R.E.M. see DREAMS, 12/91
RACIAL EQUALITY see EQUALITY, 1/96
One man in misery can disrupt the peace of the city. It is another of the miraculous things about mankind that there is no pain or passion that does not radiate to the ends of the earth. Let a man in a garret but burn with enough intensity and he will set fire to the world.
St.-Exupery, Wind Sand and Stars (Heineman, 1939), 225.
Rage is a mighty wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.
Ingersoll, Robert (adapted), quoted by John Grigg, The Wits Dictionary (Angus and Robertson, Australia, 1984).
RAPTURE see SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY, 8/01
The whole world was decimated by an unknown and terrible plague, which, coming from the interior of Asia, spread over all countries. All perished except a few elect. Parasites of a new character, microscopical beings, fixed their homes in the human body. But these animalculae were breathing creatures, endued with intellect and will. Persons affected became immediately mad. But, strange to say, the stricken were, at the same time, imbued with a strong sense of their own good judgement, never did they believe themselves so strongly endowed with wisdom and intellectual vigour or scientific conclusions and moral perception so correct as now. Whole villages and towns, the whole population, became tainted, and lost their reason. They were incapable of understanding one another, because each believed himself the sole possessor of truth, and looking upon his unenlightened neighbours, beat his breast, threw up his arms, and wept. They could not agree upon any point, knew not what to consider evil, what good, and they fell upon one another in anger and killed, they formed great armies, but, once in motion, they tore each other to pieces.
In the towns the alarm was great, meetings were called, but for what and by whom, none knew. The commonest trade was abandoned, because everybody had his own idea as to the mode of pursuing it, but no two agreed. Agriculture was also abandoned. People gathered together in crowds, agreed upon a common action, swearing never to abandon one another, then immediately rushed to something else, forgot their agreement, and ended in rushing upon and murdering each other. Incendiarism was rife everywhere and famine set in. Everything perished. The pestilence raged more and more. Of the whole world, only a few remained; these were the pure and elect, pre-destined to found a new race, to inaugurate the new life, and purify the earth; but the chosen were not recognised. None knew their voices or heard their words.
Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, from the epilogue (Newnes Home Library Ed., after 1910).
Rational thinking [is] to stand respectfully, hat in hand, before… Creation, exceedingly alert for a new word.
Hughes, Ted, quoted by William Scammell, Independent, 1 November 1998, 3.
The Child’s Toys and the Old Man’s Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two Seasons.
The Questioner who sits so sly
Shall never know how to Reply.
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put on the Light of Knowledge out.
Blake, from “Auguries of Innocence”.
REACH EXCEEDING GRASP see ASPIRATION, 5/92
Attack is the reaction. I never think I have hit hard unless it rebounds.
Johnson, Samuel, in Life of Johnson (Boswell). Vol. v. Chap. vi. 1775.
Tearing the heart out of a book with my fingers, like a fresh loaf.
Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber), 249.
Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider…. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man; and therefore, if a man write little he had need have a great memory; if he confer little he had need have a present wit; and if he read little he had need have great cunning, to seem to know what he doth not.
Bacon, Francis, “Of Studies”.
That everyone can learn to read will ruin in the long run not only writing, but thinking too.
Nietzsche, Zarathustra, “Of Reading and Writing”.
I don’t know how you can understand other people or yourself if you haven’t read a lot of books, I just don’t think you’re equipped to deal with the demands and decisions of life, particularly in your dealings with other people. If I hadn’t read all of Jane Austen and DH Lawrence, Tolstoy and Proust, as well as the more fun stuff, I wouldn’t know how to break bad news, how to sympathise, how to be a friend or a lover, because I wouldn’t have any idea what was going on in anybody else’s mind.
Faulks, Sebastian, quoted Guardian Review, 15/9/12, 12.
REAL see IDEAL, 3/93
REALISATION, SUDDEN AND GRADUAL
There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.
Nin, Anais, The Diary of Anais Nin.
Reality is not asleep; one way or another, it will reveal and throw out what does not belong to it.
Varadakini, Shabda, February 2004, 44.
Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance… till we come to a hard bottom of rocks in place, which we can call reality… Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.
Thoreau, Henry, Walden, quoted Guardian Review, 26/6/04, 6.
Things are what they are; why should we wish to be deceived?
Butler, Bishop, quoted Independent on Sunday ABC, 27/08/06, 28.
REALITY AS ARBITRARY
Reality, notoriously, does not have to make sense; things just happen. The truth we mean when we call it “stranger than fiction” is waste land, full of random clutter, arbitrary. And actually, with some effort, you probably could make it up. It would be pointless, that’s all, just adding to the chaos.
Banks, Iain, Guardian Review, 2/11/02, 29.
REALITY AS DETAILED AND UNIMAGINABLE see IMAGINATION, 2/87
REALITY see UNKNOWN REALITY, INTIMATION OF, 3/90; PHYSICS AS AESTHETIC, 4/99; THOUGHTS, 1/10
REALITY, POSITIVE DESCRIPTIONS OF
Affirmations cut off reality in slices.
Proclus (neoplatonist), quoted Plotinian and Christian Studies, essay XXIV (Varum, London, 1979).
We are all hunting for rational reasons to believe in the absurd. [Balthazar speaking.]
Durrell, Lawrence, Justine (Faber),92.
The last step beyond reason is to recognise that there is an infinite number of things which are beyond reason. It is merely feeble if it does not go so far as to realise that.
Pascal, Blaise, “Sacred Maxims”, in Part III, 238.
REASON see POETRY, AND REASON, 2/85 & 12/85; INTUITION, 11/99
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.//
You have been mine before, –
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at the swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so,
Some veil did fall, – I knew it all of yore.//
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our love restore
In death’s despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more.
Rosetti, Dante Gabriel, “Southern Light”.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more…//
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is its now, the glory and the dream?//
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s Star
Hath had elsewhere its setting, …
[Then ‘trailing clouds of glory…’]
Wordsworth, from “Ode on Intimations of Immortality”.
It is impossible for a soul that has never seen the truth to enter into our human shape. [There follows an elaborate origins story in which human souls have fallen from a condition where they glimpsed divine truth, which their good part still longs to soar to again.]
Plato, Phaedrus, “The allegory of the charioteer (etc.)”, Walter Hamilton translation (Penguin Classics).
If there is a mechanism other than the brain to keep a stream of consciousness more or less “together” and recognizable over a period of time, and past the physical death of the body, then this has yet to be demonstrated.
Solway, Kevin (http://members.optushome.com.au/davidquinn000/Quality%20Posts/Quality03.htm#karma) 2004 or earlier.
REBIRTH see BEULAH, 9/87; DEATH, 3/88
Receiving is above all… the gift of oneself; … the miser is one who bestows not the light of his countenance into return for your largesse. And miserly is the soil which does not clothe itself in beauty when you have strewn your seed upon it.
St.-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands (Hollis & Carter, 1952), 164.
We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us, that they may see their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even a fiercer life because of our quiet.
Yeats, “Earth, Fire and Water” from The Celtic Twilight (1893).
Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess which will itself need reforming.
Coleridge, in Great Quotations (Readers Digest, 1978), 48.
Too soon, too soon comes Death to show
We love more deeply than we know!
The rain, that fell upon the height
Too gently to be called delight,
Within the dark veil reappears
As a wild cataract of tears;
And love in life should strive to see
Sometimes what love in death would be!
Patmore, Coventry, “The Rain That Fell upon the Height”.
Ah, dream too bright to last!
Ah, starry Hope! That didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the Future cries,
‘On! On!’ – but o’er the Past
(Dim Gulf) my spirit hovering lies
Mute, motionless, aghast!
Poe, Edgar Allen, from “To One in Paradise”, in 1954 Palgrave.
Marry and you will regret it. Do not marry, and you will also regret it… Laugh at the stupidities of the world, and you will regret it; weep over them, and you will also regret it. Hang yourself, and you will regret it. Do not hang yourself, and you will also regret it… This, gentlemen, is the quintessence of all the wisdom of life.
Kierkegaard, quoted Guardian Review, August 28, 2004 (from Internet).
REGULARITIES see DISCOVERY, 3/89
The tendency has always been strong to believe that whatever received a name must be an entity or being, having an independent existence of its own. And if no real entity answering to the name could be found, men did not for that reason suppose that none existed, but imagined that it was something peculiarly abstruse and mysterious.
Mill, John Stuart, Quoted in Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, 1996, p 181.
REJOICING IN THINGS AND PEOPLE
The slurred and drawled and crooning sounds,
The blurred and suave and sidling smells,
The webs of dew, the bells of buds,
The sun going down in crimson suds –
This is on me and these are yours.//
The bland and sculped and urgent beasts,
The here[?] and there and nowhere birds,
The tongues of fire, the words of foam,
That curdling stars in the night’s dome –
This is on me and these are yours.//
The face and grace and muscle of man
The balance of his body and mind
Who keeps a trump behind his brain
Till instinct flicks it out again –
This is on me and these are yours.//
The courage of eyes, the craft of hands,
The gay feet, the pulse of hope,
The will that flings a rope – though hard –
To catch the future off its guard –
This is on me and these are yours.//
The luck and pluck and plunge of blood,
The wealth and spilth and sport of breath,
And sleep come down like death above
The fever and the peace of love –
This is on me and these are yours.
MacNeice, Louis, “A Toast”, in 1954 Palgrave.
I see humanity as a family that has hardly met. I see the meeting of people, bodies, thoughts, emotions or actions as the start of most change. Each link created by a meeting is like a filament, which, if they were all visible, would make the world look as though it is covered with gossamer. Every individual is connected to others, loosely or closely, by a unique combination of filaments, which stretch across the frontiers of space and time.
… Today, … the earth is in the early stages of being criss-crossed afresh by invisible threads uniting individuals who differ by all conventional criteria, but who are finding that they have aspirations in common. When nations were formed, all the threads were designed to meet at a central point; now there is no centre any more; people are free to meet whomever they wish.
… Mutual discovery has often led people to care for each other as much as for themselves. Usefulness to a fellow human has from time to time being recognised as a more deeply satisfying pleasure than the pursuit of self-interest, though it is an increasingly delicate one, hampered by ever more complicated sensitivities. Some relationships have been established which go beyond the belief that humans are basically animals, or machines, or lifelong invalids in need of permanent medical attention.
Zeldin, Theodore, An Intimate History of Humanity (Minerva, 1995), 465-7.
In personal life, regardless of any covenant, one party may initiate a fundamental change in the terms of relating without renegotiating them, and further, refusing even to acknowledge the change … There is no democracy in any love relation: only mercy. [Rose was a British (?) philosopher, d c2010.]
Rose, Gillian, Love’s Work (NYRB Classics, 2011), quoted Guardian Review, 2/7/11, 19.
RELATIVE TRUTH see TRUTH, PRAGMATIC, 7/2000
One man’s ways may be as good as another’s, but we all like our own best.
Austen, Jane, Persuasion (Oxford World Classics edn.), 104.
RELATIVISM see ART AND THE RELATIVE, 7/93
I have not loved the world, nor the world me,
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bowed
To its idolatries a patient knee,
Nor coined my cheek to smiles, – nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo; in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such – I stood
Among them, but not of them – in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.//
I have not loved the world, nor the world me, –
But let us part fair foes; I do believe,
Though I have found them not, that there may be
Words which are things, – hopes which will not deceive,
And virtues which are merciful, nor weave
Snares for the failing: I would also deem
Over others griefs that some sincerely grieve;
That two, or one, are almost what they seem, –
That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream.
Byron, Childe Harold, CX III-IV.
It is reason and wisdom which take away cares, not places affording wide views over the sea.
Horace, Epistles, quoted in Alec Guinness, A Commonplace Book (Hamish Hamilton, 2001), 138.
[See the detailed account given by Edith Sitwell of the discovery and plundering (for hair, teeth, bones etc.) of Milton’s grave in St. Giles, Cripplegate.]
Sitwell, Edith, English Eccentrics (Penguin, 1971, first edition 1933), 265ff.
Blake’s poem [The Shepherd]… is informed not so much by Christian thinking as by the underlying reality of love on which much of that thinking is established. … Blake is… attempting to get down to the roots of religion in the human soul, rather than following the branches and twigs of ramifying doctrines. This idea is one that Experience finds blasphemous, its religions are rooted in a Divinity who controls man from without, and to suggest that religion is rooted in the soul is to suggest that God is an arbitrary notion. Experience is quite right in finding the idea repellent, for if the soul is isolated, knows no contact or love, any God it creates must be a manufactured article, abstract and lifeless. Such a soul requires a tyrant. The innocent soul, however ‘creates’ God by being in touch, by manifesting the virtues of delight, which are virtues of participation. As it does not impose itself, its does not produce a subjective notion, an outcome of the ‘imagination’ (in Hughes’ sense of the word [fancy]). Religious ideas take new root in the innocent soul because it can afford them nourishment.
Gillham, D G, Blake’s Contrary States (Cambridge U P, 1966), 227.
Having seen the absurdity of the religion in which he was brought up, and having gained freedom from it, with great effort, at first with fear but later with rapture, he did not tire of viciously and venomously ridiculing priests and religious dogmas, as if wishing to revenge himself for the deception that had been practised on him. [Kondratieff, a Proletarian Revolutionist.]
Tolstoy, Resurrection (F R Henderson, 1900. Louise Maude translation) 501.
Religion is simply art bastardised out of all recognition. [Pursewarden speaking.]
Durrell, Lawrence, Clea (Faber), 119.
Persons who throughout the whole twelve months are worldly, think it necessary to be godly at times of straights: all moral and religious matters they regard as physic, which is to be taken with aversion, when they are unwell: in a clergyman, a moralist, they see nothing but a doctor, whom they cannot soon enough get rid of. Now, I confess, I look upon religion as a kind of a diet, which can only be so when I make a constant practice of it, when throughout the whole twelve months I never lose it out of sight.
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, Carlyle’s translation (Collier, New York, 1962), 416-7.
Religion is a dream of the human mind which projects onto an illusory God the highest human ideals and aspirations.
Feuerbach, quoted by Ludovic Kennedy, in The Daily Mail (The Week, 23rd January 1999).
[Religion is] a system of general truths which have the effect of transforming character when they are sincerely held and vividly apprehended. (A N Whitehead )
Religion is nothing if it is not obedience to awareness. (C G Jung)
I understand by religion any system of thought and action shared by a group which gives the individual a frame of orientation and an object of devotion. (Erich Fromm)
Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness. (A N Whitehead)
[Religion] shall mean for us, the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider divine. (William James)
[Religion is] a body of scruples which impede the free exercise of our faculties. (Salomon Reinach)
Religion consists in the perception of the infinite under such manifestations as are able to influence the moral character of man. (Max Mueller)
[Religion is] the search for lost intimacy. (Georges Bataille)
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feelings of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of unspiritual conditions. It is the opium of the people. (Karl Marx)
Religion is organised spirituality. (Huston Smith)
Religion is a commitment to what one believes to be of such character that it will transform man as he cannot transform himself, to save him from his self-destructive propensities and lead him to the best that human life can attain, provided that required conditions are met. (H N Wieman)
[Religion] is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern. (Paul Tillich)
Religion is the dimension of depth in all life experiences. (Paul Tillich)
[Many more definitions on the web site.]
Center for Religious Experience & Study web-site: http://www.cres.org/ref20.htm
Every time you understand something, religion becomes less likely.
Watson, James, Quoted Telegraph Connected, 20/03/03
RELIGION AND LIFE
Religion [has] nothing to do with reason and morality.
‘For,’ he [the odious Jesuit, Naphta] added, ‘it has nothing to do with life. Life is based on conditions and built up on foundations which are partly the result of experience, and partly belong to the domain of ethics. We call the first kind time, space and causality; the second, morality and reason. But one and all of these are not only foreign to, utterly a matter of indifference to the nature of religion; they are even hostile to it. For they are precisely what make up life – the so-called normal life, which is to say, arch-philistinism, ultrabourgeoisdom, the absolute antithesis of which … is the life of religion.’
Mann, Thomas, The Magic Mountain (Penguin, 1960, 1st ed. 1924, Lowe-Porter translation), 463.
RELIGION CONFIRMED BY MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE see ONENESS EXPERIENCE, 9/91
RELIGION see CONVERSION, RELIGIOUS, 1979; FEAR and LOVE, 1981; TROUBLEMAKING, 10/86; MATERIALISM, 5/87; CONSOLATION, 1/12
RELIGION, ADVERSE EFFECTS
As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal, that the introduction, or at least the abuse, of Christianity had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity, the active virtues of society were discouraged, and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister… [more!]… The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age… [But Christianity had beneficial effects on Northern Barbarians.]
Gibbon, Edward, ‘General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West’, in Decline and Fall (1788).
RENOUNCING THE WORLD
I very soon discovered that the straight direction of my soul was marred by foolish dissipations, and employment with unworthy things. The how and the why were clear enough to me. Yet by what means could I help myself, or extricate my mind from the calls of the world where everything was either cold indifference or hot insanity? Gladly would I have left things standing as they were, and lived from day to day, floating down with the stream, like other people whom I saw quite happy; but I durst not: my inmost feelings contradicted me too often. Yet if I determined to renounce society, and alter my relations to others, it was not in my power. I was hemmed in as by a ring drawn around me; certain connections I could not dissolve; and in the matter which lay nearest to my heart [? Her attachment to the worldly and self-important Narciss], fatalities accumulated and oppressed me more and more. …//
I knew, from experiences which had reached me unsought, that there are lofty emotions, which afford us a contentment such as it is vain to seek in the amusements of the world; and that, in these higher joys, there is also kept a secret treasure for strengthening the spirit in misfortune.
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister, Carlyle’s translation (Collier, New York, 1962), 349-50.
Freud, in his old age, insisting that rhythmic repetition was the expression of our longing, even beyond pleasure, for sameness, and sameness was the emissary of death.
Kaplan, Robert, The Nothing That Is (Penguin, 1999), 85.
REPETITION see NEWNESS, NO, 3/89
I saw that one inquiry only gave occasion to another, that book referred to book, that to search was not always to find, and to find was not always to be informed; and that thus to pursue perfection, was, like the first inhabitants of Arcadia, to chace the sun, which, when they had reached the hill where he seemed to rest, was still beheld at the same distance from them.
Johnson, Samuel, preface to his Dictionary (1755).
The cloud shadows of midnight possess their own repose,
For the weary winds are silent, or the moon is in the deep;
Some respite to its turbulence unresting ocean knows;
Whatever moves, or toils, or grieves, hath its appointed sleep.
Shelley, “Stanzas”, April 1814.
RESPITE see BEULAH, 9/87
… all we have done is invent, for those powers that act upon us, longer, more numerous, more awkward names, which are less effective, less closely aligned to the grain of our experience, whether that be pleasure or terror. The moderns are proud above all of their responsibility, but in being so they presume to respond with a voice that they are not even sure is theirs. The Homeric heroes knew nothing of that cumbersome word responsibility, nor would they have believed in it if they had. For them, it was as if every crime were committed in a state of mental infirmity. But such infirmity meant that a god was present and at work. …
Thus the people obsessed with the idea of hubris were also the people who dismissed with the utmost scepticism an agent’s claim actually to do anything. When we know for sure the person is the agent of some action, then that action is mediocre; as soon as there is a hint of greatness, of whatever kind, be it shameful or virtuous, it is no longer that person acting. The agent sags and flops, like a medium when his voices desert him. For the Homeric heroes there was no guilty party, only guilt, immense guilt. … with an intuition the moderns jettisoned and have never recovered, the heroes did not distinguish between the evil of the mind and the evil of the deed, murder and death. Guilt for them is like a boulder blocking the road; it is palpable, it looms. Perhaps the guilty party is as much a sufferer as the victim. … we can never establish just how far he really is guilty, because the guilty party is part and parcel of the guilt and obeys its mechanics. Until eventually he is crushed by it perhaps, perhaps abandoned, perhaps freed, while the guilt rolls on to threaten others, to create new stories, new victims.
Calasso, Roberto, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (Vintage, 1994, translated by Tim Parks), 94-5.
To be a man is to be responsible: to be ashamed of miseries you did not cause; to be proud of your comrades’ victories; to be aware, when setting one stone, that you are building a world.
St Exupery, Wind Sand and Stars, (Livre de Poche n°68), 59.
RESPONSIBILITY see KARMA, 10/95; 11/96
Ye hasten to the grave!
What seek ye there,
Ye restless thoughts and busy purposes
Of the idle brain, which the world’s livery wear?
O thou quick heart, which pantest to possess
At that pale Expectation feigneth fair!
Thou vainly curious mind which wouldest guess
Whence thou didst come and whither thou must go,
And all that never yet was known wouldst know –
Oh whither hasten ye that thus ye press,
With such swift feet life’s green and pleasant path
Seeking, alike from happiness and woe,
A refuge in the cavern of gray death?
O heart, and mind, and thoughts! What thing do you
Hope to inherit in the grave below?
Shelley, Sonnet (1820).
[Worth it, but you can’t leave your mind behind!]
Outside of the mind there are no mountains
Wherein to build your solitary Hermitage. (Munan)
He escaped from the world into the mountains, but there too
Sorrows still come, and now where is he to go? [And]
O plover birds, let not your mind be disturbed,
For whatever beach you visit, there too the waves and wind will rise. (Old Zen verses.)
Leggett, Trevor, trans., A First Zen Reader (Tuttle, 1960), 190. In
Men seek out retreats for themselves, cottages in the country, lonely seashores and mountains. Thou too art disposed to hanker greatly after such things: and yet all this is the very commonest stupidity; for it is in thy power, whenever thou wilt, to retire into thyself: and nowhere is there any place whereto a man may retire quieter and more free from politics that his own soul; above all if he had within him thoughts such as he need only regard attentively to be at perfect ease: and that ease is nothing else than a well-ordered mind. Constantly, then, use this retreat, and renew thyself therein; and be thy principles brief and elementary, which, as soon as ever thou recur to them, will suffice to wash thy soul entirely clean, and send thee back without vexation to whatsoever awaiteth thee.
Aurelius, Marcus, quoted in Robert Bridges, Spirit of Man.
Give me, O indulgent fate!
Give me yet before I die,
A sweet, but absolute retreat,
’Mongst paths so lost, and trees so high,
That the world may ne’er invade
Through such windings and such shade
My unshaken liberty….//
Be no tidings thither brought
But silent as a midnight thought
Where the world may ne’er invade
By those windings and that shade….
[She wants no visitors, homely fare, and one loving partner…]
… Rage, and jealousy, and hate,
Transports of this sullen state
(When by Satan’s wiles betrayed)
Fly those windings and that shade!…//
Let me still in my retreat
From all roving thoughts be freed,
Or aims that may contention breed:
Nor be my endeavours led
By goods that perish with the dead!…//
[There she can contemplate] paradise… and things unutterable be taught.…
Give me then in that retreat,
Give me, O indulgent fate!
For all pleasures left behind
Contemplations of the mind….
Anne, Countess of Winchelsea (1661-1720).
REVELATION see INTUITION, 11/99
REVERIE see IMAGINATION, 10/93
Don’t we both know how it ends?
How the greenest leaf turns serest
Bluest outbreak – blankest heaven,
Lovers – friends?
Browning, “St. Martin’s Summer”.
REVISING see WRITING, 9/97
That man will be revolutionary who can revolutionise himself.
Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 45.
RHETORIC see QUARREL, 4/93; ELOQUENCE AND RHETORIC, 2/2000
[Rhyme is] a goddess of secret and ancient coincidences.
Rilke, quoted in Stephen Mitchell, ed., Selected Poetry (Picador/Pan, 1987), 297.
If Labour’s new statement of objectives is to include ‘equality’, it must say precisely what the word means and where it applies. Last week’s draft uses ‘equality’ as a loose and relative term, and thereby drains a noble concept of its proper meaning.
The same applies to ‘rights’. According to last week’s draft, ‘everyone has the right to be fully and meaningfully employed or occupied’. In this context, rights in one neck of the economic woods implies a duty in another. One obvious analogy is pensions: all retired people have the right to a basic state pension: the government has a duty to pay it.
Who, though, is to have the duty to supply work? Where are people who want jobs to go to demand their ‘rights’? Theoretically, one answer is for the government to be the employer of last resort, with a statutory duty to provide ‘full and meaningfully employment’ to anyone who wants it. If that is what the authors of last week’s draft want, they should say so.
If they want anything else, … they should not talk about ‘rights’.
Kellner, Peter, Sunday Times, 13 November 1994, 2.4.
We must get back into relation, vivid and nourishing relation to the cosmos and the universe. The way is through daily ritual, and the re-awakening. We must once more practice the ritual of dawn and noon and sunset, the ritual of the kindling fire and pouring water, the ritual of the first breath, and the last. This is an affair of the individual and the household, a ritual of day. The ritual of the moon in her phases, of the morning star and the evening star is for men and women separate. Then the ritual of the seasons, with the Drama and the Passion of the soul embodied in procession and dance, this is for the community, an act of men and women, a whole community, in togetherness. And the ritual of the great events in the year of stars is for nations and whole peoples. To these rituals we must return: or we must evolve them to suit our needs. For the truth is, we are perishing for lack of fulfilment of our greater needs, we are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal, sources which flow eternally in the universe. Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe.
Lawrence, D H, A Propos of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”.
O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
My great exemplar as it is my theme!
Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
Strong without rage; without o’erflowing, full. [On the Thames.]
Denham, Joseph, quoted by Eric Partridge, Usage and Abusage, 183.
The wandering outlaw of his own dark mind.
Byron, Childe Harold, 3, 20
No one who has not been here can have any conception of what an education Rome is. One is, so to speak, reborn and one’s former ideas seem like a child’s swaddling clothes. Here the most ordinary person becomes somebody, for his mind is enormously enlarged even if his character remains unchanged.
Goethe, Italian Journey, W H Auden and E Mayer translation (Penguin), 13 December.
RUMINATION see FOOD, 10/87
Before the starry threshold of Jove’s court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial Spirits live insphear’d
In Regions mild of calm and serene Ayr,
Above the Smoak and stirr of this dim spot
Which men called Earth, and with slow-thoughted care
Confin’d, and pester’d in this pin-fold here,
Strive to keep up a frail and Feaverish being
Unmindful of the crown that Vertue gives,
After this mortal change, to her true Servants
Amongst the enthron’d gods on Sainted seats.
Yet som there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that Golden Key
That opes the Palace of Eternity:
To such my errand is, and but for such,
I would not soil these pure Ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours of this Sin-worn mould…
And lovely apparitions, dim at first,
Then radiant – as the mind arising bright
From the embrace of Beauty (whence the forms
Of which these are the phantoms) casts on them
The gathered rays which are reality –
Shall visit us, the progeny immortal
Of Painting, Sculpture, and rapt Poesy
And arts, though un-imagined, yet to be. [Etc.; re-punctuated.]
Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, III, 3.