On Mankind

As long as the world has existed and people have been killing each other, no one man has ever committed a crime upon his own kind without calming himself with this same thought. This thought was le bien publique, the supposed good of other people.

(Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace)

El poder – como el amor – es de doble filo: se ejerce y se padece.

(Gabriel García Márquez: Noticia de un secuestro)

Always do a thing when the chance is offered to you. I know that now. But when you are young it seems as if there will always be time to do everything.

(Ernle Bradford: The Wind Off the Island)

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 bling do beings – even to the being called France.

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. 

He who is different from me does not impoverish me – he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in Man… For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.

Pure logic is the ruin of the spirit.

No single event can awaken within us a stranger whose existence we had never suspected. To live is to be slowly born. It would be a little too easy to borrow ready-made souls!

What I do see more clearly now is the prime agent of victory. He who bears in his heart a cathedral to be built is already victorious. He who seeks to become sexton of a finished cathedral is already defeated. Victory is the fruit of love. Only love can say what face shall emerge from the clay. Only love can guide man towards that face. Intelligence is valid only as it serves love. 

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)

Qui recherche la lune ne voit pas les étoiles.

(French proverb)

For… every desire has enriched me more than the possession – always false – of the very object of desire.

(André Gide: The Fruits of the Earth)

Discutir con tontos supone tener que bajar al nivel de los tontos y ahí son imbatibles.

(Arturo Pérez-Reverte)

El problema de las palabras es que, una vez echadas, no pueden volverse solas a su dueño. De modo que a veces te las vuelven en la punta de un acero.

(Arturo Pérez-Reverte: Limpieza de sangre)