Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Quote File: George Santayana

George Santayana is perhaps most famous today for the aphorism "Those who do not study the past are condemned to repeat it" `` a quote I disagree with, actually, as even those who study the past often find themselves sliding into the same human mistakes. But I very much like a lot of the rest of what he says -- and I think of the "fashion" quote especially at Fashion Week and in H&M:

The wisest mind has something yet to learn. 

Nothing is really so poor and melancholy as art that is interested in itself and not in its subject.

Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion.

To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. 

All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible.

Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit. 

Cultivate imagination, love it, give it endless forms, but do not let it deceive you. Enjoy the world, travel over it and learn its ways, but do not let it hold you.

The lover knows much more about absolute good and universal beauty than the logician or theologian, unless the latter, too, be lovers in disguise.

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.

There are books in which the footnotes or comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margin are more interesting than the text. The world is one of these books.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Religion and Fear

During Lent, the minister of the church I attend sends out daily reflections over e-mail. This is today's, and I think it's wonderful. From The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, by James Martin:

When I was a novice, one of my spiritual directors quoted the Scottish philosopher John Macmurray, who contrasted "real religion" and "illusory religion." The maxim of "illusory religion" is as follows: "Fear not; trust in God and God will see that none of the things you fear will happen to you." "Real religion," said Macmurray, has a different maxim: "Fear not; the things you are afraid of are quite likely to happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of."

Saturday, March 09, 2013

"Act III, Scene iii" by Madeleine L'Engle

Someone has altered the script.
My lines have been changed.
The other actors are shifting roles.
They don't come on when they're expected to,
and they don't say the lines I've written
and I'm being upstaged.
I thought I was writing this play
with a rather nice role for myself,
small, but juicy
and some excellent lines.
But nobody gives me my cues
and the scenery has been replaced
and I don't recognize the new sets.
This isn't the script I was writing.
I don't understand this play at all.

To grow up
is to find
the small part you are playing
in this extraordinary drama
written by
somebody else.

From Lines Scribbled on an Envelope and Other Poems (FSG, 1969)