I realized then how difficult it is to separate the two. The expectations that others place on us help us form our expectations of ourselves.”
The sacrifice of Christ's, so mysterious and legendary now, almost lost in time–it was that by which Christ transcended both God and man at one moment, more than man because of his fate to do what no other man could do, and more than God because no god could suffer as he did. She felt a flicker of something close to madness."
In deep sadness, there is no place for sentimentality. It is as final as the mountains: a fact. There it is. When you realize it you cannot complain.”
All prices of all things—at least, useless beautiful things like rare books—are inherently absurd, rooted in the human imagination and in the all-too-human predilection to desperately want what others value highly, and to scorn what others fail to value.”
If it's fiction, then it better be true.”
It was like that class at school where the teacher talks about realization, about how you could realize something big in a commonplace thing. The example he gave–and the liar said it really happened–was that once while drinking orange juice, he'd realized he would be dead someday. He wondered if we, his students, had had similar 'realizations.'
Is he kidding? I thought.
Once I cashed a paycheck and I realized it wasn't enough.
Once I had food poisoning, and realized I was trapped inside my body.”
Maybe this is part of being an adult, not always having an answer. Knowing certain things but keeping them to yourself, hidden from everyone else. Maybe silence is where you go to figure out questions that don't have answers."
As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings—I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ’em like all of us. You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming that your answers would always be his answers."
Form precedes content. Essence precedes existence. The phenomenal world is a sort of skeleton upon which things, actual things in their thingness, are draped. If you know the skeleton, the outer appearances become transparent."
How come people don't feel like this country has got a lot to answer for? They dont. You can say that the country is just the country, it don't actively do nothin, but that dont mean much. I seen a man shoot his pickup truck with a shotgun one time. He must of thought it done somethin. This country will kill you in a heartbeat and still people love it. You understand what I'm sayin?"
The people in this house, I felt, and I included myself, were like characters each from a different grim and gruesome fairy tale. None of us was in the same story. We were all grotesques, and self-riveted, but in separate narratives, and so our interactions seemed weird and richly meaningless, like the characters in a Tennessee Williams play, with their bursting unimportant, but spell-bindingly mad speeches."
Boys often have permission to become men without the forfeiture of their desirability. And so these men write stories that grasp at girls who are ghosts twice over: first by being dead and second by being shallow shadows of actual girls, the assorted fragments of men's aging imaginations rather than the deep and dimensioned creatures that real girls are.”
Our theory of disaster, of sorrow, of affliction, borrowed from the poets and novelist, is that it is incessant; but every passage in our own lives and in the lives of others, so far as we have witnessed them, teaches us that this is false. The house of mourning is decorously darkened to the world, but within itself it is also the house of laughing. Burst of gaiety, as heartfelt as its grief, relieve the gloom, and the stricken survivors have their jest together, in which the thought of the dead is tenderly involved, and a fond sense, not crazier than many others, of sympathy and enjoyment beyond the silence, justifies the sunnier mood before sorrow rushes back, deploring and despairing, and make it all up again with the conventional fitness of things.”
We had the great good fortune and shortcomings of character that marked every generation that had never seen war.”