Within two weeks even the idea of a city never entered his mind. It was as if he had walked under the millimetre of haze just above the inked fibres of a map, that pure zone between land and chart between distances and legend between nature and storyteller. Sanford called it geomorphology. The place they had chosen to come to, to be their best selves, to be unconscious of ancestry. Here, apart from the the sun compass and the odometer mileage and the book, he was alone, his own invention. He knew during these times how the mirage worked, the fata morgana, for he was within it.
– The English Patient, pg246
The desert could not be claimed or owned–it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names long before Canterbury existed, long before battles and treaties quilted Europe and the East. Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape. Fire and sand. We left the harbours of oasis. The places water came to and touched… Ain, Bir, Wadi, Foggara, Khottara, Shaduf. I didn’t want my name against such beautiful names. Erase the family name! Erase nations! I was taught such things by the desert.
– The English Patient, p138
Certainly we talk to ourselves; there is no thinking being who has not experienced that. One could even say that the world is never a more magnificent mystery than when, within a man, it travels from his thoughts to his conscience and returns… we exclaim within ourselves, without breaking the external silence.
-Victor Hugo, Les Miserables.
“I myself own a flower,” he continued his conversation with the businessman, which I water every day. I own three volcanos which I clean out every week (for I also clean out the one that is extinct; one never knows). It is of some use to my volcanos, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars…”
– Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince
Hidden in this passing conversation is a philosophy of ownership that I believe could battle the depths of all that silliness that just doesn’t make sense in man’s (especially the Western Man’s) need to own. De Saint Exupéry is suggesting that man’s role in being and his responsibility in his perceived ownership is an action of pouring out. It is not an action of pulling in or becoming an effectual vacuum. The great responsibility man has been given is that of his active service to the world he is a part of. The world does not exist to service man, man exists to service it.
If you haven’t read de Saint Exupéry, please do.
And a poet said, “Speak to us of Beauty.”
The tired and the weary say, “beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.”
But the restless say, “We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.”
All these things have you said of beauty.
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.
[B]eauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.
– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, Beauty (abridged)
I found cheerfulness to be like life itself — not to be created by any argument. Afterwards I learned, that the best way to manage some kinds of painfill thoughts, is to dare them to do their worst; to let them lie and gnaw at your heart till they are tired; and you find you still have a residue of life they cannot kill.
– George MacDonald, Phantastes, VIII
It has been said that, in commenting about what impressed him with America the most, Gandhi said, “The size of their trash cans.”
( subversivechurch )
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.
– H. P. Lovecraft
Notice this: that love is not really one of man’s powers. Man cannot achieve love, generate love, wield love, as he does his powers of destruction and creation. When I love someone, it is not something that I have achieved, but something that is happening through me, something that is happening to me as well as to him. To use the old soap-opera cliché seriously, it is something bigger than both of us, infinitely bigger, because wherever love enters this world, God enters.
– Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat