To rebel – that shows nobility in the slave. Let your nobility show itself in obeying! Let even your commanding be an obeying!
Nietzsche, Zarathustra, “Of War and Warriors”.
What is articulated strengthens itself, and what is not articulated tends towards non-being.
Villoj(?), quoted by Seamus Heaney, Radio 3 talk, January 1999.
For example, halving the length of a string under a given tension raises its pitch by an octave. These facts do not arise from the human will, and there is no altering them. I believe the example of the musician sheds light on the basic character of human agency, namely that it arises only within concrete limits that are not of our making.// These limits need not be physical; the important thing is rather that they are external to the self.
Crawford, Matthew, The Case for Working with Your Hands (Penguin, 2009), 64.
OBJECTIVITY see SUBJECTIVITY, 8/14
OBLIGATIONS see INVOLVEMENT, 3/88
OBSCURITY see BOEHME, 10/2000
I also saw that lover and loved, observer and observed, throw down a field about each other. … They then infer the properties of their love, judging it from this rather narrow field with its huge margins of unknown (‘the refraction’), and proceed to refer it to a generalised conception of something constant in its qualities and universal in its operation. How valuable a lesson this [Justine admitting deception] was, both to art and to life!
Durrell, Lawrence, Clea (Faber), 55.
Science and art have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information.
Tufte, Edward, quoted Scientific American, 9/06, 91.
OBSERVATION see EXPERIENCE, 9/89
A list of some observations. In a corner, it’s warm.
A glance leaves an imprint on anything it’s dwelt on.
Water is glass’s most public form.
Man is more frightening than its skeleton.
A nowhere winter evening with wine. A black
porch resists an osier’s stiff assaults.
Fixed on an elbow, the body bulks
like a glacier’s debris, a moraine of sorts.
A millennium hence, they’ll no doubt expose
a fossil bivalve propped behind this gauze
cloth, with the print of lips under the print of fringe,
mumbling ‘Good night’ to a window hinge.
Brodsky, Joseph, translated by the author (?).
Will she call me ‘Sir’! Me who doat upon her with the demdest ardour! She, who coils her fascinations round me like a pure and angelic rattlesnake! [Mantalini speaking.]
Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, chapter 34.
OBSTACLES TO LIVING see LIVING, POSTPONING, 2/01
[At 42, Michelangelo says of himself:] I am old. [He died at almost 90!]
Michelangelo, letter, 2 May 1517, in I Michelangelo, Sculptor, T and J Stone, editors (Fontana, 1965).
OLD MAN’S INSPIRATION
… Here at life’s end
Neither loose imagination,
Nor the mill of the mind
Consuming its rag and bone,
Can make the truth known.//
Grant me an old man’s frenzy,
Myself I must remake
Till I am Timon and Lear
Or that William Blake
Who beat upon the wall
Till truth obeyed his call;//
A mind Michael Angelo knew
That can pierce the clouds,
Or inspired by frenzy
Shake the dead in their shrouds;
Forgotten else by mankind
An old man’s eagle mind.
Yeats, from “An Age of Grass”, in 1954 Palgrave.
The fact is that the mystical feeling of enlargement, union, and emancipation has no specific intellectual content whatever of its own. It is capable of forming matrimonial alliances with material furnished by the most diverse philosophies and theologies, provided only they can find a place in their framework for its peculiar emotional mood. We have no right, therefore, to invoke its prestige as distinctly in favour of any special belief, such as that in absolute idealism, or in the absolute monistic identity, or in the absolute goodness of the world.
James, William, Varieties of Religious Experience (Longmans, 1935), 425-6.
ONENESS WITH ETERNITY
Tolstoy, War and Peace, quoted Bridges, Spirit of Man, No 52.
The poetry of art is in beholding the single tower; the poetry of nature is in seeing a single tree; the poetry of love in following the single woman; the poetry of religion in worshipping the single star. And so, in the same pensive lucidity I find the poetry of all human anatomy in standing on a single leg. To express complete and perfect leggishness, the leg must stand in sublime isolation like the tower in the wilderness.
Chesterton, G K, from his essay on the advantages of having one leg (quoted in a letter to the Sunday Telegraph, 16 June 85).
A man and a woman
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Stevens, Wallace, from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, IV”, in The Rattle Bag.
[An analytical type, peeling the onion skin by skin until nothing is left:] there is only skin, there is no real scallion at all. [If he had planted it, it would have become something.]
Hatoso (?), anecdote in his essays. A First Zen Reader (Leggett (trans.), Tuttle, Rutland Univ., 1960), 186.
Keeping an eye to the open…
White, Kenneth, line from poem, quoted by Surata.
Prophet and poet… have penetrated both of them into the sacred mystery of the Universe; what Goethe calls ‘the open secret’, — open to all, seen by almost none! That divine mystery, which lies everywhere in all Beings…
Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History (1840), Lecture I.
He had always wanted someone to whom he could speak freely, but it must be someone who could not fully understand! [Pursewarden is speaking of Melissa (?).]
Durrell, Lawrence, Mountolive (Faber), 175.
OPINION, SHARED see THOUGHT, COMMUNITY OF, 10/93
As hollow vessels produce a far more musical sound in falling than those which are substantial, so it will oftentimes be found that sentiments which have nothing in them make the loudest ringing in the world, and are the most relished.
Dickens, Charles, Barnaby Rudge, chapter 27.
OPPORTUNITY see SECURITY, 8/99
OPPOSITES see MEN AND WOMEN, 10/05
Opposition may become sweet to a man, when he has christened it persecution.
Eliot, George, Scenes from Clerical Life, ‘Janet’s Repentance’, ch 8.
I feel as if heaven lay close upon the earth and I between them both, breathing through the eye of a needle. [Amr, conqueror and destroyer of Alexandria, as he was dying in 664.]
Amr Ibn Al-As, quoted by Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber), 88.
OPPRESSIONS see DRUNK, 4/97
OPTIMISM AND PESSIMISM see PERSPECTIVE, 4/99
This [seeing pattern of a family of myths] has given me that serene joy which comes to the intelligence when it meets with coherence and order and thinks it may presume it is in the presence of a law.
Lilar, Susanne, , Aspects of Love (J Griffin, translator, Panther, 1967), 15.
All human things… do and must work towards Order…. Disorder is dissolution, death. No chaos but it seeks a centre to revolve around. [I.e. a great man.]
Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History (1840), Lecture VI.
To me it [A Vision] means a last defence against the chaos of the world.
Yeats, letter to Dulac, 1937. Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 988.
Somewhere in the heart of experience there is an order and a coherence which we might surprise if we were attentive enough, loving enough, or patient enough. Will there be time? (p 221)
The dead do not care. It is the living who might be spared if we could quarry the message which lies buried in the heart of all human experience. (p 238 – 9.)
Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber).
ORDERING EXPERIENCE see ART, AS ORDERING EXPERIENCE, 5/87
ORDINARY LIFE, TRAGEDY OF
Cummings, e e, “anyone lived in a pretty how town”, in The Rattle Bag.
ORIGINAL SIN AND AUGUSTINE
[See the review (filed in the book on the History of God by Karen Armstrong) of St. Augustine by]
Wills, Gary, London Review of Books, 30 September 1999, 42-4.
If someone is merely ahead of his time, it will catch him up one day.
Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 11.
It [Browning’s poetry] is original, not in the paltry sense of being new, but in the deeper sense of being old; it is original in the sense that it deals with origins.
Chesterton, GK, quoted in Alec Guinness, A Commonplace Book (Hamish Hamilton, 2001), 130.