Post your favorite passages from any books. Passages that touched you like no other books have.
Book of Disquiet, Section 39
>All of a sudden, as if a surgical hand of destiny had operated on a long-standing blindness with immediate and sensational results, I lift my gaze from my anonymous life to the clear recognition of how I live. And I see that everything I've done though or been is a species of delusion or madness. I'm amazed by what I managed not to see. I marvel at all that I was and that I now see I'm not.
>I look at my past life as at a field lit up by the sun when it breaks through the clouds, and I note with metaphysical astonishment how my most deliberate acts, my clearest ideas and my most logical intentions were after all no more than congenital drunkness, inherent madness and huge ignorance. I didn't even act anything out. I was the role that got acted. At most, I was the actor's motions.
>All that I've done, thought or been is a series of submissions, either to a false selft that I assumed belonged to me because I expressed myself through it to the outside, or to a weight of circumstances that I supposed was the air I breathed. In this moment of seeing, I suddenly find myself isolated, an exile where I'd always thought I was a citizen. At the heart of my thoughts I wasn't I.
>I'm dazed by a sarcastic terror of life, a despondency that exceed the limits of my conscious being. I realize that I was all error and deviation, that I never lived, that I existed only in so far as I filled time with consciousness and thought. I feel, in this moment, like a man who wakes up after a slumber full of real dreams, or like a man freed by an earthquake from the dim light of the prison he'd frown used to.
>This sudden awareness of my true being, of this being that has always sleepily wandered between what it feels and what it sees, weights on me like an untold sentence to serve.
>It's so hard to describe this feeling of really and truly existing and of one's soul being a real entity that I don't know what human words could define it. I don't know if I have a fever, as I feel I do, or if I've stopped havingthe fever of sleeping through life. Yes, I repeat, I'm like a traveller who suddenly finds himself in a strange town, without knowing how he got there, which makes me think of those who lose their memory and for a long time are not themselves but someone else. I was someone else for a long time - since birth and consciousness - and suddenly I've woken up in the middle of a bridge, leaning over the river and knowing that I exist more solidly than the person I was up till now. But the city is unknown to me, the streets are new, and the trouble has no cure. And so, leaning over the bridge, I wait for the truth to go away and let me return to being fictitious and non-existent, intelligent and natural.
>It was just a brief moment, and it's already over. Once more I see the furniture all around me, the pattern on the old wallpaper, and the sun through the dusty panes. I saw the truth for a moment. For a moment I was consciously what great men are their entire lives. Their entire lives? I recall their words and deeds and wonder if they were also successfully tempted by the Demon of Reality. To know nothing about yourself is to live. To know yourself badly is to think. To know yourself in a flash, as I did in this moment, is to have a fleeting notion of the intimate monad, the soul's magic word. But that sudden light scorches everything, consumes everything. It strips us naked of even ourselves.
>It was just a moment, and I saw myself. I can longer even say what I was. And now I'm sleepy, because I think - I don't know why - that the meaning of it all is to sleep.
Athene deceived Hector with her words and her disguise, and led him on till he and Achilles met. Hector of the gleaming helm spoke first: ‘I will not run from you, as before, son of Peleus. My heart failed me as I waited for your attack, and three times round Priam’s city we ran, but now my heart tells me to stand and face you, to kill or be killed. Come let us swear an oath before the gods, for they are the best witnesses of such things. If Zeus lets me kill you and survive, then when I’ve stripped you of your glorious armour I’ll not mistreat your corpse, I’ll return your body to your people, if you will do the same for me.’
Swift-footed Achilles glared at him in reply: ‘Curse you, Hector, and don’t talk of oaths to me. Lions and men make no compacts, nor are wolves and lambs in sympathy: they are opposed, to the end. You and I are beyond friendship: nor will there be peace between us till one or the other dies and sates Ares, lord of the ox-hide shield, with his blood. Summon up your reserves of courage, be a spearman now and a warrior brave. There is no escape from me, and soon Athene will bring you down with my spear. Now pay the price for all my grief, for all my friends you’ve slaughtered with your blade.’
So saying he raised his long-shadowed spear and hurled it. But glorious Hector kept an eye on it and, crouching, dodged so the shaft flew above him, and the point buried itself in the ground behind. Yet Pallas Athene snatched it up and returned it to Achilles, too swiftly for Prince Hector to see. And Hector spoke to Peleus’ peerless son: ‘It seems you missed, godlike Achilles, despite your certainty that Zeus has doomed me. It was mere glibness of speech, mere verbal cunning, trying to unnerve me with fright, to make me lose strength and courage. You’ll get no chance to pierce my back as I flee, so, if the gods allow you, drive it through my chest as I attack, dodge my bronze spear if you can. I pray it lodges deep in your flesh! If you were dead, our greatest bane, war would be easy for us Trojans.’
So saying, he raised and hurled his long-shadowed spear, striking Achilles’ shield square on, though the spear simply rebounded. Hector was angered by his vain attempt with the swift shaft, and stood there in dismay, lacking a second missile. He called aloud to Deiphobus of the White Shield, calling for his long spear, but he was nowhere to be found, and Hector realised the deceit: ‘Ah, so the gods have lured me to my death. I thought Deiphobus was by my side, but he is still in the city, Athene fooled me. An evil fate’s upon me, Death is no longer far away, and him there is no escaping. Zeus, and his son, the Far-Striker, decided all this long ago, they who were once eager to defend me, and destiny now overtakes me. But let me not die without a fight, without true glory, without some deed that men unborn may hear.’
>With this, he drew the sharp blade at his side, a powerful long-sword, and gathering his limbs together swooped like a high-soaring eagle that falls to earth from the dark clouds to seize a sick lamb or a cowering hare. So Hector swooped, brandishing his keen blade. Achilles ran to meet him heart filled with savage power, covering his chest with his great, skilfully worked shield, while above his gleaming helm with its four ridges waved the golden plumes Hephaestus placed thickly at its crest. Bright as the Evening Star that floats among the midnight constellations, set there the loveliest jewel in the sky, gleamed the tip of Achilles sharp spear brandished in his right hand, as he sought to work evil on noble Hector, searching for the likeliest place to land a blow on his fair flesh.
Now, the fine bronze armour he stripped from mighty Patroclus when he killed him covered all Hector’s flesh except for one opening at the throat, where the collarbones knit neck and shoulders, and violent death may come most swiftly. There, as Hector charged at him, noble Achilles aimed his ash spear, and drove its heavy bronze blade clean through the tender neck, though without cutting the windpipe or robbing Hector of the power of speech. Hector fell in the dust and Achilles shouted out in triumph: ‘While you were despoiling Patroclus, no doubt, in your folly, you thought yourself quite safe, Hector, and forgot all about me in my absence. Far from him, by the hollow ships, was a mightier man, who should have been his helper but stayed behind, and that was I, who now have brought you low. The dogs and carrion birds will tear apart your flesh, but him the Achaeans will bury.’
Then Hector of the gleaming helm replied, in a feeble voice: ‘At your feet I beg, by your parents, by your own life, don’t let the dogs devour my flesh by the hollow ships. Accept the ransom my royal father and mother will offer, stores of gold and bronze, and let them carry my body home, so the Trojans and their wives may grant me in death my portion of fire.’
I was walking along a monotonous, dusty road that passed through a hilly meadow landscape. All of a sudden a marvellous, steel-gray and thistle-blue patterned viper slithered past, and although I had the feeling that I should pick it up, I let it disappear into the thick grass. The event repeated itself, but with the snakes becoming increasingly dull, less attractive, and more colorless; the last ones even lay dead on the path, already quite covered in dust. Soon afterwords I came across a pile of bank notes scattered in a puddle. I carefully picked each one up, cleaned off the muck, and tucked it into my pocket.
There's another from the Iliad I like better
Thus did he pause and ponder. But Lycaon came up to him dazed
and trying hard to embrace his knees, for he would fain live, not
die. Achilles thrust at him with his spear, meaning to kill him, but
Lycaon ran crouching up to him and caught his knees, whereby the
spear passed over his back, and stuck in the ground, hungering
though it was for blood. With one hand he caught Achilles’ knees
as he besought him, and with the other he clutched the spear and
would not let it go. Then he said, “Achilles, have mercy upon me
and spare me, for I am your suppliant. It was in your tents that I
first broke bread on the day when you took me prisoner in the
vineyard; after which you sold away to Lemnos far from my father
and my friends, and I brought you the price of a hundred oxen. I
have paid three times as much to gain my freedom; it is but twelve
days that I have come to Ilius after much suffering, and now cruel
fate has again thrown me into your hands. Surely father Jove must
hate me, that he has given me over to you a second time. Short of
life indeed did my mother Laothoe bear me, daughter of aged
Altes- of Altes who reigns over the warlike Lelegae and holds steep
Pedasus on the river Satnioeis. Priam married his daughter along
with many other women and two sons were born of her, both of
whom you will have slain. Your spear slew noble Polydorus as he
was fighting in the front ranks, and now evil will here befall me, for
I fear that I shall not escape you since heaven has delivered me
over to you. Furthermore I say, and lay my saying to your heart,
spare me, for I am not of the same womb as Hector who slew your
brave and noble comrade.”
With such words did the princely son of Priam beseech Achilles;
but Achilles answered him sternly. “Idiot,” said he, “talk not to me
of ransom. Until Patroclus fell I preferred to give the Trojans quarter, and sold beyond the sea many of those whom I had taken
alive; but now not a man shall live of those whom heaven delivers
into my hands before the city of Ilius- and of all Trojans it shall fare
hardest with the sons of Priam. Therefore, my friend, you too shall
die. Why should you whine in this way? Patroclus fell, and he was
a better man than you are. I too- see you not how I am great and
goodly? I am son to a noble father, and have a goddess for my
mother, but the hands of doom and death overshadow me all as
surely. The day will come, either at dawn or dark, or at the
noontide, when one shall take my life also in battle, either with his
spear, or with an arrow sped from his bow.”
Thus did he speak, and Lycaon’s heart sank within him. He loosed
his hold of the spear, and held out both hands before him; but
Achilles drew his keen blade, and struck him by the collar-bone on
his neck; he plunged his two-edged sword into him to the very hilt,
whereon he lay at full length on the ground, with the dark blood
welling from him till the earth was soaked. Then Achilles caught
him by the foot and flung him into the river to go down stream,
vaunting over him the while, and saying, “Lie there among the
fishes, who will lick the blood from your wound and gloat over it;
your mother shall not lay you on any bier to mourn you, but the
eddies of Scamander shall bear you into the broad bosom of the
sea. There shall the fishes feed on the fat of Lycaon as they dart
under the dark ripple of the waters- so perish all of you till we
reach the citadel of strong Ilius- you in flight, and I following after
to destroy you. The river with its broad silver stream shall serve
you in no stead, for all the bulls you offered him and all the horses
that you flung living into his waters. None the less miserably shall
you perish till there is not a man of you but has paid in full for the death of Patroclus and the havoc you wrought among the Achaeans
whom you have slain while I held aloof from battle.”
Noticing a most particular kind of violet endive in the show window of an opulent gourmet shop, I went in. I was not surprised when the shopkeeper explained to me that the only meat that could be considered as an accompaniment to this dish was human flesh - I had already darkly suspected as much.
A long conversation ensued on the manner of its preparation, after which we descended into the cold rooms, where I saw the humans hanging on the walls like hares in front of a game butcher's shop. The shopkeeper pointed out that I was looking exclusively at hunted specimens and not those bred and fattened in captivity: "Leaner, but - I'm not saying this just to sell them - much more aromatic." The hands, feet, and heads were arranged in special bowls and had little price tags attached.
As we went back up the stairs, I remarked: "I didn't know that civilization had come so far in this city" - upon which the shopkeeper appeared taken aback for a second, but then took his leave with a most engaging smile.
There is a type of thin, broad sheet metal that is often used in small theaters to simulate thunder. I imagine a great many of these metal sheets, yet still thinner and more capable of a racket, stacked up the pages of a book, on on top of another at regular intervals, not pressed together but kept apart by some unwieldly mechanism.
I life you up onto the topmost sheet of this mighty pack of cards, and as the weight of your body touches it, it wips with a crack in two. You fall, and you land on the second sheet, which shatters also, with an even greater bang. You plunge strikes the third, fourth, fifth sheet and so on, and with acceleration of the fall the impacts chase each other closer and closer, like a drumbeat rising in rhythm and power. Ever more furious grows the plummet and its vortex, transforming into a mighty, rolling thunder that ultimately burst the limit of consciousness.
Thus it is that terror ravishes man - terror, which is something altogether different from dread, fear or anxiety. It is sooner related to the horror realized on the face of the Gorgon, with its hair on end and mouth opened in a scream, whereas dread more senses than sees the uncanny and for just that reason is shackled by it more strongly. Anxiety lies distant from the limits and maintain a dialogue with hope, while fright... yes, a fright is what is felt when the first sheet rips. In a deadly plunge, the screaming drumbeats and glowing red lights then intensify, no longer in warning but as appalling confirmation, all the way down to the terrifying.
Do you have any idea what goes on in this space that we will perhaps someday plunge through, the space that extends between the recognition of the downfall and the downfall itself?
I often wonder what my own true nature is.
Do I have one?
I always dress well. But no matter what I put on, I always have the disquieting sensation that I am copying somebody; I can always remind myself of somebody else I know who dresses much that same way. I often feel, therefore, that my clothes are not my own. (There are times, in fact, when I open one of my closet doors and am struck with astonishment by the clothes I find hanging inside. They are all mine, of course, but, for a moment, it's as though I had never seen many of them before.)
And I sometimes feel that I would not spend so much time and money and energy chasing around after girls and other women if I were not so frequently in the company of other men who do, or talk as though they wanted to. I'm still not sure it's all that much fun (although I am sure it's an awful lot of trouble). And if I'm not sure by now, I know I never will be.
He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world
the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or how, but a
premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him.
They would meet quietly as if they had known each other and had made their tryst, perhaps at one of the gates
or in some more secret place. They would be alone, surrounded by darkness and silence: and in that moment
of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured.
He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a moment he would be transfigured.
Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall from him in that magic moment.
Ye have roused her, then, ye Emigrants and Despots of the world; France is roused; long have ye been lecturing and tutoring this poor Nation, like cruel uncalled-for pedagogues, shaking over her your ferulas of fire and steel: it is long that ye have pricked and fillipped and affrighted her, there as she sat helpless in her dead cerements of a Constitution, you gathering in on her from all lands, with your armaments and plots, your invadings and truculent bullyings;—and lo now, ye have pricked her to the quick, and she is up, and her blood is up. The dead cerements are rent into cobwebs, and she fronts you in that terrible strength of Nature, which no man has measured, which goes down to Madness and Tophet: see now how ye will deal with her!
This month of September, 1792, which has become one of the memorable months of History, presents itself under two most diverse aspects; all of black on the one side, all of bright on the other. Whatsoever is cruel in the panic frenzy of Twenty-five million men, whatsoever is great in the simultaneous death-defiance of Twenty-five million men, stand here in abrupt contrast, near by one another. As indeed is usual when a man, how much more when a Nation of men, is hurled suddenly beyond the limits. For Nature, as green as she looks, rests everywhere on dread foundations, were we farther down; and Pan, to whose music the Nymphs dance, has a cry in him that can drive all men distracted.
Very frightful it is when a Nation, rending asunder its Constitutions and Regulations which were grown dead cerements for it, becomes transcendental; and must now seek its wild way through the New, Chaotic,—where Force is not yet distinguished into Bidden and Forbidden, but Crime and Virtue welter unseparated,—in that domain of what is called the Passions; of what we call the Miracles and the Portents! It is thus that, for some three years to come, we are to contemplate France, in this final Third Volume of our History. Sansculottism reigning in all its grandeur and in all its hideousness: the Gospel (God's Message) of Man's Rights, Man's mights or strengths, once more preached irrefragably abroad; along with this, and still louder for the time, and fearfullest Devil's-Message of Man's weaknesses and sins;—and all on such a scale, and under such aspect: cloudy 'death-birth of a world;' huge smoke-cloud, streaked with rays as of heaven on one side; girt on the other as with hell-fire! History tells us many things: but for the last thousand years and more, what thing has she told us of a sort like this? Which therefore let us two, O Reader, dwell on willingly, for a little; and from its endless significance endeavour to extract what may, in present circumstances, be adapted for us.