I was once walking through the forest alone. A tree fell right in front of me, and I didn't hear a thing.
Readers of the twenty-first chapter must decide for themselves whether it enhances the book they presumably know or is really a discardable limb. I meant the book to end in this way, but my aesthetic judgement may have been faulty. Writers are rarely their own best critics, nor are critics. 'Quod scripsi scripsi' said Pontius Pilate when he made Jesus Christ the King of the Jews. 'What I have written I have Written.' We can destroy what we have written but we cannot unwrite it. I leave what I wrote with what Dr. Johnson called frigid indifference to the judgement of that .00000001 of the American population which cares about such things. Eat this sweetish segment or spit it out. You are free.
Anthony Burgess, November, 1986
Each small act of kindness reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of the good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it is passed, until simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away.
Dean Koontz, the character of H.
What will be the judgment a century hence concerning the lorded works of our favorite composers today? Inasmuch as nearly everything is subject to the changes of time, and - more's the pity- the fashions of time, only that which is good and true will endure like a rock and no wanton hand will ever venture to defile it. Then, let every man do that which is right, strive with all his might towards the goal which can never be obtained, develop to the last breath the gifts with which the gracious Creator has endowed him, and never cease to learn. For life is short, art eternal.
The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore... Unlike the mediocre, intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem impossible... It is with an iron will that they embark on the most daring of all endeavors... to meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown.
Anon., from a motivational poste
He had always wanted to write Music and he could give no other identity to the thing he sought. If you want to know what it is, he told himself, listen to the first phrases of Tchaikowsky's First Concerto, or the last movement of Rachmaninoff's Second. Men have not found the words for it nor the deed nor the thought, but they have found the Music. Let me see that in one single act of man on earth. Let me see it made real. Let me see the answer to the promise of that Music. Not servants nor those served; not altars and immolations; but the final, the fulfilled, innocent of pain. Don't help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it. Don't work for my happiness, my brothers - Show me yours - show me that it is possible - show me your achievement - and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.
He broke fresh ground-because, and only because, he had the courage to go ahead without asking whether others were following or even understood. He had no need for the divided responsibility in which others seek to be safe from ridicule, because he had been granted a faith which required no confirmation-a contact with reality, light and intense like the touch of a loved hand: a union in self-surrender without self- destruction, where his heart was lucid and his mind was loving.
Private and public life are subject to the same rules; and truth and manliness are two qualities that will carry you through this world much better than policy, or tact, or expediency, or any other word that was ever devised to conceal or mystify a deviation from the straight line.
My experiences of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them nor be indisposed to serve them: nor, in spite of failures which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge, or the present aspect of affairs, do I despair of the future. The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.
General Robert E. Lee, letter to
I condole with you, we have lost a most dear and valuable relation, but it is the will of God and Nature that these mortal bodies be laid aside, when the soul is to enter into real life; 'tis rather an embrio state, a preparation for living; a man is not completely born until he be dead: Why should we grieve that a new child is born among the immortals? A new member added to their happy society? We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God -- when they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain rather than pleasure -- instead of an aid, become an incumbrance and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way. We ourselves prudently choose a partial death. In some cases a mangled painful limb, which cannot be restored, we willingly cut off -- He who plucks out a tooth, parts with it freely since the pain goes with it, and he that quits the whole body, parts at once with all pains and possibilities of pains and diseases it was liable to, or capable of making him suffer.Our friend and we are invited abroad on a party of pleasure -- that is to last forever -- His chair was first ready and he is gone before us -- we could not all conveniently start together, and why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and we know where to find him.
Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Eli
As for the spirit of poverty, I do not remember any moment when it was not in me, although only to that unhappily small extent compatible with my imperfection. I fell in love with Saint Francis of Assisi as soon as I came to know about him. I always believed and hoped that one day Fate would force upon me the condition of a vagabond and a beggar which he embraced freely. Actually I felt the same way about prison.
Simone Weil, letter written in M
Under the name of truth I also included beauty, virtue, and every kind of goodness, so that for me it was a question of a conception of the relationship between grace and desire. The conviction that had come to me was that when one hungers for bread one does not receive stones. But at that time I had not read the Gospel.Just as I was certain that desire has in itself an efficacy in the realm of spiritual goodness whatever its form, I thought it was also possible that it might not be effective in any other realm.http://www.rivertext.com/weil3a.html
Simone Weil, letter written in M