Saturday, July 30, 2005

more quotations from an old notebook

"What today is considered apostasy from the old rules, tomorrow may become original and great. It is ever bad when people praise too much and understand too well, because it means that there is nothing in it that posterity alone could understand. Works which are perfectly clear to everybody are shallow and posterity will blow them off like soap bubbles."


"Emptied of religious symbolism, agricultural work becomes at once opaque and exhausting; it reveals no meaning, it makes possible no opening toward the universal, toward the world of the spirit. No god, no culture hero ever revealed a profane act. Everything that the gods or the ancestors did, hence everything that the myths have to tell about their creative activity, belongs to the sphere of the sacred and therefore participates in being. In contrast, what men do on their own initiative, what they do without a mythical model, belongs to the sphere of the profane; hence, it is a vain and illusory activity, and, in the last analysis, unreal. The more religious man is...the more does he enter into the real and the less is he in danger of becoming lost in actions that being nonparadigmatic, 'subjective,' are finally aberrant."

--Mircea Eliade

"The divine remoteness actually expresses man's increasing interest in his own religious, cultural, and economic discoveries. Through his concern with hierophanies of life, through discovering the sacred fertility of the earth, and through finding himself exposed to religious experiences that are more concrete (more carnal, even orgiastic), primitive man draws away from the celestial and transcendent god. The discovery of agriculture basically transforms not only primitive man's economy but also and especially his economy of the sacred. Other religious forces come into play--sensuality, fertility, the mythology of woman and of the earth, and so on. Religious experience becomes more concrete, that is, more intimately connected with life...These gods and goddesses could only reproduce and augment life; and they could perform that function only during normal times; in short, they were divinities who governed the cosmic rhythms admirably, but who proved incapable of saving the cosmos or human society in moments of crisis..."

--Mircea Eliade

"Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast, or of one thing too exclusively."


"To succeed in chaining the crowd, you must seem to wear the same fetters."


"The secret of being a bore is to tell everything."


"Prisons, monasteries, circuses, like bull-fights and boxing matches, are so many means of satisfying or giving expression to suppressed desires of unreligious, unromantically living people."

--Konrad Bercovici

"The first Sense of Sorrow I ever knew was upon the Death of my Father, at which Time I was not quite Five Years of Age; but was rather amazed at what all the House meant, than possessed with a real Understanding with no Body was willing to play with me. I remember I went into the Room where his Body lay and my Mother sat weeping alone by it. I had my Battledore in my Hand, and fell a beating the Coffin and calling Papa; for I know not how, I had some slight Idea that he was locked up there. My Mother catched me in her Arms, and, transported beyond all Patience of the silent Grief she was before in, she almost smothered me in her Embraces; and told me in a Flood of Tears, Papa could not hear me, and would play with more no more, for they were going to put him under Ground, where he could never come to us again. She was a very beautiful Woman, of a noble Spirit, and there was a Dignity in her Grief amidst all the Wildness of her Transport; which, methought, struck me with an Instinct of Sorrow, that, before I was sensible of what it was to grieve, seized my very Soul and has made Pity the Weakness of my Heart ever since. The Mind in Infancy is, methinks, like the Body in Embryo; and receives Impressions so forcible, that they are as hard to be removed by Reason, as any Mark, with which a Child is born, is to be taken away by any future Application. Hence it is, that Good-nature in me is no Merit; but having been so frequently overwhelmed with her Tears before I knew the Cause of any Affliction, or could draw Defences from my own Judgment, I imbibed Commiseration, Remorse, and an unmanly Gentleness of Mind, which has since insnared me in Ten Thousand Calamities; and from whence I can reap no Advantage, except it be, that, in such a Humour as I am now in, I can the better indulge myself in the Softnesses of Humanity, and enjoy that sweet Anxiety which arises from the Memory of past Afflictions."

--Sir Richard Steele

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