Saturday, April 12, 2008

Great Quotes on Life and Art: quotes from my diaries 1992-2001



You can do whatever you like, but it must be the best.
- Chagall

Don't wait for ideas, they come with production. If you prepare yourself too much, you might never be ready. Creation is itself a preparation. I have been producing like a madman ever since I was 16. Don't be afraid to do inferior things, the first fruits are always small & sour. You must work a lot, it clears the brain. - Chagall

No man can write well who thinks there are any choice of words for him.
- Emerson, journal, July 8, 1831

Having heard a family friend saying that he drew something every day, Lutyens decided to design something every day. It was a habit that made him inexhaustible in invention. - Understanding Modern Architecture

Originality means returning to the origin. - Gaudi

What is not original is of no importance, & what is original is bound to be fraught with the weakness of the individual. - Goethe

...the first thing I do, is to forget that I have ever seen a picture.
- Constable, on painting

Expression is an activity of which there can be no technique. - Collingwood

In the art of writing as I practice it, there is no such thing as a really rational way of working, relying on will power & diligence. For me a novel begins to take shape at the moment I see a figure forming, one that can for a while be the symbol & bearer of my experiences, my thoughts, my problems. The appearance of this mythical person (Peter Camenzind, Knulp, Demian, Siddhartha, Harry Haller, &c) is the creative instant out of which everything else emerges. - Herman Hesse

I did not exist to write poems, to preach or to paint, neither I nor anyone else. All of that was incidental. Each man had only one genuine vocation - to find the way to himself. He might end up as poet or madman, as prophet or criminal - that was not his affair, ultimately it was of no concern. His task was to discover his own destiny - not an arbitrary one - & live it out wholly & resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back into the ideas of the masses, conformity & fear of one's own inwardness. - Herman Hesse

Why do we seek this lurking beauty, in skies, in poems, in drawings? Ah because there we are safe, there we neither sicken or die. I think we fly to Beauty as an asylum from the terrors of finite nature. We are made immortal by this kiss, by the contemplation of beauty.
- Emerson, journal

Don't let us go to life for our fulfilment or our experience. It is a thing narrowed by circumstances, incoherent in its utterance...It makes us pay a high price for its wares, & we purchase the meanest of its secrets at a cost that is monstrous & infinite...
In the actual life of man, a passage to a lesser perfection. But the sorrow with which Art fills us both purifies & initiates...
...through Art only...we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence...
ERNEST: Must we go, then, to Art for everything?
GILBERT: For everything. Because Art does not hurt us.
- Wilde, The Critic as Artist

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.
- Maslow

I carry my ideas with me for a long time, rejecting & rewriting until I am satisfied. Since I am conscious of what I want, I never lose sight of the fundamental idea. It rises higher & higher, until I see the image of it, rounded & complete, standing there before my mental vision.
- Beethoven

I regard my occupation & interests somewhat as an actor regards his various parts or a painter his subjects. That a man has preferences & can understand & do one thing better than another, follows from his inevitable limitations & definite gifts; but that which marks progress in his life is the purity of his art; I mean, the degree to which his art has become his life, so that the rest of his nature does not impede or corrupt his art, but only feeds it.
- Santayana

The most original authors are not so because they advance what is new, but simply because they know how to put what they have to say as if it had never been said before. - Goethe

Things used as language are inexhaustibly attractive. - Emerson

...the chief thing that makes life a failure from this artistic point of view is the thing that lends to life its sordid security, the fact that one can never repeat exactly the same emotion... There is no mood or passion that Art cannot give us, & those of us who have discovered her secret can settle beforehand what our experiences are going to be. We can choose our day & select our hour.
- Wilde

The best thing of all is a combination of the surprising & the beautiful.
- Beethoven

The poet has only to study himself, & the art of expressing his own ideals, to find that he has expressed those of other people. He has but to enact in himself the part of each of his personages, & if he possesses that pliability & that definiteness of imagination which together make genius, he may express for his fellows those inward tendencies which in them have remained painfully dumb. - Santayana

The intelligent public is waiting to hear from Art what it does not hear from Theology, Philosophy, Social Theory, & what it cannot hear from pure science: a broader, fuller, more coherent, more comprehensive account of what we human beings are, who we are, & what this life is for. If writers do not come into the center it will not be because the center is preempted. It is not. - Saul Bellow

The history of music is the history of mankind. - Fetis

I now require this of all pictures, that they domesticate me, not that they dazzle me. Pictures must not be too picturesque. Nothing astonishes men so much as common-sense & plain dealing. All great actions have been simple, & all great pictures are. - Emerson

In my daily work I incline to repeat my old steps & do not believe in remedial force, in the power of change & reform. But some Petrarch or Ariosto, filled with the new wine of his imagination, writes me an ode or a brisk romance, full of daring thoughts & action. He smites & arouses me with his shrill tones, breaks up my whole chain of habits, & I open my eye on my own possibilities. He claps wings to the sides of all the solid old lumber of the world, & I am capable once more of choosing a straight path in theory & practice. - Emerson

The main thing a musician would like to do, is to give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things he knows of & senses in the universe.
- John Coltrane

To music only is it given to capture all the poetry of night & day & of the earth & of the heavens, to reconstruct the atmosphere, then record the rhythm of the heartbeats. - Debussy

Who will discover the secret of musical composition? The sound of the sea, the curve of the horizon, the wind in the leaves, the cry of a bird, register complex impressions within us. Then suddenly, without any deliberate consent on our part, one of these memories issues forth to express itself in the language of music. It bears it own harmony within it. By no effort of ours can we achieve anything more truthful or accurate. In this way only does a soul destined for music discover its most beautiful ideas... I wish to write down my musical dreams in a spirit of utter self-detachment. I wish to sing of my interior visions with the naive candour of a child. - Debussy

SIBELIUS: [what I admire about the symphonic form is] its severity of style & the profound logic that created an inner connection between all the motifs.
MAHLER: No, the symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything. - conversation in Helsinki, 1907

...since a musician cannot otherwise move people, but he be moved himself, so he must necessarily be able to induce in himself all those affects which he would arouse in his auditors; he conveys his feelings to them, & thus most readily moves them to sympathetic emotions. - C.P.E. Bach, 1753

Just as an artist, if he is to move his audience, must never be moved himself - lest he lose, at that moment, his mastery over the material - so the auditor who wants to get the full operatic effect must never regard it as real, if his artistic appreciation is not to be degraded to mere human sympathy. - Busoni

What music expresses, is eternal, infinite & ideal; it does not express the passion, love, or longing of such-&-such an individual on such-&-such an occasion, but passion, love or longing in itself, & this it presents in that unlimited variety of motivations, which is the exclusive & particular characteristic of music, foreign & inexpressible to any other language.
- Wagner

O, it came over my ear like the sweet south, that breathes upon a bank of violets, stealing & giving odour! - Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Truly, there would be reason to go mad if it were not for music. - Tschaikovsky

Art is a lie that makes us realise the truth. - Picasso

In writing plays, one attempts first to describe facts as they really are, but in so doing so one writes things which are not true, in the interest of art... literary composition should have stylisation; this makes it art, & is what delights men's minds. - Chikamatsu Monzaemon

Feb 19, 1840. I closed last Course of Lectures in Boston... - fine things, pretty things, wise things, - but no arrows, no axes, no nectar, no growling, no transpiercing, no enchantment. - Emerson, journal

No poems can please long or live that are written by water-drinkers.
- Horace

While science follows the stream of reason & consequence, & with each attainment sees further, & never attains a satisfying goal, art is always at its goal. - Schopenhauer

Art & nothing but art! It is the great means of making life possible, the great seduction to life, the great stimulant of life. - Nietzsche

There are two ways of disliking art... One is to dislike it. The other, to like it rationally... If one loves Art at all, one must love it beyond all other things in the world, & against such love, the reason, if one listened to it, would cry out. There is nothing sane about the worship of beauty. It is too splendid to be sane. Those of whose lives it forms the dominant note will always seem to the world to be pure visionaries. - Wilde

In literature we require distinction, charm, beauty & imaginative power. We don't want to be harrowed & disgusted with an account of the doings of the lower orders. - Wilde

Now, if we assume that life is in itself an object of horror & terror & that pessimism, in the sense of the no-saying attitude to life, can be avoided only by the aesthetic transformation of reality, there are two ways of doing this. One is to draw an aesthetic veil over reality, creating an ideal world of form & beauty. This is the Apollonian way. And it found expression in the Olympic mythology, in the epic & plastic arts. The other possibility is that of triumphantly affirming & embracing existence in all its darkness & horror. This is the Dionysian attitude, & its typical art forms are tragedy & music.
- Copleston, History of Philosophy, on Nietzsche

I call the classic the sound, & romantic the sick. - Goethe

Romanticism is the art of presenting people with the literary works which are capable of affording them the greatest possible pleasure, in the present state of their customs & beliefs.
Classicism, on the other hand, presents them with the literature that gave the greatest possible pleasure to their great-grandfathers. - Stendhal

...must we not distinguish between 'artiste' & 'artist': the one who enables us to forget what we do not want to remember, & the other who enables us to remember what we do not want to forget? - E. Stuart Bates, INSIDE OUT An Introduction to Autobiography

Until you understand a writer's ignorance, presume yourself ignorant of his understanding. - Coleridge

So long as happiness is conceived as a poet might conceive it, namely, in its immediately sensual & emotional factors, so long as we live in the moment & make our happiness consist in the simplest things, - in breathing, seeing, hearing, loving & sleeping, - our happiness has the same substance, the same elements, as our aesthetic delight, for it is aesthetic delight that makes our happiness. Yet poets & artists, with their immediate & aesthetic joys, are not thought to be happy men; they themselves are apt to be loud in their lamentations, & to regard themselves as eminently & tragically unhappy. This arises from the intensity & inconstancy of their emotions, from their improvidence, & from the eccentricity of their social habits. While among them the sensuous & vital functions have the upper hand, the gregarious & social instincts are subordinated & often deranged; & their unhappiness consists in the sense of their unfitness to live in the world into which they are born.
But man is pre-eminently a political animal, & social needs are almost as fundamental in him as vital functions, & often more conscious. Friendship, wealth, reputation, power & influence, when added to family life, constitute surely the main elements of happiness. Now these are only very partially composed of definite images of objects. The desire for them, the consciousness of their absence or possession, comes upon us only when we reflect, when we are planning, considering the future, gathering the words of others, rehearsing their scorn or admiration for ourselves, conceiving possible situations in which our virtue, our fame or power would become conspicuous, comparing our lot with that of others, & going through our other discursive processes of thought. Apprehension, doubt, isolation, are things which come upon us keenly when we reflect upon our lives; they cannot easily become qualities of any object. If by chance they can, they acquire a great aesthetic value. For instance, "home", which in its social sense is a concept of happiness, when it becomes materialized in a cottage & a garden becomes an aesthetic object, becomes a beautiful thing. The happiness is objectified, & the object beautified.
Social objects, however, are seldom thus aesthetic, because they are not thus definitely imaginable. They are diffuse & abstract, & verbal rather than sensuous in their materials. Therefore the great emotions that go with them are not immediately transmutable into beauty. If artists & poets are unhappy, it is after all because happiness does not interest them. They cannot seriously pursue it, because its components are not components of beauty, & being in love with beauty, they neglect & despise those unaesthetic social virtues in the operation of which happiness is found. On the other hand those who pursue happiness conceived merely in the abstract & conventional terms, as money, success, or respectability, often miss that real & fundamental part of happiness which flows from the senses & imagination. This element is what aesthetics supplies to life; for beauty also can be a cause & a factor of happiness. Yet the happiness of loving beauty is either too sensuous to be stable, or else too ultimate, too sacramental, to be accounted happiness by the wordly mind.
- Santayana

The artist does not ascribe to the natural form of appearance the same convincing significance as the realists who are his critics. He does not feel so intimately bound to that reality, because he cannot see in the formal products of nature the essence of the creative process. He is more concerned with formative powers than with formal products... It is the artist's mission to penetrate as far as may be toward that secret ground where primal law feeds growth. Which artist would not wish to dwell at the central organ of all motion in space-time (be it the brain or the heart of creation) from which all functions derive their life? In the womb of nature, in the primal ground of creation, where the secret key to all things lies hidden?... Our beating heart drives us downward, far down to the primal ground. - Paul Klee

In the nineteenth century the Germans painted their dream & the outcome was invariably vegetable. The French needed only to paint a vegetable & it was already a dream.
- Adorno

The subject is to the painter what the rails are to the locomotive. He cannot do without it. In fact, when he refuses to seek or accept a subject, his own plastic methods & his own aesthetic theories become his subject instead. And even if he escapes them, he himself becomes the subject of his work. He becomes nothing but an illustrator of his own state of mind, & in trying to liberate himself he falls into the worst sort of slavery. That is the cause of all the boredom which emanates from so many of the large expositions of modern art, a fact testified to again & again by the most different temperaments.
- Diego Rivera

[Stravinsky] is...always studying the unfashionable & the forgotten on its merits; conceding nothing either to sensationalism nor to the demand for novelties; seeking no disciples & listening to all masters; never straining the functions of music nor letting theory outrun practice, nor waiting for genius to manifest itself in his work of its own accord, but thinking of inspiration as a factor in all departments of human activities; not a specialty of the artist alone, & a factor to be set in motion by effort only, & that effort daily work. He sets himself to work as a handicraftsman would do, evolving & constructing no theorizing that is more than a by-product of daily attention to what he feels best qualified to attend to, & cares most about. He gained the more confidence in that method through discovering that all those composers whose super-excellence is recognised worked just so.
- E. Stuart Bates, INSIDE OUT An Introduction to Autobiography

I must mention another habit of Leonardo's: he was always fascinated when he saw a man of striking appearance, with a strange head of hair or beard; & anyone who attracted him he would follow about all day long & end up seeing so clearly in his mind's eye that when he got home he could draw him as if he were standing there in the flesh... Leonardo also made use of this device: while he was painting Mona Lisa, who was a very beautiful woman, he employed singers & musicians or jesters to keep her full of merriment & so chase away the melancholy that painters usually give to their portraits. As a result, in this painting of Leonardo's there was a smile so pleasing that it seemed divine rather than human; & those who saw it were amazed to find that it was as alive as the original. - Vasari

I put my genius into my life, & only my talent into my art. - Wilde

An important consideration is whether one's erotic impulses enable his creative work to continue. Where they enhance & support it, one may be pleased; where they impede it or prevent it, one should rightfully object. - Paul Kurtz

First study the classics, then history. Then one has a deeper central point of view. Then one can go back to the classics again, when one will not be satisfied with merely beautiful phrases. - Chang Ch'ao

The three foundations of judgement:- bold design, constant practice, & frequent mistakes. - old Welsh triad

Nor let the musician think he can be a frivolous person & a parasite; he must be musician throughout, in his vote, in his economy, in his prayer. - Emerson's journals

Out of clutter, find simplicity. - Einstein

The master talked of music to the Grand Musician of Lu, saying, 'This much can be known about music. It begins with playing in unison. When it gets into full swing, it is harmonious, clear & unbroken. In this way it reaches the conclusion.' - Confucius, Analects

The artist, like the rest of us, is torn by various desires competing within himself. But, unlike the rest of us, he makes each of those desires into an element for use in his art. Then he seeks to synthesise his elements all together to form a style. The sign of a successful synthesis is a unified & unique style plain for all to recognise. So it is that a successful style can seem to its audience full of indefinably familiar things - & at the same time invested with godlike power of 'understanding' that is far indeed from the daily round. The process by which a man has forged such a unity is the most profound & most exalted of human stories. - J. N. Moore's biography of Elgar

Works of art are of an infinite loneliness & with nothing to be so little reached as with criticism. Only love can grasp & hold & fairly judge them. - Rilke

One should never write save of the things one loves. - Ernest Renan

...everybody has his own way of seeing, feeling & reproducing, & this is what the master should above all respect in the pupil, for it is this which makes the artist.
Do not forget that routine is the greatest enemy of art.
It is a difficult question which each one must put to himself one day : What do I love best in Nature? What characters appeal most to me? What moves & excites me most?... we see so many works of art, we read so many criticisms - mostly written by very ignorant persons, but written in fine pompous language, in sonorous phraseology which dazzles us, - that we are every minute distracted from our own road, & occasionally it becomes impossible to find ourselves again.
Lucky he who discovers himself, that is, his own bent, early; he has a chance of becoming a great artist if he is strong enough to resist the direction & advice of others who, not being able to enter his identity, would like to see him after their pattern. He who has the strength to avoid this rock, he who has conviction & faith, & along with them an unlimited love for his art, has the gates of fame open to him; he will do good original work, & not develop into an intelligent parrot. - Edouard Lanteri, Modelling & Sculpting the Human Figure

Everything excellent limits us momentarily because we feel unable to match up to it; only in so far as we subsequently accept it into our own culture, absorb it as belonging to our own mental & temperamental powers, do we come to love & value it. - Goethe

Goethe was pleased to call his memoirs 'Poetry & Truth', making it clear thereby that we cannot write of our own life as we write the lives of others. What we say of ourselves is always poetry. To imagine that the petty details of one's own life are in themselves worthy of being put on permanent record, would argue a very small-minded vanity. We write about such things in order to make known to others the theory of the universe implicit in ourselves.
- Ernest Renan, Memoirs

The aim of the world is intellectual development, & the first condition of that development is freedom. - Ernest Renan, Memoirs

...This emotion of infinite perfection is the materia prima...out of which attention, inspiration & art can bring forth an infinity of particular perfections. Every aesthetic success, whether in contemplation or production, is the birth of one of these possibilities with which the sense of infinite perfection is pregnant. A work of art or an act of observation which remains indeterminate is, therefore, a failure, however much it may stir our emotion. It is a failure for two reasons. In the first place this emotion is seldom wholly pleasant; it is disquieting & perplexing; it brings a desire rather than a satisfaction. And in the second place, the emotion, not being embodied, fails to constitute the beauty of anything; & what we have is merely a sentiment, a consciousness that values are or might be there, but a failure to extricate those values, or to make them explicit & recognisable in an appropriate object.
These gropings after beauty have their worth as signs of aesthetic vitality & intimations of future possible accomplishment; but in themselves they are abortive, & mark the impotence of the imagination. Sentimentalism in the observer & romanticism in the artist are examples of this aesthetic incapacity. Whenever beauty is really seen & loved, it has a definite embodiment: the eye has precision, the work has style, & the object has perfection. The kind of perfection may indeed be new; & if the discovery of new perfections is to be called romanticism, then romanticism is the beginning of all aesthetic life. But if by romanticism we mean indulgence in confused suggestion & in the exhibition of turgid force, then there is evidently need of education, of attentive labour, to disentangle the beauties so vaguely felt, & give each its adequate embodiment. The breadth of our inspiration need not be lost in this process of clarification, for there is no limit to the number & variety of forms which the world may be made to wear; only, if it is to be appreciated as beautiful & not merely felt as unutterable, it must be seen as a kingdom of forms. Thus the works of Shakespeare give us a great variety, with a frequent marvellous precision of characterisation, & the forms of his art are definite although its scope is great.
But by a curious anomaly, we are often expected to see the greatest expressiveness in what remains indeterminate, & in reality expresses nothing. As we have already observed, the sense of profundity & significance is a very detachable emotion; it can accompany a confused jumble of promptings quite as easily as it can a thorough comprehension of reality. The illusion of infinite perfection is peculiarly apt to produce this sensation. That illusion arises by the simultaneous awakening of many incipient thoughts & dim ideas; it stirs the depths of the mind as a wind stirs the thickets of a forest; & the unusual consciousness of the life & longing of the soul, brought by that gust of feeling, make us recognize in the object a singular power, a mysterious meaning.
But the feeling of significance signifies little. All we have in this case is a potentiality of imagination; & only when this potentiality begins to be realised in definite ideas, does a real meaning, or any object which that meaning can mean, arise in the mind. The highest aesthetic good is not that vague potentiality, nor that contradictory, infinite perfection so strongly desired; it is the greatest number & variety of finite perfections. To learn to see in nature & to enshrine in the arts the typical forms of things; to study & recognise their variations; to domesticate the imagination in the world, so that everywhere beauty can be seen, & a hint found for artistic creation - that is the goal of contemplation. Progress lies in the direction of discrimination & precision, not in that of formless emotion & reverie. - Santayana

A critic cannot be fair in the ordinary sense of the word. It is only about things that do not interest one that one can give a really unbiased opinion.
- Wilde, The Critic as Artist

Clear writers, like clear fountains, do not seem so deep as they are; the turbid looks most profound. - Landor

I have no respect at all for those who lie in order to attract notice as writers... the only way of reaching this exalted position in France is to become the high priest of some nonsensical doctrine... - Stendhal, Love

I was once told by a great master, that no man ever excelled in painting, who was eminently curious about pencils & colours. - Samuel Johnson

Explanation separates us from astonishment, which is the only gateway to the incomprehensible. - Ionesco

At once it struck me what quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature, & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason. - Keats is style alone by which posterity will judge of a great work, for an author can have nothing truly his own but his style. - Disraeli

Every other master we know by the things which he shows us,
Only the master of style rather by what he withholds. - Goethe

Your subject is quite indifferent, if you really speak out. If I met Shakespeare, or Montaigne, or Goethe, I should only aim to understand correctly what they said: they might talk of what they would. When people object to me my topics of England, or France, or natural history, 'tis only that they fear I shall not think on these subjects, but shall consult my ease, & repeat commonplaces. The way to the centre is everywhere equally short. 'A general has always troops enough, if he only knows how to employ those he has, & bivouacs with them,' said Bonaparte. Every breath of air is the carrier of the universal mind. Thus, for subjects, I do not know what is more tedious than Dedications, or pieces of flattery to Grandees. Yet in Hafiz, if would not do to skip them, since his dare-devil Muse is never better shown. - Emerson's journals

I think I can show that France cleaves to the form, & loses the substance; as, in the famous unities of her drama; & in her poetry itself; in the whole 'Classicality' of her turn of mind, which is only apery... - Emerson's journals

Nothing makes the soul so pure, so religious, as the endeavour to create something perfect; for God is perfection; & whoever strives for perfection strives for something that is godlike.
- Michaelangelo

The beautiful, strictly speaking, aims at nothing, since it is nothing but a form which, though available for many purposes according to its nature, has, as such, no aim beyond itself...
An art aims, above all, at producing something beautiful which affects not our feelings but the organ of pure contemplation, the imagination. ...A musical composition originates in the composer's imagination & is intended for the imagination of the listener. Our imagination, it is true, does not merely contemplate the beautiful, but contemplates it with intelligence - the object being, as it were, mentally inspected & criticized.
- Hanslick, The Beautiful in Music, p9-11

To become intoxicated nothing but weakness is required, but truly aesthetic listening is an art in itself. - Hanslick seems peculiarly hard for our literal minds to grasp the idea that anything can be KNOWN which cannot be NAMED. - Langer

There are feelings...which are so constantly suppressed by the tumult of our passions, they that can reveal themselves but timidly, & are practically unknown to us...Note however, what response a certain kind of music evokes in our hearts: we are attentive, it is charming; it does not aim to arouse either sorrow or joy, pity or anger, & yet we are moved by it. We are so imperceptibly, so gently moved, that we do no know we are affected, or rather, that we can give no name to the affect...
Indeed, it is quite impossible to name everything fascinating in music, & bring it under definite headings. Therefore music has fulfilled its mission whenever our hearts are satisfied.
- Huller

A work of art comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that people want what they want. - Wilde

The justification of a character in a novel is not that other persons are what they are, but that the author is what he is. Otherwise the novel is not a work of art. - Wilde

No great artist ever see things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist... The only portraits in which one believes are portraits where there is very little of the sitter, & a very great deal of the artist. ...It is style that makes us believe in a thing - nothing but style. Most of our modern portrait painters are doomed to absolute oblivion. They never paint what they see. They paint what the public sees, & the public never sees anything. - Wilde

A strong nature feels itself brought into the world for its own development, & not for the approbation of the public. - Goethe

What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh & cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music. His fate is like that of those unfortunates who were slowly tortured by a gentle fire in Phalaris's bull; their cries could not reach the tyrant's ears to cause him dismay, to him they sounded like sweet music. And people flock around the poet & say: 'Sing again soon' - that is, 'May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips must be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.' And the critics come forward & say: 'That's the way, that's how the rules of aesthetics say it should be done.' - Kierkegaard, Either/Or

There is no strong performance without a little fanaticism in the performer. - Emerson

I like that poetry which, without aiming to be allegorical, is so. Which, sticking close to its subject, & that perhaps trivial, can yet be applied to the life of man & the government of God & be found to hold... - Emerson's journals

Alone or almost alone amongst painters Rembrandt has...that heartbroken tenderness, that glimpse into a superhuman infinitude that seems so natural there; you come upon it in many places in Shakespeare. - Van Gogh, letter to Theo, July 1889

So complex & various are the elements of literature that no writer can be damned on a mere enumeration of faults. He may always possess merits which make up for everything; if he loses on the swings, he may win on the roundabouts.
- Lytton Strachey

If you're willing to fail interestingly, you usually succeed interestingly.
- Edward Albee

There is but one completely human voice to me in the world; & you are it.
- Carlyle, letter to Emerson

I spent long days & nights in the studio seeking that dance which might be the divine expression of the human spirit through the medium of the body's movement. For hours I would stand quite still, my two hands folded between my breasts, covering my solar plexus. My mother often became alarmed to see me remain for such long intervals quite motionless as if in a trance - but I was seeking, & finally discovered, the central spring of all movement, the crater of motor power, the unity from which all diversions of movements are born, the mirror of vision for the creation of the dance... I sought the source of the spiritual expression to flow into the channels of the body, filling it with vibrating light - the centrifugal force reflecting the spirit's vision. After many months, when I had learned to concentrate all my force to this one centre, I found that thereafter when I listened to music the rays & vibrations of the music streamed to this one fount of light within me - there they reflection themselves in spiritual vision, not the brain's mirror, but the soul's, & from this vision I could express them in dance.
It would seem as if it were a very difficult thing to explain in words, but when I stood before my class of even the smallest & poorest children & said: 'Listen to the music within your soul. Now, while listening, do you not feel an inner self awakening deep within you - that it is by its strength that your head is lifted, that your arms are raised, that you are walking slowly towards the light?' - they understood. This awakening is the first step in dance, as I conceive it.
Even as the youngest child understands; from then on, even in walking, & in all their movements, they possess a spiritual power & grace which do not exist in any movement born from the physical frame, or created from the brain. - Isadora Duncan, My Life

Genius is patience. - Newton

I get up early, & as soon as I have dressed I go down on my knees & pray God & the Blessed Virgin that I may have another successful day. Then when I've had some breakfast I sit down at the clavier & begin my search. If I hit on an idea quickly, it goes ahead easily & without much trouble. But if I can't get on, I know that I must have forfeited God's grace by some fault of mine, & then I pray once more for grace till I feel I'm forgiven. - Haydn my view there's nothing more foolish than to sit down & try to come up with a theme. For that you must arrange your life sensibly. See to it that every day you have at least half an hour for incidental reading...When you go for a walk you must let your thoughts flutter randomly, sniffing here & there, letting them have a go now here, now there. That is how to arrange one's housekeeping. Themata are the accidents that the week should deliver to you in abundance. But the more you see to it that the dividends are uncertain, the freer, better, richer they...will become, & the more striking, surprising, penetrating. - Kierkegaard

My ideas come as they will, I don't know how, all in a stream. If I like them I keep them in my head, & people say that I often hum them over to myself. Well, if I can hold on to them, they begin to join on to one another, as if they were bits that a pastry-cook should join together in his pantry. And now my soul gets heated, & if nothing disturbs me the piece grows larger & brighter until, however long it is, it is all finished together in my mind, so that I can see it at a glance, as if it were a pretty picture or a pleasing person. Then I don't hear the notes one after another, as they are hereafter to be played, but it is as if in my fancy they were all at once. And that is a blast. While I'm inventing, it all seems to me like a fine vivid dream; but that hearing it all at once (when the invention is done), that's the best. What I once so heard I don't forget again, & perhaps this is the best gift that God has granted me. - Mozart

The secret of composition lies in this:
Try to express difficult points clearly & avoid the obvious & superficial. Commonplace subjects must be illuminated with fresh thoughts, & commonplace themes must be shown to have deeper implications. As to amplifications, tightening up, weeding out overwriting & common, overused expressions, these are matters of revision. - Chang Ch'ao, c. 1690

Poetry is a pleasure from hell. - Slessor defect of diaries & autobiographies is that usually what "goes without saying" goes without being said, & thus one misses the essential.
- Simone de Beauvoir

Make the drummer sound good. - Thelonious Monk, to Steve Lacy

Music is whatever you listen to with the intention of listening to music. - Luciano Berio

Nowadays the more contemptible a writer the better his earnings. - Kierkegaard

...if the minor third 'looks on the darker side of things' this may function as tragedy, as stoic acceptance, as sternness; or, to a lesser degree, as gravity, soberness, seriousness. No one would deny that it is possible to experience a grave, sober or serious pleasure; & herein enters the ambiguity. Thus, the medieval church composers, setting the Gloria or Osanna, usually employed a fairly lively tempo, but often felt it incumbent upon themselves to use the minor system, remembering that they were not angels or blessed spirits enjoying the pleasures of heaven, but men praising God from this 'vale of tears'. Likewise, to a philosophic mind, pleasure must not be unbounded, & sometimes becomes so sober it loses the sense of joy altogether. The words of both the poems set here are worth quoting, as examples of 'taking one's pleasure sadly':
JONES: 'Love winged my hopes & taught me how to fly
Far from base earth, but not to mount too high;
For true pleasure
Lives in measure...'
ROSSITER: 'Though far from joy, my sorrows are as far,
And I both between.
Not too low, nor yet too high
Above my reach would I be seen
Happy is he that is so placed
Not to be envied, nor to be disdained or disgraced.'
Here we face a philosophy that conflicts with Western Europe's general insistence on the 'right to be happy', regarding such an insistence as hubris inviting the inevitable nemesis; & to express the idea that 'true pleasure lives in measure', the major system is shunned in favour of the minor one, with a light rhythm & a moderate tempo... - Deryck Cooke, The Language of Music

We are naturally pleased by every perception, & recognition & surprise are particularly acute sensations. When we see a striking truth in any imitation, we are therefore delighted... - Santayana

Those who have no interest in communication do not become artists; they become mystics or madmen. - W. H. Auden

If you love music, hear it; go to operas, concerts & pay fiddlers to play to you; but I insist upon your neither piping nor fiddling yourself. It puts a gentleman in a very frivolous, contemptible light; brings him into a great deal of bad company; & takes up a great deal of time, which might be much better employed. - Lord Chesterfield

Mr Erik Satie is, quite rightly, taken for a pretentious cretin. His music is senseless & makes people laugh & shrug their shoulders. - Erik Satie


Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.
- Samuel Butler

Nothing is ever quite true. - Wilde, Dorian Gray

That something is irrational is no argument against its existence, but rather a condition of it. - Nietzsche is tempted to define man as a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
- Wilde

...we reflect in general not to find the facts, but to prove our theories at the expense of them. - Bradley

I am always insincere, as always knowing there are other moods. - Emerson

Every body leads two or three lives, has two or three consciousnesses which he nimbly alternates. - Emerson, journal

I've been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened. - Mark Twain

The rule is not to dictate, nor to insist on carrying out each of your schemes by ignorant wilfulness, but to learn practically the secret spoken from all nature, that things themselves refuse to be mismanaged, & will show to the watchful their own law...Nature has her own best mode of doing each thing, & she has somewhere told it plainly, if we will keep our eyes & ears open. If not, she will not be slow in undeceiving us, when we prefer our own way to hers...travellers & Indians know the value of a buffalo-trail, which is sure to be the easiest possible pass through the ridge. - Emerson

1. STOP ALL CRITICISM: Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.
2. DON'T SCARE YOURSELF: Stop terrorising yourself with your thoughts. It's a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure & immediately switch your scary thought to a pleasure thought.
3. BE KIND & GENTLE & PATIENT: Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you really love.
4. BE KIND TO YOUR MIND: Self-hatred is only hating your own thoughts. Gently change your thoughts.
5. PRAISE YOURSELF: Criticism breaks down the inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can. Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.
6. SUPPORT YOURSELF: Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends & allow them to help you. It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.
7. BE LOVING TO YOUR NEGATIVES: Acknowledge that you created them to fill those needs. Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfil those needs. So lovingly release the old negative patterns.
8. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY: Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need to have optimum energy & vitality? Learn about exercise. What kind of exercise can you enjoy? Cherish & revere the temple you live in.
9: MIRROR WORK: Look into your eyes often. Express this growing sense of love you have for yourself. Forgive yourself while looking into the mirror. Talk to your parents looking into the mirror. Forgive them too. At least once a day say 'I love you, I really love you!'
10: LOVE YOURSELF: Begin it now. Do the best you can. - Louise Hay

In this world, you must be a bit too kind in order to be kind enough.
- Marivaux

Before you damn to Hell any great criminal whose story you have read just give thanks to benevolent Heaven that it did not place you, with your fair & honest face, at the commencement of such a succession of circumstances. - Lichtenberg

What wisdom can you find that is greater than happiness? - Rousseau

All of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. - Wilde

I am to invite men drenched in time to recover themselves & come out of time, & taste their native immortal air. - Emerson

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
The fox condemns the trap, not himself.
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves,
the raging of the stormy sea, & the destructive sword
are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
What is now proved was once only imagined.
To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
Exuberance is Beauty.
Enough, or Too Much.
- William Blake, Proverbs of Hell

This is the main defect with everything human, that it is only through opposition that the object of desire is possessed. I shan't speak of the various syndromes that can keep the psychologist busy (the melancholic has the best-developed sense of humour, the most extravagant person is often the one most prone to the picturesque, the dissolute one often the most moral, the doubter often the most religious), but simply recall that it is through sin that one first catches sight of salvation... - Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Our minds are wombs we spin our lives from. - Lou Andreas-Salome

Life's a set of chords, & God's a jazz musician. - from a poem

A man should so live as to be like a poem, & a thing should so look as to be like a picture. - Chang Ch'ao

The great & glorious masterpiece of man is to live to the point. - Montaigne

Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power & wisdom which animates all whom it floats, & you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, & a perfect contentment.
- Emerson

Life is a series of surprises. We do not guess today the mood, the pleasure, the power of tomorrow; when we are building up our being. Of lower states, - of acts of routine & sense, - we can tell somewhat; but the masterpieces of God, the total growths & universal movements of the soul, he hides; they are incalculable. I can know that truth is divine & helpful; but how it shall help me I can have no guess, for so to be is the sole inlet of so to know...The simplest words, - we do not know what they mean, except when we love & aspire. - Emerson

Few in life are felt to deserve an encore. - Gracian

...he who thinks he does something for the last time ought not to do it at all.
- Emerson

It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them. - Adler

When judging someone for a particular action, ask yourself whether you, in similar circumstances, would rather be 'excused' or held accountable for your behaviour... - Halberstam

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Pope

What other people call one's past has, no doubt, everything to do with them, but has absolutely nothing to do with oneself. The man who regards his past is a man who deserves to have no future to look forward to. When one has found expression for a mood, one has done with it. You laugh; but believe me it is so. - Wilde

Of such mighty importance every man is to himself, & ready to think he so to others; without once making this easy & obvious reflection, that his affairs can have no more weight with other men, than theirs have with him; & how little that is, he is sensible enough. - Swift, On Conversation

A man who finds any other man a bore is a fool: no man, once you are alone with him, is a bore: he has always something which he knows better than other people: it is only when he interrupts other & more vital informants that he becomes a bore. - Lloyd George

The art of conversation is to be prompt without being stubborn, to refute without argument, & to clothe great matters in a motley garb. - Disraeli

Conversation is a game of circles. In conversation we pluck up the termini which bound the common of silence on every side. - Emerson

Being irritated by hearing a gentleman ask Mr Levett a variety of questions concerning him, when he was sitting by, [Johnson] broke out, "Sir, you have but two topicks, yourself & me. I am sick of both. A man, (said he,) should not talk of himself, nor much of any particular person. He should take care not to be made a proverb; &, therefore, should avoid having any one topick of which people can say, 'We shall hear him upon it.' " - Boswell

BOSWELL: Have you not been vexed by all the turbulence of this reign, & that absurd vote of the House of Commons, "That the influence of the Crown has increased...& ought to be diminished"?
JOHNSON: Sir, I have never slept an hour less nor eat an ounce less meat. I would have knocked the factious dogs on the head, to be sure; but I was not vexed.
BOSWELL: I declare, Sir, upon my honour, I did imagine I was vexed, & took a pride in it; but it was perhaps cant...
JOHNSON: My dear friend, clear your mind of cant. You may talk as other people do: you may say..."These are bad times; it is a melancholy thing to be reserved to such times." You don't mind the times...You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don't think foolishly.

Society is as needful to the imagination as solitude is wholesome for the character. - James Russell Lowell

Where one should build one's house. If you feel yourself great & fruitful in solitude, a life in society will diminish you & make you empty: & vice versa. Powerful gentleness, like that of a father :- where you are seized by this mood, there found your house, whether it be in the midst of a crowd, or in a silent retreat. - Nietzsche, Daybreak, 473

In my study my faith is perfect. It breaks, scatters, becomes confounded in converse with men. Hume doubted in his study & believed in the world.
- Emerson, journal, Dec 28(?), 1831

Another reason for solitude. - A: So you intend to return to your desert? - B: I am not quick moving. I have to wait for myself - it is always late before the water comes to light out of the well of myself, & I often have to endure thirst for longer than I have patience. That is why I go into solitude - so as not to drink out of everybody's cistern. When I am among the many I live as the many do, & I do not think as I really think; after a time it always seems as though they want to banish me from myself & rob me of my soul - & I grow angry with everybody & fear everybody. I then require the desert, so as to grow good again.
- Nietzsche, Daybreak, 491

To me, a single man is a crowd, & a crowd is a single man. - Democritus

A wampeter is an object around which the lives of many otherwise unrelated people may revolve. Foma are harmless untruths, intended to comfort simple souls. A granfalloon is a proud & meaningless association of human beings... - Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons

Spiritual health is no more stable than bodily; & though we may seem unaffected by the passions we are just as liable to be carried away by them as to fall ill when in good health. - La Rochefoucauld

Among south winds. - A: I no longer understand myself! Only yesterday I felt so wild & stormy & at the same time so warm, so sunny - & bright in the extreme. And today! All is now motionless, flat, dejected, gloomy, like the lagoon of Venice: - I want nothing & draw a deep breath of relief at that, & yet I am secretly vexed at this wanting nothing. Thus do the waves splash back & forth in the lake of my melancholy. - B: You have described a pleasant little illness. The next north-east wind will blow it away! - A: Why should it!
- Nietzsche, Daybreak, 492

'Many are less fortunate than you' may not be a roof to live under, but it will serve to retire beneath in the event of a shower. - Lichtenberg

All comfort in life is based on a regular occurrence of external phenomena - Goethe

Don't follow after vanity, or after the enjoyment of love & lust! He who is earnest & meditative, obtains ample joy. - Buddha

I would write a sermon upon the text men are made a law unto themselves to advise them to fear & honour themselves. - Emerson, journal, Nov. 11, 1828

To yield is to be preserved whole.
To be bent is to become straight.
To be empty is to be full.
To be worn out is to be renewed.
To have little is to possess.
To have plenty is to be perplexed. - Lao Tzu

Only those who take leisurely what the people of the world are busy about can be busy about what the people of the world take leisurely.
- Chang Ch'ao

Hard Times. In this contradictory world of Truth the hard times come when the good times are in the world of commerce; namely, sleep, fulleating, plenty of money, care of it, & leisure; these are the hard times. Nothing is doing & we lose every day. - Emerson, journal

Be careful what you set your heart on, for it surely will be yours. - Emerson

Ask not what you are getting, but what you are becoming. - Jim Rohn

We make a living by what we get, but a life by what we give. - Churchill

Live as you will have wished to have lived when you are dying.
- Christian Gellert

If we have our own why of life, we shall get along with almost any how.
- Nietzsche

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, & writes another; & his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.
- J. M. Barrie

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest. - Pope

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times that you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. - John Wesley's rule

The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, & to have it found out by accident. - Charles Lamb

The soul will not know either deformity or pain. If, in the hours of clear reason, we should speak the severest truth, we should say, that we had never made a sacrifice. In these hours the mind seems so great, that nothing can be taken from us that seems much. All loss, all pain, is particular; the universe remains to the heart unhurt. - Emerson

Everyone's my better in something. In this, learn from them. - Emerson

The wise have more to learn of fools, than fools of the wise. - Cato elder

You don't care for humanity but think they are to be improved. I love humanity but know they are not! - Henry James, letter to H. G. Wells

It is not often that any man can have so much knowledge of another, as is necessary to make instruction useful. - Samuel Johnson

The majority of men are subjective towards themselves & objective toward all others, terribly objective sometimes, but the real task is, in fact, to be objective toward oneself & subjective toward all others. - Kierkegaard

Every day & every hour, we say things of others that we might more properly say of ourselves, if we could but turn our observation inwards.
- Montaigne

You hypocrite, first cast out the beam from your own eye, & then you shall see clearly to cast out the mote from your brother's eye. - Jesus, Matthew 7:5

The splinter in your eye is the best magnifying glass. - Adorno

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
- Tolstoy

Let him who would move the world first move himself. - Seneca

Infinite patience produces immediate results. - A Course In Miracles

The two important things I did learn were that you are as powerful as you allow yourself to be, & that the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision. - Robyn Davidson, Tracks

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing were a miracle. The other is as though everything were a miracle. - Einstein

You have your brush & colours. You paint paradise, then in you go. - Kazantzakis

Gurowski asked: "Where is this bog? I wish to earn some money: I wish to dig peat."
- "Oh, no, indeed, sir, you cannot do this kind of degrading work."
- "I cannot be degraded. I am Gurowski." - Emerson

I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality. - Wilde, Dorian Gray

One's own path. - If we take the decisive step & enter upon the path which is called our 'own path', a secret is suddenly revealed to us: all those who have hitherto been our friends & familiars have imagined themselves superior to us, & are now offended. The best of them are lenient with us & wait patiently for us soon to find our way back to the 'right path' - they know, it seems, what the right path is... - Nietzsche, Daybreak, 484

Letting go of our suffering is the hardest work we'll ever do. There's nothing heroic in coping. This is your life! - Stephen Levine

I hope & I fear. I do not see. At one time, I am a Doer. A divine life, I create scenes & persons around & for me & unfold my thought by a perpetual successive projection. At least I so say, I so feel. But presently I return to the habitual attitude of suffering. - Emerson, journal

Money is never spent to so much advantage as when you have been cheated out of it; for at one stroke you have purchased prudence. - Schopenhauer

Nobody is made anything by hearing of rules, or laying them up in his memory; practice must settle the habit of doing, without reflecting on the rule: & you may as well hope to make a good painter or musician extempore by a lecture & instruction in the arts of music & painting, as a coherent thinker, or strict reasoner, by a set of rules, showing him wherein right reasoning consists.
This being so, that defects & weaknesses in men's understandings, as well as other faculties, come from a want of a right use of their own minds, I am apt to think the fault is generally mislaid upon nature, & there is often a complaint of want of parts, when the fault lies in want of a due improvement of them. We see men frequently dextrous & sharp enough in making a bargain, who, if you reason with them about matters of religion, appear perfectly stupid. - Locke

You will never be remarkable for quick-wittedness. Be it so, then; yet there are still a host of other qualities whereof you cannot say, 'I have no bent for them.' Cultivate these, then, for they are wholly within your power: sincerity, for example, & dignity; industriousness, & sobriety. Avoid grumbling; be frugal, considerate & frank; be temperate in manner & in speech; carry yourself with authority... - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

The first & best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by the self is, of all things, the most shameful & vile. - Plato

Let a man raise himself by his Self; let him never lower himself; for he alone is the friend of himself & he alone is the enemy of himself.
- Bhagavad Gita

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, & none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. - Emerson, Self-Reliance

All virtues are said to be natural to those
Who acquire character as a duty.
To the wise the only worth
Is character, nought else.
The pillars of excellence are five - love, modesty,
Altruism, compassion, truthfulness.
The core of penance is not killing,
Of goodness not speaking slander.
The secret of success is humility;
It is also wisdom's weapon against foes.
The touchstone of goodness is to own one's defeat
Even to inferiors.
What good is that good which does not return
Good for evil?
Poverty is no disgrace
To one with strength of character.
Seas may whelm, but men of character
Will stand like the shore.
If the great fail in nobility, the earth
Will bear us no more. - Tiruvalluvar, Kural

The Master said, 'The gentleman is ashamed of his word outstripping his deed.
It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your own lack of them.
To fail to speak to a man who is capable of benefiting is to let a man go to waste. To speak to a man who is incapable of benefiting is to let one's words go to waste. A wise man lets neither men or words go to waste.
In his errors a man is true to type. Observe the errors & you will know the man.
When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within & examine your own self.
I have yet to meet the man who is as fond of virtue as he is of beauty in women.
Make it your guiding principle to do your best for others & to be trustworthy in what you say. Do not accept as a friend anyone who is not as good as you. When you make a mistake do not be afraid of mending your ways.
The man of wisdom is never in two minds; the man of benevolence never worries; the man of courage is never afraid.' - Confucius, Analects

One of the first lessons a disciple needs to learn, is that where he thinks he is strongest & where he finds the most satisfaction, is very frequently the point of greatest danger & weakness. - Alice Bailey

You have everything to gain & nothing to lose by trying. To become an expert achiever in any human activity takes practice...practice...practice. Man's greatest power lies in the power of prayer. 'If I leave you nothing else but the will to work, I will have left you the priceless gift: the joy of work.' Loving people & serving them is the greatest value in life. The man with PMA will so arrange his attitudes that he will turn even the bad breaks into advantages. Success is maintained by those who keep trying with PMA. A person with PMA aims for high goals & constantly strives to achieve them. Every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit. In the future analyze both your successes & your failures using the 17 principles* & very soon you will be able to lay your finger on what has been holding you back. 98% of those dissatisfied do not have a clear picture in their minds of the world they would like for themselves. I DARE YOU!
- Napoleon Hill & Clement Stone, Success With A Positive Mental Attitude
* The 17 success principles:
1. a positive mental attitude 10. enthusiasm
2. definiteness of purpose 11. controlled attention
3. going the extra mile 12. teamwork
4. accurate thinking 13. learning from defeat
5. self-discipline 14. creative vision
6. the master mind 15. budgeting time & money
7. applied faith 16. maintaining sound physical
8. a pleasing personality & mental health
9. personal initiative 17. using cosmic habit force

...the two things that a healthy person hates most between heaven & earth are a woman who is not dignified & a man who is. - G. K. Chesterton

Women inspire us with the desire to do masterpieces, & always prevent us from carrying them out. - Wilde, Dorian Gray

Brichard was quite right when he said to me with his usual malice: 'When you're in love with a woman, you must ask yourself: What do I want to do with her?'
- Stendhal, Life of Henry Brulard

You have to distance yourself from beauty & intelligence if you don't want to become their vassal.
- Goethe

Love & truthfulness. - For the sake of love we are inveterate transgressors against truth & habitual thieves & receivers, who allow more to be true than appears to be true - that is why the thinker must always from time to time drive away those people he loves (they will not be precisely those who love him), so that they may display their sting & their malice & cease to seduce him.
- Nietzsche, Daybreak, 479

Everything beautiful feels at once intensely intimate, unreachably remote, & deeply necessary - & that is how it casts its spell. - Simon May

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not. - Emerson

The ear says more
Than any tongue. - W. S. Graham

Our grand business undoubtedly is, not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Carlyle

Never leave till tomorrow that which you can do today. - Franklin

Duty's duty! - Long John Silver

I value myself, not when I do what is called the commanding duty of this Monday or Tuesday, but when I leave it to do the duty of a remote day, as, for instance, to write a line, or find a new fact, a missing link, in my essay on 'Memory' or on 'Imagination'. - Emerson

The karma yogi is the man who understand that the highest ideal is non-resistance. Before reaching this highest ideal man's duty is to resist evil. Let him work, let him fight, let him strike straight from the shoulder. Then only, when he has gained the power to resist, will non-resistance be a virtue...
Two ways are left open to us: the way of the ignorant, who think that there is only one way to truth & that all the rest are wrong; & the way of the wise, who admit that, according to our mental constitution or the different planes of existence in which we are, duty & morality may vary. - Vivekananda

What can it signify to say that you renounce everything, if as yet you have loved nothing? - Santayana

The only true duty is to be unattached & to work as free beings, to give up all work unto God. All our duties are his... We serve our time; whether we do it ill or well, who knows? If we do it well, we do not get the fruits. If we do it ill, neither do we care. Be at rest, be free, & work. - Vivekananda

What would you do if you were cured? Well, go do it then! - Adler

When a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.
- 3rd Zen Patriarch

...the circumstances expressive of happiness are not those that are favourable to it in reality, but those that are congruous with it in idea. The green of spring, the bloom of youth, the variability of childhood, the splendour of wealth & beauty, all these are symbols of happiness, not because they have been known to accompany it in fact, - for they do not, any more than their opposites, - but because they produce an image & echo of it in us aesthetically. We believe those things to be happy which it makes us happy to think of or to see; the belief in the blessedness of the supreme being itself has no other foundation. Our joy in the thought of omniscience makes us attribute joy to the possession of it, which it would in fact perhaps be very far from involving or even allowing. - Santayana

That man is never happy for the present is so true, that all his relief from unhappiness is only forgetting himself for a little while. Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment. - Johnson

Joy in nonsense. How can men take joy in nonsense? They do so, wherever there is laughter - in fact, one can almost say that wherever there is happiness there is joy in nonsense. It gives us pleasure to turn experience into its opposite, to turn purposefulness into purposelessness, necessity into arbitrariness, in such a way that the process does no harm & is performed simply out of high spirits. For it frees us momentarily from the forces of necessity, purposefulness, & experience, in which we usually see our merciless masters. We can laugh & play when the expected (which usually frightens us & makes us tense) is discharged without doing harm. It is the slaves' joy at the Saturnalia.
- Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, p127

They must often change who would be constant in happiness. - Confucius

Never halt on a shifting slope. - Mount Analogue

When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers. - Wilde

Happiness is a superstition - joy is our birthright. - Stephen Levine

Wanting to impose a fictitious, permanent state of happiness on the body is a serious neurological problem. - U. G. Krishnamurti

Religion is a disease, but it is a noble disease. - Heraclitus

Astrology & the like. It is probable that the objects of religious, moral & aesthetic sensibility likewise belong only to the surface of things, although man likes to believe that here at least he is touching the heart of the world. Because those things make him so deeply happy or unhappy, he deceives himself, & shows the same pride as astrology, which thinks the heavens revolve around the fate of man. The moral man, however, presumes that that which is essential to his heart must also be the heart & essence of things.
- Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, p16

Religion consists in believing that everything which happens is extraordinarily important. It can never disappear from the world, precisely for that reason. - Pavese

Fear of power invisible, feigned by the mind, or imagined from tales publicly allowed, RELIGION; not allowed, SUPERSTITION. - Hobbes

All those spiritual leaders of the peoples who were able to stir something into motion within the inert but fertile mud of their customs have, in addition to madness, also had need of voluntary torture if they were to inspire belief - & first & foremost, as always, their own belief in themselves! The more their spirit ventured on to new paths & was as a consequence tormented by pangs of conscience & spasms of anxiety, the more cruelly did they rage against their own flesh, their own appetites & their own health - as though to offer the divinity a substitute pleasure in case he might perhaps be provoked by this neglect of & opposition to established usages & by the new goals these paths led to. Let us not be too quick to think that we have by now freed ourselves completely from such a logic of feeling!...Every smallest step in the field of free thought, of a life shaped personally, has always had to be fought for with spiritual & bodily tortures: not only the step forward, no! the step itself, movement, change of any kind has needed its innumerable martyrs through all the long path-seeking & foundation-laying millennia which, to be sure, are not what one has in mind when one uses the expression 'world history' - that ludicrously tiny portion of human existence; & even within this so-called world history, which is at bottom merely much ado about the latest news, there is no more really vital theme than the age-old tragedy of the martyrs who wanted to stir up the swamp. Nothing has been purchased more dearly than that little bit of human reason & feeling of freedom that now constitutes our pride. It is this pride, however, which now makes it almost impossible for us to empathise with those tremendous eras of 'morality & custom' which precede 'world history' as the actual & decisive eras of history which determined the character of mankind: the eras in which suffering counted as virtue, cruelty counted as virtue, dissembling counted as virtue, revenge counted as virtue, denial of reason counted as virtue, while on the other hand well-being was accounted a danger, desire for knowledge was accounted a danger, peace was accounted a danger, pity was accounted a danger, being pitied was considered an affront, work was accounted an affront, madness was accounted godliness, & change was accounted immoral & pregnant with disaster! - Do you think all this has altered & that mankind must therefore have changed its character? O observers of mankind, learn better to observe yourselves!
- Nietzsche, Daybreak, 8

There is hardly a surer way to incur the censure of infidelity & irreligion than sincere faith & an entire devotion. For to the common eye, pews, vestries, family prayer, sanctimonious looks & words constitute religion, which the devout man would find hindrances. And so we go, trying always to weld the finite & infinite, the absolute & the seeming, together. On the contrary the manner in which religion is most positively affirmed by men of the world is barefaced skepticism. - Emerson, journals

There is no nature at an instant. - Whitehead

Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve.
- Santayana

He who binds to himself a Joy
Doth the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the Joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's sunrise. - William Blake

The creation was an act of mercy. - William Blake

There is not a real emotion that, once expressed, cannot be positive & therefore is not positive; & there is not a real emotion, that when stuffed inside, does not ultimately putrefy & cause damage. - Lazaris

It is hard enough to watch your own mind, so why add the burden of judging others. Learn to use your own breath & everyday life as the place of meditation & you will surely grow in wisdom... Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware & awake in each moment. - Ajahn Chah

A great man is one who has not lost the heart of a child. - Mencius

One's thought is one's world.
What a person thinks is what he becomes -
That is the eternal mystery.
If the mind dwells within the supreme Self,
One enjoys undying happiness. - Maitri Upanishad

Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff from taking various forms. At that time (of concentration) the seer rests in his own (unmodified) state. At other times the seer is identified with the modifications. There are 5 classes of modifications, some painful & others not painful. These are:
- Right Knowledge (direct perception, inference & competent evidence are proofs.)
- Indiscrimination (false knowledge not established in real nature.)
- Verbal delusion (follows from words having no corresponding reality.)
- Sleep (a vritti that embraces the feeling of voidness)
- Memory (when vrittis or perceived subjects do not slip away & through impressions come back to consciousness.)
Their control is by practice & non-attachment. Continuous struggle to keep the vrittis perfectly restrained is practice. It becomes firmly grounded by long constant efforts with great love for the end to be attained. That effect which comes to those who have given up their thirst after objects either seen or heard, & which wills to control the objects, is non-attachment. That is extreme non-attachment which gives up even the qualities, & comes from the knowledge of (the real nature of) the Self. - Patanjali, Yoga Sutras

Know that when you learn to lose yourself, you will reach the Beloved. There is no other secret to be learnt, & more than this is not known to me. - Ansari of Herat

The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of out propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory, & to do something without knowing how or why; in short, to draw a new circle. The way of life is wonderful; it is by abandonment. 'A great man never rises so high as when he knows not whither he is going.' Dreams & drunkenness, the use of opium & alcohol, are the semblance & counterfeit of this oracular genius, & hence their dangerous attraction for men. - Emerson

Who can blame men for seeking excitement. They are polar & would you have them sleep in a dull eternity of equilibrium? Religion, love, ambition, money, war, brandy, some fierce antagonism must break the round of perfect circulation or no spark, no joy, no event can be. As good not be. - Emerson, journal

...nothing that one can imagine is worth doing, & one can imagine everything. - Wilde, The Critic as Artist

One can live only so long as one is intoxicated, drunk with life; but when one grows sober one cannot fail to see that it is all a stupid cheat. What is truest about it is that there is nothing even funny or silly in it; it is cruel & stupid, purely & simply.
- Tolstoy

Redeemed from scepticism. - A: Others emerge out of a general moral scepticism ill-humoured & feeble, gnawed-at & worm-eaten, indeed half-consumed - but I do so braver & healthier than ever, again in possession of my instincts. Where a sharp wind blows, the sea rises high & there is no little danger to be faced, that is where I feel best. I have not become a worm, even though I have often had to work & tunnel like a worm. - B: You have just ceased to be a sceptic. For you deny! - A: & in doing so I have again learned to affirm.
- Nietzsche, Daybreak, 477

Facts are stubborn things. - Lesage

...'tis the most pleasing Flattery, to like what other men like.
- John Selden

We talked far into the night, as friends so when they meet again, amid the homely village smells. 'How long have you been hearing confessions?'
'About fifteen years...'
'What has confession taught you about men?'
'Oh, confession teaches nothing, you know, because when a priest goes into the confessional he becomes another person - grace & all that. And yet... First of all, people are much more unhappy than one thinks... & then...' He raised his brawny countryman's arms in the starlit night:
'And then, the fundamental fact is that there is no such thing as a grown-up person...' - Andre Malraux

Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old. - Swift

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice & tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.
In order to live free & happily, you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice.
Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully. - Emmanuel

The Glamour of the pairs of opposites is of a dense & foggy nature, sometimes coloured with joy & bliss, & sometimes with gloom & depression, as the disciple swings back & forth between dualities, until the middle way is sighted & emerges. It persists as long as the emphasis is laid upon feeling - which will run the gamut between a potent joyfulness, as he seeks to identify himself with the object of his devotion or aspiration, or fails to do so, & therefore succumbs to the blackest despair & sense of failure. All this is, however, astral in nature, & sensuous in quality, & not of the soul at all. Release from the world of feeling, & the polarising of the disciple in the world of the illumined mind, will dissipate this glamour, which is part of the great heresy of separateness. - Alice Bailey

The mind can be compared to a pendulum. Like the incessant movement of a clock's pendulum, the pendulum of the mind swings intermittently from happiness to sorrow & back again. When the pendulum of the clock moves to one extreme, it is only gaining enough momentum to swing back to the other end. Likewise, when the pendulum of the mind moves towards happiness, it is only gaining momentum to reach the other pole of sorrow. Real peace & happiness can be experienced only when the pendulum of the mind stops swinging altogether. From that stillness ensues real peace & bliss. This state of perfect stillness is verily the essence of life.
- Holy Mother Amritanandamayi

In my world nothing ever goes wrong. - Nisargadatta Maharaj

To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly & sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine. - Emerson, History

There's a feeling. Let go. There's just me. Let go. There's just that. Let that go... Want what is eternal. - Gangaji

...every action admits of being outdone. Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, & under every deep a lower deep opens... - Emerson, Circles

Where do we find ourselves? In a series of which we do not know the extremes, & believe that it has none. - Emerson

He who knows others is wise;
He who knows himself is enlightened. - Lao Tzu

What the superior man seeks is in himself.
What the mean man seeks is in others. - Confucius

Any man who does not think that what he has is more than ample, is an unhappy man, even if he is the master of the whole world. - Epicurus

No man is happy who does not think himself so. - Publilius Syrus

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, & your belief will create the fact... We become what we think about most of the time.
- William James

Men do not care how nobly they live, but only how long, although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man's power to live long. - Seneca

To live under a constraint is a misfortune, but there is no constraint to live under constraint. - Epicurus

...if ever you are faced with two options, choose the most adventurous.
- Bob Brown

More profound minds, who try to forge an armour of purple steel out of their own streaming blood so that their wounds may be concealed forever & their heroic gesture may become a paradigm of the real heroism that is to come - so that it may call the new heroism into being... - Lukacs, The Theory of the Novel, p31

There is always something new to learn in this life. Keep open & ready to receive the now. Be flexible at all times. Let My Spirit move you in the moment. Call it 'freedom of the Spirit'. When you are living by the Spirit, life is full of excitement. It is ever moving, filled with joy & the unexpected. Life becomes dull & boring & lifeless when you get into a fixed form & refuse to move out of it. Watch for this.
There are times in life when strict discipline is necessary. Every soul has to go through these times in the process of reaching Me. It is right to have a fixed time of quiet & meditation, of seeking & finding Me, of being still & listening to My still, small voice. Every child should learn discipline at an early age, when it is so much easier to learn & accept it. So, in this spiritual life, it is easier for a soul to learn discipline at the beginning; then it does not waste time kicking against the pricks, causing itself unnecessary pain & suffering. Once a soul has learned the two vital lessons of discipline & obedience, it can truly live by the Spirit. I know that at any time of day or night I can call upon that soul & instantly that soul will be attuned to Me, ready to listen & obey My slightest whisper with instant obedience, with never a moment wasted by 'wait a minute'. This is a stage to be reached along the spiritual path.
If the desire is deep & great enough, nothing can stand in the way of achievement. Let nothing you do be half-hearted. Give all & you will indeed receive all. Lift up your heart & give Me constant thanks for all My good & good perfect gifts.
Stop striving & live fully in the moment, finding perfect peace & stillness in that moment. Strain comes when you try to look too far ahead. All these things I have said many times, but you forget until you are brought to a standstill & realise you are making the old mistakes again. They may seem to be small mistakes but they are vital ones & the sooner they are overcome, the better, for I need to use you all the time, which is not easy to do when there is stress or strain. Relax in My love & live fully in the moment.
Rise, rise quickly into the realms of light, of truth, of beauty, leaving all else behind. In an instant you can do this. The choice is always yours. When you feel low, depressed or weary, immediately do something about it. As you think, so you are. Remain in complete control of these thoughts & act swiftly. When your thoughts become negative & you find yourself thinking unloving or critical thoughts towards another soul, change these thoughts & do it quickly. As you build up loving, positive thoughts towards every soul you come into contact with, you not only help those souls but help yourself as well & find yourself in those glorious higher realms where all is beauty. Watch your thoughts, never allow them to bind or hold you down.
Let your heart expand all the time. Love is needed everywhere. Remember that love is service, love is action; love is not some woolly, vague emotion to be talked about. Learn to demonstrate it in all you do. - Eileen Caddy, God Spoke To Me

While a great deal of lip service is paid to the religious ideal of love of one's neighbour, our relations are actually determined, at best, by the principle of fairness. Fairness meaning not to use fraud & trickery in the exchange of commodities & services, & in the exchange of feelings. 'I give you as much as you give me,' in material goods as well as in love, is the prevalent ethical maxim in capitalist society.
Fairness ethics lend themselves to confusion with the ethics of the Golden Rule. The maxim 'to do unto others as you would like them to do unto you' can be interpreted as meaning 'be fair in your exchange with others.' But, actually, it was formulated originally as a more popular version of the Biblical 'Love they neighbour as thyself;' i.e., to feel responsible for & one with him, while fairness ethics means not to feel responsible, & one, but distant & separate; respect his rights, but don't love him. It is no accident that the Golden Rule has become the most popular religious maxim today; because it can be interpreted in terms of fairness ethics it is the one religious maxim which everyone understands & is willing to practise. But the practice of love must begin with recognizing the difference between fairness & love. - Erich Fromm

It is a pity that good works, among some sorts of people, are so little valued & good words admired in their stead; I mean seemingly pious discourses, instead of humane, benevolent actions. Those they almost put out of countenance, by calling morality rotten morality, righteousness ragged righteousness, & even filthy rags. - Benjamin Franklin

Is the system going to flatten you out & deny you your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system to the attainment of human purpose?
- Joseph Campbell

The only sin is limitation. - Emerson

May you live all the days of your life. - Swift

If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Emerson

Experience is the toughest teacher because she gives the test first, & then the lesson. - ?

Our teachers. - In our youth we take our teachers & guides from the time in which we happen to live & the circle in which we happen to move: we are thoughtlessly confident that the times we live in are bound to have teachers better suited to us than to anyone else & that we are bound to find them without much trouble. For this childishness we have in later years to pay a heavy price: we have to expiate our teachers in ourself. We then perhaps go in search of our true guides throughout the whole world, the world of the past included - but perhaps it is too late... - Nietzsche, Daybreak, 495

It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the love & courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security & reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace life like a lover.
- Morris West

We sell the thrones of angels for a short & turbulent pleasure. - Emerson

No one has success until he has the abounding life. This is made up of the many-fold activity of energy, enthusiasm & gladness. It is spring to meet the day with a thrill at being alive. It is to go forth to meet the morning in an ecstasy of joy. - Lillian Whiting

Every path but your own is the path of fate. Keep to your own track, then.
- Thoreau

We can't take responsibility for others' ideas of who we are. - Feynman

You have to be your own teacher & your own disciple... you have to learn to observe, to know yourself. This learning about yourself is a fascinating & joyous business. - J. Krishnamurti

We very seldom satisfy ourselves; all the more consoling, therefore, to have satisfied others...
How can we learn self-knowledge? Never by taking thought but rather by action. Try to do your duty & you'll soon discover what you're like.
But what is your duty? The demands of the day. - Goethe

Roam in the world as a lion of self control; don't let the frogs of sense weakness kick you around. - Sri Yukteswar

Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do. - Russell

In matters of principle, stand like a rock. In matters of taste, swim with the current. - Jefferson

Always do right. This will gratify some people & astonish the rest.
- Mark Twain

Be not simply good - be good for something. - Thoreau

Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income. ...Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding. ...Wisdom is its own reward, & if you scorn her, you hurt only yourself. ...To hate is to be a liar; to slander is to be a fool. ...A fool's fun is being bad; a wise man's fun is being wise! The wicked man's fears will all come true, & so will the good man's hopes. ...Hard work means prosperity, only a fool idles away his time. ...Some people like to make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise soothe & heal. ...Be with wise men & become wise, be with evil men & become evil. The good man eats to live, while the evil man lives to eat. A wise woman builds her house, while a foolish woman tears hers down by her own efforts. ...A relaxed attitude lengthens a man's life; jealousy rots it away. ...When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong; when he is cheerful, everything seems right! ...Before every man there lies a wide & pleasant road he thinks is right, but it ends in death. It is better to be slow-tempered than famous. ...If you won't plow in the cold you won't eat at the harvest. Though good advice lies deep within a counselor's heart, the wise man will draw it out. Don't repay evil for evil. Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. ...We can justify our every deed but God looks at our motives. ...The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets. ...The lazy man longs for many things but his hands refuse to work. He is greedy to get, while the godly love to give! An evil man is stubborn, but a godly man will reconsider. ...Don't let the sparkle & the smooth taste of strong wine deceive you. For in the end it bites like a poisonous serpent; it stings like an adder. ...To plan evil is as wrong as doing it. ...Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don't stand back & let them die. When you enjoy becoming wise, there is hope for you! A bright future lies ahead! The lazy man won't go to work. 'There might be a lion outside!' he says. ...Don't brag about your plans for tomorrow - wait & see what happens. Don't praise yourself - let others do it! Jealousy is more dangerous & cruel than anger. Open rebuke is better than a hidden love! ...A man is a fool to trust himself! But those who use God's wisdom are safe. - The Bible, Proverbs

Be patient with everyone, but above all, with yourself. I mean, do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage. I am glad you make a fresh beginning daily. There is no better means of attainment to the spiritual life than by continually beginning again, & never thinking that we have done enough. How are we to be patient in dealing with our neighbour's faults if we are impatient in dealing with our own? He who is fretted by his own failings will not correct them. All profitable correction comes from a calm & peaceful mind. - St Francis de Sales

Some philosophers find fault even with compassion, when it is felt for people who are out of luck, on the grounds that while helping people one comes across is a good thing, sharing their troubles & giving in to them is not. More importantly, they forbid us to be discontented or depressed even when we realize that we ourselves have flawed & defective characters; they tell us instead not to get distressed, but just to try to cure the problem, as is right & proper. You should consider, then, how utterly illogical it is for us to connive at ourselves getting cross & irritated because not everyone with whom we have dealings & who crosses our paths is fair & congenial. - Plutarch

On Tolerating Others' Faults
1. Those things which a man is not strong enough to put right in himself or in others, he should endure patiently until God ordains otherwise. Consider that it is perhaps better so for your testing & your patience, without which our merits are not to be highly valued. Nevertheless you should pray about such hindrances, that God may see fit to help you, that you may be able to bear them gently.
2. If someone, though admonished once or twice, does not comply, do not strive with him, but commit it all to God, that his will may be done, & his honour shown in all his servants. He knows well how to change evil into good. Try hard to be patient in tolerating others' faults & infirmities of whatsoever kind, because you to have much which must be tolerated by others. If you cannot make yourself as you wish, how will you be able to fashion another to your liking? We are glad to see others made perfect, & yet do not correct our own faults.
3. We want others to be strictly corrected, but do not wish to be corrected ourselves. The wide license of others displeases us, & yet we do not wish that we ourselves should be denied what we desire. We want others to be bound by rules, & yet by no means do we suffer ourselves to be more restricted. So therefore it is obvious how seldom we assess our neighbour as we assess ourselves. If all men were perfect, what then should we have to tolerate from others for God's sake?
4. But now God has so ordered it that we should each learn to bear the other's burdens, for no one is without fault, no one without a burden, no one self-sufficient, no one wise enough for himself; but it behoves us to bear with one another, console one another, equally to help, instruct & admonish. Of what worth a man is, appears best in a time of adversity, for circumstances do not make a man frail, but they do show the kind of man he is.
- Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Habit is overcome by habit. - a Kempis

Sow an act & you reap a habit. Sow a character & you reap a destiny.
- Charles Reade

The maxim which Periander of Corinth, one of the seven sages of Greece, left as a memorial of his knowledge & benevolence, was BE MASTER OF THY ANGER. He considered anger as the great disturber of human life, the chief enemy both of publick happiness & private tranquility, & thought that he could not lay on posterity a stronger obligation to reverence his memory, than by leaving them a salutary caution against this outrageous passion. - Samuel Johnson

To be attached to a certain view & to look down upon other views as inferior - this the wise call a fetter. - Buddha

...the degree of pleasure we feel in what is ours is less than the degree of irritation we feel at others' successes. - Plutarch

I say of my sorrow what the Englishman says of his home: my sorrow is my castle. Many consider sorrow one of life's comforts... - Kierkegaard, Either/Or

The reason lovers never weary each other is that they are always talking about themselves. - La Rochefoucauld

Our will, as Descartes said in a different context, is infinite, while our intelligence is finite; we follow experience pretty closely in our ideas of things, & even the furniture of fairyland bears a sad resemblance to that of earth; but there is no limit to the elasticity of our passion... There seems to be a boundless capacity of development in each of us, which the circumstances of life determine to a narrow channel; & we like to revenge ourselves in our reveries for this imputed limitation, by classifying ourselves with all that we are not, but might so easily have been. - Santayana

Illusion is the first of all pleasures. - Voltaire

A pleasant illusion is better than a harsh reality. - Bovee

The world is taken by the outside of things, & we must take the world as it is; you or I cannot set it right. - Lord Chesterfield

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - Shaw

All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it. - Johnson

Do I believe in free will? Of course. I have no choice.
- I. B. Singer

...the doctrine of freedom of will has human pride & feeling of power for its father & mother... - Nietzsche, Daybreak, 128

I care about myself because 'myself' is a name for the things I have at heart. To set up the verbal figment of personality & make it an object of concern apart from the interests which were its content & substance, turns the moralist into a pedant, & ethics into a superstition. - Santayana

There is NO act, large or small, fine or mean, which springs from any motive but the one - the necessity of appeasing & contenting one's own spirit. - Mark Twain

Our consciences take NO notice of pain inflicted upon others until it reaches a point where it gives pain to US. In ALL cases without exception we are absolutely indifferent to another person's pain until his sufferings make us uncomfortable. - Mark Twain, What Is Man?

...we (mankind) have ticketed ourselves with a number of qualities to which we have given misleading names. Love, Hate, Charity, Compassion, Avarice, Benevolence, & so on. I mean we attach misleading MEANINGS to the names. They are all forms of self-contentment, self-gratification, but the names so disguise them that they distract our attention from the fact. Also we have smuggled a word into the dictionary which ought not to be there at all - Self-Sacrifice. It describes a thing which does not exist. But worst of all, we ignore & never mention the Sole Impulse which dictates & compels a man's every act: the imperious necessity of securing his own approval, in every emergency & at all costs. To it we owe all that we are. It is our breath, our heart, our blood. It is our only spur, our whip, our good, our only impelling power; we have no other. Without it we should be mere inert images, corpses; no one would do anything, there would be no progress, the world would stand still. We ought to stand reverently uncovered when the name of that stupendous power is uttered. man EVER sacrifices himself; that there is no instance of it upon record anywhere; & that when a man's Interior Monarch requires a thing of its slave for either its MOMENTARY or its PERMANENT contentment, that thing must & will be furnished & that command obeyed, no matter who may stand in the way & suffer disaster by it?
...But, I pray you, do not accept this law upon my say-so; but diligently examine for yourself. Whenever you read of a self-sacrificing act or hear of one, or of a duty done for a DUTY's SAKE, take it to pieces & look for the REAL motive. It is always there. - Mark Twain, What Is Man?

From the cradle to the grave, during all his waking hours, the human being is under training. In the very first rank of his trainers stands ASSOCIATION. It is his human environment which influences his mind & his feelings, furnishes him his ideals, & sets him on his road & keeps him in it. If he leaves that road he will find himself shunned by the people whom he most loves & esteems, & whose approval he most values. He is a chameleon; by the law of his nature he takes the colour of his place of resort. The influences about him create his preferences, his aversions, his politics, his tastes, his morals, his religion. He creates none of these things for himself. He THINKS he does, but that is because he has not examined into the matter.
- Mark Twain, What Is Man?

...the Master Passion - the hunger for indifferent to the man's good; it never concerns itself about anything but the satisfaction of its own desires. It can be TRAINED to prefer things which will be for the man's good, but it will prefer them only because they will content IT better than other things would. ...- a blind, unreasoning instinct, which cannot & does not distinguish between good morals & bad ones, & cares nothing for results to the man provided its own contentment be secured; & it will ALWAYS secure that... It is not always seeking money, it is not always seeking power, nor office, nor any other MATERIAL advantage. In ALL cases it seeks a SPIRITUAL contentment, let the MEANS be what they may. Its desires are determined by the man's temperament - & it is lord over that.
- Mark Twain, What Is Man?

Remember that you are an actor in a play, the character of which is determined by the Playwright: if he wishes the play to be short, it is short; if long, it is long; if he wishes you to play the part of a beggar, remember to act even this role adroitly; & so if your role be that of a cripple, an official, or layman. For this is your business, to play admirably the role assigned to you; but the selection of that role is Another's. - Epictetus

If the person who does me an injury does not know what he is doing, then it is as ridiculous for me to talk about forgiving him as it would be to "forgive" a tile which falls on my head. - W. H. Auden

...if you come across any special trait of meanness or stupidity - in life or in literature - you must be careful not to let it annoy or distress you, but to look upon it merely as an addition to your knowledge - a new fact to be considered in studying the character of humanity. Your attitude towards it will be that of the mineralogist who stumbles upon a very characteristic specimen of a mineral.
- Schopenhauer

It is axiomatic that we should all think of ourselves as being more sensitive than other people because, when we are insensitive in our dealings with others, we cannot be aware of it at the time: conscious insensitivity is a self-contradiction. - W. H. Auden

Our virtues are most frequently but vices in disguise.
Everyone complains of his memory, & no one complains of his judgement.
The head is always the dupe of the heart.
The head cannot long play the part of the heart.
We are inconsolable at being deceived by our enemies, & betrayed by our friends; & yet we are often content to be so by ourselves.
It is easy to deceive oneself without perceiving it, as it is difficult to deceive others without their perceiving it.
At times our brains lead us into plain silliness.
It is more easy to be wise for others than for ourselves.
He who lives without folly is not so wise as he thinks.
A man's worth must not be judged by his great qualities, but by the use he can make of them.
Greater virtues are needed to bear good fortune than bad.
The evil we do brings less persecution & hatred upon us than our good qualities.
If we had no faults of our own, we would not take so much pleasure in noticing those of others.
If we were without pride we should not object to pride in others.
The world is full of pots jeering at kettles.
We pride ourselves on the opposite faults to those we have; when we're weak we boast of being unyielding.
Our enemies are nearer the truth in their opinion of us than we are ourselves.
We often irritate others when we think we could not possibly do so.
Countless acts that seem ridiculous have hidden reasons that are exceedingly wise & sound.
Often we believe ourselves longsuffering in adversity when in fact we are merely prostrated, & we undergo such adversity without daring to face it, like cowards who let themselves be killed for fear of defending themselves. - La Rochefoucauld, Maxims

When the Master went inside the Grand Temple, he asked questions about everything. Someone remarked, 'Who said that the son of the man from Tsou understood the rites? When he went inside the Grand Temple, he asked questions about everything.' The Master, on hearing of this, said, 'The asking of questions is in itself the correct rite.' - Confucius, Analects

Custom does not breed understanding, but takes its place, teaching people to make their way contentedly through the world without knowing what the world is, nor what they think of it, nor what they are. - Santayana

I have speculated for some time as to the real reason why I resigned my post as secondary-school teacher. Thinking it over now, it occurs to me that such a position was the very thing for me. Today it dawned on me: that was precisely the reason, I had to consider myself absolutely fitted for the job. So if I'd continued in it I had everything to lose; nothing to gain. Wherefore I thought it proper to resign my post & seek employment with a travelling theatre, the reason being that I had no talent, & so everything to gain. - Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Sad is this continual postponement of life. I refuse sympathy & intimacy with people as if in view of some better sympathy & intimacy to come. But whence & when? I am already thirty four years old. Already my friends & fellow workers are dying from me. Scarcely can I say that I see any new men or women approaching me; I am too old to regard fashion; too old to expect patronage of any greater or more powerful. Let me suck the sweetness of those affections & consuetudes that grow near me, - that the Divine Providence offers me. These old shoes are easy to the feet. But no, not for mine, if they have an ill savor. I was made a hermit & am content with my lot. I pluck golden fruit from rare meetings with wise men. I can well abide alone in the intervals, & the fruit of my own tree shall have a better flavor. - Emerson, journal

I returned & saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time & chance happen to them all. - Eccl. 9:11

This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth & death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky, rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain. - Buddha

In terms of time, the moment of death is the present.
- Tarthang Tulku, Gesture of Balance, p12

The meaning of life is that it stops. - Kafka

Think of it: zillions & zillions of organisms running around, each under the hypnotic spell of a single truth, all these truths identical, & all logically incompatible with one another: 'My hereditary material is the most important material on earth; its survival justifies your frustration, pain, even death.' And you are one of these organisms, living your life in the thrall of a logical absurdity. - Robert Wright, The Moral Animal

Lacking the capacity to act by the command of instincts while possessing the capacity for self-awareness, reason, & imagination - new qualities that go beyond the capacity for instrumental thinking of even the cleverest primates - the human species needed a frame of orientation & an object of devotion to survive. - Erich Fromm, To Have Or To Be

From the existential perspective, from the phenomenological frame of reference, man does not simply have the characteristics of a machine. He is not simply a being in the grip of unconscious motives. He is a person in the process of creating himself; a person who creates meaning in life; a person who embodies a dimension of subjective freedom. He is a figure who, though he may be alone in a vastly complex universe, & though he may be part & parcel of that universe & its destiny, is also able in his inner life to transcend the material universe. - Carl Rogers

The first person any child identifies with is Mother. Little girls can learn to become women by copying their mothers - but little boys can't learn to men by copying mum even though they want to. Learning to be a man means learning to be very careful to be 'different from Mother'. A boy develops identity by differentiating himself from everything female.
Because girls can identify with their mothers, girls base their identity on relationships & attachment. At the core of a woman's identity is a 'self-in-relation'... Girls learn caregiving, the importance of putting others first, empathy. The world centers on people & relationships, for women. They learn to be sensitive to the interrelationships between people & to value & maintain these relationships. Women are constantly aware of how their behaviour affects others; the world is a web of relationships.
For boys, it's just the opposite. Boys have to suppress their desire to identify with mothers, thus they must reject feminine traits vigorously. They must devalue caring, giving, empathy & compliance. Male identity formation depends upon separation, on defining & stressing differences. At the core of a man's identity is a self that denies relatedness. For men, the world centers on actions & the results of these actions. Relationships, in & of themselves, aren't important - how they affect outcomes is.
Female identity is ascribed while male has to be achieved - Women are women because of what they are, men men because of what they do. A woman's identity as a woman is based simply on the fact she can bear children, just like mother. A man's identity as a man is based on his continually proving his difference from mother, from women.
Girls learn to interact with each other by developing & maintaining relationships; boys learn to interact by playing games. - Adrienne Mendell, How Men Think

8. Love
Can love be latched & hidden? A trickling tear
Will proclaim it loud.
The loveless grasp all; while the loving
With their very bones help others.
The soul, it is said, is enclosed in bones
That human love may be.
From love, devotion comes; & from that unsought
Priceless enlightenment.
Bliss hereafter is the fruit, they say,
Of a loving life here.
'Love helps only virtue', say the fools:
But it also cures vice.
As boneless worms wither in the sun, so too
The loveless in a just world.
A loveless life is a withered tree that would fain
Sprout in a desert.
What good are outward features if they lack
Love, the inward sense?
Love's way is life; without it humans are
But bones skin-clad. - Tiruvalluvar, Kural

There can be no doubt that the desire lovers have for each other is not so very different from friendship - you might say it was friendship gone mad. - Seneca

A generous woman would lay down her life a thousand times for her lover, yet would break with him for ever on a trivial point of pride as to whether a door should be left open or shut. The thing is a point of honour. Even Napoleon fell because he would not abandon a village. - Stendhal, Love, ch. 28

Leave a lover with his thoughts for 24 hours, & this is what will happen:
At the salt mines of Salzburg, they throw a leafless wintry bough into one of the abandoned workings. Two or three months later they pull it out covered with a shining deposit of crystals. The smallest twig, no bigger than a tom-tit's claw, is studded with a galaxy of scintillating diamonds. The original branch is no longer recognizable.
What I have called crystallization is a mental process which draws from everything that happens new proofs of the perfection of the loved one.
- Stendhal, Love

A man may meet a woman & be shocked by her ugliness. Soon, if she is natural & unaffected, her expression makes him overlook the faults of her features. He begins to find her charming, it enters his head that she might be loved, & a week later he is living in hope. The following week he has been snubbed into despair, & the week afterwards he has gone mad.
Something of the sort happens in the theatre to actors idolized by the public. The audience ceases to care whether they are ugly or handsome. Le Kain, in spite of his ugliness, aroused the passions of thousands; & so did Garrick. There were several reasons for this, chief among them that one no longer remarked the degree of real beauty in their features & actions, but only saw a product of the imagination, something which had become accepted as theirs in recognition & memory of all the pleasure they had already given. In the same way a comic actor can get a laugh merely by walking on to the stage... - Stendhal, Love

Glances are the big guns of the virtuous coquette; everything can be conveyed in a look, & yet that look can always be denied, because it cannot be quoted word for word. - Stendhal, Love, ch. 27

Anyone who has had any opportunity to observe young girls, to listen secretly to their conversation, has certainly heard this kind of talk: "N.N. is a good person, but he is boring; but F.F., he is so interesting & exciting.' Every time I hear these words in a little miss's mouth, I always think 'You ought to be ashamed; isn't it sad for a young girl to talk that way.' If a man has gone astray in the interesting, who is to save him if not a girl? And does she not do wrong thereby? Either the person referred to is unable to provide it, & then it is tactless to ask it, or he is able, & then... For a young girl should be careful never to evoke the interesting; the girl who does always loses as far as the idea is concerned, for the interesting can never be repeated; she who does not do it always triumphs. - Kierkegaard, Repetition, p147

Chapter 39(i): Love at Loggerheads
...Where one of the lovers has too much advantage over the other in certain qualities which they both value, the other's love will die because sooner or later fear of contempt will abruptly stop the process of crystallisation.
Nothing is more hateful to mediocre people than intellectual superiority in others; it is, in our society, the very fountain-head of hatred. If this principle does not breed atrocious hatreds it is only because the people divided thereby are not obliged to live together. But consider what happens in love where natural behaviour is not masked & where the superior partner, in particular, does not conceal his superiority behind social wariness.
If the passion is to survive, the inferior lover must ill-treat the other, who will otherwise be unable even to close a window without giving offence.
...For sheer durability, passionate requited love between people of the same calibre takes first place. Love at loggerheads, where the quarreler does not love, comes a close second... This kind of love, having as it does something of the coldness of habit which springs from the prosaic & selfish parts of life which follow a man to his grave, may last longer than passionate love itself. In fact, it is no longer love but merely a habit caused by love, whose only relation to the original passion is one of memories & physical pleasure. The existence of this habit necessarily presupposes natures of lesser nobility. Every day some little crisis may occur: 'Will he scold me...?' which, as in passionate love, keeps the imagination busy; & every day some new proof of tenderness has to be given...
Occasionally pride may refuse to stoop to this sort of thing; then, after a few stormy months, pride kills love. But you will find that the nobler passion makes prolonged resistance before it succumbs. A lover who is still in love, despite ill-treatment, will long continue to foster an illusion about 'little tiffs'. A few tender reconciliations can help to make the transition bearable. On the plea of some secret sorrow or stroke of ill-luck, you forgive the person you have loved so much; in the end you become accustomed to a cat-&-dog life. After all, barring passionate lover, gambling, & the enjoyment of power*, where would you find so rich a source of daily interest? If the aggressor dies, you will notice that the surviving victim is inconsolable. This principle is the successful basis of many middle-class marriages; the scolded ones have to listen all day to their favourite topic.
There is also a kind of love that is pseudo-quarrelsome. I have borrowed my Chapter 33 from the letter of an extremely clever woman:
'Always a little doubt to set at rest - that's what keeps one craving in passionate love. Because the keenest misgivings are always there, its pleasures never become tedious.'
With boorish, ill-bred, or very violent people, this little doubt to be set at rest, this slight anxiety, takes the form of a quarrel.
Unless the beloved possesses that extreme subtlety which results from a careful upbringing, she may find this kind of love more lively, & therefore more enjoyable; & however fastidious she may be she will find it very difficult, when she sees her furious lover the first to suffer from his own violent emotions, not to love him the more for it. Perhaps what Lord Mortimer misses most about his mistress are the candlesticks she used to throw at his head. Indeed, if pride will pardon & allow sensations such as these, it must be admitted that they wage a bitter war against boredom, the great affliction of contented people... - Stendhal, Love
* Whatever some hypocritical ministers of government may say about it, power is the greatest of all pleasures. It seems to me that only love can beat it, & love is a happy illness that can't be picked up as easily as a Ministry.

Doubt, rather than music, is the food of love.
- John Cohen, Psychological Probability

Perhaps the wisest thing is to confide in oneself. Using borrowed names, but including all the relevant details, write down tonight what took place between you & your mistress, & the problems with which you are faced. In a week's time, if you are suffering from passionate love, you will be someone else entirely, & then, on reading your case-history, you will be able to give yourself good advice. - Stendhal

A serious failing in women, the most shocking of all for a man worthy of the name. In matters of feeling, the public seldom rises above the level of meanness in ideas; yet women appoint the public as supreme judge of their lives. This applies even to the most distinguished women who are often quite unaware of it, & even believe & declare that the contrary is true. - Stendhal, 1819

Still another form of neurotic love lies in the use of projective mechanisms for the purpose of avoiding one's own problems, & being concerned with the defects & frailties of the 'loved' person instead... Individuals behave in this respect very much as groups, nations or religions do. - Erich Fromm

The advantage of being celibate is that when one sees a pretty girl one does not need to grieve over having an ugly one back home. - Leautaud

We often do good that we may do evil with impunity. - La Rochefoucauld

It might be said that as we go through life the vices await us like a succession of hosts at whose houses we have to stay, & I doubt whether experience would teach us to avoid them if it were vouchsafed us to pass along the same road twice.
- La Rochefoucauld

Sweet it is, when on the high seas the winds are lashing the waters, to gaze from the land on another's struggles. - Lucretius

Nature herself, I fear, implants in men some instinct towards inhumanity. No one enjoys the sight of animals playing together & fondling one another, but the spectacle of them rending & dismembering one another is a universal entertainment.
- Montaigne

The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel. - Walpole

No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up. - Lily Tomlin

Every joke is in earnest in the womb of time. - Shaw

My way of joking is to tell the truth. It is the funniest joke in the world.
- Shaw

I look upon the simple & childish virtue of veracity & honesty as the root of all that is sublime in character... This reality is the foundation of friendship, religion, poetry, & art.
- Emerson

The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible.
What the second duty is no one has yet discovered.
Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.
If the poor only had profiles there would be no difficulty in solving the problem of poverty.
The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.
Nothing that actually occurs is of the smallest importance
Dullness is the coming of age of seriousness.
In all unimportant matters, style, not sincerity is the essential. In all important matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential.
If one tells the truth one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.
Pleasure is the only thing one should live for. Nothing ages like happiness.
It is only by not paying one's bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes.
Vulgarity is the conduct of others.
Only the shallow know themselves.
Time is a waste of money.
One should always be a little improbable.
Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.
A truth ceases to be true when more than one person believes it.
It is only the superficial qualities that last. Man's deeper nature is soon found out.
The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.
To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance. - Wilde

It is much easier to be critical than to be correct. - Disraeli

We naturally indulge those ideas that please us. HOPE will predominate in every mind, till it has been suppressed by frequent disappointments. The youth has not yet discovered how many evils are continually hovering about us, & when he is set free from the shackles of discipline, looks abroad into the world with rapture; he sees an elysian region open before him, so variegated with beauty, & so stored with pleasure that his care is rather to accumulate good, than to shun evil; he stands distracted by different forms of delight, & has no other doubt, than which path to follow of those which all lead equally to the bowers of happiness. - Samuel Johnson

The young man plays at busying himself with problems of the collective type, & at times with such passion & heroism that anyone ignorant of the secrets of human life would be led to believe that his preoccupation was genuine. But, in truth, all this is a pretext for concerning himself with himself, & so that he may be occupied with self. - Ortega Y Gasset

The questions which press for an answer from the world-religions in their struggle to reach an optimistic-ethical world-view are the same as those which present themselves also to Western philosophy. The great problem is to think out a connection between the universe & ethics. - Albert Schweitzer

The whole of history is the refutation by experiment of the principle of the so-called 'moral world order'. - Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

Natural selection neither 'prefers' honesty nor 'prefers' dishonesty. It just doesn't care. - Robert Wright, The Moral Animal

Nature is despotic. - Emerson

The cosmos, at best, is like a rubbish heap scattered at random. - Heraclitus

We deceive ourselves in order to deceive others better. If indeed, deceit is fundamental to animal communication, then there must be strong selection to spot deception, & this ought, in turn, to select for a degree of self-deception, rendering some facts & motives unconscious so as not to betray - by the subtle signs of self-knowledge - the deception being practised... the conventional view that natural selection favours nervous systems which produce ever more accurate images of the world must be a very naive view of mental evolution. - Robert Trivers

The tendency of most people to view the next rung on the social ladder with respect is most effective when they're thoroughly in its thrall, & not conscious of its purpose: we feel genuinely in awe of people before whom, so it happens, we might profitably grovel.
- Robert Wright, The Moral Animal

Sin writes history; goodness is silent. - Goethe

In days of yore nothing was holy but the beautiful. - Schiller

A curve is the loveliest distance between two points. - Mae West

The beautiful is, that which we desire without wanting to eat it.
- Simone Weil

The following method of inquiry must be applied to every desire:
What will happen to me if what I long for is accomplished?
What will happen if it is not accomplished? - Epicurus

How good is man's life, the mere living! How fit to employ all the heart & the soul & the senses forever in joy! - Robert Browning

...brief is life but love is long. - Tennyson, The Princess

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. - Wilde

We really only learn from books we cannot judge. The author of a book we could really judge ought surely to be learning from us. - Goethe

The young should learn to be filial in the home & respectful in society; they should be conscientious & honest, & love all people & associate with the kindly gentlemen. If after acting on these precepts, they still have energy left, let them read books. - Confucius

It is better to be able neither to read nor write than to be able to do nothing else.
- Hazlitt

Will I have the courage to recount what is humiliating without salvaging my self-esteem with an infinite series of prefatory remarks? I hope so. - Stendhal

It is the sign of a good book when the book reads you. - Kierkegaard

So you should always read standard authors; & when you crave a change, fall back on those whom you read before. Every day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well; & after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day. This is my own custom; from the many things that I have read, I claim some part for myself. The thought for today is one which I discovered in Epicurus; for I am wont to cross over even into the enemy's camp, - not as a deserter, but as a scout.
We should see to it that whatever we have absorbed should not be allowed to remain unchanged, or it will be no part of us. We must digest it; otherwise it will merely enter the memory & not the reasoning power. Let us loyally welcome such foods & make them our own, so that something that is one may be formed out of many elements, just as one number is formed of several elements. - Seneca

One should learn as much from writing as from reading. - Lord Acton

It is doubtful whether a man brings his faculties to bear with their full force on a subject until he writes on it. - Cicero

One point I feel might serve particularly as a warning to any who may be tempted to set out, armed with a pencil & a sixpenny note-book, on a similar enterprise. It concerns the reading of books. For a long time I was continually putting off the next step in my exploration because I felt I ought to know more, knew there were many books written about these things, felt I must read them all before I could go any further. Whenever I gave in to this impulse I found it disastrous. It took me years to learn that I must never begin my search by looking in books, never say 'I know too little, I must read some more before I start', but that I must always observe first, express what I observed, & then, if I needed it, see what the books had to say...
...although before making this decision I had tried to read a good deal of current literature about the mind, it had always completely damped my enthusiasm for discovery, leaving me in despair with a burden of guilt because there was so much I did not understand... Finally I decided to only read books that would give me the mood I wanted rather than information.
- Marion Milner ('Joanna Field')

People in general do not willingly read, if they can have anything else to amuse them. There must be an external impulse; emulation or vanity, or avarice. The progress which the understanding makes through a book has more pain than pleasure in it. Language is scanty & inadequate to express the nice gradations & mixtures of our feelings. No man reads a book of science from pure inclination. - Samuel Johnson

There is a process in the mind very analogous to crystallization in the mineral kingdom. I think of a particular fact of singular beauty & interest. In thinking of it I am led to many more thoughts which show themselves first partially & afterwards more fully. But in the multitude of them I see no order. When I would present them to others they have no beginning. There is no method. Leave them now, & return to them again. Domesticate them in your mind, do not force them into arrangement too hastily & presently you shall find they will take their own order. And the order they assume is divine. It is God's architecture.
- Emerson, journal, Jan 7, 1832

Learning is a twofold process: we learn to make the processes of deliberate thought 'instinctive' & automatic, & we learn to make automatic & instinctive processes the subject of discriminating thought. - Peter Medawar

When we ask advice, we're usually looking for an accomplice. - La Grange

Visits always give pleasure: if not in the arrival, then in the departure. - Le Berquier

...mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, & the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body & I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?...What did it signify? How could I seize upon & define it?...It is plain that the object of my quest, the truth, lies not in the cup but in myself. - Proust

Things around us - houses, jobs, cars - they're props, they're settings for our love. The things we own, the places we live, the events of our lives: empty settings. How easy to chase after settings, & forget diamonds! The only thing that matters, at the end of a stay on earth, is how well did we love, what was the quality of our love? - Richard Bach

It has seemed to me that the final test of any civilisation is, what type of husbands & wives & fathers & mothers does it turn out? Besides the austere simplicity of such a question, every other achievement of civilisation - art, philosophy, literature & material living - pales into insignificance. - Lin Yutang

Society can only exist on the basis that there is some amount of polished lying & that no-one says exactly what he thinks. - Lin Yutang

...we are so instinctively groupish that we prefer to pretend - & perhaps even believe - that we're group-selected. In other words, people claim they are putting the interests of the group first & not their own interests, the better to disguise the fact that they only go along with the group when it suits them. Pointing this out to them makes you unpopular, as every Hobbesian since Hobbes has discovered. - Matt Ridley, The Origins of Virtue, p189

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. - Ambrose Redmoon

Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth. - Sartre

First, say to yourself what you would be, & then do what you have to do. For in almost everything we see this to be the practice.
- Epictetus

Think about all the good things of your life. Never think about your difficulties. Forget yourself, & concentrate on being of service as much as you can in this world, & then, having lost your lower self in a cause greater than yourself, you will find your higher self, your real self. - Peace Pilgrim

Live juicy. - SARK

That kind of life is most happy which affords us the most opportunities of gaining our own esteem. - Samuel Johnson

Although I knew what to do I hardly ever remembered to do it, like the heroes in fairy tales who used to exasperate me by forgetting to use the charm they had been expressly given.
- Marion Milner, A Life Of One's Own, p73

It's good to collect things, but better to go on walks. - Bruce Chatwin

See how cruel the whites look. Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed & distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy & restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think they are mad. - a New Mexican Indian chief, to Jung

Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right. - Laurens van der Post

People is those old times had convictions; we moderns have only opinions. And it needs more than a mere opinion to erect a Gothic cathedral. - Heine

Nothing is so firmly believed as what is least known... Man is certainly crazy. He could not make a mite, & he makes gods by the dozen... Every man bears the whole stamp of the human condition.
- Montaigne

Young men think old men are fools, but old men know young men are fools. - Chapman

...the persuasion that we must search that which we do not know, will render us, beyond comparison, better, braver, & more industrious than if we thought it impossible to discover what we do not know, & useless to search for it. - Plato

...when the same devotion shall be given to ethics & jurisprudence, as now is given to natural science, we shall have ideas & insights & wisdom; instead of numbers & formulas.
- Emerson's diary

Prudence is the virtue of the senses... The world of the senses is a world of shows; it does not exist for itself, but has a symbolic character; & a true prudence or law of shows recognizes the co-presence of other laws, & knows that its own office is subaltern; knows that it is surface & not centre where it works. Prudence is false when detached. It is legitimate when it is the Natural History of the soul incarnate; when it unfolds the beauty of laws within the narrow scope of the senses. - Emerson, Prudence

...every one can do his best thing easiest... He is great who is what he is from nature, & who never reminds us of others... But he must be related to us, & our life receive from him some promise of explanation. - Emerson

Get rid of all your idols, or other people whose lives you want to model yours after. BE YOUR OWN HERO. Don't ever expect to be like anyone else.
- Wayne Dyer

When we are young, we spend much time & pains in filling our note-books with all definitions of Religion, Love, Poetry, Politics, Art, in the hope that, in the course of a few years, we shall have condensed into our encyclopedia the net value of all the theories at which the world has yet arrived. But year after year our tables get no completeness, & at last we discover that our curve is a parabola, whose arcs will never meet. - Emerson

...all the laws of nature may be read in the smallest fact. - Emerson

The student is to read history actively & not passively; to esteem his own life the text, & books the commentary. Thus compelled, the Muse of history will utter oracles, as never to those who do not respect themselves. - Emerson, History

Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history... The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn; & Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie enfolded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of his manifold spirit to the manifold world... If the whole of history is in one man it is all to be explained from individual experience. There is a relation between the hours of our life & the centuries of time... Every revolution was first a thought in one man's mind, & when the same thought occurs to another man it is the key to that era... The fact narrated must correspond to something in me to be credible or intelligible... Each new law & political movement has meaning for you. - Emerson, History lead people, walk behind them. - Lao Tzu

Every great idea, as soon as it makes its appearance, has a tyrannical effect, & that is why the advantages it brings are all too soon transformed into disadvantages. - Goethe

Ways of effective progress to be looked out for if we really want to get on are those of a kind that :- prepare, accompany, reinforce, help along, further, strengthen, hinder, confirm. - Goethe

It is noble to be good; it is still nobler to teach others to be good - & less trouble. - Mark Twain

I wish I'd drunk more champagne. - John Maynard Keynes, last words

all intellectual & cultural achievement is unreal & shadowy, unless it is linked to the vital warmth from which it springs. - Lou Andreas-Salome

Human life - indeed all life - is poetry. We live it unconsciously day by day, piece by piece, but in its inviolable wholeness it lives in us.
- Lou Andreas-Salome

...lack of love for the vegetative, subtle, chthonic, pagan & sexy aspect of the world means death. - Alan Watts

To risk is to lose your footing for a while. Not to risk is to lose your life. - Kierkegaard

Be a football to Time & Chance, the more kicks the better, so that you inspect the whole game & know its utmost law. - Emerson

Life is the only game in which the object of the game is to learn the rules.
- Ashleigh Brilliant

To be sure of winning invent your own game (& never tell any other player the rules.) - Ashleigh Brilliant

Man is ice to truth & fire to falsehood. - La Fontaine

Considering the natural disposition in many men to lie, & in multitudes to believe, I have been perplexed what to do with that maxim so frequent in everybody's mouth, that truth will at last prevail. - Swift

To be just, it is necessary to be naked & dead. - Simone Weil

Life itself is a bubble & a scepticism & a sleep within a sleep. - Emerson

All things swim & glitter. - Emerson

The universe is a lodging house for the myriad things, & time itself is a travelling guest of the centuries. This floating life is like a dream. How often can one enjoy oneself? It is for this reason that the ancient people held candles to celebrate the night. - Li Po

What a benefit if a rule could be given whereby the mind dreaming amidst the gross fogs of matter, could, at any moment east itself, & find the sun. But the common life is an endless succession of phantasms. And long after we have deemed ourselves recovered & sound, light breaks in upon us, & we find we have yet had no sane hour. Another morn rises on mid-noon. - Emerson, journal

Every one of us is like a man who sees things in a dream & thinks that he knows them perfectly & then wakes up to find that he knows nothing. - Plato

The illusion that life is but a dream has occurred to quite a few people, & I feel the same way about it. When I see the limitations imposed on man's powers of action & inquiry & observe how all his efficiency is aimed at nothing but the satisfaction of his needs, which in turn has but one purpose - to prolong his miserable existence - & when I see how all his reassurance on certain aspects of his inquiries is little more than a dreamy resignation, in that he chooses to bedaub the walls of his prison with motley figures & bright prospects - all this...makes me mute.
All learned schoolmasters & tutors are agreed that little children do not know what they want, but no one likes to admit that grown men stumble across this earth like children, not knowing whence they came nor whither they are going, & that a grown man can be just as poor at pursuing the higher aims of life & can be ruled, just like a child, by cookies, cake & rod. To me this is quite obvious. - Goethe, Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774

There is something coldly uniform about the human race. Most of them have to work for the greater part of their lives in order to live & the little freedom they have left frightens them to such an extent that they will stop at nothing to rid themselves of it. Oh, human destiny!
- Goethe, Sorrows of Young Werther

Dostoevsky, Kafka, [is] working not from the experience of being 'real & alive' but from being unable to feel convinced that one is real & alive. He was struggling desperately to feel real at all...[He] was aware that the problem of feeling real was bound up with the question of feeling guilty, the need to 'attach the sense of guilt to something'.
- Holbrook, Education, Nihilism & Survival

Our unwillingness to engage the problem of bearing our humanness could be the psychic flaw which means that man will not be able to survive. - Holbrook, Education, Nihilism & Survival

Life is worth nothing, but nothing is worth a life. - Malraux

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream. - Malcolm Muggeridge

We are each of us angels with only one wing. And we can fly only by embracing each other. - Luciano de Crescenzo

Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
- African proverb

Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to continue to fail, in good spirits.
- R. L. Stevenson

I am Defeated all the time; yet to Victory I am born. - Emerson

We do not know to-day whether we are busy or idle. In times when we thought ourselves indolent, we have afterwards discovered, that much was accomplished, & much was begun in us. - Emerson

Acceptance: seeing something the way it is & saying, 'That's the way it is.'
Acceptance is not approval, consent, permission, authorization, sanction, concurrence, agreement, compliance, sympathy, endorsement, confirmation, support, ratification, assistance, advocating, backing, maintaining, authenticating, reinforcing, cultivating, encouraging, furthering, promoting, aiding, abetting or even liking what is.
Until we accept everything, we can never see clearly. We will always be looking through the filter of 'must', 'should', 'ought to', 'have to' & prejudice.
When reality confronts our idea of what reality should be, reality always wins. We don't like this (i.e. can't accept it) & so either struggle & get upset or turn away & become unconscious, or alternate. Ask 'What am I not accepting about this?' - Life 101

Look for the flower to bloom in the silence that follows the storm; not till then.
- Light on the Path

In a dark time, the eye begins to see. - Roethke

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, magic & power in it. - Goethe

While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes & becoming superior. - Henry C. Link

Most people die of a kind of creeping common sense. They discover too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes. - Wilde

Man has a prejudice against himself : anything which is a product of his mind seems to him to be unreal or comparatively insignificant. We are satisfied only when we fancy ourselves surrounded by objects & laws independent of our nature... We still have to recognize in practice the truth that from these despised feelings of ours the great world of perception derives all its value, if not also its existence. Things are interesting because we care about them, & important because we need them. - Santayana

Suicidal is this distrust of reason; this fear to think; this doctrine that 'tis pious to believe on others' words, impious to trust entirely to yourself.
- Emerson, journal, July 29, 1831

It is not truth that makes man great, but man that makes truth great.
- Confucius

When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, immediately talk to yourself. You are destroying your body. You are emptying your purse. Raise yourself up from the dead; from dead thoughts, dead ideas, & ask your subconscious to forgive you for misappropriating its wonderful power... Every moment you are choosing what you're going to be... Give commands to your subconscious - it never fails to obey, if the order is clear, emphatic & given with feeling. - Al Koran, magician

Self confidence is the first requisite to great understanding.
- Samuel Johnson

Get what you like, or be prepared to like what you get.
- H. G. Wells

It seems the one lesson which this miraculous world has to teach us, to be sacred, to stand aloof, & suffer no man & no custom, no mode of thinking to intrude upon us & bereave us of our infinitude. - Emerson

The ultimate moral aspiration is simply this:
To be a warm-hearted & loving human being. - Richard Taylor

1. Be true to yourself.
2. Make each day your masterpiece.
3. Help others
4. Drink deeply from good books.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance & give thanks for your blessing every day.
- John Wooden's creed

1. I AM FREEING MYSELF from security, sensation & power addictions that make me try to forcefully control situations in my life, & thus destroy my serenity & keep me from loving myself & others.
2. I AM DISCOVERING how my conscious-dominating addictions create my illusory version of the changing world of people & situations around me.
3. I WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY (even if painful) that my minute-to-minute experience offers me to become aware of the addictions I must reprogram to be liberated from my robot-like emotional patterns.
4. I ALWAYS REMEMBER that I have everything I need to enjoy my here & now - unless I am letting my consciousness be dominated by demands & expectations based on the dead past or the imagined future.
5. I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY here & now for everything I experience, for it is my own programming that creates my actions & also influences the reactions of people around me.
6. I ACCEPT MYSELF COMPLETELY here & now & consciously experience everything I feel, think, say & do (including my emotion-backed addictions) as a necessary part of my growth into higher consciousness.
7. I OPEN MYSELF GENUINELY to all people by being willing to fully communicate my deepest feelings, since hiding in any degree keeps me stuck in my illusion of separateness from other people.
8. I FEEL WITH LOVING COMPASSION the problems of others without getting caught up emotionally in their predicaments that are offering them messages they need for their growth.
9. I ACT FREELY when am I tuned in, centred & loving, but if possible I avoid acting when I am emotionally upset & depriving myself of the wisdom that flows from love & expanded consciousness.
10. I AM CONTINUALLY CALMING the restless scanning of my rational mind in order to perceive the finer energies that enable me to unitively merge with everything around me.
11. I AM CONSTANTLY AWARE of which of the Seven Centres of Consciousness I am using, & I feel my energy, perceptiveness, love & inner peace growing as I open all of the Centres of Consciousness.
12. I AM PERCEIVING EVERYONE, including myself, as an awakened being who is here to claim his or her birthright to the higher consciousness planes of unconditional love & oneness. - Ken Keyes, Handbook to Higher Consciousness

...the fact that the dogmatic structure, for the time being, stands & grows, passes for a proof of its rightness. Right indeed it is in one sense, as vegetation is right; it is vital; it has plasticity & warmth, & a certain indirect correspondence with its soil & climate. - Santayana

Never go beyond the sense of your original impressions. These tell you that such-&-such a person is speaking ill of you; that was their message; they did not go on to say it has done you any harm. I see my child is ill; my eyes tell me that, but they do not suggest that his life is in danger. Always, then, keep to the original impressions; supply no additions of your own, & you are safe. Or at least, add only a recognition of the great world-order by which all things are brought to pass.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VIII 49

The craving for suffering.- When I think of the craving to do something, which continually tickles & spurs those millions of young Europeans who cannot endure their boredom & themselves, then I realise that they must have a craving to suffer & to find in their suffering a probable reason for action, for deeds. Neediness is needed!...If these people who crave distress felt the strength inside themselves to benefit themselves & so something for themselves internally, then they would also know how to create for themselves, internally, their very own authentic distress, Then their inventions might be more refined & their satisfactions might sound like good music, while at present they fill the world with their clamour about distress & all too often introduce into it the feeling of distress. They do not know what to do with themselves - & therefore paint the distress of others on the wall; they always need others! And continually other others! - Pardon me, my friends, I have ventured to paint my happiness on the wall. - Nietzsche, The Gay Science

We are, I know not how, double in ourselves, so that what we believe we disbelieve, & cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn. - Montaigne

I was faced with the paradox that perhaps what I wanted most to do was not to do what I most wanted to do. - Marion Milner ('Joanna Field')

I did not yet understand that every attempt to formulate desires, no matter how incoherent, is a step forward. - Marion Milner, A Life of One's Own

At one period I had taken the interest quite literally & seriously thought of becoming an anthropologist & making a study of primitive religions. But I was learning now not to be quite so simple-minded about interests. I was learning how my mind continually used the ideas of impersonal happenings as a means of thinking, in a dim way, about those of my personal problems which I had not yet been able to admit or think about more directly. - Marion Milner ('Joanna Field')

So what could this mean, the voluntary self-sacrifice of the God-King?... I began to experiment. Whenever I felt the clutch of anxiety, particularly in relation to my work, whenever I felt a flood of inferiority lest I should never be able to reach the good I was aiming at, I tried a ritual sacrifice of all my plans & strivings. Instead of straining harder, as I always felt an impulse to do when things were getting difficult, I said: 'I am nothing, I know nothing, I want nothing.' & with a momentary gesture wiped away all sense of my own existence. The result surprised me so that I could not for the first few times believe it; for not only would all my anxiety fall away, leaving me serene & happy, but also, within a short period, sometimes after only a few minutes, my mind would begin, entirely of itself, throwing up useful ideas on the very problem which I had been struggling with.
- Marion Milner ('Joanna Field'), An Experiment in Leisure, p40

...It seemed likely that a person who is by temperament inclined to look inward, & who is therefore susceptible to the power of the image & the idea, was particularly at the mercy of ideas himself. He particularly minded what people thought of him, since to him ideas were real & powerful things, whether in his own mind or other people's. To the outward looking person, the practical man of action who had never felt the full power of the idea, perhaps the inner gesture of renunciation was unnecessary - or quite incomprehensible. But for the inward turning person the imagined pictures of himself were, I felt sure, a perpetual entanglement, preventing him being what he needed to be. I remembered Ibsen's portrayal in 'The Wild Duck' of the unsuccessful inventor, whose life consisted entirely in fashioning images of himself & admiring them; & I thought of other Ibsen characters, who all seemed to be struggling with the power of the idea: Hedda Gabler, also obsessed by particular pictures of herself which make the contrast with reality intolerable - the Master Builder, so full of the power of the idea that he feels others are compelled to action by his unspoken wish. ...And then there was Hamlet, who had been apparently sufficiently successful as a man of action, but who also suffered from the power of the idea & had become spellbound by it. Was not Shakespeare saying that the laws of the imagination are not the same as the laws of action, that you cannot escape the domination of an evil image by deliberately contriving towards a purpose, you can only escape it by renouncing all purposes & becoming aware of the dominating image? And you cannot become aware of it, that is, know part of yourself, without momentarily at least renouncing all preconceived pictures of yourself, knowing nothing, having nothing, wanting nothing - 'the readiness is all'?..
I had found repeatedly that once a thing was said, in matters of feeling, then it was no longer true... Having tried as far as I was able, & very confusedly, to make a clear statement, I knew I must now let it go & feel as if I had never even started. Once in adolescence, I had written some poems & shown them to my father. He said 'Go on writing but always tear up what you have written.' Disappointed, for I was rather proud of the poems, I did not tear them up, but also I never tried to write any more poetry. But now I knew that the fact of the inadequacy of any expression was only a reason for trying again... To the infantile part of one's mind everything that was not a world-shattering success was an utter failure, so that as soon as the lameness of one's attempt to express the fiery vision was apparent, then there was an irresistible impulse to give up the whole thing as hopeless. But just in so far as I refused to give up, so I found experience becoming continually richer: experience, this thing which was always more than all that could be said about it - & yet in order to know it, you had to be continually trying to say things about it.
- Marion Milner ('Joanna Field'), An Experiment in Leisure, p228-34

...The more inventive one can be in changing the mode of cultivation, the better; but every particular change comes under the general rule of the relation between remembering & forgetting. The whole of life moves in these two currents, so it is essential to have control over them. Only when one has thrown hope overboard is it possible to live artistically; as long as one hopes, one cannot limit oneself. It is really beautiful to see a man put out to sea with a fair wind of hope; one can use the opportunity to be taken in tow, but one should never have it aboard one's own ship, least of all as a pilot; for hope is a faithless steersman. Hope was therefore also one of the dubious gifts of Prometheus; instead of the foreknowledge of the immortals, he gave men hope.
To forget - all men want to do that, & when they come across something unpleasant they always say, 'If only I could forget!' But forgetting is an art that must be practised beforehand. Being able to forget depends always on how one remembers, but how one remembers depends in turn on how one experiences reality. The person who sticks fast in it with the momentum of hope will remember in a way that makes him unable to forget. 'To wonder at nothing' is therefore the real wisdom of life. Every life-situation must possess no more importance than that one can forget it whenever one wants to; each single life-situation should have enough importance, however, for one to be able at any time to remember it. The age that remembers best, but also is the most forgetful, is childhood. The more poetically one remembers, the more easily one forgets, for remembering poetically is really just an expression of forgetfulness. In remembering poetically, what was experienced has already undergone a change in which it has lost all that was painful. To remember in this way, one must be careful how one lives, especially how one enjoys. If one enjoys without reservation to the last, if one always takes with one the most that pleasure can offer, one will be unable either to remember or to forget. For then one has nothing else to remember than a surfeit one wants to forget, but which now plagues you with an involuntary remembrance. So when you begin to notice that you are being carried away by enjoyment or a life-situation too strongly, stop for a moment & remember. No other expedient gives a better distaste for going on too long. One must keep reins on the enjoyment from the beginning, not set all sail for everything you decide on. One indulges in a little distrust; only then can one give the lie to the proverb which says that no one can have his cake & eat it too. The carrying of secret weapons is forbidden, indeed, by the police, yet no weapon is as dangerous as the trick of being able to remember. It is a peculiar feeling when, in the midst of enjoyment, one looks at it in order to remember.
- Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Crop Rotation

The more you limit yourself, the more resourceful you become. - Kierkegaard

Without risk there is no faith. Faith is precisely the contradiction between the infinite passion of the individual's awareness & the objective uncertainty. - Kierkegaard

Although the account is shared, most men live as though their thinking were a private possession. - Heraclitus

It is not wise to talk, as men do, of reason as the gift of God bestowed, &c, or, of reasoning from nature up to nature's God, &c. The intellectual power is not the gift, but the presence of God. Nor do we reason to the being of God, but God goes with us into nature, when we go or think at all. Truth is always new & wild as the wild air, & is alive.
- Emerson's journals

I do not practise religion is accordance with the sacred rites. I have made mysterious Nature my religion. I do not believe that a man is any nearer to God for being clad in priestly garments, nor that one place in a town is better adapted to meditation than another. When I gaze at a sunset sky & spend hours contemplating its marvellous, ever-changing beauty, an extraordinary emotion overwhelms me. Nature in all its vastness is truthfully reflected in my sincere though feeble soul. Around me are the trees stretching up their branches to the skies, the perfumed flowers gladdening the meadows, the gentle grass-carpeted earth,... & my hands unconsciously assume an attitude of adoration... To feel the supreme & moving beauty of the spectacle to which Nature invites her ephemeral guests! - that is what I call prayer... - Debussy

Fashion, by which what is really fantastic becomes for a moment universal, and Dandyism, which, in its own way, is an attempt to assert the absolute modernity of beauty, had, of course, their fascination for him.
- Wilde, Dorian Gray, p108

...the cheap, & therefore indecorous, articles of daily consumption in modern industrial communities are commonly machine products; & the generic feature of the physiognomy of machine-made goods as compared with the hand-wrought article is their greater perfection in workmanship & greater accuracy in the detail execution of the design. Hence it comes about that the visible imperfections of the hand-wrought goods, being honorific, are accounted marks of superiority in point of beauty, or serviceability, or both. Hence has arisen that exaltation of the defective, of which John Ruskin & William Morris were such eager spokesmen in their time; & on this ground their propaganda of crudity & wasted effort has been taken up & carried forward since their time. And hence also the propaganda for a return to handicraft & household industry. So much of the work & speculations of this group of men as fairly comes under the characterisation here given would have been impossible at a time when the visibly more perfect goods were not the cheaper. - Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, p162

There is nothing that requires such gentle handling as an illusion, if one wishes to dispel it. If anyone prompts the prospective captive to set his will in opposition, all is lost. And this is what a direct attack achieves, & it implies moreover the presumption of requiring a man to make another person, or in his presence, an admission which he can make most profitably to himself privately. This is what is achieved by the indirect method, which, loving & serving the truth, arranges everything dialectically for the prospective captive, & then shyly withdraws (for love is always shy), so as not to witness the admission which he makes to himself alone before God - that he has lived hitherto in an illusion.
- Kierkegaard, The Point of View for my Work as an Author, p24

For there is an immense difference, a dialectical difference, between these two cases: the case of a man who is ignorant & is to have a piece of knowledge imparted to him, so that he is like an empty vessel which is to be filled or a blank sheet of paper upon which something is to be written; & in the case of a man who is under an illusion & must first be delivered from that. Likewise there is a difference between writing on a blank sheet of paper & bringing to light by the application of a caustic fluid a text which is hidden under another text. Assuming then that the person is a victim of an illusion, & that in order to communicate the truth to him the first task, rightly understood, is to remove the illusion - if I do not begin by deceiving him, I must begin with direct communication. But direct communication presupposes that the receiver's ability to receive is undisturbed. But here such is not the case; an illusion stands in the way... one does not begin thus: I am a Christian; you are not a Christian. Nor does one begin thus: It is Christianity I am proclaiming & you are living in purely aesthetic categories. No, one begins thus: Let us talk about aesthetics. This deception consists in the fact that one talks thus merely to get to the religious theme. - Kierkegaard, The Point of View for my Work as an Author, p40 is dishonourable & self-contradictory to forswear your honest loves, past or present. They it is that reveal your true nature & its possible fulfilments; they are the Good, in the modes of it that you can appreciate & unfeignedly worship. - Santayana

Every thing is a monster till we know what it is for... A man in the rocks under the sea would be a monster but a lobster is a most handy & happy fellow there. - Emerson, journal

...Keep Driveway Clear...One Way...They never tell you what you want they only tell you what they want. - Pirsig, Lila, p238

Oaths are the fossils of piety. - Santayana

No teacher's insult is ever forgotten. - Zeitlin


Philosophy always arrives too late on the scene. - Hegel

Philosophy triumphs easily over past evils & future evils, but present evils triumph over it. - La Rochefoucauld

The philosopher,...because he can think, decides that nothing but thoughts matter. It is as if a rabbit, because he can make little pills, should decide that nothing but little pills matter.
- D. H. Lawrence

It is an old story that philosophers, in common with theologians & social theorists, are as sure that personal habits & interests shape their opponents' doctrines as they are that their own beliefs are 'absolutely' universal & objective in quality. - Dewey

Philosophy has been defined as 'an unusually obstinate attempt to think clearly'; I should define it rather as 'an unusually obstinate attempt to think fallaciously'. The philosopher's temperament is rare, because it has to combine two somewhat conflicting characteristics: one the one hand a strong desire to believe some general proposition about the universe or human life; on the other hand, inability to believe contentedly except on what appear to be intellectual grounds. The more profound the philosopher, the more intricate & subtle must his fallacies be in order to produce in him the desired state of intellectual acquiescence. That is why philosophy is obscure.
To the completely unintellectual, general doctrines are unimportant; to the man of science, they are hypotheses to be tested by experiment; while to the philosopher they are mental habits which must be justified somehow if he is to find life endurable. The typical philosopher finds certain beliefs emotionally indispensable, but intellectually difficult; he therefore goes through long chains of reasoning, in the course of which, sooner or later, a momentary lack of vigilance allows a fallacy to pass undetected. After the one false step, his mental agility quickly takes him far into the quagmire of falsehood.
- Russell, Unpopular Essays, Philosophy's Ulterior Motives

The world has need of a philosophy, or a religion, which will promote life. But in order to promote life it is necessary to value something other than mere life. Life devoted only to life is animal, without any real human value, incapable of preserving man permanently from weariness & the feeling that all is vanity. If life is to be fully human it must serve some end which seems, in some sense, outside human life, some end which is impersonal & above mankind, such as God or truth or beauty. Those who best promote life do not have life for their purpose. They aim rather at what seems like a gradual incarnation, a bringing into our human existence of something eternal, something that appears to imagination to live in a heaven remote from strife & failure & the devouring jaws of Time. Contact with this eternal world - even if it be only a world of our imagining - brings a strength & a fundamental peace which cannot be wholly destroyed by the struggles & apparent failures of our temporal life. It is this happy contemplation of what is eternal that Spinoza calls the intellectual love of God. To those who have once known it, it is the key of wisdom. - Russell

...we must not think that there is any other aim of knowledge about the heavens...than peace of mind & unshakeable confidence, just as it is our aim in all other pursuits. ...we must not theorize scientifically about nature by means of empty maxims & arbitrary principles, but as phenomena require. For our life has no need of foolishness & idle opinion, but of an existence free from confusion. - Epicurus, Letter to Pythocles

The beginning of philosophy, at least to such as enter upon it in a proper way, & by the door, is a consciousness of our own weakness & inability in necessary things. - Epictetus

The only possible criticism of any philosophy; & the only one that proves anything, is trying to see if one can live by this philosophy, & this has never been taught at any university. - Nietzsche

The state is never interested in truth, but rather always only in that truth that is useful to it or, more precisely, in everything that is useful to it, be it truth, half-truth, or error. Hence, an alliance between the state & philosophy only makes sense if philosophy can promise to be absolutely useful to the state, that is, to place the interests of the state above truth. To be sure, it would be magnificent for the state if it could both have truth at its service & on its payroll; yet the state itself knows very well that it is part of truth's very nature never to serve, never to take payment. Hence, what the state has is always only a false 'truth', a person wearing a mask...
...the emergence of a philosopher on earth is infinitely more important than the continued existence of a state or a university...'Beware', says Emerson, 'when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a city, & no man knows what is safe, or when it will end. There is not a piece of science but its flank may be turned tomorrow; there is not any literary reputation...that may not be revised & condemned. The things which are dear to men at this hour are so on account of the ideas which have emerged on their mental horizon, & which cause the present order of things, as a tree bears its apples. A new degree of culture would instantly revolutionise the entire system of human pursuits.' Now, if such thinkers are dangerous, then it is only too obvious why our academic thinkers are not dangerous, for their thoughts grow as peacefully in the soil of tradition as any tree ever bore apples. They do not inspire fear, they do not cause upheavals, & to all their hustle & bustle we can only raise the same objection that Diogenes raised when a philosopher was praised: 'What great accomplishments does he have to show for himself, since he has practised philosophy for such a long time & yet never disturbed anyone?' Indeed, the epitaph of university philosophy should read: 'It never disturbed anyone.' - Nietzsche

Magee : When you say philosophy is the study of proof, what do you mean?
Ayer : I mean really the study of what is a valid reason for what. If I had to sum up philosophy in a sentence I'd say that philosophy is the theory of the form of the proposition 'p supports q'. The support at its strongest being entailment, you have the whole of deductive logic. Logic can be said to be the theory of deductive argument. And I think the rest of philosophy can be comprised, at one level or another (well...I suppose ethics doesn't quite fit into this mould) of what is good evidence for what, & why...a sceptic comes along & says 'But surely this isn't good evidence for that.' And then you have to make clear why you think it is. And do justice to the problems. And I think very often the answers you get in philosophy are quite platitudinous. Very often the answer just is that what we all think is so, is so, but it's the scenery you visit by the way that's important & interesting. This is of course the trouble, that one isn't sure one is going to be able to come out with anything that is going to be more than an assurance to people to do what they would have done anyway.

When you meet a contradiction, make a distinction. - St Thomas Aquinas

Let every student of nature take this as a rule - that whatever his mind seizes & dwells upon with peculiar satisfaction is to be held in suspicion, & that so much the more care is to be taken in dealing with such questions to keep the understanding even & clear. ...For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. - Bacon

There is no man but prefers belief to the exercise of judgement. - Seneca

I believe that delight at having understood a very abstract & obscure system leads most people to believe in the truth of what it demonstrates. - Lichtenberg

...if we are hopeful, why should we not believe that the best we can fancy is also the truest; & if we are distrustful in general of our prophetic gifts, why should we cling only to the most mean & formless of our illusions?
- Santayana

...In my stubbornness...I am at one with most philosophers, who for the most part are impervious to argument. There is a truth about philosophy in this. At the bottom of philosophy are things underdescribed as commitments. They are better described as grips that the world gets on us, early. - Ted Honderich

I have loved a ghost, & in loving a ghost my inmost self has itself become spectral. I have therefore buried it deeper & deeper beneath layers of cheerfulness, affection, & joy of life. But my most profound feelings have remained always solitary & have found in human things no companionship. The sea, the stars, the night wind in waste places, mean more to me than even the human beings I love best, & I am conscious that human affection is to me at bottom an attempt to escape from the vain search for God. - Russell, Autobiography, p261

The centre of me is always & eternally a terrible pain - a curious wild pain - a searching for something beyond what the world contains, something transfigured & infinite - the beatific vision - God - I do not find it, I do no think it is to be found - but the love of it is my life - it's like passionate love for a ghost. At times it fills my with rage, at times with wild despair, it is the source of gentleness & cruelty & work, it fills every passion that I have - it is the actual spring of life within me. I can't explain it or make it seem anything but foolishness - but whether foolish or not, it is the source of whatever is any good in me.
- Russell, letter to Colette 1916, Autobiography, p303

To teach how to live without certainty, & yet without being paralysed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it. - Russell, History of Western Philosophy, Introduction

The whole is the true. - Hegel

The whole is the false. - Adorno

Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs in one.
- Hilary Putnam

At the harvest festival of the spirit. - From day to day they accumulate & well up, experiences, events, thoughts about them & dreams about these thoughts - an immeasurable, overwhelming property! One grows dizzy at the sight of it; I no longer understand how one can call the poor in spirit blessed! - But sometimes, when I am tired, I envy them: for the administration of such a property is a heavy task, & its heaviness not seldom weighs down all its happiness. - If only it were enough just to stand & gaze at it! If only one were a miser of one's knowledge!
- Nietzsche, Daybreak, 476

Now before beginning to rebuild the house where one lives, it is not enough to knock it down, to provide building materials & architects (or to practise architecture oneself), & to have the plans drawn carefully; it is also necessary to have provided oneself with another house in which to live comfortably while the rebuilding is taking place. In a similar way, in order to avoid being indecisive about my actions during the interval when I would be forced by reason to be indecisive in making judgements, & to live as happily as possible during that time, I devised a provisional morality that included only three or four maxims, which I would like to share with you.
1. The first was to obey the laws & customs of my own country, holding firmly to the religion in which, by the grace of God, I had been instructed from my infancy, & guiding myself in everything else by the most moderate & least excessive views that are generally accepted in practice by the most sensible people among those with whom I was to live...& that, to discover what they really believed, I should pay more attention to what they did than to what they said - not only because, given the corruption of our morals, there are few people who are willing to express everything they believe, but also because many do not know what they themselves believe...
2. My second maxim was to be as firm & resolute as possible in my actions & to follow the most doubtful views, once I had decided to do so, just as steadfastly as if they were very certain, thereby imitating travellers who, when they find themselves lost in a forest, should not make the mistake of turning in one direction after another or, even less, of staying in the same place, but should always walk in one direction in as straight a line as possible & not change it for trivial reasons, even if initially it was only chance that determined them to choose it. For, in this way, if they do not arrive exactly where they wish, they will eventually arrive somewhere, & they will probably be better off there than in the middle of a forest... This was able to free me, from then on, from all the regrets & remorse that usually disturb the consciences of weak & wavering minds who allow themselves fickle to begin doing things that they think are good but that they later think are evil.
3. My third maxim was to try always to overcome myself rather than fortune, to change my desires rather than the structure of the world &, in general, to get used to believing that there is nothing that is completely within our control except our thoughts. Thus when we have done our best with respect to external things, anything that is lacking in our success is, from our point of view, impossible. This alone seemed to me to be enough to prevent me in future from desiring anything that I had not acquired, & thus to make me content... But I admit that one needs long practice & a frequently repeated meditation to get used to seeing everything from this perspective, & I believe that this was principally the secret of those philosophers who were able, in earlier times, to withdraw from fortune's dominion, to despise suffering & poverty & to rival the gods in happiness...
& Finally, as a conclusion for this morality, I decided to review the various occupations that are open to people in this life, & to try to pick the best one;...I thought I could do no better than persevere in the very occupation I already had, that is, using my whole life to develop my reason & making as much progress as I could in discovering the truth in accordance with the method I had prescribed for myself. Since beginning to use this method I had experienced such great satisfaction that I thought it was impossible to experience a more pleasant or more innocent happiness in this life; & by using this method I discovered each day some truths which seemed to be rather important & to be generally unknown to other people...
Having convinced myself of these maxims & having set them to one side,...I thought I could begin freely to rid myself of all my other views. Since I hoped to finish this task better in discussions with other people than by remaining shut up any longer in the stove-heated room in which I had had all these thoughts, I set off again to travel before winter was completely over. - Descartes, Discourse on Method, 3

It may seem strange that I should put forward three sentiments, namely, interest in an indefinite community, recognition of the possibility of this interest being made supreme, & hope in the unlimited continuance of intellectual activity, as indispensable requirements of logic. Yet, when we consider that logic depends on a mere struggle to escape doubt, which, as it terminates in action, must begin in emotion, & that, furthermore, the only cause of our planting ourselves on reason is that other methods of escaping doubt fail on account of the social impulse, why should we wonder to find social sentiment presupposed in reasoning? As for the other two sentiments which I find necessary, they are so only as supports & accessories of that. It interests me to notice that these three sentiments seem to be pretty much the same as that famous trio of Charity, Faith & Hope, which, in the estimation of St. Paul, are the finest & greatest of spiritual gifts. Neither Old nor New Testament is a textbook of the logic of science, but the latter is certainly the highest existing authority in regard to the dispositions of heart which a man ought to have. - C. S. Peirce, The Doctrine of Chances

The troublemaker in science. Philosophy divorced itself from science when it inquired which knowledge of the world & life could help man to live most happily. This occurred in the Socratic schools: out of concern for happiness man tied off the veins of scientific investigation - & does so still today.
- Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, 8

For Post-Socratics. - Nothing is more unfitting for an intellectual resolved on practising what was earlier called philosophy, than to wish, in discussion, & one might almost say in argumentation, to be right. The very wish to be right, down to its subtlest form of logical reflection, is an expression of that spirit of self-preservation which philosophy is precisely concerned to break down. I knew someone who invited all the celebrities in epistemology, science & the humanities one after the other, discussed his own system with each of them from first to last, & when none of them dared raise any further arguments against its formalism, believed his position totally impregnable. Such naivety is at work wherever philosophy has even a distant resemblance to the gestures of persuasion. These are founded on the presupposition of a universitas literarum, an a priori agreement between minds able to communicate with each other, & thus on complete conformism. When philosophers, who are well known to have difficulty in keeping silent, engage in conversation, they should try always to lose the argument, but in such a way as to convict their opponent of untruth. The point should not be to have absolutely correct, irrefutable, watertight cognitions - for they inevitably boil down to tautologies, but insights which cause the question of their justness to judge itself. - Adorno

Once I thought it a defect peculiar to me, that I was confounded by interrogatories & when put on my wits for a definition was unable to reply without injuring my own truth: but now, I believe it proper to man to be unable to answer in terms the great problems put by his fellow: it is enough if he can live his own definitions. A problem appears to me. I cannot solve it with all my wits: but if I leave it there; let it lie awhile: I can by patient faithful truth live at last its uttermost darkness into light. - Emerson

Try telling someone a piece of music. One of the most self-evidently false famous remarks in the recent history of philosophy, & one usually quoted with approval, is Ramsay's 'What we can't say we can't say, & we can't whistle it either.'...Everything that can be whistled is something that can be whistled but cannot be said...Or was Ramsay able to say a tune?...The assumption that everything of significance that can be experienced, or known, or communicated, is capable of being uttered in words would be too preposterous to merit a moment's entertainment were it not for the fact that it has underlain so much philosophy in the 20th C, & so much literary theory too.
- Bryan Magee, Confessions of a Philosopher, p80

Since the later philosophy of Wittgenstein is not only not about philosophical problems in any traditional sense but denies their authentic existence, it is capable of appealing powerfully only to people who do not have philosophical problems...In this sense it is like those forms of music that appeal only to the unmusical.
- Bryan Magee, Confessions of a Philosopher, p123

The Master said, 'Yu, shall I tell you what it is to know. To say you know when you know, & to say you do not when you do not, that is knowledge.'
- Confucius, Analects

A miracle is an event against which there is a uniform experience. It follows that in order to establish a miracle by testimony, it would be requisite to adduce testimony of such a character that its falsehood would constitute a miracle - & a miracle much greater than to which it should testify. - Hume

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support & agree with it. And though there be a greater number & weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects or despises, or else by some distinction sets aside & rejects; in order that by this great & pernicious predetermination the authority of the former conclusions may remain inviolate. And therefore it was a good answer that was made by one who when they showed him hanging in a temple a picture of those who had paid their vows as having escaped shipwreck, & would have him say whether he did not now acknowledge the power of the gods - 'Aye,' asked he again, 'but where are they painted that were drowned after their vows?' And such is the way of all superstition, whether in astrology, dreams, omens, divine judgements, or the like; wherein men, having a delight in such vanities, mark the events where they are fulfilled, but where they fail, though this happen much oftener, neglect & pass them by. But with far more subtlety does this mischief insinuate itself into philosophy & the sciences, in which the first conclusion colours & brings into conformity with itself all that come after, though far sounder & better. Besides, independently of that delight & vanity which I have described, it is the peculiar & perpetual error of the human intellect to be more moved & excited by affirmatives than by negatives; whereas it ought properly to hold itself indifferently disposed towards both alike. Indeed in the establishment of any true axiom, the negative instance is the more forcible of the two. - Bacon, Idols of the Mind, 8

Popular induction depends upon the emotional interest of the instances, not upon their number. - Russell

Disputes with men, pertinaciously obstinate in the principles, are, of all others, the most irksome; except, perhaps, those with persons, entirely disingenuous, who really do not believe the opinions they defend, but engage in the controversy, from affectation, from a spirit of opposition, or from a desire of showing wit & ingenuity, superior to the rest of mankind. The same blind adherence to their own arguments is to be expected in both; the same contempt of their antagonists; & the same passionate vehemence, in inforcing sophistry & falsehood. And as reasoning is not the source, whence either disputant derives his tenets; it is in vain to expect, that any logic, which speaks not to the affections, will ever engage him to embrace sounder principles.
- Hume, Enquiries into Principles of Morals

...we set up a word at the point at which our ignorance begins, at which we can see no further, e.g., the word 'I', the word 'do', the word 'suffer'...
- Nietzsche, The Will To Power philosophical controversies of any depth what divides the contending parties is characteristically in part how to characterise the disagreement. - Alasdair Macintyre

...the most that one can hope for is to render our disagreements more constructive. - Alasdair Macintyre

Speculation is an evil if it imposes a foreign organisation on our mental life; it is good if it only brings to light, & makes more perfect by training, the organization already inherent in it. - Santayana

Peirce's Pragmatic Maxim : Consider what effects - effects which might conceivably have practical bearing - we conceive the object of a conception to have: then our conception of those effects is the whole of our conception of that object.

What the philosophers say about reality is often as deceptive as when you see a sign in a second-hand store that reads: Pressing Done Here. If you went in with your clothes to have them pressed you would be fooled; the sign is for sale... - Kierkegaard, Either/Or

In the midst of my living, I could live only with the dead. It was a comfort, but a cold comfort, to say that I was living among the immortals.
- Santayana

I had not been ravaged by any hostile fate; my heart had simply uttered a warning against its own weakness. It had said to me: Cultivate imagination, love it, give it endless forms, but do not let it deceive you. Enjoy the world, travel over it; & learn its ways, but do not let it hold you. Do not suffer it to oppress you with craving or with regret for the images that you may form of it. You will do the least harm & find the greatest satisfactions if, being furnished as lightly as possible with possessions, you live freely among ideas. To possess things & persons in idea is the only pure good to be got out of them; to possess them physically or legally is a burden & a snare.
I know very well that this philosophic salvation is not such as nature or life looks for or can accept: it is only what the truth affords to the spirit. Life & nature do not ask to be saved from themselves: they ask only to run on at full tilt. It is the spirit that asks to be saved from that insane predicament.
- Santayana

...But most of all I admire the method of tenacity for its strength, simplicity & directness. Men who pursue it are distinguished for their decision of character, which becomes very easy with such a mental rule. They do not waste time in trying to make up their minds to what they want, but, fastening like lightning upon whatever alternative comes first, they hold to it to the end, whatever happens, without an instant's irresolution. This is one of the splendid qualities which generally accompany brilliant, unlasting success. It is impossible not to envy the man who can dismiss reason, although we know how it must turn out at last. - Peirce

One of the most marked features of modern thought as distinct from ancient & medieval thought is its emphasis upon mind as personal or even private, its identification with selfhood. The connection of this underlying but misinterpreted fact with experience is made by showing that modern as distinct from ancient culture is characterized by the importance attached to initiation, invention & variation. Thus mind in its individual aspect is shown to be the method of change & progress in the significance & values attached to things. This trait is linked up to natural events by recurring to their particular & variable, their contingent, quality. In & of itself this factor is puzzling; it accounts for accidents & irrationalities. It was long treated as such in the history of mankind; the individual characteristics of mind were regarded as deviations from the normal, & as dangers against which society had to protect itself. Hence the long rule of custom, the rigid conservatism, & the still existing regime of conformity & intellectual standardisation. The development of modern science began when there was recognized in certain technical fields a power to utilise variations as the starting points of new observations, hypotheses & experiments. The growth of the experimental as distinct from the dogmatic habit of mind is due to increased ability to utilize variations for constructive ends instead of suppressing them.
- Dewey, Experience & Nature, pxviii

Even if a really true philosophy had taken the place of religion, nine-tenths of mankind at the very least would receive it on authority, so that it too would be a matter of belief. - Emerson

When one maintains his proper attitude in life, he does not long after externals. What would you have, O man?
"I am contented, if my desires & aversions are conformable to nature; if I seek & shun that which I ought, & thus regulate my purposes, my efforts & my opinions."
Why, then, do you walk as if you had swallowed a ramrod?
"Because I could wish moreover to have all who meet me, admire me, & all who follow me, cry out, what a great philosopher!"
Who are those, by whom you would be admired? Are they not the very people who, you used to say, were mad? What, then, would you be admired by madmen? - Epictetus

Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion. That he harbours it is no indication of a want of sanity on his part in other matters. But while we acquiesce in his experience, & are glad he has it, we need no arguments to dissuade us from sharing it. Each man may have his own loves, but the object in each case is different. And so it is, or so it should be, in religion. Before the rise of those strange & fraudulent Hebraic pretensions there was no question among men about the national, personal & poetic character of religious allegiance. It could never have been a duty to adopt a religion not one's own any more than a language, a coinage, or a costume not current in one's own country. The idea that religion contains a literal, not a symbolic, representation of truth & life is simply an impossible idea. Whoever entertains it has not come within the region of profitable philosophising on that subject. His science is not wide enough to cover all existence. He has not discovered that there can be no moral allegiance except to the ideal. - Santayana, Reason in Religion, p72

That all traditions, legends & rites were inspired & sacred was a matter of course in antiquity. Nature was full of gods, & the mind, with its unaccountable dreams & powers, could not be without them. Its inventions could not be less oracular than the thunder or the flight of birds...Conscience, in a primitive & impetuous people, may express itself in an apocryphal manner which in a critical age conscience would altogether exclude.
- Santayana, Reason in Religion, p56

What establishes superstitions is haste to understand, rash confidence in the moral intelligibility of things. It turns out in the end, as we have laboriously discovered, that understanding has to be circuitous & cannot fulfil its function until it applies mechanical categories to existence. A thorough philosophy will become aware that moral intelligibility can only be an incidental ornament & partial harmony in the world. For moral significance is relative to particular interests & to natures having a constitutional & definite bias, & having consequently special preferences which it is chimerical to expect the rest of the world to be determined by. The attempt to subsume the natural order under the moral is like attempts to establish a government of the parent by the child - something children are not averse to. - Santayana, Reason in Religion, p22

Man is still in his childhood; for he cannot respect an ideal which is not imposed on him against his will, nor can he find satisfaction in a good created by his own action. He is afraid of a universe that leaves him alone. Freedom appals him; he can apprehend in it nothing but tedium & desolation, so immature is he & so barren does he think himself to be. He has to imagine what the angel would say, so that his own good impulses (which create those angels) may gain in authority, & none of the dangers that surround his poor life make the least impression on him until he hears that there are hobgoblins hiding in the wood. His moral life, to take shape at all, must appear to him in fantastic symbols. The history of these symbols is therefore the history of his soul.
- Santayana, Reason in Religion

There is such an order in experience that we find our desires doubly dependent on something which, because it disregards our will, we call an external power. Sometimes it overwhelms us with scourges & wonders, so that we must marvel at it & fear; sometimes it removes, or after removing restores, a support necessary to our existence & happiness, so that we must cling to it, hope for it, & love it. Whatever is serious in religion, whatever is bound up with morality & fate, is contained in those plain experiences of dependence & of affinity to that on which we depend. The rest is poetry, or mythical philosophy, in which definitions not warranted in the end by experience are given to that power which experience reveals. To reject such arbitrary definitions is called atheism by those who frame them; but a man who studies for himself the ominous & the friendly aspects of reality & gives them the truest & most adequate expression he can is repeating what the founders of religion did in the beginning. He is their companion & follower more truly than are the apologists for second-hand conceptions which the apologists themselves have never compared with the facts, & which they prize chiefly for misrepresenting actual experience & giving it imaginary extensions.
Religion is not essentially an imposture, though it might seem so if we consider it as its defenders present it to us rather than its discoverers & original spokesmen uttered it in the presence of nature & face to face with unsophisticated men. Religion is an interpretation of experience, honestly made, & made in view of man's happiness & its empirical conditions. That this interpretation is poetical goes without saying, since natural & moral science, even today, are inadequate to the task. But the mythical form into which men cast their wisdom was not chosen by them because they preferred to be imaginative; it was not embraced, as its survivals are now defended, out of sentimental attachment to grandiloquent but inaccurate thoughts. Mythical forms were adapted because none other were available, nor could the primitive mind discriminate at all between the mythical & the scientific.
- Santayana, Reason in Religion

A want of rationality & measure in the human will, that has not learned to prize small betterments & finite but real goods, compels it to deceive itself about the rewards of life in order to secure them.
- Santayana, Reason in Religion, p127

The mind is backwards in itself to be at pains to trace every argument to its original, & to see upon what basis it stands, & how firmly; but yet it is this that gives so much the advantage to one man more than other in reading. The mind should, by severe rules, be tied down to this, at first uneasy task; use & exercise will give it facility. So that those who are accustomed to it, readily, as it were with one cast of the eye, take a view of the argument, & presently, in most cases, see where it bottoms. Those who have got this faculty, one may say, have got the true key of books, & the clue to lead them through the mizmaze of variety of opinions & authors to truth & certainty. This young beginners should be entered in, & shown the use of, that they might profit by their reading. Those who are strangers to it will be apt to think it too great a clog in the way of men's studies, & they will suspect that they shall make but small progress, if, in the books they read, they must stand to examine & unravel every argument, & follow it step by step up to its original.
I answer, this is a good objection, & ought to weigh with those whose reading is designed for much talk & little knowledge, & I have nothing to say to it. But I am here inquiring into the conduct of the understanding in its progress towards knowledge; & to those who aim at that, I may say, that he who fairly & softly goes steadily forward in a course that points right, will sooner be at his journey's end, than he that runs after every one he meets, though he gallop all day full speed.
To which, let me add that this way of thinking on, & profiting by, what we read, will be a clog & rub to anyone only in the beginning; when custom & exercise have made it familiar, it will be dispatched, in most occasions, without resting or interruption in the course of our reading. The motions & views exercised that way are wonderfully quick; & a man used to such sort of reflections sees as much at one glimpse as would require a long discourse to lay before another, & make out an entire & gradual deduction. Besides that, when the first difficulties are over, the delight & sensible advantage it brings, mightily encourages & enlivens the mind in reading, which, without this, is very improperly called study. - Locke

We are of the ruminating kind, & it is not enough to cram ourselves with a great load of collections; unless we chew them over again, they will not give us strength & nourishment. - Locke

An aphorism that has been honestly struck cannot be deciphered simply by reading it off; this is only the beginning of the work of interpretation proper, which requires a whole science of hermeneutics. In the third essay of this book I give an example of what I mean by true interpretation: an aphorism stands at the head of that essay, & the body of the essay forms the commentary. One skill is needed - lost today, unfortunately - for the practice of reading as an art: the skill to ruminate, which cows possess but modern man lacks. This is why my writings will, for some time yet, remain difficult to digest.
- Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, Preface

The lifestyle of belated bohemianism forced on the non-academic philosopher is itself enough to give him a fatal affinity to the world of arts-&-crafts, crackpot religion & half-educated sectarianism. - Adorno

Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life. - Marx

...a commonplace, inane, loathsome, repulsive & ignorant charlatan, who with unparalleled effrontery compiled a system of crazy nonsense that was trumpeted abroad as immortal wisdom by his mercenary followers.
- Schopenhauer, on Hegel


The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said, 'This is mine,' & found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society... Man was born free, & everywhere he is in chains. - Rousseau

At the first sound of his voice they become as one man. Into the tones of his voice he threw the warmth of feeling which was lacking in his words; & every thought, every feeling, the slightest intonation of irony or contempt was reflected on the face of the crowd. It might have been a woman listening to the words of her lover! Perfect response, & unquestioning receptivity. Who reasons with his mistress? The wise man asserts his will, urges it with warmth or bitterness, & flavours it with flattery & occasional appeals to moral sentiments. No wonder that the modern politician turns with disgust from the cantankerous debates of an educated 'House' to the undisputing sympathy of an uneducated & like-thinking crowd. Nor extraordinary that the man of passionate conviction, or of the will which simulates it & clothes it in finely worded general principles, who ignores all complexity in things, should become the ruling spirit, when the ultimate appeal, the moving force rests with masses whose desires are prompted by passion & unqualified by thought. - Beatrice Webb, diary, 1884

...we took in that great distinction of the English into two classes. Two classes of classes of course, but still two classes. The first is of those who make their private conversation in public places audible to all, & the second is of those who do not. It took no powers of social observation to discern that the former, some of whom knew that 'mass' was pronounced 'moss', were not so much oblivious of their surroundings as not caring that they were overheard or in fact intending to be. It was an assertiveness of confidence or determination. It was not then thought of by me as being connected, maybe in the minds of these public speakers, with their defence of more substantial rights & possessions.
- Ted Honderich, philosopher: a kind of life, p91

...six years in England had given me a more internal awareness of social class, & of the fact that more went with it than different degrees of readiness to make one's private conversation audible in public places. What could go with good family & school was that great thing confidence, a prize in life & a means to more prizes. Its possessors put it to good use. The largest fact was not that it resulted in interviews & jobs & being a member of the Garrick. It could on occasion result in thinking that was better. Confidence could sometimes make for better philosophy. There was this real fact about the class system. Further, it was a fact not only of the confident person's achievement, but also something with an effect on others. The system's beneficiaries used & defended their confidence, & thereby reduced that of others. They did not do so unknowingly, in a dream. Here was something like injustice.
- Ted Honderich, philosopher: a kind of life, p138

I ceased in the year 1764 to believe that one can convince one's opponents with arguments printed in books. It is not to do that, therefore, that I have taken up my pen, but merely so as to annoy them, & to bestow strength & courage on those on our own side, & to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us. - Lichtenberg

Jargon always tends to make unwelcome facts unstatable. We can all see this when we look at other people's jargon. It is just as true of our own. - Mary Midgley

Aren't people absurd! They never use the freedoms they do have but demand those they don't have; they have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.
- Kierkegaard, Either/Or

The supreme principle, both in politics & in private life, should be to promote all that is creative, & so to diminish the impulses & desires that centre round possession.
- Russell

The less you are & the less you express your life - the more you have & the greater is your alienated life... Everything the economist takes away from you in the way of life & humanity, he restores to you in the form of money & wealth. - Marx

The anarchist is disappointed with the future as well as the past. - Chesterton

A fanatic is someone who dreams according to principle. - Kant

Those who persistently attack bureaucracy effectively reinforce the notion that it is in terms of a relation to bureaucracy that the self has to define itself.
- Alasdair Macintyre

Appear where they cannot go, head for where they expect you least.
- Sun Tzu

At the outbreak of the Civil War Abraham Lincoln was discussing the sad turn of events with a clergyman after church service.
'Let us have faith, Mr President, that the Lord is on our side in this great struggle,' said the man.
'I am not at all concerned about that, for I know the Lord is always on the side of right,' replied the President, 'but it is my constant anxiety & prayer that this nation may be on the Lord's side.'

It don't even make good nonsense.
- Davy Crockett, remarking on a statement by President Andrew Jackson


CUSTOMER TO WAITER: What have you got to eat?
WAITER: Klochomoloppi. Also have lich lock, slop lom, stocklock, rishkosh, & flocklish.
WAITER: We've got yuck, too. Boiled or braised?
- Sid Caesar & Carl Reiner

For ten years Caesar ruled Britain with an iron hand; then with a wooden foot, then with a piece of string. - The Goons

Let me be the first to admit that the naked truth about me is to the naked truth about Salvador Dali as an old ukelele in the attic is to a piano in a tree, & I mean a piano with breasts. - James Thurber

First cow: Aren't you afraid of getting Mad Cow Disease?
Second cow: No, you can't get it if you're a helicopter. - Tess

What do you get if you cross a member of the mafia with a philosopher?
Someone who makes you an offer you can't understand.

Great Quotes on Life and Art