literature

The world's literature and folklore are full of stories that point out how futile it can be to seek happiness. Rather, happiness is a blessing that comes to you as you go along; a treasure that you incidentally find.

The writer’s job is to write with rigor, with commitment, to defend what they believe with all the talent they have. I think that’s part of the moral obligation of a writer, which cannot be only purely artistic. I think a writer has some kind of responsibility at least to participate in the civic debate. I think literature is impoverished, if it becomes cut from the main agenda of people, of society, of life.

From the cave to the skyscraper, from the club to weapons of mass destruction, from the tautological life of the tribe to the era of globalization, the fictions of literature have multiplied human experiences, preventing us from succumbing to lethargy, self-absorption, resignation. Nothing has sown so much disquiet, so disturbed our imagination and our desires as the life of lies we add, thanks to literature, to the one we have, so we can be protagonists in the great adventures, the great passions real life will never give us. The lies of literature become truths through us, the readers transformed, infected with longings and, through the fault of fiction, permanently questioning a mediocre reality. Sorcery, when literature offers us the hope of having what we do not have, being what we are not, acceding to that impossible existence where like pagan gods we feel mortal and eternal at the same time, that introduces into our spirits non-conformity and rebellion, which are behind all the heroic deeds that have contributed to the reduction of violence in human relationships. Reducing violence, not ending it. Because ours will always be, fortunately, an unfinished story. That is why we have to continue dreaming, reading, and writing, the most effective way we have found to alleviate our mortal condition, to defeat the corrosion of time, and to transform the impossible into possibility.

The literature of the world has exerted its power by being translated.

The appearance in nineteenth-century psychiatry, jurisprudence, and literature of a whole series of discourses on the species and subspecies of homosexuality, inversion, pederasty, and "psychic hermaphroditism" made possible a strong advance of social controls into this area of "perversity"; but it also made possible the formation of a "reverse" discourse: homosexuality began to speak in its own behalf, to demand that its legitimacy or "naturality" be acknowledged, often in the same vocabulary, using the same categories by which it was medically disqualified.

It is beyond my power to induce in you a belief in God. There are certain things which are self proved and certain which are not proved at all. The existence of God is like a geometrical axiom. It may be beyond our heart grasp. I shall not talk of an intellectual grasp. Intellectual attempts are more or less failures, as a rational explanation cannot give you the faith in a living God. For it is a thing beyond the grasp of reason. It transcends reason. There are numerous phenomena from which you can reason out the existence of God, but I shall not insult your intelligence by offering you a rational explanation of that type. I would have you brush aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist, God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it, but from their life you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined. In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith.

In thus pointing out certain respects in which philosophy resembles literature more than science, I do not mean, of course, to imply that it would be well for philosophy if it ceased to aim at scientific rigor.

Imaginative literature primarily pleases rather than teaches. It is much easier to be pleased than taught, but much harder to know why one is pleased. Beauty is harder to analyze than truth.

Hinduism – not only in philosophy and literature but also in art – has the capacity for immense conceptions, profound an subtle apprehensions, that can entice the imagination and stun the mind with their depth, range and boldness. The many masks of the many gods, their various appearances and incarnations, have been employed to suggest the infinitely possible variations of one supreme essence. In seeking to give expression to that almost inexpressible idea of a unity which admits also of polarities, a “union beyond the opposites,” Hinduism created such arresting icons as the divine two-in-one embrace of Shiva and Shakti; or Shiva alone, half male, half female, or the two-sided figure of Hari-Hara, an expression of the seemingly “opposite” creative-destructive forces of Vishnu and Shiva embodied in one being.

Creationists sometimes claim that scientists have a vested interest in the concept of biological evolution and are unwilling to consider other possibilities. But this claim, too, misrepresents science. Scientists continually test their ideas against observations and submit their work to their colleagues for critical peer review of ideas, evidence, and conclusions before a scientific paper is published in any respected scientific journal. Unexplained observations are eagerly pursued because they can be signs of important new science or problems with an existing hypothesis or theory. History is replete with scientists challenging accepted theory by offering new evidence and more comprehensive explanations to account for natural phenomena. Also, science has a competitive element as well as a cooperative one. If one scientist clings to particular ideas despite evidence to the contrary, another scientist will attempt to replicate relevant experiments and will not hesitate to publish conflicting evidence. If there were serious problems in evolutionary science, many scientists would be eager to win fame by being the first to provide a better testable alternative. That there are no viable alternatives to evolution in the scientific literature is not because of vested interests or censorship but because evolution has been and continues to be solidly supported by evidence.

In the art of literature there are two contending parties. Those who aim to tell stories that are more or less well thought out, and those who aim at beautiful language, beauty of form. This contest may last a very long time; each side has a fifty-fifty chance. Only the poet can rightfully demand that verse be beautiful and nothing but.

It is vain to try to sacrifice once for all one's youthful ideals. When a man has loved literature as I loved it at twenty, he cannot be satisfied at twenty-six to give up his early passion, even at the bidding of implacable necessity.

Ideas are to literature what light is to painting.

Deductivism in mathematical literature and inductivism in scientific papers are simply the postures we choose to be seen in when the curtain goes up and the public sees us. The theatrical illusion is shattered if we ask what goes on behind the scenes. In real life discovery and justification are almost always different processes.

Whatever the reason, for most of the present century, the literature and publicity of the old established [animal welfare] groups made a significant contribution to the prevailing attitude that dogs and cats and wild animals need protection, but other animals do not. Thus people came to think of "animal welfare" as something for kindly ladies who are dotty about cats, and not as a cause founded on basic principles of justice and morality.

People who think they can control their negative emotions and manifest them when they want to, simply deceive themselves. Negative emotions depend on identification; if identification is destroyed in some particular case, they disappear. The strangest and most fantastic fact about negative emotions is that people actually worship them. I think that, for an ordinary mechanical man, the most difficult thing to realize is that his own and other people's negative emotions, have no value whatever and do not contain anything noble, anything beautiful or anything strong. In reality negative emotions contain nothing but weakness and very often the beginning of hysteria, insanity or crime. The only good thing about them is that, being quite useless and artificially created by imagination and identification, they can be destroyed without any loss. And this is the only chance of escape that man has. Philosophy is based on speculation, on logic, on thought, on the synthesis of what we know and on the analysis of what we do not know. Philosophy must include within its confines the whole content of science, religion and art. But where can such a philosophy be found? All that we know in our times by the name of philosophy is not philosophy, but merely critical literature or the expression of personal opinions, mainly with the aim of overthrowing and destroying other personal opinions. Or, which is still worse, philosophy is nothing but self-satisfied dialectic surrounding itself with an impenetrable barrier of terminology unintelligible to the uninitiated and solving for itself all the problems of the universe without any possibility of proving these explanations or making them intelligible to ordinary mortals.

To be a Jew is to belong to an old harmless race that has lived in every country in the world; and that has enriched every country it has lived in. It is to be strong with a strength that has outlived persecutions. It is to be wise against ignorance, honest against piracy, harmless against evil, industrious against idleness, kind against cruelty! It is to belong to a race that has given Europe its religion; its moral law; and much of its science-perhaps even more of its genius-in art, literature and music.
This is to be a Jew; and you know now what is required of you! You have no country but the world; and you inherit nothing but wisdom and brotherhood.

For we soon reap the fruits of literature in life, and prolonged indulgence in any form of literature in life leaves its mark on the moral nature of man, affecting not only the mind but physical poise and intonation.

The word generalization in literature usually means covering too much territory too thinly to be persuasive, let alone convincing. In science, however, a generalization means a principle that has been found to hold true in every special case... The principle of leverage is a scientific generalization.

The aim of science is to discover and illuminate truth. And that, I take it, is the aim of literature, whether biography or history or fiction. It seems to me, then, that there can be no separate literature of science.