One lense

"Other men are the lenses through which we read our own minds."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly, “I seek God! I seek God!” As many of those who do not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Why, did he get lost? said one. Did he lose his way like a child? said another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? or emigrated? Thus they yelled and laughed. The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his glances.

"Whither is God" he cried. "I shall tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Away from all the suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves? What was holiest and most powerful of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must not we ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever will be born after us—for the sake of this deed he will be part of a higher history than all history hitherto."

Here the madman fell silent. and looked again at his listeners; and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke and went out. “I come too early,” he said then; “my time has not come yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering—it has not yet reached the ears of man. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves.”

It has been related further that on the same day the madman entered divers churches and there sang his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said to have replied each time, “What are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Everywhere in these days men have, in their mockery, ceased to understand that the true security is to be found in social solidarity rather than in isolated individual effort. But this terrible individualism must inevitably have an end, and all will suddenly understand how unnaturally they are separated from one another. It will be the spirit of time, and people will marvel that they have sat so long in darkness without seeing the light.

—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as man, so artistically cruel.

—Fyodor Dostoyevksy, The Brothers Karamazov

And man has actually invented God. And what’s strange, what would be marvellous, is not that God should really exist; the marvel is that such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God, could enter the head of such a savage, vicious beast as man. So holy it is, so touching, so wise and so great a credit it does to man.

—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

I have a longing for life, and I go on living in spite of logic. Though I may not believe in the order of the universe, yet I love the sticky little leaves as they open in spring. I love the blue sky, I love some people, whom one loves you know sometimes without knowing why. I love some great deeds done by men, though I’ve long ceased perhaps to have faith in them, yet from old habit one’s heart prizes them…It’s not a matter of intellect or logic, it’s loving with one’s inside, with one’s stomach. One loves the first strength of one’s youth.

—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

An ordinary boy, a weak son, would have submitted, have felt ashamed of his father, sir, but he stood up for his father against them all. For his father and for truth and justice. For what he suffered when he kissed your brother’s hand and cried to him ‘Forgive father, forgive him,’ — that only God knows — and I, his father. For our children — not your children, but ours — the children of the poor gentlemen looked down upon by everyone — know what justice means, sir, even at nine years old. How should the rich know? They don’t explore such depths once in their entire lives. But at that moment in the square when he kissed his hand, at that moment my Ilyusha had grasped all that justice means. That truth entered him and crushed him forever, sir.

—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations — all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is, you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be.

—David Levithan, Everyday

I am eternally, devastatingly romantic, and I thought people would see it because ‘romantic’ doesn’t mean ‘sugary.’ It’s dark and tormented — the furor of passion, the despair of an idealism that you can’t attain.

—Catherine Breillat (via neoterist)

My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.

—Warsan Shire (via libraryatsea)

On our earth we can truly love only with suffering and through suffering! We know not how to love otherwise. We know no other love. I want suffering in order to love.

—Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

See, things you hate, things you despise, multinational corporations and lies that politicians tell, injustices that make you mad as hell, that’s all well and good. And as far as writing poems goes, I guess you should. It just might be a poem that gets Mumia released, brings an end to terrorism or peace in the Middle East.

But as far as what soothes me, what inspires and moves me, honesty behooves me to tell you your rage doesn’t move me. See, like the darkest of clouds my heart has a silver lining, which does not harken to the loudest whining, but beats and stirs and grows ever more when I learn of the things you’re actually for.

'Nobody has the right to remove any single experience from another. Life and death are promised. We have a right to pain.'

— John Steinbeck, East of Eden

'We all have that heritage, no matter what old land our fathers left. All colors and blends of Americans have somewhat the same tendencies. It's a breed — selected out by accident. And so we're overbrave and overfearful — we're kind and cruel as children. We're overfriendly and at the same time frightened of strangers. We boast and are impressed. We're overentimental and realistic. We are mundane and materialistic — and do you know of any other nation that acts for ideals? We eat too much. We have no taste, no sense of proportion. We throw our energy about like waste. In the old lands they say of us that we go from barbarism to decadence without an intervening culture. Can it be that our critics have not the key or the language of our culture? That's what we are.'

— John Steinbeck, East of Eden

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.

— Anaïs Nin 

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