Thoughts, Ideas, Observations
|Where the tree of knowledge stands,
there is always paradise.
There is no end to the hunger of the mind.
The most fruitful and natural exercise of our mind, in my opinion, is discussion. I find it sweeter than any other action of our life; and that is the reason why, if I were right now forced to choose, I believe I would rather consent to lose my sight than my hearing or speech.... The study of books is a languishing and feeble activity that gives no heat, whereas discussion teaches and exercises us at the same time. If I discuss with a strong mind and a stiff jouster, he presses on my flanks, prods me right and left; his ideas launch mine. Rivalry, glory, competition, push me and lift me above myself. And unison is an altogether boring quality in discussion....
So contradictions of opinions neither offend nor affect me; they merely arouse and exercise my mind. I could stand to be rudely jarred by my friends: "You're a fool, you're dreaming." I like to see people speak up bravely among gallant men, and to see the words go where the thought goes. We should strengthen and toughen our ears against this tenderness toward the ceremonial sound of words. I like a strong, manly fellowship and familiarity, a friendship that delights in the sharpness and vigor of its intercourse, as does love in bites and scratches that draw blood.
The Master said, "The demands that a gentleman makes are upon himself; those that a small man makes are upon others."
We work in the dark. We do what we can. We give what we have.
When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong and disfigure their faces with black paint, their hearts, also, are disfigured and turn black, and our old men are not able to restrain them. Revenge, with our young braves, is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay home in times of war, and old women who have sons to lose, know better.
Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
I have belonged to prowess and to joy, but now we part
from each other.... I pray all my friends that at my death they come
and do me great honor, for I have had joy and delight, far and near,
and in my home.
--William IX of Aquitaine
A year or two after emigrating, she happened to be in Paris on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of her country. A protest march had been scheduled, and she felt driven to take part. Fists raised high, the young Frenchmen shouted out slogans condemning Soviet imperialism. She liked the slogans, but to her surprise she found herself unable to shout along with them. She lasted no more than a few minutes in the parade.
When she told her French friends about it, they were amazed. "You mean you don't want to fight the occupation of your country?" She would have liked to tell them that behind Communism, Fascism, behind all occupations and invasions lurks a more basic, pervasive evil and that the image of that evil was a parade of people marching by with raised fists and shouting identical syllables in unison. But she knew she would never be able to make them understand. Embarrassed, she changed the subject.
Lord, heap miseries upon us, yet entwine our hearts with
The fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become whom one had planned to be.
Without knowing the force of words it is impossible to know men.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted calf of hatred.
I am sure there was no man born marked of God above another, for none comes into the world with a saddle on his back, neither any booted and spurred to ride him.
--Richard Rumbold, on the gallows, 1685
Who is rich? He that rejoices in his portion.
Where are the horse and the kinsman?
--The Wanderer (Anglo-Saxon poem, ca. 900)
But I more and more learn the extreme slowness of things; and that, though we are disposed to think that everything will change in our lifetime, it will not.
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.
O Gilgamesh, whither do you fare?
O Gilgamesh, fill you belly,
Yet all the precedent is on my side:
"No, no." I threw up my hands. I was on the point of a bitter, hysterical laughter. "Don't you see? I'm not the spirit of any age. I'm at odds with everything and always have been! I have never belonged anywhere with anyone at any time!" It was too painful, too perfectly true.
But his face only brightened with an irresistible smile. He seemed on the verge of laughing at me, and then his shoulders began to move with this laughter. "But Louis," he said softly. "This is the very spirit of your age. Don't you see that? Everyone else feels as you feel. Your fall from grace and faith has been the fall of a century."
Think before you say no.
--John Newman's advice on parenting
Once some disciples of the Baal Shem Tov approached him and asked, "Why do you answer all questions by telling a story? Why do you always tell stories?"
The disciples then steeled themselves, certain that, true to the tradition, the Baal Shem Tov would necessarily answer such questions about story with another story.
But the Baal Shem Tov, after a long pause, responded, "Salvation lies in remembrance."
No one cares to surrender a part of his freedom, even if it amounts to little more than slackness and muddle.
Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of
vanities; all is vanity.
For every thing there is a season, and a time for every
He who by reanimating the old can gain knowledge of the new is fit to be a teacher.