Beauty—not truth—is the only requirement to be here.
Marguerite Yourcenar, trans. Grace Frick, Memoirs of Hadrian
The cynics and the moralists agree in placing the pleasures of love among the enjoyments termed gross, that is, between the desire for drinking and the need for eating, though at the same time they call love less indispensable, since it is something which, they assert, one can go without. I expect about anything from the moralist, but am astonished that the cynic should go thus astray. Probably both fear their own demons, whether resisting or surrendering to them, and they oblige themselves to scorn their pleasure in order to reduce its almost terrifying power, which overwhelms them, and its strange mystery, wherein they feel lost. I shall never believe in the classification of love among the purely physical joys (supposing that any such things exist) until I see a gourmet sobbing with delight over his favorite dish like a lover gasping on a young shoulder. Of all our games, love’s play is the only one which threatens to unsettle the soul, and is also the only one in which the player has to abandon himself to the body’s ecstasy. To put reason aside is not indispensable for a drinker, but the lover who leaves reason in control does not follow his god to the end.
Gabriel García Márquez, trans. Gregory Rabassa, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me
Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. Then they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.
Prince of Ligne on Potemkin, in Catherine the Great
I here behold a Commander in Chief who looks idle and is always busy; who has no other desk than his knees, no other comb than his fingers; constantly reclined on his couch, yet sleeping neither in night nor in daytime. A cannon shot, to which he himself is not exposed, disturbs him with the idea that it costs the life of some of his soldiers. Trembling for others, brave himself, alarmed at the approach of danger, frolicsome when it surrounds him, dull in the midst of pleasure, surfeited with everything, easily disgusted, morose, inconstant, a profound philosopher, an able minister, a sublime politician, not revengeful, asking pardon for a pain he has inflicted, quickly repairing an injustice, thinking he loves God when he fears the Devil; waving one hand to the females that please him, and with the other making the sign of the cross; receiving numberless presents from his sovereign and distributing them immediately to others; preferring prodigality in giving, to regularity in paying; prodigiously rich and not worth a farthing; easily prejudiced in favor of or against anything; talking divinity to his generals and tactics to his bishops; never reading, but pumping everyone with whom he converses; uncommonly affable or extremely savage, the most attractive or most repulsive of manners; concealing under the appearance of harshness, the greatest benevolence of heart, like a child, wanting to have everything, or, like a great man, knowing how to do without; gnawing his fingers, or apples, or turnips; scolding or laughing; engaged in wantonness or in prayers, summoning twenty aides de camp and saying nothing to any of them, not caring for cold, though he appears unable to exist without furs; always in his shirt without pants, or in rich regimentals; barefoot or in slippers; almost bent double when he is at home, and tall, erect, proud, handsome, noble, majestic when he shows himself to his army like Agamemnon in the midst of the monarchs of Greece. What then is his magic? Genius, natural abilities, an excellent memory, artifice without craft, the art of conquering every heart; much generosity, graciousness, and justice in his rewards; and a consummate knowledge of mankind.
Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
John F. Kennedy, 1961 Inaugural Address
Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
Paul Feyerabend, Against Method
The point of view underlying this book is not the result of a well-planned train of thought but of arguments prompted by accidental encounters. Anger at the wanton destruction of cultural achievements from which we all could have learned, at the conceited assurance with which some intellectuals interfere with the lives of people, and contempt for the phrases they use to embellish their misdeeds, was and still is the motive force behind my work.
Marcel Proust, trans. Lydia Davis, Combray (by the way way better than Tyrion’s quote about books that everyone likes quoting)
The novelist’s happy discovery was to think of substituting for those opaque sections, impenetrable by the human spirit, their equivalent in immaterial sections, things, that is, which the spirit can assimilate to itself. After which it matters not that the actions, the feelings of this new order of creatures appear to us in the guise of truth, since we have made them our own, since it is in ourselves that they are happening, that they are holding in thrall, while we turn over, feverishly, the pages of the book, our quickened breath and staring eyes. And once the novelist has brought us to that state, in which, as in all purely mental states, every emotion is multiplied ten-fold, into which his book comes to disturb us as might a dream, but a dream more lucid, and of a more lasting impression than those which come to us in sleep; why, then, for the space of an hour he sets free within us all the joys and sorrows in the world, a few of which, only, we should have to spend years of our actual life in getting to know, and the keenest, the most intense of which would never have been revealed to us because the slow course of their development stops our perception of them.
Pierre Curie, August 10, 1894 letter to Marie Curie
We have promised each other — haven’t we? — to be at least great friends. If you will only not change your mind! For there are no promises that are binding; such things cannot be ordered at will. It would be a fine thing, just the same, in which I hardly dare believe, to pass our lives near each other, hypnotized by our dreams: your patriotic dream, our humanitarian dream, and our scientific dream.
Of all those dreams the last is, I believe, the only legitimate one. I mean by that that we are powerless to change the social order and, even if we were not, we should not know what to do; in taking action, no matter in what direction, we should never be sure of not doing more harm than good, by retarding some inevitable evolution. From the scientific point of view, on the contrary, we may hope to do something; the ground is solider here, and any discovery that we may make, however small, will remain acquired knowledge.