Saint Augustine (quotes)

  • Love and do as you will.
  • To sing is to pray twice.
  • Poetry is the Devil’s wine.
  • Truth is not private property.
  • Love and say it with your life.
  • Love God, and do what you like.
  • Anger is a weed; hate is a tree.
  • Love is the beauty of the soul.
  • I believe in order to understand.
  • Attract them by the way you live.
  • Beauty is the brilliance of truth.
  • He that is jealous is not in love.
  • The purpose of all wars, is peace.
  • Hell was made for the inquisitive.
  • Patience is the companion of wisdom.
  • Things are solved by walking around.
  • We speak, but it is God who teaches.
  • Between urine and filth we are born.
  • Punishment is justice for the unjust.
  • Understanding is the reward of faith.
  • God gives where he finds empty hands.
  • Oh, beauty, ever ancient and ever new.
  • Doubt is but another element of faith.
  • We should never use the truth to wound.
  • Love has reasons that reason knows not.
  • It is a sin to judge any man by his post
  • Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending.
  • Except he be willing, man cannot believe.
  • The law detects, grace alone conquers sin.
  • What do you possess if you possess not God?
  • One can’t reach the Truth but through Love.
  • Our heart is restless until it rests in You.
  • The desire for fame tempts even noble minds.
  • Eternity is the now that does not pass away.
  • Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.
  • We come to God by love and not by navigation.
  • The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.
  • Love is ever new because it never groweth old.
  • Will is to grace as the horse is to the rider.
  • Purity of soul cannot be lost without consent.
  • God provides the wind, Man must raise the sail.
  • Lord, teach me to know you, and to know myself.
  • Grace alone brings about every good work in us.
  • Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.
  • If you don’t believe it you won’t understand it.
  • Salvation is God’s way of making us real people.
  • Carnal lust rules where there is no love of God.
  • The measure of love is to love without measuring.
  • Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.
  • Hope has two lovely daughters, anger and courage.
  • Teach correctly… Find delight in contemplation.
  • Peace in society depends upon peace in the family.
  • Desire only God, and your heart will be satisfied.
  • Nothing is so much to be shunned as sex relations.
  • It seems to me that an unjust law is no law at all.
  • A Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot
  • Do what you can and pray for what you cannot yet do.
  • God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.
  • There are wolves within, and there are sheep without.
  • We are too weak to discover the truth by reason alone
  • Sin is looking for the right thing in the wrong place.
  • He who is filled with love is filled with God himself.
  • Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.
  • Before God can deliver us we must undeceive ourselves.
  • Put no faith in salvation through the political order.
  • God’s love is unconditional. Be sure that yours is too!
  • Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt.
  • In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it dazzled me.
  • No one can begin a new life, unless he repent of the old.
  • There is no greater invitation to love than loving first.
  • Christ is not valued at all, unless he is valued above all.
  • The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder.
  • There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.
  • Let us sing a new song, not with our lips, but with our lives.
  • Go forth on your path, as it exists only through your walking.
  • It is no advantage to be near the light if the eyes are closed.
  • The sole purpose of life is to gain merit for life in eternity.
  • Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love.
  • Even the straws under my knees shout to distract me from prayer
  • Love, and He will draw near; love, and He will dwell within you.
  • Believe in order to Understand and Understand in order to Believe
  • No eulogy is due to him who simply does his duty and nothing more.
  • Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresisted became necessity.
  • The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.
  • He who thinks he lives without sin puts aside not sin, but pardon.
  • Every visible thing in this world is put in the charge of an angel.
  • The will is truly free, when it is not the slave of vices and sins.
  • If God is, why is there evil? But if God is not, why is there good?
  • Suppress prostitution, and capricious lusts will overthrow society.
  • Unhappy is the soul enslaved by the love of anything that is mortal.
  • There is a God-shaped vacuum in every man that only Christ can fill.
  • It is human to err, but it is devilish to remain willfully in error.
  • In doing what we ought we deserve no praise, because it is our duty.
  • We both exist and know that we exist, and rejoice in this knowledge.
  • In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?
  • Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a teardrop.
  • The cost of obedience is small compared with the cost of disobedience.
  • God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.
  • A free curiosity is more effective in learning than a rigid discipline.
  • Fill yourselves first and then only will you be able to give to others.
  • What is grace? I know until you ask me; when you ask me, I do not know.
  • All those who belong to Jesus Christ are fastened with Him to the cross.
  • He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.
  • Moral character is assessed not by what a man knows but by what he loves
  • The greatest kindness one can render to any man is leading him to truth.
  • Indifferent acts are judged by their ends sins are judged by themselves.
  • This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.
  • He who has God has everything; he who has everything but God has nothing.
  • Yet we must say something when those who say the most are saying nothing.
  • The words printed here are concepts. You must go through the experiences.
  • If you are silent, be silent out of love. If you speak, speak out of love.
  • Better to have fewer wants than greater riches to supply increasing wants.
  • God grants us not always what we ask so as to bestow something preferable.
  • …If humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts are fruitless.
  • To withhold forgiveness is to take poison and expect the unforgiven to die.
  • No one can have God as his father who does not have the Church as his mother.
  • He who falls, falls by his own will, and he who stands, stands by God’s will.
  • Learn to dance, so when you get to heaven the angels know what to do with you.
  • God is more anxious to bestow his blessings on us than we are to receive them.
  • God is not greater if you reverence Him, but you are greater if you serve Him.
  • He cannot have God for his Father who will not have the Church for his mother.
  • I learned most, not from those who taught me but from those who talked with me.
  • Symbols are powerful because they are the visible signs of invisible realities.
  • All truth and understanding is a result of a divine light which is God Himself.
  • God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist.
  • He indeed possesses the Character imposed on him, but he wanders as a renegade.
  • Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.
  • Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.
  • For so it is, O Lord my God, I measure it! But what it is I measure, I do not know.
  • Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.
  • In order to discover the character of people we have only to observe what they love.
  • Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.
  • To touch God a little with our mind is a great blessing, to grasp him is impossible.
  • The world is a great book, of which they that never stir from home read only a page.
  • In all your movements, let nothing be evident that would offend the eyes of another.
  • Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.
  • Do not believe yourself healthy. Immortality is health; this life is a long sickness.
  • Where love is, what can be wanting? Where it is not, what can possibly be profitable?
  • Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.
  • It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.
  • Sin is believing the lie that you are self-created, self-dependent and self-sustained.
  • What you are must always displease you, if you would attain to that which you are not.
  • He who denies the existence of God, has some reason for wishing that God did not exist.
  • If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice, forgive him lest there be two bad men.
  • Imagine the vanity of thinking that your enemy can do you more damage than your enmity.
  • Nothing so clearly distinguishes a spiritual man as his treatment of an erring brother.
  • The Old (Testament) is in the New (Testament) revealed, the New is in the Old concealed.
  • Do not follow any road, but that which Christ trod. This road seems hard, but it is safe.
  • In what is necessary, unity; in what is not necessary, liberty and in all things charity.
  • I do not comprehend all that I am. Is the mind, therefore, too limited to possess itself?
  • We were ensnared by the wisdom of the serpent; we are set free by the foolishness of God .
  • I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.
  • God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.
  • The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them.
  • To abstain from sin when one can no longer sin is to be forsaken by sin, not to forsake it.
  • I once laboured hard for the free will of man, until the grace of God at length overcame me.
  • Do not wander far and wide but return into yourself. Deep within man there dwells the truth.
  • There never can have been, and never can be, and there never shall be any sin without pride.
  • Any woman who does not give birth to as many children as she is capable is guilty of murder.
  • The soul, which is spirit, can not dwell in dust; it is carried along to dwell in the blood.
  • The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.
  • Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
  • There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither hope nor love without faith.
  • Venerate the martyrs, praise, love, proclaim, honor them. But worship the God of the martyrs.
  • If you excuse yourself in confession, you shut up sin within your soul, and shut out pardon.
  • Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His providence.
  • Nothing whatever pertaining to godliness and real holiness can be accomplished without grace .
  • A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently.
  • God has no need of your money, but the poor have. You give it to the poor, and God receives it.
  • He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.
  • Whatever skills I have acquired, whatever gifts I have been given, I place them at Your service.
  • God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand you have failed.
  • It is love that asks, that seeks, that knocks, that finds, and that is faithful to what it finds.
  • You don’t love in your enemies what they are, but what you would have them become by your prayers.
  • When God is our strength, it is strength indeed; when our strength is our own, it is only weakness.
  • I would not believe in the Gospel, if the authority of the Catholic Church did not bid me to do so.
  • Don’t you believe that there is in man a deep so profound as to be hidden even to him in whom it is?
  • Beware of despairing about yourself: you are commanded to put your trust in God, and not in yourself.
  • Two criminals were crucified with Christ. One was saved; do not despair. One was not; do not presume.
  • I did not find you outside, O Lord, because I made the mistake of seeking outside you who were within
  • Our whole business in this Life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen.
  • Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.
  • Conscience and reputation are two things. Conscience is due to yourself, reputation to your neighbour.
  • Two works of mercy set a person free: Forgive and you will be forgiven, and give and you will receive.
  • When [men] go to war, what they want is to impose on their enemies the victor’s will and call it peace.
  • Idolatry is worshipping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshipped.
  • God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.
  • The wicked exist in this world either to be converted or that through them the good may exercise patience.
  • Don’t let your life give evidence against your tongue. Sing with your voices… sing also with your conduct.
  • We do not sin when we adore Christ in the Eucharist; we do sin when we do not adore Christ in the Eucharist.
  • For where I found Truth, there found I my God, the Truth itself; which since I learnt, I have not forgotten.
  • Better that I find you, God, and leave the questions unanswered, than to find the answers without finding you.
  • Keep on adding, keep on walking, keep on progressing: do not delay on the road, do not go back, do not deviate.
  • This awful catastrophe is not the end but the beginning. History does not end so. It is the way its chapters open.
  • Lord, grant that I may do Thy will as if it were my will, so that Thou mayest do my will as if it were Thy will.
  • Let us therefore yield ourselves and bow to the authority of the Holy Scriptures, which can neither err nor deceive.
  • No man has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget in his own ease the service due to his neighbor.
  • We count on God’s mercy for our past mistakes, on God’s love for our present needs, on God’s sovereignty for our future.
  • Let us understand that God is a physician, and that suffering is a medicine for salvation, not a punishment for damnation.
  • Order your soul; reduce your wants; live in charity; associate in Christian community; obey the laws; trust in Providence.
  • Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.
  • God will cleanse your sins if you yourself are dissatisfied with yourself and will keep on changing until you are perfect.
  • Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked.
  • God does not expect us to submit our faith to him without reason, but the very limits of our reason make faith a necessity.
  • To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of eternal things; to knowledge, the rational knowledge of temporal things.
  • Other sins find their vent in the accomplishment of evil deeds, whereas pride lies in wait for good deeds, to destroy them.
  • If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.
  • Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.
  • Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure: where your treasure, there your heart; where your heart, there your happiness
  • Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.
  • And he departed from our sight that we might return to our hearts and find him there. For he left us, and behold, he is here.
  • Just as it is agreed that we all wish to be happy, so it is that we all wish to be wise, since no one without wisdom is happy.
  • Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again.
  • Do not say that you have chaste minds if you have unchaste eyes, because an unchaste eye is the messenger of an unchaste heart.
  • To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.
  • For God loves saving, not condemning, and therefore He is patient with bad people, in order to make good people out of bad people.
  • God Almighty would in no way permit evil in His works were He not so omnipotent and good that even out of evil He could work good.
  • Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen. He either permits it to happen, or He brings it about Himself.
  • It is easy to want things from the Lord and yet not want the Lord Himself, as though the gift could ever be preferable to the Giver.
  • We must understand then, that even though God doesn’t always give us what we want, He always gives us what we need for our salvation.
  • A man may lose the good things of this life against his will; but if he loses the eternal blessings, he does so with his own consent.
  • “Otherwise grace is no more grace,” since it is bestowed on us, not because we have done good works, but that we may be able to do them.
  • The peace of the celestial city is the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God, and of one another in God. (City of God, Book 19)
  • Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.
  • The Kingdom of Heaven, O man, requires no other price than yourself. The value of it is yourself. Give yourself for it and you shall have it.
  • Mary heard God’s word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God’s truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb.
  • It is not by change of place that we can come nearer to Him who is in every place, but by the cultivation of pure desires and virtuous habits.
  • Too late came I to love you, O Beauty both so ancient and so new! Too late came I to love you – and behold you were with me all the time . . .
  • There can only be two basic loves… the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.
  • God in his omnipotence could not give more, in His wisdom He knew not how to give more, in His riches He had not more to give, than the Eucharist.
  • It is not with respect to our convenience or discomfort, but with respect to their own nature that the creatures are glorifying to their Artificer.
  • Try to acquire the virtues you believe lacking in your brothers. Then you will no longer see their defects, for you will no longer have them yourself.
  • Love, and do what you will. If you keep silence, do it out of love. If you cry out, do it out of love. If you refrain from punishing, do it out of love.
  • Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.
  • Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: ‘This is My Body.’ No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.
  • Ignorance itself is without a doubt a sin for those who do not wish to understand; for those who, however, cannot understand, it is the punishment of sin.
  • This entire most beautiful order of good things is going to pass away after its measure has been exhausted; for both morning and evening were made in them.
  • Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times.
  • A temptation arises: it is the wind. It disturbs you: it is the surging of the seas. This is the time to awaken Christ and let Him remind you of these words
  • The same thing which is now called Christian religion existed among the ancients. They have begun to call ‘Christian’ the true religion which existed before.
  • If you are pleased with what you are, you have stopped already. If you say, “It is enough,” you are lost. Keep on walking, moving forward, trying for the goal.
  • It is impossible that there should be inhabitants on the opposite side of the Earth, since no such race is recorded by Scripture among the descendants of Adam.
  • The soul is “torn apart in a painful condition as long as it prefers the eternal because of its Truth but does not discard the temporal because of familiarity.
  • Whoever seems to himself to have understood the Scriptures in such a way that he does not build up that double love of God and neighbor has not yet understood.
  • The Gods occupy the loftiest regions, men the lowest, the demons the middle region…They have immortality of body, but passions of the mind in common with men.
  • Since God is the highest good, he would not allow any evil to exist in his works unless his omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.
  • Be always displeased with what you are if you wish to be what you are not. Always add, always walk, always proceed. Neither stand still nor go back nor deviate.
  • We must be on our guard against giving interpretations which are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers.
  • Education is the food of youth, the delight of old age, the ornament of prosperity, the refuge and comfort of adversity, and the provocation to grace in the soul.
  • You (God) have not only commanded continence, that is, from what things we are to restrain our love, but also justice, that is, on what we are to bestow our love.
  • A Christian is: a mind through which Christ thinks, a heart through which Christ loves, a voice through which Christ speaks, and a hand through which Christ helps.
  • Man has been naturally so created that it is advantageous for him to be submissive, but disastrous for him to follow his own will, and not the will of his creator.
  • Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me.
  • Because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true; nor because it is uttered with stammering lips should it be supposed false.
  • Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.
  • What grace is meant to do is to help good people, not to escape their sufferings, but to bear them with a stout heart, with a fortitude that finds its strength in faith.
  • Humility must accompany all our actions, must be with us everywhere; for as soon as we glory in our good works they are of no further value to our advancement in virtue.
  • Do not be afraid to throw yourself on the Lord! He will not draw back and let you fall! Put your worries aside and throw yourself on him; He will welcome you and heal you.
  • It is said that there is no salvation outside the Church. Who denies this? And therefore whatever things of the Church are had outside the Church do not avail unto salvation.
  • Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.
  • He who made thee is made in thee. He is made in thee through whom you were made…. Give milk, O mother, to him who is our food; give milk to the bread that comes down from heaven.
  • Who can map out the various forces at play in one soul? Man is a great depth, O Lord. The hairs of his head are easier by far to count than his feeling, the movements of his heart.
  • And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, seeing He saith this of the Holy Spirit, Whom except we have, we can neither love God, nor keep His commandments?
  • The good man, though a slave, is free; the wicked, though he reigns, is a slave, and not the slave of a single man, but- what is worse – the slave of as many masters as he has vices.
  • The sky and the earth and the waters and the things that are in them, the fishes, and the birds and the trees are not evil. All these are good; it is evil men who make this evil world.
  • What can be more excellent than prayer; what is more profitable to our life; what sweeter to our souls; what more sublime, in the course of our whole life, than the practice of prayer!
  • You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.
  • You have enemies. For who can live on this earth without them? Take heed to yourselves: love them. In no way can your enemy so hurt you by his violence, as you hurt yourself if you love him not.
  • If two friends ask you to judge a dispute, don’t accept, because you will lose one friend; on the other hand, if two strangers come with the same request, accept because you will gain one friend.
  • We take for granted the slow miracle whereby water in the irrigation of a vineyard becomes wine. It is only when Christ turns water into wine, in a quick motion, as it were, that we stand amazed.
  • If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.
  • It is not that we keep His commandments first and that then He loves but that He loves us and then we keep His commandments. This is that grace which is revealed to the humble but hidden from the proud.
  • In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you, they would have not been at all.
  • He who does little, but in a state to which God calls him, does more than he who labors much, but in a state which he has thoughtlessly chosen: a cripple limping in the right way is better than a racer out of it.
  • What is reprehensible is that while leading good lives themselves and abhorring those of wicked men, some, fearing to offend, shut their eyes to evil deeds instead of condemning them and pointing out their malice.
  • The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire. You do not yet see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when he comes you may see and be utterly satisfied.
  • Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine.
  • Chastity, or cleanness of heart, holds a glorious and distinguished place among the virtues, because she, alone, enables man to see God; hence Truth itself said, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’
  • I am convinced that in all history there has never been a greater need to Pray for our Pastors than exists right now! Pastors are experiencing an unprecedented wave of attacks, stresses, challenges. obstacles. pressures.
  • Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity.
  • He who loves the coming of the Lord is not he who affirms that it is far off, nor is it he who says it is near, but rather he who, whether it be far off or near, awaits it with sincere faith, steadfast hope, and fervent love.
  • There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this it is, and there is no other.
  • What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
  • True happiness is to rejoice in the truth, for to rejoice in the truth is to rejoice in You, O God, who are the truth… Those who think that there is another kind of happiness look for joy elsewhere, but theirs is not true joy.
  • Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio. What, then, is time? I know well enough what it is, provided that nobodyasksme; but if Iamasked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled.
  • People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.
  • The good Christian should beware the mathematician and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of hell.
  • Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought.
  • He who commends the nature of the soul as the supreme good, and condemns the nature of the flesh as evil, at once both carnally desires the soul, and carnally flies the flesh, because he feels thus from human vanity, not from divine truth.
  • Wonderful is the depth of thy words, whose surface is before us, gently leading on the little ones: and yet a wonderful deepness, O my God, a wonderful deepness. It is awe to look into it; even an awfulness of honour, and a trembling of love.
  • There is no remedy so powerful against the heat of concupiscence as the remembrance of our Savior’s Passion. In all my difficulties I never found anything so efficacious as the wounds of Christ: In them I sleep secure; from them I derive new life.
  • Let the Lord your God be your hope ‚Äì seek for nothing else from him, but let him himself be your hope. There are people who hope from him riches or perishable and transitory honours, in short they hope to get from God things which are not God himself.
  • So you see how endlessly futile and fruitless it would be if we wanted to refute their objections every time they obstinately resolved not to think through what they say but merely to speak, just so long as they contradict our arguments in any way they can.
  • Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being little. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation. Modest humility is beauty’s crown.
  • If bodies please thee, praise God on occasion of them, and turn back thy love upon their Maker; lest in these things which please thee, thou displease. If souls please thee, be they loved in God: for they too are mutable, but in Him they are firmly established.
  • You have found that you were more secure before you accumulated so much. See what greed has imposed on you: You have filled your house and now you fear burglars. You have hoarded money and lost sleep. See what greed has commanded you: “Do this!” And you did it.
  • If God seems slow in responding, it is because He is preparing a better gift. He will not deny us. God withholds what you are not yet ready for. He wants you to have a lively desire for His greatest gifts. All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart.
  • If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is humility. Not that there are no other precepts to give, but if humility does not preceed all that we do, our efforts are fruitless.
  • I acknowledge Thee, Lord of heaven and earth, and praise Thee for my first rudiments of being, and my infancy, whereof I remember nothing; for Thou hast appointed that man should from others guess much as to himself; and believe much on the strength of weak females.
  • AugustineThe wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy. To love with sternness is better than to deceive with gentleness…. In Luke [14:23] it is written: “Compel people to come in!” By threats of the wrath of God, the Father draws souls to his Son.
  • What difference, if you are mistaken? For if I am mistaken, I am. For he who is not, assuredly cannot be mistaken; and therefore I am, if I am mistaken. Therefore because I am if I am mistaken, how am I mistaken that I am, when it is sure that I am, if I am mistaken.
  • Your persistent longing is your persistent voice. But when love grows cold, the heart grows silent. Burning love is the outcry of the heart! If you are filled with longing all the time, you will keep crying out, and if your love perseveres, your cry will be heard without fail.
  • Remember this. When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold.  When people choose to withdraw far from light, the light continues to be bright in itself but they are in darkness.  This is also the case when people withdraw from God.
  • Do you know who the upright of heart are? They are those who wish what God wishes. Therefore, do not try to twist God’s will to you own but correct your will to that of God. The will of God is a rule of conduct. By it you have the means of being converted and of correcting your evil ways.
  • Therefore once for all this short command is given to you. ‘Love and do what you will.’ If you keep silent, keep silent by love; if you speak, speak by love; if you correct, correct by love; if you pardon, pardon by love: let love be rooted in you, and from the root nothing but good can grow.
  • God does not give heed to the ambitiousness of our prayers, because he is always ready to give to us his light, not a visible light but an intellectual and spiritual one; but we are not always ready to receive it when we turn aside and down to other things out of a desire for temporal things.
  • Your first task is to be dissatisfied with yourself, fight sin, and transform yourself into something better. Your second task is to put up with the trials and temptations of this world that will be brought on by the change in your life and to persevere to the very end in the midst of these things.
  • Let us leave a little room for reflection in our lives, room too for silence. Let us look within ourselves and see whether there is some delightful hidden place inside where we can be free of noise and argument. Let us hear the Word of God in stillness and perhaps we will then come to understand it.
  • You wish to be great, begin from the least. You are thinking to construct some mighty fabric in height; first think of the foundation of humility. And how great soever a mass of building one may wish and design to place above it, the greater the building is to be, the deeper does he dig his foundation.
  • And how shall I call upon my God, my God and Lord, since, when I call for Him, I shall be calling Him to myself? and what room is there within me, whither my God can come into me? whither can God come into me, God who made heaven and earth? is there, indeed, O Lord my God, aught in me that can contain thee?
  • For you [God] are infinite and never change. In you “today” never comes to an end: and yet our “today” does come to an end in you, because time, as well as everything else, exists in you. If it did not, it would have no means of passing. And since your years never come to an end, for you they are simply “today.”
  • Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones, O Lord Jesus Christ; rest your weary ones; bless your dying ones; soothe your suffering ones; pity your afflicted ones; shield your joyous ones; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
  • Give me yourself, O my God, give yourself back to me. Lo, I love you, but if my love is too mean, let me love more passionately. I cannot gauge my love, nor know how far it fails, how much more love I need for my life to set its course straight into your arms, never swerving until hidden in the covert of your face.
  • What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction
  • Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?
  • Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.
  • Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale?… A gang is a group of men… in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. If this villainy… acquires territory, establishes a base, captures cities and subdues people, it then openly arrogates to itself the title of kingdom.
  • That your enemies have been created is God’s doing; that they hate you and wish to ruin you is their own doing. What should you say about them in your mind? “Lord be merciful to them, forgive them their sins, put the fear of God in them, change them!” You are loving in them not what they are, but what you would have them to become.
  • That there should be some fire even after this life is not incredible, and it can be inquired into and either be discovered or left hidden whether some of the faithful may be saved, some more slowly and some more quickly in the greater or lesser degree in which they loved the good things that perish, through a certain purgatorial fire.
  • Every morning you put on your clothes to cover your nakedness and protect your body from inclement weather. Why don’t you also clothe your soul with the garment of faith? Remember each morning the truths of your creed, and look at yourself in the mirror of your faith. Otherwise, your soul will soon be naked with the nakedness of oblivion.
  • eternal truth and true love and beloved eternity! You are my God; to you I sigh by day and by night. And when I first knew you, you raised me up so that I could see that there was something to see and that I still lacked the ability to see it. And you beat back the weakness of my sight, blazing upon me with your rays, and I trembled in love and in dread.
  • In all trouble you should seek God. You should not set Him over against your troubles, but within them. God can only relieve your troubles if you in your anxiety cling to Him. Trouble should not really be thought of as this thing or that in particular, for our whole life on earth involves trouble; and through the troubles of our earthly pilgrimage we find God.
  • The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.
  • An apt and true reply was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride. “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”
  • It was not the visible sun, but its invisible Creator who consecrated this day for us, when the Virgin Mother, fertile of womb and integral in her virginity, brought him forth, made visible for us, by whom, when he was invisible, she too was created. A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man?
  • It is not the being seen of men that is wrong, but doing these things for the purpose of being seen of men. The problem with the hypocrite is his motivation. He does not want to be holy; he only wants to seem to be holy. He is more concerned with his reputation for righteousness than about actually becoming righteous. The approbation of men matters more to him than the approval of God.
  • Do you desire security? Here you have it. The Lord says to you, “I will never abandon you, I will always be with you.” If a good man made you such a promise, you would trust him. God makes it, and do you doubt? Do you seek a support more sure than the word of God, which is infallible? Surely, He has made the promise, He has written it, He has pledged His word for it, it is most certain.
  • Lord my God, tell me what you are to me.  Say to my soul,  I am your salvation.  Say it so that I can hear it.  My heart is listening, Lord;  open the ears of my heart  and say to my soul,  I am your salvation. Let me run toward this voice and seize hold of you.  Do not hide your face from me:  let me die so that I may see it,  for not to see it would be death to me indeed.
  • Man’s maker was made man that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that Truth might be accused of false witnesses, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.
  • The mind commands the body, and it obeys forthwith; the mind commands itself, and is resisted. The mind commands the hand to be moved, and such readiness is there that the command is scarce to be distinguished from the obedience. Yet the mind is mind, and the hand is body. The mind commands the mind to will, and yet, though it be itself, it obeyeth not. Whence this monstrous thing? and why is it?
  • To be under pressure is inescapable. Pressure takes place through all the world; war, siege, the worries of state. We all know men who grumble under these pressures and complain. They are cowards. They lack splendour. But there is another sort of man who is under the same pressure but does not complain, for it is the friction which polishes him. It is the pressure which refines and makes him noble
  • Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved you. You have called to me, and have called out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you. You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.
  • That one woman is both mother and virgin, not in spirit only but even in body. In spirit she is mother, not of our head, who is our Savior himself-of whom all, even she herself, are rightly called children of the bridegroom-but plainly she is the mother of us who are his members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that head, might be born in the Church. In body, indeed, she is the Mother of that very head.
  • Our Lord reserved to Himself certain things which He would do in due time in a manner outside the course and order of nature, so that they would wonder and be astonished at seeing not great but unusual things, who are unmoved by things daily seen. For the government of the world is a greater miracle than feeding five thousand men from five loaves; yet at the former no one wonders, the latter astonishes all men: not as a greater wonder, but as a rarer.
  • When people truly open their minds, and contemplate the way in which the universe is ordered and governed, they are amazed-overwhelmed by a sense of the miraculous. When people contemplate with open minds the germination of a single seed, they are equally overwhelmed-yet numerous babies are born every day, and no-one marvels. If only people opened their minds, they would see that the birth of a baby, in which a new life is created, is a greater miracle than restoring life.
  • No one knows what he himself is made of, except his own spirit within him, yet there is still some part of him which remains hidden even from his own spirit; but you, Lord, know everything about a human being because you have made him…Let me, then, confess what I know about myself, and confess too what I do not know, because what I know of myself I know only because you shed light on me, and what I do not know I shall remain ignorant about until my darkness becomes like bright noon before your face.
  • For why, my brothers and sisters, would you rejoice in silver? Either your silver will perish, or you will, and no one knows which will perish first. For neither can you remain here always, nor can silver remain here always; so also with gold, wardrobes, houses, money, real estate-and in the end, even the light by which we enjoy all these things. So do not be willing then to rejoice in such things as these. Rejoice instead in the light that has no setting; rejoice in the dawn which no yesterday precedes, and no tomorrow follows.
  • As to those other things which we hold on the authority, not of Scripture, but of tradition, and which are observed throughout the whole world, it may be understood that they are held as approved and instituted either by the apostles themselves, or by plenary Councils, whose authority in the Church is most useful, e.g. the annual commemoration, by special solemnities, of the Lord’s passion, resurrection, and ascension, and of the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven, and whatever else is in like manner observed by the whole Church wherever it has been established.
  • On the altar you are looking at the same thing as you saw there last night. You have not heard, however, what this is, what it signifies, or about the greatness of the reality of which it is a sacrament. Your eyes are looking at bread and cup. This is the evidence before your physical sight. But your faith must be instructed concerning it- this bread being Christ ‘s Body and the cup containing His Blood. Though perhaps these words may be enough to initiate faith, faith must be further instructed in accordance with the Prophet’s words: ‘Believe that you may understand’
  • Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
  • What art Thou then, my God? what, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong; stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never old; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet nothing lacking; supporting, filling, and overspreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having all things.
  • God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies gray and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to your honor and glory.
  • I beseech Thee, my God, I would fain know, if so Thou willest, for what purpose my baptism was then deferred? was it for my good that the rein was laid loose, as it were, upon me, for me to sin? or was it not laid loose? If not, why does it still echo in our ears on all sides, “Let him alone, let him do as he will, for he is not yet baptised?” but as to bodily health, no one says, “Let him be worse wounded, for he is not yet healed.” How much better then, had I been at once healed; and then, by my friends’ diligence and my own, my soul’s recovered health had been kept safe in Thy keeping who gavest it.

 

 

Albert Camus (quotes)

Principles for living

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Happiness

  • Heroism is accessible. Happiness is more difficult.
  • If I think that happiness is possible, I know all too well its hidden nature–and by what wretched paradox, instead of being an excess that would elevate us in dignity, it is a numbness we are only aware of afterward.
  • Man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.
  • The human heart has a tiresome tendency to label as fate only what crushes it. But happiness likewise, in its way, is without reason, since it is inevitable.
  • There are some individuals who have too strong a craving, a will, and a nostalgia for happiness ever to reach it. They always retain a bitter and passionate aftertaste, and that’s the best they can hope for.
  • Those who weep for the happy periods which they encounter in history acknowledge what they want; not the alleviation but the silencing of misery.
  • To be happy, we must not be too concerned with what others think.
  • Who would dare speak the word “happiness” in these tortured times? Yet millions today continue to seek happiness. These years have been for them only a prolonged postponement, at the end of which they hope to find that the possibility for happiness has been renewed. Who could blame them? And who could say that they are wrong? What would justice be without the chance for happiness? What purpose would freedom serve, if we had to live in misery?
  • Happiness implied a choice, and within that choice a concerted will, a lucid desire.
  • Maman used to say that you can always find something to be happy about.
  • Only it takes time to be happy. A lot of time. Happiness, too, is a long patience.
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Meaning

  • I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it.
  • You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
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Embracing life

  • If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.
  • Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.
  • Let’s not beat around the bush; I love life — that’s my real weakness. I love it so much that I am incapable of imagining what is not life.
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Passion

  • In that daily effort in which intelligence and passion mingle and delight each other, the absurd man discovers a discipline that will make up the greatest of his strengths.
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Freedom

  • Absolute freedom mocks at justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To be fruitful, the two ideas must find their limits in each other.
  • Can this be happiness, this terrifying freedom?
  • Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.
  • I have never been able to renounce the light, the pleasure of being, and the freedom in which I grew up.
  • Men are never really willing to die except for the sake of freedom: therefore, they do not believe in dying completely.
  • The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
  • The real passion of the twentieth century is servitude.
  • Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself and dies of all others.
  • A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object. But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object.
  • Outside of that single fatality of death, everything, joy or happiness, is liberty.
  • To become god is merely to be free on this earth, not to serve an immortal being.
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Free speech

  • A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.
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Work

  • Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.
  • You have to be very rich or very poor to live without a trade.
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Great works

  • All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.
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Truth and falsehood

  • A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.
  • How can sincerity be a condition of friendship? A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.
  • Sometimes it is easier to see clearly into the liar than into the man who tells the truth. Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.
  • Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road.
  • We call first truths those we discover after all the others.
  • Don’t lies eventually lead to the truth? And don’t all my stories, true or false, tend toward the same conclusion? Don’t they all have the same meaning? So what does it matter whether they are true or false if, in both cases, they are significant of what I have been and what I am? Sometimes it is easier to see clearly into the liar than into the man who tells the truth. Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.
  • There always comes a time in history when the person who dares to say that 2+2=4 is punished by death. And the issue is not what reward or what punishment will be the outcome of that reasoning. The issue is simply whether or not 2+2=4.
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Understanding

  • In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.
  • I do not want to found anything on the incomprehensible. I want to know whether I can live with what I know and with that alone.
  • The greatest saving one can make in the order of thought is to accept the unintelligibility of the world — and to pay attention to man.
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Knowledge

  • The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism.
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Self-knowledge and acceptance

  • At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures – be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.
  • To know oneself, one should assert oneself. Psychology is action, not thinking about oneself. We continue to shape our personality all our life. If we knew ourselves perfectly, we should die.
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Love

  • I know of only one duty, and that is to love.
  • It is necessary to fall in love… if only to provide an alibi for all the random despair you are going to feel anyway.
  • Man is an idea, and a precious small idea once he turns his back on love.
  • We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love – first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.
  • When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter.
  • Why should it be essential to love rarely in order to love much?
  • No human being, even the most passionately loved and passionately loving, is ever in our possession.
  • The opposite of an idealist is too often a man without love.
  • There is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this misfortune. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it.
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Friendship

  • Don’t believe your friends when they ask you to be honest with them. All they really want is to be maintained in the good opinion they have of themselves.
  • Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
  • Friendship often ends in love, but love in friendship – never.
  • How can sincerity be a condition of friendship? A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.
  • He marveled at the strange blindness by which men, though they are so alert to what changes in themselves, impose on their friends an image chosen for them once and for all. He was being judged by what he had been. Just as dogs don’t change character, men are dogs to one another.
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Compassion

  • To grow old is to move from passion to compassion.
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Generosity

  • You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.
  • Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.
  • Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to the present.
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Unity

  • In order to speak about all and to all, one has to speak of what all know and of the reality common to us all. The sea, rains, necessity, desire, the struggle against death… these are things that unite us all.
  • Artistic creation is a demand for unity and a rejection of the world.
  • Every rebellion implies some kind of unity.
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Integrity

  • I have seen people behave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has no need of rules.
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Choice

  • Life is the sum of all your choices.
  • Happiness implied a choice, and within that choice a concerted will, a lucid desire.
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Justice

  • Absolute freedom mocks at justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To be fruitful, the two ideas must find their limits in each other.
  • Against eternal injustice, man must assert justice, and to protest against the universe of grief, he must create happiness.
  • I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice.
  • We must stitch up what has been torn apart, render justice imaginable in the world which is so obviously unjust, make happiness meaningful for nations poisoned by the misery of this century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But tasks are called superhuman when men take a long time to complete them, that is all.
  • When the throne of God is overturned, the rebel realizes that it is now his own responsibility to create the justice, order, and unity that he sought in vain within his own condition, and in this way to justify the fall of God. Then begins the desperate effort to create, at the price of crime and murder if necessary, the dominion of man.
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Culture

  • Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.
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Experience

  • You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.
  • When you have really exhausted an experience you always reverence and love it.
  • To two men living the same number of years, the world always provides the same sum of experiences. It is up to us to be conscious of them.
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Beauty

  • At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman.
  • Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
  • We have exiled beauty; the Greeks took up arms for her.
  • We turn our backs on nature; we are ashamed of beauty. Our wretched tragedies have a smell of the office clinging to them, and the blood that trickles from them is the color of printer’s ink.
  • Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard. It steels itself to attain the absolute and authority; it wants to transfigure the world before having exhausted it, to set it to rights before having understood it. Whatever it may say, our era is deserting this world.
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Frugality

  • Working conditions for me have always been those of the monastic life: solitude and frugality. Except for frugality, they are contrary to my nature, so much so that work is a violence I do to myself.
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Honesty

  • Every time somebody speaks of my honesty, there is someone who quivers inside me.
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Insight

  • A profound thought is in a constant state of becoming; it adopts the experience of a life and assumes its shape.
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Harmony

  • But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
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Recognition

  • Every man, and for stronger reasons, every artist, wants to be recognized. So do I.
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Being assertive

  • To know oneself, one should assert oneself.
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Making a difference

  • Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself.
  • In the next few years the struggle will not be between utopia and reality, but between different utopias, each trying to impose itself on reality … we can no longer hope to save everything, but … we can at least try to save lives, so that some kind of future, if perhaps not the ideal one, will remain possible.
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Courage

  • Now the only moral value is courage, which is useful here for judging the puppets and chatterboxes who pretend to speak in the name of the people.
  • Those who lack the courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.
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Order

  • There is in me an anarchy and frightful disorder. Creating makes me die a thousand deaths, because it means making order, and my entire being rebels against order. But without it I would die, scattered to the winds.
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Living in the present moment

  • Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
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Perception

  • Thinking is learning all over again how to see, directing one’s consciousness, making of every image a privileged place.
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Fate

  • There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.
  • The human heart has a tiresome tendency to label as fate only what crushes it. But happiness likewise, in its way, is without reason, since it is inevitable.
  • A fate is not a punishment.
  • Fate is not in man but around him.
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Acceptance

  • The contradiction is this: man rejects the world as it is, without accepting the necessity of escaping it. In fact, men cling to the world and by far the majority do not want to abandon it.
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Grace

  • So many men are deprived of grace. How can one live without grace? One has to try it and do what Christianity never did: be concerned with the damned.
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Duality

  • There is the good and the bad, the great and the low, the just and the unjust. I swear to you that all that will never change.
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Peace

  • Peace is the only battle worth waging.
  • There will be no lasting peace either in the heart of individuals or in social customs until death is outlawed.
  • Before the terrifying prospects now available to humanity, we see even more clearly that peace is the only goal worth struggling for. This is no longer a prayer but a demand to be made by all peoples to their governments — a demand to choose definitively between hell and reason.
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Deep feelings

  • Great feelings take with them their own universe, splendid or abject. They light up with their passion an exclusive world in which they recognize their climate. There is a universe of jealousy, of ambition, of selfishness or generosity. A universe — in other words a metaphysic and an attitude of mind.
  • Like great works, deep feelings always mean more than they are conscious of saying.
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Charm

  • Charm is a way of getting the answer ‘Yes’ without asking a clear question.
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Diversity

  • Any thought that abandons unity glorifies diversity! And diversity is the home of art. The only thought to liberate the mind is that which leaves it alone, certain of its limits and of its impending end. No doctrine tempts it. It awaits the ripening of the work and of life.
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Logic

  • It is always easy to be logical. It is almost impossible to be logical to the bitter end.
  • There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The boundary between them is not clearly defined.
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Principle

  • To abandon oneself to principles is really to die – and to die for an impossible love which is the contrary of love.
  • The principles which men give to themselves end by overwhelming their noblest intentions.
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Virtue

  • Virtue cannot separate itself from reality without becoming a principle of evil.
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Ethics and morality

  • A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.
  • All systems of morality are based on the idea that an action has consequences that legitimize or cancel it. A mind imbued with the absurd merely judges that those consequences must be considered calmly.
  • All I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football.
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Things that limit us

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Absurdity

  • Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.
  • At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.
  • The absurd depends as much on man as on the world. For the moment, it is all that links them together.
  • The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
  • The realization that life is absurd and cannot be an end, but only a beginning. This is a truth nearly all great minds have taken as their starting point. It is not this discovery that is interesting, but the consequences and rules of action drawn from it.
  • Accepting the absurdity of everything around us is one step, a necessary experience: it should not become a dead end. It arouses a revolt that can become fruitful.
  • The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions. “Everything is permitted” does not mean that nothing is forbidden.
  • The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning. This is a truth nearly all great minds have taken as their starting point. It is not this discovery that is interesting, but the consequences and rules of action drawn from it.
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Heartbreak

  • Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.
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Life as a struggle

  • I don’t want to be a genius-I have enough problems just trying to be a man.
  • How hard, how bitter it is to become a man!
  • If the only significant history of human thought were to be written, it would have to be the history of its successive regrets and its impotences.
  • It is the failing of a certain literature to believe that life is tragic because it is wretched.
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Judgement

  • People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.
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Indifference

  • Real nobility is based on scorn, courage, and profound indifference.
  • Gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.
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Despair

  • He who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool.
  • It is necessary to fall in love… if only to provide an alibi for all the random despair you are going to feel anyway.
  • Where there is no hope, it is incumbent on us to invent it.
  • There is not love of life without despair about life.
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Self-pity

  • God put self-pity by the side of despair like the cure by the side of the disease.
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Lying

  • Lying is not only saying what isn’t true. It is also, in fact especially, saying more than is true and, in the case of the human heart, saying more than one feels. We all do it, every day, to make life simpler.
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Adversity and misfortune

  • In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
  • When the soul suffers too much, it develops a taste for misfortune.
  • Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.
  • Yes, there was an element of abstraction and unreality in misfortune. But when an abstraction starts to kill you, you have to get to work on it.
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Fear

  • Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.
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Worrying what others think

  • To be happy, we must not be too concerned with what others think.
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Idleness

  • He knew now that it was his own will to happiness which must make the next move. But if he was to do so, he realized that he must come to terms with time, that to have time was at once the most magnificent and the most dangerous of experiments. Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.
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Evil

  • To assert in any case that a man must be absolutely cut off from society because he is absolutely evil amounts to saying that society is absolutely good, and no-one in his right mind will believe this today.
  • Virtue cannot separate itself from reality without becoming a principle of evil.
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Ignorance

  • The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
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Violence

  • No matter what cause one defends, it will suffer permanent disgrace if one resorts to blind attacks on crowds of innocent people.
  • Only a philosophy of eternity, in the world today, could justify non-violence.
  • The role of the intellectual cannot be to excuse the violence of one side and condemn that of the other.
  • Violence is both unavoidable and unjustifiable.
  • Mistaken ideas always end in bloodshed, but in every case, it is someone else’s blood. That is why some of our thinkers feel free to say just about anything.
  • On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. … the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill.
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Ideology

  • Every ideology is contrary to human psychology.
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Conformity

  • Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
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Misery

  • To correct a natural indifference, I was placed half-way between misery and the sun. Misery kept me from believing that all was well under the sun, and the sun taught me that history wasn’t everything.
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Suicide

  • Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?
  • There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterward. These are games; one must first answer.
  • What is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying.
  • Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.
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Cruelty

  • Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?
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Hatred

  • Real fulfillment, for the man who allows absolutely free rein to his desires, and who much dominate everything, lies in hatred.
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Thoughts on …

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Art

  • A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.
  • A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
  • Art advances between two chasms, which are frivolity and propaganda. On the ridge where the great artist moves forward, every step is an adventure, an extreme risk. In that risk, however, and only there, lies the freedom of art.
  • Every artist preserves deep within him a single source from which, throughout his lifetime, he draws what he is, and what he says. When the source dries up, the work withers and crumbles.
  • If the world were clear, art would not exist.
  • It is not your paintings I like, it is your painting.
  • The only really committed artist is he who, without refusing to take part in the combat, at least refuses to join the regular armies and remains a freelance.
  • Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself and dies of all others.
  • The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge.
  • Art is the activity that exalts and denies simultaneously.
  • Art, at least, teaches us that man cannot be explained by history alone and that he also finds a reason for his existence in the order of nature.
  • Artistic creation is a demand for unity and a rejection of the world.
  • The aim of art, the aim of a life can only be to increase the sum of freedom and responsibility to be found in every man and in the world. It cannot, under any circumstances, be to reduce or suppress that freedom, even temporarily.
  • The artist reconstructs the world to his plan.
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Politics

  • I am not made for politics because I am incapable of wanting or accepting the death of the adversary.
  • To govern means to pillage, as everyone knows.
  • One leader, one people, signifies one master and millions of slaves.
  • The essential is to cease being free and to obey, in repentance, a greater rogue than oneself. When we are all guilty, that will be democracy.
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Government

  • All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the State.
  • By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more.
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Law

  • Retaliation is related to nature and instinct, not to law. Law, by definition, cannot obey the same rules as nature.
  • To cut short the question of the law of retaliation, we must note that even in its primitive form it can operate only between two individuals of whom one is absolutely innocent, and the other absolutely guilty. The victim, to be sure, is innocent. But can the society that is supposed to represent the victim lay claim to innocence?
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Punishment

  • For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists.
  • After all, every murderer when he kills runs the risk of the most dreadful of deaths, whereas those who kill him risk nothing except promotion.
  • A punishment that penalizes without forestalling is indeed called revenge.
  • Don’t let them tell us stories. Don’t let them say of the man sentenced to death “He is going to pay his debt to society,” but: “They are going to cut off his head.” It looks like nothing. But it does make a little difference. And then there are people who prefer to look their fate in the eye.
  • God is not needed to create guilt or to punish. Our fellow men suffice, aided by ourselves.
  • What will be left of the power of example if it is proved that capital punishment has another power, and a very real one, which degrades men to the point of shame, madness, and murder?
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Revolution and rebellion

  • Every revolutionary ends up either by becoming an oppressor or a heretic.
  • All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the State.
  • Methods of thought which claim to give the lead to our world in the name of revolution have become, in reality, ideologies of consent and not of rebellion.
  • Rebellion cannot exist without the feeling that somewhere, in some way, you are justified.
  • What is a rebel? A man who says no: but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation.
  • Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
  • In every rebellion is to be found the metaphysical demand for unity, the impossibility of capturing it, and the construction of a substitute universe.
  • The most elementary form of rebellion, paradoxically, expresses an aspiration for order.
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War

  • We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives… inside ourselves.
  • The myth of unlimited production brings war in its train as inevitably as clouds announce a storm.
  • When a war breaks out, people say: “It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.” But though the war may well be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.
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God

  • Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.
  • I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.
  • Nothing can discourage the appetite for divinity in the heart of man.
  • We turn toward God only to obtain the impossible.
  • God is not needed to create guilt or to punish. Our fellow men suffice, aided by ourselves.
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Death

  • Men are convinced of your arguments, your sincerity, and the seriousness of your efforts only by your death.
  • Martyrs, my friend, have to choose between being forgotten, mocked or used. As for being understood – never.
  • Men are never really willing to die except for the sake of freedom: therefore, they do not believe in dying completely.
  • No cause justifies the deaths of innocent people.
  • Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter.
  • To abandon oneself to principles is really to die – and to die for an impossible love which is the contrary of love.
  • What is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying.
  • Knowing that certain nights whose sweetness lingers will keep returning to the earth and sea after we are gone, yes, this helps us to die.
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Nature

  • I was born poor and without religion, under a happy sky, feeling harmony, not hostility, in nature. I began not by feeling torn, but in plenitude.
  • The ancients, even though they believed in destiny, believed primarily in nature, in which they participated wholeheartedly. To rebel against nature amounted to rebelling against oneself. It was butting one’s head against a wall.
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Relationships

  • Human relationships always help us to carry on because they always presuppose further developments, a future – and also because we live as if our only task was precisely to have relationships with other people.
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Wealth and money

  • Having money is a way of being free of money.
  • It is a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money.
  • Poor and free rather than rich and enslaved. Of course, men want to be both rich and free, and this is what leads them at times to be poor and enslaved.
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Existence

  • In order to exist just once in the world, it is necessary never again to exist.
  • In order to exist, man must rebel, but rebellion must respect the limits that it discovers in itself – limits where minds meet, and in meeting, begin to exist.
  • In order to cease being a doubtful case, one has to cease being, that’s all.
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Technology

  • Our technical civilization has just reached its greatest level of savagery. We will have to choose, in the more or less near future, between collective suicide and the intelligent use of our scientific conquests.
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Writing

  • A character is never the author who created him. It is quite likely, however, that an author may be all his characters.
  • The day when I am no more than a writer I shall cease to be a writer.
  • Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.
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The ocean

  • I grew up with the sea, and poverty for me was sumptuous; then I lost the sea and found all luxuries gray and poverty unbearable.
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Autumn

  • Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
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More thoughts

  • Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face.
  • All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.
  • All men have a sweetness in their life. That is what helps them go on. It is towards that they turn when they feel too worn out.
  • An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.
  • Conscious of not being able to separate myself from my time, I have decided to become part of it.
  • Do not wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day.
  • Every great work makes the human face more admirable and richer, and that is its whole secret.
  • It is normal to give away a little of one’s life in order not to lose it all.
  • Man is the only animal that refuses to be what he is.
  • Man wants to live, but it is useless to hope that this desire will dictate all his actions.
  • Note, besides, that it is no more immoral to directly rob citizens than to slip indirect taxes into the price of goods that they cannot do without.
  • Our civilization survives in the complacency of cowardly or malignant minds — a sacrifice to the vanity of aging adolescents.
  • Sometimes at night I would sleep open-eyed underneath a sky dripping with stars. I was alive then.
  • The desire for possession is insatiable, to such a point that it can survive even love itself. To love, therefore, is to sterilize the person one loves.
  • The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone.
  • The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
  • The world is never quiet, even its silence eternally resounds with the same notes, in vibrations which escape our ears. As for those that we perceive, they carry sounds to us, occasionally a chord, never a melody.
  • There is no longer a single idea explaining everything, but an infinite number of essences giving a meaning to an infinite number of objects. The world comes to a stop, but also lights up.
  • This world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart.
  • Utopia is that which is in contradiction with reality.
  • We are all special cases.
  • We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us towards death, the body maintains its irreparable lead.
  • A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists.
  • We rarely confide in those who are better than we are.
  • Believe me, there is no such thing as great suffering, great regret, great memory…Everything is forgotten, even great love.
  • For those of us who have been thrown into hell, mysterious melodies and the torturing images of a vanished beauty will always bring us, in the midst of crime and folly, the echo of that harmonious insurrection which bears witness, throughout the centuries, to the greatness of humanity.
  • I hope the dogs don’t bark tonight. I always think it’s mine.
  • I may not have been sure about what really did interest me, but I was absolutely sure about what didn’t.
  • Martyrs must choose between being forgotten, mocked, or made use of. As for being understood—never!
  • The important thing isn’t the soundness or otherwise of the argument, but for it to make you think.
  • Whatever we may do, excess will always keep its place in the heart of man, in the place where solitude is found. We all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others.
  • Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.
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On a lighter note

  • Some people talk in their sleep; lecturers talk while other people sleep.
  • Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.
  • To be famous, in fact, one has only to kill one’s landlady.
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