To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime.
[Emerson, from chapter 1 of Nature, 1836]
One needs thunder and heavenly fireworks to address slack and sleepy senses. But the voice of beauty talks softly: it slips into only the most awakened souls.
[Nietzsche, from chapter 5, Part II, of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1883]
One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.
Erich Fromm (via thiscorrosion)
Interview with Mike Wallace, 25 May 1958
The aim of life is self-development. To realise one’s nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to oneself. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked.
[Oscar Wilde; from chapter 2 of The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray, “based upon the typescript, with emendations in Wilde’s own hand, that the author submitted for publication to the Philadelphia-based Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in late March or early April 1890.” Published in 2011 by Harvard University Press.]
Answers do not matter so much as questions, said the Good Fairy. A good question is very hard to answer. The better the question the harder the answer. There is no answer at all to a very good question.
[Flann O’Brien, from At Swim-Two-Birds, 1939]