"Certainly for us of the modern world, with its conflicting claims, its entangled interests, distracted by so many sorrows, so manypreoccupations, so bewildering an experience, the problem of unity with ourselves in blitheness and repose, is far harder than it was for the Greek within the simple terms of antique life. Yet, not less than ever, the intellect demands completeness, centrality."
"I was curious, I was avid to know only what I found more real than myself, that which allowed me to glimpse the thoughts of a great genius, or the force or grace of nature left to its own devices, without the intervention of man."
"At a certain age, we have already been struck by love; it no longer develops alone, according to its own mysteries and fateful laws while our hearts stand by startled and passive. We come to its assistance ... Recognizing one of its symptoms, we recall, we bring back to life the others. Since we possess its song engraved in its totality within us, we do not need for a woman to tell us the beginning--filled with admiration inspired by beauty--to find the continuation."
"And yet we constantly reclaim some part of that primal spontaneity through the youngest among us, not only through their sorrow and anger but simply through everyday discoveries, life unwrapped. To see a child touch the piano keys for the first time, to watch a small body slice through the surface of the water in a clean dive, is to experience the shock, not of the new, but of the familiar revisited as though it were strange and wonderful."
"The totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most casual matters of geography and history to the profoundest lawsof atomic physics or even of pure mathematics and logic, is a man-made fabric which impinges on experience only along the edges. Or, to change the figure, total science is like a field of force whose boundary conditions are experience."
"What brings enlightenment is experience, in the sad sense of this word--the pressure of hard facts and unintelligible troubles, making a man rub his eyes in his waking dream, and put two and two together. Enlightenment is cold water."
"Experience is a mere whiff or rumble, produced by enormously complex and ill-deciphered causes of experience; and in the other direction, experience is a mere peephole through which glimpses come down to us of eternal things."
"... should one sit down to paint the scenes among which he has grown, he will find that the facts creep in upon him. Those brilliant phases and shapes which the imagination sees in far-off lands are not for him to portray. Sadly he must squeeze the colour from his brush, and dip it into the grey pigments around him. He must paint what lies before him."
"But my mother was in love and she had known about life for a long time, with her two bastard girls like two earrings; and she knewthat most often one must pull out one's entrails and fill one's stomach with straw if one wants to have a little piece of the sun."