On The Influence Of Books
It is an error to suppose that books
have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water
carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year;
and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and
heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company
he has kept.
On The Process Of Civilization
Civilization came through two things
chiefly: the home, which developed those social dispositions
that form the psychological cement of society; and agriculture,
which took man from his wandering life as hunter, herder, and
killer, and settled him long enough in one place to let him build
homes, schools, churches, colleges, universities, civilization.
But it was woman who gave man agriculture and the home; she domesticated
man as she had domesticated the sheep and the pig. Man is woman's
last domestic animal, and perhaps he is the last creature that
will be civilized by woman. The task is just begun.
What if it is for life's sake that
we must die? In truth we are not individuals; and it is because
we think ourselves such that death seems unforgivable. We are
temporary organs of the race, cells in the body of life; we die
and drop away that life may remain young and strong. If we were
to live forever, growth would be stifled, and youth would find
no room on earth. Death, like style, is the removal of rubbish,
the circumcision of the superfluous. In the midst of death life
renews itself immortally.
Democracy, And The Decay Of Art
Democracy had to pay the price of
popular sovereignty in art as well as in politics. The taste
of innumerable average men became the guide of the manufacturer,
the dramatist, the scenario writer, the novelist, at last of
the painter, the sculptor, and the architect; cost and size became
norms of value, and a bizarre novelty replaced beauty and workmanship
as the goals of art.
On The Meaning Of Education
Education does not mean that we have
become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism
or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the
moral, intellectual; and esthetic inheritance of the race we
have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the
external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates
both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy
to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding.
On The Value Of The Ego
Nature inoculates us with egotism
that we may consent to live. Who could bear to see himself "in
the light of eternity?"
Food For Thought
If you wish to be loved, be modest;
if you wish to be admired, be proud; if you wish both, combine
external modesty with internal pride.
The Mystery Of Life
Life is in its basis a mystery, a
river flowing from an unseen source; and in its development an
infinite subtlety too complex for thought, much more so for utterance.
And yet the thirst for unity draws us on. To chart this wilderness
of experience and history, to force into focus on the future
the unsteady light of the past, to bring into significance and
purpose the chaos of sensation and desire, to discover the direction
of life's stream and thereby in some measure to control its flow:
this insatiable metaphysical lust is one of the nobler aspects
of our questionable race.
All things must die, but love alone
eludes mortality. It overleaps the tombs and bridges the chasm
of death with generation. How brief it seems in the bitterness
of disillusion; and yet how perennial it is in the perspective
of mankind -- how in the end it saves a bit of us from decay
and enshrines our life anew in the youth and vigor of the child!
Our wealth is a weariness, and our wisdom is a little light that
chills; but love warms the heart with unspeakable solace, even
more when it is given than when it is received.
On The Value Of Love
Youth, if it were wise, would cherish
love beyond all things else, keeping body and soul clear for
its coming, lengthening its days with months of betrothal, sanctioning
it with a marriage of solemn ritual, making all things subordinate
to it resolutely. Wisdom, if it were young, would cherish love,
nursing it with devotion, deepening it with sacrifice, vitalizing
it with parentage. Even though love consumes us in its service
and overwhelms us with tragedy, even though it breaks us down
with its passing and weighs us down with separations, let it
On The Value Of Great Men
Great men are not so much creators
as midwives: they help to bring forth that which is already in
the womb of time ... Great men may not be the causes of the events
usually featured in history -- wars, elections, migrations, etc,;
but they bring forth the inventions and discoveries demanded
by the age. In this sense the growth of knowledge is the essence
Nothing is new except arrangement
Nature And Politics
Nature cares little about laws and
states; her passion is for the family and the child. If she can
preserve these she is indifferent to governments and dynasties
and smiles at those who busy themselves with transferring constitutions.
Religion And Civilization
A certain tension between religion
and society marks the highest stages of every civilization. Religion
begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men;
it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and
belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; it
ends by fighting suicidally in the lost cause of the past. For
as knowledge grows or alters continually, it clashes with mythology
and theology, which change with geological leisureliness. Priestly
control of arts and letters is then felt as a galling shackle
or hateful barrier, and intellectual history takes on the character
of a "conflict between science and religion" Institutions
which were at first in the hands of the clergy, like law and
punishment, education and morals, marriage and divorce, tend
to escape from ecclesiastical control and become secular, perhaps
profane. The intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology
and -- after some hesitation -- the moral code allied with it;
literature and philosophy become anticlerical. The movement of
liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls
to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea.
Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into
epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes
a burden alike, to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In
the end, a society and its religion tend to fall together, like
body and soul, in a harmonious death. Meanwhile, among the oppressed,
another myth arises, gives new form to human hope, new courage
to human effort, and after centuries of chaos builds another
On Religion And Human Longing
These church steeples, everywhere
pointing upward, ignoring despair and lifting hope, these lofty
city spires, or simple chapels in the hills -- they rise at every
step from the earth toward the sky; in every village of every
nation they challenge doubt and invite weary hearts to consolation.
Is it all a vain delusion? Is there nothing beyond life but death,
and nothing beyond death but decay? We cannot know. But as long
as man suffers, these steeples will remain.
On The War Of The Sexes
If you wish to learn which sex is
the more intelligent, watch any man in relation with any woman,
and see which of the two will twist the other around her finger.
The Wise Man And Experience
A wise man can learn from another
man's experience; a fool cannot learn even from his own.
On Women Over Forty
Once a woman of forty was old, decrepit,
and trustworthy; today there is nothing more dangerous.
Writers Should Keep Their Fame
Literary immortality is a moment in
On Writing History
I want to see history written as a
whole; I want to see all these activities of men and women in
one age woven into unity, shown in their correlations, their
interdependence, their mutual influences; I want the past presented
as it was -- all together.
On Wronging Another
Never put a man in the wrong; he will
hold it against you forever.