The madman – Chesterton quote

“If the madman could for an instant become careless, he would become sane. Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”

Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton

Fernando Pessoa visits a barbershop and reflects. Book of Disquiet quote.

“I went into the barbershop as usual, with the pleasant sensation of entering a familiar place, easily and naturally. New things are distressing to my sensibility; I’m at ease only in places where I’ve already been.

After I’d sat down in the chair, I happened to ask the young barber, occupied in fastening a clean, cool cloth around my neck, about his older colleague from the chair to the right, a spry fellow who’d been sick. I didn’t ask this because I’d felt obliged to ask something; it was the place and my memory that sparked the question. ‘He passed away yesterday,’ flatly answered the barber’s voice behind me and the linen cloth as his fingers withdrew from the final tuck of the cloth in between my shirt collar and my neck. The whole of my irrational good mood abruptly died, like the eternally missing barber from the adjacent chair. A chill swept over all my thoughts. I said nothing.

Nostalgia! I even feel it for people and things that were nothing to me, because time’s fleeing is for me an anguish, and life’s mystery is a torture. Faces I habitually see on my habitual streets – if I stop seeing them I become sad. And they were nothing to me, except perhaps the symbol of all life.

The nondescript old man with dirty gaiters who often crossed my path at nine-thirty in the morning… The crippled seller of lottery tickets who would pester me in vain… The round and ruddy old man smoking a cigar at the door of the tobacco shop… The pale tobacco shop owner… What has happened to them all, who because I regularly saw them were a part of my life? Tomorrow I too will vanish from the Rua da Prata, the Rua dos Douradores, the Rua dos Fanqueiros. Tomorrow I too – I this soul that feels and thinks, this universe I am for myself – yes, tomorrow I too will be the one who no longer walks these streets, whom others will vaguely evoke with a ‘What’s become of him?’ And everything I’ve done, everything I’ve felt and everything I’ve lived will amount merely to one less passer-by on the everyday streets of some city or other.”

Pessoa, Fernando. The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Modern Classics) .

General vs Particular

“But you must observe this, my dear Rodion Romanovitch, the general case, the case for which all legal forms and rules are intended, for which they are calculated and laid down in books, does not exist at all, for the reason that every case, every crime, for instance, so soon as it actually occurs, at once becomes a thoroughly special case and sometimes a case unlike any that’s gone before.”

Porfiry Petrovitch in Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dirty words in the Dictionary, Samuel Johnson anecdote

Dear Quote Investigator: After Samuel Johnson published his masterful dictionary of the English language he was reportedly approached by two prudish individuals:

“Mr. Johnson, we are glad that you have omitted the indelicate and objectionable words from your new dictionary.”

“What, my dears! Have you been searching for them?”

via https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/09/22/improper-search/

“Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly”, GK Chesterton

QUESTION: Was it Chesterton who said, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly”?

ANSWER: A resounding Yes! The line, which has shown up on posters, cards, needlepoints, and calendars everywhere, actually reads “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” It comes from the chapter entitled “The Eternal Revolution,” in Chesterton’s great book, Orthodoxy.

via The Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton

“I knew I hadn’t written in vain!”

A friend of mine, Dorothy Day, had been put in the women’s prison at 6th Avenue and 8th Street, for her part in a protest. Well, once a week at this place, on a Saturday, the girls were marched down for a shower. A group were being ushered in when one, a whore, loudly proclaimed:

Hundreds have lived without love,
But none without water

A line from a poem of mine which had just appeared in The New Yorker. When I heard this I knew I hadn’t written in vain!

W.H. Auden

‘If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.’ – Emerson, Nature

Dream delivers us to dream …

Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus. From the mountain you see the mountain. We animate what we can, and we see only what we animate. Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them. It depends on the mood of the man whether he shall see the sunset or the fine poem.

Experience, Ralph Waldo Emerson.