If we look up, this way or that, everywhere it is star-spangled. If we only look down, there will never be stars. (Japanese poem, 159.) For the ideal seek the high; for the practice, honour the low. [And] His will treads the head of Vairocana; his practice is to prostrate himself at the feet of a child. (Zen saying, 192.)
Leggett, Trevor, trs, A First Zen Reader (Tuttle, Rutland Vm., 1960).
Since all that beat about in Nature’s range,
Or veer or vanish; why shouldst thou remain
The only constant in the world of change,
Oh yearning thought! That livedst but in the brain?
Call to the hours, that in the distance play,
The faery people of the future day –
Fond thought! Not one of all that shining swarm
Will breath on thee with life-enkindling breath,
Till when, like strangers sheltering from a storm,
Hope and Despair meet in the porch of Death! …//
And art thou nothing? Such thou art, as when
The woodman winding westward up the glen
At wintry dawn, where o’er the sheep-track’s maze
The viewless snow-mist weaves a glistening haze,
Sees full before him, gliding without tread,
An image with a glory round its head;
And the enamoured rustic worships its fair hues,
Nor knows he makes the shadow he pursues.
Coleridge, “Constancy to an ideal object”, in Sybelline Leaves. First and last stanzas.
It is the real that is rich in unworked resources: the ideal is as insubstantial as light.
Blackham, H J, Objections to Humanism (Pelican, 1965), 9.
Such persons [the ‘over [self-] cultivated’] are, without us, what the ideal of perfections is within us: models not for being imitated but for being aimed at.
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, Carlyle’s translation (Collier, New York, 1962), 466.
IDEAL AND PLEASURE
It seems to me that I enjoyed the pleasure of existence more completely and I lived more fully when my emotions were so to speak concentrated around my heart by my destiny and could not go spreading themselves over all the things prized by men, things that are of so little value in themselves, though they form the sole occupation of the people we regard as happy.
Rousseau, J J, Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Peter France translation (Penguin), 8th walk.
IDEAL AND PLEASURE see QUESTS, TWO, 5/98
IDEAL see EVOLUTION, 4/98; UNIVERSAL IDEAL, 5/98
IDEALISM see NOBILITY, 4/98
In one’s prose reflections, one may be legitimately occupied with ideals, whereas in the writing of verse, one can deal only with actuality.
Eliot, T S, quoted Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. 2, 1353.
IDEALS see PROJECTIONS, 7/87; CREATIVITY, 2/02
Ideas… would hardly be such strong agents unless they were taken in a solvent of feeling. The great world-struggle of developing thought is continually foreshadowed in the struggle of the affections, seeking a justification for love and hope.
Eliot, George, Romola (Penguin, 1980), 527.
All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.
Ninety-nine percent of suffering isn’t caused by natural disasters like earthquakes, it’s caused by the ideas we hold. And if we believe these ideas are absolute truths then we suffer and we force other people to suffer. But if we understand that our ideas are ideas we have created, then we know we’re free to change them.
Rowe, Dorothy, quoted Observer magazine, 1 September 2002, 10.
IDENTITY, CONTINUES THROUGH CHILDREN see CHILDREN, 6/98
If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle.
Johnson, Samuel, in Boswell’s Life, III, 415.
IDLENESS see IMAGINATIVE IDLENESS, 12/2002
IDOLS see BACON’S IDOLS, 6/2000
A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push it.
Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 42e.
There is no greater hatred in the world than the hatred of ignorance for knowledge.
Galileo, in Great Quotations (Readers Digest, 1978), 23.
Life knows us not and we do not know life – we don’t even know our own thoughts. Half the words we use have no meaning whatever and of the other half each man understands each word after the fashion of his own folly and conceit. Faith is a myth, and beliefs shift like mists on the shore; thoughts vanish; words, once pronounced, die; and the memory of yesterday is as shadowy as the hope of tomorrow.
Conrad, Joseph (Letter, quoted Guardian Review, 1/12/07, 4).
IGNORANCE AS VICE
On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill.
Camus, Albert, The Plague (Penguin, quoted Guardian review That, 26/04/03, 37).
IGNORANCE see BEGINNER’S MIND, 4/99
IGNORANCE THE ONLY EVIL
I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.
Marlowe, Christopher, The Jew of Malta.
IGNORANCE, EVIL FROM see IMAGINATIVE IDLENESS, 12/2002
Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,
Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate? Johnson, Samuel, Vanity of Human Wishes. Line 345.
IGNORING HARSH REALITIES see SUFFERING OF LIFE, 2/01
To be a man was to be ailing. Man was essentially ailing, his state of unhealthiness was what made him a man. There were those who wanted to make him ‘healthy,’ to make him ‘go back to nature,’ when the truth was, he had never been ‘natural.’… it was the spirit alone that distinguished man, as a creature largely divorced from nature, largely opposed to her in feeling, from all other forms of organic life. … the more ailing he was, by so much was he the more man. The genius of disease was more human then the genius of health. … all progress, in so far as there was such a thing, was due to illness, and to illness alone. In other words, to genius, which was the same thing. Had not the normal, since time was, lived on the achievements of the abnormal? Men consciously and voluntarily descended into disease and madness, in search of knowledge which, acquired by fanaticism, would lead back to health… [The odious Jesuit, Naphta, is speaking.]
Mann, Thomas, The Magic Mountain (Penguin, 1960, Lowe-Porter trans., 1st ed. 1924), 465-6.
IMAGES, MENTAL see WORDS, 2/90; POETRY, 11/01
I… had helped myself by keeping my fancy always full of images, which had some reference to God… for noxious images and the painful consequences are by that means kept away. Often, too, our spirit seizes one or other of these spiritual images, and mounts with it a little way upwards, like a young bird fluttering from twig to twig.
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, Carlyle’s translation (Collier, New York, 1962), 364.
I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections, and the truth of Imagination. What the Imagination seizes as beauty must be Truth… The Imagination may be compared to Adams dream; – he awoke and found it truth.
Keats (Letter, 1817).
No, no, nothing in the world can one imagine beforehand, not the least thing. Every occurrence is made up of so many separate details that cannot be foreseen. They are passed over in the act of imagining, which takes place so rapidly that one does not notice they are lacking. But the realities are slow and indescribably detailed. [The context is his father’s corpse.]
Rilke, R M, The Notebook of Malte Laurids Brigge (Oxford, 1984, first edition in 1910), 151.
In the heart of childhood there will for ever spring up a well of innocent and wholesome superstition – the seeds of exaggeration will be busy there, and vital – from everyday forms educing the unknown and the uncommon. In that little Goshen there will be light, when the grown world flounders about in the darkness of sense and materiality. While childhood, and while dreams reducing childhood, shall be left, imagination shall not have spread her holy wings totally to fly the earth. [Educing here means bringing back.]
Lamb, Charles, Elia (1823), 203.
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The reverie alone will do,
If bees are few.
Great marvels in truth are these, but tales told and overlaid with an elaboration of lies amaze men’s wits against the true word.
Pindar, Ode: “Olympia 1”, translated by Raymond Lattimore, in L Casson (Ed), Classical Age (Dell, New York, 1965).
Whatever may have been the case in years gone by, the true use for the imaginative faculty of modern times is to give ultimate vivification to facts, to science and to common lives, endowing them with the glows and glories and final illustriousness which belong to every real thing, and to real things only.
Whitman, Walt, “A Backward Glance over Troubled Waters”.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
St.-Exupery, Flight to Arras.
I was thinking the other day about people who claim that visual images and even ‘visualisation’ is of no particular interest to them – what happens at death when the contents of one’s ‘imagination’ is liberated from the anchoring ballast of physical existence and conventionality?– surely it’s best to work with it prior to that onslaught? It’s not that difficult, it’s just a matter of finding one’s own particular ‘key’.
Aloka, Shabda, July 2012, 3.
IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will.
Shaw, G B (Recalled on his death.).
IMAGINATION AND KNOWLEDGE
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.
Einstein, in “What Life Means to Einstein,” Saturday Evening Post, 26/10/1929.
IMAGINATION AS REGULATOR
Their imaginations insisted that nobody changed much from day to day. Their imaginations were flywheels on the ramshackle machinery of the awful truth.
Vonnegut, Kurt, Breakfast of Champions (Vintage, 2000, 1st ed 1973). 142.
IMAGINATION, THE MOMENT OF
There is a moment in each day that Satan cannot find
Nor can his watch-fiends find it; but the industrious find
This moment and it multiply. And when it once is found
It renovates every moment of the day if rightly placed. (Plate 35.)
Every time less than a pulsation of the artery
Is equal in its period and value to 6000 years.
For in this period the poet’s work is done and all the great
Events of time start forth and are conceived in such a period,
Within a moment, a pulsation of the artery. (Plate 29.)
By turning away from the world to be perceived, we develop an imaginative idleness which spreads a sickness and lassitude over the whole soul, and all vices spring from this. Its does not matter whether the sickness is expressed inwardly or outwardly. Murder is obviously an expression of the same death-impulse that suicide is, and all evil acts are more or less murderous…
Frye, Northrop, Fearful Symmetry (Princeton, 1947), 56.
Behind all seen things lies something vaster; everything is but a path, a portal or a window opening on something other than itself. … therefore… build a temple that is ‘useless’…, solely for the greatening of men’s hearts and the tranquillising of the senses and for Time that ripens.
St.-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands (Hollis and Carter, 1952) 78.
IMMERSION IN THE WORLD
In his early masterpiece, Being and Time, first published in 1927, Heidegger set forth a bold challenge to the conventional picture of the human being that, in his view, had held sway in philosophy at least since Descartes if not long before. According to this picture, the human being confronts the external world as a disengaged thinker or res cogitans. Knowledge of the world is therefore a matter of correct representation, and truth is essentially a correspondence between an external state of affairs and one’s representation of that state of affairs within the confines of one’s own consciousness. Heidegger objected to this picture not only because he felt it was bad epistemology but, more importantly, because he felt it was bad metaphysics. It splits reality in two, placing the mind on one side and the world on the other, and then makes representation do the work of bridging the divide. //
Heidegger proposed instead that philosophy should take as its cue our everyday commerce with worldly things. When I wield a hammer, my knowledge of that hammer is not primarily a matter of how it is represented or conceived; it is an implicit know-how that animates my action and embraces its elements all at once: the weight of the tool, the heft of the wood, my care in the work, and so forth. This everyday kind of purposeful involvement motivates a general picture of the human being as already immersed in its world. To emphasize the this-worldly character of such immersion Heidegger uses the term Dasein (which is simply the German word for existence). Dasein is not consciousness but rather “being-in-the-world.” It is an ongoing event that is thrown into time and can only come upon itself as it presses forward into its own possibilities.
Gordon, Peter E, ‘Heidegger in Black’, New York review of Books, 9/10/14.
This life, which seems so fair,
Is like a bubble blown up in the air
By sporting children’s breath,
Who chase it everywhere
And strive who can most motion it bequeath.
And though it sometimes seem of its own might
Like to an eye of gold to be fix’d there,
And firm to hover in that empty height,
That only is because it is so light.
— But in that pomp it does not long appear;
For when ’tis most admired, in a thought,
Because it first was nought, it turns to nought.
Ah! Thel is like a wat’ry bow and like a parting cloud;
Like a reflection in a glass; like shadows in the water;
Like dreams of infants, like a smile upon an infants face;
Like the dove’s voice; like transient day; like music in the air.
Blake, the Book of Thel, Plate 1.
Leave me, oh love, which reaches but to dust;
And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things;
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust;
Whatever fades but fading pleasure brings.
Sidney, Sir Philip, Astrophel and Stella, Sonnet cx: ‘Splendidis longum valedico nugis’.
Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour – let no night
Steal thy sense in deathly slumber
Till to delight
Thou hast paid back utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who left them
In other days.
de la Mare, Walter, “Farewell,” iii.
Hughes, Richard, “The Walking Road”, in Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1939 edition, 391.
… We decay
Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief
Convulse us and consume us day by day,
And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay. …
[we – by implication] when the spirit’s self has ceased to burn,
With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn.
Shelley, from “Adonais”.
Man is in love with what vanishes.
Yeats, quoted by Ananda.
There is something in the pang of change
More than the heart can bear.
Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris (circa 414-12 BCE).
The experience of oneself relating to other things is actually a momentary discrimination, a fleeting thought. If we generate these fleeting thoughts fast enough, we can create the illusion of continuity and solidity. … [… like movie frames]… So we build up an idea, a preconception, that self and other are solid and continuous. And once we have this idea, we manipulate our thoughts to confirm it, and are afraid of any contrary evidence. It is this fear of exposure, this denial of impermanence, that imprisons us. It is by acknowledging impermanence that there is a chance to die and the space to be reborn and the possibility of appreciating life as a creative process.
Trungpa, Chogyam (in Marcus Mendez’ quotes pamphlet, Out of the Blue, 12/92).
Cities and Thrones and Powers
Stand in Time’s eye,
Almost as long as flowers,
Which daily die:
But, as new buds put forth
To glad new men,
Out of the spent and unconsidered Earth
The Cities rise again.//
This season’s Daffodil,
She never hears
What change, what chance, what chill,
Cut down last years’;
But with bold countenance,
And knowledge small,
Esteems her seven days continuance
To be perpetual.//
So Time that is o’er kind
To all that be,
Ordains us even as blind,
As bold as she:
That in our very death,
And burial sure,
Shadow to shadow, well persuaded saith,
‘See how our works endure!’
Kipling, “Cities, Thrones and Powers”, in 1954 Palgrave.
All things are corruptible. All things are generable.
Newton, Isaac, quoted Guardian Review, 30 Aug 2003.
Pure pleasure, pure contentment, always curls around a small sad centre because you know there is nothing permanent. Even as you look at a river, it flows on to become something else. A shadow of cloud on the stream changes minute by minute. Even as you hold the water in your cupped hands, it trickles out.
Coren, Victoria, quoted Guardian Review, 17/10/09, 8.
IMPERMANENCE AND SOUL see FIXED SELF
IMPERMANENCE EXCEPT LOVE
… The hare grows old as she plays in the sun
And gazes around her with eyes of brightness;
Before the swift things that she dreamed of were done
She limps along in an aged whiteness …
But the love-dew dims our eyes till the day
When God shall come from the sea with a sigh
And bid the stars drop down from the sky,
And the moon like a pale rose wither away.
Yeats, from The Wanderings of Oisin.
IMPERMANENCE OF LOVER’S BODY see HUMAN BEING (BODY), 12/87
IMPERMANENCE see IDEAL, THE, 8/87; DEDICATION, 10/88
IMPERMANENCE, DESPONDENCY IN FACE OF
What is it that will last?
All things are taken from us, and become
Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.
Let us alone. … [etc.]
Tennyson, “The Lotos Eaters”.
IMPERMANENCE, REALITY AS
Human beings… inhabit their worlds within the horizon of time: they inherit traditions from the past, project themselves into the future, and die. Heidegger’s reasoning is that, if Being only reveals itself in human worlds, and those are shaped by temporality, then Being must be dependent on time, too. And that would mean that Being has no other meaning than temporality – the unfolding of things in time.
Heidegger, paraphrased by Mark Lilla, New York Review of Books, 2 December 1999, 25.
IMPERMANENCE, TERROR OF
In the Burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice Naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.//
In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have this fancy
Tomorrow or today.//…
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.
[Etc. – good, and redemption.]
Auden, W H, from “As I walked out one evening”, in The Rattle Bag.
IMPETUOUS ACTION see CHARACTER, 1/91
[Zimri was] A man so various that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind’s epitome:
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
But in the course of one revolving moon
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon;
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking.
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking. …
Dryden, John, from “Absalom and Achitophel”.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
Stevens, Wallace, from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, in The Rattle Bag.
Now I bid you [Zarathustra’s disciples] lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I return to you.
[Earlier:] Truly, I advise you: go away from me and guard yourselves against Zarathustra! And better still: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he has deceived you.
The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.
One repays a teacher badly if one remains only a pupil. And why, then, should you not pluck at my laurels?
You respect me; but how if one day your respect should tumble? Take care that a falling statue does not strike you dead!
Nietzsche, Zarathustra, “Of the Bestowing Virtue, 3”.
INDIRECT see COMMUNICATION, INDIRECT, 6/97
Had I to carve an inscription on my tombstone I would ask for none other than ‘The Individual’.
Kierkegaard, in Great Quotations (Readers Digest, 1978), 27.
INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY
The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
James, William (in ‘Great Men, Great Thoughts, and the Environment’, Atlantic Monthly, 10/1888.).
INDIVIDUAL AND INDIVIDUALIST see FREEDOM 4/85
INDIVIDUAL IN HISTORY see HERO, 10/95
INDIVIDUAL IS MANKIND
One is not only a little individual, living a little individual life, one is in oneself the whole of mankind, and one’s fate is the fate of the whole of mankind. [In this assertion of the total significance of the self, Lawrence is seeing the future not just of the novel but of modern Freudian consciousness, and in the story of the Brangwen family he begins to imagine what the texture of this consciousness might be. –Rachel Cusk.]
Lawrence, DH, Letter c1915, quoted Guardian Review, 19/3/2011.
INDIVIDUAL see GROUP, 3/91; GROUP, 4/98; NOBILITY, 4/98; SOLITUDE, 6/98
The ego is the individual only in the ignorance; there is a true individual who is not the ego and still has an eternal relation with all other individuals which is not egoistic or self-separative, but of which the essential character is practical mutuality founded in essential unity.
Aurobindo, Shri, The Life Divine (Lotus Press, 1985, 1st book edition 1940), 390.
INDIVIDUALISM see NOBILITY, 4/98
Well hast thou fought
The better fight, who single hast maintained
Against revolted multitudes the cause
Of truth, in word mightier than they in arms,
And for the testimony of truth hast borne
Universal reproach, far worse to bear
Than violence; for this was all thy care —
To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds
Judged thee perverse.
Milton, Paradise Lost, VI, 29.
I have never had need for companionship unless it was the companionship of someone I could call a friend. Certainly I have seldom wished the conversation of strangers or the sight of strange faces. I believe rather that when I was alone I felt I had in some fashion lost my individuality; to the thrush and the rabbit I had been not Severian, but Man. The many people who like to be utterly alone, and particularly to be utterly alone in a wilderness, do so, I believe, because they enjoy playing that part. But I wanted to be a particular person again, and so I sought the mirror of other persons, which would show me that I was not as they were.
Wolfe, Gene, The Sword of the Lictor (Arrow/Hutchinson, London, 1982), 223.
INDUCTION see BACON’S IDOLS, 6/2000
And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.
Pound, Ezra, in The Rattle Bag.
INEFFECTUALNESS see EFFECTIVENESS, 9/87
INERTIA see HISTORY, 9/88
Perhaps what is inexpressible… is the background against which whatever I could express has its meaning.
Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 16.
INFINITY, FEAR OF see SILENCE, FEAR OF, 7/87
When two people meet, whoever has made a real decision – whoever is committed at the deepest level – will eventually influence the other person – if there is rapport.
Robbins, Anthony, Awakening the Giant Within (Simon and Schuster, 1992), 108.
INITIATIVE see GOALS, 10/92
INNER WORLD AND OUTER see MAN, 5/98
Tennyson, Maud, part II, section V.
[The search for a feeling of security is what causes the feeling of insecurity in the first place. The essence of life is flux and impermanence, and] if I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure… in other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want. … To put it still more plainly, the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.
Watts, Alan, The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951, quoted Guardian Review, 5/1/13).
INSECURITY see JOY IN INSECURITY
IN-SEEING (RILKE) see EMPATHY, 7/98
Emboldened by his [Cuvier’s] gaze into the past, this petty race, children of yesterday, can overstep chaos, can raise a psalm without end, and outline for themselves the story of the Universe in an Apocalypse that reveals the past. After the tremendous resurrection that takes place at the voice of this man, the little drop in the nameless Infinite, common to all the spheres, that is ours to use, and that we called Time, seems to us a pitiable moment of life. We ask ourselves the purpose of our triumphs, our hatreds, our loves, overwhelmed as we are by the destruction of so many past universes, and whether it is worthwhile to accept the pain of life in order that hereafter we may become an intangible speck.
Balzac, The Wild Ass’s Skin, Everyman, 20.
“A Spell for Sleeping”
Sweet William, silverweed, sally my handsome.
Dimity darkens the pittering water.
On gloomed lawns wanders a king’s daughter.
Curtains are clouding the casement windows.
A moon-glade smurrs the lake with light.
Doves cover the tower with quiet.//
Three owls whit-whit in the withies.
Seven fish in a deep pool shimmer.
The princess moves to the spiral stair.//
Slowly the sickle moon mounts up.
Frogs hump under moss and mushroom.
The princess climbs to her high hushed room.//
Step by step to her shadowed tower.
Water laps the white lake shore.
A ghost opens the princess’ door.//
Seven fish in the sway of the water.
Six candles for a king’s daughter.
Five sighs for a drooping head.
Four ghosts to gentle her bed.
Three owls in the dusk falling.
Two tales to be telling.
One spell for sleeping.//
Tamarisk, trefoil, tormentil.
Sleep rolls down from the clouded hill.
The princess dreams of a silver pool.//
The moonlight spreads, the soft ferns flitter.
Stilled in a shimmering drift of water,
Seven fishes dream of a lost king’s daughter.
What in me is dark
Illumine, what is low raise and support;
That, to the highth of this great argument,
I may assert Eternal Providence
And justify the ways of God to men.
Milton, Paradise Lost, lines 22 ff.
By accepting all that the poets say while duly inspired our errors will be fewest.
Dunsany, Lord, The King of Elfland’s Daughter (Unwin, 1982, first edition 1924), 70.
INSPIRATION see OLD MAN’S INSPIRATION, 7/98
INTEGRATION see AWARENESS, THE UNCONSCIOUS AND LOVE, 3/89; UNINTEGRATION, 11/88
[In the concentration camps] to survive as a man, not a walking corpse, as a debased and degraded but still human being, one had first and foremost to remain informed and aware of what made up one’s personal point of no return beyond which one would never, under any circumstances, give in to the oppressor, even if it meant risking and losing one’s life. It meant being aware that if one survived at the price of overreaching this point one would be holding on to a life that had lost all meaning. It would mean surviving – not with lowered self-respect, but without any. [When one was not faced with this ultimate question, one had to comply with debasing commands – but keeping fully aware of the nature of one’s acts, keeping a minimum distance from one’s behaviour, with freedom to feel differently about it.]
Bettelheim, Bruno, quoted by Auden.
On rational grounds, the argument is only too easy to confute [argument in the whole Wordsworth poem extracted below]; it is, indeed, one of the recurring fallacies of all so-called returns to nature that the human intellect is used to argue against the human intellect. The same fallacy was repeated half a century later by the American Whitman, and in the 20th-century by D H Lawrence.
Reeves, James, The Critical Sense, 85.
Sweet is the love which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous form of things: –
We murder to dissect.
Wordsworth, “The Tables Turned”.
INTELLECT AND EMOTION
We get philistines saying that if we add any enthusiasm about beauty to a perception of things, it will blur the clarity with which we see them; while the sentimental assert that the warm blooded mammalian emotional perception which tenderly suckles its images is superior to the reptilian intellectual who lays cold abstract eggs. This last is a point of view with which Blake’s is often confused.
… No one can begin to think straight unless he has a passionate desire to think and an intense joy in thinking. … [the tree] is more real to the man who throws his entire imagination behind his perception than to the man who cautiously tries to prune away different characteristics from that imagination and isolate one.
Frye, Northrop., Fearful Symmetry (Princeton, 1947), 20 and 21.
INTELLECTUAL see PHYSICAL/INTELLECTUAL, 5/87
INTELLIGENCE see FOOLHARDINESS, 10/86
[Gurdjieff describes a sort of Russian roulette, replacing a duel with a teenage rival in love. They lay in a firing range, with shells exploding all around. Stupefaction led to intense feeling, which led to them, at each moment, thinking and experiencing more than in a year. Then, for the first time, ‘the whole sensation of myself’, growing stronger. A strong consciousness of death led to an unconquerable living terror… Because of this, he was later unperturbed by life questions in which ‘exclusively my own interests were at stake’. This prevented him from acknowledging or experiencing any but authentic fears, but allowed him to empathise with another’s fear.]
Gurdjieff, G L, Meetings with Remarkable Men (Picador, 1978), 206.
INTERCONNECTEDNESS AND LIMITATION
We live in a tiny place,
where everything is attached to something else, more precious.
Williams, Hugo, quoted Guardian Review, 21/09/02, 25.
Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbour’s creed has lent.
All are needed by each one;
Nothing is fair or good alone.
Emerson, from “Each and All”.
We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibres connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibres, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.
Melville, Herman, in Marcus Mendez’ quotes pamphlet, Out of the Blue, December 1992.
What man most passionately wants is his living wholeness and his living unison, not his own isolate salvation of his “soul”. Man wants his physical fulfilment first and foremost, since now, once and once only, he is in the flesh and potent. For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive. Whatever the unborn and the dead may know, they cannot know the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the flesh. The dead may look after the afterwards. But the magnificent here and now of life in the flesh is ours, and ours alone, and ours only for a time. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos. I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows that I am part of the human race, my soul is an organic part of the great human soul, as my spirit is part of my nation. In my own very self, I am part of my family. There is nothing of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters.
So that my individualism is really an illusion. I am part of the great whole, and I can never escape. But I can deny my connections, break them, and become a fragment. Then I am wretched.
What we want is to destroy our false, inorganic connections, especially those related to money, and re-establish the living organic connections, with the cosmos, the sun and earth, with mankind and nation and family. Start with the sun, and the rest will slowly, slowly happen.
Lawrence, D H, Apocalypse, XXIII.
All things weave themselves into a whole.
Goethe, in Great Writings of Goethe (New American Library, 1977), 6.
The ‘Tree Igdrasil’ buds and withers by its own laws, – too deep for our scanning. Yet it does bud and wither, and every bough and leaflet is there, by fixed eternal laws; not a Sir Thomas Lucy but comes at the hour fit for him. Curious, I say, and not sufficiently considered: how where everything does co-operate with all; not a leaf rotting on the highway but is an indissoluble portion of solar and stellar systems; no thought, word or act of man but has sprung withal out of all men, and works sooner or later, recognisably or irrecognisably, on all men! It is all a Tree: circulation of sap and influences, mutual communication of every minutest leaf with the lowest talon of a root, with every other greatest and minutest portion of the whole. The Tree of Igdrasil, that has its roots down in the kingdoms of Hela and Death, and whose boughs overspread the highest Heaven!
Carlyle, “The Hero As Poet. Dante; Shakespeare (1840)”. In Jones, English Critical Essays, 283.
I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly and my blood is part of the sea. There is not any of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surfaces of the water.
Lawrence, D H, in Marcus Mendez’ quotes pamphlet, Out of the Blue, December 1992.
‘Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also’ [said Jesus] – the object of your love is your God.
Lavater, Aphorism 14.
One of the chief architects of the atomic bomb, so the story runs, was out wandering in the woods one day with a friend when he came upon a small tortoise. Overcome with pleasurable excitement, he took up the tortoise and started home, thinking to surprise his children with it. After a few steps he paused and surveyed the tortoise doubtfully.
‘What’s the matter?’ asked his friend. Without responding, the great scientist slowly retraced his steps is precisely as possible, and gently set the turtle down upon the exact spot from which he had taken him up.
Then he turned solemnly to his friend. ‘It just struck me,’ he said, ‘that perhaps for one man, I have tampered enough with the universe.’ He turned, and left the turtle to wander on its way.
Eiseley, Loren, The Firmament of Time, 148.
[In a mature contemplation of nature…]
I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the rounded ocean and the living air
And the blue sky and the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things…
Wordsworth, from “…Tintern Abbey”.
INTERPENETRATION see TIME AND ETERNITY, 7/87
Up to then I thought that being one with him in bed meant being one with him in life, but I knew now that I was mistaken, and that lovers are strangers, in between times.
O’Brien, Edna, Girl with Green Eyes (Penguin, 1964), 191.
No one can advise or help you — no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself.
Rilke, Advice to a Young Poet (1903), trs M. D. Herter Norton (1993).
An uncanny second sense that tells people they are right whether they are or not.
Miller, Harlan, (adapted) quoted in John Grigg, The Wits Dictionary (Angus and Robertson, Australia), 1984.
Immediate Revelation being a much easier way for Men to establish their Opinions, and regulate their Conduct, than the tedious and not always successful Labour of strict Reasoning, it is no wonder, that some have been very apt to pretend to Revelation. And to perswade themselves, that they are under the peculiar guidance of Heaven in their Actions and Opinions, especially in those of them, which they cannot account for by their ordinary Methods of Knowledge, and Principles of Reason.
Cooper, Anthony Ashley (Earl of Shaftsesbury), quoted in review of his Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (London Review of Books, 28 October 1999), 11.
INTUITION see WOMAN’S BORROWED IDEAS, 5/87
Clues are thin on the ground but our minds are as ingenious as they are restless, and snatch at anything flinty to strike a spark with, in order to light up the murk.
Kaplan, Robert, The Nothing that Is (Penguin, 1999), 49.