Dismal Quotes

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It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a 'dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.
Melville, as he always does, began to reason of Providence and futurity, and of everything that lies beyond human ken, and informed me that he "pretty much made up his mind to be annihilated"; but still he does not seem to rest in that anticipation; and, I think, will never rest until he gets hold of a definite belief. It is strange how he persists — and has persisted ever since I knew him, and probably long before — in wandering to-and-fro over these deserts, as dismal and monotonous as the sand hills amid which we were sitting. He can neither believe, nor be comfortable in his unbelief; and he is too honest and courageous not to try to do one or the other. If he were a religious man, he would be one of the most truly religious and reverential; he has a very high and noble nature, and better worth immortality than most of us.
And that dismal cry rose slowly And sank slowly through the air, Full of spirit's melancholy And eternity's despair; And they heard the words it said,— "Pan is dead! great Pan is dead! Pan, Pan is dead!"
I look back on tremendous efforts & exhaustion & dismal looking out of a tent door on to a dismal world of snow and vanishing hopes - & yet, & yet, & yet there have been a good many things to set the other side.
One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.
I have almost forgot the taste of fears; The time has been, my senses would have cool'd To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir As life were in't: I have supp'd full with horrors; Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts Cannot once start me.
A dismal universal hiss, the sound Of public scorn.
The stones were dancing now. O yes, they were dancing! But it was not hopping and skipping like jigs or reels, nor was it the dismal revolving of a ballroom. Not a stone moved from its place, but they rocked and turned, slowly and with the greatest dignity, as if to say: "We are the lords of the earth and of the water. We shall stand when all has gone. We shall endure until better things come. But what can be better than we? So we shall endure forever."
What we might call, by way of Eminence, the Dismal Science.
• Thomas Carlyle, The Nigger Question. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
• Source: Wikiquote: "Science" (Quotes: Sorted alphabetically by author or source, C-D)
He hears On all sides, from innumerable tongues A dismal universal hiss, the sound Of public scorn.
Most of us understand that innovation is enormously important. It's the only insurance against irrelevance. It's the only guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. It's the only strategy for out-performing a dismal economy.
O, I have pass'd a miserable night, So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams, That, as I am a christian-faithful man, I would not spend another such a night, Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days. — So full of dismal terror was the time!
Acknowledging the physical realities of our planet does not mean a dismal future of endless sacrifice. In fact, acknowledging these realities is the first step in dealing with them. We can meet the resource problems of the world — water, food, minerals, farmlands, forests, overpopulation, pollution — if we tackle them with courage and foresight.
Descending through the dismal night — a night In which the bounds of heaven and earth were lost
The point of Elvis Presley was that, after a dismal eight years on the screen, he returned to the stage where he always belonged and to the grinding treadmill of being on the road, which has killed so many of America's artists; he may not have pushed the boundaries of music farther but when he opened his mouth to release that baritone - the only white voice that could ever match the blues-, all you could feel was his longing and your own stirrings.
Here numerous persons, with big wigs many of them, and austere aspect, whom I take to be Professors of the Dismal Science, start up in an agitated vehement manner: but the Premier resolutely beckons them down again
Blues. An American dance stemming from the Foxtrot, the speed of which it reduced and into which it brought a deliberately contrived dismal atmosphere. When Blues are sung their words seem to aim at attaining to the utmost depths of gloom and inanity.
Lesbians, said a lesbian friend wearily to me, are "program heads": "They need the structure. They have all the answers." Hence lesbians' omnipresence in the social welfare industry. Rejecting the father's competitive system, they substitute another that they imagine is based on female "caring" and "compassion" but is, in dismal effect, repressive, totalitarian, and hostile to art and dissent. The same friend memorably said to me long ago that lesbianism is caused by either "too much tit or not enough."
Respectable Professors of the Dismal Science.
• Thomas Carlyle, Latter Day Pamphlets, No. 1. (1850). Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
• Source: Wikiquote: "Science" (Quotes: Sorted alphabetically by author or source, C-D)
"Oh-Simon!" "No, I'm Jace," said Jace patiently. "Simon is the weaselly little one with the bad haircut and dismal fashion sense."
In winter, when the dismal rain Comes down in slanting lines, And Wind, that grand old harper, smote His thunder-harp of pines.
In winter, when the dismal rain Came down in slanting lines, And Wind, that grand old harper, smote His thunder-harp of pines.
• Alexander Smith, A Life Drama, scene 2.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Winter" (Sourced, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 877-78.)
Black, (blak), adj. Destitute of light, devoid of color, enveloped in darkness. Hence, utterly dismal or gloomy, as "the future looked black.
We certainly have at present the dismal situation that the most imaginative men are directed by a group, the top managers, who are among the least.
Full well they laughed, with counterfeited glee, At all his jokes, for many a joke had he: Full well the busy whisper, circling round, Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd.
Beware of Methodologies. They are a great way to bring everyone up to a dismal, but passable, level of performance, but at the same time, they are aggravating to more talented people who chafe at the restrictions that are placed on them.
“Sharpie, you’ve got a one-track mind.” “It’s the main track. Reproduction is the main track; the methods and mores of sexual copulation are the central feature of all higher developments of life.” “You’re ignoring money and television.” “Piffle! All human activities including scientific research are either mating dances and care of the young, or the dismal sublimations of born losers in the only game in town.”
We have to beef up our searches, which are now pretty dismal, so we can find out about these things before we get hit. … It takes a dramatic event to get people's attention, and we thought the comet crash with Jupiter might have done the job. … we tend to ignore an extraterrestrial hazard that could reduce the planet to rubble. … What we really need is a good scare.
My opinion of my whole experience varies from time to time. In broad daylight, and at most seasons I am apt to think the greater part of it a mere dream; but sometimes in the autumn, about two in the morning when winds and animals howl dismally, there comes from inconceivable depths below a damnable suggestions of rhythmical throbbing … and I feel that the transition of Juan Romero was a terrible one indeed.
Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace The day's disasters in his morning face; Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper circling round Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd. Yet was he kind, or if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in fault; The village all declar'd how much he knew, 'T was certain he could write and cipher too.
Every burning tear, every harrowing fear, every festering grief, every corroding care, every shooting pain, every piercing remorse; the sighs and moans of lazar-houses reeking with putrefaction and death; the shrieks and wails and clanking chains in hospitals swarming with maniacs; and the curses and blasphemies of dungeons where guilt rots and raves — these, all these, are but feeble reverberations of those dismal truths, " Sin reigns unto death." " Death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
• Richard Fuller, p. 550.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Sin" (Quotes, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895): Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).)
Hence the cocaine. I cannot live without brain-work. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window here. Was ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them? Crime is commonplace, existence is commonplace, and no qualities save those which are commonplace have any function upon earth.
The clean clear colours were in my head. But one day as I looked at the brown burned wood of the Shanty, I thought ‘I can paint one of those dismal-coloured paintings like the men. I think just for fun I will try — all low-toned and dreary with the tree besides the door.’ In my next show, ‘The Shanty’ went up. The men seemed to approve of it. They seemed to think that maybe I was beginning to paint … that was my only low-toned dismal-coloured painting.
Then sought out Envy in her dark abode, Defil'd with ropy gore and clots of blood: Shut from the winds, and from the wholesome skies, In a deep vale the gloomy dungeon lies, Dismal and cold, where not a beam of light Invades the winter, or disturbs the night. ... She never smiles but when the wretched weep, Nor lulls her malice with a moment's sleep, Restless in spite: while watchful to destroy, She pines and sickens at another's joy; Foe to her self, distressing and distrest, She bears her own tormentor in her breast.
A man severe he was, and stern to view; I knew him well, and every truant knew: Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace The day's disasters in his morning face; Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee, At all his jokes, for many a joke had he; Full well the bust whisper, circling round, Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned; Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught, The love he bore to learning was in fault; The village all declared how much he knew; 'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too.
"Ah! this beautiful world!" said Flemming, with a smile. "Indeed, I know not what to think of it. Sometimes it is all gladness and sunshine, and Heaven itself lies not far off. And then it changes suddenly; and is dark and sorrowful, and clouds shut out the sky. In the lives of the saddest of us, there are bright days like this, when we feel as if we could take the great world in our arms and kiss it. Then come the gloomy hours, when the fire will neither burn on our hearths nor in our hearts; and all without and within is dismal, cold, and dark. Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad."
When I was fifteen and had quit school forever, I went to work in a vineyard near Sanger with a number of Mexicans, one of whom was only a year or two older than myself, an earnest boy named Felipe. One gray, dismal, cold, dreary day in January, while we were pruning muscat vines, I said to this boy, simply in order to be talking, "If you had your wish, Felipe, what would you want to be? A doctor, a farmer, a singer, a painter, a matador, or what?" Felipe thought a minute, and then he said, "Passenger." This was exciting to hear, and definitely something to talk about at some length, which we did. He wanted to be a passenger on anything that was going anywhere, but most of all on a ship.
At Bishop they learn'd that Dixon had been buried in back of the Quaker Meeting-House in Staindrop. Doctor Isaac stay'd with his Father, step for step. At the grave, which by Quaker custom was unmark'd, Mason beseech'd what dismally little he knew of God, to help Dixon through. The grass was long and beaded with earlier rain. A Cat emerg'd from it and star'd for a long time, appearing to know them. "Dad?" Doc had taken his arm. For an instant, unexpectedly, Mason saw the little Boy who, having worried about Storms at Sea, as Beasts in the Forest, came running each time to make sure his father had return'd safely, — whose gift of ministering to others Mason was never able to see, let alone accept, in his blind grieving, his queasiness of Soul before a life and a death, his refusal to touch the Baby, tho' 'twas not possible to blame him.... The Boy he had gone to the other side of the Globe to avoid was looking at him now with nothing in his face but concern for his Father. "Oh, Son." He shook his Head. He didn't continue. "It's your Mate," Doctor Isaac assur'd him, "It's what happens when your Mate dies."
Having fun is a dismal business after you pass fifty.
Economics never was a dismal science. It should be a realistic science.
There is a dismal record of failure in Africa on the part of the developed world that shocks and shames our civilization.
The dismall'st day is this that e'er I saw, To be dishonour'd by my sons in Rome! Well, bury him, and bury me next.
Economics has been called the dismal science. Once you get to understand it, you may not find it so dismal, but you don't find it much of a science either.
Twenty-one years between first and second films is longer than any director should have to wait. The case of Polonsky is one of the most dismal hangovers from the McCarthy period.
Gracie and Daisy joined her but they didn’t care for they gray, dismal day and said so in no uncertain terms and the are home now yay-- 00:40, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
Although we cannot place all the blame for the dismal condition of LDCs on Keynesian economics, it bears a heavy responsibility for much of the pain and suffering in the Third World.
Comics day came and went. Another shoes day came and went. And another comics day followed that — the typical production and consumption cycles that help us survice our dismal, meaningless little lives.
And that dismal cry rose slowly And sank slowly through the air, Full of spirit's melancholy And eternity's despair! And they heard the words it said— Pan is dead! great Pan is dead! Pan, Pan is dead!
• Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Dead Pan.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Deity" (Quotes, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations: Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 321-25.)
Garfield: What a dismal day. I think I'll stay in bed all day. Jon: Good morning, Garfield. It's a beautiful day today. Garfield: What a beautiful day. I think I'll stay in bed all day. (8 Mar 1982) http://garfield.com/comics/comics_archives_strip.html?1982-ga820308
They could pray, they had the illusion that a divine plan governed this best of all possible worlds, while I was left in bleak, stormy limbo, dismally aware that the universe makes no sense and that the only universal truth there is is that Entropy Eventually Wins.
Robert Silverberg
• Chapter 3, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (p. 76)
• Source: Wikiquote: "Robert Silverberg" (Quotes, Short fiction, Thomas the Proclaimer (1972): All page numbers from the first edition of the story in The Day the Sun Stood Still (Book Club edition) )
my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world — unless you're not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die. Does this sound dismal? It isn't. It's the most wonderful life on earth. Or so I feel.      —E. E. Cummings
E. E. Cummings
• Source: Wikiquote: "E. E. Cummings" (Quotes: The typography of some of these quotes may seem incorrect: it probably isn't. Outside of some bolding for emphasis of well noted or notable statements, and a few marks of ellipsis "…" for gaps, Cumming's often-odd original typography has been retained, so much as possible, in many of the quotes, including where punctuation marks between words are often used without any spaces., A Poet's Advice (1958): "A Poet's Advice to Students" in E. E. Cummings, a Miscellany: A Miscellany (1958), edited by George James Firmage, p. 13 )
Again she plunges! hark! a second shock Bilges the splitting vessel on the rock; Down on the vale of death, with dismal cries, The fated victims shuddering cast their eyes In wild despair; while yet another stroke With strong convulsion rends the solid oak: Ah Heaven!—behold her crashing ribs divide! She loosens, parts, and spreads in ruin o'er the tide.
Economics was christened “the dismal science” precisely because its analysis frustrated so many hopes and desires. On the other hand, knowing what is not possible can spare us many disappointments and avoid many disasters. Because human beings can be as wrong in their pessimism as in their optimism, economics has also served to expose the fallacies of many doom-and-gloom prophets.
'You poor suckers [mammals]: you've got all this horrible stuff to get through somehow so obviously there's got to be an incentive, or at least some kind of fix for you to get addicted to. That's love: possibly the sneakiest trick ever played on any variety of life form by a notoriously conniving Universe. You do all these dismal, soul-destroying things because you get attached to each other.' -the spokesclone, pg. 322
But no sympathy reached His convulsed spirit. He was alone; alone, enduring the curse for us; alone, "bearing our sins in His own body on the tree," and exhausting the fierceness of eternal justice; alone, without succor from man; alone, without one strengthening whisper from angel; above all, alone, without one ray from His Father's countenance. And that expiring cry, "My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken me?" was the bitter, dreary, dismal, piercing wail of a soul utterly deserted — wrapped, shrouded in essential unmitigated desolation.
After September 11, then, writers faced quantitative change, but not qualitative change. In the following days and weeks, the voices coming from their rooms were very quiet; still, they were individual voices, and playfully rational, all espousing the ideology of no ideology. They stood in eternal opposition to the voice of the lonely crowd, which, with its yearning for both power and effacement, is the most desolate sound you will ever hear. "Desolate": "giving an impression of bleak and dismal emptiness... from L. desolat-, desolare 'abandon', from de- 'thoroughly' + solus 'alone'."
Keynesian economics at a minimum provides a licence for welfare state measures and other government efforts towards redistribution of wealth. The license is the faith that macroeconomic stabilization and prosperity are compatible with a wide range of social policies, that modern capitalism and democracy are robust enough to prosper and progress while being humane and equitable. That faith conflicts with the visions of extreme Right and Left, which agree that extremes of wealth and poverty, of security and insecurity, are indispensable to the functioning of capitalism. Keynesian policies helped to confound those dismal prophecies in the past; I think they will do so again.
He who would valiant be, Let him come hither; One here will constant be, Come wind, come weather There’s no discouragement Shall make him once relent His first avow’d intent To be a pilgrim. Whoso beset him round With dismal stories, Do but themselves confound; His strength the more is. No lion can him fright, He’ll with a giant fight, But he will have a right To be a pilgrim. Hobgoblin nor foul fiend Can daunt his spirit; He knows he at the end Shall life inherit. Then, fancies, fly away, He’ll not fear what men say; He’ll labour night and day To be a pilgrim.
His name was Jermyn, and he dodged all day long about the galley drying his handkerchief before the stove. Apparently he never slept. He was a dismal man, with a perpetual tear sparkling at the end of his nose, who either had been in trouble, or was in trouble, or expected to be in trouble — couldn't be happy unless something went wrong. He mistrusted my youth, my common-sense, and my seamanship, and made a point of showing it in a hundred little ways. I dare say he was right. It seems to me I knew very little then, and I know not much more now; but I cherish a hate for that Jermyn to this day.
The fact is, there were all kinds of Puritans. There were dismal precisians, like William Prynne, illiberal and vulgar fanatics, the Tribulation Wholesomes, Hope-on-high Bombys, and Zeal-of-the-land Busys, whose absurdities were the stock in trade of contemporary satirists from Johnson to Butler. But there were also gentlemen and scholars, like Fairfax, Marvell, Colonel Hutchinson, Vane, whose Puritanism was consistent with all elegant tastes and accomplishments. Was Milton’s Puritanism hurtful to his art? No and yes. It was in many ways an inspiration; it gave him zeal, a Puritan word much ridiculed by the Royalists; it gave refinement, distinction, selectness, elevation to his picture of the world. But it would be uncritical to deny that it also gave a certain narrowness and rigidity to his view of human life.
• Henry A. Beers "Milton’s Tercentenary", in The Connecticut Wits and Other Essays (1920), p. 230.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Puritanism" (Sourced)
In the most trying hours, through dismal nights and endless interrogations and maltreatment, during days of killing solitude in cells and close confinement, we were always sustained by the hope that all these agonies were not in vain, that there was a strong and mighty country, however far away, in which all the dreams for which we were fighting had been fulfilled. For us it was the homeland of the workers, in which labour was honoured, in which love, comradeship, and sincerity prevailed. With what joy I had felt the strength of that country as, emerging from prison in 1934, I listened in the dead of each night to Radio Moscow and heard the clock of the Kremlin tower striking the hours, and the stirring strains of the 'International'.
So we do not travel like couriers but like explorers. We do not merely consider the beginning and the end, but the space between. The journey itself is a delight. We do not travel sitting, dismally imprisoned, so to speak, in a tightly closed cage. We do not travel with the ease and comfort of ladies. We do not deprive ourselves of the fresh air, nor the sight of the things about us, nor the opportunity of examining them at our pleasure. Emile will never enter a post-chaise, nor will he ride post unless in a great hurry. But what cause has Emile for haste? None but the joy of life. Shall I add to this the desire to do good when he can? No, for that is itself one of the joys of life.
Dicko: I thought you sung a dismal song really well. You said it was a challenge for you. It was a challenge for me to listen to it cause I just couldn't follow it. I wanted to party tonight. I thought there were some great songs and that was just a bit of a speed bump in the evening for me and it's a shame cause I think you are growing. I wanted you to tear it up tonight and I think the song weighed you down but I thought you delivered it well. The following night on the Verdict Show, Hayley was once again put in the Bottom 3 with Amali Ward and Marty Worrall. Marty was declared safe and then Amali was told she was going home. This left Hayley a spot in the Top 9.
The one who came from farthest to my lodge, through deepest snows and most dismal tempests, was a poet. A farmer, a hunter, a soldier, a reporter, even a philosopher, may be daunted; but nothing can deter a poet, for he is actuated by pure love. Who can predict his comings and goings? His business calls him out at all hours, even when doctors sleep. We made that small house ring with boisterous mirth and resound with the murmur of much sober talk, making amends then to Walden vale for the long silences. Broadway was still and deserted in comparison. At suitable intervals there were regular salutes of laughter, which might have been referred indifferently to the last-uttered or the forth-coming jest. We made many a "bran new" theory of life over a thin dish of gruel, which combined the advantages of conviviality with the clear-headedness which philosophy requires.
Children are made to learn bits of Shakespeare by heart, with the result that ever after they associate him with pedantic boredom. If they could meet him in the flesh, full of jollity and ale, they would be astonished, and if they had never heard of him before they might be led by his jollity to see what he had written. But if at school they had been inoculated against him, they will never be able to enjoy him. The same sort of thing applies to music lessons. Human beings have certain capacities for spontaneous enjoyment, but moralists and pedants possess themselves of the apparatus of these enjoyments, and having extracted what they consider the poison of pleasure they leave them dreary and dismal and devoid of everything that gives them value. Shakespeare did not write with a view to boring school-children; he wrote with a view to delighting his audiences. If he does not give you delight, you had better ignore him.
In fact, it would be very easy to ‘prove’ Marx’s analysis to have been wrong, if experience had shown, for example, that the more capitalist industry develops, the smaller and smaller the average factory becomes, the less it depends upon new technology, the more its capital is supplied by the workers themselves, the more workers become owners of their factories, the less the part of wages taken by consumer goods becomes (and the greater becomes the part of wages used for buying the workers’ own means of production). If, in addition, there had been decades without economic fluctuations and a full-scale disappearance of trade unions and employers’ associations (all flowing from the disappearance of contradictions between Capital and Labour, inasmuch as workers increasingly become the controllers of their own means and conditions of production), then one could indeed say that Capital was so much rubbish and had dismally failed to predict what would happen in the real capitalist world a century after its publication.
Like Hilbert, Einstein did his great work up to the age of forty without any reductionist bias. His crowning achievement, the general relativistic theory of gravitation, grew out of a deep physical understanding of natural processes. Only at the very end of his ten-year struggle to understand gravitation did he reduce the outcome of his understanding to a finite set of field equations. But like Hilbert, as he grew older he concentrated his attention more and more on the formal properties of his equations, and he lost interest in the wider universe of ideas out of which his equations arose. His last twenty years were spent in a fruitless search for a set of equations that would unify the whole of physics, without paying attention to the rapidly proliferating experimental discoveries that any unified theory would have to explain. I do not have to say more about... Einstein's lonely attempt to reduce physics to a finite set of marks on paper. His attempt failed as dismally as Hilbert's attempt to do the same thing in mathematics.
It is an arithmetic, moreover, which cannot be denied even though we nearly all try to deny it. The arithmetic is simply this: Any positive rate of growth whatever eventually carries a human population to an unacceptable magnitude, no matter how small the rate of growth may be unless the rate of population growth can be reduced to zero before the population reaches an unacceptable magnitude. There is a famous theorem in economics, one which I call the dismal theorem, which states that if the only thing which can check the growth of population is starvation and misery, then the population will grow until it is sufficiently miserable and starving to check its growth. There is a second, even worse theorem which I call the utterly dismal theorem. It says that if the only thing which can check the growth of population is starvation and misery, then the ultimate result of any technological improvement is to enable a larger number of people to live in misery than before and hence to increase the total sum of human misery.
Heidegger's Nazism and the failure to confront it are philosophically significant for Heidegger's philosophy, for its reception, and for philosophy itself. At a time when some are still concerned to deny the existence of the Holocaust, in effect to deny that Nazism was Nazism, and many still deny that Nazism had a more than tangential appeal to one of the most significant theories of this century, merely to assert the philosophical significance of an abject philosophical failure to seize the historical moment for the German Volk and Being is not likely to win the day. Yet there is something absurd, even grotesque about the conjunction of the statement that Heidegger is an important, even a great philosopher, perhaps one of the few seminal thinkers in the history of the tradition, with the realization that he, like many of his followers, entirely failed, in fact failed in the most dismal manner, to grasp or even to confront Nazism. If philosophy is its time captured in thought, and if Heidegger and his epigones have basically failed to grasp their epoch, can we avoid the conclusion that they have also failed this test, failed as philosophers?
One after another, sundry women have occupied my life. Antonia Veron was first. Her marriage and mine, their hindrance and restriction, threw us back upon each other as of yore. We found ourselves alone one day in my house — where nothing ever used to happen, and she offered me her lips, irresistibly. The appeal of her sensuality was answered by mine, then, and often later. But the pleasure constantly restored, which impelled me towards her, always ended in dismal enlightenments. She remained a capricious and baffling egotist, and when I came away from her house across the dark suburb among a host of beings vanishing, like myself, I only brought away the memory of her nervous and irritating laugh, and that new wrinkle which clung to her mouth like an implement. Then younger desires destroyed the old, and gallant adventures begot one another. It is all over with this one and that one whom I adored. When I see them again, I wonder that I can say, at one and the same time, of a being who has not changed, "How I loved her!" and, "How I have ceased to love her!"
It is rotten and dismal that a world of so many hundred million people should be ruled by a single caste that has the power to lead millions to life or to death, indeed on a whim...This caste has spun its web over the entire earth; capitalism recognizes no national boundaries...Capitalism has learned nothing from recent events and wants to learn nothing, because it places its own interests ahead of those of the other millions. Can one blame those millions for standing up for their own interests, and only for those interests? Can one blame them for striving to forge an international community whose purpose is the struggle against corrupt capitalism? Can one condemn a large segment of the educated Sturmer youth for protesting against the greatest ability? Is it not an abomination that people with the most brilliant intellectual gifts should sink into poverty and disintegrate, while others dissipate, squander, and waste the money that could help them? … You say the old propertied class also worked hard for what it has. Granted, that may be true in many cases. But do you also know about the conditions under which workers were living during the period when capitalism “earned” its fortune?
This preposterous quackery flourishes lushly in the back reaches of the Republic, and begins to conquer the less civilized folk of the big cities. As the oldtime family doctor dies out in the country towns, with no competent successor willing to take over his dismal business, he is followed by some hearty blacksmith or ice-wagon driver, turned into a chiropractor in six months, often by correspondence. In Los Angeles the Damned there are probably more chiropractors than actual physicians, and they are far more generally esteemed. Proceeding from the Ambassador Hotel to the heart of the town, along Wilshire boulevard, one passes scores of their gaudy signs; there are even many chiropractic "hospitals." The morons who pour in from the prairies and deserts, most of them ailing, patronize these "hospitals" copiously, and give to the chiropractic pathology the same high respect that they accord to the theology of the town sorcerers. That pathology is grounded upon the doctrine that all human ills are caused by the pressure of misplaced vertebra upon the nerves which come out of the spinal cord—in other words, that every disease is the result of a pinch. This, plainly enough, is buncombe. The chiropractic therapeutics rest upon the doctrine that the way to get rid of such pinches is to climb upon a table and submit to a heroic pummeling by a retired piano-mover. This, obviously, is buncombe doubly damned.
There has been a lot of talk about the formation of a new centre party. Some have even been kind enough to suggest that I might lead it. I find this idea profoundly unattractive. I do so for at least four reasons. First, I do not believe that such a grouping would have any coherent philosophical base...A party based on such a rag-bag could stand for nothing positive. It would exploit grievances and fall apart when it sought to remedy them. I believe in exactly the reverse sort of politics...Second, I believe that the most likely effect of such an ill-considered grouping would be to destroy the prospect of an effective alternative government to the Conservatives...Some genuinely want a new, powerful anti-Conservative force. They would be wise to reflect that it is much easier to will this than to bring it about. The most likely result would be chaos on the left and several decades of Conservative hegemony almost as dismal and damaging as in the twenties and thirties. Third, I do not share the desire, at the root of much such thinking, to push what may roughly be called the leftward half of the Labour Party...out of the mainstream of British politics...Fourth, and more personally, I cannot be indifferent to the political traditions in which I was brought up and in which I have lived my political life. Politics are not to me a religion, but the Labour Party is and always had been an instinctive part of my life.
If it were not for the hope that a scientific study of men's social actions may lead, not necessarily directly or immediately, but at some time and in some way, to practical results in social improvement, not a few students of these actions would regard the time devoted to their study as time misspent. That is true of all social sciences, but especially true of economics. For economics "is a study of mankind in the ordinary business of life"; and it is not in the ordinary business of life that mankind is most interesting or inspiring. One who desired knowledge of man apart from the fruits of knowledge would seek it in the history of religious enthusiasm, of martyrdom, or of love; he would not seek it in the market-place. When we elect to watch the play of human motives that are ordinary — that are sometimes mean and dismal and ignoble — our impulse is not the philosopher's impulse, knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but rather the physiologist's, knowledge for the healing that knowledge may help to bring. Wonder, Carlyle declared, is the beginning of philosophy. It is not wonder, but rather the social enthusiasm which revolts from the sordidness of mean streets and the joylessness of withered lives, that is the beginning of economic science. Here, if in no other field, Comte's great phrase holds good: "It is for the heart to suggest our problems; it is for the intellect to solve them.... The only position for which the intellect is primarily adapted is to be the servant of the social sympathies."
No one, I think, can deny that the depression of the agricultural interest is excessive. Though I can recall periods of suffering, none of them have ever equalled the present in its instances. Let us consider the principle causes of this distress. My noble friend who has addressed you has very properly touched upon the subject and upon the effect of the continuous bad harvests in this country...It is, however, true that at that time the loss and suffering were not recognized as they were in the old days, when the system of protection existed, because the price of the food of the people was not immediately affected by a bad harvest, and it was not till the repetition of the misfortune on two occasions that the diminution of the wealth of the country began to be severely felt by the people generally. The remarkable feature of the present agricultural depression is this—that the agricultural interest is suffering from a succession of bad harvest, accompanied, for the first time, by extremely low prices. That is a remarkable circumstance that has never before occurred—a combination that has never before been encountered. In old days, when we had a bad harvest we had also the somewhat dismal compensation of higher prices; but now, when the harvests are bad the prices are lower rather than higher...nor is it open to doubt that foreign competition has exercised a most injurious influence on the agricultural interests of the country. The country, however, was perfectly warned that if we made a great revolution in our industrial system, that was one of the consequences that would accrue. I may mention that the great result of the returns we possess is this, that the immense importations of foreign agricultural produce have been vastly in excess of what the increased demands of our population actually require, and that is why the low prices are maintained...That is to a great degree the cause of this depression.
Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused — in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened — by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes — of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world, who cannot call up such thoughts any day in the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire — fill the glass and send round the song — and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it off-hand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse. Look on the merry faces of your children (if you have any) as they sit round the fire. One little seat may be empty; one slight form that gladdened the father’s heart, and roused the mother’s pride to look upon, may not be there. Dwell not upon the past; think not that one short year ago, the fair child now resolving into dust, sat before you, with the bloom of health upon its cheek, and the gaiety of infancy in its joyous eye. Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart. Our life on it, but your Christmas shall be merry, and your new year a happy one!
When I gained the other side, he screamed louder than ever, and after running back and forth in vain search for a way of escape, he would return to the brink of the crevasse above the bridge, moaning and wailing as if in the bitterness of death. Could this be the silent, philosophic Stickeen? I shouted encouragement, telling him the bridge was not so bad as it looked, that I had left it flat and safe for his feet, and he could walk it easily. But he was afraid to try. Strange so small an animal should be capable of such big, wise fears. I called again and again in a reassuring tone to come on and fear nothing; that he could come if he would only try. He would hush for a moment, look down again at the bridge, and shout his unshakable conviction that he could never, never come that way; then lie back in despair, as if howling, "O-o-oh! what a place! No-o-o, I can never go-o-o down there!" His natural composure and courage had vanished utterly in a tumultuous storm of fear. Had the danger been less, his distress would have seemed ridiculous. But in this dismal, merciless abyss lay the shadow of death, and his heart-rending cries might well have called Heaven to his help. Perhaps they did. So hidden before, he was now transparent, and one could see the workings of his heart and mind like the movements of a clock out of its case. His voice and gestures, hopes and fears, were so perfectly human that none could mistake them; while he seemed to understand every word of mine. I was troubled at the thought of having to leave him out all night, and of the danger of not finding him in the morning. It seemed impossible to get him to venture. To compel him to try through fear of being abandoned, I started off as if leaving him to his fate, and disappeared back of a hummock; but this did no good; he only lay down and moaned ill utter hopeless misery. So, after hiding a few minutes, I went back to the brink of the crevasse and in a severe tone of voice shouted across to him that now I must certainly leave him, I could wait no longer, and that, if he would not come, all I could promise was that I would return to seek him next day. I warned him that if he went back to the woods the wolves would kill him, and finished by urging him once more by words and gestures to come on, come on.
It was there he composed these most beautiful of short pages which he modestly entitled the Preludes. They are masterpieces. Several bring to mind visions of deceased monks and the sound of funeral chants; others are melancholy and fragrant; they came to him in times of sun and health, in the clamor of laughing children under he window, the faraway sound of guitars, birdsongs from the moist leaves, in the sight of the small pale roses coming in bloom on the snow. … Still others are of a mournful sadness, and while charming your ear, they break your heart. There is one that came to him through an evening of dismal rain — it casts the soul into a terrible dejection. Maurice and I had left him in good health one morning to go shopping in Palma for things we needed at out "encampment." The rain came in overflowing torrents. We made three leagues in six hours, only to return in the middle of a flood. We got back in absolute dark, shoeless, having been abandoned by our driver to cross unheard of perils. We hurried, knowing how our sick one would worry. Indeed he had, but now was as though congealed in a kind of quiet desperation, and, weeping, he was playing his wonderful Prelude. Seeing us come in, he got up with a cry, then said with a bewildered air and a strange tone, "Ah, I was sure that you were dead." When he recovered his spirits and saw the state we were in, he was ill, picturing the dangers we had been through, but he confessed to me that while waiting for us he had seen it all in a dream, and no longer distinguished the dream from reality, he became calm and drowsy while playing the piano, persuaded that he was dead himself. He saw himself drowned in a lake. Heavy drops of icy water fell in a regular rhythm on his breast, and when I made him listen to the sound of the drops of water indeed falling in rhythm on the roof, he denied having heard it. He was even angry that I should intepret this in terms of imitative sounds. He protested with all his might — and he was right to — against the childishness of such aural imitations. His genius was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds. His composition of that night was surely filled with raindrops, resounding clearly on the tiles of the Charterhouse, but it had been transformed in his imagination and in his song into tears falling upon his heart from the sky. … The gift of Chopin is [the expression of] the deepest and fullest feelings and emotions that have ever existed. He made a single instrument speak a language of infinity. He could often sum up, in ten lines that a child could play, poems of a boundless exaltation, dramas of unequalled power.

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