despair

You know, I still feel in my wrists certain echoes of the pram-pusher’s knack, such as, for example, the glib downward pressure one applied to the handle in order to have the carriage tip up and climb the curb. First came an elaborate mouse-gray vehicle of Belgian make, with fat autoid tires and luxurious springs, so large that it could not enter our puny elevator. It rolled on sidewalks in a slow stately mystery, with the trapped baby inside lying supine, well covered with down, silk and fur; only his eyes moved, warily, and sometimes they turned upward with one swift sweep of their showy lashes to follow the receding of branch-patterned blueness that flowed away from the edge of the half-cocked hood of the carriage, and presently he would dart a suspicious glance at my face to see if the teasing trees and sky did not belong, perhaps to the same order of things as did rattles and parental humor. There followed a lighter carriage, and in this, as he spun along, he would tend to rise, straining at his straps; clutching at the edges; standing there less like the groggy passenger of a pleasure boat than like an entranced scientist in a spaceship; surveying the speckled skeins of a live, warm world; eyeing with philosophic interest the pillow he had managed to throw overboard; falling out himself when a strap burst one day. Still later he rode in one of those small contraptions called strollers; from initial springy and secure heights the child came lower and lower, until, when he was about one and a half, he touched ground in front of the moving stroller by slipping forward out of his seat and beating the sidewalk with his heels in anticipation of being set loose in some public garden. A new wave of evolution started to swell, gradually lifting him again from the ground, when, for his second birthday, he received a four-foot-long, silver-painted Mercedes racing car operated by inside pedals, like an organ, and in this he used to drive with a pumping, clanking noise up and down the sidewalk of the Kurfurstendamm while from open windows came the multiplied roar of a dictator still pounding his chest in the Neander valley we had left far behind.

He had been married and had had offspring. He did not know what had become of his wife and children. He had lost them the way he might have lost his handkerchief.

Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.

The human mind has a greater need of the ideal even than of the real. It is by the real that we exist; it is by the ideal that we live.

They knew that their anarchism was the product of a very high civilization, of a complex diversified culture, of a stable economy and a highly industrialized technology that could maintain high production and rapid transportation of goods. However vast the distances separating settlements, they held to the ideal of complex organicism.

Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction; and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague, advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and ten thousands. Should success he still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow, levels the population with the food of the world.

But say, my lord, it were not regist'red, methinks the truth should live from age to age, as 'twere retailed to all posterity, Even to the general all-ending day. King Richard III, Act iii, Scene 1

Fear on guilt attends, and deeds of darkness; the virtuous breast ne'er knows it.

I believe there is no source of deception in the investigation of nature which can compare with a fixed belief that certain kinds of phenomena are impossible.

It took me years to understand that words are often as important as experience, because words make experience last.

Oft have I heard that grief softens the mind and makes it fearful and degenerate.

Our wills and fates do so contrary run that our devices still are overthrown; our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.

Should the poor be flattered? No; let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp, and crook the pregnant hinges of the knee where thrift may follow fawning.

Men never fail to dwell on maternity as a disqualification for the possession of many civil and political rights. Suggest the idea of women having a voice in making laws and administering the Government in the halls of legislation, in Congress, or the British Parliament, and men will declaim at once on the disabilities of maternity in a sneering contemptuous way, as if the office of motherhood was undignified and did not comport with the highest public offices in church and state. It is vain that we point them to Queen Victoria, who has carefully reared a large family, while considering and signing...

To exist is equivalent to an act of faith, a protest against the truth, an interminable prayer. As soon as they consent to live, the unbeliever and the man of faith are fundamentally the same, since both have made the only decision that defines a being.

In love as in speculation there is much filth; in love also, people think only of their own gratification; yet without love there would be no life, and the world would come to an end.

Some keep the Sabbath going to church, I keep it staying at home, with a bobolink for a chorister, and an orchard for a dome.

But you might as well bid a man struggling in the water, rest within arm's length of the shore! I must reach it first, and then I'll rest.

An animal who gets his feeling of worth symbolically has to minutely compare himself to those around him, to make sure he doesn't come off second-best. Sibling rivalry is a critical problem that reflects the basic human condition: it is not that children are vicious, selfish, or domineering. It is that they so openly express man's tragic destiny: he must des­perately justify himself as an object of primary value in the uni­verse; he must stand out, be a hero, make the biggest possible con­tribution to world life, show that he counts more than anything or anyone else.

We saw that there really was no way to overcome the real dilemma of existence, the one of the mortal animal who at the same time is conscious of his mortality. A person spends years coming into his own, developing his talent, his unique gifts, perfecting his discriminations about the world, broadening and sharpening his appetite, learning to bear the disappointments of life, becoming mature, seasoned—finally a unique creature in nature, standing with some dignity and nobility and transcending the animal condition; no longer driven, no longer a complete reflex, not stamped out of any mold. And then the real tragedy, as Andre Malraux wrote in The Human Condition: that it takes sixty years of incredible suffer­ing and effort to make such an individual, and then he is good only for dying. This painful paradox is not lost on the person himself—least of all himself. He feels agonizingly unique, and yet he knows that this doesn't make any difference as far as ultimates are concerned. He has to go the way of the grasshopper, even though it takes longer.