Sunday, April 6, 2014

"We shall see that peace which is above all reason, that perfect calm of the spirit..."

Correggio, Leda and the Swan (circa 1532)

Arthur Schopenhauer:
''...instead of the restless striving and effort, instead of the constant transition from wish to fruition, and from joy to sorrow, instead of the never-satisfied and never-dying hope which constitutes the life of the man who wills, we shall see that peace which is above all reason, that perfect calm of the spirit, that deep rest, that inviolable confidence and serenity, the mere reflection of which in the countenance, as Raphael and Correggio have represented it, is an entire and certain gospel; only knowledge remains, the will has vanished."

Friday, March 7, 2014

"How vainly seek the selfish for that happiness denied..."

                                              "How vainly seek
The selfish for that happiness denied
To aught but virtue! Blind and hardened, they,
Who hope for peace amid the storms of care,
Who covet power they know not how to use,
And sigh for pleasure they refuse to give, -
Madly they frustrate still their own designs;
And, where they hope that quiet to enjoy
Which virtue pictures, bitterness of soul,
Pining regrets, and vain repentances,
Disease, disgust and lassitude pervade
Their valueless and miserable lives.

"But hoary-headed selfishness has felt
Its death-blow and is tottering to the grave;
A brighter morn awaits the human day,
When every transfer of earth’s natural gifts
Shall be a commerce of good words and works;
When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame,
The fear of infamy, disease and woe,
War with its million horrors, and fierce hell,
Shall live but in the memory of time,
Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start,
Look back, and shudder at his younger years."

- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Poor people, living as neighbors to the rich ... They can never have peace of mind."

Kamo no Chomei (1153-1216), from An Account of My Hut:
Someone of low status who becomes a neighbor of a man of power, even when he has cause to be very happy, cannot celebrate loudly, or if his sorrow is severe, his lamentation and weeping must be muted. His conduct is controlled by anxiety, for in any situation he is as fearful as a sparrow caught in a hawk's nest. Poor people, living as neighbors to the rich, morning and evening are embarrassed by their poorly dressed appearance, even as they go into and leave the house, seeing their neighbor's flattering condescension. The wife and children envy the neighbor's servants, who look down on them with haughty expression, provoking bad feelings. They can never have peace of mind.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Nothing is more wonderful than sympathy..."

Sei Shonagon, from The Pillow Book:
Nothing is more wonderful than sympathy — in a man of course, but also in a woman. It may be only some passing remark, it may not be anything particularly deeply felt, but to hear that someone has said of a sad situation, ‘How sad for her’, or of some touching circumstance, ‘I do wonder how she must be feeling’, makes you much gladder than hearing it said directly face to face. I always long to find a way to let such a person know that I’ve learned of their sympathetic response. You don’t feel particularly surprised and moved, of course, in the case of someone whom you can rely on to feel for you or visit you at such times. But if someone unexpected responds to the tale of your sorrows with reassuring words, it fills you with pleasure. It’s such a simple thing to do, yet so rare....

Sunday, October 27, 2013

R.I.P. Lou Reed - the very pinnacle of Rock 'n' Roll

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

- Lou Reed, from "Venus in Furs"

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"The art of making yourself rich ... is ... the art of keeping your neighbor poor."

John Ruskin, from The Communism of John Ruskin (1891) :
I observe that men of business rarely know the meaning of the word "rich." At least if they know, they do not in their reasonings allow for the fact, that it is a relative word, implying its opposite "poor" as positively as the word "north" implies its opposite "south." Men nearly always speak and write as if riches were absolute, and it were possible, by following certain scientific precepts, for everybody to be rich. Whereas riches are a power like that of electricity, acting only through inequalities or negations of itself. The force of the guinea you have in your pocket depends wholly on the default of a guinea in your neighbor's pocket. If he did not want it, it would be of no use to you; the degree of power it possesses depends accurately upon the need or desire he has for it,—and the art of making yourself rich, in the ordinary mercantile economist's sense, is therefore equally and necessarily the art of keeping your neighbor poor.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"May the gentleness of my river teach me to commune with the dream of all waters."

Han Ryner, from "Anti-Patriotism" (1934):
May my pride in my mountain teach me to admire other summits; may the gentleness of my river teach me to commune with the dream of all waters; from the charm of my forest, may I learn to find it in the measured grace of all woods; may the love of a known idea never turn me from a new idea or an enrichment that comes from afar. In the same way that a man grows beyond the size of a child, the first beauties met serve to have us ideally understand, taste, and conquer all beauties. What poverty to hear in these naive memories a poor and moving language that prevents our hearing other languages! Let us love, in our childhood memories the alphabet that allows us to read all the texts offered by the successive or simultaneous riches of our life.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"I don't feel betrayed by Mr. Snowden."

N.Y. Times commenter jac2jess:
I don't feel betrayed by Mr. Snowden. I feel relieved that someone, however imperfectly he may live his life, respected his fellow citizens enough to entrust them with information that our government has restricted us from knowing, and therefore, from challenging. 'Keeping us safe' could be a bumper sticker that could apply to any dictatorship or totalitarian state; keeping us safe while preserving our civil liberties is a governing philosophy that is essentially American, and our leaders shouldn't need a 29-year-old who never finished college to remind them of that.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"In the vestibule the doorbell began to tinkle..."

“In the vestibule the doorbell began to tinkle: it tinkled sporadically; silence spoke between the two jolts of tinkling; like a memory—a memory of something forgotten, familiar.” 

Friday, March 8, 2013

"They shall know the sun and the wind, the running water, and the breast of the broad earth."

Richard Jefferies, from The Dewy Morn (1900):
All of you with little children, and who have no need to count expense, or even if you have such need, take them somehow into the country among green grass and yellow wheat—among trees—by hills and streams, if you wish their highest education, that of the heart and the soul, to be completed.

Therein shall they find a Secret—a knowledge not to be written, not to be found in books. They shall know the sun and the wind, the running water, and the breast of the broad earth. Under the green spray, among the hazel boughs where the nightingale sings, they shall find a Secret, a feeling, a sense that fills the heart with an emotion never to be forgotten. They will forget their books—they will never forget the grassy fields.

If you wish your children to think deep things—to know the holiest emotions—take them to the woods and hills, and give them the freedom of the meadows. It is of no use to palter with your conscience and say, ' They have everything; they have expensive toys, story-books without end; we never go anywhere without bringing them home something to amuse them; they have been to the seaside, and actually to Paris; it is absurd, they cannot want anything more.' But they do want something more, without which all this expensive spoiling is quite thrown away.

They want the unconscious teaching of the country, and without that they will never know the truths of this life. They need to feel—unconsciously—the influence of the air that blows, sun-sweetened, over fragrant hay; to feel the influence of deep shady woods, mile-deep in boughs—the stream—the high hills; they need to revel in long grass. Put away their books, and give them the freedom of the meadows. Do it at any cost or trouble to yourselves, if you wish them to become great men and noble women.