May 22, 2007 - 0 Comments

"O farmers, happy beyond measure, could they but know their blessings! For them, far from the clash of arms, most righteous Earth, unbidden, pours forth from her soil an easy sustenance. If no stately mansion with proud portals disgorges from its halls at dawn a flood of those who have come to greet its lord, if they never gaze at doors inlaid with lovely tortoiseshell or at draperies tricked with gold or at bronzes of Ephyra, if their wool’s whiteness is not stained with Assyrian dyes or the service of their clear oil is not spoiled with cassia: yet they have sleep free from anxiety, a life that is innocent of guile and rich with untold treasures. The peace of broad domains, caverns, and natural lakes, and cool vales, the lowing of oxen, and soft slumbers beneath the trees – all are theirs. They have woodland glades and the haunts of game; a youth hardened to toil and inured to scanty fare; worship of gods and reverence for age; among them, as she departed from the earth, Justice left the last imprint of her feet."

- Publius Vergilius Maro (trans. Fairclough), Georgics, Book II, 29BC

May 11, 2007 - 0 Comments

"The English were well known for their disposition to provide help in emergencies. This disposition went to the heart of their conception of society, as a duty-bound relation between strangers. Their charitable behaviour was a way of emphasizing that strangers are just as important as friends -- because all of us, in the end, are nobodies. By devoting yourself to the distressed stranger you make it clear that you too are a stranger in this world. You reaffirm the distance between yourself and others, by showing that the motive that binds you to society is one of impartial justice and objective duty. The charitable relief of strangers was simply another aspect of English reserve."

- Roger Scruton, England, an Elegy, 2006.

May 10, 2007 - 0 Comments

"'Good lord, what do I care? As I told you: I just want to drag on until I'm thirty, and then--smash the cup on the floor!'
'And the sticky little leaves, and the precious graves, and the blue sky, and the woman you love! How will you live, what will you love them with?' Alyosha exclaimed ruefully."

"You see, I for one know that he can't stand me, or anybody else, including you, though you imagine he's 'taken to respecting you.' Still less Alyoshka, he despises Alyoshka. Yet he doesn't steal, that's the thing, he's not a gossip, he keeps his mouth shut, he won't wash our dirty linen in public, he makes great cabbage pies, and furthermore to hell with him, really, is he worth talking about?"
Doestoevsky, Karamazov, 1880.

May 9, 2007 - 0 Comments

"'No matter how much I scream at them to make my toast as crispy as possible, I have never once gotten it the way I want it. I can't imagine why. What with Japanese industriousness and high-tech culture and the market principles that the Denny's chain is always pursuing, it shouldn't be that hard to get crispy toast, don't you think? So, why can't they do it? Of what value is a civilization that can't toast a piece of bread as ordered?'"
- Murakami, After Dark, 2005.

May 3, 2007 - 0 Comments

"The knight of faith knows, on the other hand, that it is glorious to belong to the universal. He knows that it is beautiful and salutary to be the individual who translates himself into the universal, who edits as it were a pure and elegant edition of himself, as free from errors as possible and which everyone can read. He knows that it is refreshing to become intelligible to oneself in the universal so that he understands it and so that every individual who understands him understands through him in turn the universal, and both rejoice in the security of the universal. He knows that it is beautiful to be born as the individual who has the universal as his home, his friendly abiding-place, which at once welcomes him with open arms when he would tarry in it. But he knows also that higher than this there winds a solitary path, narrow and steep; he knows that it is terrible to be born outside the universal, to walk without meeting a single traveler. He knows very well where he is and how he is related to men. Humanly speaking, he is crazy and cannot make himself intelligible to anyone. And yet it is the mildest expression, to say that he is crazy. If he is not supposed to be that, then he is a hypocrite, and the higher he climbs on this path, the more dreadful a hypocrite he is."

- Kierkegaard, Fear & Trembling, 1843.