[A machine, here an aeroplane] does not isolate man from the great problems of nature, but plunges him more deeply into them. [Those who say it is the source of all our ills are pseudo-dreamers.] The central struggle of men has ever been to understand one another, to join together for the common weal. And it is this very thing that the machine helps them do! It begins by annihilating time and space. … It seems to me that those who complain of man’s progress confuse ends with means. True, that man who struggles in the unique hope of material gain will harvest nothing worthwhile. But how can anyone conceive that the machine is an end? It is a tool. … [The manifest degeneration of culture is just because we haven’t yet adjusted to mechanisation, still so recent.] The life of the past seems to us nearer our true nature, but only for the reason that it is nearer our language. [Up until now, we were conquerors, and so men were sometimes made to serve machines, now we must become colonists, and make machines familiar.]
St.-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars (Heineman, 1939), 55-59.
MACHINE see CITIES, 4/85
The more we intervene machinery between us and the naked forces the more we numb and atrophy our own senses. Every time we turn on a tap to have water, every time we turn a handle to have fire or light, we deny ourselves and annul our being. The great elements, the earth, air, fire, water, are there like some great mistress whom we woo and struggle with, whom we heave and wrestle with. And all our appliances do but deny us these fine embraces, take the miracle of life away from us. The machine is the great neuter. It is the eunuch of eunuchs. In the end it emasculates us all. When we balance the sticks and kindle a fire, we partake of the mysteries. But when we turn on an electric tap there is, as it were, a wad between us and the dynamic universe. We do not know what we lose by all our labour-saving appliances. Of the two evils it would be much the lesser to lose all machinery, every bit, rather than to have, as we have, hopelessly too much.
Lawrence, D H, in Studies in Classic American Literature, Dana’s “Two Years Before The Mast”.
[Despite redefinitions,] Ever, as before, does Madness remain a mysterious – terrific, altogether infernal boiling up of the Nether Chaotic Deep, through this fair-painted Vision of Creation, which swims thereon, which we name the Real.
Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, III, viii.
MADNESS see FOOLHARDINESS, 10/86; INSANITY, 10/86; WISDOM, SUFFERING, INSANITY, 6/90
MADNESS, AS THE NORM
Much Madness is divinest Sense—
To a discerning Eye—
Much Sense—the starkest Madness—
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail—
Assent—and you are sane—
Demur—you’re straightway dangerous—
And handled with a Chain—
MADNESS, DIVINE see DIVINE MADNESS, 9/98
The national saints, who are called Magi, are given powers over the energies and faculties of nature. For there are holy men in God who serve the beatific life; they are called saints. But there are also holy men who serve the forces of nature, and they are called magi… What others are incapable of doing they can do, because it has been conferred upon them as a special gift.
Paracelsus, quoted by Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels (Penguin), 254.
MAGIC see GENEROSITY, 4/99
It seems to be generally agreed that unpleasant facts about people are more revealing of their true selves than pleasant ones, but why? Nothing is easier than malice, and to find something discreditable about someone needs no more than a good look at him; besides, everyone alive has a root down into the mud: it is the human condition. We are skilled critics of our fellows, clever sniffers-out of moral weakness. Once, to be malicious was considered a fault; now it is applauded. Our current happy phrase ‘dishing the dirt’ says more about us then we ought to like: it is diagnostic of our nasty time.
Lessing, Doris, Walking in the Shade (autobiography. HarperCollins, 1997), 210.
Every man is made of clay and daimon, and no woman can nourish both. [Justine speaking.]
Durrell, Lawrence, Justine, 50.
[As the drops of spray – ‘crest of the wave, and token of its downfall’ – on the wave in the world-as-ocean.]
Abercombie, Lascalles, in Bridges, The Spirit of Man, No 297.
There is in Man, as in all beings, something more than the mere sum of the materials that went to his making. A cathedral is a good deal more than the sum of its stones. It is geometry and architecture. The cathedral is not to be defined by its stones, since those stones have no meaning apart from the cathedral…
St.-Exupery, Flight to Arras, 153.
[Man is] a pygmy soul, carrying a dead body to its grave.
Aurelius, Marcus, quoted by editor, Aubrey’s Brief Lives (Penguin, 1972), 22.
More extensive than any other earthly thing are Man’s earthly lineaments. [i.e., the inner world is vaster than the outer?]
Blake, Milton, 23.
His speech is a burning fire:
With his lips he travaileth;
In his heart is a blind desire,
In his eyes foreknowledge of death;
He weaves, and is clothed with derision;
Sows, and he shall not reap;
His life is a watch or a vision
Between a sleep and a sleep.
Swinburne, from “Chorus”, in 1954 Palgrave.
MAN AS ENIGMA
When a problem is resolved, both question and answer dissolve, are absorbed into a mechanical formula. Climbing a wall is a problem, until you lean a ladder against it. Afterwards, you have neither problem nor solution, just a wall and a ladder. This is not so for the enigma. Take the most famous one of all, the Sphinx’s: ‘What is the being that has but one voice and yet sometimes has two feet, sometimes three, sometimes four, and is progressively weaker the more feet it has?’ Oedipus answers: ‘Man.’ But if we think about that answer, we realise that precisely the fact that ‘man’ is the solution to such an enigma suggests the enigmatic nature of man. What is this incongruous being that goes from the animal condition of the quadruped through to the prosthesis (the old man’s stick), all the time preserving a single voice? The solution to the enigma is thus itself an enigma, and a more difficult one.
Resolving an enigma means shifting it to a higher level, as the first drops away. The Sphinx hints at the indecipherable nature of man, this elusive, multiform being whose definition cannot be otherwise than elusive and multiform. Oedipus was drawn to the Sphinx, and he resolved the Sphinx’s enigma, but only to become an enigma himself. Thus anthropologists were drawn to Oedipus, and are still there measuring themselves against him, wondering about him.
Calasso, Roberto, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (Vintage, 1994, translated by Tim Parks), 343-4.
MAN see WOMAN, 4/98
Men may seem detestable as joint-stock companies and nations; knaves, fools and murderers there may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes. That immaculate manliness we feel within ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact though all the outer character be gone; bleeds with keenest anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valour-ruined man. …
Melville, Herman, Moby Dick (Penguin, 1972), 211.
MANAGEMENT, ETHICS AND GREED
To identify greed as the problem would be to place the issue beyond serious address, leaving only impotent lamentation or a tedious exhortation to altruism. While greed may indeed be the root cause of our impoverished worklife, it is surely not the case that the managers who design and orchestrate the work process are themselves greedy (or rather, they surely are greedy, no less or more than the rest of us, but that is not the issue).
Crawford, Matthew, The Case for Working with Your Hands (Penguin, 2009), 137.
To make a mandala is to take any prominent aspect of reality and surround it with beauty.
Rongzompa Chokyi Zangpo, quoted in Sangharakshita, Wisdom Beyond Words (Windhorse, 2001), 188.
Mankind felt himself in his force to be Nature’s crowning race./…
He now is first, but is he the last? Is he not too base?
Tennyson, Maud, I, IV, verse VI.
MANKIND AS PINNACLE OF EVOLUTION
It is the height of intellectual perversion to renounce, in the name of scientific objectivity, our position as the highest form of life on earth, and our own advent as a process of evolution as the most important problem of evolution.
Polanyi, M, The Tacit Dimension (1967).
MANKIND see SAMSARA, 10/86; HUMAN BEING (BODY), 12/87; UNITY OF MAN, 3/88; AUTHORITY, 12/91
MANNERS see MORALS AND MANNERS, 8/99
[He doesn’t pray, but] I find myself mantra-ing a bit. I’m not addressing a godhead, but repeating a mantra. But it’s like nursery rhymes and belongs in the realms of things known by heart.
Heaney, Seamus, in Observer Magazine, 19 July 2009, 24.
Marriage from love, like vinegar from wine,
A sad, sour, sober beverage – by time
Is sharpened from its high celestial flavour
Down to a very homely household savour.
… passion in a lover’s glorious,
But in a husband is pronounced uxorious.
Byron, Don Juan, III, V-VI.
A ceremony in which rings are put on the finger of the lady, and through the nose of the gentleman.
Spencer, Herbert, Quoted in Herbert Spencer: Critical Assessments, ed John Offer (Routledge, 2000), 270.
It is better to know as little as possible about the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.
Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice, ch 6.
Before marriage a man yearns for a woman; after marriage, the ‘y’ is silent.
Clarke, WA, unsourced.
The legal and ecclesiastical idea of marriage as a trap baited with the sex act and snapped at consummation…
Frye, Northrop, Fearful Symmetry (Princeton University Press, 1969, second edition), 73.
[See various Browning poems. E.g. “At the Fireside”; “Any Wife to Any Husband”.]
… instead of congratulation, he [Philo] whispered in my ear, ‘When I saw your sister give away her hand, I felt as if a stream of boiling water had been poured over me. … It is always the way with me when I see two people joined.’ I laughed… but have often since had cause to recollect his words.
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, Carlyles translation (Collier, New York, 1962), 370.
Ven you’re a married man, Samivel, you’ll understand a good many things as you don’t understand now; but vether it’s worth while going through so much, to learn so little, as the charity boy said when he got the end of the alphabet, is a matter of taste. I rather think it isn’t. (Chapter 27)
[And Bluebeard was] a victim of connubiality. (Chapter 30) [Tony Weller speaking.]
Dickens, Pickwick Papers.
… it is foreign to a man’s nature to go on loving a person when he is told that he must and shall be that person’s lover. There would be a much likelier chance of his doing it if he were told not to love. If the marriage ceremony consisted in an oath and signed contract between the parties to cease loving from that day forward, in consideration of personal possession being given, and to avoid each other’s society as much as possible in public there would be more loving couples than there are now. … [Sue Bridehead speaking.]
Hardy, Thomas, Jude the Obscure (Oxford University Press, 1985), 271.
[Of those who abjure marriage to avoid its afflictions:] They dream away their time without friendship, without fondness, and are driven to rid themselves of the day, for which they have no use, by childish amusements, or vicious delights. They act as beings under the constant sense of some known inferiority, that fills their minds with rancour, and their tongues with censure. … To live without feeling or exciting sympathy, to be fortunate without adding to the felicity of others, or afflicted without tasting the balm of pity, is a state more gloomy than solitude: it is not retreat but exclusion from mankind. Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures.
Johnson, Samuel, Rasselas (Penguin, 1976, 1st ed. 1759), 95.
With this lady… he lived in great domestic happiness, only chequered by those little storms which serve to clear the atmosphere of wedlock and brighten its horizon. [Ironic]
Dickens, Charles, Barnaby Rudge, chapter 82.
[Marriage is an agreement between two people for the] reciprocal use of each other’s sexual organs.
Kant, Immanuel, quoted in Roger Scruton, Kant (Oxford University Press, Past Masters, 1982), 9.
MARRIAGE AND CHILDREN
You are young and desire marriage and children. But I ask you: are you a man who ought to desire a child?
Are you the victor, the self-conqueror, the ruler of your senses, the lord of your virtues? Thus I ask you.
Or do the animal and necessity speak from your desire? Or isolation? Or disharmony with yourself? …
Marriage: that I call the will of two to create the one who is more than those who created it. Reverence before one another, as before the willers of such a will – that I call marriage.
Let this be the meaning and truth of your marriage. But that which the many-too-many, the superfluous call marriage, – ah, what shall I call it?
Ah, this poverty of soul in partnership! Ah, this miserable ease in partnership! …
Do not laugh at such marriages! What child has not had reason to weep over its parents?
This man seemed to me worthy and ripe for the meaning of the earth: but when I saw his wife the earth seemed to me a house for the nonsensical.
Yes, I wish that the earth shook with convulsions when a saint and a goose mate together.
This man set forth like a hero in quest of truth and at last he captured a little dressed-up lie. He calls it his marriage.
That man used to be reserved in his dealings and fastidious in his choice. But all at once he spoilt his company once and for all: he calls it his marriage.
That man sought a handmaiden with the virtues of an angel. But all at once he became the handmaiden of a woman, and now he needs to become an angel too. …
There is bitterness in the cup of even the best love: thus it arouses longing for the Superman, thus it arouses thirst in you, the creator!
A creator’s thirst, arrow and longing for the Superman: speak, my brother, is this your will to marriage?
I call it holy such a will and such a marriage.
Nietzsche, Zarathustra, “Of Marriage and Children”.
MARRIAGE see CELIBACY, 6/92
MARVELS see IMAGINATION, 6/98
In Russia, I must confess my passive objection to Marx has changed to active hostility. Wherever we went we encountered busts, portraits or statues of Marx. About two-thirds of the face of Marx is beard, a vast solemn woolly uneventful beard that must have made all normal exercise impossible. It is not the sort of beard that happens to a man, it is a beard cultivated, cherished, and thrust patriarchally upon the world. It is exactly like Das Kapital in its inane abundance, and the human part of the face looks over it owlishly as if it looked to see how the growth impressed mankind. … [Wells clincher against Marxism was the non-existence of the ‘Proletariat’ when put in stark opposition to ‘Capital’ – everyone employs and is employed.]
Wells, H G Russia in the Shadows, quoted in Gardner, The Night Is Large (Penguin, 1997).
Magee, Brian, Popper.
MARXISM see CERTAINTY, 3/89; COMMUNISM, 9/89
Materialism is the philosophy of the subject who has forgotten to take account of himself.
Schopenhauer, quoted by J Eccles, The Human Mystery, 236.
The Beatles, having preached spiritual investment and material divestment in the previous decade, spent years after their split in 1970 dragging each other through courts and accountants’ offices.
Hanley, Lynsey, Guardian Review, 24 December 2011, 9
The ontology of materialism rested upon the illusion that the kind of existence, the direct ‘actuality’ of the world around us, can be extrapolated into the atomic range. This extrapolation, however, is impossible… Atoms are not things.
Heisenberg, Werner, Physics and Philosophy (Ruskin House, 1959), 128.
MATHEMATICS see PHYSICS AS AESTHETIC, 4/99
MATISSE see DIFFERENCE, 7/94
There is no ‘matter’: there is a material world, but that is literally the ‘material’ of experience, and has no reality apart from the forms in which it subsists, except as an abstract idea.
Frye, Northrop, Fearful Symmetry (Princeton University Press, 1969, second edition), 17.
MATTER see MIND ONLY, 6/92
Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.
Vonnegut, Kurt, Cat’s Cradle (Penguin, 1963), 125.
Indeed it is well said ‘in every object there is inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing.’
Carlyle, The History of the French Revolution, chapter 2.
Sex endows the individual with a dumb and powerful instinct, which carries his body and soul continually towards another; makes it one of the dearest employments of his life to select and pursue a companion, and joins to possession the keenest pleasure, to rivalry the fiercest rage, and to solitude an eternal melancholy. What more could be needed to suffuse the world with the deepest meaning and beauty?
Santayana, George, The Sense of Beauty (1896).
Consider the tune, not the voice; consider the words, not the tune; consider the meaning, not the words.
Bhutanese proverb, Wikiquote.
MEANING OF LIFE see LIFE, MEANING OF, 9/87
I found I could not say what it was I understood, that it was in fact on the level of meaning above language, the level we like to believe scarcely exists, though if it were not for the constant discipline we have learned to exercise upon our thoughts, they would always be climbing to it unaware.
Wolfe, Gene, The Sword of the Lictor (Arrow/Hutchinson, London, 1982), 60.
MEANINGFULNESS see MYTHIC, 5/98
[Through scientific knowledge of the past…] The great stage, in other words, the world stage where the Elizabethans saw us strutting and mouthing our parts, has the skeletons of dead actors under the floorboards, and the dusty scenery of forgotten dramas lies abandoned in the wings. The idea necessarily comes home to us then with a sudden chill: What if we are not playing on the centre stage? What if the Great Spectacle has no terminus and no meaning? What if there is no audience beyond the footlights, and the play, in spite of bold villains and posturing heroes, is a shabby repeat performance in an echoing vacuity? Man is a perceptive animal. He hates above all to appear ridiculous. His explorations of reality in the course of just 300 years have so enlarged his vision and reduced his ego that his tongue sometimes fumbles for the proper lines to speak, and he plays his part uncertainly, with one dubious eye cast upon the dark beyond the stage lights. He is beginning to feel alone and to hear nothing but echoes reverberating back.
Eiseley, Loren, The Firmament of Time, 118-9.
– O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?
Owen, Wilfred, from “Futility”, in The Rattle Bag.
[Listening to] The eternal note of sadness [in the roar of the sea breaking on the Dover shingle…]
The sea of faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
It’s melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.//
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And here we are, as on the darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Arnold, Matthew, from “Dover Beach”.
To stand up straight and tread the turning mill,
To lie flat and know nothing and be still,
Are the two trades of man; and which is worse
I know not, but I know that both are ill.
Housman A E, quoted by Christopher Ricks, Guardian Review, 1 Jun 2002.
“That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.”
Russell, Bertrand, A Free Man’s Worship (1918).
MEANINGLESSNESS see MAN, 7/98; TRANSIENCE THEREFORE MEANINGLESSNESS, 11/02; REALITY AS ARBITRARY, 11/02; IGNORANCE, 12/07.
Throughout our life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise.
Dickens, Great Expectations (Penguin), 240.
MECHANISM AND MATERIALISM
Thought, he [Doctor Cabanis] is inclined to hold, is still secreted by the brain; but then Poetry and Religion (and it is really worth knowing) are ‘a product of the smaller intestines’!
Carlyle, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (II), “Signs of the Times”.
MELANCHOLY see TRANSIENT JOY, 8/87; FUTURE MELANCHOLY UTOPIA, 9/03
I thought back along the iron chain of kisses which Justine had forged, steadily back into memory, hand over fist, like a mariner going down an anchor-chain into the darkest depths of some great stagnant harbour memory.
Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber), 196.
I believe that memory and the welter of memory, packed into a single lonely and bereft moment, is the strongest ally a person can have.
O’Brien, Edna, Mother Ireland (Penguin, 1978), 79.
… a form of life and light,
That, seen, became a part of sight;
And rose, wherever I turned mine eye,
The morning-star of memory!
Byron, The Giaour (Penguin Byron), 89.
MEMORY DIMINISHES WORLD see WORLD, 11/84
MEMORY see FORGETTING AS NECESSARY, 1/13
MEN AND WOMEN
If the one of the two sexes were told that they did not play any greater part in the life of the other sex than this other sex plays within their own existence, they would be shocked and hurt. If the lover or the husband were told that he did not play any greater part in the life of his wife or his mistress then she played in his own existence, he would be puzzled and indignant. If a wife or a mistress were told that she did not play any greater part in the life of the husband or the lover than he played in her life, she would be exasperated.
The real old-time men’s story that was never meant to get to the ears of women goes to prove this theory; and the talk of the women, when they sit amongst themselves and know that no man can hear them, goes to prove it.
Blixen, Karen, Out Of Africa (Penguin, 1984, first edition 1937), 186.
MEN AND WOMEN
All being… [is] built on opposites, on division. Man or woman, vagabond or citizen, lover or thinker — no breath could be both in and out, none could be man and wife, free and yet orderly, knowing the urge of life and the joy of intellect. Always the one paid for the other, though each was equally precious and essential. Perhaps it was easier for women. Nature had made them so that, with them, their passion brought its fruit, and so a child was born out of their happiness. Men have no such simple fruitfulness, but instead, an eternal craving, never appeased.
Hesse, Herman, Narziss and Goldmund (Penguin, 1971, Geoffrey Dunlop translation), 238-9.
MEN AND WOMEN
It is only women who have headaches without telling anybody, remember arguments verbatim, re-use cotton wool, worry about the problems of characters on television, or have close and long-standing friendships with people they don’t like. And it is only men who get excited about military hardware … say ‘Can’t we talk about this tomorrow?’, have any interest in watching Michael Caine films … or take out a pint of milk, sniff it, make a face, then put it back in the fridge.
Coren, Victoria, quoted Guardian Review, 17/10/09, 8.
MERGING WITH LOVER
He [Levin] felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began. He felt this from the agonizing sensation of division that he experienced at that instant. He was offended for the first instant, but the very same second he felt that he could not be offended by her, that she was himself. He felt for the first moment as a man feels when, having suddenly received a violent blow from behind, he turns round, angry and eager to avenge himself, to look for his antagonist, and finds that it is he himself who has accidentally struck himself, that there is no one to be angry with, and that he must put up with and try to soothe the pain.
Never afterwards did he feel it with such intensity, but this first time he could not for a long while get over it. His natural feeling urged him to defend himself, to prove to her she was wrong; but to prove her wrong would mean irritating her still more and making the rupture greater that was the cause of all his suffering. One habitual feeling impelled him to get rid of the blame and to pass it on her. Another feeling, even stronger, impelled him as quickly as possible to smooth over the rupture without letting it grow greater. To remain under such undeserved reproach was wretched, but to make her suffer by justifying himself was worse still. Like a man half-awake in an agony of pain, he wanted to tear out, to fling away the aching place, and coming to his senses, he felt that the aching place was himself. He could do nothing but try to help the aching place to bear it, and this he tried to do.
Tolstoy, Leo, Anna Karenina, Part 5 Ch 14 (Translated by Constance Garnett), 11/01
… he would gaze upon his store
And o’er his pedigree would pore,
Until by some confusion led,
Which almost looked like want of head,
He thought their merits were his own.
Byron, Mazeppa, IV.
The rugged metal of the mine
Must burn before its surface shine,
But plunged within the furnace flame,
It bends and melts – though still the same.
Byron, don Juan (?).
We live by likenings. So many of our words are husks of metaphors, so many of our arguments and beliefs proceed by similarities…. Before this shift began our likenings served, I claim, to enhance and illuminate [something] which was too shadowy…. Slowly, however, the accent began to progress, until “A is like B” was meant to give us some insight into the part that now mattered, B, which wasn’t here at all, but in an unreachable there. What we saw around us was an imitation or intimation of the real that lay beyond, below, behind.
Kaplan, Robert, The Nothing that Is (Penguin, 1999), 76.
METAPHOR see NATURE, 11/14
If one acknowledges, even for a single hour, that anything can be more important that love for one’s fellow men even in some one exceptional case, any crime can be committed without a feeling of guilt. (p 440)
… government service… allows men to treat other men as things. … Men think there are circumstances where one may deal with human beings without love, and there are no such circumstances. You may deal with things without love; you may cut down trees, make bricks, hammer iron without love, but you cannot deal with men without it, just as you cannot deal with bees without being careful. If you deal carelessly with bees, you will injure them and will yourself be injured. And so with men. It cannot be otherwise, because natural love is the fundamental law of human life. … If you feel no love, sit still, occupy yourself with things, with yourself [!], with anything you like, only not with men. … [Otherwise] there are no limits to the suffering you will bring on yourself. (pp 442-3)
Tolstoy, Resurrection (F R Henderson, 1900. Louise Maude translation).
[Co-operation as a principle for rational beings, implies [metta] for its own sake.]
Aurelin, M, in Bridges, The Spirit of Man, No 350.
METTA see LOVE, METTA, 4/85, etc.; ENJOYMENT, 4/88
MICCHA DITTHIS see VIEWS, THICKET OF, 8/87
At present I am so enthusiastic about Michelangelo that I have lost all my taste for Nature, since I cannot see her with the eye of genius as he did. … After being dilated and spoiled by Michelangelo’s great forms, my eye took no pleasure in the ingenious frivolities of Raphael’s arabesques. … [but] one’s initial reactions are bound to be one-sided.
Goethe, Italian Journey (W H Auden and E Mayer translation, Penguin), 2nd December.
The world that I regard is myself; it is the microcosm of my own frame that I cast mine eye on.
Browne, Sir Thomas, Religio Medici, Pseudodoxia epidemica, 1-4, 110.
MILTON see RELICS, 10/86
It is humiliating to have to appear like an empty tube which is simply inflated by a mind.
Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 11.
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark – now glittering –…
Shelley, from ‘Mont Blanc’.
But for this internal illumination [he meant illumination by a mind], the universe would just be a rubbish heap.
Einstein, quoted by Popper, ‘Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind’, in J Pickering and M Skinner, eds., From Sentience to Symbols (University of Toronto, 1990), 113.
To the dull mind, all nature is leaden. To the illuminated mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
Emerson, journal entry, 1831.
This mind is luminous, but it is defiled by taints that come from without. That mind is luminous, but it is cleansed of taints that come from without. (Gradual Sayings., I, 8)
The mind is far-ranging and walks alone, it is not material, and it abides in the cave of the heart. (Dhammapada, verse 37.)
Content I live, this is my stay,
I seek no more than may suffice,
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with what my mind doth bring. [About his self-sufficiency.]
Dyer, Edward, from “My mind to me a kingdom is”.
The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.
Plutarch, On Listening to Lectures.
MIND AND BODY
The mind and the body are not separate but part of the unified process of life. Life, sensitive from the onset, is capable of thinking… Thought, like life, is matter and energy in flux; the body is its “other side”.
Margulis, Lynn, What Is Life? (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1995), 188.
Mental things alone are Real; what is called Corporeal, Nobody Knows of its Dwelling Place: it is in Fallacy, and its Existence an Imposture. Where is the Existence out of Mind or Thought? Where is it but in the Mind of a Fool?
Blake, “Vision of the Last Judgement”, 95.
The real world has been constructed by the human mind, since our ways are led by the artificial categories into which we place essentially undifferentiated things, things weaker than our words for them.
Wolfe, Gene, The Shadow of the Torturer (Arrow/Hutchinson, London, 1981), 12.
MIND see INTERDEPENDENCE, 7/94
The mind is so awake that it makes any gift of the body partial – a panic which will respond to nothing less than a currette [surgical scraping instrument]. At night you can hear her [Justine’s] brain ticking like a cheap alarm-clock.
Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber), 135.
MIND, AND WORDS AND IMAGES IN see WORDS, 2/90
MIND, AS REAL
It is important both for science itself and for philosophy to ask how much of what there is the physical sciences can render intelligible – how much of the world’s intelligibility consists in its subsumability under universal, mathematically formulable laws governing the spatiotemporal order. If there are limits to the reach of science in this form, are there other forms of understanding that can render intelligible what physical science does not explain?… My guiding conviction is that mind is not just an afterthought or an accident or an add-on, but a basic aspect of nature.… The intelligibility of the world is no accident.
Nagel, Thomas, Mind and Cosmos (Oxford, 2012), 16-18, quoted by Midgley, Are You an Illusion?
MIND, AND WORDS AND IMAGES IN see WORDS, 2/90
The only means of strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing – to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts.
Keats, Letter, 24 September 1819.
Good minutes make good days. Good days make good years.
Dunn, Douglas, “At Cruggleton Castle”.
The real miracle is an imaginative effort which leads to an imaginative response.
Frye, Northrop, Fearful Symmetry (Princeton University press, 1969, second edition), 81.
The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.
Shaw, G B, The Doctor’s Dilemma, II.
MISFORTUNE, BECOMING RECONCILED TO
The state of a mind oppressed with a sudden calamity, is like that of the fabulous inhabitants of the new created earth, who, when the first night came upon them, supposed that day would never return. When the clouds of sorrow gather over us, we see nothing beyond them, nor can imagine how they will be dispelled: yet a new day succeeded to the night, and sorrow is never without a dawn of ease. … Our minds, like our bodies, are in continual flux; something is hourly lost, and something acquired. … while the vital powers remain uninjured, nature will find the means of reparation. … while we glide along the stream of time, whatever we leave behind us is always lessening, and that which we approach increasing in magnitude. Do not suffer life to stagnate; it will grow muddy for want of motion: commit yourself again to the current of the world.
Johnson, Samuel, Rasselas (Penguin, 1976, 1st ed. 1759), 115.
… a sea-haze…whelmed the world in grey;
Cut off the length of highway on before,
And left but narrow breadth to left and right
Of withered holt or tilth or pasturage.
On the nigh-naked tree the robin piped
Disconsolate, and through the dripping haze
The dead weight of the dead leaf bore it down:
Thicker the drizzle grew, deeper the gloom; …
Tennyson, from “Enoch Arden”, in Poetical Works, (Macmillan, 1899), 135.
MISTAKES, LEARNING FROM
Strike a coin from every mistake.
Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 79.
When I have begun to rot,… it will be an age of apes (as it now is), not men; they will scoff at their present, and have no patience for men of worth. Every century has disliked its own modernity; every age, from the first onwards, has preferred the previous one to itself.
Map, Walter (12th century), quoted in a letter, Independent Magazine, 28 September 1991, 7.
MOMENT, LIVING IN THE see TIME, 12/87; ECSTASY, 2/02
MOMENT, NOT LIVING IN THE
We are always getting ready to live, but never living.
Emerson, Journals, 13 April 1834.
No dust affects the eyes so much as gold dust.
Blessington, Countess of (1789-1841), in L and M Cowan, The Wit of Women.
MONEY see HAPPINESS, 7/96
MONEY, POWER OF
The strongest castle tower and town,
The golden bullet beats it down.
Shakespeare, “The Passionate Pilgrim”, XIV.
The Gods as Homer presents them are divine perspectives on the human condition. And though seemingly obvious, it is easy to forget, in a monotheistic culture like our own, that the Greek Gods are many, not one. Polytheism offered a multiplicity of perspectives, where monotheism can offer only one. To see things Athena’s way was importantly different from seeing things through the eyes of Artemis or Aphrodite. A man could strut in the image of the Jock-god Apollo, or sway in the rhythms of androgynous Dionysus, or sorrily limp through life like Hephaestos, or thunder through Zeus. These were different styles of experience, different ways of feeling, of seeing, of desiring. All were blessed. If I have learned anything from living with this translation for the past decade, it is an appreciation of the value of these differences.
… How helpful it must have been in their day to have had this network of Gods and Hymns, to know that one was not crazy or alone or odd in one’s fantasies or dreams, as one always must feel in a monotheistic system when the God of that system does not authorise the way one wants to see things.
Boer, Charles, introduction to his translation of The Homeric Hymns (Spring, Dallas, 1970), iv-vi.
MONOTONY, LUXURIOUS see UNEXPECTED, 2/92
MONSTERS see CORRUPTION 8/13
But like love
Over the green night
leave tracks of warm
The keel of the moon
breaks purple clouds
and the quivers fill with dew.
Ah, but like love,
[Translated by Merwin. The archers could be Apollo (sun) and Diana (moon).]
“The Moon Rising”
When the moon rises,
the bells hang silent,
and impenetrable footpaths
When the moon rises,
the sea covers the land,
and the heart feels
like an island in infinity.//
Nobody eats oranges
under the full moon.
One must eat fruit
that is green and cold.//
When the moon rises,
moon of a hundred equal faces,
the silver coinage
sobs in the pocket.
Lorca, translated by Kemp.
And like a dying Lady, lean and pale,
Who totters forth, wrapt in a gauzy veil,
Out of her chamber, led by the insane
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,
The moon arose up in the murky east,
A white and shapeless mass.
Shelley, from ‘The Waning Moon’ (1824).
MORAL TRADITION see ETHICS, HABIT OF, 7/94
MORALITY see AMORALITY, 12/87
MORALITY see VICE 10/12
Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.
Bronte, Charlotte, “Preface”, Jane Eyre.
MORALS AND MANNERS
To have a respect for ourselves guides our morals; to have a deference for others governs our manners.
Sterne, Laurence, in Great Quotations (Readers Digest, 1978), 37.
“On another [sundial]”
How slow the shadow creeps: but when ’tis past
How fast the shadows fall. How fast! How fast!
“On another [sundial]”
Here in a lonely glade, forgotten, I
Mark the tremendous process of the sky.
So does your inmost soul, forgotten, mark
The Dawn, the Noon, the coming of the dark.
MORTIFICATION see PLEASURES, DANGER IN, 6/2000; MOTION see TIME AND CHANGE, 8/99
He [Pombal] was little, fattish and blonde and gave the impression of a young man lying becalmed in his mother.
Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber), 54.
Oh, I see thee, cold and formal, fitted to thy petty part,
With a little horde of maxims preaching down a daughter’s heart.
Tennyson, Locksley Hall.
What we call mourning for our dead is perhaps not so much grief at not being able to call them back as it is grief at not being able to want to do so.
Mann, Thomas, The Magic Mountain (Penguin, 1960, Lowe-Porter trans., 1st ed. 1924), 675.
Go, soul, the bodies guest,
Upon a thankless arrant;
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant.
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.//
Say to the court, it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Say to the church, it shows
What’s good, and doth no good:
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie.//
Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others’ action,
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by their faction:
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.//
Tell men of high condition
That manage the estate,
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate:
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie.//
Tell them that brave it most,
They beg for more by spending,
Who, in their greatest cost,
Seek nothing but commending:
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.//
Tell zeal it wants devotion;
Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it is but motion;
Tell flesh it is but dust;
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.//
Tell age it daily wasteth;
Tell honour how it alters;
Tell beauty how she blasteth;
Tell favour how it falters:
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.//
Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness;
Tell wisdom she entangles
Herself in over-wiseness:
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.//
Tell physic of her boldness;
Tell skill it is prevention;
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell law it is contention:
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.//
Tell fortune of her blindness;
Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay:
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie.//
Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming:
If arts and schools reply,
Give arts and schools the lie.//
Tell faith it’s fled the city;
Tell how the country erreth;
Tell, manhood shakes off pity;
Tell, virtue least preferreth:
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.//
So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing,
Although to give the lie
Deserves no less than stabbing,
Stab at thee he that will,
No stab the soul can kill.
Ralegh, Sir Walter, in The Penguin Book of Unrespectable Verse (1971), 155-7.
The sky is an immortal Tent built by the Sons of Los;
And every Space that a Man views round his dwelling-place
Standing on his own roof or in his garden on a mount
Of twenty-five cubits in height, such space is his Universe;
And on its verge the Sun rises and Sets, the Clouds Bow
To meet the flat Earth and the Sea in such an ordered Space;
The Starry heavens reach no further, but here bend and set
On all sides, and the two Poles turn on their valves of gold;
And if he moves his dwelling-place, his heavens also move
Where’er he goes, and all his neighbourhood bewail his loss.
Such are the Spaces called Earth and such its dimension.
As to that false appearance, which appears to the reasoner
As of a Globe rolling through Voidness, it is a delusion of Ulro.
Orpheus with his lute made trees
And the mountaintops that freeze
Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.//
Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing-care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or, hearing, die.
Shakespeare, King Henry VIII.
[Music is] the reaching out to ultimate realities by means of ordered sound.
Williams, Vaughan, quoted in M Karpeles, English Folk Song (Oxford, 1987), xiii.
All inmost things… are melodious; naturally utter themselves in Song.
Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History (1840), Lecture I.
Who hears music, feels his solitude
Peopled at once.
Browning, Robert , from ‘Sordello’.
…music is the idea itself, unaware of the world of phenomena, existing ideally outside the universe, apprehended not in Space but in Time only, and consequently untouched by the teleological hypothesis.
Beckett, Samuel, Proust (1931).
MUSIC AND COMPASSION
I must never again listen to Beethoven’s Appassionata, because when I do I feel like stroking the heads of children instead of smashing the heads of my enemies.
Unsourced. But Christopher Read (‘Interpreting Lenin in the Post-Leninist World’, New Perspective. Vol. 4. No 1. 9/98) writes: “Gorky recalls [that] Lenin, reflecting on his deep love for Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata, said: //’I can’t often listen to music, it … makes me want to pat the heads of people … But now one must not pat anyone’s head … one has to beat their heads, beat mercilessly, although ideally we’re against any sort of force against people.'”
MUSIC OF THE SPHERES
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims:
Such harmony is in immortal souls:
But while this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, V. 1.
And now… we may end our search for the source of his [the unicorn’s] legend. We end it not because we have plucked out the heart of his mystery, but because there is no farther to go, seeing that we cannot enter the dark brooding heart and mind of early man. The unicorn escapes us at last, as we should wish, for ‘he is not to be taken alive’. Like every other thing or idea that we pursue to the limits of our powers of knowledge he goes forth into mystery.
Sheppard, Odell, The Lore of the Unicorn (Allen and Unwin, 1930), 176-7.
To surround anything, however monstrous or ridiculous, with an air of mystery, is to invest it with a secret charm, and power of attraction, which to the crowd is irresistible.
Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, Chapter 37.
MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE see ONENESS EXPERIENCE, 9/91
No sooner have you grabbed hold of it than myth opens out into a fan of one thousand segments. Here the variant is the origin. Everything that happens, happens this way, or that way, or this other way. And in each of these diverging stories all the others are reflected, all brush by us like folds of the same cloth. If, out of some perversity of tradition, only one version of some mythical event has come down to us, it is like a body without a shadow, and we must do our best to trace out that invisible shadow in our minds. Apollo slays the monster, he is the first slayer of monsters. But what is this monster? It is Python’s skin, camouflaging itself among bushes and rock, and it is the soft skin of Daphne, already turning into laurel and marble. … (pp 147-8)
Plato’s attitude towards the myths is one that the more lucid of the moderns sometimes achieve. The more obtuse, on the other hand, still argue around the notion of belief, a fatal word when it comes to mythology, as if the credence the ancients lent to the myths had anything to do with the superstitious conviction with which philologists of the age of Wilamowitz believed in the lighting of an electric bulb on their desks. No, Socrates himself cleared up this point shortly before his death: we enter the mythical when we enter the realm of risk, and myth is the enchantment we generate in ourselves at such moments. More than a belief, it is a magical bond that tightens around us. (p 278)
For centuries people have spoken of the Greek myths as of something to be rediscovered, re-awoken. The truth is it is the myths that are still out there waiting to wake us and be seen by us, like a tree waiting to greet our newly opened eyes. (p 280)
Myth is the precedent behind every action, its indivisible, ever-present lining. … whichever way her wandering husband went, the encircling sash of myth would wrap around the young Harmony. For every step, the footprint was already there. (p 283)
Calasso, Roberto, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (Vintage, 1994, translated by Tim Parks).
We cannot see the world except through some perspective or imaginative framework- in short, some myth. Indeed, the world we see is the myth we are in. We have a choice of what myth we will look through but we do not have a choice of no myth at all. It is extremely difficult to become aware of the fact that the world is actually our map or picture of the world – difficult to see through our own perspective. But if we do not, we remain blindly in one version of the world. Literalism is a blindness of this kind.
Harpur, Patrick, The Philosophers’ Secret Fire, (Penguin), 70.
… A man’s life of any worth is a continual allegory, and very few eyes can see the Mystery of his life…
Keats, Letter, 18 February 1819.
I have often had the fancy that there is some one myth for every man, which, if we but knew it, would make us understand all he did and thought.
Yeats, quoted Harpur, Patrick, The Philosophers Secret Fire (Penguin, 2002), 70.
So the world happens twice –
once what we see it as;
second it legends itself
deep, the way it is.
Stafford, William, from “Bifocal”, in The Rattle Bag.