The priesthood is a marriage. People often start by falling in love, and they go on for years without realizing that love must change into some other love which is so unlike it that it can hardly be recognized as love at all.
Time can divorce us from the reality of people, it can separate us from people and turn them into ghosts. Or rather it is we who turn them into ghosts or demons. Some kinds of fruitless preoccupations with the past can create such simulacra, and they can exercise power, like those heroes at Troy fighting for a phantom Helen.
Trains induce such terrible anxiety. They image the possibility of total and irrevocable failure. They are also dirty, rackety, packed with strangers, an object lesson in the foul contingency of life: the talkative fellow-traveller, the possibility of children.
We need a moral philosophy which can speak significantly of Freud and Marx and out of which aesthetic and political views can be generated. We need a moral philosophy in which the concept of love, so rarely mentioned now, can once again be made central.
We are all the judges and the judged, victims of the casual malice and fantasy of others, and ready sources of fantasy and malice in our turn. And if we are sometimes accused of sins of which we are innocent, are there not also other sins of which we are guilty and of which the world knows nothing?
Every persisting marriage is based on fear', said Peregrine. 'Fear is fundamental, you dig down in human nature and what's at the bottom? Mean spiteful cruel self-regarding fear, whether it makes you to put the foot in it or whether it makes you to cower...
I think the novel is essentially a comic form (tragedy is for the theatre), not meaning by that full of jokes, but that it is about the absurd detail of human life, the way in which one cannot fully understand what is happening. Life is muddle and jumble and ends inconclusively, and when this is presented with great comic art the sorrows of human life can be truthfully conveyed; one is moved by the spectacle, and feels that something truthful has been told in a magic way.
When does one ever know a human being? Perhaps only after one has realized the impossibility of knowledge and renounced the desire for it and finally ceased to feel even the need of it. But then what one achieves is no longer knowledge, it is simply a kind of co-existence; and this too is one of the guises of love.
Eating reveals the characteristic grossness of the human race and also the in-built failure of its satisfactions. We arrive eager, we stuff ourselves and we go away depressed and disappointed and probably feeling a bit queasy into the bargain. It's an image of the dÃ©Ã§u in human existence. A greedy start and a stupefied finish. Waiters, who are constantly observing this cycle, must be the most disillusioned of men.
Yes, of course, there's something fishy about describing people's feelings. You try hard to be accurate, but as soon as you start to define such and such a feeling, language lets you down. It's really a machine for making falsehoods. When we really speak the truth, words are insufficient. Almost everything except things like "pass the gravy" is a lie of a sort. And that being the case, I shall shut up. Oh, and... pass the gravy.
Then I felt too that I might take this opportunity to tie up a few loose ends, only of course loose ends can never be properly tied, one is always producing new ones. Time, like the sea, unties all knots. Judgements on people are never final, they emerge from summings up which at once suggest the need of a reconsideration. Human arrangements are nothing but loose ends and hazy reckoning, whatever art may otherwise pretend in order to console us.
Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too. How fortunate we are to be food-consuming animals. Each meal should be a treat and one ought to bless every day which brings with it a good digestion and the precious gift of hunger.
It was like hunting fish with an underwater gun, a sport which he had once been foolish enough to try. At one moment there is the fish - graceful, mysterious, desirable and free - and the next moment there is nothing but struggling and blood and confusion.
Love is the source of our greatest errors; but when it is even partially refined it is the energy and the passion of the soul in its search for Good, the force that joins us to Good and joins us to the world through Good. Its existence is the unmistakable sign that we are spiritual creatures, attracted by excellence and made for the Good. It is a reflection of the warmth and light of the sun.
... he felt himself to be one of them, who can live neither in the world nor out of it. They are a kind of sick people, whose desire for God makes them unsatisfactory citizens of an ordinary life, but whose strength or temperament fails them to surrender the world completely; and present-day society, with its hurried pace and its mechanical and technical structure, offers no home to these unhappy souls.
It is in the capacity to love, that is to SEE, that the liberation of the soul from fantasy consists. The freedom which is a proper human goal is the freedom from fantasy, that is the realism of compassion. What I have called fantasy, the proliferation of blinding self-centered aims and images, is itself a powerful system of energy, and most of what is often called 'will' or 'willing' belongs to this system. What counteracts the system is attention to reality inspired by, consisting of, love.
... half the world starves. What a planet. And the eating, if you're lucky enough to do any. Stuffing pieces of dead animals into a hole in your face. Then munch, munch, munch. If there's anybody watching, they must be dying of laughter.
There is a spider called Amaurobius, which lives in a burrow and has its young in the late summer, and then it dies when the frosts begin, and the young spiders live through the cold by eating their mother's dead body. One can't believe that's an accident. I don't know that I imagined God as having thought it all out, but somehow He was connected with the pattern, He was the pattern...
How different each death is, and yet it leads us into the self-same country, that country which we inhabit so rarely, where we see the worthlessness of what we have long pursued and will so soon return to pursuing.
I hate solitude, but I'm afraid of intimacy. The substance of my life is a private conversation with myself which to turn into a dialogue would be equivalent to self-destruction. The company which I need is the company which a pub or a cafe will provide. I have never wanted a communion of souls. It's already hard enough to tell the truth to oneself.
The theatre is certainly a place for learning about the brevity of human glory: oh all those wonderful glittering absolutely vanished pantomime! Now I shall abjure magic and become a hermit : put myself in a situation where I can honestly say that I have nothing else to do but to learn to be good.
we are such inward secret creatures, that inwardness the most amazing thing about us, even more amazing than our reason. but we cannot just walk into the cavern and look around. most of what we think we know about our minds is pseudo-knowledge. we are all such shocking poseurs, so good at inflating the importance of what we think we value.
Reading and writing and the preservation of language and its forms and the kind of eloquence and the kind of beauty which the language is capable of is terribly important to the human beings because this is connected to thought.
Art and morality are, with certain provisos"¦one. Their essence is the same. The essence of both of them is love. Love is the perception of individuals. Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real. Love, and so art and morals, is the discovery of reality.
Every human soul has seen, perhaps before their birth pure forms such as justice, temperance, beauty and all the great moral qualities which we hold in honour. We are moved towards what is good by the faint memory of these forms simple and calm and blessed which we saw once in a pure, clear light being pure ourselves.
Education doesn't make you happy. Nor does freedom. We don't become happy just because we're free " if we are. Or because we've been educated " if we have. But because education may be the means by which we realize we are happy. It opens our eyes, our ears, tells us where delights are lurking, convinces us that there is only one freedom of any importance whatsoever, that of the mind, and gives us the assurance " the confidence " to walk the path our mind, our educated mind, offers.
To lose somebody is to lose not only their person but all those modes and manifestations into which their person has flowed outwards; so that in losing a beloved one may find so many things, pictures, poems, melodies, places lost too: Dante, Avignon, a song of Shakespeare's, the Cornish sea.
there is a natural tribal hostility between the married and the unmarried. I cannot stand the shows so often quite instinctively put on by married people to insinuate that they are not only more fortunate but in some way more moral than you are.
Almost any tale of our doings is comic. We are bottomlessly comic to each other. Even the most adored and beloved person is comic to his lover. The novel is a comic form. Language is a comic form, and makes jokes in its sleep. God, if He existed, would laugh at His creation. Yet it is also the case that life is horrible, without metaphysical sense, wrecked by chance, pain and the close prospect of death. Out of this is born irony, our dangerous and necessary tool.
I have used the word "attention," which I borrow from Simone Weil, to express the idea of a just and loving gaze directed upon individual reality. I believe this to be the characteristic and proper mark of the active moral agent.
So we live; a spirit that broods and hovers over the continual death of time, the lost meaning, the unrecaptured moment, the unremembered face, until the final chop that ends all our moments and plunges that spirit back into the void from which it came.
The talk of lovers who have just declared their love is one of life's most sweet delights. Each vies with the other in humility, in amazement at being so valued. The past is searched for the first signs and each one is in haste to declare all that he is so that no part of his being escapes the hallowing touch.
Intense mutual erotic love, love which involves with the flesh all the most refined sexual being of the spirit, which reveals and perhaps even ex nihilo creates spirit as sex, is comparatively rare in this inconvenient world.
I live, I live, with an absolutely continuous sense of failure. I am always defeated, always. Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea. The years pass and one has only one life. If one has a thing at all one must do it and keep on and on and on trying to do it better.