Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest, which co-mingle their roots in the darkness underground.
Let my hidden weeping arise and blossom.
The dangerous aspects of nature that kept our forebears watchful and humble have now almost disappeared outside; but they have turned inward (wilderness without — wilderness within!) so that the whole of Western society rapidly approaches the physical and mental cracking point from the inner dangers alone. This is no joking matter, for should the outer wilderness disappear altogether, it would inevitably resurrect powerfully from within, whereupon it would immediately be projected. Enemies would be created, and its terrifying aspects would take revenge for our neglect, our lack of reverence, our ruthless interference with that beautiful order of things.
A language is a map of our failures.
In a city a man may feel second to none. But alone in the immensity of the universe, among all the creatures that preceded man and built up the human species, even a most fervent atheist will wonder if Darwin found the visible road but not the invisible mechanism.
“Take my own father! You know what he said in his last moments? On his deathbed, he defied me to name a man who had enjoyed a better life. In spite of the dreadful pain, his face radiated happiness,” said Mother, nodding her head comfortably. “Happiness drives out pain, as fire burns out fire.”
Love that stammers, that stutters, is apt to be the love that loves best.
The erotic instinct is something questionable, and will always be so whatever a future set of laws may have to say on the matter. It belongs, on the one hand, to the original animal nature of man, which will exist as long as man has an animal body. On the other hand, it is connected with the highest forms of the spirit. But it blooms only when spirit and instinct are in true harmony. If one or the other aspect is missing, then an injury occurs, or at least there is a one-sided lack of balance which easily slips into the pathological. Too much of the animal disfigures the civilized human being, too much culture makes a sick animal.
Can one ever remember love? It’s like trying to summon up the smell of roses in a cellar. You might see a rose, but never the perfume.
It occurred to him (not for the first time) that the world was divided sharply down the middle: some lived careful lives and some lived careless lives, and everything that happened could be explained by the difference between them. But he could not have said, not in a million years, why he was so moved by the sight of Muriel’s thin quilt trailing across the floor where she must have dragged it when she rose in the morning.
kisses are a better fate than wisdom.
Von Neumann lived in this elegant house in Princeton. As I parked my car and walked in, there was this very large Great Dane dog bouncing around on the front lawn. I knocked on the door and von Neumann, who was a small, quiet, modest kind of man, came to the door and bowed to me and said, “Bigelow, won’t you come in,” and so forth, and this dog brushed between our legs and went into the living room. He proceeded to lie down on the rug in front of everybody, and we had the entire interview — whether I would come, what I knew, what the job was going to be like — and this lasted maybe forty minutes, with the dog wandering all around the house. Toward the end of it, von Neumann asked me if I always travelled with the dog. But of course it wasn’t my dog, and it wasn’t his either, but von Neumann — being a diplomatic, middle-European person — kindly avoided mentioning it until the end.