694: A Secret.

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!

(Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. London: Chapman & Hall, 1919, p. 12).

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694: A Secret.

687: There is No Happiness in Love.

“Take my advice,” said she. “Never mind love. After all, what is it? The dream of a few weeks. That is all its joy. The disappointment of a life is its Nemesis. Who was ever successful in true love? Success in love argues that the love is false. True love is always despondent or tragical. Juliet loved, Haidee loved. Dido loved, and what came of it? Troilus loved and ceased to be a man.”

“Troilus loved and was fooled,” said the more manly chaplain. “A man may love and yet not be a Troilus. All women are not Cressids.”

“No; all women are not Cressids. The falsehood is not always on the woman’s side. Imogen was true, but how was she rewarded? Her lord believed her to be the paramour of the first he who came near her in his absence. Desdemona was true and was smothered. Ophelia was true and went mad. There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel. But in wealth, money, houses, lands, goods and chattels, in the good things of this world, yes, in them there is something tangible, something that can be retained and enjoyed.”

“Oh, no,” said Mr. Slope, feeling himself bound to enter some protest against so very unorthodox a doctrine, “this world’s wealth will make no one happy.”

“And what will make you happy — you — you?” said she, raising herself up, and speaking to him with energy across the table. “From what source do you look for happiness? Do not say that you look for none? I shall not believe you. It is a search in which every human being spends an existence.”

(Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers. London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1906, pp. 229–230).

687: There is No Happiness in Love.

677: Um Vulto Sempre em Movimento.

É preciso não querer demarcar a sombra de Deus na terra… Nós, o que vemos da vontade de Deus, é uma sombra apenas — é como se víssemos a sombra que se projeta sobre a terra, de um vulto sempre em movimento… Como fixá-la? Como demarcar essa sombra em eterno movimento? Como julgar se é maior ou menor que uma outra?

(Otávio de Faria; citado em Rodrigo Gurgel, “A Sombra de Deus,” Rascunho, Fevereiro de 2018).

677: Um Vulto Sempre em Movimento.

675: Mental Tabasco Sauce.

Books were once my refuge. To be in bed with a Highsmith novel was a salve. To read was to disappear, become enrobed in something beyond my own jittery ego. To read was to shutter myself and, in so doing, discover a larger experience. I do think old, book-oriented styles of reading opened the world to me — by closing it. And new, screen-oriented styles of reading seem to have the opposite effect: They close the world to me, by opening it.

In a very real way, to lose old styles of reading is to lose a part of ourselves.

For most of modern life, printed matter was, as the media critic Neil Postman put it, “the model, the metaphor, and the measure of all discourse.” The resonance of printed books — their lineal structure, the demands they make on our attention — touches every corner of the world we’ve inherited. But online life makes me into a different kind of reader — a cynical one. I scrounge, now, for the useful fact; I zero in on the shareable link. My attention — and thus my experience — fractures. Online reading is about clicks, and comments, and points. When I take that mindset and try to apply it to a beaten-up paperback, my mind bucks.

Author Nicholas Carr (The Shallows) writes that, “digital technologies are training us to be more conscious of and more antagonistic toward delays of all sorts.” We become, “more intolerant of moments of time that pass without the arrival of new stimuli.” So, I throw down the old book, craving mental Tabasco sauce. And yet not every emotion can be reduced to an emoji, and not every thought can be conveyed via tweet. […]

For a long time, I convinced myself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate me somehow from our new media climate — that I could keep on reading and writing in the old way because my mind was formed in pre-internet days. But the mind is plastic — and I have changed. I’m not the reader I was.

(Michael Harris, “I Have Forgotten How to Read,” The Globe and Mail, February 2, 2018).

675: Mental Tabasco Sauce.

670: What All Feel, But All Cannot Say.

He writes passionately, because he feels keenly; forcibly, because he conceives vividly; he sees too clearly to be vague; he is too serious to be otiose; he can analyze his subject, and therefore he is rich; he embraces it as a whole and in its parts, and therefore he is consistent; he has a firm hold of it, and therefore he is luminous. When his imagination wells up, it overflows in ornament; when his heart is touched, it thrills along his verse. He always has the right word for the right idea, and never a word too much. If he is brief, it is because few words suffice; when he is lavish of them, still each word has its mark, and aids, not embarrasses, the vigorous march of his elocution. He expresses what all feel, but all cannot say; and his sayings pass into proverbs among his people, and his phrases become household words and idioms of their daily speech, which is tessellated with the rich fragments of his language, as we see in foreign lands the marbles of Roman grandeur worked into the walls and pavements of modern palaces.

(John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1912, pp. 292–293).

670: What All Feel, But All Cannot Say.

658: A Quality so Rare.

Where the purpose of glass is to be seen through, we do not want it tinted nor wavy. In certain kinds of poetry the case may be slightly different; such, for instance, as are intended to display the powers of association and combination in the writer, and to invite and exercise the compass and comprehension of the intelligent… Great painters have always the same task to perform. What is excellent in their art cannot be thought excellent by many, even of those who reason well on ordinary matters, and see clearly beauties elsewhere. All correct perceptions are the effect of careful practice. We little doubt that a mirror would direct us in the most familiar of our features, and that our hand would follow its guidance, until we try to cut a lock of our hair. We have no such criterion to demonstrate our liability to error in judging of poetry; a quality so rare that perhaps no five contemporaries ever were masters of it.

(Walter Savage Landor, Aphorisms. London: George Allen, 1897, pp. 165–166).

658: A Quality so Rare.

655: Genius Cannot Popularize Itself.

While, in order to win popularity and immediate success, it appears to be a necessity to write to a probable public, it is no less true that the greatest minds — those which have influenced the thought, not of individuals, but of the race — have simply written out what was in them; written not for popularity nor fame, nor even for money, but for posterity, for all time.

Primarily, though, I am inclined to think they wrote for themselves, because they could not help it, absolute necessity for expression being one of the laws of genius. A poet sings as does the bird, and a brain that is bursting with thought must give itself vent. Herein lies the difference. The magazinist writes to his public, the genius must form his public; the first must please his audience, and if he succeeds, he has his reward in applause and bouquets. But genius toils during long and apparently fruitless years; he cannot get before the footlights. He is unheard, unappreciated by the public, while too often misunderstood, taunted, and scorned by his private critic. To many people print is the criterion of excellence, and they would not estimate Shakespeare himself in manuscript.

No less than other men would our genius enjoy fame, success, and the ease of wealth, but not for these will he exchange his soul. Genius cannot popularize itself; it must wait for the thought of the times to catch up with it, for it is the very essence of genius that it is before and far away beyond its generation. The greater the genius, the longer the waiting. Remember Hawthorne, the hermit, secluding himself in a bleak New England chamber for seventeen years before his marvellous witchery began to win recognition; Carlyle at Craigan-Puttoch, and again at Cheyne Row tearing his hair over the “French Revolution,” and bitterly reviling in his heart the pigmy public which could “eat; drink, and be merry” on the edge of a no less terrible social abyss. Emerson never won riches, and grand old Walt Whitman has lived in poverty all these years. Shelley, the exile, was banished from Oxford, scorned by his own, robbed of his children, and yet to-day the Clarendon Press is bringing out his “Adonais” in an edition de luxe. Browning lived to realize fame and a sufficiency of success; but read his “Men and Women” to learn if he knew or not the depths of sorrowing disheartenment.

“Given the conditions, who would be a genius?” cries one, and the answer comes swift: “Surely, not he who asks the question and flaunts the doubt.”

(Jeanie Porter Rudd, “Writing to a Public,” The Writer, Vol. V, 1891, p. 117).

655: Genius Cannot Popularize Itself.