"The miser of our time is the man who considers nothing too expensive for himself, and everything for others. He thinks in equivalents, subjecting his whole private life to the law that one gives less than one receives in return, yet enough to ensure that one receives something. Every good deed is accompanied by an evident "is it necessary?", "do I have to?" This type are most surely revealed by the haste with which they "avenge" kindness received, unwilling to tolerate, in the chain of exchange acts whereby expenses are recovered, a single missing link."
Adorno, Minima Moralia:
"Criticism of tendencies in modern society is automatically countered, before it is fully uttered, by the argument that things have always been like this. Excitement -- so promptly resisted -- merely shows want of insight into the invariability of history, an unreasonableness proudly diagnosed by all as hysteria...Assent is given to what has been drummed into people's heads by philosophy of every hue: that whatever has the persistent momentum of existence on its side is thereby proved right. One need only be discontented to be at once suspect as a world reformer."
"The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition...always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning."
"One man thinks pretty much what the man next to him thinks: the human porridge of the traffic accident, weeks ago, or years."
"The vast masses of the people live not by realities and not by the essentials, but by the outer trappings of things, they see only the cut of the clothes and only in accord with the cut of the clothes is anyone met...The vast masses of the people accept on faith words and categories, worked out by others, like a vampire it lives off the experience of some stranger. There is no sort of properly real experience bound up with the words, by which however, are defined all the values in life. The words were real content for those whose own experience and whose own thought and spiritual life they were. But these selfsame words have become normal and without content for those which live by inertia, by rote and by imitation."
"At any streetcorner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face...It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm -- this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the "why" arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement."
"If we have been accustomed to deplore the spectacle, among the artisan class, of a workman occupied during his whole life in nothing but making knife handles or pinheads, we may find something quite as lamentable in the intellectual class, in the exclusive employment of the human brain in resolving equations or classifying insects. The moral effect is, unhappily, analogous in the two cases. It occasions a miserable indifference about the general course of human affairs."
"Man cannot become attached to higher aims and submit to a rule if he sees nothing above him to which he belongs. To free himself from all social pressure is to abandon himself and demoralize him."
"A society of packaged fulfillment, administered desire, managerialized politics, and consumerist economics is unlikely to cut to the kind of depth where theological questions can even be properly raised, just as it rules out political and moral questions of a certain profundity. What on earth would be the point of God in such a setup, other than as ideological legitimation, spiritual nostalgia, or a means of private extrication from a valueless world?"
"The difference between science and theology, as I understand it, is one over whether you see the world as a gift or not; and you cannot resolve this just by inspecting the thing, any more than you can deduce from examining a porcelain vase that it is a wedding present."
"I'm too serious to be an amateur, but not enough to be a professional. A more miserable life is better, believe me, than an existence protected by an organized society, where everything is calculated, everything is perfect."
"When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep...And when he speaks to you believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth."
"If all men had full memory of the past, awareness of the present, and foresight into the future, speech would not be as effective as it is. But since in fact men have little ability to remember the past, observe the present, or foretell the future, speech works easily; with the result that most speakers on most subjects offer only opinion as counsellor to the soul. But opinion is delusive and inconstant, and those who rely on it run grave risks."
"Laughter is loud because it calls for company. The smile is silent, sad, sublime, and may blossom forth unwitnessed. A laugh unheard embarrasses; a smile unseen is even more beautiful than one which is smiled to be seen."
"A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge if offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or by remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves -- and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole."
"...the life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster...Were the disposal of human life so much reserved as the peculiar province of the almighty that it were an encroachment on his right for men to dispose of their own lives; it would be equally criminal to act for the preservation of life as for its destruction. If I turn aside a stone, which is falling upon my head, I disturb the course of nature, and I invade the peculiar province of the almighty, by lengthening out my life, beyond the period, which, by the general laws of matter and motion, he had assigned to it."
"A person's actions...are commonly continuations of his own inner constitution, of his brain, etc. In the way the magnet bestows form and order on iron filings."
"I often find when I'm feeling weak that I'm also very nice, and when I'm weak I feel the weakness in others and am sympathetic to it. But it's not nourishing. It can be just another form of emptiness traveling back and forth. Whereas when I'm feeling strong and also feel compassion or charity...there's real goodness present. It's of real use to the other person."
"And do you know what 'the world' is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end...enclosed by 'nothingness' as by a boundary...a becoming that knows no satiety, no disgust, no weariness...this, my Dionysian world, the eternally self-creating, the eternally self-destroying...without goal, unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal..."
"There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first -- the Orwellian -- culture becomes a prison. In the second -- the Huxleyan -- culture becomes a burlesque...What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours."
God won't be lived like some light morning.
Whoever climbs down the shaft must give up
earth's repleteness for the craft of mining:
stand hunched and pry him loose in tunnels.
"...by death, by illness, by poverty, or by the voice of duty, we must learn, each one of us, that the world was not made for us, and that, however beautiful may be the things we crave, Fate may nevertheless forbid them. It is the part of courage, when misfortune comes, to bear without repining the ruin of our hopes, to turn away our thoughts from vain regrets. This degree of submission to Power is not only just and right: it is the very gate of wisdom."
"To have imagination and taste, to love the best, to be carried by the contemplation of nature to a vivid faith in the ideal, all this is more, a great deal more, than any science can hope to be. The poets and philosophers who express this aesthetic experience and stimulate the same function in us by their example, do a greater service to mankind and deserve higher honor than the discoveries of historical truths."
"If you want to earn the gratitude of your own age you must keep in step with it. But if you do that you will produce nothing great. If you have something great in view you must address yourself to posterity: only then, to be sure, you will probably remain unknown to your contemporaries; you will be like a man compelled to spend his life on a desert island and there toiling to erect a memorial so that future seafarers shall know he once existed."
"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. This is an error of the intellect as inevitable as that error of the eye which lets us fancy that on the horizon heaven and earth meet. This explains many things, and among them the fact that everyone measures us with his own standard -- generally about as long as a tailorís tape, and we have to put up with it: as also that no one will allow us to be taller than himself -- a supposition which is once for all taken for granted."
"The true apocalyptic view of the world is that things do not repeat themselves. It isn't absurd, e.g., to believe that the age of science and technology is the beginning of the end for humanity; that the idea of great progress is a delusion, along with the idea that the truth will ultimately be known; that there is nothing good or desirable about scientific knowledge and that mankind, in seeking it, is falling into a trap. It is by no means obvious that this is not how things are."