And there is neither beginning nor end, nor past nor future; there is only a present, at the same time static and ephemeral, multiple and absolute. It is the vital ocean in which we all share, according to our strength, our needs or our desires.
It is not perhaps a question of truthfulness; it is rather a natural incapacity to think for herself, to take cognizance of herself in her own brain, and not in the eyes and in the lips of others; even when the ingenuously write into little secret diaries, women think of the unknown god reading--perhaps--over their shoulders. With a similar nature, a woman, to be placed in the first ranks of men, would require even higher genius than that of the highest man; that is why, if the conspicuous works of men themselves, the finest works of women are always inferior to the worth of the women who produced them.
To have a solid foundation of skepticism, -that is to say, the faculty of changing at any moment, of turning back, of facing successively the metamorphoses of life.
Everything, indeed, in a work of art should be unedited,--and even the words, by the manner of grouping them, of shaping them to new meanings,--and one often regrets having an alphabet familiar to too many half-lettered persons.
It was an accident that has endowed man with intelligence. He has made use of it: he invented stupidity.
Extraordinarily excessive sensuality it may be .. but it all comes down to the same thing in the end, and one means is surely as good as another, since the end obtained is always the same. In any case the exceptional, endlessly repeated, is no different than the banal; and unceasing recapitulation can add nothing, in the end, to the sum of experience. I am weary and hopeless three times the dupe. Why have you trained me in the shame of abominable sins?
Abstractions do us much harm by impelling us to the quest of the absolute in all things. Joy does not exist, but there are joys: and these joys may not be folly felt unless they are detached from neutral or even painful conditions. The idea of continuity is almost self-negating. Nature makes no leaps; but life makes only bounds. It is measured by our heartbeats & these may be counted. That there should be, amid the number of deep pulsations that scan the line of our existence, some grievous ones, does not permit the affirmation that life is therefore evil. Moreover, neither a continuous joy would be perceived by consciousness.
Nothing returns, nothing begins anew; it is never the same thing, and yet it seems always the same. For, if the days never return, every moment brings forth new beings whose destiny it will be to create for themselves, in the course of their lives, the same illusions that have companioned and at times illuminated ours. The fabric is eternal; eternal, the embroidery. A universe dies when we die; another is born when a new creature comes to earth with a new sensibility. If, then, it is very true that nothing begins all over again, it is very just to say, too, that everything continues. One may fearlessly advance the latter statement or the former, according to whether one considers the individual or the blending of generations. From this second point of view, everything is coexistent; the same cause produces contradictory, yet logical effects. All the colors and their shades are printed at a single impression, to form the wonderful image we call life.
The vainglory of wishing to understand is dangerous, immoral and, above all, old-fashioned. The modern way – perhaps the final way - is to say: Go forward, without knowing why, as quickly as possible, towards an unknown goal! To act and think are opposites which identify one only in the Absolute. To accomplish all one's movements – of the head, the arms, the legs – without ever quite attaining the status of a puppet, but with a certainty that gives one a feeling of rightness: that is what is nowadays held up as the ideal. Be citizens of Universal activity! Forget to be conscious of ourselves! The blind horse gallops without hesitation, not knowing where it is going, not caring where it has been: so let up put out our eyes!
Deprived of the infinite, man has become what he always was: a supernumerary. He hardly counts; he forms part of the troupe called Humanity; if he misses a cue, he is hissed; and if he drops through the trapdoor another puppet is in readiness to take his place.
Tears flow and smiles fade to the same rhythm of life, to disappear together in the bottomless abyss.
As a matter of fact, when it comes to seeing, men display two tendencies: they see what they wish to see, what is useful to them, what is agreeable. The second is the tendency toward inhibition; they do not see what they do not wish to see, what is useless to them, or disagreeable.
It appears, from all this, that our eyes are uncertain. Two persons look at the same clock and there is a difference of two or three minutes in their reading of the time. One has a tendency to put back the hands, the other to advance them. Let us not too confidently try to play the part of the third person who wishes to set the first two aright; it may well happen that we are mistaken in turn. Besides, in our daily life, we have less need of certainty than of a certain approximation to certainty. Let us learn how to see, but without looking too closely at things and men: they look better from a distance.
The little girl expects no declaration of tenderness from her doll. She loves it, & that's all. It is thus that we should love.
Ah! I wish I had the courage to work for the debasement of my contemporaries. What good work it would be to defile their daughters: to insinuate something obscene into the infantile hands which caress each paternal beard and cheek; to poison them, even at the risk of perishing ourselves; to do as those Spanish monks did, who drank death in order that they might persuade the French rabble which had violated their monastery to do likewise.
To acquire the full consciousness of self is to know oneself so different from others that no longer feels allied with men except by purely animal contacts: nevertheless, among souls of this degree, there is an ideal fraternity based on differences,--while society fraternity is based on resemblances.The full consciousness of self can be called originality of soul, -and all this is said only to point out the group of rare beings to which Andre Gide belongs.The misfortune of these beings, when they express themselves, is that they do it with such odd gestures that men fear to approach them; their life of social contacts must often revolve in the brief circle of ideal fraternities; or, when the mob consents to admit such souls, it is as curiosities or museum objects. Their glory is, finally, to be loved from afar & almost understood, as parchments are seen & read above sealed cases.
He was a young man of savage & unexpected originality, a diseased genius & quite frankly, a mad genius. Imbeciles grow insane & in their insanity the imbecility remains stagnant or agitated; in the madness of a man of genius some genius often remains: the form & not the quality of intelligence has been affected; the fruit has been bruised in the fall, but has preserved all its perfume & all the savor of its pulp, hardly too ripe.
Well, suppose we remain upon earth, after all? Suppose we bravely accept the death of our dreams at the same time as the death of our bodies? This beyond is decidedly uncertain, quite vague and mobile. I do not believe that it exists everywhere; I believe that it is nowhere except in our infantile imaginations. Born with us, it will end at the same moment that we do, to be born anew in our posterity. The beyond is the earthly tomorrow, as we bequeath it to our heirs and as they modify it by their efforts and in accordance with their tastes.
It is fairly obvious that those who are in favour of the death penalty have more affinity with assassins than those who are not.