Quotes

Butler’s novel [Parable of the Sower] is brutal and soaring. I guess there’s a word people sometimes use for that combination: biblical.

Humility is not the opposite of confidence. They are duals. Confidence is knowing your abilities. Humility is knowing your limits.

From Louisiana, he followed the hyphens in the road that blurred together toward a faraway place, bridging unrelated things as hyphens do.

The greatest religious problem today is how to be both a mystic and a militant; in other words how to combine the search for an expansion of inner awareness with effective social action, and how to feel one's true identity in both.

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.

The post-Watergate era, the post-AIDS era, the post-9/11 era: we have become a nation of PTSD, a nation that cannot shut off the hunt for meaning and terror in each and every thing.

So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in, and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky.

Next time you hear someone say 'he’s such a gossip', understand the statement to be 'he’s such an effective processor of socially-embedded information.'

In Connecticut, the Governor's council took one look at the sky and decided to call it quits. Go home and wait for the angelic hosts to roll in. 'Close it up. Lights out.' One of them, however, wasn't having it: 'I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.' The skies are dark. So are our prospects. Let's get back to work anyway. Bring the candles.

Death, no matter our desires
Can't be distracted. We know this much is true,
And it's true for all souls: each of us will one day
Find the feast finished and, fattened or famished,
Step slowly backward into their own dark hall
For that final night of sleep.

– anonymous (trans. Maria Dahvana Headley), Beowulf

I'd rather die deceived by dreams than give
My heart to home and trade and never live.

And even as we write this final sentence, the sentence that will not be revised, we confess to being certain of one and only one thing – we swear to keep, on penalty of death, this one promise: We will live!

Society loves a rule breaker, but only because it has the herd immunity of social contracts.

My enemies must nominate themselves; I have no interest at all in making, finding, or knowing them.

May I try to tell you again where your only comfort lies? It is not in forgetting the happy past. People bring us well-meant but miserable consolations when they tell us what time will do to help our grief. We do not want to lose our grief, because our grief is bound up with our love and we could not cease to mourn without being robbed of our affections.

– Phillips Brooks in a letter to a friend on the death of his mother (h/t Futility Closet)

To his venerable master A., greeting. This is to inform you that I am studying at Oxford with great diligence, but the matter of money stands greatly in the way of my promotion, as it is now two months since I spent the last of what you sent me. The city is expensive and makes many demands. I have to rent lodgings, buy necessaries, and provide for many other things which I cannot now specify. Wherefore I respectfully beg your paternity that by the promptings of divine pity you may assist me, so that I may be able to complete what I have well begun.

– From a circa 1220 form letter provided by Oxford University to students seeking money from patrons (h/t Futility Closet))

He remembers those vanished years. As though looking through a dusty window pane, the past is something he could see, but not touch. And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct.

The flesh surrenders itself, he thought. Eternity takes back its own. Our bodies stirred these waters briefly, danced with a certain intoxication before the love of life and self, dealt with a few strange ideas, then submitted to the instruments of Time. What can we say of this? I occurred. I am not... yet, I occurred.

Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.

'My father, that old snake, didn’t pass on the secret. He died without telling me. He took it to the grave. Skinflint scoundrel!' 'You see, it’s turned out very well. Come on, come on. Let’s go together, you and I. You’ll cast bells. I’ll paint icons. We’ll go to Trinity Monastery together. What a feast day for the people. You’ve brought them such joy, and you’re crying.'

But what is grief, if not love persevering?

  1. I haven't been able to find a reliable source for this quote. I've taken it from Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology for the week of Sep. 24, 2020.