He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
Not only pains and effort but also prayers,
Also prayer-work, and dull muscle ache
Of lifting worry into world and world
Into point, but also density that makes
Ideas surrender to limit and limit
Sorrows, limit keens, limit wants the stars
In burlap sacks seized and wants a stick
To drag across the dirt a line—
Maybe I’ve forgotten the right way to talk:
Inside my head like a lion the concept
Prowls, hungering after edges
That can’t be found, edge fury might find,
Dirt’s underside or sky’s ground, sedgegrass
Into nothing bound, that leapt over, leapt across,
That driven hungermad by toothblind need
The lion leaps and leaping becomes
The sparrow it chased from the weeds—
—Dan Beachy-Quick, from “Prayer (beginning with a line from Leibniz)”
Be kind to yourself while blooming. I know sometimes it feels like your soul doesn’t always fit. It’s all a part of the process.
At the beginning of a new notebook I copy a quote from Simone Weil, which captures me completely: ‘Don’t insist on understanding new things, but try with your whole self, with patience, effort and method, to comprehend obvious truths.’
This quote conducts a polemic with the ceaseless, barbaric pursuit of novelty and disdain for obvious, primary truths.
And so all my notes, all these snail’s traces, are the realization of Simone’s one thought. I won’t and can’t discover anything, I want only with my whole self to reach the heart of obvious truths.
—Anna Kamienska, Industrious Amazement: A Notebook
I tell people that the history of the human race appears to be very complicated but actually it is extremely simple. We know that we live in a violent world. Violence is necessary to our species’ survival—we have to kill animals, or someone has to kill them for us, in order for us to eat. We pick fruit; we even pick flowers to decorate our homes. These are all acts of violence carried out against other living beings. Animals behave in the same manner: the spider eats the fly, the fly eats whatever it is flies eat. However, there is one tremendous difference: animals are not cruel. When the spider wraps up the fly in its web, it is merely putting tomorrow’s lunch in the refrigerator. Man invented cruelty. Animals do not torture each other, but we do. We are the only cruel beings on this planet.
These observations lead me to the following question, which I believe is perfectly legitimate: if we are cruel, how can we continue to say that we are rational beings? Because we speak? Because we think? Because we are capable of creating? Even though we are capable of all these things, it is not enough to stop us from doing all the negative and cruel things in which we engage. This is an ethical issue that I feel must be discussed, and it is for this reason that I am less and less interested in discussing literature.
Sometimes I think to myself, I hope we are never able to leave this planet because if we ever do spread out into the universe, it is not likely that we will behave differently there than we have here. If we could in fact inhabit the universe—and I do not believe we will be able to—we would infect it. We are probably a virus of some kind that fortunately is concentrated on this planet. I was recently reassured about all this, however, when I read about a supernova that had exploded. The light from the explosion reached the earth about three or four years ago—it had taken a hundred and sixty-six thousand years to arrive here. I thought, Well, there is no danger, we will never be able to go that far.
—Jose Saramago, “The Art of Fiction No. 155”, The Paris Review