Whenever you hear anyone talking about a cultural or even about a human problem, you should never forget to inquire who the speaker really is. The more general the problem, the more he will smuggle his own personal psychology into the account he gives of it.
Pay attention to minute particulars. Take care of the little ones. Generalization and abstraction are the plea of the hypocrite, scoundrel, and knave.
Once I’ve had enough experience about something, I don’t give a fuck about anybody else’s theory.
I think there are some clues as to what makes us willing to murder in the name of truth.
One is our desire to possess truth, rather than serve it. I am increasingly convinced that the need to be right has nothing whatsoever to do with the love of truth. But to face the implications of this means accepting a painful inner emptiness: I am not now what I sense, somehow, I am meant to be. I do not know what I feel from the bottom of my heart; I need to know. The beginning of wisdom is not to flee from this condition or distract yourself from it; it is essential not to fill it up with answers which have not been earned. It is important . . . to learn how to wait, with empty hands. It is the desire to fill up that emptiness which leads to political or religious fanaticism. By possessing the truth (which is very different from being possessed by it) you anchor yourself — the big hollow winds, the self-doubts are silenced. It is the truths arrived at this way which men kill for.
The search for truth is but the honest searching out of everything that interferes with truth. Truth is. It can neither be lost not sought nor found. It is there, wherever you are, being within you. Yet it can be recognized or unrecognized.
All our understanding of the abstractions of philosophy is like a single hair in the vastness of space.
The thing is not to cling to thoughts but to let them go. By letting them go, they are replaced by other thoughts until you become aware of thought following thought. As the immortal bard, Shakespeare, said at the end of the last play, The Tempest, when Prospero goes home, having burned his magic books of ego and thrown away his magic wand of power, “to Milan [I’ll go] where every third thought shall be my grave.” You become aware of your thoughts in that sense. Shakespeare was aware that there’s one thought, and then there’s another thought, and then there’s another thought, and then there’s another thought and there’s a space in between. So you become aware of the mind thinking and the thoughts passing through. That gives you a profile on your thoughts, so to speak. Not that you have to think of them, or inspect them, or grab them by the tail. You become aware that all those thoughts are passing through your mind. You look at them from the outside almost. You become the observer of your own mind, which is useful for an artist.
Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.
To find the point where hypothesis and fact meet; the delicate equilibrium between dream and reality; the place where fantasy and earthly things are metamorphosed into a work of art, the hour when faith in the future becomes knowledge of the past; to lay down one’s power for others in need; to shake off the old ordeal and get ready for the new; to question, knowing that never can the full answer be found; to accept uncertainties quietly, even our incomplete knowledge of God; this is what man’s journey is about, I think.
Some people always sigh in thanking God.
In my hunt for the secret of life, I started my research in histology. Unsatisfied by the information that cellular morphology could give me about life, I turned to physiology. Finding physiology too complex I took up pharmacology. Still finding the situation too complicated I turned to bacteriology. But bacteria were even too complex, so I descended to the molecular level, studying chemistry and physical chemistry. After twenty years’ work, I was led to conclude that to understand life we have to descend to the electronic level, and to the world of wave mechanics. But electrons are just electrons, and have no life at all. Evidently on the way I lost life; it had run out between my fingers.
One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture. And, it if were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.
One day while studying a Yeats poem I decided to write poetry the rest of my life. I recognized that a single short poem has room for history, music, psychology, religious thought, mood, occult speculation, character and events of one’s own life. I still feel surprised that such various substances can find shelter and nourishment in a poem. A poem in fact may be a sort of nourishing liquid, such as one uses to keep amoeba alive. If prepared right, a poem can keep an image or a thought or insights on history or the psyche alive for years, as well as our desires and airy impulses.
Time is nature’s way of preventing everything from happening at once.