A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire.
Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.
The Fourteenth Book is entitled, “What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?” It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.
This is it:
Not for the first time Marianne thinks cruelty does not only hurt the victim, but the perpetrator also, and maybe more deeply and more permanently. You learn nothing very profound about yourself simply by being bullied; but by bullying someone else you learn something you can never forget.
What is terrible is that after every one of the phases of my life is finished, I am left with no more than some banal commonplace that everyone knows: in this case, that women’s emotions are all still fitted for a kind of society that no longer exists. My deep emotions, my real ones, are to do with my relationship with a man. One man. But I don’t live that kind of life, and I know few women who do. So what I feel is irrelevant and silly…I am always coming to the conclusion that my real emotions are foolish, I am always having, as it were, to cancel myself out. I ought to be like a man, caring more for my work than for people; I ought to put my work first, and take men as they come, or find an ordinary comfortable man for bread and butter reasons—but I won’t do it, I can’t be like that…
Now he looks into her cold interpretive eyes and thinks: Okay, I will miss her. He feels ambivalent about this, as if it’s disloyal of him, because maybe he’s enjoying how she looks or some physical aspect of her closeness. He’s not sure what friends are allowed to enjoy about each other.
It is perhaps the profound way in which capitalism enters women’s minds and bodies that renders ‘ruthless comparison’ the basic mode of their relationships with others.
But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of – that a certain type of perfection can only be realised through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging.
Sometimes he looked at himself in a mirror….and he wondered if he appeared as ludicrous to others as he did to himself.
That’s fine. Look–what I’m getting at is no matter who or what you’re dealing with, people build up meaning between themselves and the things around them. The important thing is whether this comes about naturally or not. Being bright has nothing to do with it. What matters is that you see things with your own eyes.