Schechter (Fatal: The Poisonous Life of a Female Serial Killer)
Indulgence comes in all varieties: a mouthful of gourmet chocolate, a hot stone massage, a week in Paris or 20 uninterrupted minutes to get lost in a book.
Gina Greenlee (Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road)
Ah, yes. Well. Life has been generous to me in its variety.
Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow)
Life Is a Gift from God. We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life -- physical, intellectual, and moral life. But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course. Life, faculties, production--in other words, individuality, liberty, property -- this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
Frédéric Bastiat (The Law)
all men are different, and it is the difference between them that creates the greatness, the variety, and the creative inspirations of life, as well as the tensions of social intercourse.
Joost A.M. Meerloo (The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing)
Insanity comes in two basic varieties: slow and fast... Viscosity and Velocity are opposites, yet they can look the same. Viscosity causes the stillness of disinclination; velocity causes the stillness of fascination. An observer can't tell if a person is silent and still because inner life has stalled, or because inner life is transfixingly busy.
Susanna Kaysen
The observation of the numerous misfortunes that attend all conditions forbids us to grow insolent upon our present enjoyments, or to admire a man's happiness that may yet, in course of time, suffer change. For the uncertain future has yet to come, with all variety of future; and to him only to whom the divinity has [guaranteed] continued happiness until the end we may call happy.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets)
So you see,' said Stepan Arkadyich, 'you're a very wholesome man. That is your virtue and your defect. You have a wholesome character, and you want all of life to be made up of wholesome phenomena, but that doesn't happen. So you despise the activity of public service because you want things always to correspond to their aim, and that doesn't happen. You also want the activity of the individual man always to have an aim, that love and family life always be one. And that doesn't happen. All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life are made up of light and shade.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
If there’s one thing these stories prove, it’s that heroism comes in all shapes, sizes and varieties – whether it’s Remus Lupin giving his life to save the wizarding world or Silvanus Kettleburn hurling Flobberworms at Death Eaters from his attic. After all, you don’t have to be a sword-wielding Gryffindor to be a hero; sometimes, all it takes is having your heart in the right place.
J.K. Rowling (Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Pottermore Presents, #1))
Like some wondrous birds out of fairy tales, books sang their songs to me and spoke to me as though communing with one languishing in prison; they sang of the variety and richness of life, of man’s audacity in his strivings towards goodness and beauty.
Maxim Gorky
A woman's body is a sacred temple. A work of art, and a life-giving vessel. And once she becomes a mother, her body serves as a medicine cabinet for her infant. From her milk she can nourish and heal her own child from a variety of ailments. And though women come in a wide assortment as vast as the many different types of flowers and birds, she is to reflect divinity in her essence, care and wisdom. God created a woman's heart to be a river of love, not to become a killing machine.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
These young men, in other words, represented a variety of types, but one thing they had in common was that they'd all given up on committing positively to anything in life. This was not their fault, however. The blame lay with a certain ubiquitous spirit of the times, transmitted to them by their respective mothers. And perhaps it goes without saying that this "spirit of the times" was in fact an oppressive value system based primarily upon the absolute certainty that nothing in this world was ever going to change.
Ryū Murakami (Popular Hits of the Showa Era)
So long as man is man, variety will still be the flavor of life.
Lin Yutang
Live everyday like your birthday and drive your life with all varieties of appreciation. A life live with thanksgiving every day is never tired of being lived again and again!
Israelmore Ayivor (Daily Drive 365)
I like to define biology as the history of the earth and all its life — past, present, and future. To understand biology is to understand that all life is linked to the earth from which it came; it is to understand that the stream of life, flowing out of the dim past into the uncertain future, is in reality a unified force, though composed of an infinite number and variety of separate lives.
Rachel Carson
All of us,' he said, 'have hopes of being poet, artist, discoverer, philospoher, scientist; of possessing the attributes of all these simultaneously. Few are permitted to achieve any of them in daily life. But in travel we attain them all. Then we have our day of glory, when all our dreams come true, when we can be anything we like, as long as we like, and, when we are tired of it, pull up stakes and move on. Travel -- the solitude of the mountains, the emptiness of the desert, the delicacy of the minaret; eternal change, limitless contrast, unending variety.' (Eric Lang)
Robert Edison Fulton Jr. (One Man Caravan)
What is there to see if I go outside? Don't tell me. I know. I can see other people. I don't want to see other people. They look awful. The men look like slobs and the women look like men. The men have mush faces framed by long hair and the women have big noses, big jaws, big heads, and stick-like bodies. That depresses me. Its no fun to people-watch anymore because there's so little variety in types. You say it's good to get a change of scenery. What scenery? New buildings? New cars? New freeways? New shopping malls? Go to the woods or a park? I saw a tree once. The new ones look the same, which is fine. I even remember what the old ones look like. My memory isn't that short. But it's not worth going to see a squirrel grab a nut, or fish swimming around in a big tank if I must put up with the ugly contemporary human pollution that accompanies each excursion. The squirrel may enliven me and remind me of better vistas but the price in social interaction isn't worth it. If, on my way to visit the squirrel, I encounter a single person who gains stimulation by seeing me, I feel like I have given more than I've received and I get sore. If every time I go somewhere to see a fish swimming, I become someone else's stimulation, I feel shortchanged. I'll buy my own fish and watch it swim. Then, I can watch the fish, the fish can watch me, we can be friends, and nobody else interferes with the interaction, like trying to hear what the fish and I are talking about. I won't have to get dressed a certain way to visit the fish. I needn't dress the way my pride dictates, because who's going to see me? I needn't wear any pants. The fish doesn't care. He doesn't read the tabloids. But, if I go out to see a fish other than my own, I'm right back where I started: entertaining others, which is more depleting than visiting the new fish is entertaining. Maybe I should go to a coffee house. I find no stimulation in watching ordinary people trying to put the make on other uninteresting people. I can fix my own cup of coffee and not have to look at or talk to other people. No matter where I go, I stimulate others, and have been doing so all my life. It used to be I'd sometimes get stimulated back.
Anton Szandor LaVey
Like so many of life's varieties of experience, the novelty of a diagnosis of malignant cancer has a tendency to wear off. The thing begins to pall, even to become banal. One can become quite used to the specter of the eternal Footman, like some lethal old bore lurking in the hallway at the end of the evening, hoping for the chance to have a word. And I don't so much object to his holding my coat in that marked manner, as if mutely reminding me that it's time to be on my way. No, it's the snickering that gets me down.
Christopher Hitchens (Mortality)
This life is a hospital in which each patient is possessed by the desire to change beds. One wants to suffer in front of the stove and another believes that he will get well near the window. It always seems to me that I will be better off there where I am not, and this question of moving about is one that I discuss endlessly with my soul "Tell me, my soul, my poor chilled soul, what would you think about going to live in Lisbon? It must be warm there, and you'll be able to soak up the sun like a lizard there. That city is on the shore; they say that it is built all out of marble, and that the people there have such a hatred of the vegetable, that they tear down all the trees. There's a country after your own heart -- a landscape made out of light and mineral, and liquid to reflect them!" My soul does not reply. "Because you love rest so much, combined with the spectacle of movement, do you want to come and live in Holland, that beatifying land? Perhaps you will be entertained in that country whose image you have so often admired in museums. What do you think of Rotterdam, you who love forests of masts and ships anchored at the foot of houses?" My soul remains mute. "Does Batavia please you more, perhaps? There we would find, after all, the European spirit married to tropical beauty." Not a word. -- Is my soul dead? Have you then reached such a degree of torpor that you are only happy with your illness? If that's the case, let us flee toward lands that are the analogies of Death. -- I've got it, poor soul! We'll pack our bags for Torneo. Let's go even further, to the far end of the Baltic. Even further from life if that is possible: let's go live at the pole. There the sun only grazes the earth obliquely, and the slow alternation of light and darkness suppresses variety and augments monotony, that half of nothingness. There we could take long baths in the shadows, while, to entertain us, the aurora borealis send us from time to time its pink sheaf of sparkling light, like the reflection of fireworks in Hell!" Finally, my soul explodes, and wisely she shrieks at me: "It doesn't matter where! It doesn't matter where! As long as it's out of this world!
Charles Baudelaire (Paris Spleen)
Expose them {your kids} to the widest variety of vegetables and fruits, showing them how good things can be in season. Tasteless fruits and vegetables won't win them over for life.
Mireille Guiliano (French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure)
Of all the varieties of modern pollution, noise is the most insidious.
Robert Lacey (The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium)
La variété, c'est la vie, l'uniformité, c'est la mort." [De l’esprit de conquête et de l’usurpation dans leur rapports avec la civilisation européenne (1914)]
Benjamin Constant
I was impressed by the variety of dreams and goals that life could offer.
Haruki Murakami (Norwegian Wood)
Poetry deals with the core of human existence: life, death, renewal, change; as well as fairness and unfairness, injustice and sometimes justice. The world in all its variety.
Margaret Atwood (Dearly: Poems)
The forest stretched on seemingly forever with the most monotonous predictability, each tree just like the next - trunk, branches, leaves; trunk, branches, leaves. Of course a tree would have taken a different view of the matter. We all tend to see the way others are alike and how we differ, and it's probably just as well we do, since that prevents a great deal of confusion. But perhaps we should remind ourselves from time to time that ours is a very partial view, and that the world is full of a great deal more variety than we ever manage to take in.
Thomas M. Disch (The Brave Little Toaster)
When imagination fails, compassion and humaneness dwindle and atrophy along with it. Unleavened by imagination, the variety and richness of life turn into flat abstractions; people become objects to be manipulated -- with the social consequences we know all too well.
Lloyd Alexander
This account of him [Thomas More] developed as I wrote: what first attracted me was a person who could not be accused of any incapacity for life, who indeed seized life in great variety and almost greedy quantities, who nevertheless found something in himself without which life was valueless and when that was denied him was able to grasp his death.
Robert Bolt (A Man for All Seasons)
Maybe if everything was beautiful, nothing would be. People saw one thing, they swooned over it. They saw this other thing, they pounded it with sticks. Maybe there had to be variety for life to work. Swoon over everything, you get bored. Beat everything with a stick-boring.
Dean Koontz (Dead and Alive (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein #3))
And here, after all that, is what I have come to believe about beauty: Laughter is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. Cellulite is beautiful. Softness and plumpness and roundness are beautiful. It's more important to be interesting, to be vivid, and to be adventurous, than to sit pretty for pictures. A woman's soft tummy is a miracle of nature. Beauty comes from tenderness. Beauty comes from variety, from specificity, from the fact that no person in the world looks exactly like anyone else. Beauty comes from the tragedy that each person's life is destined to be lost to time. I believe women are too hard on themselves. I believe that when you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you. I believe the eyes see everything through the heart - and nothing in the world feels as good as resting them on someone you love. I have trained my eyes to look for beauty, and I've gotten very good at finding it. You can argue and tell me it's not true, but I really don't care what anyone says. I have come, at last, to believe in the title I came up with for the book: Everyone Is Beautiful.
Katherine Center (Everyone is Beautiful)
A surprising fact about the magician Bernard Kornblum, Joe remembered, was that he believed in magic. Not in the so-called magic of candles, pentagrams, and bat wings. Not in the kitchen enchantments of Slavic grandmothers with their herbiaries and parings from the little toe of a blind virgin tied up in a goatskin bag. Not in astrology, theosophy, chiromancy, dowsing rods, séances, weeping statues, werewolves, wonders, or miracles. What bewitched Bernard Kornblum, on the contrary, was the impersonal magic of life, when he read in a magazine about a fish that could disguise itself as any one of seven different varieties of sea bottom, or when he learned from a newsreel that scientists had discovered a dying star that emitted radiation on a wavelength whose value in megacycles approximated π. In the realm of human affairs, this type of enchantment was often, though not always, a sadder business—sometimes beautiful, sometimes cruel. Here its stock-in-trade was ironies, coincidences, and the only true portents: those that revealed themselves, unmistakable and impossible to ignore, in retrospect.
Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay)
Where there is no faith, human choices, in all their mad variety, reel back into the dark woods, or into the inextricable error of the labyrinth. But the labyrinth is intolerable. We must be going somewhere.
Anthony M. Esolen (Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child)
This sadness lies at the heart of every merely positivistic, agnostic, or naturalistic scheme of philosophy. Let sanguine healthy-mindedness do its best with its strange power of living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting, still the evil background is really there to be thought of, and the skull will grin in at the banquet. In the practical life of the individual, we know how his whole gloom or glee about any present fact depends on the remoter schemes and hopes with which it stands related. Its significance and framing give it the chief part of its value. Let it be known to lead nowhere, and however agreeable it may be in its immediacy, its glow and gilding vanish. The old man, sick with an insidious internal disease, may laugh and quaff his wine at first as well as ever, but he knows his fate now, for the doctors have revealed it; and the knowledge knocks the satisfaction out of all these functions. They are partners of death and the worm is their brother, and they turn to a mere flatness.
William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience)
Really, when I look back on it, I did exactly what I had set out to do. I changed my life. I woke myself up. I rediscovered passions of every variety. I forced myself to take a little time. I found a way to bring some of who I used to be into who I was.
Katherine Center (Everyone is Beautiful)
Speech, tennis, music, skiing, manners, love- you try them waking and perhaps balk at the jump, and then you're over. You've caught the rhythm of them once and for all, in your sleep at night. The city, of course, can wreck it. So much insomnia. So many rhythms collide. The salesgirl, the landlord, the guests, the bystanders, sixteen varieties of social circumstance in a day. Everyone has the power to call your whole life into question here. Too many people have access to your state of mind. Some people are indifferent to dislike, even relish it. Hardly anyone I know.
Renata Adler (Speedboat)
The most common myth about money is that having more will make me more secure. It won’t. Wealth can be lost instantly through a variety of uncontrollable factors. Real security can only be found in that which can never be taken from you — your relationship with God.
Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?)
As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.
Charles Darwin (The Origin of Species)
76. David Hume – Treatise on Human Nature; Essays Moral and Political; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 77. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – On the Origin of Inequality; On the Political Economy; Emile – or, On Education, The Social Contract 78. Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy; A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy 79. Adam Smith – The Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations 80. Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason; Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; The Science of Right; Critique of Judgment; Perpetual Peace 81. Edward Gibbon – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Autobiography 82. James Boswell – Journal; Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D. 83. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier – Traité Élémentaire de Chimie (Elements of Chemistry) 84. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison – Federalist Papers 85. Jeremy Bentham – Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; Theory of Fictions 86. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Faust; Poetry and Truth 87. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier – Analytical Theory of Heat 88. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – Phenomenology of Spirit; Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History 89. William Wordsworth – Poems 90. Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Poems; Biographia Literaria 91. Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice; Emma 92. Carl von Clausewitz – On War 93. Stendhal – The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma; On Love 94. Lord Byron – Don Juan 95. Arthur Schopenhauer – Studies in Pessimism 96. Michael Faraday – Chemical History of a Candle; Experimental Researches in Electricity 97. Charles Lyell – Principles of Geology 98. Auguste Comte – The Positive Philosophy 99. Honoré de Balzac – Père Goriot; Eugenie Grandet 100. Ralph Waldo Emerson – Representative Men; Essays; Journal 101. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter 102. Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America 103. John Stuart Mill – A System of Logic; On Liberty; Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography 104. Charles Darwin – The Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography 105. Charles Dickens – Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Hard Times 106. Claude Bernard – Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine 107. Henry David Thoreau – Civil Disobedience; Walden 108. Karl Marx – Capital; Communist Manifesto 109. George Eliot – Adam Bede; Middlemarch 110. Herman Melville – Moby-Dick; Billy Budd 111. Fyodor Dostoevsky – Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov 112. Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary; Three Stories 113. Henrik Ibsen – Plays 114. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace; Anna Karenina; What is Art?; Twenty-Three Tales 115. Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger 116. William James – The Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; Essays in Radical Empiricism 117. Henry James – The American; The Ambassadors 118. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; The Genealogy of Morals;The Will to Power 119. Jules Henri Poincaré – Science and Hypothesis; Science and Method 120. Sigmund Freud – The Interpretation of Dreams; Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis 121. George Bernard Shaw – Plays and Prefaces
Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
Whether people were great or not, there was not much variety in their inner life experience. Any difference lay merely in how they dealt with common human weaknesses.
Eiji Yoshikawa (Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era)
If variety is the spice of life, marriage is the big can of leftover Spam.
Johnny Carson
Variety may be the spice of life, but consistency pays the bills.
Doug Cooper (Outside In)
Being exposed to a variety of people with autism is important because not all people on the spectrum are the same. Just because they share a label does not mean they will have anything in common or want to spend time together.
Chantal Sicile-Kira (A Full Life with Autism: From Learning to Forming Relationships to Achieving Independence)
They were part of a forest, an ecosystem that is perfect because of its wide variety of species, dominant because nothing is not allowed to be there. In the forest, everything that is inclined to thrive really does, and has a job, and some jobs are to grow things up and some jobs are to take things apart and everything is accepted because there is no notion—among bacteria and moss and busy mice—there is no notion of who deserves to do something or be in a place. There are only lives to be lived, and they are everywhere.
Jenny Slate (Little Weirds)
Of all the endless variety of phenomena which nature presents to our senses, there is none that fills our mind with greater wonder than that inconceivably complex movement which … we designate as human life. Its mysterious origin is veiled in the forever impenetrable mist of the past, its character is rendered incomprehensible by its in
Nikola Tesla (Problem of Increasing Human Energy)
I decided that life rationally considered seemed pointless and futile, but it is still interesting in a variety of ways, including the study of science. So why not carry on, following the path of scientific hedonism? Besides, I did not have the courage for the more rational procedure of suicide.
Robert S. Mulliken (Life of a Scientist: An Autobiographical Account of the Development of Molecular Orbital Theory)
So you see that the process of education, taken in a large way, may be described as nothing but the process of acquiring ideas or conceptions, the best educated mind being the mind which has the largest stock of them, ready to meet the largest possible variety of the emergencies of life. The lack of education means only the failure to have acquired them, and the consequent liability to be 'floored' and 'rattled' in the vicissitudes of experience.
William James
He didn’t remember that a mere book might reek of sex, possibility, fecundity. Yet a book has a ripe furrow and a yielding spine, he thought, and the nuances to be teased from its pages are nearly infinite in their variety and coquettish appeal. And what new life can emerge from a book. Any book, maybe.
Gregory Maguire (A Lion Among Men (The Wicked Years, #3))
What bothers me today is the lack of, well, I guess you'd call it authentic experience. So much is a sham. So much is artificial, synthetic, watered-down, and standardized. You know, less than half a century ago there were sixty-three varieties of lettuce in California alone. Today, there are four. And they are not the four best lettuces, either; not the most tasty or nutritious. They are the hybrid lettuces with built-in shelf life, the ones that have a safe, clean, consistent look in the supermarket. It's that way with so many things. We're even standardizing people, their goals, their ideas. The sham is everywhere.
Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)
No age of life is inglorious. Youth has its merits, but living to a ripe old age is the true statement of value. Aging is the road that we take to discern our character. Fame and fortune can elude us, but character is immortal. We must encounter a sufficient variety of experiences including both failures and accomplishments in order to gain nobility of character.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
Maybe you've been in love. I man real love, the kind my grandmother used to describe by quoting the apostle Paul's First letter to the Corinthians, the love that is kind and patient, that does not envy or boast, that beareth all things and believeth all things and endureth all things. I don't like to throw the L-word around; it's too good and rare a feeling to cheapen with overuse. You can live a good life without ever knowing real love, of the Corinthians variety,..
John Green (Turtles All the Way Down)
So what are you supposed to do? My friends, what I need you to do—just for starters—is not act. Not yet. Not first. First I need you to see. I need you to see the pains and possibilities of black life, its virtues and vices, its strengths and weaknesses, its yeses and nos. I need you to see how the cantankerous varieties of black identity have been distorted by seeing black folk collectively as the nigger. It is not a question of simply not saying nigger; you have to stop believing, no matter what, that black folk are niggers and all the term represents. Instead you must swim in the vast ocean of blackness and then realize you have been buoyed all along on its sustaining views of democracy.
Michael Eric Dyson (Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America)
As children get older, this incidental outdoor activity--say, while waiting to be called to eat--becomes less bumptious, physically and entails more loitering with others, sizing people up, flirting, talking, pushing, shoving and horseplay. Adolescents are always being criticized for this kind of loitering, but they can hardly grow up without it. The trouble comes when it is done not within society, but as a form of outlaw life. The requisite for any of these varieties of incidental play is not pretentious equipment of any sort, but rather space at an immediately convenient and interesting place. The play gets crowded out if sidewalks are too narrow relative to the total demands put on them. It is especially crowded out if the sidewalks also lack minor irregularities in building line. An immense amount of both loitering and play goes on in shallow sidewalk niches out of the line of moving pedestrian feet.
Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities)
Isn’t it weird?” he said, glancing up as I measured salt. “All the variety that life offers? Here we sit, me reading expressions of creativity.” He held up the poetry book, which to my dismay, was now worn and dog-eared. “And you doing scientific and magical calculations. We’re thinking, cerebral beings one minute . . . and the next, completely given over to physical acts of passion. How do we do that? Back and forth, mind and body? How can creatures like us go from extreme to extreme?
Richelle Mead (The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4))
The variety of shapes, colours and textures under her feet was, she believed, literally infinite. It must be. Each shell, each pebble, each stone had been made what it was by aeons of submarine or subglacial massage. The indiscriminate, eternal devotion of nature to its numberless particles had an emotional importance for Isserley; it put the unfairness of human life into perspective.
Michel Faber (Under the Skin)
I believe that God hears our prayers, and cherishes them. I believe He answers by sending us His spirit, giving us strenght, and peace, and insight. I don't think He responds by turning away bullets and curing cancer. Though sometimes that does happen." Harlene frowned. "In other words, sometimes, the answer is no?" "No. Sometimes the answer is "This is life, in all its variety. Make your way through it with grace, and never forget that I love you.
Julia Spencer-Fleming (In the Bleak Midwinter (The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #1))
No fact in human nature is more characteristic than its willingness to live on a chance. The existence of the chance makes the difference… between a life of which the keynote is resignation and a life of which the keynote is hope.
William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience)
Solitary though we may have become, we haven't of course given up all hope of forming relationships. In the lonely canyons of the modern city, there is no more honoured emotion than love. However, this is not the love of which religions speak, not the expansive, universal brotherhood of mankind; it is a more jealous, restricted and ultimately meaner variety. It is a romantic love which sends us on a maniacal quest for a single person with whom we hope to achieve a life-long and complete communion, one person in particular who will spare us any need for people in general.
Alain de Botton (Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion)
There is quite enough sorrow and shame and suffering and baseness in real life and there is no need for meeting it unnecessarily in fiction. As Police Commissioner it was my duty to deal with all kinds of squalid misery and hideous and unspeakable infamy, and I should have been worse than a coward if I had shrunk from doing what was necessary; but there would have been no use whatever in my reading novels detailing all this misery and squalor and crime, or at least in reading them as a steady thing. Now and then there is a powerful but sad story which really is interesting and which really does good; but normally the books which do good and the books which healthy people find interesting are those which are not in the least of the sugar-candy variety, but which, while portraying foulness and suffering when they must be portrayed, yet have a joyous as well as a noble side.
Theodore Roosevelt (Theodore Roosevelt's Letters to His Children)
By definition, of course, we believe the person with a stigma is not quite human. On this assumption we exercise varieties of discrimination, through which we effectively, if often unthinkingly, reduce his life chances. We construct a stigma-theory, an ideology to explain his inferiority and account for the danger he represents, sometimes rationalizing an animosity based on other differences, such as those of social class.
Erving Goffman (Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity)
In our consumer culture, we always want the next best thing: the latest, the newest, the youngest. Failing that, we at least want more: more intensity, more variety, more stimulation. We seek instant gratification and are increasingly intolerant of any frustration. Nowhere are we encouraged to be satisfied with what we have, to think, "this is good. This is enough.
Esther Perel (Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic)
In the variety of the tone of her words, moods, hugs, kisses, brushes of the lips, and this night the upside-down kiss over the back of the chair with her dark eyes heavy hanging and her blushing cheeks full of sweet blood and sudden tenderness brooding like a hawk over the boy over the back, holding the chair on both sides, just an instant, the startling sudden sweet fall of her hair over my face and the soft downward brush of her lips, a moment's penetration of sweet lip flesh, a moment's drowned in thinking and kissing in it and praying and hoping and in the mouth of life when life is young to burn cool skin eye-blinking joy - I held her captured upside down, also for just a second, and savored the kiss which first had surprised me like a blind man's bluff so I didn't know really who was kissing me for the very first instant but now I knew and knew everything more than ever, as, grace-wise, she descended to me from the upper dark where I'd thought only cold could be and with all her heavy lips and breast in my neck and on my head and sudden fragrance of the night brought with her from the porch, of some 5 & 10 cheap perfumes of herself the little hungry scent of perspiration warm in her flesh like presciousness.
Jack Kerouac (Maggie Cassidy)
If you have to be told how you should feel then those feelings are not strong enough to make you feel alive; they become rules that don’t fit your life script. Not every person will place the same importance as you do on one of the six human needs: certainty, variety, significance, connection/love, growth or contributions. When you know what is most important for yourself and learn to recognize what need is the most important to others, then you can begin to unlock the real reason behind conflict.
Shannon L. Alder
The bottle of whiskey--a second one--was now in constant demand by all present, excepting Catherine who 'felt just as good on nothing at all.' Tom rang for the janitor and sent him for some celebrated sandwiches, which were a complete supper in themselves. I wanted to get out and walk eastward toward the park through the soft twilight but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair. Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
The loneliness I endured during that time of my life is something I hope never to experience again. It's more than just the feeling of being isolated. I was disconnected mentally, physically and emotionally from the entire human race, it seemed; I didn't even feel part of it. I was a subspecies of the people who walked the streets and went about their daily lives. I was not part of the world they'd built and lived in. I was like a half-formed variety of what they were; a critter that was intended to be like them but was never finished. I was unworthy of the space I took up in that world and the lies I showcased in order to fit in.
Leanne Waters (My Secret Life)
Life is arduous without any breaks, like a long journey without any inns. Learned variety makes it pleasant. Spend the first part of a fine life in communication with the dead. We are born to know and to know ourselves, and books reliably turn us into people. Spend the second part with the living: see and examine all that's good in the world. Not everything can be found in one country; the universal Father has shared out his gifts and sometimes endows the ugliest with the most. Let the third stage be spent entirely with yourself: the ultimate happiness, to philosophize.
Baltasar Gracián (How to Use Your Enemies)
Son, life is like a book. It has numerous chapters. It also has many a lesson in it. It is made up of a wide variety of experiences and resembles a pendulum where success and failure, joy and sorrow are merely extremes of the central reality. The lessons to be learnt from success and failure are equally important. More often than not, failure and sorrow are bigger teachers than success and happiness.
Sachin Tendulkar (Playing It My Way: My Autobiography)
Anybody may blame me who likes, when I add further, that, now and then, when I took a walk by myself in the grounds; when I went down to the gates and looked through them along the road; or when, while Adele played with her nurse, and Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the storeroom, I climbed the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and having reached the leads, looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line - that then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen - that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach.
Charlotte Brontë
A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating. It doesn't matter what kind: the blooded Atolla with its flashing siren lights, the frilly flower hat variety, or the near-transparent moon jelly, Aurelia aurita. It's their pulse, the way they contract swiftly, than release. Like a ghost heart-- a heart you can see right through, right into some other world where everything you ever lost as gone to hide. Jellyfish don't even have hearts, of course-- no heart, no brain, no bone, no blood. But watch them for a while. You will see them beating.
Ali Benjamin (The Thing About Jellyfish)
S___ likes being around other people; she just isn't particularly comfortable talking to them. She supposes that she is some variety of voyeur, enjoying the spectacle, breathing in the atmosphere, while experiencing uneasiness when asked to become part of it. None of this makes her unhappy. The life of a wallflower, she often thinks, is not such a terrible life.
Whitney Otto (A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity)
most cherished desires of present-day Westerners are shaped by romantic, nationalist, capitalist and humanist myths that have been around for centuries. Friends giving advice often tell each other, ‘Follow your heart.’ But the heart is a double agent that usually takes its instructions from the dominant myths of the day, and the very recommendation to ‘follow your heart’ was implanted in our minds by a combination of nineteenth-century Romantic myths and twentieth-century consumerist myths. The Coca-Cola Company, for example, has marketed Diet Coke around the world under the slogan ‘Diet Coke. Do what feels good.’ Even what people take to be their most personal desires are usually programmed by the imagined order. Let’s consider, for example, the popular desire to take a holiday abroad. There is nothing natural or obvious about this. A chimpanzee alpha male would never think of using his power in order to go on holiday into the territory of a neighbouring chimpanzee band. The elite of ancient Egypt spent their fortunes building pyramids and having their corpses mummified, but none of them thought of going shopping in Babylon or taking a skiing holiday in Phoenicia. People today spend a great deal of money on holidays abroad because they are true believers in the myths of romantic consumerism. Romanticism tells us that in order to make the most of our human potential we must have as many different experiences as we can. We must open ourselves to a wide spectrum of emotions; we must sample various kinds of relationships; we must try different cuisines; we must learn to appreciate different styles of music. One of the best ways to do all that is to break free from our daily routine, leave behind our familiar setting, and go travelling in distant lands, where we can ‘experience’ the culture, the smells, the tastes and the norms of other people. We hear again and again the romantic myths about ‘how a new experience opened my eyes and changed my life’. Consumerism tells us that in order to be happy we must consume as many products and services as possible. If we feel that something is missing or not quite right, then we probably need to buy a product (a car, new clothes, organic food) or a service (housekeeping, relationship therapy, yoga classes). Every television commercial is another little legend about how consuming some product or service will make life better. 18. The Great Pyramid of Giza. The kind of thing rich people in ancient Egypt did with their money. Romanticism, which encourages variety, meshes perfectly with consumerism. Their marriage has given birth to the infinite ‘market of experiences’, on which the modern tourism industry is founded. The tourism industry does not sell flight tickets and hotel bedrooms. It sells experiences. Paris is not a city, nor India a country – they are both experiences, the consumption of which is supposed to widen our horizons, fulfil our human potential, and make us happier. Consequently, when the relationship between a millionaire and his wife is going through a rocky patch, he takes her on an expensive trip to Paris. The trip is not a reflection of some independent desire, but rather of an ardent belief in the myths of romantic consumerism. A wealthy man in ancient Egypt would never have dreamed of solving a relationship crisis by taking his wife on holiday to Babylon. Instead, he might have built for her the sumptuous tomb she had always wanted. Like the elite of ancient Egypt, most people in most cultures dedicate their lives to building pyramids. Only the names, shapes and sizes of these pyramids change from one culture to the other. They may take the form, for example, of a suburban cottage with a swimming pool and an evergreen lawn, or a gleaming penthouse with an enviable view. Few question the myths that cause us to desire the pyramid in the first place.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Such is the nature of an expatriate life. Stripped of romance, perhaps that's what being an expat is all about: a sense of not wholly belonging. [...] The insider-outsider dichotomy gives life a degree of tension. Not of a needling, negative variety but rather a keep-on-your-toes sort of tension that can plunge or peak with sudden rushes of love or anger. Learning to recognise and interpret cultural behaviour is a vital step forward for expats anywhere, but it doesn't mean that you grow to appreciate all the differences.
Sarah Turnbull (Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris)
What was happening to them was that every bad time produced a bad feeling that in turn produced several more bad times and several more bad feelings, so that their life together became crowded with bad times and bad feelings, so crowded that almost nothing else could grow in that dark field. But then she had a feeling of peace one morning that lingered from the evening before spent sewing while he sat reading in the next room. And a day or two later, she had a feeling of contentment that lingered in the morning from the evening before when he kept her company in the kitchen while she washed the dinner dishes. If the good times increased, she thought, each good time might produce a good feeling that would in turn produce several more good times that would produce several more good feelings. What she meant was that the good times might multiply perhaps as rapidly as the square of the square, or perhaps more rapidly, like mice, or like mushrooms springing up overnight from the scattered spore of a parent mushroom which in turn had sprung up overnight with a crowd of others from the scattered spore of a parent, until her life with him with be so crowded with good times that the good times might crowd out the bad as the bad times had by now almost crowded out the good.
Lydia Davis (Varieties of Disturbance)
The salesgirl, the landlord, the guests, the bystanders, sixteen varieties of social circumstance in a day. Everyone has the power to call your whole life into question here. Too many people have access to your state of mind. Some people are indifferent to dislike, even relish it. Hardly anyone I know.
Renata Adler (Speedboat)
One could not but play for a moment with the thought of what might have happened if Charlotte Brontë had possessed say three hundred a year — but the foolish woman sold the copyright of her novels outright for fifteen hundred pounds; had somehow possessed more knowledge of the busy world, and towns and regions full of life; more practical experience, and intercourse with her kind and acquaintance with a variety of character. In those words she puts her finger exactly not only upon her own defects as a novelist but upon those of her sex. at that time. She knew, no one better, how enormously her genius would have profited if it had not spent itself in solitary visions over distant fields; if experience and intercourse and travel had been granted her. But they were not granted; they were withheld; and we must accept the fact that all those good novels, VILLETTE, EMMA, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, MIDDLEMARCH, were written by women without more experience of life than could enter the house of a respectable clergyman; written too in the common sitting-room of that respectable house and by women so poor that they could not afford to, buy more than a few quires of paper at a time upon which to write WUTHERING HEIGHTS or JANE EYRE.
Virginia Woolf (A Room of One's Own)
It is awful to contemplate this sort of life, in which one would always be forced into motion by a variety of mysterious and powerful forces, never staying anywhere for long, never finding a safe place one could call home, never able to turn the tables for very long, just as the Baudelaire orphans found it awful to contemplate their own lives [...] just when it seemed they might break out of the tedious cycle of unfortunate events in which they found themselves trapped.
Lemony Snicket (The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #11))
I probably won’t play a song the same way tomorrow as I play it today. Only a pitchman says the same thing the same way twice, without varying a word. If music is a language, why don’t people use it with the same subtlety, nuance, and facility as they do the spoken language? Probably because they don’t verbalize with the same vocabulary and tone they once did. It has been said that a people’s character is reflected in their music. Our culture is a perfect example. If people here walk around using one-syllable words with no color, no variety, no shading, how can we expect our musical language to be any different? It’s like the emperor’s new clothes – sure they can sit and make wild noises on their synthesizers and call it music – who questions? But ask them to pull up a chair and play ‘Gal in Calico’ or Temptation,’ or even a straight dramatic version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and they can’t do it. They’re too pretentious. They can’t just play songs.
Anton Szandor LaVey (The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey)
The Cosmic Director has written His own plays, and assembled the tremendous casts for the pageant of the centuries. From the dark booth of eternity, He pours His creative beam through the films of successive ages, and the pictures are thrown on the screen of space. Just as the motion-picture images appear to be real, but are only combinations of light and shade, so is the universal variety a delusive seeming. The planetary spheres, with their countless forms of life, are naught but figures in a cosmic motion picture, temporarily true to five sense perceptions as the scenes are cast on the screen of man’s consciousness by the infinite creative beam.
Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi)
You think your past defines you, and worse, you think that it is an unchangeable reality, when really, your perception of it changes as you do. Because experience is always multi-dimensional, there are a variety of memories, experiences, feelings, “gists” you can choose to recall…and what you choose is indicative of your present state of mind. So many people get caught up in allowing the past to define them or haunt them simply because they have not evolved to the place of seeing how the past did not prevent them from achieving the life they want, it facilitated it. This doesn’t mean to disregard or gloss over painful or traumatic events, but simply to be able to recall them with acceptance and to be able to place them in the storyline of your personal evolution.
Brianna Wiest (101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think)
White America” is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies. Sometimes this power is direct (lynching), and sometimes it is insidious (redlining). But however it appears, the power of domination and exclusion is central to the belief in being white, and without it, “white people” would cease to exist for want of reasons. There will surely always be people with straight hair and blue eyes, as there have been for all history. But some of these straight-haired people with blue eyes have been “black,” and this points to the great difference between their world and ours. We did not choose our fences. They were imposed on us by Virginia planters obsessed with enslaving as many Americans as possible. They are the ones who came up with a one-drop rule that separated the “white” from the “black,” even if it meant that their own blue-eyed sons would live under the lash. The result is a people, black people, who embody all physical varieties and whose life stories mirror this physical range. Through The Mecca I saw that we were, in our own segregated body politic, cosmopolitans. The black diaspora was not just our own world but, in so many ways, the Western world itself.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
You have a consistent character yourself and you wish all the facts of life to be consistent, but they never are. For instance you despise public service because you want work always to correspond to its aims, and that never happens. You also want the activity of each separate man to have an aim, and love and family life always to coincide––and that doesn't happen either. All the variety, charm and beauty of life are made up of light and shade.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
There is nothing novel about trying to become happy. And one can become happy, within certain limits, without any recourse to the practice of meditation. But conventional sources of happiness are unreliable, being dependent upon changing conditions. It is difficult to raise a happy family, to keep yourself and those you love healthy, to acquire wealth and find creative and fulfilling ways to enjoy it, to form deep friendships, to contribute to society in ways that are emotionally rewarding, to perfect a wide variety of artistic, athletic, and intellectual skills—and to keep the machinery of happiness running day after day. There is nothing wrong with being fulfilled in all these ways—except for the fact that, if you pay close attention, you will see that there is still something wrong with it. These forms of happiness aren’t good enough. Our feelings of fulfillment do not last. And the stress of life continues.
Sam Harris (Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion)
Kuan Yin Speaks on Reincarnation: “Beliefs are so powerful that they can create expansive or entrapping lifetimes over and over…Another life offers another opportunity, a chance to switch flavors so to speak. Taking oneself too personally, however, can cause a soul to get caught up, stuck in redundancy: in a particular (and perhaps unfortunate) flavor. In such instances, the individual is forgetting one has the ability to choose from a variety of flavors, lives!
Hope Bradford (Oracle of Compassion: The Living Word of Kuan Yin)
Even if you believe the Genesis record of creation you’ll see that God did not create a black and white world of male and female. Creation is not black and white, it is amazingly diverse, like a rainbow, including sexualities and a variety of non-heterosexual expressions of behaviour, affection and partnering occurring in most species, including humans. The ability to reproduce is only a small part of the creation. Before God created male and female he made an even more important statement; ‘it is not good for mankind to be alone’. This is fundamental to all heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Lasting relationships are based on love, trust and commitment, not sex or reproduction. So stop with the ‘God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve’ quote already. It’s boring and an insult to the creator of this incredible universe.
Anthony Venn-Brown OAM (A Life of Unlearning - a journey to find the truth)
And here, after all that, is what I have come to believe about beauty: Laughter is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. Cellulite is beautiful. Softness and plumpness and roundness are beautiful. It’s more important to be interesting, to be vivid, and to be adventurous than to sit pretty for pictures. The soft tummy of a woman is a miracle of nature. Beauty comes from tenderness. Beauty comes from variety, from specificity, from the fact that no person in the world looks exactly like anyone else. Beauty comes from the tragedy that each person’s life is destined to be lost to time. I believe women are too hard on themselves. I believe that when you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you. I believe the eyes see everything through the heart, that nothing in the world feels as good as resting them on someone you love. I have trained my eyes to look for beauty, and I’ve gotten very good at finding it. You can argue and tell me it’s not true, but I really don’t care what anyone says. I have come at last to believe in the title of the book: Everyone Is Beautiful.
Katherine Center (Everyone is Beautiful)
Mrs. Fisher had never cared for macaroni, especially not this long, worm-shaped variety. She found it difficult to eat--slippery, wriggling off her fork, making her look, she felt, undignified when, having got it as she supposed into her mouth, ends of it yet hung out. Always, too, when she ate it she was reminded of Mr. Fisher. He had during their married life behaved very much like macaroni. He had slipped, he had wriggled, he had made her feel undignified, and when at last she had got him safe, as she thought, there had invariably been little bits of him that still, as it were, hung out.
Elizabeth von Arnim (The Enchanted April)
Why isn’t righteous anger ever listed among the things that a Spirit-filled life will bring us? If it’s righteous, why is it not akin to the “fruit of the Spirit,” like love, joy, peace, and gentleness? Why is anger in Scripture so consistently lumped in the other lists, with things like, say, slander and malice, with no exclusions for the “righteous” variety? (See, for example, Colossians 3:8.)
Brant Hansen (Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better)
I wish you well, explorer, but I wonder: Does the same fate that befell me await you? I can only imagine that it must, that the tendency toward equilibrium is not a trait peculiar to our universe but inherent in all universes. Perhaps that is just a limitation of my thinking, and your people have discovered a source of pressure that is truly eternal. But my speculations are fanciful enough already. I will assume that one day your thoughts too will cease, although I cannot fathom how far in the future that might be. Your lives will end just as ours did, just as everyone’s must. No matter how long it takes, eventually equilibrium will be reached. I hope you are not saddened by that awareness. I hope that your expedition was more than a search for other universes to use as reservoirs. I hope that you were motivated by a desire for knowledge, a yearning to see what can arise from a universe’s exhalation. Because even if a universe’s life span is calculable, the variety of life that is generated within it is not. The buildings we have erected, the art and music and verse we have composed, the very lives we’ve led: none of them could have been predicted, because none of them was inevitable. Our universe might have slid into equilibrium emitting nothing more than a quiet hiss. The fact that it spawned such plenitude is a miracle, one that is matched only by your universe giving rise to you.
Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
Now, your skill as a speaker can manifest itself in a variety of ways. You might simply have encyclopedic knowledge about many topics. Or you might be intelligent, able to deduce new facts and explanations on the fly. Or you might have sharp eyes and ears, able to notice things that other people miss. Or you might be plugged into valuable sources of information, always on top of the latest news, gossip, and trends. But listeners may not particularly care how you’re able to impress, as long as you’re consistently able to do so. If you’re a reliable source of new information, you’re likely to make a good teammate, especially as the team faces unforeseeable situations in the future. In other words, listeners care less about the tools you share with them; they’re really salivating over your backpack.
Kevin Simler (The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life)
If we dreamed the same thing every night, it would affect us as much as the objects we see every day. And if an artisan was sure of dreaming for twelve hours every night that he was king, I believe he would be almost as happy as a king who dreamed for twelve hours every night that he was an artisan. ...But because dreams are all different, and there is a variety even within each one, what we see in them affects us much less than what we see when we are awake, because of the continuity. This, however, is not so continuous and even that it does not change too, though less abruptly, except on rare occasions, as on a journey, when we say: 'It seems like a dream.' For life is a dream, but somewhat less changeable.
Blaise Pascal (Pensées)
For why in your calamities do you complain of Christianity, unless because you desire to enjoy your luxurious license unrestrained, and to lead an abandoned and profligate life without the interruption of any uneasiness or disaster? For certainly your desire for peace, and prosperity, and plenty is not prompted by any purpose of using these blessings honestly, that is to say, with moderation, sobriety, temperance, and piety; for your purpose rather is to run riot in an endless variety of sottish pleasures, and thus to generate from your prosperity a moral pestilence which will prove a thousandfold more disastrous than the fiercest enemies.
Augustine of Hippo
In education, we need to begin paying attention to matters routinely ignored. We spend long hours trying to teach a variety of courses on, say, the structure of government or the structure of the amoeba. But how much effort goes into studying the structure of everyday life — the way time is allocated, the personal uses of money, the places to go for help in a society exploding with complexity? We take for granted that young people already know their way around our social structure. In fact, most have only the dimmest image of the way the world of work or business is organized. Most students have no conception of the architecture of their own city's economy, or the way the local bureaucracy operates, or the place to go to lodge a complaint against a merchant. Most do not even understand how their own schools — even universities — are structured, let alone how much structures are changing under the impact of the Third Wave.
Alvin Toffler (The Third Wave)
There are six canons of conservative thought: 1) Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. A narrow rationality, what Coleridge called the Understanding, cannot of itself satisfy human needs. "Every Tory is a realist," says Keith Feiling: "he knows that there are great forces in heaven and earth that man's philosophy cannot plumb or fathom." True politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which ought to prevail in a community of souls. 2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems; conservatives resist what Robert Graves calls "Logicalism" in society. This prejudice has been called "the conservatism of enjoyment"--a sense that life is worth living, according to Walter Bagehot "the proper source of an animated Conservatism." 3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a "classless society." With reason, conservatives have been called "the party of order." If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum. Ultimate equality in the judgment of God, and equality before courts of law, are recognized by conservatives; but equality of condition, they think, means equality in servitude and boredom. 4) Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Economic levelling, they maintain, is not economic progress. 5) Faith in prescription and distrust of "sophisters, calculators, and economists" who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs. Custom, convention, and old prescription are checks both upon man's anarchic impulse and upon the innovator's lust for power. 6) Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress. Society must alter, for prudent change is the means of social preservation; but a statesman must take Providence into his calculations, and a statesman's chief virtue, according to Plato and Burke, is prudence.
Russell Kirk (The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot)
You’re not behind in life. There’s no schedule or timetable that we all must follow. It’s all made up. Wherever you are right now is exactly where you need to be. Seven billion people can’t do everything in exactly the same scheduled order. We are all different with a variety of needs and goals. Some get married early, some get married late, while others don’t get married at all. What is early? What is late? Compared with whom? Compared with what? Some want children, others don’t. Some want a career; others enjoy taking care of a house and children. Your life is not on anyone else’s schedule. Don’t beat yourself up for where you are right now. It’s YOUR timeline, not anyone else’s, and nothing is off schedule.
Emily Maroutian (The Book of Relief: Passages and Exercises to Relieve Negative Emotion and Create More Ease in The Body)
The Internet is a beautiful thing and you sent a tweet an hour after we met that day: I smell cheeseburgers. #CornerBistroIsMakingMeFat And let me tell you, for a moment there, I was concerned. Maybe I wasn’t special. You didn’t even mention me, our conversation. Also: I talk to strangers is a line in your Twitter bio. I talk to strangers. What the fuck is that, Beck? Children are not supposed to talk to strangers but you are an adult. Or is our conversation nothing to you? Am I just another stranger? Is your Twitter bio your subtle way of announcing that you’re an attention whore who has no standards and will give audience to any poor schmuck who says hello? Was I nothing to you? You don’t even mention the guy in the bookstore? Fuck, I thought, maybe I was wrong. Maybe we had nothing. But then I started to explore you and you don’t write about what really matters. You wouldn’t share me with your followers. Your online life is a variety show, so if anything, the fact that you didn’t put me in your stand-up act means that you covet me. Maybe even more than I realize...
Caroline Kepnes (You (You, #1))
How many understand that Nature is the essencial character of whatever is. It's something you'll find by looking not at, but in, always in. It's always inside the thing, and it makes the outside. And some day, when you get sufficiently proficient in understanding the use of the term, you can tell by the outside pretty much from what's inside. [...] But everything that's ever going to be of use to you in architecture or in life or anywhere you go or whatever you do is going to be Nature, in some of its immensely varied forms. So varied that there's no end to the variety imaginable. "Nature" September 7, 1958
Frank Lloyd Wright
Bad horror stories concern themselves with six ways to kill a vampire, and graphic accounts of how the rats ate Billy's genitalia. Good horror stories are about larger things. About hope and despair. About love and hatred, lust and jealousy. About friendship and adolescence and sexuality and rage, loneliness and alienation and psychosis, courage and cowardice, the human mind and body and spirit under stress and in agony, the human heart in unending conflict with itself. Good horror stories make us look at our reflections in dark distorting mirrors, where we glimpse things that disturb us, things that we did not really want to look at. Horror looks into the shadows of the human soul, at the fears and rages that live within us all. But darkness is meaningless without light, and horror is pointless without beauty. The best horror stories are stories first and horror second, and however much they scare us, they do more than that as well. They have room in them for laughter as well as screams, for triumph and tenderness as well as tragedy. They concern themselves not simply with fear, but with life in all its infinite variety, with love and death and birth and hope and lust and transcendence, with the whole range of experiences and emotions that make up the human condition. Their characters are people, people who linger in our imagination, people like those around us, people who do not exist solely to be the objects of violent slaughter in chapter four. The best horror stories tell us truths.
George R.R. Martin (Dreamsongs, Volume I)
Having been exposed to a variety of religious experiences in the foster homes I lived in, being Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or anything else means absolutely nothing to me. I have already formed an opinion that the so-called religious teachings that I’ve been exposed to simply make no sense. So, I’ve just ignored the Sunday-school message of fear and judgment and paid no attention to any of it. I see no need for all of this craziness in my life, and long ago decided not to participate in it because every time I was required to go to church I ended up feeling worse for the experience—and I want, more than anything, to feel good.
Wayne W. Dyer (I Can See Clearly Now)
I was near-delirious. Gazing up at the pillared skyline, I knew that I was surveying a tremendous work of man. Buying myself a drink in the smaller warrens below, in all their ethnic variety (and willingness to keep odd and late hours, and provide plentiful ice cubes, and free matchbooks in contrast to English parsimony in these matters), I felt the same thing in a different way. The balance between the macro and the micro, the heroic scale and the human scale, has never since ceased to fascinate and charm me. Evelyn Waugh was in error when he said that in New York there was a neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistook for energy. There was, rather, a tensile excitement in that air which made one think—made me think for many years—that time spent asleep in New York was somehow time wasted. Whether this thought has lengthened or shortened my life I shall never know, but it has certainly colored it.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
The kinds of purchases surveyed in the news generally sit well beyond necessity. In acquiring them, what we are after is rarely solely or even chiefly just material satisfaction; we are also guided by a deeper, often unconscious desire for some form of psychological transformation. We don't only want to own things; we want to be changed through our ownership of them. Once we examine consumer behaviour with sufficient attention and generosity, it becomes clear that we aren't indelibly materialistic at all. What makes our age distinctive is our ambition to try to accomplish a variety of complex psychological goals via the acquisition of material goods.
Alain de Botton (The News: A User's Manual)
[…] I began to see Algiers as one of the most fascinating and dramatic places on earth. In the small space of this beautiful but congested city intersected two great conflicts of the contemporary world. The first was the one between Christianity and Islam (expressed here in the clash between colonizing France and colonized Algeria). The second, which acquired a sharpness of focus immediately after the independence and departure of the French, was a conflict at the very heart of Islam, between its open, dialectical — I would even say “Mediterranean” — current and its other, inward-looking one, born of a sense of uncertainty and confusion vis-à-vis the contemporary world, guided by fundamentalists who take advantage of modern technology and organizational principles yet at the same time deem the defense of faith and custom against modernity as the condition of their own existence, their sole identity. […] In Algiers one speaks simply of the existence of two varieties of Islam — one, which is called the Islam of the desert, and a second, which is defined as the Islam of the river (or of the sea). The first is the religion practiced by warlike nomadic tribes struggling to survive in one of the world's most hostile environments, the Sahara. The second Islam is the faith of merchants, itinerant peddlers, people of the road and of the bazaar, for whom openness, compromise, and exchange are not only beneficial to trade, but necessary to life itself.
Ryszard Kapuściński (Travels with Herodotus)
Thinking back, ladies, looking back, gentlemen, thinking and looking back on my European tour, I feel a heavy sadness descend upon me. Of course, it is partly nostalgia, looking back at that younger me, bustling around Europe, having adventures and overcoming obstacles that, at the time, seemed so overwhelming, but now seem like just the building blocks of a harmless story. But here is the truth of nostalgia: we don’t feel it for who we were, but who we weren’t. We feel it for all the possibilities that were open to us, but that we didn’t take. Time is like wax, dripping from a candle flame. In the moment, it is molten and falling, with the capability to transform into any shape. Then the moment passes, and the wax hits the table top and solidifies into the shape it will always be. It becomes the past, a solid single record of what happened, still holding in its wild curves and contours the potential of every shape it could have held. It is impossible - no matter how blessed you are by luck or the government or some remote, invisible deity gently steering your life with hands made of moonlight and wind - it is impossible not to feel a little sad, looking at that bit of wax. That bit of the past. It is impossible not to think of all the wild forms that wax now will never take. The village, glimpsed from a train window, beautiful and impossible and impossibly beautiful on a mountaintop, and you wonder what it would be if you stepped off the train and walked up the trail to its quiet streets and lived there for the rest of your life. The beautiful face of that young man from Luftknarp, with his gaping mouth and ashy skin, last seen already half-turned away as you boarded the bus, already turning towards a future without you in it, where this thing between you that seemed so possible now already and forever never was. All variety of lost opportunity spied from the windows of public transportation, really. It can be overwhelming, this splattered, inert wax recording every turn not taken. ‘What’s the point?’ you ask. ’Why bother?’ you say. ’Oh, Cecil,’ you cry. ’Oh, Cecil.’ But then you remember - I remember! - that we are even now in another bit of molten wax. We are in a moment that is still falling, still volatile, and we will never be anywhere else. We will always be in that most dangerous, most exciting, most possible time of all: the Now. Where we never can know what shape the next moment will take. Stay tuned next for, well, let’s just find out together, shall we?
Cecil Baldwin
Our world is falling apart quietly. Human civilization has reduced the plant, a four-million-year-old life form, into three things: food, medicine, and wood. In our relentless and ever-intensifying obsession with obtaining a higher volume, potency, and variety of these three things, we have devastated plant ecology to an extent that millions of years of natural disaster could not. Roads have grow like a manic fungus and the endless miles of ditches that bracket these roads serve as hasty graves for perhaps millions of plant species extinguished in the name of progress. Planet Earth is nearly a Dr. Seuss book made real: every year since 1990 we have created more than eight billion new stumps. If we continue to fell healthy trees at this rate, less then six hundred years from now, every tree on the planet will have been reduced to a stump. My job is about making sure there will be some evidence that someone cared about the great tragedy that unfolded during our age.
Hope Jahren (Lab Girl)
Whatever variety evolution brings forth... Every new dimension of world-response...means another modality for God's trying out his hidden essence and discovering himself through the surprises of world-adventure...the heightening pitch and passion of life that go with the twin rise of perception and motility in animals. The ever more sharpened keenness of appetite and fear, pleasure and pain, triumph and anguish, love and even cruelty - their very edge is the deity's gain. Their countless, yet never blunted incidence - hence the necessity of death and new birth - supplies the tempered essence from which the Godhead reconstitutes itself. All this, evolution provides in the mere lavishness of its play and sternness of its spur. Its creatures, by merely fulfilling themselves in pursuit of their lives, vindicate the divine venture. Even their suffering deepens the fullness of the symphony. Thus, this side of good and evil, God cannot lose in the great evolutionary game.
Hans Jonas
If you have to maintain self-esteem by pulling down the standing of others, you are extraordinarily unfortunate in a variety of ways. Since you have to protect your feeling of personal worth by noting how unworthy everybody around you is, you are not provided with any data that are convincing evidence of your having personal worth; so it gradually evolves into 'I am not as bad as the other swine.' To be the best of swine, when it would be nice to be a person, is not a particularly good way of furthering anything except security operations. When security is achieved that way, it strikes at the very roots of that which is essentially human -- the utterly vital role of interpersonal relations.' from The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry
Helen Swick Perry (Psychiatrist of America: The Life of Henry Stack Sullivan)
What has most disturbed Carroll Quigley is the deterioration that has occurred in college education. While universities have produced an ever increasing number of specialists, technicians, scholars, and researchers in a wide variety of fields, institutions of higher education have been affected by a philosophical myopia. This has caused a serious erosion of the highest ideals associated with intellectual pursuits and professionalism. Throughout his life, Dr. Quigley has fought against this trend. A chair in Carroll Quigley’s name will stand for quality education for as long as it is endowed.
Carroll Quigley (Carroll Quigley: Life, Lectures and Collected Writings)
If we ask ourselves what is this wisdom which experience forces upon us, the answer must be that we discover the world is not constituted as we had supposed it to be. It is not that we learn more about its physical elements, or its geography, or the variety of its inhabitants, or the ways in which human society is governed. Knowledge of this sort can be taught to a child without in any way disturbing his childishness. In fact, all of us are aware that we once knew a great many things which we have since forgotten. The essential discovery of maturity has little if anything to do with information about the names, the locations, and the sequence of facts; it is the acquiring of a different sense of life, a different kind of intuition about the nature of things.
Walter Lippmann
…that then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen: that then I desired more of practical experience than I possess; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach. I valued…; but I believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness, and what I believed I wished to behold. Who blamed me? Many no doubt; and I shall be called discontented. I could not help it: the restless was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
Oh, those lapses, darling. So many of us walk around letting fly with “errors.” We could do better, but we’re so slovenly, so rushed amid the hurly-burly of modern life, so imprinted by the “let it all hang out” ethos of the sixties, that we don’t bother to observe the “rules” of “correct” grammar. To a linguist, if I may share, these “rules” occupy the exact same place as the notion of astrology, alchemy, and medicine being based on the four humors. The “rules” make no logical sense in terms of the history of our language, or what languages around the world are like. Nota bene: linguists savor articulateness in speech and fine composition in writing as much as anyone else. Our position is not—I repeat, not—that we should chuck standards of graceful composition. All of us are agreed that there is usefulness in a standard variety of a language, whose artful and effective usage requires tutelage. No argument there. The argument is about what constitutes artful and effective usage. Quite a few notions that get around out there have nothing to do with grace or clarity, and are just based on misconceptions about how languages work. Yet, in my experience, to try to get these things across to laymen often results in the person’s verging on anger. There is a sense that these “rules” just must be right, and that linguists’ purported expertise on language must be somehow flawed on this score. We are, it is said, permissive—perhaps along the lines of the notorious leftist tilt among academics, or maybe as an outgrowth of the roots of linguistics in anthropology, which teaches that all cultures are equal. In any case, we are wrong. Maybe we have a point here and there, but only that.
John McWhorter (Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English)
Among us English-speaking peoples especially do the praises of poverty need once more to be boldly sung. We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise any one who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition. We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient idealization of poverty could have meant: the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference, the paying our way by what we are or do and not by what we have, the right to fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly—the more athletic trim, in short, the moral fighting shape. When we of the so-called better classes are scared as men were never scared in history at material ugliness and hardship; when we put off marriage until our house can be artistic, and quake at the thought of having a child without a bank-account and doomed to manual labor, it is time for thinking men to protest against so unmanly and irreligious a state of opinion. It is true that so far as wealth gives time for ideal ends and exercise to ideal energies, wealth is better than poverty and ought to be chosen. But wealth does this in only a portion of the actual cases. Elsewhere the desire to gain wealth and the fear to lose it are our chief breeders of cowardice and propagators of corruption. There are thousands of conjunctures in which a wealth-bound man must be a slave, whilst a man for whom poverty has no terrors becomes a freeman. Think of the strength which personal indifference to poverty would give us if we were devoted to unpopular causes. We need no longer hold our tongues or fear to vote the revolutionary or reformatory ticket. Our stocks might fall, our hopes of promotion vanish, our salaries stop, our club doors close in our faces; yet, while we lived, we would imperturbably bear witness to the spirit, and our example would help to set free our generation. The cause would need its funds, but we its servants would be potent in proportion as we personally were contented with our poverty. I recommend this matter to your serious pondering, for it is certain that the prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.
William James (Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature)
The difference between men is in their principle of association. Some men classify objects by color and size and other accidents of appearance; others by intrinsic likeness, or by the relation of cause and effect. The progress of the intellect is to the clearer vision of causes, which neglects surface differences. To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine. For the eye is fastened on the life, and slights the circumstance. Every chemical substance, every plant, every animal in its growth, teaches the unity of cause, the variety of appearance.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (Self-Reliance and Other Essays)
We aren’t born with a ready-made conscience. As we pass through life, we hurt people and people hurt us, we act compassionately and others show compassion to us. If we pay attention, our moral sensitivity sharpens, and these experiences become a source of valuable ethical knowledge about what is good, what is right and who I really am. Humanism thus sees life as a gradual process of inner change, leading from ignorance to enlightenment by means of experiences. The highest aim of humanist life is to fully develop your knowledge through a large variety of intellectual, emotional and physical experiences. In the early nineteenth century, Wilhelm von Humboldt – one of the chief architects of the modern education system – said that the aim of existence is ‘a distillation of the widest possible experience of life into wisdom’. He also wrote that ‘there is only one summit in life – to have taken the measure in feeling of everything human’. This could well be the humanist motto.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
Many conscientious environmentalists are repelled by the word "abundance," automatically associating it with irresponsible consumerism and plundering of Earth's resources. In the context of grassroots frustration, insensitive enthusing about the potential for energy abundance usually elicits an annoyed retort. "We have to conserve." The authors believe the human family also has to _choose_. The people we speak with at the recycling depot or organic juice bar are for the most part not looking at the _difference_ between harmony-with-nature technologies and exploitative practices such as mountaintop coal mining. "Destructive" was yesterday's technology of choice. As a result, the words "science and technology" are repugnant to many of the people who passionately care about health, peace, justice and the biosphere. Usually these acquaintances haven't heard about the variety of constructive yet powerful clean energy technologies that have the potential to gradually replace oil and nuclear industries if allowed. Wastewater-into-energy technologies could clean up waterways and other variations solve the problem of polluting feedlots and landfills.
Jeane Manning (Breakthrough Power: How Quantum-Leap New Energy Inventions Can Transform Our World)
Fat Charlie had had no real liking for the police, but until now, he had still managed to cling to a fundamental trust in the natural order of things, a conviction that there was some kind of power--a Victorian might have thought of it as Providence--that ensured that the guilty would be punished while the innocent would be set free. This faith had collapsed in the face of recent events and had been replaced by the suspicion that he would spend the rest of his life pleading his innocence to a variety of implacable judges and tormenters, many of whom would look like Daisy, and that he would in all probability wake up in cell six the next morning to find that he had been transformed into an enormous cockroach. He had definitely been transported to the kind of maleficent universe that transformed people into cockroaches.
Neil Gaiman (Anansi Boys (American Gods #2))
The earliest discovery of Pasteur, and for him the most exciting in all his life, was the asymmetry of molecules as a specific characteristic of living organisms-in other words, the fact that the molecules of living matter come in two varieties which, though chemically identical, are in their spatial structure like mirror images to each other-or like right and left gloves. 'Left-handed' molecules rotate polarized light to the left, 'right-handed' molecules to the right; life substances are thus 'optically active'. Why this should be so we still do not quite know; but it remains a challenging fact that 'no other chemical characteristic is as distinctive of living organisms as is optical activity'.
Arthur Koestler (The Act of Creation)
The only gain of civilisation for mankind is the greater capacity for variety of sensations--and absolutely nothing more. And through the development of this many-sidedness man may come to finding enjoyment in bloodshed. In fact, this has already happened to him. Have you noticed that it is the most civilised gentlemen who have been the subtlest slaughterers, to whom the Attilas and Stenka Razins could not hold a candle, and if they are not so conspicuous as the Attilas and Stenka Razins it is simply because they are so often met with, are so ordinary and have become so familiar to us. In any case civilisation has made mankind if not more bloodthirsty, at least more vilely, more loathsomely bloodthirsty. In old days he saw justice in bloodshed and with his conscience at peace exterminated those he thought proper. Now we do think bloodshed abominable and yet we engage in this abomination, and with more energy than ever. Which is worse? Decide that for yourselves. They say that Cleopatra (excuse an instance from Roman history) was fond of sticking gold pins into her slave-girls' breasts and derived gratification from their screams and writhings. You will say that that was in the comparatively barbarous times; that these are barbarous times too, because also, comparatively speaking, pins are stuck in even now; that though man has now learned to see more clearly than in barbarous ages, he is still far from having learnt to act as reason and science would dictate. But yet you are fully convinced that he will be sure to learn when he gets rid of certain old bad habits, and when common sense and science have completely re-educated human nature and turned it in a normal direction. You are confident that then man will cease from INTENTIONAL error and will, so to say, be compelled not to want to set his will against his normal interests. That is not all; then, you say, science itself will teach man (though to my mind it's a superfluous luxury) that he never has really had any caprice or will of his own, and that he himself is something of the nature of a piano-key or the stop of an organ, and that there are, besides, things called the laws of nature; so that everything he does is not done by his willing it, but is done of itself, by the laws of nature. Consequently we have only to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him. All human actions will then, of course, be tabulated according to these laws, mathematically, like tables of logarithms up to 108,000, and entered in an index; or, better still, there would be published certain edifying works of the nature of encyclopaedic lexicons, in which everything will be so clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more incidents or adventures in the world.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Notes from the Underground)
[...] if truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably. But hasn’t evolution helped guide animal and plant breeding? Not very much. Most improvement in crop plants and animals occurred long before we knew anything about evolution, and came about by people following the genetic principle of ‘like begets like’. Even now, as its practitioners admit, the field of quantitative genetics has been of little value in helping improve varieties. Future advances will almost certainly come from transgenics, which is not based on evolution at all. [review of The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life, Nature 442, 983-984 (31 August 2006)]
Jerry A. Coyne
Tom felt that it was time to wake up; this sort of life might be romantic enough, in his blighted condition, but it was getting to have too little sentiment and too much distracting variety about it. So he thought over various plans for relief, and finally hit pon that of professing to be fond of Pain-killer. He asked for it so often that he became a nuisance, and his aunt ended by telling him to help himself and quit bothering her. If it had been Sid, she would have had no misgivings to alloy her delight; but since it was Tom, she watched the bottle clandestinely. She found that the medicine did really diminish, but it did not occur to her that the boy was mending the health of a crack in the sitting-room floor with it. One day Tom was in the act of dosing the crack when his aunt's yellow cat came along, purring, eying the teaspoon avariciously, and begging for a taste. Tom said: "Don't ask for it unless you want it, Peter." But Peter signified that he did want it. "You better make sure." Peter was sure. "Now you've asked for it, and I'll give it to you, because there ain't anything mean about me; but if you find you don't like it, you mustn't blame anybody but your own self." Peter was agreeable. So Tom pried his mouth open and poured down the Pain-killer. Peter sprang a couple of yards in the air, and then delivered a war-whoop and set off round and round the room, banging against furniture, upsetting flower-pots, and making general havoc. Next he rose on his hind feet and pranced around, in a frenzy of enjoyment, with his head over his shoulder and his voice proclaiming his unappeasable happiness. Then he went tearing around the house again spreading chaos and destruction in his path. Aunt Polly entered in time to see him throw a few double summersets, deliver a final mighty hurrah, and sail through the open window, carrying the rest of the flower-pots with him. The old lady stood petrified with astonishment, peering over her glasses; Tom lay on the floor expiring with laughter.
Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
When one experiences a profound setback in the course of an enviable life, one has a variety of options. Spurred by shame, one may attempt to hide all evidence of the change in one’s circumstances. Thus, the merchant who gambles away his savings will hold on to his finer suits until they fray, and tell anecdotes from the halls of the private clubs where his membership has long since lapsed. In a state of self-pity, one may retreat from the world in which one has been blessed to live. Thus, the long-suffering husband, finally disgraced by his wife in society, may be the one who leaves his home in exchange for a small, dark apartment on the other side of town. Or, like the Count and Anna, one may simply join the Confederacy of the Humbled.
Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow)
Girls and women, in their new, particular unfolding, will only in passing imitate men's behavior and misbehavior and follow in male professions. Once the uncertainty of such transitions is over it will emerge that women have only passed through the spectrum and the variety of those (often laughable) disguises in order to purify their truest natures from the distorting influences of the other sex. Women, in whom life abides and dwells more immediately, more fruitfully and more trustingly, are bound to have ripened more thoroughly, become more human human beings, than a man, who is all too light and has not been pulled down beneath the surface of life by the weight of a bodily fruit and who, in his arrogance and impatience, undervalues what he thinks he loves. This humanity which inhabits woman, brought to term in pain and humiliation, will, once she has shrugged off the conventions of mere femininity through the transformations of her outward status, come clearly to light, and men, who today do not yet feel it approaching, will be taken by surprise and struck down by it. One day (there are already reliable signs which speak for it and which begin to spread their light, especially in the northern countries), one day there will be girls and women whose name will no longer just signify the opposite of the male but something in their own right, something which does not make one think of any supplement or limit but only of life and existence: the female human being. This step forward (at first right against the will of the men who are left behind) will transform the experience of love, which is now full of error, alter its root and branch, reshape it into a relation between two human beings and no longer between man and woman. And this more human form of love (which will be performed in infinitely gentle and considerate fashion, true and clear in its creating of bonds and dissolving of them) will resemble the one we are struggling and toiling to prepare the way for, the love that consists in two solitudes protecting, defining and welcoming one another.
Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)
The whole ground of human life seems to some to have been gone over by their predecessors, both the heights and the valleys, and all things to have been cared for. According to Evelyn, "the wise Solomon prescribed ordinances for the very distances of trees; and the Roman prætors have decided how often you may go into your neighbor's land to gather the acorns which fall on it without trespass, and what share belongs to that neighbor." Hippocrates has even left directions how we should cut our nails; that is, even with the ends of the fingers, neither shorter nor longer. Undoubtedly the very tedium and ennui which presume to have exhausted the variety and the joys of life are as old as Adam. But man's capacities have never been measured; nor are we to judge of what he can do by any precedents, so little has been tried. Whatever have been thy failures hitherto, "be not afflicted, my child, for who shall assign to thee what thou hast left undone?
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
The Student" “In America,” began the lecturer, “everyone must have a degree. The French do not think that all can have it, they don’t say everyone must go to college.” We incline to feel, here, that although it may be unnecessary to know fifteen languages. one degree is not too much. With us, a school—like the singing tree of which the leaves were mouths that sang in concert— is both a tree of knowledge and of liberty— seen in the unanimity of college mottoes, lux et veritas, Christo et ecclesiae, sapiet felici. It may be that we have not knowledge, just opinions, that we are undergraduates, not students; we know we have been told with smiles, by expatriates of whom we had asked, “When will your experiment be finished?” “Science is never finished.” Secluded from domestic strife, Jack Bookworm led a college life, says Goldsmith; and here also as in France or Oxford, study is beset with dangers—with bookworms, mildews, and complaisancies. But someone in New England has known enough to say that the student is patience personified, a variety of hero, “patient of neglect and of reproach,"—who can "hold by himself.” You can’t beat hens to make them lay. Wolf’s wool is the best of wool, but it cannot be sheared, because the wolf will not comply. With knowledge as with wolves’ surliness, the student studies voluntarily, refusing to be less than individual. He “gives him opinion and then rests upon it”; he renders service when there is no reward, and is too reclusive for some things to seem to touch him; not because he has no feeling but because he has so much.
Marianne Moore
If you tell a guy in the street you're hungry you scare the shit out of him, he runs like hell. That's something I never understood. I don't understand it yet. The whole thing is so simple - you just say Yes when some one comes up to you. And if you can't say Yes you can take him by the arm and ask some other bird to help you out. Why you have to don a uniform and kill men you don't know, just to get that crust of bread, is a mystery to me. That's what I think about, more than about whose trap it's going down or how much it costs. Why should I give a fuck about what anything costs ? I'm here to live, not to calculate. And that's just what the bastards don't want you to do - to live! They want you to spend your whole life adding up figures. That makes sense to them. That's reasonable. That's intelligent. If I were running the boat things wouldn't be so orderly perhaps, but it would be gayer, by Jesus! You wouldn't have to shit in your pants over trifles. Maybe there wouldn't be macadamized roads and streamlined cars and loudspeakers and gadgets of a million-billion varieties, maybe there wouldn't even be glass in the windows, maybe you'd have to sleep on the ground, maybe there wouldn't be French cooking and Italian cooking and Chinese cooking, maybe people would kill each other when their patience was exhausted and maybe nobody would stop them because there wouldn't be any jails or any cops or judges, and there certainly wouldn't be any cabinet ministers or legislatures because-there wouldn't be any goddamned laws to obey or disobey, and maybe it would take months and years to trek from place to place, but you wouldn't need a visa or a passport or a carte d'identite because you wouldn't be registered anywhere and you wouldn't bear a number and if you wanted to change your name every week you could do it because it wouldn't make any difference since you wouldn't own anything except what you could carry around with you and why would you want to own anything when everything would be free?
Henry Miller (Tropic of Capricorn (Tropic, #2))
Freedom as a given seems the very antithesis of death. While we dread death, we generally consider freedom to be unequivocally positive. Has not the history of Western civilization been punctuated with yearnings for freedom, even driven by it? Yet freedom from an existential perspective is bonded to anxiety in asserting that, contrary to everyday experience, we do not enter into, and ultimately leave, a well-structured universe with an eternal grand design. Freedom means that one is responsible for one’s own choices, actions, one’s own life situation. Though the word responsible may be used in a variety of ways, I prefer Sartre’s definition: to be responsible is to “be the author of,” each of us being thus the author of his or her own life design. We are free to be anything but unfree: we are, Sartre would say, condemned to freedom.
Irvin D. Yalom (Love's Executioner)
There is a massive, irreconcilable conflict between science and religion. Religion was humanity's original cosmology, biology and anthropology. It provided explanations for the origin of the world, life and humans. Science now gives us increasingly complete explanations for those big three. We know the origins of the universe, the physics of the big bang and how the basic chemical elements formed in supernovas. We know that life on this planet originated about 4 billion years ago, and we are all descendants of that original replicating molecule. Thanks to Darwin we know that natural selection is the only workable explanation for the design and variety of all life on this planet. Paleoanthropologists and geneticists have reconstructed much of the human tree of life. We are risen apes, not fallen angels. We are the most successful and last surviving African hominid. Every single person on this Earth, all 7 billion of us, arose 50,000 years ago from small bands of African hunter-gatherers, a total population of somewhere between 600 and 2,000 individuals.
J. Anderson Thomson
My delightful, my love, my life, I don’t understand anything: how can you not be with me? I’m so infinitely used to you that I now feel myself lost and empty: without you, my soul. You turn my life into something light, amazing, rainbowed—you put a glint of happiness on everything—always different: sometimes you can be smoky-pink, downy, sometimes dark, winged—and I don’t know when I love your eyes more—when they are open or shut. It’s eleven p.m. now: I’m trying with all the force of my soul to see you through space; my thoughts plead for a heavenly visa to Berlin via air . . . My sweet excitement . . . Today I can’t write about anything except my longing for you. I’m gloomy and fearful: silly thoughts are swarming—that you’ll stumble as you jump out of a carriage in the underground, or that someone will bump into you in the street . . . I don’t know how I’ll survive the week. My tenderness, my happiness, what words can I write for you? How strange that although my life’s work is moving a pen over paper, I don’t know how to tell you how I love, how I desire you. Such agitation—and such divine peace: melting clouds immersed in sunshine—mounds of happiness. And I am floating with you, in you, aflame and melting—and a whole life with you is like the movement of clouds, their airy, quiet falls, their lightness and smoothness, and the heavenly variety of outline and tint—my inexplicable love. I cannot express these cirrus-cumulus sensations. When you and I were at the cemetery last time, I felt it so piercingly and clearly: you know it all, you know what will happen after death—you know it absolutely simply and calmly—as a bird knows that, fluttering from a branch, it will fly and not fall down . . . And that’s why I am so happy with you, my lovely, my little one. And here’s more: you and I are so special; the miracles we know, no one knows, and no one loves the way we love. What are you doing now? For some reason I think you’re in the study: you’ve got up, walked to the door, you are pulling the door wings together and pausing for a moment—waiting to see if they’ll move apart again. I’m tired, I’m terribly tired, good night, my joy. Tomorrow I’ll write you about all kinds of everyday things. My love.
Vladimir Nabokov (Letters to Vera)
She sat with great intensity, giving the whole of her mind to it, and was capable of remaining for an hour almost as motionless as if she were before a photographer's lens. I could see she had been photographed often, but somehow the very habit that made her good for that purpose unfitted her for mine. At first I was extremely pleased with her lady-like air, and it was a satisfaction, on coming to follow her lines, to see how good they were and how far they could lead the pencil. But after a few times I began to find her too insurmountably stiff; do what I would with it my drawing looked like a photograph or a copy of a photograph. Her figure had no variety of expression -- she herself had no sense of variety. You may say that this was my business, was only a question of placing her. I placed her in every conceivable position, but she managed to obliterate their differences. She was always a lady certainly, and into the bargain was always the same lady. She was the real thing, but always the same thing. There were moments when I was oppressed by the serenity of her confidence that she WAS the real thing.
Henry James (The Real Thing And Other Tales)
Making Waves I would do anything for you. Would you be yourself? In the Hans Christian Anderson classic, The Little Mermaid, Ariel gives up her beautiful voice in exchange for legs. This is a seemingly innocent fable that captures our deal with the modern devil. For aren't we taught that mobility is freedom, whether it be moving from state to state, or from marriage to marriage, or from adventure to adventure? Aren't we convinced that upward mobility, moving from job to job, is the definition of success? Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with change or variety or newness or with improving our condition. The catch is when we are asked to give up our voice in order to move freely, when we are asked to silence what makes us unique in order to be successful. When not making waves means giving up our chance to dive into the deep, then we are bartering our access to God for a better driveway. As a story about relationship, the lesson of Ariel is crucial. On the surface, her desire for legs seems touching and sweetly motivated by love and the want to belong. Yet here too is another false bargain that plagues everyone who ever tries it. For no matter how badly we want to love or be loved, we cannot alter our basic nature and survive inside, where it counts.
Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have)
Imagine a person who enjoys alcohol, perhaps a bit too much. He has a quick three or four drinks. His blood alcohol level spikes sharply. This can be extremely exhilarating, particularly for someone who has a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.23 But it only occurs while blood alcohol levels are actively rising, and that only continues if the drinker keeps drinking. When he stops, not only does his blood alcohol level plateau and then start to sink, but his body begins to produce a variety of toxins, as it metabolizes the ethanol already consumed. He also starts to experience alcohol withdrawal, as the anxiety systems that were suppressed during intoxication start to hyper-respond. A hangover is alcohol withdrawal (which quite frequently kills withdrawing alcoholics), and it starts all too soon after drinking ceases. To continue the warm glow, and stave off the unpleasant aftermath, the drinker may just continue to drink, until all the liquor in his house is consumed, the bars are closed and his money is spent. The next day, the drinker wakes up, badly hungover. So far, this is just unfortunate. The real trouble starts when he discovers that his hangover can be “cured” with a few more drinks the morning after. Such a cure is, of course, temporary. It merely pushes the withdrawal symptoms a bit further into the future. But that might be what is required, in the short term, if the misery is sufficiently acute. So now he has learned to drink to cure his hangover. When the medication causes the disease, a positive feedback loop has been established.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
When we compare the individuals of the same variety or sub-variety of our older cultivated plants and animals, one of the first points which strikes us is, that they generally differ more from each other than do the individuals of any one species or variety in a state of nature. And if we reflect on the vast diversity of the plants and animals which have been cultivated, and which have varied during all ages under the most different climates and treatment, we are driven to conclude that this great variability is due to our domestic productions having been raised under conditions of life not so uniform as, and somewhat different from, those to which the parent species had been exposed under nature. There is, also, some probability in the view propounded by Andrew Knight, that this variability may be partly connected with excess of food. It seems clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to new conditions to cause any great amount of variation; and that, when the organisation has once begun to vary, it generally continues varying for many generations. No case is on record of a variable organism ceasing to vary under cultivation. Our oldest cultivated plants, such as wheat, still yield new varieties: our oldest domesticated animals are still capable of rapid improvement or modification.
Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species)
We all know many people who come from hard-working families, where they had to grow up with a bare minimum and become self-sufficient and independent at a very young age. We look at them now and see responsible citizens, self-reliant adults, successful members of the business community, outstanding performers, and just happy people. Yes, they’re happy, because they know the meaning of labor, they appreciate the pleasure of leisure, they value relationships with others, and they respect themselves. In contrast, there are people who come from wealthy families, had nannies to do everything for them, went to private schools where they were surrounded with special attention, never did their own laundry, never learned how to cook an omelet for themselves, never even gained the essential skills of unwinding on their own before bedtime, and of course, never did anything for anyone else either. You look at their adult life and see how dependent they are on others and how unhappy they are because of that. They need someone to constantly take care of them. They may see no meaning in their life as little things don’t satisfy them, because they were spoiled at a very young age. They may suffer a variety of eating disorders, use drugs, alcohol and other extremes in search of satisfaction and comfort. And, above all, in search of themselves.
Anna Szabo (Turn Your Dreams And Wants Into Achievable SMART Goals!)
I understood where I had come from: from a dreary tangle of sadness and pretense, of longing, absurdity, inferiority and provincial pomposity, sentimental education and anachronistic ideals, repressed traumas, resignation, and helplessness. Helplessness of the acerbic, domestic variety, where small-time liars pretended to be dangerous terrorists and heroic freedom fighters, where unhappy bookbinders invented formulas for universal salvation, where dentists whispered confidentially to all their neighbors about their protracted personal correspondence with Stalin, where piano teachers, kindergarten teachers, and housewives tossed and turned tearfully at night from stifled yearning for an emotion-laden artistic life, where compulsive writers wrote endless disgruntled letters to the editor of Davar, where elderly bakers saw Maimonides and the Baal Shem Tov in their dreams, where nervy, self-righteous trade-union hacks kept an apparatchik's eye on the rest of the local residents, where cashiers at the cinema or the cooperative shop composed poems and pamphlets at night.
Amos Oz (A Tale of Love and Darkness)
The tacit assumption of the advanced welfare state is correct when human beings face starvation or death by exposure. Then, food and shelter are all that count. But in an advanced society, the needs for food and shelter can be met in a variety of ways, and at that point human needs can no longer be disaggregated. The ways in which food and shelter are obtained affects whether the other human needs are met. People need self-respect, but self-respect must be earned—it cannot be self-respect if it’s not earned—and the only way to earn anything is to achieve it in the face of the possibility of failing. People need intimate relationships with others, but intimate relationships that are rich and fulfilling need content, and that content is supplied only when humans are engaged in interactions that have consequences. People need self-actualization, but self-actualization is not a straight road, visible in advance, running from point A to point B. Self-actualization intrinsically requires an exploration of possibilities for life beyond the obvious and convenient. All of these good things in life—self-respect, intimate relationships, and self-actualization—require freedom in the only way that freedom is meaningful: freedom to act in all arenas of life coupled with responsibility for the consequences of those actions. The underlying meaning of that coupling—freedom and responsibility—is crucial. Responsibility for the consequences of actions is not the price of freedom, but one of its rewards. Knowing that we have responsibility for the consequences of our actions is a major part of what makes life worth living.
Charles Murray (Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010)
There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings. Along the roads, laurel, viburnum, and alder, great ferns and wildflowers delighted the traveler's eye through much of the year. Even in winter the roadsides were places of beauty, where countless birds came to feed on the berries and on the seed heads of the dried weeds rising above the snow. The countryside was, in fact, famous for the abundance and variety of its bird life, and when the flood of migrants was pouring through in spring and fall people traveled from great distances to observe them. Others came to fish the streams, which flowed clear and cold out of the hills and contained shady pools where trout lay. So it had been from the days many years ago when the first settlers raised their homes, sank their wells, and built their barns. Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community: mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens, the cattle, and sheep sickened and died. Everywhere was a shadow of death. The farmers spoke of much illness among their families. In the town the doctors had become more and more puzzled by new kinds of sickness appearing among their patients. There had been sudden and unexplained deaths, not only among adults but even among children whoe would be stricken suddently while at play and die within a few hours. There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example--where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed. The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh. On the farms the hens brooded, but no chicks hatched. The farmers complained that they were unable to raise any pigs--the litters were small and the young survived only a few days. The apple trees were coming into bloom but no bees droned among the blossoms, so there was no pollination and there would be no fruit. The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with browned and withered vegetation as though swept by fire. These, too, were silent, deserted by all living things. Even the streams were not lifeless. Anglers no longer visited them, for all the fish had died. In the gutters under the eaves and between the shingles of the roofs, a white granular powder still showed a few patches; some weeks before it had fallen like snow upon the roofs and the lawns, the fields and streams. No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of life in this stricken world. The people had done it to themselves.
Rachel Carson
1:337-338 GREAT CHANGES IN ME I CANNOT DESCRIBE I told the local astrologer that the fact that he doesn't see something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. A lover may perceive a certain light in the beloved's face that another person can't. A healthy person tastes a variety of flavorings in food that a patient with a coated tongue cannot. To the sick everything tastes bitter. Great changes and shifts occur in me that I cannot describe, but they are very real. Ways open. A fragrance from the divine comes through. No one sees this, but it is the most profound event in my life. Friendship cannot be seen or measured, but the experience of living within it is beyond argument. Words like belief, righteousness, and faith can be used however a debater wants. With Hasan the silk-weaver recently I spoke of the power of the Islamic prophets. Then he used my words to support his free-thinking lineage. Soul comes here from the unseen to observe this world, the body, the night, and the sunlit morning landscape, saying, I have seen this; now show me your other properties, Lord of the universes (3:26).
Bahauddin (The Drowned Book: Ecstatic and Earthy Reflections of the Father of Rumi)
There are only three integral views of the world: the religious, the materialistic, and the Islamic. They reflect three elemental possibilities (conscience, nature, and man), each of them manifesting itself as Christianity, materialism, and Islam. All variety of ideologies, philosophies, and teachings from the oldest time up to now can be reduced to one of these three basic world views. The first takes as its starting point the existence of the spirit, the second the existence of matter, and the third the simultaneous existence of spirit and matter. If only matter exists, materialism would be the only consequent philosophy. On the contrary, if the spirit exists then man also exists, and man's life would be senseless without a kind of religion and morality. Islam is the name for the unity of spirit and matter, the highest form of which is man himself. The human life is complete only if it includes both the physical and the spiritual desires of the human being. All man's failures are either because of the religious denial of man's biological needs of the materialistic denial of man's spiritual desires.
Alija Izetbegović
An alternative — and better — definition of reality can be found by naming some of its components: air, sunlight, wind, water, the motion of waves, the patterns of clouds before a coming storm. These elements, unlike 20th-century office routines, have been here since before life appeared on this planet, and they will continue long after office routines are gone. They are understood by everyone, not just a small segment of a highly advanced society. When considered on purely logical grounds, they are more real than the extremely transitory lifestyles of the modern civilization the depressed ones want to return to.If this is so, then it follows that those who see sailing as an escape from reality have their understanding of sailing and reality backward. Sailing is not an escape, but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape. For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an Earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning.Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold. Modern civilization has found radio, television, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the Earth and the Sun, the wind and the stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities.
Robert M. Pirsig
The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our text- books have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. Yet Darwin was so wedded to gradualism that he wagered his entire theory on a denial of this literal record: "The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps, He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory." Darwin's argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never -seen- in the rocks. Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin's argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study. [Evolution’s Erratic Pace - "Natural History," May, 1977]
Stephen Jay Gould
The Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing tells the story of the gangster leaders who carried out anti-communist purges in Indonesia in 1965 to usher in the regime of Suharto. The film’s hook, which makes it compelling and accessible, is that the filmmakers get Anwar —one of the death-squad leaders, who murdered around a thousand communists using a wire rope—and his acolytes to reenact the killings and events around them on film in a variety of genres of their choosing. In the film’s most memorable sequence, Anwar—who is old now and actually really likable, a bit like Nelson Mandela, all soft and wrinkly with nice, fuzzy gray hair—for the purposes of a scene plays the role of a victim in one of the murders that he in real life carried out. A little way into it, he gets a bit tearful and distressed and, when discussing it with the filmmaker on camera in the next scene, reveals that he found the scene upsetting. The offcamera director asks the poignant question, “What do you think your victims must’ve felt like?” and Anwar initially almost fails to see the connection. Eventually, when the bloody obvious correlation hits him, he thinks it unlikely that his victims were as upset as he was, because he was “really” upset. The director, pressing the film’s point home, says, “Yeah but it must’ve been worse for them, because we were just pretending; for them it was real.” Evidently at this point the reality of the cruelty he has inflicted hits Anwar, because when they return to the concrete garden where the executions had taken place years before, he, on camera, begins to violently gag. This makes incredible viewing, as this literally visceral ejection of his self and sickness at his previous actions is a vivid catharsis. He gagged at what he’d done. After watching the film, I thought—as did probably everyone who saw it—how can people carry out violent murders by the thousand without it ever occurring to them that it is causing suffering? Surely someone with piano wire round their neck, being asphyxiated, must give off some recognizable signs? Like going “ouch” or “stop” or having blood come out of their throats while twitching and spluttering into perpetual slumber? What it must be is that in order to carry out that kind of brutal murder, you have to disengage with the empathetic aspect of your nature and cultivate an idea of the victim as different, inferior, and subhuman. The only way to understand how such inhumane behavior could be unthinkingly conducted is to look for comparable examples from our own lives. Our attitude to homelessness is apposite here. It isn’t difficult to envisage a species like us, only slightly more evolved, being universally appalled by our acceptance of homelessness. “What? You had sufficient housing, it cost less money to house them, and you just ignored the problem?” They’d be as astonished by our indifference as we are by the disconnected cruelty of Anwar.
Russell Brand
It was women’s individual experiences of victimization that produced our widespread moral and political opposition to it. And at the same time, there was something about the hashtag itself—its design, and the ways of thinking that it affirms and solidifies—that both erased the variety of women’s experiences and made it seem as if the crux of feminism was this articulation of vulnerability itself. A hashtag is specifically designed to remove a statement from context and to position it as part of an enormous singular thought. A woman participating in one of these hashtags becomes visible at an inherently predictable moment of male aggression: the time her boss jumped her, or the night a stranger followed her home. The rest of her life, which is usually far less predictable, remains unseen. Even as women have attempted to use #YesAllWomen and #MeToo to regain control of a narrative, these hashtags have at least partially reified the thing they’re trying to eradicate: the way that womanhood can feel like a story of loss of control. They have made feminist solidarity and shared vulnerability seem inextricable, as if we were incapable of building solidarity around anything else. What we have in common is obviously essential, but it’s the differences between women’s stories—the factors that allow some to survive, and force others under—that illuminate the vectors that lead to a better world. And, because there is no room or requirement in a tweet to add a disclaimer about individual experience, and because hashtags subtly equate disconnected statements in a way that can’t be controlled by those speaking, it has been even easier for #MeToo critics to claim that women must themselves think that going on a bad date is the same as being violently raped.
Jia Tolentino (Trick Mirror)
When I’m sitting by my gay friends in church, I hear everything through their ears. When I’m with my recently divorced friend, I hear it through hers. This is good practice. It helps uncenter us (which is, you know, the whole counsel of the New Testament) and sharpens our eye for our sisters and brothers. It trains us to think critically about community, language, felt needs, and inclusion, shaking off autopilot and setting a wider table. We must examine who is invited, who is asked to teach, who is asked to contribute, who is called into leadership. It is one thing to “feel nice feelings” toward the minority voice; it is something else entirely to challenge existing power structures to include the whole variety of God’s people. This is not hard or fancy work. It looks like diversifying small groups and leadership, not defaulting to homogeny as the standard operating procedure. Closer in, it looks like coffee dates, dinner invites, the warm hand of friendship extended to women or families outside your demographic. It means considering the stories around the table before launching into an assumed shared narrative. It includes the old biblical wisdom on being slow to speak and quick to listen, because as much as we love to talk, share, and talk-share some more, there is a special holiness reserved for the practice of listening and deferring.
Jen Hatmaker (Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life)
In an ideal world, marriage vows would be entirely rewritten. At the alter, a couple would speak thus: "We accept not to panic when, some years from now, what we are doing today will seem like the worst decision of our lives. Yet we promise not to look around, either, for we accept that there cannot be better options out there. Everyone is always impossible. We are a demented species." After the solemn repetition of the last sentence by the congregation, the couple would continue: "We will endeavor to be faithful. At the same time, we are certain that never being allowed to sleep with anyone else is one of the tragedies of existence. We apologize that our jealousies have made this peculiar but sound and non-negotiable restriction very necessary. We promise to make each other the sole repository of our regrets rather than distribute them through a life of sexual Don Juanism. We have surveyed the different options for unhappiness, and it is to each other we have chosen to bind ourselves." Spouses who had been cheated upon would no longer be at liberty furiously to complain that they had expected their partner to be content with them alone. Instead they could more poignantly and justly cry, "I was relying on you to be loyal to the specific variety of compromise and unhappiness which our hard-won marriage represents." Thereafter, an affair would be a betrayal not of intimate joy but of a reciprocal pledge to endure the disappointments of marriage with bravery and stoic reserve.
Alain de Botton (The Course of Love)
It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d developed other talents, said yes to different offers. Easy to wish we’d worked harder, loved better, handled our finances more astutely, been more popular, stayed in the band, gone to Australia, said yes to the coffee or done more bloody yoga. It takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the work we didn’t do and the people we didn’t marry and the children we didn’t have. It is not difficult to see yourself through the lens of other people, and to wish you were all the different kaleidoscopic versions of you they wanted you to be. It is easy to regret, and keep regretting, ad infinitum, until our time runs out. But it is not the lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy. We can’t tell if any of those other versions would have been better or worse. Those lives are happening, it is true, but you are happening as well, and that is the happening we have to focus on. Of course, we can’t visit every place or meet every person or do every job, yet most of what we’d feel in any life is still available. We don’t have to play every game to know what winning feels like. We don’t have to hear every piece of music in the world to understand music. We don’t have to have tried every variety of grape from every vineyard to know the pleasure of wine. Love and laughter and fear and pain are universal currencies. We just have to close our eyes and savour the taste of the drink in front of us and listen to the song as it plays. We are as completely and utterly alive as we are in any other life and have access to the same emotional spectrum. We only need to be one person. We only need to feel one existence. We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything, because we are already infinite. While we are alive we always contain a future of multifarious possibility. So let’s be kind to the people in our own existence. Let’s occasionally look up from the spot in which we are because, wherever we happen to be standing, the sky above goes on for ever. Yesterday I knew I had no future, and that it was impossible for me to accept my life as it is now. And yet today, that same messy life seems full of hope. Potential. The impossible, I suppose, happens via living. Will my life be miraculously free from pain, despair, grief, heartbreak, hardship, loneliness, depression? No. But do I want to live? Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes.
Matt Haig (The Midnight Library)
The charge that Anarchism is destructive, rather than constructive, and that, therefore, Anarchism is opposed to organization, is one of the many falsehoods spread by our opponents. They confound our present social institutions with organization; hence they fail to understand how we can oppose the former, and yet favor the latter. The fact, however, is that the two are not identical. “The State is commonly regarded as the highest form of organization. But is it in reality a true organization? Is it not rather an arbitrary institution, cunningly imposed upon the masses? “Industry, too, is called an organization; yet nothing is farther from the truth. Industry is the ceaseless piracy of the rich against the poor. “We are asked to believe that the Army is an organization, but a close investigation will show that it is nothing else than a cruel instrument of blind force. “The Public School! The colleges and other institutions of learning, are they not models of organization, offering the people fine opportunities for instruction? Far from it. The school, more than any other institution, is a veritable barrack, where the human mind is drilled and manipulated into submission to various social and moral spooks, and thus fitted to continue our system of exploitation and oppression. “Organization, as WE understand it, however, is a different thing. It is based, primarily, on freedom. It is a natural and voluntary grouping of energies to secure results beneficial to humanity. “It is the harmony of organic growth which produces variety of color and form, the complete whole we admire in the flower. Analogously will the organized activity of free human beings, imbued with the spirit of solidarity, result in the perfection of social harmony, which we call Anarchism. In fact, Anarchism alone makes non-authoritarian organization of common interests possible, since it abolishes the existing antagonism between individuals and classes. “Under present conditions the antagonism of economic and social interests results in relentless war among the social units, and creates an insurmountable obstacle in the way of a co-operative commonwealth. “There is a mistaken notion that organization does not foster individual freedom; that, on the contrary, it means the decay of individuality. In reality, however, the true function of organization is to aid the development and growth of personality. “Just as the animal cells, by mutual co-operation, express their latent powers in formation of the complete organism, so does the individual, by co-operative effort with other individuals, attain his highest form of development. “An organization, in the true sense, cannot result from the combination of mere nonentities. It must be composed of self-conscious, intelligent individualities. Indeed, the total of the possibilities and activities of an organization is represented in the expression of individual energies. “It therefore logically follows that the greater the number of strong, self-conscious personalities in an organization, the less danger of stagnation, and the more intense its life element. “Anarchism asserts the possibility of an organization without discipline, fear, or punishment, and without the pressure of poverty: a new social organism which will make an end to the terrible struggle for the means of existence,—the savage struggle which undermines the finest qualities in man, and ever widens the social abyss. In short, Anarchism strives towards a social organization which will establish well-being for all. “The germ of such an organization can be found in that form of trades unionism which has done away with centralization, bureaucracy, and discipline, and which favors independent and direct action on the part of its members.
Emma Goldman (Anarchism and Other Essays)
Hope is more than wishing things will work out. It is resting in the God who holds all things in his wise and powerful hands. We use the word hope in a variety of ways. Sometimes it connotes a wish about something over which we have no control at all. We say, “I sure hope the train comes soon,” or, “I hope it doesn’t rain on the day of the picnic.” These are wishes for things, but we wouldn’t bank on them. The word hope also depicts what we think should happen. We say, “I hope he will choose to be honest this time,” or, “I hope the judge brings down a guilty verdict.” Here hope reveals an internal sense of morality or justice. We also use hope in a motivational sense. We say, “I did this in the hope that it would pay off in the end,” or, “I got married in the hope that he would treat me in marriage the way he treated me in courtship.” All of this is to say that because the word hope is used in a variety of ways, it is important for us to understand how this word is used in Scripture or in its gospel sense. Biblical hope is foundationally more than a faint wish for something. Biblical hope is deeper than moral expectation, although it includes that. Biblical hope is more than a motivation for a choice or action, although it is that as well. So what is biblical hope? It is a confident expectation of a guaranteed result that changes the way you live. Let’s pull this definition apart. First, biblical hope is confident. It is confident because it is not based on your wisdom, faithfulness, or power, but on the awesome power, love, faithfulness, grace, patience, and wisdom of God. Because God is who he is and will never, ever change, hope in him is hope well placed and secure. Hope is also an expectation of a guaranteed result. It is being sure that God will do all that he has planned and promised to do. You see, his promises are only as good as the extent of his rule, but since he rules everything everywhere, I know that resting in the promises of his grace will never leave me empty and embarrassed. I may not understand what is happening and I may not know what is coming around the corner, but I know that God does and that he controls it all. So even when I am confused, I can have hope, because my hope does not rest on my understanding, but on God’s goodness and his rule. Finally, true hope changes the way you live. When you have hope that is guaranteed, you live with confidence and courage that you would otherwise not have. That confidence and courage cause you to make choices of faith that would seem foolish to someone who does not have your hope. If you’re God’s child, you never have to live hopelessly, because hope has invaded your life by grace, and his name is Jesus! For further study and encouragement: Psalm 20
Paul David Tripp (New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional)
I am in my old room once more, for a little, and I am caught in musing - - how life is a swift motion, a continuous flowing, changing, and how one is always saying goodbye and going places, seeing people, doing things. Only in the rain, sometimes, only when the rain comes, closing in your pitifully small radius of activity, only when you sit and listen by the window, as the cold wet air blows thinly by the back of your neck - only then do you think and feel sick. You feel the days slipping by, elusive as slippery pink worms, through your fingers, and you wonder what you have for your eighteen years, and you think about how, with difficulty and concentration, you could bring back a day, a day of sun, blue skies and watercoloring by the sea. You could remember the sensual observations that made that day reality, and you could delude yourself into thinking - almost - that you could return to the past, and relive the days and hours in a quick space of time. But no, the quest of time past is more difficult than you think, and time present is eaten up by such plaintive searchings. The film of your days and nights is wound up tight in you, never to be re-run - and the occasional flashbacks are faint, blurred, unreal, as if seen through falling snow. Now, you begin to get scared. You don't believe in God, or a life-after-death, so you can't hope for sugar plums when your non-existent soul rises. You believe that whatever there is has got to come from man, and man is pretty creative in his good moments - pretty mature, pretty perceptive for his age - how many years is it, now? How many thousands? Yet, yet in this era of specialization, of infinite variety and complexity and myriad choices, what do you pick for yourself out of the grab-bag? Cats have nine lives, the saying goes. You have one; and somewhere along the thin, tenuous thread of your existence there is the black knot, the blood clot, the stopped heartbeat that spells the end of this particular individual which is spelled "I" and "You" and "Sylvia." So you wonder how to act, and how to be - and you wonder about values and attitudes. In the relativism and despair, in the waiting for the bombs to begin, for the blood (now spurting in Korea, in Germany, in Russia) to flow and trickle before your own eyes, you wonder with a quick sick fear how to cling to earth, to the seeds of grass and life. You wonder about your eighteen years, ricocheting between a stubborn determination that you've done well for your own capabilities and opportunities... that you're competing now with girls from all over America, and not just from the hometown: and a fear that you haven't done well enough - You wonder if you've got what it takes to keep building up obstacle courses for your self, and to keep leaping through them, sprained ankle or not. Again the refrain, what have you for your eighteen years? And you know that whatever tangible things you do have, they cannot be held, but, too, will decompose and slip away through your coarse-skinned and death-rigid fingers. So you will rot in the ground, and so you say, what the hell? Who cares? But you care, and somehow you don't want to live just one life, which could be typed, which could be tossed off in a thumbnail sketch = "She was the sort of girl.... And end in 25 words or less.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
The formerly absolute distinction between time and eternity in Christian thought--between nunc movens with its beginning and end, and nunc stans, the perfect possession of endless life--acquired a third intermediate order based on this peculiar betwixt-and-between position of angels. But like the Principle of Complementarity, this concord-fiction soon proved that it had uses outside its immediate context, angelology. Because it served as a means of talking about certain aspects of human experience, it was humanized. It helped one to think about the sense, men sometimes have of participating in some order of duration other than that of the nunc movens--of being able, as it were, to do all that angels can. Such are those moments which Augustine calls the moments of the soul's attentiveness; less grandly, they are moments of what psychologists call 'temporal integration.' When Augustine recited his psalm he found in it a figure for the integration of past, present, and future which defies successive time. He discovered what is now erroneously referred to as 'spatial form.' He was anticipating what we know of the relation between books and St. Thomas's third order of duration--for in the kind of time known by books a moment has endless perspectives of reality. We feel, in Thomas Mann's words, that 'in their beginning exists their middle and their end, their past invades the present, and even the most extreme attention to the present is invaded by concern for the future.' The concept of aevum provides a way of talking about this unusual variety of duration-neither temporal nor eternal, but, as Aquinas said, participating in both the temporal and the eternal. It does not abolish time or spatialize it; it co-exists with time, and is a mode in which things can be perpetual without being eternal. We've seen that the concept of aevum grew out of a need to answer certain specific Averroistic doctrines concerning origins. But it appeared quite soon that this medium inter aeternitatem et tempus had human uses. It contains beings (angels) with freedom of choice and immutable substance, in a creation which is in other respects determined. Although these beings are out of time, their acts have a before and an after. Aevum, you might say, is the time-order of novels. Characters in novels are independent of time and succession, but may and usually do seem to operate in time and succession; the aevum co-exists with temporal events at the moment of occurrence, being, it was said, like a stick in a river. Brabant believed that Bergson inherited the notion through Spinoza's duratio, and if this is so there is an historical link between the aevum and Proust; furthermore this durée réelle is, I think, the real sense of modern 'spatial form,' which is a figure for the aevum.
Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction)
What is this, behind this veil, is it ugly, is it beautiful? It is shimmering, has it breasts, has it edges? I am sure it is unique, I am sure it is what I want. When I am quiet at my cooking I feel it looking, I feel it thinking 'Is this the one I am too appear for, Is this the elect one, the one with black eye-pits and a scar? Measuring the flour, cutting off the surplus, Adhering to rules, to rules, to rules. Is this the one for the annunciation? My god, what a laugh!' But it shimmers, it does not stop, and I think it wants me. I would not mind if it were bones, or a pearl button. I do not want much of a present, anyway, this year. After all I am alive only by accident. I would have killed myself gladly that time any possible way. Now there are these veils, shimmering like curtains, The diaphanous satins of a January window White as babies' bedding and glittering with dead breath. O ivory! It must be a tusk there, a ghost column. Can you not see I do not mind what it is. Can you not give it to me? Do not be ashamed--I do not mind if it is small. Do not be mean, I am ready for enormity. Let us sit down to it, one on either side, admiring the gleam, The glaze, the mirrory variety of it. Let us eat our last supper at it, like a hospital plate. I know why you will not give it to me, You are terrified The world will go up in a shriek, and your head with it, Bossed, brazen, an antique shield, A marvel to your great-grandchildren. Do not be afraid, it is not so. I will only take it and go aside quietly. You will not even hear me opening it, no paper crackle, No falling ribbons, no scream at the end. I do not think you credit me with this discretion. If you only knew how the veils were killing my days. To you they are only transparencies, clear air. But my god, the clouds are like cotton. Armies of them. They are carbon monoxide. Sweetly, sweetly I breathe in, Filling my veins with invisibles, with the million Probable motes that tick the years off my life. You are silver-suited for the occasion. O adding machine----- Is it impossible for you to let something go and have it go whole? Must you stamp each piece purple, Must you kill what you can? There is one thing I want today, and only you can give it to me. It stands at my window, big as the sky. It breathes from my sheets, the cold dead center Where split lives congeal and stiffen to history. Let it not come by the mail, finger by finger. Let it not come by word of mouth, I should be sixty By the time the whole of it was delivered, and to numb to use it. Only let down the veil, the veil, the veil. If it were death I would admire the deep gravity of it, its timeless eyes. I would know you were serious. There would be a nobility then, there would be a birthday. And the knife not carve, but enter Pure and clean as the cry of a baby, And the universe slide from my side.
Sylvia Plath
Last year I had a very unusual experience. I was awake, with my eyes closed, when I had a dream. It was a small dream about time. I was dead, I guess, in deep black space high up among many white stars. My own consciousness had been disclosed to me, and I was happy. Then I saw far below me a long, curved band of color. As I came closer, I saw that it stretched endlessly in either direction, and I understood that I was seeing all the time of the planet where I had lived. It looked like a woman’s tweed scarf; the longer I studied any one spot, the more dots of color I saw. There was no end to the deepness and variety of the dots. At length, I started to look for my time, but, although more and more specks of color and deeper and more intricate textures appeared in the fabric, I couldn’t find my time, or any time at all that I recognized as being near my time. I couldn’t make out so much as a pyramid. Yet as I looked at the band of time, all the individual people, I understood with special clarity, were living at the very moment with great emotion, in intricate detail, in their individual times and places, and they were dying and being replaced by ever more people, one by one, like stitches in which whole worlds of feeling and energy were wrapped, in a never-ending cloth. I remembered suddenly the color and texture of our life as we knew it- these things had been utterly forgotten- and I thought as I searched for it on the limitless band, “that was a good time then, a good time to be living.” And I began to remember our time. I recalled green fields with carrots growing, one by one, in slender rows. Men and women in bright vests and scarves came and pulled the carrots out of the soil and carried them in baskets to shaded kitchens, where they scrubbed them with yellow brushes under running water…I saw may apples in forest, erupting through leaf-strewn paths. Cells on the root hairs of sycamores split and divided and apples grew striped and spotted in the fall. Mountains kept their cool caves, and squirrels raced home to their nests through sunlight and shade. I remembered the ocean, and I seemed to be in the ocean myself, swimming over orange crabs that looked like coral, or off the deep Atlantic banks where whitefish school. Or again I saw the tops of poplars, and the whole sky brushed with clouds in pallid streaks, under which wilds ducks flew, and called, one by one, and flew on. All these things I saw. Scenes grew in depth and sunlit detail before my eyes, and were replaced by ever more scenes, as I remembered the life of my time with increasing feeling. At last I saw the earth as a globe in space, and I recalled the ocean’s shape and the form of continents, saying to myself with surprise as I looked at the planet, “Yes, that’s how it was then, that part there we called ‘France’”. I was filled with the deep affection of nostalgia- and then I opened my eyes.
Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)