A little time with you is all that I get.—Daft Punk
I stare about me, trying to etch into this journal the sense of Shey that is so precious, aware that all such effort is in vain; the beauty of this place must be cheerfully abandoned, like the wild rocks in the bright water of its streams. Frustration at the paltriness of words drives me to write, but there is more of Shey in a single sheep hair, in one withered sprig of everlasting, than in all these notes; to strive for permanence in what I think I have perceived is to miss the point.
—Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
This is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called “visions,” the whole so-called “spirit-world,” death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted by Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
Bread may not always nourish us; but it always does us good, it even takes stiffness out of our joints, and makes us supple and bouyant, when we knew not what ailed us, to recognize any generosity in man or Nature, to share any unmixed and heroic joy.
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “The Bean-field”
The enjoyment of a work of art, the acceptance of an irresistible illusion, constituting, to my sense, our highest experience of ‘luxury,’ the luxury is not greatest, by my consequent measure, when the work asks for as little attention as possible. It is greatest, it is delightfully, divinely great, when we feel the surface, like the thick ice of the skater’s pond, bear without cracking the strongest pressure we throw on it. The sound of the crack one may recognize, but never to call it luxury.
—Henry James, Preface to The Wings of the Dove
The passion for setting people right is in itself an afflictive disease.
…if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste! …
But remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. Most of us can’t help but live as though we’ve got two lives to live, one is the mockup, the other the finished version, and then there are all those versions in between. But there’s only one, and before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, must less wants to come near it. Right now there’s sorrow. I don’t envy the pain. But I envy you the pain.
—André Aciman, Call My by Your Name
The newspaper stories were like dreams to us, bad dreams dreamt by others. How awful, we would say, and they were, but they were awful without being believable. They were too melodramatic, they had a dimension that was not the dimension of our lives.
—Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Frankly, a person too dull to look up at the sky and see a parade of tortoises or a huge pair of mittens or a ghost holding a samurai sword is not a person worth lying in a meadow with.
—Jon Mooallem, “The Amateur Cloud Society…”
Everything bad gets shot at in America, says John Cole, and everything good too.
–Sebastien Barry, Days Without End