My favorite figure of the American author is that of a man who breeds a favorite dog, which he throws into the Mississippi River for the pleasure of making a splash. The river does not splash, but it drowns the dog.
People here are quite struck aback at Sunday's news of the capture of New Orleans. It took them three days to make up their minds to believe it. The division of American had become an idea so fixed that they had about shut out all the avenues to the reception of any other.
The scientific mind is atrophied, and suffers under inherited cerebral weakness, when it comes in contact with the eternal woman--Astarte, Isis, Demeter, Aphrodite, and the last and greatest deity of all, the Virgin.
The first serious consciousness of Nature's gesture - her attitude towards life-took form then as a phantasm, a nightmare, all insanity of force. For the first time, the stage-scenery of the senses collapsed; the human mind felt itself stripped naked, vibrating in a void of shapeless energies, with resistless mass, colliding, crushing, wasting, and destroying what these same energies had created and labored from eternity to perfect.
To my fancy, one looks back on life, it has only two responsibilities, which include all the others: one is the bringing of new life into existence; the other, educating it after it is brought in. All betrayals of trust result from these original sins.
In correct theology, the Virgin ought not to be represented in bed, for she could not suffer like ordinary women, but her palace at Chartres is not much troubled by theology, and to her, as empress-mother, the pain of child-birth was a pleasure which she wanted her people to share.
The gothic is singular in this; one seems easily at home in the renaissance; one is not too strange in the Byzantine; as for the Roman, it is ourselves; and we could walk blindfolded through every chink and cranny of the Greek mind; all these styles seem modern when we come close to them; but the gothic gets away.
The outline of the city became frantic in its effort to explain something that defied meaning. Power seemed to have outgrown its servitude and to have asserted its freedom. The cylinder had exploded, and thrown great masses of stone and steam against the sky.
The philosopher says--I am, and the church scouts his philosophy. She answers:--No! you are NOT, you have no existence of your own. You were and are and ever will be only a part of the supreme I AM, of which the church is the emblem.
[regarding US conquest of the Philippines] "I turn green in bed at midnight if I think of the horror of a year's warfare in the Philippines [...] We must slaughter a million or two foolish Malays in order to give them the comforts of flannel petticoats and electric railways.
The spider-mind acquires a faculty of memory, and, with it, a singular skill of analysis and synthesis, taking apart and putting together in different relations the meshes of its trap. Man had in the beginning no power of analysis or synthesis approaching that of the spider, or even of the honey-bee; but he had acute sensibility to the higher forces.
The difference is slight, to the influence of an author, whether he is read by five hundred readers, or by five hundred thousand; if he can select the five hundred, he reaches the five hundred thousand.
Education should try to lessen the obstacles, diminish the friction, invigorate the energy, and should train minds to react, not at haphazard, but by choice, on the lines of force that attract their world. What one knows is, in youth, of little moment; they know enough who know how to learn.
Power is poison. Its effect on Presidents has been always tragic, chiefly as an almost indecent excitement at first, and a worse reaction afterwards; but also because no mind is so well balanced as to bear the strain of seizing unlimited force without habit or knowledge of it; and finding it disputed with him by hungry packs of wolves and hounds whose lives depend on snatching the carion.
You say that love is nonsense. I tell you it is no such thing. For weeks and months it is a steady physical pain, an ache about the heart, never leaving one, by night or by day; a long strain on one's nerves like toothache or rheumatism, not intolerable at any one instant, but exhausting by its steady drain on the strength.
What a vast fraternity it is,--that of 'Hearts that Ache.' For the last three months it has seemed to me as though all society were coming to me, to drop its mask for a moment and initiate me into the mystery. How we do suffer! And we go on laughing; for, as a practical joke at our expense, life is a success.
If it were worth while to argue a paradox, one might maintain that nature regards the female as the essential, the male as the superfluity of her world. Perhaps the best starting-point for study of the Virgin would be a practical acquaintance with bees, and especially with queen bees.
As a means of variation from a normal type, sickness in childhood ought to have a certain value not to be classed under any fitness or unfitness of natural selection; and especially scarlet fever affected boys seriously, both physically and in character, though they might through life puzzle themselves to decide whether it had fitted or unfitted them for success.
No man, however strong, can serve ten years as schoolmaster, priest, or Senator, and remain fit for anything else. All the dogmatic stations in life have the effect of fixing a certain stiffness of attitude forever, as though they mesmerised the subject.
As for piracy, I love to be pirated. It is the greatest compliment an author can have. The wholesale piracy of Democracy was the single real triumph of my life. Anyone may steal what he likes from me.
The sensation of seeing extremely fine women, with superb forms, perfectly unconscious of undress, and yet evidently aware of their beauty and dignity, is worth a week's seasickness to experience.... To me the effect [of a Siva dance] was that of a dozen Rembrandts intensified into the most glowing beauty of life and motion.