I don't care what people think of me. I don't even care what happens to me.
The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. He is a fellow who thoroughly enjoys his work, just as people who take bird walks enjoy theirs. Each excursion of the essayist, each new attempt, differs from the last and takes him into new country. This delights him. Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays.There are as many kinds of essays as there are human attitudes or poses, as many essay flavors as there are Howard Johnson ice creams. The essayist arises in the morning and, if he has work to do, selects his garb from an unusually extensive wardrobe: he can pull on any sort of shirt, be any sort of person
A person who is trained to consider his actions, to undertake them deliberately, is in so far forth disciplined. Add to this ability a power to endure in an intelligently chosen course in the face of distraction, confusion, and difficulty, and you have the essence of discipline.
Consequences flow from a justice's interpretation in a direct and immediate way. A judicial decision respecting the incompatibility of Jim Crow with a constitutional guarantee of equality is not simply a contemplative exercise in defining the shape of a just society. It is an order
Man, so far as natural science by itself is able to teach us, is no longer the final cause of the universe, the Heaven-descended heir of all the ages. His very existence is an accident, his story a brief and transitory episode in the life of one of the meanest of the planets.
Whenever you take a step forward, you are bound to disturb something. You disturb the air as you go forward, you disturb the dust, the ground. You trample upon things. When a whole society moves forward, this trampling is on a much bigger scale; and each thing that you disturb, each vested interest which you want to remove, stands as an obstacle.
Cemeteries are full of unfulfilled dreams... countless echoes of 'could have' and 'should have' countless books unwritten countless songs unsung... I want to live my life in such a way that when my body is laid to rest, it will be a well needed rest from a life well lived, a song well sung, a book well written, opportunities well explored, and a love well expressed.
Do you wish to learn the secret of true Eucharistic prayer? Consider, then, all the mysteries in the light of the Blessed Sacrament. It is a divine prism through which they can all be studied. The Holy Eucharist is, indeed, 'Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today, and the same forever' (Heb 13:8). In this Sacrament He glorifies all the mysteries of His life and prolongs, as it were, the exercise of all His virtues. The Eucharist is, in a word, the great Mystery of our faith to which all Catholic truths lead.
Beauty without intelligence is an illusion that is close to disenchantment. It is like a fairy that fascinates us, as long as we look at her through the enchanting prism of her beauty. However, it disappears as soon as the light of reason penetrates beyond the place where the eyes can see.
... I was reminded of a remark of Willa Cather's, that you can't paint sunlight, you can only paint what it does with shadows on a wall. If you examine a life, as Socrates has been so tediously advising us to do for so many centuries, do you really examine a life, or do you examine the shadows it casts on other lives? Entity or relationships? Objective reality or the vanishing point of a multiple perspective exercise? Prism or the rainbows it refracts? And what if you're the wall? What if you never cast a shadow or rainbow of your own, but have only caught those cast by others?
Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away. When I am gone, I hope it can be said of me that I plucked a thistle and planted a flower wherever I thought a flower would grow.
It is possible to enjoy the Mozart concerto without being able to play the clarinet. In fact, you can learn to be an expert connoisseur of music without being able to play a note on any instrument. Of course, music would come to a halt if nobody ever learned to play it. But if everybody grew up thinking that music was synonymous with playing it, think how relatively impoverished many lives would be. Couldn't we learn to think of science in the same way?
It is worth remembering that every writer begins with a naively physical notion of what art is. A book for him or her is not an expression or a series of expressions, but literally a volume, a prism with six rectangular sides made of thin sheets of papers which should include a cover, an inside cover, an epigraph in italics, a preface, nine or ten parts with some verses at the beginning, a table of contents, an ex libris with an hourglass and a Latin phrase, a brief list of errata, some blank pages, a colophon and a publication notice: objects that are known to constitute the art of writing.