Worse than war is fear of war.
A man must die, that is, he must free himself from a thousand petty attachments and identifications. . . . He is attached to everything in his life, attached to his imagination, attached to his stupidity, attached even to his sufferings, possibly to his sufferings more than to anything else. . . . Attachments to things, identifications with things, keep alive a thousand useless “I”s in a man. These “I”s must die in order that the big I may be born. But how can they be made to die? They do not want to die. It is at this point that the possibility of awakening comes to the rescue. To awaken means to realize one’s nothingness.
Sharp nostalgia, infinite and terrible, for what I already possess.
All disciples are idiots. What were Tolstoy’s followers? What are the Marxists? What are the Chassidim who wrangle and push to pick up the holy crumbs from the rabbi’s banquet? What are those would-be artists who imitate Picasso or Chagall? They’re a flock of sheep, and they’re always driven by a dog.
If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.
It’s not the length but the quality of life that matters to me. It has always been important to me to write one sentence at a time, to live every day as if it were my last and judge it in those terms, often badly, not because it lacked grand gesture or grand passion but because it failed in the daily virtues of self-discipline, kindness and laughter. It is love, very ordinary, human love, and not fear, which is the good teacher and the wisest judge.
A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.
If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down. . . .
I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. All great enterprises are self-supporting. . . . You must get your living by loving. But as it is said of the merchants that ninety-seven in a hundred fail, so the life of men generally, tried by this standard, is a failure, and bankruptcy may surely be prophesied.
It seems to me like this. It’s not a terrible thing — I mean it may be terrible, but it’s not damaging, it’s not poisoning to do without something one really wants. . . . What’s terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don’t need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you’re capable of better.
Love is not consolation, it is light.
A Twentieth Century-Fox executive in Paris arranged for an exhibit of the fake paintings used in the movie “How To Steal A Million.” He phoned Howard Newman of the New York office, who said the fakes could not be shipped because they were on tour. “What should I do?” asked the Paris man frantically. “Get some originals,” said Newman. “Nobody’ll know the difference.”
The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.