We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars!

(and other quotations...)

What a strange machine man is! You fill him with bread, wine, fish, radishes, and out come sighs, laughter, and dreams!

 - Nikos Kazantzakis

Those who succeed and do not push on to greater failure are the spiritual middle classers. Their stopping at success is proof of their compromising insignificance. It is only through the unattainable that a man achieves a hope worth living and dying for, and so attains himself.

Eugene O'Neill

We put 30 spokes together and call it a wheel. But it is on the spaces where there is nothing that the utility of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel, but it is on the space where there is nothing that the utility of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house, and it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the utility of the house depends.

Therefore, just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognise the utility of what is not.

- Tao Teh Ching

 There are very few monsters deserving of the fear that they inspire in us... 

- Andre Gide


A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.

My entire soul is a cry, and all my work is a commentary on that cry.

I expect nothing. I fear no one. I am free.

Nikos Kazantzakis

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

Viktor Frankl

It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

- Teddy Roosevelt

Kierkegaard declared that too much "possibility" led to the madhouse. But when I came upon these cautionary words, I already had what Kierkegaard called, "this sickness of infinitude," wandering from one path to another with no real recognition that I was on a search and scarcely a clue as to what I might be after. I only knew that at the bottom of each breath there was a hollow place that needed to be filled.

- Peter Matthiessen
from The Snow Leopard

We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called "visions," the whole so-called "spirit-world," death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied. To say nothing of God.  But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; the relationship between one human being and another has also been cramped by it, as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence. For if we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down. Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode. We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? 
Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. 
One climbs, one sees, one descends; one sees no longer, but one has seen. 
There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.

- Rene Daumal 

 Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it.

Always listen to yourself. It is better to be wrong than to simply follow convention. If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something and you will grow stronger. If you are right...

- Bryce Courtenay

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

- Henry David Thoreau

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day only to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible. 

- T.E. Lawrence 
Seven Pillars of Wisdom