But I feel like letting other people be good for me--after all, I'm just an unhappy little girl and even if I'm extremely intelligent, that doesn't change anything, does it? An unhappy little girl who, just when things are at their worst, has been lucky enough to meet some good people. Morally, do I have the right to let this chance go by?
I witness the birth on paper of sentences that have eluded my will and appear in spite of me on the sheet, teaching me something that I neither knew nor thought I might want to know. This painless birth, like an unsolicited proof, gives me untold pleasure, and with neither toil nor certainty but the joy of frank astonishment I follw the pen that is guiding and supporting me.
Poverty is a reaper: it harvests everything inside us that might have made us capable of social intercourse with others, and leaves us empty, purged of feeling, so that we may endure all the darkness of the present day.
Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed.
But many intelligent people have a sort of bug: they think intelligence is an end in itself. They have one idea in mind: to be intelligent, which is really stupid. And when intelligence takes itself for its own goal, it operates very strangely: the proof that it exists is not to be found in the ingenuity or simplicity of what it produces, but in how obscurely it is expressed.
I won't get any better by punishing the people I can't heal.
So if there is something on the planet that is worth living for, I'd better not miss it, because once you're dead, it's too late for regrets, and if you die by mistake, that is really, really dumb.
But the world, in its present state, is no place for princesses
If there is one thing I detest, it's when people transform their powerlessness or alienation into a creed.
So much for the movement of the world! It could have been perfection and it was a disaster. It should be experienced in reality and it is pleasure by proxy, like always.
Civilization is the mastery of violence, the triumph, constantly challenged, over the aggressive nature of the primate. For primates we have been and primates we shall remain, however often we learn to find joy in a camellia on moss. This is the very purpose of education.
If you have but one friend, make sure you choose her well.
The strong ones among humans do nothing. They talk and talk again.
Do you know that it is in your company that I have had my finest thoughts?
If you imagine that getting high at a party and sleeping around is going to propel you into a state of full adulthood, that's like thinking that dessing up as an Indian is going to make you an Indian.
There was only one thing I wanted: to be left alone, without too many demand upon my person, so that for a few moments each day I might be allowed to assuage my hunger.
Don't let the cat out or the concierge in: this is the first principle of socialist ladies.
If, in our world, there is any chance of becoming the person you haven't yet become...will I know how to seize that chance, turn my life into a garden that will be completely different from my forebears'?
Thinking back on it, this evening, with my heart and my stomach all jelly, I have finally concluded, maybe that's what life is about: there's a lot of despair, but also the odd moment of beauty, where time is no longer the same. It's as if those strains of music created a sort of interlude in time, something suspended, an elsewhere that had come to us, an always within a never.
Don't worry Renee, I won't commit suicide and I won't burn a thing. Because from now on, for you, I'll be searching for those moments of always within never. Beauty, in this world.
In our world, that's the way you live your grown-up life: you must constantly rebuild your identity as an adult, the way it's been put together it is wobbly, ephemeral, and fragile, it cloaks despair and, when you're alone in front of the mirror, it tells you the lies you need to believe.
This is eminently true of many happy moments in life. Freed from the demands of decision and intention, adrift on some inner sea, we observe our various movements as if they belonged to someone else, and yet we admire their involuntary excellence.
Every day I tell myself that my sister cannot possibly sink any further into the slough of disgrace and, every day, I am amazed to see that she does.
In the end, I wonder if the true movement of the world might not be a voice raised in song.
This pause in time, within time ... When did I first experience the exquisite sense of surrender that is only possible with another person? The peace of mind one experiences on one's own, one's certainty of self in the serenity of solitude, are nothing in comparison to the release and openness and fluency one shares with another, in close companionship ...
How to measure a life's worth? The important thing, said Paloma one day, is not the fact of dying, it is what you are doing in the moment of your death.
It is always reassuring to be disabused of one's own paranoia.
To be poor, ugly and, moreover, intelligent condemns one in our society to a dark and disillusioned life...to beauty all is forgiven.
I am a complete slave to vocabulary, I ought to have named my cat Roget.
Just by observing the adults around me I understood very early on that life goes by in no time at all, yet they're always in such a hurry, so stressed out by deadlines, so eager for now that they needn't think about tomorrow...But if you dread tomorrow, it's because you don't know how to build the present, and when you don't know how to build the present, you tell yourself you can deal with it tomorrow, and it's a lost cause anyway because tomorrow always ends up becoming today, don't you see?
To rich people it must seem that the ordinary little people..experience human emotions with less intensity and greater indifference...The fact that we might be going through hell like any other human being, or that our hearts might be filling with rage as Lucien's suffering ravaged our lives, or that we might be slowly going to pieces inside, in the torment of fear and horror that death inspires in everyone, did not cross the mind of anyone on these premises.
I find this a fascinating phenomenon: the ability we have to manipulate ourselves so that the foundation of our beliefs is never shaken.
Language is a bountiful gift and its usage, an elaboration of community and society, is a sacred work. Language and usage evolve over time: elements change, are reborn or forgotten, and while there are instances where transgression can become the source of an even greater wealth, this does not alter the fact that to become entitled to the liberties of playfulness or enlightened misuse of language, one must first and foremost have sworn one's total allegiance.
To tell a group of adolescents who already know how to speak and write that that is the purpose of grammar is like telling someone that they need to read a history of toilets through the ages in order to pee and poop.
As far as I can see, only psychoanalysis can compete with Christians in their love of drawn-out suffering.
I had a brief glimpse of a frail, mature man carrying a ravaged child in his arms...
Levin delights in the forgetfulness that movement brings, where the pleasure of doing is marvellously foreign to the striving of the will.
We don't recognize each other because other people have become our permanent mirrors. If we actually realized this, if we were able to become aware of the fact that we are only ever looking at ourselves in the other person, that we are alone in the wilderness, we would go crazy.
At times like this you desperately need Art. You seek to reconnect with your spiritual illusions, and you wish fervently that something might rescue you from your biological destiny, so that all poetry and grandeur will not be cast out from the world
I may be indigent in name, position, and in appearance, but in my own mind I am an unrivaled goddess -
Madame Michel has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside she is covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary--and terrible elegant.
We think we can make honey without sharing in the fate of bees, but we are in truth nothing but poor bees, destined to accomplish our task and then die.
Beautiful things should belong to beautiful souls.
I may know that the world is an ugly place, I still don't want to see it.
Maybe that's what being alive is about: so we can track down those movments that are dying.
What is an aristocrat? A woman who is never sullied by vulgarity, although she may be surrounded by it.
Because beauty consits of it's own passing, just as we reach for it. It's the ephemeral configuration of things in the moment, when you can see both their movement and their death.
I thought: pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language.
Maybe the greatest anger and frustration come not from unemployment or poverty or the lack of a future but from the feeling that you have no culture, because you've been torn between cultures, between incompatible symbols. How can you exist when you don't know where you are?
More Muriel Barbery Quotations (Based on Topics)
World - Pleasure - Mind - Time - People - Beauty - Life - Facts - Cats - Death & Dying - Wine - Emotions - Work & Career - Thought & Thinking - Present - Language - Money & Wealth - Fate & Destiny - Literature - View All Muriel Barbery Quotations
More Muriel Barbery Quotations (By Book Titles)
- Gourmet Rhapsody
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -