Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and me, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services. What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and me at least try to make a small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.
~ The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and head read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by bill posters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.
~ A Farewell To Arms, Ernest Hemingway
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that
when we are sick in fortune, (often the surfeits
of our own behavior) we make guilty of our disasters
the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains
on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves,
thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance;
drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced
obedience of planetary influence; and all that we
are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable
evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star!
~ King Lear, William Shakespeare
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
~ Macbeth, William Shakespeare
You don’t know about real loss, because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.
I look at you, I don’t see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared, shitless kid.
But you’re a genius Will; no one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart.
You’re an orphan right? Do you think I’d know about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you?
Personally, I don’t give a shit about all that, because you know what? I can’t learn anything from you I can’t read in some fucking book.
Unless you want to talk about you. Who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in.
But you don’t want to do that do you, sport? You’re terrified of what you might say.
Your move chief.
~ Sean Maguire [Robin Williams], Good Will Hunting [Movie, 1997]
You see: reason, gentlemen, is a fine thing, that is unquestionable, but reason is only reason and satisfies only man’s reasoning capacity, while wanting is a manifestation of the whole of life – that is, the whole of human life, including reason and various little itches. And though our life in this manifestation often turns out to be a bit of trash, still it is life and not just the extraction of a square root. I, for example, quite naturally want to live so as to satisfy my whole capacity for living, and not so as to satisfy just my reasoning capacity alone, which is some twentieth part of my whole capacity for living. What does reason know? Reason knows only what it has managed to learn (some things, perhaps, it will never learn; that is no consolation, but why not say it anyway?), while human nature acts as an entire whole, with everything that is in it, consciously and unconsciously, and though it lies, still it lives.
~ Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky