How often the priest had heard the same confession--Man was so limited: he hadn't even the ingenuity to invent a new vice: the animals knew as much. It was for this world that Christ had died: the more evil you saw and heard about you, the greater the glory lay around the death; it was too easy to die for what was good or beautiful, for home or children or civilization--it needed a God to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt.
The Weight of One FeatherGiven.Many fear deathBecause they alreadyFeel ridden with sin,But no man on this earthIs filled with only white lightWithin.Have more faithIn our Maker,For our souls and mindsWere created by Him.Just remember that,When your deedsAre measuredBy the scale – The good sideMust outweighThe bad,And your heartMust be as lightAs a featherTo win.
Certainly the most destructive vice if you like, that a person can have. More than pride, which is supposedly the number one of the cardinal sins - is self pity. Self pity is the worst possible emotion anyone can have. And the most destructive. It is, to slightly paraphrase what Wilde said about hatred, and I think actually hatred's a subset of self pity and not the other way around - ' It destroys everything around it, except itself '. Self pity will destroy relationships, it'll destroy anything that's good, it will fulfill all the prophecies it makes and leave only itself. And it's so simple to imagine that one is hard done by, and that things are unfair, and that one is underappreciated, and that if only one had had a chance at this, only one had had a chance at that, things would have gone better, you would be happier if only this, that one is unlucky. All those things. And some of them may well even be true. But, to pity oneself as a result of them is to do oneself an enormous disservice.I think it's one of things we find unattractive about the american culture, a culture which I find mostly, extremely attractive, and I like americans and I love being in america. But, just occasionally there will be some example of the absolutely ravening self pity that they are capable of, and you see it in their talk shows. It's an appalling spectacle, and it's so self destructive. I almost once wanted to publish a self help book saying 'How To Be Happy by Stephen Fry : Guaranteed success'. And people buy this huge book and it's all blank pages, and the first page would just say - ' Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself - And you will be happy '. Use the rest of the book to write down your interesting thoughts and drawings, and that's what the book would be, and it would be true. And it sounds like 'Oh that's so simple', because it's not simple to stop feeling sorry for yourself, it's bloody hard. Because we do feel sorry for ourselves, it's what Genesis is all about.
So may the outward shows be least themselves:The world is still deceived with ornament.In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,Obscures the show of evil? In religion,What damned error, but some sober browWill bless it and approve it with a text,Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?There is no vice so simple but assumesSome mark of virtue on his outward parts.
[I]t was with a good end in mind – that of acquiring the knowledge of good and evil – that Eve allowed herself to be carried away and eat the forbidden fruit. But Adam was not moved by this desire for knowledge, but simply by greed: he ate it because he heard Eve say it tasted good.
A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning for riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks.
Vainglory, however, no matter how much medieval Christianity insisted it was a sin, is a motor of mankind, no more eradicable than sex.
But even a vessel pulsates, beats and pumps in ecstasy and in rage!I wonder are the way we are because we are trying to protect ourselves from the “monsters” not realizing this fear that we are harboring inside us is turning us into goblins and ghouls ourselves? Not even a heart caged inside of ribs can be protected. Who can really be to blame for your broken heart?In-turn we find our own vices , our own ways to cope, ways that we petrify our bodies our lives in such a fashion so we can stop and notice the stars sparkling in the sky everything and everyone that embodies love YOUR LOVE… and every spec dancing in our own light, specs we failed to see because of our own faults.
If this is vise I want no virtue....I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose. Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds. I am not a sacrifice on their altars....But what is freedom? Freedom from what? There is nothing to take a man’s freedom away from him, save other men. To be free, a man must be free of his brothers. That is freedom. That and nothing else.
Humility is by far the most spiritual virtue of the lot. The only way by which one may cease obsessing over himself is to wholly step outside his flesh. But who could do this by himself? And who would really want to under his natural pretense? And even if somehow he could and he succeeded, would not it be artificial? Would not he seem far too aware of his own talents of achieving humility for it to be such? Alternatively, he would need a distraction, something else to love; it is not that the Humbleman thinks poorly of himself, nor highly for that matter, but rather he does not think of himself at all - and this is because he is too busy loving something or someone else to do it. For the humility of this kind 'rears its head' as the most love-driven and free, spiritual of virtues; whereas its opposite, pride, the most self-imprisoning human vice.
You must master the vices. You know that if a thing is worth doing it's worth doing well. If, however, a thing is not worth doing then it's worth doing fabulously, amazingly, with grace, style and panache.
[I]t is not by being richer or more powerful that a man becomes better; one is a matter of fortune, the other of virtue. Nor should she deem herself other than venal who weds a rich man rather than a poor, and desires more things in her husband than himself. Assuredly, whomsoever this concupiscence leads into marriage deserves payment rather than affection.
My Lady, you certainly tell me about wonderful constancy, strength and virtue and firmness of women, so can one say the same thing about men? (...)Response [by Lady Rectitude]: Fair sweet friend, have you not yet heard the saying that the fool sees well enough a small cut in the face of his neighbour, but he disregards the great gaping one above his own eye? I will show you the great contradiction in what the men say about the changeability and inconstancy of women. It is true that they all generally insist that women are very frail [= fickle] by nature. And since they accuse women of frailty, one would suppose that they themselves take care to maintain a reputation for constancy, or at the very least, that the women are indeed less so than they are themselves. And yet, it is obvious that they demand of women greater constancy than they themselves have, for they who claim to be of this strong and noble condition cannot refrain from a whole number of very great defects and sins, and not out of ignorance, either, but out of pure malice, knowing well how badly they are misbehaving. But all this they excuse in themselves and say that it is in the nature of man to sin, yet if it so happens that any women stray into any misdeed (of which they themselves are the cause by their great power and longhandedness), then it's suddenly all frailty and inconstancy, they claim. But it seems to me that since they do call women frail, they should not support that frailty, and not ascribe to them as a great crime what in themselves they merely consider a little defect.
I marvel at the placidity of the Utopian who imagines that man is perfectible. There is no denying that the human creature is born selfish, abusive, vile. Just look around you and see. Society cynical and ferocious, the humble heckled and pillaged by the rich traffickers in necessities. Everywhere the triumph of the mediocre and unscrupulous, everywhere the apotheosis of crooked politics and finance. And you think you can make any progress against a stream like that? No, man has never changed. His soul was corrupt in the days of Genesis and is not less rotten at present. Only the form of his sins varies. Progress is the hypocrisy which refines the vices.
Accentuated plainness and accentuated vice ought to bring about harmony. Beauty lies in harmony, in style, whether it be the harmony of ugliness or beauty, vice or virtue.
Nevertheless man has found love, which is not a bad reply to that sly Deity, and he has adorned it with so much poetry that woman often forgets the sensual part of it. Those among us who are unable to deceive themselves have invented vice and refined debauchery, which is another way of laughing at God and paying homage, immodest homage, to beauty.
People either build a castle or a dungeon. The former by their virtues, pull people into positive edifices with gainful impression. The later by their vices, push people into negative huts with painful oppression.
The mask of art is the means through which corruption is spread. The mask makes vice seem beautiful, turns squalor and nastiness into glamorous thrill, seduces the onlooker into the game – and leaves him or her with the corpse on his hands.
In the first place I spent most of my time at home, reading. I tried to stifle all that was continually seething within me by means of external impressions. And the only external means I had was reading. Reading, of course, was a great help--exciting me, giving me pleasure and pain. But at times it bored me fearfully. One longed for movement in spite of everything, and I plunged all at once into dark, underground, loathsome vice of the pettiest kind. My wretched passions were acute, smarting, from my continual, sickly irritability I had hysterical impulses, with tears and convulsions. I had no resource except reading, that is, there was nothing in my surroundings which I could respect and which attracted me. I was overwhelmed with depression, too; I had an hysterical craving for incongruity and for contrast, and so I took to vice. I have not said all this to justify myself .... But, no! I am lying. I did want to justify myself. I make that little observation for my own benefit, gentlemen. I don't want to lie. I vowed to myself I would not.
Never take advice about never taking advice. That is an old vice of men - to dish it out without being able to take it - the blind leading the blind into more blindness.
I have seen purer liquors, better segars, finer tobacco, truer guns and pistols, larger dirks and bowie knives, and prettier courtesans here in San Francisco than in any other place I have ever visited; and it is my unbiased opinion that California can and does furnish the best bad things that are available in America.
History, as taught by schools, has white washed the drunkenness out of the past. It has minimized the influence of drugs on history's great thinkers, and covered up the impact of prostitution and insults on human development.
You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way it's only in troublous times that you line your pockets.
Parent may hinder their children's marriage, but children cannot interfere with the insane acts of their parents in their second childhood.
To the loyal and to the blood-lovers, in the good families and in the fiery dynasties, life is family and family is life. It is the same people who give advice and their vices to live well who turn out to be the ones who give resource and reason to live long.
The virtues are economists, but some of the vices are also...Pride is handsome, economical; pride eradicates so many vices, letting none subsist but itself, that it seems as if it were a great gain to exchange vanity for pride. Pride can go without domestics, without fine clothes, can live in a house with two rooms, can eat potato, purslain, beans, lyed corn, can work on the soil, can travel afoot, can talk with poor men, or sit silent well contented in fine saloons. But vanity costs money, labor, horses, men, women, health and peace, and is still nothing at last; a long way leading nowhere. Only one drawback; proud people are intolerably selfish, and the vain are gentle and giving.
Vain mistaken mortals, who, valuing themselves on names and titles, suppose that the virtues of the mind must be attached to an empty sound, when every day's experience proves that birth is disgraced, titles rendered contemptible, and riches a curse, by the vices, meanness, and dissipation of its possessors!
Whenever the balance of power was unequal, there was a driver and a driven. Power was the lethal vice, the turn-on with evil built into it, because it required a victim to manifest itself. Power implied subject and object. They needed some way to recognize (for everyone to recognize) that everybody was a subject.
One needs to be either more brave or more good, because if courage is lacking goodness can substitute, while cowardice is the deficiency of both.
A very special case. A few years more, and that pretty creature who you love too much, I think, will, without ever loving them, have known as many men as there are beads on her aunt's rosary. No happy medium! Either a nun or a monster! God's bosom or sensual passions! It would, perhaps, be better to put her in a convent, since we put hysterical women in the Saltpetriere! She does not know vice, she invents it!That was ten years ago before the day our story begins and... Raoule was not a nun.
Since its appearance the view that prostitution is a product of capitalism has gained ground enormously. And as, in addition, preachers still complain that the good old morals have decayed, and accuse modern culture of having led to loose living, everyone is convinced that all sexual wrongs represent a symptom of decadence peculiar to our age.
Is it that we pretend to a reformation? Truly, no: but it may be we are more addicted to Venus than our fathers were. They are two exercises that thwart and hinder one another in their vigor. Lechery weakens our stomach on the one side; and on the other sobriety renders us more spruce and amorous for the exercise of love.
In the course of my life I have had pre-pubescent ballerinas; emaciated duchesses, dolorous and forever tired, melomaniac and morphine-sodden; bankers' wives with eyes hollower than those of suburban streetwalkers; music-hall chorus girls who tip creosote into their Roederer when getting drunk...I have even had the awkward androgynes, the unsexed dishes of the day of the *tables d'hote* of Montmartre. Like any vulgar follower of fashion, like any member of the herd, I have made love to bony and improbably slender little girls, frightened and macabre, spiced with carbolic and peppered with chlorotic make-up.Like an imbecile, I have believed in the mouths of prey and sacrificial victims. Like a simpleton, I have believed in the large lewd eyes of a ragged heap of sickly little creatures: alcoholic and cynical shop girls and whores. The profundity of their eyes and the mystery of their mouths... the jewellers of some and the manicurists of others furnish them with *eaux de toilette*, with soaps and rouges. And Fanny the etheromaniac, rising every morning for a measured dose of cola and coca, does not put ether only on her handkerchief.It is all fakery and self-advertisement - *truquage and battage*, as their vile argot has it. Their phosphorescent rottenness, their emaciated fervour, their Lesbian blight, their shop-sign vices set up to arouse their clients, to excite the perversity of young and old men alike in the sickness of perverse tastes! All of it can sparkle and catch fire only at the hour when the gas is lit in the corridors of the music-halls and the crude nickel-plated decor of the bars. Beneath the cerise three-ply collars of the night-prowlers, as beneath the bulging silks of the cyclist, the whole seductive display of passionate pallor, of knowing depravity, of exhausted and sensual anaemia - all the charm of spicy flowers celebrated in the writings of Paul Bourget and Maurice Barres - is nothing but a role carefully learned and rehearsed a hundred times over. It is a chapter of the MANCHON DE FRANCINE read over and over again, swotted up and acted out by ingenious barnstormers, fully conscious of the squalid salacity of the male of the species, and knowledgeable in the means of starting up the broken-down engines of their customers.To think that I also have loved these maleficent and sick little beasts, these fake Primaveras, these discounted Jocondes, the whole hundred-franc stock-in-trade of Leonardos and Botticellis from the workshops of painters and the drinking-dens of aesthetes, these flowers mounted on a brass thread in Montparnasse and Levallois-Perret!And the odious and tiresome travesty - the corsetted torso slapped on top of heron's legs, painful to behold, the ugly features primed by boulevard boxes, the fake Dresden of Nina Grandiere retouched from a medicine bottle, complaining and spectral at the same time - of Mademoiselle Guilbert and her long black gloves!...Have I now had enough of the horror of this nightmare! How have I been able to tolerate it for so long?The fact is that I was then ignorant even of the nature of my sickness. It was latent in me, like a fire smouldering beneath the ashes. I have cherished it since... perhaps since early childhood, for it must always have been in me, although I did not know it!
When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns it's back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.