Snippets from a Paris Review short story:
I said that I thought that most of us didn't know how truly good or bad we were, and most of us would not be sufficiently tested to find out.
…they watch the brightly lit family scene inside. Looking through the window, the two of them saw different things, Heathcliff what he fears and hates and Cathy what she desires and feels deprives of. But neither of them can see things as they really are.
And of those two ways of living - living in the moment and living outside it - which was the more real?
From Jack Gilbert:
I try to see in what is left of the light down there the two I was. The ghost of the boy in high school just before I became myself. The other is the ghost of the times later when I could fall in love: the first time, and three years after that for eight years, and the last time ten years after. I feel a great tenderness for all the dozen ghosts down there trying to remain what they were... It puzzles me that I care so much for the ghost of the boy in high school, since I am not interested in those times. But I know why the other one frightens me. He is the question about whether the loves were phantoms of what existed as appearance only. I know how easily they come, summoned by our yearning. I realize the luminosity can be a product of our heart’s furnace. It would erase my life to find I made it up.From Karl Ove's novel "My Struggle":
*“This is all about purity, nothing less. Through and through. Asceticism. Don’t be corrupted by TV or the newspapers, eat as little as possible.
...and if it didn’t turn out the way we had imagined, that made us rage against the state if a tsunami came and you didn’t receive immediate help. How pathetic was that? Become embittered if you didn’t get the job you had merited. And this was the thinking that meant the fall was no longer a possibility, except for the very weakest, because you could always get money, and pure existence, one where you stand face-to-face with a life-threatening emergency or peril, had been completely eliminated. This was the thinking that had spawned a culture in which the greatest mediocrities, warm and with a well-fed stomach, trumpeted their cheap platitudes, thus allowing writers such as Lars Saabye Christensen or whoever to be worshipped as if Virgil himself were sitting on the sofa and telling us whether he had used a pen or a typewriter or a computer and what times of the day he wrote.Getting things to run smoothly, working to achieve a lack of resistance, this is the antithesis of art’s essence, it is the antithesis of wisdom, which is based on restricting or being restricted.*Sometimes I thought the longing for the terrain we had grown up with was biological, somehow rooted in us, that the instinct that could make a cat roam for several hundred kilometers to find the place it came from also functioned in us, the human animal, on a par with other deeply archaic currents within us.*From there we moved onto Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, the fantastic portrait of the turn of the last century, when age and gravity and not youth and beauty were desirable, and all young people tried to look middle-aged with their stomachs, watch chains, cigars and bald patches.
“When I read Lucretius it’s all about the magnificence of the world. And that, the magnificence of the world, is of course a baroque concept. It died with the baroque age. It’s about things. The physicality of things. Animals. Trees. Fish. If you’re sorry that action has disappeared, I’m sorry the world has disappeared. The physicality of it. We only have pictures of it.