Nom de plume: Stendhal
[ January 23, 1783 – March 23, 1842 ]
“I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of Him.”
– Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents
and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die,
and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
“The Midnight Hymn”
Oh man! Take heed!
What does the deep midnight say?
I have awakened from a deep dream.
The world is deep.
And deeper than the day remembers.
Deep is its suffering.
Joy is deeper yet than heartache!
Suffering speaks: Begone!
All joys want eternity,
Want deep, deep eternity.
“But soon we will die, and all memory of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves will be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
by Thornton Wilder
[17 April 1897 – 7 December 1975]
3:23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? 3:24 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
3:25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
3:26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
The Holy Bible -King James Version 1604-1611,
The Book of Job
“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge, unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.”
–Walter Benjamin [1892-1940]
Theses on the Philosophy of History (Spring, 1940)
translation: Harry Zohn.
“Man and Camel”
by Mark Strand
On the eve of my fortieth birthday
I sat on the porch having a smoke
when out of the blue a man and a camel
happened by. Neither uttered a sound
at first, but as they drifted up the street
and out of town the two of them began to sing.
Yet what they sang is still a mystery to me–
the words were indistinct and the tune
too ornamental to recall. Into the desert
they went and as they went their voices
rose as one above the sifting sound
of windblown sand. The wonder of their singing,
its elusive blend of man and camel seemed
an ideal image for all uncommon couples.
Was this the night that I had waited for
so long? I wanted to believed it was,
but just as they were vanishing, the man
and camel ceased to sing, and galloped
back to town. They stood before my porch,
staring up at me with beady eyes, and said:
“You ruined it. You ruined it forever.”
From Man and Camel by Mark Strand
Published by Knopf
Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie.
The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.
[June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662]
“Let man contemplate Nature entire in her full and lofty majesty; let him put far from his sight the lowly objects that surround him; let him regard that blazing light, placed like an eternal lamp to illuminate the world; let the earth appear to him but a point within the vast circuit which that star describes; and let him marvel that this immense circumference is itself but a speck from the viewpoint of the stars that move in the firmament. And if our vision is stopped there, let imagination pass beyond… All this visible world is but an imperceptible element in the great bosom of nature. No thought can go so far… It is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere. This is the most perceivable feature of the almightiness of God, so that our imagination loses itself in this thought.”
“He who sees himself thus will be frightened by himself, and, perceiving himself sustained… between these two abysses of infinity and nothing, will tremble… and will be more disposed to contemplate these marvels in silence than to explore them with presumption. For in the end, what is man in nature? A nothing in respect to the infinite, everything in respect to the nothing, a halfway between nothing and all. Infinitely far from comprehending the extremes, both the end and the beginning or principle of things are invincibly hidden in an impenetrable secret; he is equally incapable of seeing the nothing whence he has been drawn, and the infinite in which he is engulfed.”
In Chapter 6, Part 1 of the novel [Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit, monthly parts published from January 1843 – July 1844], after every other resolution of injustices and those who wished to find their respective happinesses achieve their hopes and dreams in the end, all except the good Tom Pinch, his sister Ruth who herself has found her love realised by the end of the novel expresses her misery at the idea that Tom, who deserves so much in this world and certainly as much happiness as everyone else who ultimately find their “bliss” insofar as he has been the catalyst for all their success is in fact himself, alone; she expresses the thought that this is not fair. His immortal reply:
“You think of me, Ruth, “said Tom, “and it is very natural that you should, as if I were a character in a book; and you make it a sort of poetical justice that I should, by some impossible means or other, come, at last, to marry the person I love. But there is a much higher justice than poetical justice, my dear, and it does not order events upon the same principle. Accordingly, people who read about heroes in books, and choose to make heroes of themselves out of books, consider it a very fine thing to be discontented and gloomy, and misanthropical, and perhaps a little blasphemous, because they cannot have everything ordered for their individual accommodation. Would you like me to become one of that sort of people?”