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July 31, 2007

the unpardonable

If you drop an old friend, laugh at the artist and
Meanly, vulgarly judge, wronging the deeper mind,
God forgives you; but never
Break the quiet that lovers know.


Posted by amin at 1:15 AM

July 30, 2007

art and prayer

Art, like prayer, is a hand outstretched in the darkness, seeking for some touch of grace which will transform it into a hand that bestows gifts.


Posted by amin at 1:07 PM

July 29, 2007

shape necessitated by content

Whenever ‘form’ is nowadays demanded, in society and in conversation, in literary expression, in traffic between states, what is involuntarily understood by it is a pleasing appearance, the antithesis of the true concept of form as shape necessitated by content, which has nothing to do with ‘pleasing’ or ‘displeasing’ precisely because it is necessary and not arbitrary.


Posted by amin at 10:12 AM

July 28, 2007

to be beautiful is to be true

This is not particularly a pretty world. We have uglified what is most beautiful in it. We have come very close to losing that sense of beauty and harmony and proportion, and in the absence of that sense we won’t even be aware of what we are doing to ourselves by making our house a fitful and horrific spectacle of a place. We more or less have given up on the idea that government has a central part to play in the cultivation of the civic dimension of life. We’ve given up very much the idea that there is something so universally expressed in human nature that there are certain cultural forms capable of nurturing this nature. In our multicultural tolerance we are losing out on something that gives substance to a shared humanity. We’ve come to think of beauty as an option and the Greeks knew better; it’s a necessity. And it should finally be the source of all we prize and all the might we might will in the world. To be beautiful is to be true and to be those things is to be good. That was the ancient ideal and to lose that is to live in a mechanical and meaningless and empty life.

Daniel Robinson

Posted by amin at 12:08 AM

July 26, 2007

einstein on free will

Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions. Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer's saying, 'A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills,' has been a real inspiration to me since my youth; it has been a continual consolation in the face of life's hardships, my own and others', and an unfailing wellspring of tolerance.

Albert Einstein

Posted by amin at 1:41 AM

July 25, 2007

einstein on religion

Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious.

The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.

As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.

What separates me from most so called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos.

Albert Einstein

Posted by amin at 4:41 PM

July 24, 2007

i always had a cold eye

I think I always had a cold eye. I always saw things realistically. But, it's also easier to show the darkness than the joy of life. Life is not beautiful all the time. Life can be good, then you lie down, and stare up at the ceiling, and the sadness falls on you. Things move on, time passes, people go away, and sometimes they don't come back.

My wife says, "Robert, you are never satisfied." I guess I got where I wanted to get, but it didn't turn out to be the place I hoped it would be. I'm an outsider, still. How does that song by Johnny Cash go? "I'm a pilgrim and a stranger." I like that. That's how it is with me, and it's too late to change now.

Robert Frank

Posted by amin at 12:41 AM

July 23, 2007

a scholar can never become a philosopher

A scholar can never become a philosopher; for even Kant was unable to do so but, the inborn pressure of his genius notwithstanding, remained to the end as it were in a chrysalis stage. He who thinks that in saying this I am doing Kant an injustice does not know what a philosopher is, namely not merely a great thinker but also a real human being; and when did a scholar ever become a real human being? He who lets concepts, opinions, past events, books, step between himself and things – he, that is to say, who is in the broadest sense born for history – will never have an immediate perception of things and will never be an immediately perceived thing himself; but both these conditions belong together in the philosopher, because most of the instruction he receives he has to acquire out of himself and because he serves himself as a reflection and brief abstract of the whole world. If a man perceives himself by means of the opinions of others, it is no wonder if he sees in himself nothing but the opinions of others! And that is how scholars are, live and see.

The only critique of a philosophy that is possible and that proves something, namely trying to see whether one can live in accordance with it, has never been taught at universities: all that has ever been taught is a critique of words by means of other words.


Posted by amin at 12:30 AM

July 22, 2007

the common sense answer

Philosophy can be said to consist in three activities: To see the common sense answer, to get yourself so deeply into the problem that the common sense answer becomes unbearable, and to get from that situation back to the common sense answer.


Posted by amin at 12:29 AM

July 21, 2007

for this moment one could give one’s whole life!

He fell to thinking, among other things, about his epileptic condition, that there was a stage in it just before the fit itself (if the fit occurred while he was awake), when suddenly, amidst the sadness, the darkness of soul, the pressure, his brain would momentarily catch fire, as it were, and all his life’s forces would be strained at once in an extraordinary impulse. The sense of life, of self-awareness, increased nearly tenfold in these moments, which flashed by like lighting. His mind, his heart were lit up with an extraordinary light; all his agitation, all his doubts, all his worries were as if placated at once, resolved in a sort of sublime tranquility, filled with serene, harmonious joy, and hope, filled with reason and ultimate cause.

Those moments were precisely only an extraordinary intensification of self-awareness-if there was a need to express this condition in a single word-self-awareness and at the same time a self-sense immediate in the highest degree. If in that second, that is, in the very last conscious moment before the fit, he had happened to succeed in saying clearly and consciously to himself: “Yes, for this moment one could give one’s whole life!”-then surely this moment in itself was worth a whole life.

He had once said, “At that moment I was somehow able to understand the extraordinary phrase that time shall be no more.”

Dostoevsky - The Idiot

Posted by amin at 12:22 AM

July 20, 2007

the essence of religious feeling

The essence of religious feeling doesn’t fit in with any reasoning, with any crimes and trespasses, or with any atheisms; there’s something else here that’s not that, and it will eternally be not that; there’s something in it that atheisms will eternally glance off, and they will eternally be talking not about that.

Dostoevsky - The Idiot

Posted by amin at 10:42 AM

July 19, 2007

you can’t treat a man like that!

To kill for killing is an immeasurably greater punishment than the crime itself. To be killed by legal sentence is immeasurably more terrible than to be killed by robbers. A man killed by robbers, stabbed at night, in the forest or however, certainly still hopes he’ll be saved till the very last minute. There have been examples when a man’s throat has already been cut, and he still hopes, or flees, or pleads. But here all this last hope, which makes it ten times easier to die, is taken away for certain; here there’s the sentence, and the whole torment lies in the certainty that there’s no escape, and there is no greater torment in the world than that. Take a soldier, put him right in front of a cannon during a battle, and shoot at him, and he’ll still keep hoping, but read that same soldier a sentence for certain, and he’ll lose his mind or start weeping. Who ever said human nature could bear it without going mad? Why such an ugly, vain, unnecessary violation? Maybe there’s a man who has had the sentence read to him, has been allowed to suffer, and has then been told, “Go, you’re forgiven.” That man might be able to tell us something. Christ spoke of this suffering and horror. No, you can’t treat a man like that!

Dostoevsky - The Idiot

Posted by amin at 12:12 AM

July 18, 2007

how to see without a camera

You put your camera around your neck along with putting on your shoes, and there it is, an appendage of the body that shares your life with you. The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.

Dorothea Lange

Posted by amin at 1:54 AM

July 15, 2007

dream of a better man

Art for art's sake may be fine, but art for the sake of progress is finer still. To dream is fine, but to dream Utopia is better. Ah, do you need a dream? Very well, dream of a better man. Do you want a dream? Here's one: the ideal. The prophet seeks solitude, but not isolation.


Posted by amin at 10:11 PM

July 14, 2007

detached from the outcome

Self-actualizing people live their lives detached from the outcome. And detached from the outcome means I don’t do what I do because of what might show up for me. I’m not motivated by being famous; I’m not motivated by making money; I’m not motivated by other people’s approval. I’m motivated by doing what I love and loving what I do. And it’s the process of doing it and living it and loving it that appeals the most. And this is very difficult in a world which says that you are what you have and you are what you do and you are your accomplishments and your achievements and your acquisitions. When we begin to evaluate ourselves on the basis on all of these kinds of things, then attracting those kinds of things becomes almost the paramount motivator of our lives. And it is one of the most difficult things in the Western civilization to get people to understand that doing what you love and loving what you do is its own reward and whatever the universe provides for you in the way of the outcome is what you accept. So that what you are motivated by is a sense of peace, fulfillment, and awareness that I’m doing what I love and loving what I do.

Wayne Dyer

Posted by amin at 7:51 PM

July 13, 2007

the culture of art can enlighten mankind

Art establishes the true image of reality, for its primary function is to ‘show’, not to describe. It is up to us to ‘see’ what it represents. It cannot reveal more than life teaches, but it can evoke in us the conviction existent truth. The culture of art can enlighten mankind, for it not only reveals human culture, but being free, advances it.

Human life is oppressed by internal causes-both physical and moral-as well as by external factors. It is necessary to fight against both. All that can help us to understand the evils of oppression is useful both to present and future. Therefore it is essential to demonstrate that art can help to clarify this evil. Art is the aesthetic establishment of complete life-unity and equilibrium-free from all oppression. For this reason it can reveal the evil of oppression and show the way to combat it.

Piet Mondrian

Posted by amin at 10:30 AM

July 10, 2007

respect for truth and the human soul

If the artist loves truth and loves his fellowman, anything in the work which might distort the truth or deteriorate the human soul will displease him, and lose for him that delight which beauty affords. Respect for truth and for the human soul will become an objective condition or requirement affecting his virtue of art itself.

Jacques Maritain

Posted by amin at 10:47 PM

July 9, 2007

there is something to be discovered

Art dealers have certain prejudices which I think it possible you have not yet shaken off, particularly the notion that painting is inborn. Yes, it is inborn, but not as is generally supposed; one must put out one’s hands and grasp it; that grasping is a difficult thing-one must not wait till it reveals itself. There is something to be discovered, but not what most people suppose. By painting, one becomes a painter.

Van Gogh

Posted by amin at 11:37 PM

July 8, 2007

we shall all be equal and harmless there

Observe how bruit beasts yield to death, how little they are tormented with the thoughts of it beforehand, and how patiently they endure it when it comes. Can we suppose God has endowed them with greater gifts of fortitude than us? A good man is always ready to lay down his life.

What great acts have been performed by such who fear not death, how happy have been their lives, how glorious their ends. Why shall we refuse to yield to that equality which makes the beggar a prince, and the tyrant simple and harmless dust.

Neither the vast army of Xerxes, nor treasure of Tyberius or cruelty of Antonius could any bit prevail against death. We shall all be equal and harmless there, and except virtue there will be no difference. No man can be ignorant of this journey.

Cardan - Three Books of Consolation

Posted by amin at 8:46 PM

July 6, 2007

prime age

Those in their prime are mid-way in character between the young and the old, avoiding the excess, and neither greatly confident nor excessively fearful, but being well set towards either extreme, neither trusting all men, nor trusting none, but rather judging according to the truth, and neither living for nobility alone nor for self-interest but for both, and neither tending to extravagance nor to meanness but seeking a balance, and similarly in point of temper and desire, and showing moderation with courage and courage with moderation. For these things are separated in the young and the old; the young are courageous and immoderate, the old moderate and cowardly. And to speak in general, in respect of the useful points wherein age and youth are distinguished, those in their prime have both of these, and in respect of those in which they are excessive or deficient, of those they seek the moderate and balanced. The body is in its prime from the ages of thirty to thirty five, and the soul around the age of forty-nine.

Aristotle - The Art of Rhetoric

Posted by amin at 2:36 PM

July 5, 2007

the last words of the dying

People always talk about the last words of the dying-or rather the living, it depends how you look at “it”. Jean Cocteau, who indeed was famed for his bons mots, had been thinking about his final exit all his life. His plan was to say, flippantly, “I want my money back, I didn’t understand a thing!” But what came out was “Mummy”.

François-Marie Banier

Posted by amin at 11:56 AM

July 2, 2007

the voice of a better and higher self

One will succeed in raising one’s conscience to a state of development so that it becomes the voice of a better and higher self, of which the ordinary self is the servant. And one will not return to skepticism or cynicism, and not belong to the foul mockers.

One sees the same thing in Jesus too, who first was an ordinary carpenter and raised himself to something else, whatever it may have been, a personality so full of pity, love, goodness, seriousness that one is still attracted by it. Generally, a carpenter’s apprentice becomes a master carpenter, narrow-minded, dry, miserly, vain; whatever might be said of Jesus, he had another conceptions of things that my friend the carpenter of the backyard, who has raised himself to house-owner, and yet is much more vain and thinks more of himself than Jesus did.

Van Gogh

Posted by amin at 8:00 PM

July 1, 2007

duty towards the world

The world concerns me only in so far as I feel a certain debt and duty towards it, because I have walked on that earth for thirty years, and out of gratitude want to leave some souvenir in the shape of drawings or pictures, not made to please a certain tendency in art, but to express a sincere human feeling. So this work is the aim-and through concentration upon that one idea, everything one does is simplified.

Van Gogh

Posted by amin at 7:45 PM