Matthew Arnold

Jean Baudrillard

William Blake

Bliss Carman

Clarence Darrow

Rene Descartes

Will Durant

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Benjamin Franklin

Erving Goffman

Abraham Heschel

J. Krishnamurti

Herman Melville

Lewis Mumford

Friedrich Nietzsche

Rainer Maria Rilke

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Paul Tillich

Evelyn Underhill

T.H. White

Elizabeth Wordsworth






















Matthew Arnold, "The Function of Criticism":

"The mass of mankind will never have any ardent zeal for seeing things as they are; very inadequate ideas will always satisfy them. On these inadequate ideas reposes, and must repose, the general practice of the world. That is as much as saying that whoever sets himself to see things as they are will find himself one of a very small circle; but it is only by this small circle resolutely doing its own work that adequate ideas will ever get currency at all."












Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society:

"There is all around us today a kind of fantastic conspicuousness of consumption and abundance, constituted by the multiplication of objects, services and material goods, and this represents something of a fundamental mutation in the ecology of the human species. Strictly speaking, the humans of the age of affluence are surrounded not so much by other human beings, as they were in all previous ages, but by objects. Their daily dealings are now not so much with their fellow men, but rather -- on a rising statistical curve -- with the reception and manipulation of goods and messages."












William Blake, Gnomic Verses:

Since all the Riches of this World

May be gifts from the Devil & Earthly Kings,

I should suspect that I worship'd the Devil

If I thank'd my God for Worldly things.












Bliss Carman, The Making Of Personality:

"Vibrancy is never wholly lacking in the human being, in some degree or other, but it is often so faint and vague as to be almost indistinguishable and inoperative. Sickness impairs it, confusion and doubtfulness of mind render it ineffectual, and a wilful despondency may destroy it at its source. At its best, however, it is a great power; and like any other supreme characteristic of human clay may be cultivated with intelligent care or ignored and thwarted and ruthlessly destroyed."












Clarence Darrow, "Is Life Worth Living?":

"Life is like a ship on the sea, tossed by every wave and by every wind; a ship headed for no port and no harbor, with no rudder, no compass, no pilot; simply floating for a time, then lost in the waves."












Rene Descartes, Discourse On Method:

"From my childhood I lived in a world of books, and since I was taught that by their help I could gain a clear and assured knowledge of everything useful in life, I was eager to learn from them. But as soon as I had finished the course of studies which usually admits one to the ranks of the learned, I changed my opinion completely. For I found myself saddled with so many doubts and errors that I seemed to have gained nothing in trying to educate myself unless it was to discover more and more fully how ignorant I was."












Will Durant, On The Meaning Of Life:

"Nature will destroy me, but she has a right to; she made me, and burned my senses with a thousand delights; she gave me all that she will take away. How shall I ever thank her sufficiently for these five senses of mine -- these fingers and lips, these eyes and ears, this restless tongue and this gigantic nose?"


" is not our homes and our treasuries that are empty, it is our 'hearts.' It seems impossible any longer to believe in the permanent greatness of man, or to give life a meaning that cannot be annulled by death. We move into an age of spiritual exhaustion and despondency like that which hungered for the birth of Christ. . ."












Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Experience":

"All our days are so unprofitable while they pass, that 'tis wonderful where or when we ever got anything of this which we call wisdom, poetry, virtue. . .So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the pith of each man's genius contracts itself to a very few hours. The history of literature. . .is a sum of very few ideas and of very few original tales; all the rest being variation of these. So in this great society wide lying around us, a critical analysis would find very few spontaneous actions. It is almost all custom and gross sense. There are even few opinions, and these seem organic in the speakers, and do not disturb the universal necessity."












Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack:

"Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He who is content. Who is that? Nobody."












Erving Goffman, Encounters:

"There seems to be no agent more effective than another person in bringing a world for oneself alive, or, by a glance, a gesture, or a remark, shriveling up the reality in which one is lodged."












Abraham Heschel, in Between God And Man, ed. by Fritz Rothschild:

"It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless."












J. Krishnamurti, You Are The World:

"We draw a circle around ourselves...whether it is the circle of me and you, or the family, or the nation, the formula of religious beliefs and dogmas, the circle of knowledge one weaves around oneself -- these circles divide us and so there is this constant division which invariably brings about conflict. We never go beyond the circle, never look beyond it. We are afraid to leave our own little circle and discover the circle, the barrier, around another. And I think that therein begins the whole process, the structure and the nature of fear."












Herman Melville, Moby Dick:

"There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own."












Lewis Mumford, The Condition Of Man:

"Nothing that is worth doing in our time will be done easily: that is, without a spiritual re-birth. Unless the blind recover their sight and the crippled learn to walk our very knowledge will slay us. No peace without struggle: no security without risk: no wholeness without simplification: no goods without measure: no love without sacrifice: no full life without the willingness to accept and transcend death in the very process of living. Those who have learned this lesson may build the City of Man."












Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight Of The Idols:

"To live alone you must be an animal or a god -- says Aristotle. He left out the third case: you must be both -- a philosopher. . ."












Rainer Maria Rilke, "Autumn" (trans. Robert Bly):

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up, 

as if orchards were dying high in space.

Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no." 


And tonight the heavy earth is falling 

away from all other stars in the loneliness. 


We're all falling. This hand here is falling. 

And look at the other one. It's in them all. 


And yet there is Someone, whose hands 

infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.











Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab, Book III:

Power, like a desolating pestilence,

Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience,

Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,

Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,

A mechanized automaton.













Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Human Energy:

"Man avoids communication with another because he is afraid that by sharing he will diminish his personality. He seeks to grow by isolating himself. Now if the universe is organically possible (that is to say if it does not place us by birth in a mechanically impossible position) the very opposite is true. The gift we make of our being, far from threatening our ego, must have the effect of completing it."












Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology:

"The being of God is being-itself. The being of God cannot be understood as the existence of a being alongside others or above others. If God is a being, he is subject to the categories of finitude, especially to space and substance. Even if he is called the "highest being" in the sense of the "most perfect" and the "most powerful" being, this situation is not changed. They place him on the level of other beings while elevating him above all of them...Many confusions in the doctrine of God and many apologetic weaknesses could be avoided if God were understood first of all as being-itself or as the ground of being."












Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism:

"We know not why 'great' poetry should move us to unspeakable emotion, or a stream of notes, arranged in a peculiar sequence, catch us up to heightened levels of vitality: nor can we guess how a passionate admiration for that which we call 'best' in art or letters can possibly contribute to the physical evolution of the race. In spite of many lengthy disquisitions on aesthetics, Beauty's secret is still her own. A shadowy companion, half seen, half guessed at, she keeps step with the upward march of life: and we receive her message and respond to it, not because we understand it but because we must."












T.H. White, The Once And Future King:

"The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting."












Elizabeth Wordsworth, "Good and Clever":

If all the good people were clever, 

And all clever people were good, 

The world would be nicer than ever 

We thought that it possibly could.


But somehow 'tis seldom or never 

The two hit it off as they should, 

The good are so harsh to the clever, 

The clever, so rude to the good!


So friends, let it be our endeavour 

To make each by each understood; 

For few can be good, like the clever, 

Or clever, so well as the good.