"People no longer look at each other, but there are institutes for that. They no longer touch each other, but there is contactotherapy. They no longer walk, but they go jogging..."
"...the realistic attitude, inspired by positivism, from Saint Thomas Aquinas to Anatole France, clearly seems to me to be hostile to any intellectual or moral advancement. I loathe it, for it is made up of mediocrity, hate, and dull conceit. It is this attitude which today gives birth to these ridiculous books, these insulting plays. It constantly feeds on and derives strength from the newspapers and stultifies both science and art by assiduously flattering the lowest of tastes; clarity bordering on stupidity, a dog’s life. The activity of the best minds feels the effects of it; the law of the lowest common denominator finally prevails upon them as it does upon the others."
"Things are produced around us, but no one knows the whence. They issue forth, but no one sees the portal. Men one and all value that part of knowledge which is known. They do not know how to avail themselves of the unknown in order to reach knowledge. Is not this misguided?"
"Our business in life is less making something of ourselves than finding something worth doing and losing ourselves in it."
"All things are of one pattern made; bird, beast, and flower, song, picture, form, space, thought and character deceive us, seeming to be many things and are but one."
"Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand."
"All natural goods perish...fame is a breath; love is a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish. Can things whose end is always dust and disappointment be the real goods which our souls require?"
We are the pieces of the game that plays the sky;
We amuse ourselves with ourselves on the chessboard of Being;
And then we are returned, one by one, to the box of Nothingness.
"You should never look for genuine Christian convictions in a man who makes a parade of his piety."
"What kind of men can afford to make the streets of their towns and cities hideous with neon at night, and their roadways hideous with signs by day, wasting beauty; who leave the carcasses of cars to rot in heaps; who spill their trash into ravines and make smoking mountains of refuse for the town's rats? What manner of men choke off the life in rivers, streams and lakes with the waste of their produce, making poison of water?...Slowly the wasters and despoilers are impoverishing our land, our nature, and our beauty, so that there will not be one beach, one hill, one lane, and one meadow, one forest free from the debris of man and the stigma of his improvidence."
"All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the massage. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments."
"Without intensive ties which have genuine meaning, modern man maintains an essential anonymity in society...Associations often are on a contractual basis and the person is treated as an object or thing or commodity. The individual fulfills his role in order to attain a higher reward, not because there is intrinsic value in being one's self, but because there is an economic value toward which one is directed...In modern life, much social interaction is between surface figures or ghosts rather than real persons."
"Western culture no longer represents man: it is mainly outside him, and in no small measure hostile to his whole self: he cannot take it in. He is like a patient condemned in the interests of X-ray photography to live upon a diet of barium sulphate...In the end, as Samuel Butler satirically prophesied, man may become just a machine's contrivance for reproducing another machine."
"Vanity is so anchored in the heart of man that a soldier, a soldier's servant, a cook, a porter brags, and wishes to have his admirers. Even philosophers wish for them. Those who write against it want to have the glory of having written well; and those who read it desire the glory of having read it. I who write this have perhaps this desire, and perhaps those who will read it..."
"Over the last three decades a variety of social, economic, and technological changes have rendered obsolete a significant stock of America’s social capital. Television, two-career families, suburban sprawl, generational changes in values -- these and other changes in American society have meant that fewer and fewer of us find that the League of Women Voters, or the United Way, or the Shriners, or the monthly bridge club, or even a Sunday picnic with friends fits the way we have come to live. Our growing social-capital deficit threatens educational performance, safe neighborhoods, equitable tax collection, democratic responsiveness, everyday honesty, and even our health and happiness."
"To buy books would be a good thing if we could also buy the time to read them; but the purchase of books is often mistaken for the assimilation and mastering of their contents. To expect that a man should have retained all that he had ever read is like expecting him to carry about in his body all that he had ever eaten."
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
"However desperate the situation and circumstances, do not despair. When there is everything to fear, be unafraid. When surrounded by dangers, fear none of them. When without resources, depend on resourcefulness. When surprised, take the enemy itself by surprise."
"I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most melancholy propensities; for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one's very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?"
"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
of what is found there."
"Freud's idea: In madness the lock is not destroyed, only altered; the old key can no longer unlock it, but it could be opened by a differently constructed key."