Wisdom and Ignorance

“That would indeed be shocking, and then I might really with justice be summoned to court for not believing in the gods, and disobeying the oracle, and being afraid of death, and thinking that I am wise when I am not. For let me tell you, gentlemen, that to be afraid of death is only another form of thinking that one is wise when one is not; it is to think that one knows what one does not know. No one knows with regard to death whether it is not really the greatest blessing that can happen to a man; but people dread it as though they were certain that it is the greatest evil; and this is ignorance, which thinks that it knows what it does not, must surely be ignorance most culpable.”

– The Last Days of Socrates by Plato.

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The Instantaneous Decay Of Passion.

“No matter! She was not happy, had never been so. Where did it come from, this feeling of deprivation, this instantaneous decay of the things in which she put her trust?… But, if there were somewhere a strong and beautiful creature, a valiant nature full of passion and delicacy in equal measure, the heart of a poet in the figure of an angel, a lyre with strings of steel, sounding to the skies the elegiac epithalamia, why should she not, fortuitously, find such a one? What an impossibility! Nothing, anyway, was worth the great quest; it was all lies! Every smile concealed the yawn of boredom, every joy a malediction, every satisfaction brought its nausea, and even the most perfect kisses only leave upon the lips a fantastical craving for the supreme.”

– Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. 

It was clear to me in my dreams.

“I have dreamed of that song, of the strange words to that simple rhyme-song, and on several occasions I have understood what she was saying, in my dreams. In those dreams I spoke that language too, the first language, and I had dominion over the nature of all that was real. In my dream, it was the tongue of what is, and anything spoken in it becomes real, because nothing said in that language can be a lie. It is the most basic building brick of everything. In my dreams I have used that language to heal the sick and to fly; once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed-and-breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say, in that tongue, “Be whole,” and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.”

 – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.  

A Writer’s Muse.

“One day he will find you. He will touch you and you will feel a lifetime of indifference— of apathy melt away in a single moment. And you will ache for him. You will love him, in the way you walk a tightrope— in the way people learn to fall asleep in a war zone. You will bleed for him until the day he is gone. You will bleed for him every day after that. The time will pass and you will feel robbed— and you will grow bitter. You will ask why, but you won’t get an answer. And that is when the words will come.”

 – Memories by Lang Leav.

The Ways of a Woman. 

“One of the men of the manor leans forward now. “What was it like to kiss such a lass?” There is a longing in his voice. This is more than lechery – those gathered here yearn for the touch of a woman tender and soft. I see in their faces an aching hunger for a woman’s grace, all her winsome ways.” 

 – Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes. 

The Days Pile Up.

“Down in her soul, the while, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a shipwrecked sailor, she perused her solitary world with hopeless eyes, searching for some white sail far away where the horizon turns to mist. She didn’t know what her luck might bring, what wind would blow it her way, what shore it would take her to, whether it was a sloop or a three-mastered schooner, laden with anguish or crammed to the portholes with happiness. But, every morning, when she awoke, she hoped it would happen that day, and she listened to every sound, jumping to her feet, surprised when nothing came; then, as the day came to its end, with an ever greater sadness, she was longing for the morrow.”

 – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Love in real life.

“Before her wedding day, she had thought she was in love; but since she lacked the happiness that should have come from that love, she must have been mistaken, she fancied. And Emma sought to find out exactly what was meant in real life by the words felicity, passion and rapture, which had seemed so fine on the pages of books.”

 – Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.

Only illusion is real, then.

“But the soul? How can the soul be an illusion? How can consciousness be just a mechanical play of atoms and molecules? Because I may be mistaken about what I see or feel or think or wish, but that I see, feel, think, or wish cannot be mistaken. I thought I was in the monastery of my youth, and I was mistaken, as I was having a dream. I may be having a dream now and be mistaken again. The world, myself, all life, all history, and all science may well be images and thoughts happening in a dream. But the dream itself is real. My consciousness, whether I am dreaming or awake, is real. If consciousness is an illusion, then only illusion is real, and the rest is conjecture. There is no explaining consciousness by atoms and the void.”

 – Phi by Guilio Tononi.

Chained to an Illusion.

“You are sure your will is powerful, your choices are guided by your conscience. Instead you are a mere servant of hordes of nerve cells – you follow their instructions to the letter, Frick had said. You are empty, Galileo, and have no spirit: nothing enters your immature body at conception, and nothing leaves your carcass at death. You are but a slave chained to a dying machine. Over it you have no power, and its end will be your end. It will be the end of an illusion.”

– Phi by Guilio Tononi.

The Sin of Projection.

“You know the sin I am speaking of – the same as when one falls in love: all men desire beauty, virtue, and grace. Just give a man the right time, when certain humors are receptive, a specimen of woman – a sketch that’s rough and draw – he’ll dress it head to toe with all his wishes, virtues that don’t exist but in imagination.”

– Phi by Guilio Tononi.