Sunday, January 23, 2011

Commonplace Entry: Island of the World

Some quotes to whet your appetite ...

It is more difficult to maneuver in history class. His mind leaps into the subject like a starving dog lunging at poisoned meat. He cannot be held back, even though he knows what they are feeding him. This new version of history is so different from what his father taught. He hates it, but he thinks about it a lot. He worries, too, that it will imprison his mind by repetition, combined with the gradual disappearance of truth. [pg 192]

"I'm saying that through genuine culture man can know himself, even in nations where his identity is denied."

"But What do you mean by genuine culture?" 

"The beautiful and true! In music, in poetry, in literature, even in novels without political or historical references, we can apprehend what is not immediately known through rational thought or the accumulation of objective facts."

"Antun, you're investing too much faith in culture.  Does culture have the power to liberate man from overwhelming historical forces?"

"Culture is the last refuge, the sanctuary, the human place in the midst of the surrounding dehumanization.  Through the arts man is able to know himself, even if only on the intuitive level.  He senses his own worth, even when he cannot articulate it."

"Can a poem or a song defeat a tyrant?"

Defeat a killer, defeat atrocities, defeat the bottom falling out of the universe when you least expect it?

"Yes.  Yes, it can, given enough time.  When a work of art is both beautiful and true, man's freedom is strengthened by it -- both his interior need for freedom and his capacity to seek a rational understanding of it." [pg 224-225]

 [Central] park is primarily for salving his hunger for natural things, if an artificial park can be natural. He has his favorite trees. If he lies down at the base of one, the grass against his back is cool and the smell of organic things restorative, however fugitive they may be. [pg 572]

On Palm Sunday, he is walking with Steve and Sally around the pond in Central Park South. The two older children have brought along the wooden sailboats their father made for them. Taking off their shoes and socks, they roll up their cuffs, jump in, and paddle around with exuberant faces, pushing the little vessels before them. There are other children pushing toy boats about the shallows, and others who possess remote-control devices that propel expensive sloops and yachts farther out. Josip does not quite approve of this electronic play. Something bothers him about it; something is detached that should not be detached. It is control amplified to the level of metaphorical loss. A child should get wet in the ocen, he should ride the deck of a ship or become the ship, if possible, but he should not drive it as if he were a dissociated god. [pg 620]

 "I am a man who possesses only fragments, a beggar who wanders into a feast of materialism, offering to the guests a basket of broken bread. [pg 795]

"Too readily do we allow ourselves to become machines, our words converted into utilities and numbers.  It must be resisted --always, it must be resisted.  Resisted with love and mercy, with kindness and truth.  For truth without mercy is not truth, and kindness without truth is not mercy.  [pg 808]

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