Saturday, April 23, 2011

Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee

  • But what can I possibly say? "Terrible things go on in the night while you and I are asleep"? The jackal rips out the hare's bowels, but the world rolls on.

  • Nothing is worse than what we can imagine.

  • If you want to do something, you do it. If you had wanted to do it you would have done it.

  • That is what war is about: compelling a choice on someone who would not otherwise make it.

  • All I want now is to live out my life in ease in a familiar world, to die in my own bed and be followed to the grave by old friends.

  • What I did not know was how longing could store itself away in the hollows of one's bones and then one day without warning flood out.

  • You think you know what is just and what is not. I understand. We all think we know.

  • We are fallen creatures. All we can do is to uphold the laws, all of us, without allowing the memory of justice to fade.

  • I am terrified. I am terrified to think what is going to become of us. I try to hope for the best and live from day to day. But sometimes all of a sudden I find myself imagining what might happen and I am paralyzed with fear.

  • This is not the scene I dreamed of. Like much else nowadays I leave it feeling stupid, like a man who lost his way long ago but presses on along a road that may lead nowhere.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

  • Don't we love children, in part, because they live outside the realm of cynicism and irony?

  • These days, you measure people first by their kindness and their capacity for devotion. You get tired, sometimes, of wit and intellect; everybody's little display of genius.

  • This is one of the most singular experiences, waking on what feels like a good day, preparing to work but not yet actually embarked. At this moment there are infinite possibilities, whole hours ahead.

  • Sanity involves a certain measure of impersonation, not simply for the benefit of husband and servants but for the sake, first and foremost, of one's own convictions.

  • There is so little love in the world.

  • There is comfort in facing the full range of options; in considering all your choices, fearlessly and without guile.

  • If you shout loud enough, for long enough, a crowd will gather to see what all the noise is about.

  • Better, really, to face the fin in the water than to live in hiding.

  • "I love you" has become almost ordinary, being said not only on anniversaries and birthdays but spontaneously, in bed or at the kitchen sink or even in cabs within hearing of foreign drivers who believe women should walk three paces behind their husbands.

  • We did the best we could, dear. That's all anyone can do, isn't it?

  • We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep--it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

  • Your soul is the whole world. It says that when a man is asleep, he penetrates his innermost and dwells in Atman.
  • One must find the source within one's own Self, one must possess it.
  • Opinions mean nothing; they may be beautiful or ugly, clever or foolish, anyone can embrace or reject them.
  • Nobody finds salvation through teachings.
  • It is not for me to judge another life. I must judge for myself. I must choose and reject.
  • One can beg, buy, be presented with and find love in the streets, but it can never be stolen.
  • Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goal, if he can think, wait and fast.
  • Everyone gives what he has. The soldier gives strength, the merchant goods, the teacher instruction, the farmer rice, the fisherman fish.
  • One cannot have pleasure without giving it, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every single part of the body has its secret which can give pleasure to one who can understand. Lovers should not separate from each other after making love without admiring each other, without being conquered as well as conquering, so that no feeling of satiation or desolation arises nor the horrid feeling of misusing or having been misused.
  • Nothing was ever achieved by scolding. If a loss has been sustained, I will bear the loss.
  • Everything that was not suffered to the end and finally concluded, recurred, and the same sorrows were undergone.
  • Disclosing his wound to this listener was the same as bathing it in the river, until it became cool and one with the river.
  • What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.
  • When someone is seeking, it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal.
  • In striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.
  • Many people have to change a great deal and wear all sorts of clothes.
  • I have become aware of knowledge, just as one feels life in one's heart.
  • Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.
  • Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.
  • In every truth the opposite is equally true.
  • Never is a man or a deed wholly Samsara or wholly Nirvana; never is a man wholly a saint or a sinner.
  • The world is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment; every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potential old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people--eternal life.
  • Everything that exists is good--death as well as life, sin as well as holiness, wisdom as well as folly. Everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding; then all is well with me and nothing can harm me.
  • Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.
  • Love is the most important thing in the world.
  • It is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.
  • It takes two to make an accident.
  • It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.
  • There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind.
  • I love you now--isn't that enough?
  • She wanted her life shaped now, immediately--and the decision must be made by some force--of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality--that was close at hand.
  • A bad driver was only safe until she met another bad driver.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

  • There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made.


The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe

  • Even in the grave all is not lost.


The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

  • But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul.

  • Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or stupid action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such?