"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

Neighbors in Montclair, N.J., of the couple who called themselves Richard and Cynthia Murphy were flabbergasted when a team of F.B.I. agents turned up Sunday night and led the couple away in handcuffs. One person who lives nearby called them “suburbia personified,” saying that they had asked people for advice about the local schools. Others worried about the Murphys’ elementary-age daughters. Jessie Gugig, 15, said she could not believe the charges, especially against Mrs. Murphy. “They couldn’t have been spies,” she said jokingly. “Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”

[Comedy of Human Behavior: the human personality, NY Times, June 29, 2010]

Posted by mariadib on 06.29.2010

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Telling the truth about the terrible struggle of the human soul is surely a very elementary part of the ethics of honesty. If the characters are not wicked, the book is. This older and firmer conception of right as existing outside human weakness and without reference to human error can be felt in the very lightest and loosest of the works of old English literature. It is commonly unmeaning enough to call Shakspere a great moralist; but in this particular way Shakspere is a very typical moralist. Whenever he alludes to right and wrong it is always with this old implication. Right is right, even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong about it.

[Good and Evil: Chesterton, Tom Jones and Morality]

Posted by mariadib on 07.06.2009

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I keep going, and I don't know: have I gotten into stench and shame, or into light and joy? That's the whole trouble, because everything on earth is a riddle. And whenever I happened to sink into the deepest, the very deepest shame of depravity (and that's all I ever happened to do), I always read that poem about Ceres and man. Did it set me right? Never! Because I'm a Karazamov. Because when I fall the abyss, I go straight into it, head down and heels up, and I'm even pleased that I'm falling in just such a humiliating position, and for me I find it beautiful. And so in that very shame I suddenly begin a hymn. Let me be cursed, let me be base and vile, but let me also kiss the hem of that garment in which my God is clothed; let me be following the devil at the same time, but still I am also your son, Lord, and I love you, and I feel a joy without which the world cannot stand and be.

[Joy without which the world cannot stand and be: Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov]

Posted by mariadib on 05.10.2009

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The painter Kramskoy has a remarkable painting entitled The Contemplator; it depicts a forest in winter, and in the forest, standing all by himself on the road, in deepest solitude, a stray little peasant in a ragged caftan and bast shoes; he stands as if he were lost in thought, but he is not thinking, he is "contemplating" something. If you nudged him, he would give a start and look at you as if he had just woken up, but without understanding anything. It's true that he would come to himself at once, and yet, if he were asked what he had been thinking about while standing there, he would most likely not remember, but would most likely keep hidden away in himself the impression he had been under while contemplating. These impressions are dear to him, and he is mot likely storing them up imperceptibly and even without realizing it--why and what for, he does not know either; perhaps suddenly, having stored up his impressions over many years, he will drop everything-and wander off to Jerusalem to save his soul, or perhaps he will suddenly burn down his native village, or perhaps he will do both. There are plenty of contemplators among the people.

[The Contemplator: Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov]

Posted by mariadib on 05.10.2009

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Illusion, Temperament, Succession, Surface, Surprise, Reality, Subjectiveness, -- these are threads on the loom of time, these are the lords of life.

[Nature of Life!: Emerson, Experience]

Posted by mariadib on 04.06.2009

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Every day things happen in the world that can't be explained by any law of things we know. Every day they're mentioned and forgotten, and the same mystery that brought them takes them away, transforming their secret into oblivion. Such is the law by which things that can't be explained must be forgotten. The visible world goes on as usual in the broad daylight. Otherness watches us from the shadows.

[Mystery, Oblivion, Visibility: Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet]

Posted by mariadib on 03.28.2009

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Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tching-thang to this effect: "Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again." I can understand that. The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is the least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night. Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, are not awakened by our newly acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, and a fragrance filling the air -- to a higher life than we fell asleep from; and thus the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself to be good, no less than the light. All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say, "All intelligences awake with the morning." Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour. To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep.

[Morning : Thoreau, Walden]

Posted by mariadib on 03.27.2009

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