Thursday 3 June 2021

"He was one of those rare people who had found a philosophy for himself and whose life was occupied in trying to live it"

"I see now that he was one of those rare people who had found a philosophy for himself and whose life was occupied in trying to live it."
Lawrence Durrell on Baltazar in the eponymous novel.

"He had been a fellow-student and close friend of the old poet, and of him he spoke with such warmth and penetration that what he had to say always moved me. ‘I sometimes think that I learned more from studying him than I did from studying philosophy. His exquisite balance of irony and tenderness would have put him among the saints had he been a religious man. He was by divine choice only a poet and often unhappy but with him one had the feeling that he was catching every minute as it flew and turning it upside down to expose its happy side. He was really using himself up, his inner self, in living. Most people lie and let life play upon them like the tepid discharges of a douche-bag. To the Cartesian proposition: “I think, therefore I am”, he opposed his own, which must have gone something like this: “I imagine, therefore I belong and am free”.’
"Of himself Balthazar once said wryly: ‘I am a Jew, with all the Jew’s bloodthirsty interest in the ratiocinative faculty. It is the clue to many of the weaknesses in my thinking, and which I am learning to balance up with the rest of me — through the Cabal chiefly.’"

"Since we do nothing in this confused world
That lasts or that, lasting, is of any worth,
And even what's useful for us we lose
So soon, with our own lives,
Let us prefer the pleasure of the moment
To an absurd concern with the future,
Whose only certainty is the harm we suffer now
To pay for its prosperity.
Tomorrow doesn't exist. This moment
Alone is mine, and I am only who
Exists in this instant, which might be the last
Of the self I pretend to be."
Fernando Pessoa

'To the query, "What is a friend?" his reply was, "A single soul dwelling in two bodies."' 
Aristotle quoted by Diogenes Laertius 

"We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses."
Carl Jung

“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in a speech in London in 1983

"Poetry is just the evidence of life.
If your life is burning well,
poetry is just the ash."
Leonard Cohen

"A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”
Robert Frost

"Well, you know if a plant has itin its rhizome to produce a certain flower, and the plant goes on to flower, then you can speak of the flowering of the plant as the individuation of the plant. Consciousness is the human being’s flower."
Carl Jung

"If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in… you will interest other people."
Rachel Carson, American conservationist.

"Any fool may write a most valuable book by chance, if he will only tell us what he heard and saw with veracity.
Thomas Gray

"If I offered you £20,000 for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax. The only way you can save money nowadays."
Harry Lime (Orson Welles) in Graham Greene's (Carol Reed's) The Third Man

"I'm an artist in burnt clay." "You're a bricklayer." [Overheard by a friend in an Indian restaurant.]

"Alfred de Musset
Used to call his cat ''Pussy.''
His accent was affected.
(That was to be expected.)"
E.C. Bentley


  1. “Self-esteem, n. An erroneous appraisement.”

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

  2. So how are you enjoying The Alexandria Quartet?

    1. Very much though I interrupted it to read of all things Death on the Nile. I never imagined I would read an Agatha Christie again - I last did aged 12 or 13 - but I was woozy from the vaccine when i began and had recently stayed in the hotel where she wrote it. I hope to write about that.