Civilisation

Quote of the Week

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

A civilisation is a heritage of beliefs, customs, and knowledge slowly accumulated in the course of centuries, elements difficult at times to justify by logic, but justifying themselves as paths when they lead somewhere, since they open up for man his inner distance.

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)

The Purpose of Drinking Wine

Quote of the Day

John Mortimer (1923-2009)

“The purpose of drinking wine is not intoxication, Rumpole.”

Erskine-Brown looked as pain as a prelate who is told that his congregation only came to church because of the central heating.

“The point is to get in touch with one of the major influences of western civilization, to taste sunlight trapped in a bottle and to remember some stony slope in Tuscany or by the Gironde.”

(John Mortimer: The Collected Stories of Rumpole)

Government (El gobierno)

Quote of the Day / La cita del día

We start the new year with England out of the EU and most of the governments of the world clueless…

Empezamos el año nuevo con Inglaterra fuera de la UE y con muchos de los gobiernos del mundo despistados…

Lao Tzu (6th century BC)

The government that seems the most unwise,
Oft goodness to the people best supplies,
That which is meddling, touching everything,
Will work but ill, and disappointment bring.

(Tao Te King, 58:1)


Cuando el gobierno es inactivo, el pueblo es diligente. Cuando el gobierno es activo, el pueblo es indolente. 

(Tao Te King: LVIII)

La fe (Faith)

La cita del día / Quote of the Day

Mario Vargas Llosa (1936-)

Pero un día perdí la fe y nunca más la he recobrado. Creo que la perdí apenas empecé a pensar. Para ser creyente no conviene pensar mucho.

(Mario Vargas Llosa: El héroe discreto)


But one day I lost my faith and never got it back again. I think I lost it as soon as I began to think. To be a believer, you can’t think too much.

(Mario Vargas Llosa: The Discreet Hero)

Better Manic Than Boring

Quote of the Week

Eddie Huang (1982- )

I think my mom is manic, but Chinese people don’t believe in psychologists. We just drink more tea when things go bad. Sometimes I agree; I think we’re all overdiagnosed. Maybe that’s just how we are, and people should leave us alone. My mom was entertaining! If you met my family, you’d prescribe Xanax for all of them, but then what? We’d be boring.

(Eddie Huang: Fresh Off the Boat)

Death

Quote of the Week:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

When the body sinks into death, the essence of man is revealed. Man is a knot, a web, a mesh into which relationships are tied. Only those relationships matter. The body is an old crock that nobody will miss. I have never known a man to think of himself when dying. Never.

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)

Never Love a Wild Thing

Quote of the Week

Truman Capote (1924-1984)

‘Never love a wild thing, Mr Bell,’ Holly advised him. ‘That was doc’s mistake. He was always lugging home wild things. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full-grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up, Mr Bell. If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.’

(Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany’s)

Sorpresa (Surprise)

La cita del día / Quote of the Day

Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1951-)

Freedom of Conscience

Quote of the Day

A somewhat Machiavellian argument for the freedom of conscience from the 18th century. 🙂

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

It is useless to claim that it is not in the prince’s interest to permit several religions coexist in his realm. If every sect in the world assembled there together, it would in no way harm the prince, because there is not a single religion that does not prescribe obedience, and preach submission. 

(Montesquieu: Persian Letters, Letter 83)

Man’s Spirit

Quote of the Week:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

Man’s spirit is not concerned with object; that is the business of our analytical faculties. Man’s spirit is concerned with the significance that relates objects to one another. With their totality, which only the piercing eye of the spirit can perceive. The spirit, meanwhile, alternates between total vision and absolute blindness.

Here is a man, for example, who loves his farm – but there are moments when he sees in it only a collection of unrelated objects. Here is a man who loves his wife – but there are moments when he sees in love nothing but burdens, hindrances, constraints. Here is a man who loves music – but there are moments when it cannot reach him.

What we call a nation is certainly not the sum of the regions, customs, cities, farms, and the rest that man’s intelligence is able at any moment to add up. It is a Being. But there are moments when I find myself blind to beings – even to the being called France.

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)

The Cuckoo Clock (El reloj de cuco)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

Graham Greene (1904-1991)

“You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

(Graham Greene: The Third Man)


«En los treinta años que estuvieron los Borgia en Italia hubo guerra, terror, asesinato y derramamiento de sangre —le explica—. Pero de ahí salieron Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci y el Renacimiento. En Suiza tenían amor fraternal, quinientos años de paz y democracia. Y, ¿qué salió de todo eso? El reloj de cuco».

(Graham Greene: El tercer hombre)

El problema (The Problem)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week

Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1951-)

The Decency of Human Beings (La decencia de los seres humanos)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana

George Orwell (1903-1950)

This war, in which I played so ineffectual a part, has left me with memories that are mostly evil, and yet I do not wish that I had missed it. When you have has a glimpse of such disaster as this – and however it ends the Spanish war will turn out to have been an appalling disaster, quite apart from the slaughter and physical suffering – the result is not necessarily disillusionment and cynicism.

Curiously enough, the whole experience has left me with not less but more belief in the decency of human beings.

(George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia)


Esta guerra, en la que desempeñé un papel tan ineficaz, me ha dejado recuerdos en su mayoría funestos, pero aun así no hubiera querido perdérmela. Cuando se ha podido atisbar un desastre como éste -y, cualquiera que sea el resultado, la guerra española habrá sido un espantoso desastre, aun sin considerar las matanzas y el sufrimiento físico-, el saldo no es necesariamente desilusión y cinismo.

Por curioso que parezca; toda esta experiencia no ha socavado mi fe en la decencia de los seres humanos, sino que, por el contrario, la ha fortalecido.

(George Orwell: Homenaje a Cataluña)

 

Patriotism (Patriotismo)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

Only he can understand what a farm is, what a country is, who shall have sacrificed part of himself to his farm or country, fought to save it, struggled to make it beautiful. Only then will the love of farm or country fill his heart.


Sólo comprenderá lo que es un dominio aquel que le haya sacrificado una parte de sí mismo, aquel que haya luchado para salvarlo, y penado por embellecerlo. Entonces vendrá a él el amor del dominio.

 (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras / Piloto de guerra)

Eggs & Cretans

Quote of the Week

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957)

The eggs had already been eaten, shells and all. Now Captain Michales with a blow from his fist, smashed the pottery egg-cups, and distributed them to his guests to eat. Bertódolus was terrified, took his piece and clung breathless to a cask. With goggling eyes he watched the Cretans at his feet bit their bits of clay and chew them until they became sand and grit, which they swallowed with a snigger.

There are three sorts of men, Bertódolus slowly explained to himself: those who eat eggs without the shells; those who eat eggs with the shells; and those who gobble them up with the shell and the egg-cups as well. Those of the third kind are called Cretans.

(Nikos Kazantzakis: Freedom and Death)

Image Credit: Kazantzakis Museum via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

Insignificance

Quote of the Week

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

…when I see men that creep about over an atom, the earth, which is simply a dot in the universe, propose themselves as models of Providence, I do not know how to reconcile such extravagance with such insignificance.

(Montesquieu: Persian Letters)

The Need to Escape (La necesidad de evasión)

The Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

There is a cheap literature that speaks to us of the need of escape. It is true that when we travel we are in search of distance. But distance is not to be found. It melts away. And escape has never led anywhere. The moment a man finds that he must play the races, go the Arctic, or make war in order to feel himself alive, that man has begun to spin the strands that bind him to other men and to the world. But what wretched strands! A civilisation that is really strong fills man to the brim, though he never stir. What are we worth when motionless, is the question.


Hay una mala literatura que nos ha hablado de la necesidad de evasión. Por supuesto, uno emprende viaje en busca de extensión; pero la extensión no se encuentra, se funda; y la evasión nunca lleva a ninguna parte.

Cuando el hombre, para sentirse hombre, tiene necesidad de correr carreras, de cantar en coro, de hacer la guerra, se impone lazos para anudarse al otro y al mundo. ¡Pero qué pobres lazos! Si una civilización es grande, colma al hombre, aunque éste permanezca inmóvil.

En este pueblecito silencioso, bajo el gris de un día de lluvia, diviso una inválida recluida que medita junto a su ventana. ¿Quién es? ¿Qué han hecho de ella? Yo juzgaría la civilización del pueblecito por la densidad de esta presencia. ¿Qué valemos, una vez inmóviles?

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras/ Piloto de guerra)