History shows that, when people aim at the realization of a particular ideal, they generally succeed in getting just the opposite of what they want. Thus, conservatives try to conserve a given state of affairs; what they generally get is revolution. Revolutionaries try to obtain liberty, justice, and equality by violent means: tyranny and the enslavement of the masses are the usual consequence of their efforts. When the prevailing ideal is to get rich, the result, as we see to-day in Europe and America, is that most of the members of the wealth-loving society are reduced to poverty and an abject dependence on their plutocratic or bureaucratic rulers. A quarter of a century ago, militant idealists waged a war in order to end war and to make the world safe for democracy; si monumentum requiris, circumspice. The moralists discovered long since that those who make happiness their aim, seldom achieve it; happiness, like coal tar, is a by-product of something else. This is equally true of most other good things. Justice, liberty, tolerance, peace, even material prosperity are by-products. The problem which confronts the reforming idealist is to discover what it is they are the by-products of; in other words, what, if any, are the social conditions whose fulfilment will produce the states to which we attach these names.
(Aldous Huxley, “Introduction.” In: Hopousia. New York: Oskar Piest, 1940, p. 19).
What good were it for me to manufacture perfect iron while my own breast is full of dross? What would it stead me to put properties of land in order, while I am at variance with myself? To speak it in a word: the cultivation of my individual self, here as I am, has from my youth upwards been constantly though dimly my wish and my purpose.
Men are so inclined to content themselves with what is commonest; the spirit and the senses so easily grow dead to the impressions of the beautiful and perfect; that every one should study to nourish in his mind the faculty of feeling these things by every method in his power. For no man can bear to be entirely deprived of such enjoyments: it is only because they are not used to taste of what is excellent, that the generality of people take delight in silly and insipid things, provided they be new. For this reason, he would add, “one ought at least every day to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
(Goethe; quoted in Thomas Davis, Literary and Historical Essays. Dublin: James Duffy & Co., 1883, p. 21).
A irreversibilidade do tempo é o dado mais sério da existência humana, o único em cima do qual se pode criar uma vida responsável e significativa. Como dizia Georges Bernanos, só os covardes acreditam que se pode “recomeçar do zero”. E, como dizia George Steiner, “O passado nunca morre. Aliás, nem passa.”
(Olavo de Carvalho, Facebook, 13 de Abril de 2017).
The present condition of European societies is new, and has nothing like it, except in the history of the Lower Empire, when the soldiers disposed of all things, and the peoples were plunged in indifference and debasement. But civilisation and the lights of the spirit were then far from being what they are now. What will come of this combination of a highly advanced condition of civilisation with the absence or discredit of all those political or religious institutions which have hitherto given stability to nations and maintained social order? God knows, and time alone can teach us… People have compared the present agitation of society to that which occurred at the epoch of the religious reformation. But it was by ideas and sentiments that men’s minds were then drawn; social order remained unquestioned on its bases. Now we are threatened by armed barbarians, who hate the order which protects them, and aspire only to subvert it.
(Maine de Biran; quoted in Coventry Patmore, “De Biran’s Pensées,” National Review, Vol. XI, 1860, pp. 155–156).
A crítica literária está morta, ou quase morta, na academia americana. Haverá de sobreviver, porque é parte da literatura e a literatura vai sobreviver, mas terá de mover-se para fora da academia.
Eu agora digo a todos os meus melhores alunos de graduação para não cursarem pós-graduação nessa área. Façam qualquer outra coisa, garantam a sobrevivência do jeito que for, mas não como professores universitários. Sintam-se livres para estudar literatura por conta própria, para ler e escrever sozinhos; porque a próxima geração de bons leitores e críticos terá de vir de fora da universidade.
(Harold Bloom; citado em “Bloom Contra-ataca,” Folha de São Paulo, 6 de Agosto de 1995).
The entire object of true education is to make people not merely do the right things, but enjoy the right things: — not merely industrious, but to love industry — not merely learned, but to love knowledge — not merely pure, but to love purity — not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice.
(John Ruskin, “The Crown of Wild Olive.” In: The Works of John Ruskin, Vol. 18. London: George Allen, 1905, pp. 435–436).
The uniform modern man is born of his conditions, bred up either in the great cities themselves, or at best in districts that have lost their own character and draw their ideas from the manners and literature of the capital. Only in the few parts of the country and a few departments of life still more or less remote from this atmosphere, among sailors, hill-farmers, or in households still attached to old ideals of life, are the old English to be found. But we cannot put our trust in their survival. We cannot go back. There is a way forward, out of our present life and culture worse than the old, into a state that may by taking thought be made better. By modern machinery mankind is moulded for good or for evil with a rapidity of change unknown at any previous epoch. In this sense ‘modem progress’ has a meaning. But hitherto the progression, being left unguided in the hands of the great material interests, has been gravely for the worse. There will be no national effort to deflect its course, until it is recognised that we have deteriorated; until modern progress is judged not by trade returns and the quantity of victuals consumed per head, but by its results on the thoughts and characters of men.
(G.M. Trevelyan, “The White Peril,” The Nineteenth Century and After, Vol. L, 1901, pp. 1046–1047).