I mean, readers are always disappointed when you talk about your work. You have to say to them, ‘Look, you’re talking about work you may love… I’m talking about work that I loathe…’ It’s nothing to do with me any more. Really, it has nothing to do with me…. There is the odd sentence that I think, ‘Well, that’s quite nice.’ I can’t say in all honesty that it’s as if it was written by somebody else, but it was written by a different version of myself, and in a way, it’s more radical, because the selves we leave behind are more strange to us than strangers.
~ John Banville, in the Financial Times
~ Jane Hirshfield
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. The whole incredible speech—his last—can be read here.
What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.
~ Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers
~ More Than Conquerors: A Memoir of Lost Arguments #outtakes
Yet by and large, I think it’s good for us to be disillusioned. Generally, the more we are adjusted to reality, the better our lives work. But we can live in a world of reality only if we have a taste for mystery. For the reality of the situation is that our knowledge is like a little raft bobbing up and down in the sea of our ignorance, in an ocean of mystery. And people in that situation are going to be out of luck if they don’t like the water.
~ M. Scott Peck, Further Along the Road Less Traveled: The Unending Journey Toward Spiritual Growth, a refreshing dip into the middlebrow thanks to a Nairobi guest house library