Monday, June 10, 2013

#Quotes: Quotes from Elias Canetti's Auto da Fe

Occasional collisions unexpectedly encountered determine the direction of a lifetime. [16]

A bookseller is a king, and a king cannot be a bookseller. [16]

The greatest danger which threatens a man of learning, is to lose himself in talk. [20]

He reserved consciousness for real thoughts; they depend upon it; without consciousness, thoughts are unthinkable. Chewing and digesting happen of themselves. [32]

The man who has frittered away the strength of his eyes is a worth companion of the beast that leads him. [35]

Martyrs do not cry out, saints do not cry out. [45]

[I]t is easy to be self-possessed when you have been dead for centuries. [51]

Man alone was master of his fate. [64]

Blindness is a weapon against time and space; our being is one vast blindness, save only for that little circle our mean intelligence - mean in its nature as in its scope - can illumine. The dominating principle of the universe is blindness. It makes possible juxtapositions which would be impossible if the objects could see each other. It permits the truncation of time when time is unendurable. Time is a continuum whence there is one escape only. By closing the eyes to it from time to time, it is possible to splinter it into those fragments with which alone we are familiar. [79]

Esse percipi, to be is to be perceived. [79]

I'm against hitting a man when he's down, he can't appreciate it. [125]

She would have disintegrated into her chief components - skirt, ears, and sweat - had not her hatred for him, which he was now intensifying with pedantic zeal, become the surviving core of her being. [160]

Without leisure no art can exist. [180]

Those who have nothing make joyful givers. [231-2]

The sage, reverenced as a saint already by the ancient Indians, dismisses numbers, dates and comets to the devil and declares: our creeping corruption is this lack of piety with which men are infected; this is the position by which we shall perish. Woe to those who shall come after us! They are lost, they will inherit from us a million martyrs and the instruments of torture with which they must destroy a second million. No state can bear so many saints. In every town will be builded palaces to the Inquisition, like this one, six storeys high. Who can tell, perhaps the Americans build their pawnshop to touch the very sky. [240]

Our widow's mite for the alleviation of universal misery is small, but we must cast in. If a man should say: alone I am too weak, then nothing would be done, and misery would devour further. [245]

The foundation of all true learning is doubt. [438]

Being sane is a kind of retarded development. [453]

We wage the so-called war of existence for the destruction of the mass-soul in ourselves, no less than for hunger and love. In certain circumstances it can become so strong as to force the individual to selfless acts or even acts contrary to their own interest. 'Mankind' has existed as a mass for long before it was conceived of and watered down into an idea. It foams, a huge, wild, full-blooded, warm animal in all of us, very deep, far deeper than the maternal. In spite of its age it is the youngest of the beasts, the essential creation of the earth, its goal and its future. We know nothing of it; we live still, supposedly as individuals. Sometimes the masses pour over us, one single flood, one ocean, in which each drop is alive, and each drop wants the same thing. But it soon scatters again, and leaves us once more to be ourselves, poor solitary devils. In memory we can hardly conceive that we were ever so great, so many and so much one. 'Disease,' says one overburdened by intelligence; 'the beast in man' soothes the lamb of humility, and does not guess how near to the truth is its mistakes. In the meantime the mass within ourselves is arming for a new attack. There will come a time when it will not be scattered again, possibly in a single country at first, eating its way out from there, until no one can doubt any more, for there will be no I, you, he, but only it, the mass. [461-2]

A sensitive mind derives either advantage or injury from every contact, because will awaken thoughts and recollections. The indolent are wandering institutions, nothing flows into them, nothing makes them overflow, frozen and isolated, they drift through the world. Why should they move? What moves them? Accidentally they belong to the animal kingdom, but in fact they are vegetables. You could nip their heads off and they'd go on living, they have their roots. The stoic philosophy is suited to vegetable, it is high treason to animals. Let us be animals! He who has roots, let him uproot himself. [469]

In the spider, the most cruel and ugly of all creatures, I see an embodiment of woman. Her web shimmers in the sunlight, poisonous and blue. [487]

Scholarship should have its Inquisition, to which it could hand over heretics. [512]
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