Archive for September, 2010

PETER GLEICK (President, Pacific Institute)

We have acted as though we were independent of the environment. We’ve burned fossil fuels, we’ve overused our renewable resources, in the belief that we could do that forever.

VAN JONES (Founder, Green for All)

People are complaining about the economic crisis we have right now? You ain’t seen nothing yet. You know, if we continue down this suicidal pathway where we basically turn living stuff into dead stuff and call that economic growth, this will look like the good old days.

JANINE BENYUS (President, Biomimicry Institute)

If you were to pull back from the earth, what you would see is sort of a refugee movement if you will. And species are moving their ranges farther north to get to cool, from south to north, and from the valleys up to the mountaintops.

The climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts…There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches – economic, technological, behavioural, management – to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. But they must be vigorously and widely implemented. (British Science Association, March 13 2009)


The large spread out suburbs that we’ve grown accustomed to, the strip malls, the big box stores with their enormous parking lots around them all of those have been made possible because we have had cheap gasoline as energy becomes much more expensive, you’ll see that those areas become less desirable places to live.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t oil left on the planet, but what’s left on the planet is gonna be increasingly difficult to obtain —more costly and more remote areas, in areas that are at risk for hurricanes or other environmental dangers or political dangers.

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER (Author, The Long Emergency)

Our agriculture system is almost wholly dependent on cheap oil. Tremendous amounts of diesel fuel that are used in planting, in harvesting. And then moving the stuff all these vast distances.

We have a global food system that’s fundamentally unsustainable. It’s based on the use of petrochemical inputs for fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and also for the use of petrochemicals for transporting food in ever larger quantities ever further distances. We’ve built enormous cities in places where there’s in many cases no good agricultural land close by. The only way these cities can subsist is by continual importation of enormous amounts of food from long distances away. And, of course, those imports come by way of trucks, by rail, but ship and in some cases by airplane, all of those relying on diesel fuel or gasoline. As those fuels become more expensive, the whole system becomes more brittle.

RICHARD HEINBERG (Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute)

We in the U.S. have gotten used to the idea that we’re somehow immune to natural limits and it’s the other people who are going to suffer.

JOHN PODESTA (President, Center for American Progress)

Sometimes it takes a big shock to get people, you know, out of the inertia that’s built into the system.

BRAHMA CHELLANEY (Center for Policy Research)

The western countries went through a very energy intensive development process, became rich by burning coal and burning oil, can countries like India and china, do it without burning as much fossil fuel as the west.


The frog will sit there, because it’s not able to detect the small changes in temperature that are making its life increasingly dangerous. And we’re in the same sort of situation. We’re so adaptable in our evolution as a species, an adaptability that’ll allow—that has allowed us to really, in a sense, conquer nature, and conquer the world. But at this point that adaptability is actually a real threat to our existence.


These glaciers provide stream flow in the summer, during the dry months that you can use to irrigate your crops. When those glaciers are gone, you’ve got no stream flow in the summer. And so you’ve got a massive drought situation.

DAN GILBERT (Professor of Psychology, Harvard University)

It seems unlikely to me that we here on the island we call North America, can sit happily with all of our resources while the rest of the world simply goes quietly into that good night so that we can continue to consume at our present rate. Very few people lay down and die. When they recognize that their lives are threatened, they do whatever it takes.

EUGENE LINDEN (Author, The Winds of Change)

When one species proliferates beyond any other, ultimately it sort of knocks out the life support system, and it collapses. And in a way, that’s what we’re doing at every level around the world.


Growing population, meaning growing demands on the land, resulting in deforestation and soil erosion, which tied into warfare, there was chronic warfare among the Mayan states.


There were these series of extended droughts, and those droughts just kept hammering away and hammering away. And you lose your forests, you lose your soils, if you lose your soils you can’t grow anything, and if it stops raining then forget about it.


The end game for the Mayans must have been horrible indeed. It’s highly likely that there were also periods of starvation. And it’s a truly hideous and ugly way to die.


Civilizations in the past have lost the fight. They have collapsed as a result of the inability to deal with several different events going on at once. I think the takeaway is that honestly we are not that special.


The pattern is clear. Civilizations that grow too large and consume too much damage their own life support systems. As resources run out, they begin to fight each over what little is left. Then, they either starve, or leave. But in our case, where can we go?


I think Easter Island is the perfect metaphor because it’s this small fragile island, sitting within the Pacific Ocean, it’s very remote, and, and it, it no longer was able to sustain the population that lived there. It’s no different than Earth being this small planet, in a vast galaxy.

IAN LIPKIN (Director, Northeast Biodefense Center)

People get their seeds for corn and for grain from a few manufacturers. And they’re genetically very, very similar. So if in fact an agent were to come onto the scene that was capable of infecting one it would rapidly spread.


An enormous reservoir of methane, produced by decomposing plants and animals, lies buried beneath the frozen Arctic tundra. It has been there since the Ice Age. If the tundra melts and the gas is released, global temperatures would soar.

A potentially very large arctic source of methane to the atmosphere is the decay of organic matter in the form of dead plant, animal, and microbial remains that have been frozen in shallow permafrost (1-25 metres below the surface) for tens of thousands of years. This important source of atmospheric methane is not currently considered in modeled projections of future warming. The amount of carbon stored in the organic matter of arctic permafrost is staggering. It is estimated to be around 750 to 950 billion metric tons—equal to or larger than the nearly 800 billion metric tons of carbon currently in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. (Source: UNEP Yearbook 2008, Page 40)

JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER (Author, The Long Emergency)

One of our political leaders said, not too long ago, that the American way of life is non-negotiable. And we’re gonna discover the hard way that, when you don’t negotiate the circumstances that are sent to you by the universe, you automatically get assigned a new negotiating partner. Named reality. And then it will negotiate for you. You don’t even have to be in the room.

ANTHONY FAUCI (Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

When people are hungry and malnourished, they are clearly more susceptible to infections. As you continue to have displacement with floods, there’s no doubt that’s a perfect setup for certain types of infections.

The more people you have, the more of them that are malnourished, the more susceptible we are to having transfers of dangerous microorganisms, viruses, from animal populations which we’re pushing larger and larger groups of people into contact with. Then we have rapid transport systems. So, you know, in 1600 if a plague ship left Japan to go to India nobody in India got the plague because everybody on the ship either died or got, become immune during the trip…You can move things around very fast today. You haven’t heard any planning about quarantines, have you? Or closing the borders or really putting in huge stock piles of anti viral drugs and so on? I would think that the biggest chance of most of the people listening to this show, of them dying from something other than natural causes, you know, a large scale disaster, it would be a large scale super-flu of one kind or another, or some related disease. (Paul Ehrlich, Author, The Population Bomb, in conversation with Michael Bicks for ABC News)

One of the real challenges we may face in the future is—the possibility of some kind of global pandemic— a disease that sort of sweeps across, a new disease that sweeps across the planet—because we’re all so tightly connected together. Now, humankind represents one of the largest total masses of similar organic material on the planet. In other words, we’re a bit like a mono-crop, like a field of corn or wheat that is all the same genetically. And we know that when you have a mono-crop—that’s all the same genetically, that if a disease affects one plant, it tends to sweep across everything in the field because—because every plant stalk is equally vulnerable. And in some sense, humankind is the same. We’re genetically very similar. And we’re all packed together now, especially in our large cities. And in the developing world in poor countries where those cities are often under supplied with healthcare and with public health—these are breeding grounds for the emergence of new diseases that then can spread around the planet through—our global air traffic system and our transportation networks. (Thomas Homer Dixon, Professor of Global Systems, University of Waterloo, in conversation with Linda Hirsch for ABC News)


Collapse is not something that actually happens overnight. It’s the result of an accumulation of stresses, an erosion of the internal strength of society, so that it just becomes like an eggshell. And one last shock breaks it.


[The true story that inspired the movie Shine]

  • Sagittarians are considered to be the ‘Pollyannas’ of the zodiac. They often rely on their intuition and react spontaneously, bravely rushing into situations without giving much thought to the consequences. A common Sagittarian trait is their optimism; the glass is always half-full, never half-empty. They also end up doing things rather than talking about them.
  • Futile words one could use when taking on a challenge:
    • Try – doubting the success of your endeavors before you even began
    • Should – doing it out of a sense of guilt and not because you genuinely felt free to do it
    • Impossible – restricting the power of the divine and a refusal to believe int eh miraculous
  • The love we feel for one another does not really belong to us, but is a part of the one great, whole, divine Love which embraces us all and knows no bounds. Everyone is capable of giving and receiving unlimited amounts of Love. But when we desire to appropriate and confine a little chunk of this great Love just for ourselves, we are restricting it from reaching its full potential.
  • I am happiest when I am on my own; and have my privacy to work undisturbed; and with full concentration. In any case, how else can one hope to progress!
  • Mostly he opted for total passivity, and let himself be led in any direction anyone desired him to go.

Life is a journey, a journey a day. Every moment is precious.

  • …just because their journey has no particular meaning to the observer, it doesn’t necessarily mean their journey has no meaning at all.
  • It is like river, like the river or the sea. It just flows. Nothing could be simpler.
  • If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest – in all its ardour and paradoxes – than our travels.
  • If we are inclined to forget how much there is in the world besides that which we anticipate, then works of art are perhaps little to blame, for in them we find the same process of simplification or selection at work as in the imagination.
    • The anticipatory and artistic imagination omit and compress, they cut away periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments and, without either lying or embellishing, thus lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present.

Life is a hospital in which every patient is obsessed with changing beds. This one wants to suffer in front of the radiator, and that one thinks he’d get better if he was by the window.

– Charles Baudelaire

  • There is a psychological pleasure in this take-off too, for the swiftness of the plane’s ascent is an exemplary symbol of transformation. The display of power can inspire us to imagine analogous, decisive shifts in our own lives; to imagine that we too might one day surge above much that now looms over us.
  • …it is what we have in common with others that looms larger than what separates us.
  • Journeys are the midwives of thought.
    • The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is suppose to do.
    • The music or the view distracts for a time that nervous, censorious, practical part of the the mind which is inclined to shut down when it notices something difficult emerging in consciousness and which runs scared of memories, longings, introspective or original ideas and prefers instead the administrative and the impersonal.
    • Of all modes of transport, the train is perhaps the best aid to thought: the views have none of the potential monotony of those on a ship or plane, they move fast enough for us not to get exasperated but slowly enough to allow us to identify objects.

From the late 18th century onwards, it is no longer from the practice of community but from being a wanderer that the instinct of fellow-feeling is derived. Thus an essential isolation and silence and loneliness become the carriers of nature and community aginst the rigours, the cold abstinence, the selfish ease of ordinary society.

– Raymond Williams, The Country and the City

  • What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home.
  • Central to Flaubert’s philosophy was the belief that we are not simply spiritual creatures, but also pissing and shitting ones and that we should integrate the ramifications of this blunt idea into our view of the world.
  • The people of Egypt seemed to share some of the qualities of the camel: a silent strength and humility that contrasted with the bourgeois arrogance of Flaubert’s Normand neighbors.
  • Desire elicits a need to understand.

My native country is for me the country that I love, that is, the one that makes me dream, that makes me fell well.

I am a soul brother to everything that lives, to the giraffe and to the crocodile as much as to man.

Gustave Flaubert

  • When he was asked where he came from, Socrates said not from Athens but from the world.
  • Facts have utility…and with utility comes an (approving) audience.
  • In the essay On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life, Nietzsche distinguished between collecting facts like an explorer or academic and using already well-know facts for the sake of inner, psychological enrichment.

I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity.

– Goethe

…[the person] looks beyond his own individual transitory existence and feels himself to be the spirit of his house, his race, his city…the happiness of knowing that one is not wholly accidental and arbitrary but grown out of a past as its heir, flower and fruit, and that one’s exsitence is thus excused and, indeed, justified.

– Nietzsche

  • Few Europeans had crossed the regions through which he traveled and their absence offered him an imaginative freedom…He could create his own categories of value without either following or deliberately rebelling against the hierarchies of others.
  • A danger of travel is that we things at the wrong time, before we have had a chance to build up the necessary receptivity and when new information is therefore as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chain.
    • Travel twists our curiosity according to a superficial geographical logic, as superficial as if a university course were to prescribe books according to their size rather than subject matter.

People often say that I’m curious about too many things at once: botony, astronomy, comparative anatomy. But can you really forbid a man from harboring a desire to know and embrace everything which surrounds him?

Alexander von Humboldt

  • ...cities foster a family of life-destroying emotions: anxiety about our position in the social hierarchy, envy at the success of others, pride and a desire to shine in the eyes of strangers…City-dwellers had no perspective…however well provided for, they had a relentless desire for new things, which they did not genuinely lack and on which happiness did not depend.
    • The poet proposed that Nature, which he took to comprise, among other elements, birds, streams, daffodils and sheep, was an indispensable corrective to the psychological damage inflicted by life in the city.
  • …our identities are to a greater or lesser extent malleable; that we change according to whom – and sometimes what – we are with. The company of certain people excites our generosity and sensitivity, of others, our competitiveness and envy.

A great Poet…ought to a certain degree to rectify men’s feelings…to render their feelings more sane, pure and permanent, in short, more consonant to Nature.

William Wordsworth

  • …give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, but for which, in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand.
  • What defies our will can provoke anger and resentment; it may also arouse awe and respect. It depends on whether the obstacle appears noble in its defiance or squalid and insolent.
    • We are humiliated by what is powerful and mean, but awed by what is powerful and noble.

A vast space naturally raises in my thoughts the idea of an Almighty Being.

– Joseph Addison

There are certain scenes that would awe an atheist into belief without the help of any other argument.

– Thomas Gray

Amid those scenes of solitude from which the hand of nature has never been lifted, the associations are of God the creator – they are his undefiled works, and the mind is cast into contemplation of ethernal things.

– Thomas Cole

  • It is no coincidence that the Western attraction to sublime landscape developed at precisely the moment when traditional beliefs in God began to wane…The landscape offered them an emotional connection to a greater power, even as they freed them of the need to subscribe tot he more specific and now less plausible claims of biblical tests and organized religion.
  • Do not be surprised that things have not gone your way: the universe is greater than you. Do not be surprised that you do not understand why they have not gone your way: for you cannot fathom the logic of the universe.
    • Accept what is bigger than you and you do not understand.
    • Consider sublime places for a reminder of human insignificance and frailty.
    • When divine wisdom eludes human understanding, the righteous, made aware of their limitations by the spectacle of sublime nature, must continue to trust in God’s plans for the universe.
  • We are the playthings of the forces that laid our the oceans and chiseled the mountains. Sublime places gently move us to acknowledge limitations that we might otherwise encounter with anxiety or anger in the ordinary flow of events. It is not just nature that defies us. Human life is as overwhelming, but is the vast space of nature that perhaps provide us with the finest, the most respectful reminder of all that exceeds us.
  • Because we find places to be beautiful as immediately and as apparently spontaneously as we find snow to be cold or sugar sweet, it is hard to imagine that there is anything we might do to alter or expand our attractions. It seems that matters have been decided for us by qualities inherent in the places themselves or by hard-wiring in our psyches and that we would therefore be as helpless to modify our sense of places we find beautiful as we would our preference for the ice-creams we find appetizing.

…quickly, quickly, quickly and in a hurry, just like a harvester who is silent under the blazing sun, intent only on his reaping…I work even in the middle of the day, in the full sunshine, and I enjoy it like cicada.

– Van Gogh

  • Painters do not merely reproduce. They select and highlight, and they are accorded genuine admiration in so far as their version of reality seems to bring out valuable features of it.
    • We are apt to call any painting realistic that competently conveys key elements of the world. But the world is complex enough for two realistic pictures of the same place to look very different depending on an artist’s style and temperament.
    • Bad art might thus be defined as a series of bad choices about what to show and what to leave out.
  • Art cannot single-handedly create enthusiasm, nor does it arise from sentiments of which non-artists are devoid; it merely contributes to enthusiasm and guides us to be more conscious of feelings that we might previously have experienced only tentatively or hurriedly.
  • A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is the desire to hold on to it: to possess it and give it weight in our lives.
    • But beauty is fugitive, it is frequently found in places to which we may never return or else it results from a rare conjunction of season, light and weather.
  • Taking photographs can assuage the itch for possession sparked by the beauty of a place; our anxiety about losing a precious scene can decline with every click of the shutter.
  1. Beauty is the result of a complex number of factors that effect the mind psychologically and visually.
  2. Humans have an innate tendency to respond to beauty and to desire to possess it.
  3. There are many lower expressions of this desire for possession, including the desire to buy souvenirs and carpets, to carve one’s name in pillars and to make photographs.
  4. There is only one way to possess beauty properly and that is through understanding it, through making ourselves conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) that are responsible for it.
  5. The most effective way of pursuing this conscious understanding is by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, through writing or drawing them, irrespective of whether we happen to have any talent for doing so.
  • To notice rather than to look.
    • In the process of re-creating with our own hand what lies before our eyes, we seem naturally to move from a position of observing beauty in a loose way to one where we acquire a deep understanding of its constituent parts and hence more secure memories of it.
    • True possession of a scene is a matter of making a conscious effort to notice elements and understanding their construction.

A man is born an artist as a hippopotamus is born a hippopotamus; and you can no more make yourself one than you can make yourself a giraffe.

My effort are directed not to making a carpenter an artist, but to making him happier as a carpenter.

No changing of place at a hundred miles an hour will make us one whit stronger, happier, or wiser. There was always more in the world than men could see, walked they ever so slowly; they will see it no better for going fast. The really precious things are thought and sight, not pace. It does a bullet no good to go fast; and a man, if he be truly a man, no harm to go slow; for his glory is not at all in going, but in being.

I believe that the sight is a more important thing than the drawing; and I would rather teach drawing that my pupils may learn to love nature, than teach the looking at nature that they may learn to draw.

John Ruskin

  • Technology may make it easier to reach beauty, but it has not simplified the process of possessing or appreciating it.
  • [drawing, eating or drinking] – what unites the three activities is that they all involve assimilations by the self of desirable elements from the world, a transfer of goodness from without to within.

The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

– Pascal

  • We have become habituated and therefore blind.
    • We approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is interesting.

Effortless by Jacky (Tajumulco, Guatemala)

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Poetry
Easy is right.
Why all the struggles?
Effort is the source of your misery.
See the birds glide across the sky,
See the fish flow with the river.
Loosen your grip,
A leaf always returns to its roots.

The Realistic Painter by Nietzsche

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Poetry
Tags: ,
‘Completely true to nature!’ – what a lie:
How could nature ever be constrained into a picture?
The smallest bits of nature is infinite!
And so he paints what he likes about it.
And what does he like? He likes what he can paint!

Spots of Time by William Wordsworth

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Poetry

There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue, whence–depressed
By false opinion and contentious thought,
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse–our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.

Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; ’tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e’er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings.

[Full Poem]

Written In March by William Wordsworth

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Poetry

The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter
—– The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
—– There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
—– The plowboy is whooping—anon-anon:
There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
—– The rain is over and gone!

The Stranger by Charles Baudelaire

Posted: September 16, 2010 in Poetry
Tell me, enigmatic man, whom do you love the best?  Your father, or your mother, or your sister, or your brother?
I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother.
Your friends?
You are using a word whose meaning remains unknown to me to this very day.
Your country?
I do not know under what latitude it lies.
I would love her gladly, goddess and immortal.
I hate it as much as you hate God.
Well then!  What do you love, extraordinary stranger?
I love the clouds … the passing clouds … over there … over there … the marvelous clouds!

Magic Theatre

Entrance Not for everybody

For Madmen Only!

Price of Admittance your mind

  • …he had created within himself with positive genius a boundless and frightful capacity for pain.
  • Most men will not swim before they are able to. Is not that witty? Naturally, they won’t swim! They are born for the solid earth, not for water. And naturally they won’t think. They are made for life, not for thought. Yes, and he who thinks, what’s more, he who makes thought his business, he may go for in it, but he has bartered with solid earth for the water all the same, and one day he will drown.
  • Ever age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evil.
    • Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap.
  • He belongs to those whose fate it is to live the whole riddle of human destiny heightened to the pitch of a personal torture, a personal hell.
  • Was all that we called culture, spirit, soul, all that we called beautiful and sacred, nothing but a ghost long dead, which only a few fools like us took for true and living? Had it perhaps indeed never been true and living? Had all that we poor fools bothered our heads about never been anything but a phantom?
  • What others chose to think about it or what he chose to think himself was not good to him at all. It left the wolf inside him just the same.
  • …although it may have seemed so to himself all the same, insomuch as every man takes the sufferings that fall to his share as the greatest.
  • And even the unhappiest life has its sunny moments and its little flowers of happiness between sand and stone…And they had to because Harry wished, as every sentient being does, to be loved as a whole and therefore it was just with those whose love he most valued that he could least of all conceal and belie the wolf.
  • …these men, for whom life has no repose, live at times in their rare moments of happiness with such strength and indescribable beauty, the spray of their moment’s happiness is flung so high and dazzling over the wide sea of suffering, that the light of it, spreading its radiance, touches others too with its enchantment. Thus, like a precious, fleeting foam over the sea of suffering arise all those works of art, in which a single individual lifts himself for an hour so high above his personal destiny that his happiness shines like a star and appears to all who see it as something eternal and as a happiness of their own.
    • To them, too, however, the other thought has come that man is perhaps not merely a half-rational animal but a child of the gods and destined to immortality.
  • He never sold himself for money or an easy life or to women or to those in power; and had thrown away a hundred times what in the world’s eye was his advantage and happiness in order to safeguard his liberty.
  • The man of power is ruined by power, the man of money by money, the submissive man by subservience, the pleasure seekers by pleasure.
  • …that he is always in his own eyes exposed to an extraordinary risk, as though he stood with the slightest foothold on the peak of a crag whence a slight push from without or an instant weakness from within suffices to precipitates him into the void.
  • In this aspect suicides present themselves as those who are overtaken by the sense of guilt inherent in individuals, those soul that find the aim of life not in the perfecting and molding of the self, but in liberating themselves by going back to the mother, back to God, back to the all.
  • …the Steppenwolf stood entirely outside the world of convention, since he had neither family life nor social ambitions.
  • Brought up, as he was, in a cultivated home in the approved manner, he never tore apart of his soul loose from its conventionalities even after he had long since individualized himself to a degree beyond its scope and freed himself from the substance of its ideals and beliefs.
  • It is open to man to give himself up wholly to spiritual views, to seeking after God, to the ideal of saintliness. On the other hand, he can equally give himself up entirely to the life of instinct, to the lusts of the flesh, and so direct all his effort to the attainment of momentary pleasures.
    • He will never be a martyr or agree to his own destruction. On the contrary, his ideal is not to give up but to maintain his own identity. He strives neither for the saintly nor its opposite. The absolute is his abhorrence. He may be ready to serve God, but not by giving up the fleshpots. He is ready to be virtuous, but likes to be easy and comfortable in this world as well.
  • A man cannot live intensely except at the cost of the self.
    • Now the bourgeois treasures nothing more highly than the self (rudimentary as his may be). And so at the cost of intensity he achieves his own preservation and security. His harvest is a quiet mind which he prefers to being possessed by God, as he does comfort to pleasure, convenience to liberty, and a pleasant temperature to that deathly consuming inner fire. The bourgeois is consequently by nature a creatures of weak impulses, anxious, fearful of giving himself away and easy to rule. Therefore, he has substituted majority for power, law for force, and the polling booth for responsibility.
  • To live in the world as though it were not the world, to respect the law and yet to stand above it, to have possessions as though “ one possessed nothing,” to renounce as though it were no renunciation, all these favorite and often formulated propositions of an exalted worldly wisdom, it is in the power of humor alone to make efficacious.
  • If I say “above” or “below,” that is already a statement that requires explanation, since an above and a below exist only in thought, only as abstraction. The world itself knows nothing of above or below.
  • Harry finds in himself a human being, that is to say, a world of thoughts and feelings, of culture and tamed or sublimated nature, and besides this he finds within himself also a wolf, that is to say, a dark world of instinct, of savagery and cruelty, of unsublimated or raw nature.
    • His life oscillates as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousand and thousands.
  • Man is not capable of thought in any high degree, and even in the most spiritual and highly cultivated of men habitually sees the world and himself through the lenses of delusive formulas and artless simplifications – and most of all himself.
  • As a body everyone is single, as a soul never.
  • The beast and the body are indeed one, but the souls that dwell in it are not two, nor five, but countless in number. Man is onion made up of a hundred integuments, a texture made up of many threads…The human merry-go-around sees many changes: the illusion that cost India the efforts of thousands of years to unmask is the same illusion that the West has labored just as hard to maintain and strengthen.
  • But things are not so simple as in our thoughts, nor so rough and ready as in our poor idiotic language…
  • Man is not by any means of fixed and enduring form (this, in spite of suspicions to the contrary on the part of their wise men, was the ideal of the ancients). He is much more an experiment and a transition. He is nothing else than the narrow and perilous bridge between nature and spirit. His inner most destiny drives him on to the spirit and to God. His innermost longing draws him back to nature, the mother. Between the two forces his life hangs tremulous and irresolute.
  • The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life.
  • The return into the All, the dissolution of painful individuation, the reunion with God means the expansion of the soul until it is able once more to embrace the All.
  • I stood outside all social circles, alone, beloved by none, mistrusted by many, in unceasing and bitter conflict with public opinion and morality; and though I lived in a bourgeois setting, I was all the same an utter stranger to this world in all I thought and felt.
  • I had played Don Quixote often enough in my difficult, crazed life, had put honor before comfort, and heroism before reason.
  • …so it is with the majority of men, day by day and hour by hour in their daily lives and affairs. Without really want to at all, they pay calls and carry on conversations, sit out their hours at desks and on office chairs; and it is all compulsory, mechanical and against the grain, and it could all be done or left undone just as well by machines; and indeed it is this never-ceasing machinery that prevents their being, like me, the critics of their own lives and recognizing the stupidity and shallowness, the hopeless tragedy and waster of the lives they lead, and the awful ambiguity grinning over it all. And they are right, right a thousand times to live as they do, playing their games and pursuing their business, instead of resisting the dreary machine and staring into the void as I do, who have left the track.
  • He believes in the studies whose servant he is; he believes in the value of mere knowledge and its acquisition, because he believes in progress and evolution.
  • …it would be better for our country and the world in general, if at least the few people who were capable of thought stood for reason and the love of peace instead of heading wildly with a blind obsession for a new war.
  • I could not bear this tame, lying, well-mannered life any longer.
  • My nature had much of the child in it, its curiosity and love for idleness and play.
  • We like joking. Seriousness, young man, is an accident of time. It consists, I don’t mind telling you in confidence, in putting too high a value on time…In eternity, however, there is no time, you see. Eternity is a mere moment, just long enough for a joke.
  • To be religious you must have time, and even more, independence of time. You can’t be religious in earnest and at the same time live in actual things and still take them seriously, time and money and the Odéon Bar and all that.
  • All of a sudden there were things that concerned me again, which I could think of with joy and eagerness. All of a sudden a door was thrown open through which life came in. Perhaps I could live once more and once more be a human being. My soul that had fallen asleep in the cold and nearly frozen breathed once more, and sleepily spread its weak and tiny wings.
  • But in this Hermine was like life itself, one moment succeeding to the next and not one to be foreseen.
  • No, her surrender to the moment was so simple and complete that the fleeting shadows and agitation to the very depths of the soul came to her no less than every pleasurable impulse and were lived as fully.
  • Well, look at an animal, a cat, a dog, or a bird, or one of those beautiful great beasts at the zoo, a puma or a giraffe. You can’t help seeing that all of them are right. They’re never in any embarrassment. They always know what to do and know to behave themselves. They don’t flatter and they don’t intrude. They don’t pretend. They are as they are, like stones or flowers or stars in the sky.
  • Are ideals attainable? Do we live to abolish death? No – we live to fear it and then again to love it, and just for death’s sake it is that our spark of life glows for an hour now and then so brightly.
  • Everyone risks being laughed at when he addresses a girl.
  • We intellectuals, instead of fighting against this tendency like men, and rendering obedience to the spirit, the Logos, the Word, and gaining a hearing for it, are all dreaming of a speech without words that utter the inexpressible and gives form to the formless.
  • There was nothing to be made of us intellectuals. We were superfluous, irresponsible lot of talented chatterboxes for whom reality had no meaning.
  • Others, and Maria was one of them, were unusually gifted in love and unable to do without it. They lived solely for love and bedsides their official and lucrative friends had other love affairs as well. Assiduous and busy, care-ridden and light-hearted, intelligent and yet thoughtless, these butterflies lived a life at once childlike and raffiné; independent, not to be bought by every one, finding their account in good luck and fine weather, in love with life and yet clinging to it far less than the bourgeois, always ready to follow a fairy prince to his castle, always certain, though scarcely conscious of it, that a difficult and sad end was in store for them.
  • That night, however, for the first time since my downfall gave me back the unrelenting radiance of my own life and made me recognize chance as destiny once more and see the ruins of my being as fragments of the divine. My soul breathed once more. My eyes were opened.
  • Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.
  • And perhaps, I mean, it has always been the same and always will be, and what is called history at school, and all we learn by heart there about heroes and geniuses and great deeds and fine emotions, is all nothing but a swindle invented by the schoolmasters for educational reasons to keep children occupied for a given number of years. It has always been so and always will be. Time and the world, money and power belong to the small people and the shallow people. To the rest, to the real men belongs nothing. Nothing but death.
  • And eternity was nothing else than the redemption of time, its return to innocence, so to speak, and its transformation again into space.
  • All the women of this fevered night, all that I had danced with, all whom I had kindled or who had kindled me, all whom I had courted, all who had clung to me with longing, all whom I had followed with enraptured eyes were melted together and had become one, the one whom I held in my arms.
  • You have a longing to forsake this world and its reality and to penetrate to a reality more native to you, to a world beyond time. You know, of course, where this other world lies hidden. It is the world of your own soul that you seek. Only within yourself exists that other reality for which you long. I can give you nothing that has not already its being within yourself. I can throw open to you no picture gallery bur your own soul. All I can give you is the opportunity, the impulse, the key. I can help you to make your own world visible. That is all.
  • True humor begins when a man ceases to take himself seriously.
  • But granting that the conception of duty is no longer known to me, I still know the conception of guilt – perhaps they are the same thing. In so far as a mother bore me, I am guilty. I am condemned to live. I am obliged to belong to a state, to serve as a soldier, to kill and to pay taxes for armaments. And now at this moment the guilt of life has brought me once more to the necessity of killing the people as it did in the war. And this time I have no repugnance. I am resigned to the guilt. I have no objection to this stupid congested world going to bits. I am glad to help and glad to perish with it.
  • It is not a good thing when man overstrains his reason and tries to reduce to rational order matters that are not susceptible of rational treatment.
  • As the playwright shapes a dram form a handful of characters, so do we from the pieces of the disintegrated self build up ever new groups, with ever new interplay and suspense, and new situations that are eternally inexhaustible.
  • Each belonged recognizably to the same world and acknowledged a common origin. Yet each was entirely new.
  • Just as madness, in higher sense, is the beginning of all wisdom, so is schizomania the beginning of all art and all fantasy.
  • Each gave me what she alone had to give and to each I gave what she alone knew how to take.
  • …you are a witness of the everlasting war between idea and appearance, between time and eternity, between the human and the divine.
  • Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.
  • You are to learn to listen to the cursed music of life and to reverence the spirit behind it and to laugh at its distortions.
  • You broke through the humor of my little theater and tried to make a mess of it, stabbing with knives and spattering our pretty picture-world with the mud of reality.