F

FACTS

Fancies may be as you please but facts are as the universe pleases.

Kaplan, Robert, The Nothing That Is (Penguin, 1999), 137.

10/07

FADING

Before we had been in residence [hotel] twenty-four hours most of the repose had vanished ‘like a dutiful bream’.

Saki, Best of Saki (Picador/Pan), 56.

4/94

FAILURE

Ever tried? Ever failed?

No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Beckett, Samuel, Worstward Ho (John Calder 1983), 7.

12/05

FAIRYLAND

[See]

Yeats, W B, “The Man who Dreamt of Fairyland”.

2/85

FAIRYTALES

Fairytales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

Chesterton, G K, quoted The Times, 28 Aug 2002, T2, 17.

8/02

FAITH

Faith is a fine invention
For gentlemen who see;
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.

Dickinson, Emily.

12/91

FAITH

His [Savonarola’s] faith wavered, but not his speech.  It is the lot of every man who has to speak for the satisfaction of the crowd, that he must often speak in virtue of yesterday’s faith, hoping it will come back tomorrow.

Eliot, George, Romola (Penguin, 1980), 592.

7/94

FAITH AND SUFFERING see LIFE, MEANING OF, 11/01

FAITH see JOY AND DREAD, 7/98

FAITH, BLIND

… the old blind preacher, his vacant, bewildered face turning from voice to voice with the air of some mechanical contrivance built to register sound waves; his air of mild confusion suggested all the ghostly contentment of an absolute faith in something which was the more satisfying for not being fully apprehended by the reason.

Durrell, Lawrence, Mountolive (Faber), 263.

12/87

FAITH, SEA OF see MEANINGLESSNESS, 1/98

FALLING (THROUGH SPACE BETWEEN ATOMS) see EMPTINESS, 2/92

FALSEHOOD

There are some falsehoods upon which men mount, as on bright wings, towards heaven.  There are some truths, cold, bitter, taunting truths, wherein your worldly scholars are very apt and punctual, which bind men down to earth with leaden chains.

Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, 913 (?).

10/96

FALSEHOOD

If there were no falsehood in the world, there would be no doubt; if there were no doubt, there would be no inquiry; if no inquiry, no wisdom, no knowledge, no genius: and Fancy herself would lie muffled up in her robe, inactive, pale, and bloated.

Landor, Walter Savage, In Geoffrey Grigson, 0 Rare Mankind (Phoenix House Ltd, London, 1963)

10/98

FALSITY see GUILTY SECRETS, 5/94

FAME

… fame, that public demolition of someone who is in the process of becoming, whose building site the mob breaks into, knocking down his stones. … the cunning enmity of fame, … which makes you innocuous by scattering you all around.  [On Ibsen.]

Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, translated by Mitchell, Selected Poetry (Picador/Pan, 1987), 101.

7/98

FAMILY

He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.

Bacon, Francis, Essays, “Of Marriage and the Single Life”.

8/89

FAMILY

Home of all social evils, a charitable institution for indolent women, a prison workshop for the slaving breadwinner, and a hell for children.

Strindberg, August, The Son of a Servant (trs. E. Sprinchorn, Anchor Books, 1966 ed., 24).

6/90

FAMILY see COMMUNITIES, 8/89; MARRIAGE AND CHILDREN, 5/98

FANATICISM

Fanaticism consists of re-doubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.

Santayana, George, The Life of Reason.

5/98

FANTASY see VIOLENCE, 8/02

FANTASY, ACTING OUT

The dream dissipated, were one to recover one’s common-sense mood, the thing would be of but mediocre import – ’tis the story of mental wrongdoing. Everyone knows very well, and it offends no-one. But alas! One sometimes carries the thing a little further. What, one dares to wonder, what would not be the idea’s realisation if its mere abstract shape thus exalted has so profoundly moved one? The accursed reverie is vivified and its existence is a crime.

de Sade, Justine quoted by Lawrence Durrell, Mountolive (Faber), 16.

12/87

FASCINATION see OBSESSION, 10/96

FATE (CAPRICIOUS)

It is the property of crime to extend its mischief over innocence as it is of virtue to extend its blessings over many that deserve them not; while frequently the author of the one or of the other is not punished or rewarded at all.  Here in this play of ours [Hamlet], how strange!  The Pit of darkness sends its spirit and demands revenge; in vain!  Neither earthly nor infernal thing may bring about what is reserved for fate alone.  The hour of judgement comes: the wicked falls with the good: one race is mowed away, that another may spring up.

Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, Carlyle’s translation (Collier, New York, 1962), 243.

9/93

FATHERHOOD, AS MATURING ONE

[see]

Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, Carlyle’s translation (Collier, New York, 1962), 452.

10/93

FAULTS

The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.

Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship, (ii), 64.

5/87

FEAR

Fear, another fruitful source of evil, is not so much the horror of the unknown as a fascinated attraction to it.

Frye, Northrop, Fearful Symmetry (Princeton, 1947), 56.

12/85

FEAR

… Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round, walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread. …

Coleridge, Ancient Mariner.

8/87

FEAR

It is good that fear should sit as the guardian of the soul, forcing it into wisdom – good that men should carry a threatening shadow in their hearts under the full sunshine; else how should they learn to revere the right?

Aeschylus, Eumenides, II, 517, translated by George Eliot, in Romola (Penguin, 1980), 169.

5/94

FEAR

And yet in any place I go
I watch and listen as all creatures do
For what I cannot see or hear,
For something warns me everywhere
That even in my land of birth
I trespass on the earth.

Young, Andrew, from “The Fear”, in 1954 Palgrave.

7/98

FEAR

I should be all alone in this world.  Me … and no other living being. No sun, no culture: I naked on a high cliff, no storm, no snow, no streets, no banks, no money. No time and no breath. Then I would no longer have to be afraid.

Walser, Robert, quoted by Werner Herzog, Guardian Review, 16/4/11.

4/11

FEAR AND LOVE

[These as the great motives of religion.  The former not necessarily all evil, the latter not necessarily all good.]  Fear shall become reverence, … submission in identification; love shall become triumph, … delight in identification.

Lawrence, D H, The Rainbow (Penguin, 1949, 1st ed. 1915), 346.

1981

FEAR see INTENSE EXPERIENCE, 1981; SUBJECT AND OBJECT 12/85

FEARS, CHILDHOOD see CHILDHOOD FEARS, 6/98

FEELINGS

Our naked feelings make haste to clothe themselves in propositions which lie at hand among our store of opinions.

Eliot, George, Romola (Penguin, 1980, 1st ed. 1863), 613.

7/94

FEMALE POWER

Because of the mother’s life-and-death control over helpless infancy, we all, men and women alike, fear the will of woman. We fear the female will because it is embedded in female power, which is under present conditions the earliest and profoundest prototype of absolute power. … the defeat is always intimately carnal, and the victor is always female. … Female will is embedded in female power, which is under present conditions, the earliest and profoundest prototype of power.

Dinnerstein, Dorothy, The Mermaid and the Minotaur (Harper & Row, 1976), 166.

12/12

FEMININE AND FEMALE WILL

The material world is in a way feminine to the perceiver; it is the body which receives the seat of his imagination, and the works of the imagination which are the artist’s children are drawn from that body. …  But as the artist develops, he becomes more and more impatient of the help he receives from nature.  In the world of Eden, there is only energy incorporating itself in form, creator and creature, which means that somewhere… [the upper limit of Beulah] this permanent objective body which nourishes and incubates objective form drops out. …  [In] this state of Generation, … we begin life in helpless dependence on mother nature for our ideas.  This independent nourishing force in nature Blake calls the Female Will. …  In Eden, there is no Mother God (Madonna and child, and chivalric love…)… – a desire to prolong the helplessness of the perceiver and his dependence on the body of nature which surrounds him. …

Frye, Northrop, Fearful Symmetry (Princeton, 1947), 75.

12/85

FINDING AND LOSING see SEA, 5/98

FINDING ONESELF

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something that one finds. It is something one creates.

Szasz, Thomas “Personal Conduct,” The Second Sin (1973).

4/99

FINGER-POINTING

Good art points, like a man too ill to speak, like a baby!  But if instead of following the direction it indicates you take it for a thing in itself, having some sort of absolute value, or as a thesis upon something which can be paraphrased, surely you miss the point; you lose yourself at once among the barren abstractions of the critic?  Try to tell yourself that its fundamental objective was only to invoke the ultimate healing silence – and that the symbolism contained in form and pattern is only a frame of reference through which, as in a mirror, one may glimpse the idea of a universe at rest, a universe in love with itself… [Pursewarden speaking.]

Durrell, Lawrence, Clea (Faber), 14.

12/87

FINNEGANS WAKE see CRITICISM, 10/2000

FIRE

Interviewer: ‘If your house were on fire, which object would you take with you?’  Cocteau: ‘The fire.’

Cocteau, Jean, from Ballast Review, in Marcus Mendez’ quotes pamphlet, Out of the Blue, December 1992.

7/94

FIRE

We cannot steal the fire. We must enter it.

Sufi aphorism.

4/06

FISH LEAPING OUT OF WATER see GRIEF, 2/93

FIXED SELF

All soul is immortal, for what is always in motion is immortal.  But that which owes its motion to something else, even though it is itself the cause of motion in another thing, may cease to be in motion and therefore cease to live.  Only what moves itself never ceases to be in motion, since it could not so cease without being false to its own nature; it is the source and prime origin of movement in all other things that move. …
Since [the prime origin] does not come into being, it must be indestructible… [or] it will not come into being again out of anything, or anything out of it. … [and] the whole universe… would collapse and come to a stop.  Now, since it has been proved that what moves itself is immortal, a man need feel no hesitation about identifying it with the essence and definition of soul.  For… a baby which moves itself from within is endowed with soul, since self-motion [i.e. self-aware decisions to act?] is of the very nature of soul.  If then it is established that what moves itself is identical with soul, it inevitably follows that the soul is uncreated and immortal.

Plato, Phaedrus, “Socrates’ Second Speech”, Walter Hamilton translation (Penguin Classics).

5/98

FIXED SELF, see IMAGINATION AS REGULATOR, 11/07

FLAME OF TRANSFORMATION see SOLITUDE, 6/98

FONDNESS, SOFT-HEADED see AFFECTION, 11/91

FOOD

The man has yet to be found who can mope while he digests a good dinner.  At that time we like to sit steeped in an indescribable calm, a sort of golden mean between the two extremes of the thinker’s musings and the sleek content of the ruminating brute, which should be termed the physical melancholy of gastronomy.

Balzac, from “The Red House”, in Christ in Flanders (Everyman), 293.

10/87

FOOD

… of all appeals, – although
I grant the power of pathos, and of gold,
Of beauty, flattery, threats, a shilling, – no
Method’s more sure at moments to take hold
Of the best feelings of mankind, which grow
More tender, as we every day behold,
Than that all-softening, overpowering knell,
The tocsin of the soul – the dinner-bell.

Byron, don Juan, V, XCIX.

1/90

FOOD

Grub first, then ethics.

Brecht, Berthold, quoted by Auden.

12/91

FOOLHARDINESS

Pleased with the danger when the waves went high,
He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit,
Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit.
Great wits are sure to madness near allied
And thin partitions do their bounds divide. [Speaking of Achitophel.]

Dryden, John, Absalom and Achitophel, lines 160-64.

10/86

FORGETTING AND SIGNIFICANCE

[Having a profound experience – the fear that one will forget, and one’s life will return to what it was before.]

Lessing, Doris, Briefing for a Descent into Hell, 152.

1981

FORGETTING AS NECESSARY

Imagine the most extreme example, a human being who does not possess the power to forget, who is damned to see becoming everywhere; such a human being would no longer believe in his own being, would no longer believe in himself, would see everything flow apart in turbulent particles, and would lose himself in this stream of becoming; like the true student of Heraclitus, in the end he would hardly even dare to lift a finger. All action requires forgetting, just as the existence of all organic things requires not only light, but darkness as well.

Nietzsche, “On the Utility and Liability of History for Life,” in Unfashionable Observations, trans. Richard T. Gray (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995), quoted Scientific American 2/11/12.

1/13

FORGIVENESS

Learn… to distinguish the Eternal Human… from those States or Worlds in which the Spirit travels.  This is the only means to FORGIVENESS of ENEMIES.  [Also see Jerusalem, 61: 17 ff.]

Blake, Jerusalem, 49: 72-5.

10/95

FORGIVENESS

I declared myself [in an undelivered letter to a civilian German chemist he had known while incarcerated at Auschwitz, 23 years previously] ready to forgive my enemies, and perhaps even to love them, but only when they showed certain signs of repentance, that is, when they ceased being enemies.  In the opposite case, that of the enemy who remains an enemy, who perseveres in his desire to inflict suffering, it is certain that one must not forgive him: one can try to salvage him, one can (one must!) discuss with him, but it is our duty to judge him, not to forgive him.

Levi, Primo, The Periodic Table (translated R Rosenthal, Abacus, 1986, first edition 1975), 222-3.

4/2000

FORGIVENESS

At his sick wife’s bedside he had for the first time in his life given way to that feeling of sympathetic suffering always roused in him by the sufferings of others, and hitherto looked on by him with shame as a harmful weakness.  And pity for her, and remorse for having desired her death, and most of all, the joy of forgiveness, made him at once conscious, not simply of the relief of his own sufferings, but of a spiritual peace he had never experienced before.  He suddenly felt that the very thing that was the source of his sufferings had become the source of his spiritual joy; that what had seemed insoluble while he was judging, blaming, and hating, had become clear and simple when he forgave and loved.

Tolstoy, Leo, Anna Karenina (Translated by Constance Garnett), Part 4 Ch 19

11/01

FORGIVENESS AND PUNISHMENT

Forgiveness [of sins] … implies … first a previous condemnation. … all sins (manifestations of hindrance or restraint) should be violently resented and denounced by the visionary. …  But … all vengeance is evil, and as ‘the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God’ (Blake), resentment and retribution are irreconcilable.  Punishing a man strengthens society; strengthening society is strengthening mediocrity.  Second is the separation of the man from his sin, and third [is] the release of the imaginative power which makes this possible.  The prophet, who wants to be delivered from evil, denounces the condition the man is in; society, which wants only to be delivered from the inconveniences attached to evil, denounces the man only.

Frye, Northrop, Fearful Symmetry (Princeton, 1947), 69.

12/85

FORM see BLANKNESS, 7/94

FORMAL SYSTEMS

Much do I wish that in those times too, I had been entirely without system.  But which of us arrives earlier at the happiness of being conscious of his individual self, in its own pure combination, without extraneous forms?

Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, Carlyle’s translation (Collier, New York, 1962), 358.

9/93

FORMS

[Contemplating a condemned prisoner]… any and every form may be desirable, yet not all forms can coexist together.  All might have been beautiful, but not all at once. …  It is from the injustice of all choice that life springs.

St.-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands (Hollis and Carter, 1952), 102.

4/85

FORTUNE see WORLDLY WINDS, 12/99

FOURFOLD STRUCTURE OF PSYCHE

[See Blake’s description of Golgonooza.]

Blake, Jerusalem, 13.

12/97

FRANCE

Do you remember how Pursewarden used to say that artists, like sick cats, knew by instinct exactly which herb they needed to effect a cure: and that the bitter-sweet herb of self-discovery grew in only one place, France?

Durrell, Lawrence, Clea (Faber), 279.

12/87

FREE WILL

Life is like a path along a mountain ridge; to the left and right are slippery slopes down which you slide without being able to stop yourself, in one direction or the other.  I keep seeing people slip like this and I say ‘How could a man help himself in such a situation!’.  And that is what ‘denying free will’ comes to.  That is the attitude expressed in this ‘belief’.  But it is not a scientific belief and has nothing to do with scientific convictions.

Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 63.

1979

FREE WILL

[Kant and James on it as an unsolveable dilemma: see]

Gardner, Martin, The Night Is Large (Penguin, 1997), 428 etc..

2/98

FREE WILL

Sir, we know our will is free, and there’s an end on’t.

Johnson, Samuel, in Boswell’s Life, 1769 section.

3/98

FREE WILL

What is supposed to be illusory here [in contemporary attempts to eliminate the self] is not the thinking itself but our impression that this thinking can affect the world.… the trouble is about free will… as a sense that our efforts can be genuinely effective….

The idea of free will… is not just a name for a general exemption from causality. Essentially it concerns effort, which is a perfectly real causal factor. It does not call on us to claim that outside causes of action don’t exist or that they have no effect on thought. It simply means that they should be treated as the partial factors that they are, not as all-powerful tsunamis that must overwhelm mental strivings and intentions. It means that our efforts can in principle be effective; that thoughts have their real place among other kinds of causes in the world.… Minds can affect brains as well as brains affecting minds.… The new thought and the cerebral rearrangement are not two separate events. They are aspects of a single activity that we perceive in two separate ways.… If somebody could become convinced… that their thoughts were quite ineffective… They would probably try to stop thinking and would not be able to act. But this dismal destiny would not have been brought about by fate, nor indeed by their neurons. It would result from their own bad choices, formed by their own thinking.… This commonsense recognition of agency… tells us… that the entity who actually decides things is neither the brain nor an alien spirit within us. It has to be the whole person.

Midgley, Mary, Are You an Illusion (Acumen, Durham, 2014), 38, 104-5; 111-12

8/14

FREEDOM

He whom we admire as the essence of intractability … who … never… through greed or weariness or suppleness abandons the least part of himself… [always has] another side.  He is disciplined, respectful, full of faith and self abnegation.  But as for those whom I once called ‘free’, who decide solely for themselves and are ineluctably alone – such men are ships that answer not to the helm, but are at the mercy of every current.  Their resistances are but futile whims. (p 108)
I know but one freedom, and that is the freedom of the mind.  Any other… is but a… delusion, for however free you may think yourself, you have to use the door when you go out of the room.  [Etc.] yet if I oblige you to use one door… when there are two, you will complain of my high handedness, forgetting that, were there one door only, you would undergo the same constraint. … licence whittles you down to nothingness. … [Then the reason for curbing, and the cause of revolution.] (p 190)

St.-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands (Hollis and Carter, 1952).

4/85

FREEDOM

You long for the open heights, your soul thirsts for the stars.  But your bad instincts too thirst for freedom.
Your fierce dogs long for freedom; they bark for joy in their cellar when your spirit aspires to open all prisons.
To me you are still a prisoner who imagines freedom: ah, such prisoners of the soul become clever, but also deceitful and base.
The free man of the spirit, too, must still purify himself. …

Nietzsche, Zarathustra, “Of the Tree on the Mountainside”.

4/98

FREEDOM

…and but the moon and I
Live yet and here stand idle over a grave
Where all is buried. Both have liberty
To dream what we could do if we were free
To do some thing we had desired long,
The moon and I. There’s none less free than who
Does nothing and has nothing else to do,
Being free only for what is not to his mind,
And nothing is to his mind.
Thomas, Edward, from ‘Liberty’.

2/05

FREEDOM AND FATE

Nor can he blink the free will.  To hazard the contradiction — freedom is necessary.  If you please to plant yourself on the side of Fate and say, Fate is all; then we say, a part of Fate is the freedom of man.  Forever wells up the impulse of choosing and acting in the soul.  Intellect annuls Fate.  So far as a man thinks, he is free.

Emerson, from  ‘Fate’, quoted Guardian Review, 24/05/03, 6.

5/03

FREEDOM AND LONELINESS

The dream of freedom can quickly sour to nightmare, as the defiant boast of the modern (“I take value from myself alone!”) dwindles into a cry of anguish (“I am so lonely in this Universe!”).

Brenton, Howard, Guardian Review, 21/09/02, 15.

9/02

FREEDOM see SERVICE, 2/87; SOCIALISM, 9/89; LOVE AND LETTING GO, 6/98

FREEDOM, FROM BEAUTY see BEAUTY, 1985

FREEDOM, PRIVATE

We should keep for ourselves a little back shop, all our own, untouched by others, in which we establish our true freedom and chief place of seclusion and solitude.

Montaigne,  Michel de, Essais

1/03

FREE-WRITING see WRITING, 9/97

FRENCH TEMPERAMENT

… the Gallic temperament; the heady meretricious French charm which evaporates so easily into pride and mental indolence – like French thought which flows so quickly into sand-moulds, the original esprit hardening immediately into deadening concepts.

Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber), 38.

5/87

FRESHNESS

Each morning you have to break through the dead rubble afresh so as to reach the living warm seed.

Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 2.

1979

FRESHNESS, ETERNAL see NEW, THE, 5/98

FREUD see POET, 7/94

FREUDIANISM see CERTAINTY, 3/89

FRIEND AND SELF-KNOWLEDGE

Have you ever watched your friend asleep – to discover what he looked like?  Yet your friend’s face is something else besides.  It is your own face, in a rough and imperfect mirror.
Have you ever watched your friend asleep?  Were you not startled to see what he looked like?  O my friend, man is something that must be overcome.

Nietzsche, Zarathustra, ” Of the Friend”.

5/98

FRIENDS FROM LOVERS see REVERSES, 6/92

FRIENDSHIP

Thus is the earth at once a desert and a paradise, rich in secret hidden gardens, gardens inaccessible, but to which the craft leads us ever back, one day or another.  Life may scatter us and keep us apart; it may prevent us from thinking very often of one another; but we know that our comrades are somewhere ‘out there’ – where, one can hardly say – silent, forgotten, but deeply faithful.  And when our path crosses theirs, they greet us with such manifest joy, shake us so gaily by the shoulders!  Indeed we are accustomed to waiting. …  Old friends cannot be created out of hand. …  It is idle, having planted an acorn in the morning, to expect that afternoon to sit in the shade of the oak. …
… There is but one veritable problem – the problem of human relations.  [The hours in my life] that truly counted could not have been bought – they were spent in the company of friends. …  We [in desert danger] had met at last.  Men travel side by side for years, each locked up in his own silence or exchanging those words which carry no freight – till danger comes.  Then they stand shoulder to shoulder.  They discover that they belong to the same family.  They wax and bloom in the recognition of fellow-beings.  They look at one another and smile.  They are like the prisoners set free who marvel at the immensity of the sea. …
Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life.  It is not something discovered: it is something moulded.  These prison walls that this age of trade has built up round us, we can break down.  We can still run free, call to our comrades, and marvel to hear once more, in response to our call, the pathetic chant of the human voice.

St.-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars (Heineman, 1939), 34-8.

3/85

FRIENDSHIP

The man I need is one who is a casement opening on the sea, and not a mirror [like sycophants], gazing whereat I yawn.

St.-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands (Hollis and Carter, 1952), 170.

4/85

FRIENDSHIP

We outrage love, for we have proved the bonds of friendship stronger.  [Narrator is talking of him and Justine.]

Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber), 191.

5/87

FRIENDSHIP

Friendship begins with liking or gratitude – roots that can be pulled up.

Eliot, George, Daniel Deronda, bk. IV, ch. XXXII.

12/91

FRIENDSHIP

May these vows and this friendship be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this friendship, like wine and halvah.
May this friendship offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this friendship be full of laughter,
your every day a day in paradise.
May this friendship be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this friendship have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcome
as the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this friendship.

Rumi, translated by Kabir Helminski, 29; adapted by an Order Member (I forget whom).

1997

FRIENDSHIP

Proust felt that friendship in comparison to love was a waste of time for the artist (the writer’s vocation being Proust’s only concern) – since friendship is always twinned with insincerity – whereas passion always entails jealousy, and the jealous lover’s constant hunt for signs of infidelity trains his or her artistic powers of observation.

White, Edmund, book review, Observer Review, 13 April 1997, 16.

4/97

FRIENDSHIP

The Greeks… were passionately interested in friendship; but they were even keener on winning admiration, and in addition they wanted justice, so they continued to be haunted by the worry that everybody might not get his fair share of each of these three delights.  Aristotle said that he could be friends only with a good man, like himself.  That limited his choice very severely.  He thought it best to have only a few friends: the possibility that a democracy should be a big friendship between citizens was an idea he raised, only to dismiss it. What should happen, he asked, when two friends are not completely equal?  How should they decide if the more virtuous one was receiving more or less than his due reward of admiration and respect? … So friendship too became confused with pride and clashed with competitiveness.  In old age, [Aristotle] said, ‘the more lonely and isolated I am, the more I have come to love myths.’  Friendship remained a myth.
The Persian Abu Hayyan Al-Tawhidi (932-1023), whose Epistles on Friendship are also an autobiography of exceptional honesty, could not see how to reconcile friendship with his other yearnings.  ‘I am a man dominated by a desire for security,’ he wrote. Friendship did not give it to him, because he believed (following Aristotle, whose opinions blinkered thinking on the subject for two millennia) that friends should be ‘one soul in bodies twain’, as similar as possible. His ideal pair of friends – Suleyman the philosopher and Ibn Sayyar the judge – had the same desires, the same passions and the same fears, even their dreams coincided; they told each other everything ‘as though he was me’, sharing everything, never getting angry with each other.  But such a model was unhelpful for Al-Tawhidi’s social life… Friendship had been his ‘consolation’ but it left him as insecure as when he began. The flaw in it was this ideal of total harmony, which made it impossibly rare and which, when achieved, cut off the united pair from the rest of humanity.

Zeldin, Theodore, An Intimate History of Humanity (Minerva, 1995), 322-23.

4/99

FRIENDSHIP

Our most intimate friend is not he to whom we show the worst, but the best of our nature.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, ‘ Passages from Hawthorne’s Note-Books’, Atlantic Monthly, Vol 18, Dec 1886, 682.

8/2000

FRIENDSHIP

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

Emerson, “Friendship”, Essays.

8/2000

FRIENDSHIP

This communicating of a man’s self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in half.

Bacon, Francis, Essays.

8/2000

FRIENDSHIP see DISCUSSION 12/87; WOMAN, 4/98

FUTILITY see MEANINGLESSNESS, 5/98; ILLUSION, 6/2000

FUTURE

When we think of the world’s future, we always mean the destination it will reach if it keeps going in the direction we can see it going in now; it does not occur to us that its path is not a straight line but a curve, constantly changing direction.

Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 3e.

1979

FUTURE

As for the future, your task is not to foresee, but to enable it. … all true creation is not a … quest of utopian chimeras, but the apprehending of a new aspect of the present, which is a heap of raw materials bequeathed by the past.

St.-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands (Hollis and Carter, 1952), 155.

4/85

FUTURE

He who fights the future has a dangerous enemy.  The future is not, it borrows its strength from the man himself, and when it has tricked him out of this, then it appears outside of him as the enemy he must meet. …
Through the eternal we can conquer the future.

Kierkegaard, Sören, quoted by Eiseley, The Firmament of Time, 117.

2/92

FUTURE

He [Christ] had Eternity with him in the day that is called today, hence the next day had no power over him, it had no existence for him.

Kierkegaard, Christian Discourses, quoted in Alec Guinness, A Commonplace Book (Hamish Hamilton, 2001), 94.

9/04

FUTURE ARCHAEOLOGIST, A LETTER TO

“Letter to an Archaeologist”
Citizen, enemy, mama’s boy, sucker, utter
garbage, panhandler, swine, refujew, verrucht;
a scalp so often scalded with boiling water
that the puny brain feels completely cooked.
Yes, we have dwelt here: in this concrete, brick, wooden
rubble which you now arrive to sift.
All our wires were crossed, barbed, tangled, or interwoven.
Also: we didn’t love our women, but they conceived.
Sharp is the sound of pickax that hurts dead iron;
still, it’s gentler that what we’ve been told or have said ourselves.
Stranger! move carefully through our carrion:
what seems carrion to you is freedom to our cells.
Leave our names alone. Don’t reconstruct those vowels,
consonants, and so forth: they won’t resemble larks
but a demented bloodhound whose maw devours
its own traces, feces, and barks, and barks.

Brodsky, Joseph (1983), translated by the author.

3/2000

FUTURE MELANCHOLY UTOPIA

[On the fringes of the political spectrum, people took] desperately extreme attitudes of resignation or euphoria.  Daily flights into utopia found their counterparts in relapses into melancholic withdrawal…. [One day] utopia and melancholia will coincide: an age without conflict will dawn, perpetually busy — and without consciousness.

Grass, Günther, From the Diary of a Snail, quoted, Guardian Review, 30/8/03, 14.

9/03

FUTURE, AND FOREBODING

Now first, as I shut the door,
I was alone
In the new house, and the wind
Began to moan,//
Old at once was the house,
And I was old;
My ears were teased with the dread
Of what was foretold,//
Nights of storm, days of mist without end;
Sad days when the sun
Shone in vain; old griefs and griefs
Not yet begun.//
All was foretold me; naught
Could I foresee;
But I learnt how the wind would sound
After these things should be.

Thomas, Edward, “The New House”.

1/90

FUTURE, PROMISE OF

Oh, distance is like the future: before our souls lies an entire and dusky vastness which overwhelms our feelings as it overwhelms our eyes, and ah! we long to surrender the whole of our being, and be filled with the joy of one single, immense, magnificent emotion. –And then, ah! Once we hasten onwards, and what lay ahead becomes the here and now, everything is just as it was, and there we are, as poor and confined as ever, our souls longing for the elusive balm.

Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Hulse trs (Penguin, 1989, 1st ed 1774), 33. Werther writing.

12/08

FUTURE, PROMISE OF see UNKNOWN, 5/98

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