We can't make use of our minds at full capacity unless we have some idea of how much of what we think we're thinking is really thought, and how much is just familiar words running along their own familiar tracks. Nearly everyone does enough talking, at least, to become fairly fluent in his own language, and at that point there's always the danger of automatic fluency, turning on a tap and letting a lot of platitudinous bumble emerge.
- Northrop Frye
Since reality consists in the uniformity of calculable reckoning, man, too, must enter monotonous uniformity in order to keep up with what is real. A man without a uni-form today already gives the impression of being something unreal which no longer belongs.
- Martin Heidegger
MISOMUSIST. To be without a feeling for art is no disaster. A person can live in peace without reading Proust or listening to Schubert. But the misomusist does not live in peace. He feels humiliated by the existence of something that is beyond him, and he hates it. There is a popular misomusy just as there is a popular anti-Semitism. The fascist and Communist regimes made use of it when they declared war on modern art. But there is an intellectual, sophisticated misomusy as well: it takes revenge on art by forcing it to a purpose beyond the aesthetic. The doctrine of engagé art: art as an instrument of politics. The theoreticians for whom a work of art is merely a pretext for deploying a method (psychoanalytic, semiological, sociological, etc.). Democratic misomusy: the market as supreme arbiter of aesthetic value.
- Milan Kundera
The town is taken by its rats—ship-rats
And rats of the wharves. All civil charms
And priestly spells which late held hearts in awe—
Fear-bound, subjected to a better sway
Than sway of self; these like a dream dissolve,
And man rebounds whole aeons back in nature.
- Herman Melville
Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. Virgil, if I remember right, refers to it several times, but with too much Roman restraint. He does not let himself go on cheese. The only other poet that I can think of just now who seems to have had some sensibility on the point was the nameless author of the nursery rhyme which says: `If all the trees were bread and cheese' - which is indeed a rich and gigantic vision of the higher gluttony. If all the trees were bread and cheese there would be considerable deforestation in any part of England where I was living.
- G.K. Chesterton
Paul Claudel says somewhere, "Celui qui admire n'a jamais tort" (He who admires is never wrong). I like thinking about this sentence, so hopelessly out-of-date and so easily subject to revision. In a fundamental way, though, it tells us that in a spiritual sense, admiration and enthusiasm are far higher than criticism, sarcasm, a purely ironic stance. In English they call it debunking; we call it demystification, and it's the very air that newspapers and most books breathe.
- Adam Zagajewski