Felicitous formulations and pretentious poetry can bring gravity or levity to a moment. They gain power from repetition.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding Part V (1942) from The Four Quartets
For similar sentiment, see also: Ithaca (1911) by Constantine P Cavafy
Every joke is a tiny revolution.
George Orwell, from an unknown article in An Age Like This: 1920-1940 (The Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters, Vol. 1)
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
William Blake, Auguries of Innocence (1803/1863)
Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.
Epictetus, The Enchiridion (135 AD)
How you do anything is how you do everything.
Ryan Holiday, How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything (2018)
Inspired by Henry Royce:
Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble.
Quidvis recte factum quamvis humile praeclarum.
Writing is a way of being in the world.
Inspired by John McPhee. Perhaps?
If you can’t be the poet, be the poem.
David Carradine, source unknown. Quoted to drifter and one-time wannabe writer Syd.
Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.
E.M. Forster, Howard’s End, Chapter 22 (1910)
Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself.
Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey (unread)
Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.
Isaac Asimov (unread)
A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.
But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves.
No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.
John Muir (unread)
Words are events, they do things, change things. They transform both speaker and hearer; they feed energy back and forth and amplify it. They feed understanding or emotion back and forth and amplify it.
Ursula Le Guin, from “Telling Is Listening” found in The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination, as picked from Brain Pickings
Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh.
W. H. Auden, via Beth.
Twenty volume folios will never make a revolution. It is the little pocket pamphlets that are to be feared.
Voltaire, via Dog Section Press.
“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”
Love isn’t something that weak people do.
The priest in the final episode of Fleabag. [Guardian review]
Mortality is happiness.