Not only does a journey transport us over enormous distances, it also causes us to move a few degrees up or down in the social scale. It displaces us physically and also for better or for worse takes us out of our class context, so that the colour and flavour of certain places cannot be dissociated from the always unexpected social level on which we find ourselves in experiencing them.
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The musical emotion springs precisely from the fact that at each moment the composer withholds or adds more or less than the listener anticipates on the basis of a pattern that he thinks he can guess, but that he is incapable of wholly divining. If the composer withholds more than we anticipate, we experience a delicious falling sensation; we feel we have been torn from a stable point on the musical ladder and thrust into the void. When the composer withholds less, the opposite occurs: he forces us to perform gymnastic exercises more skillful than our own.
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For mile after mile the same melodic phrase rose up in my memory. I simply couldn't get free of it. Each time it had a new fascination for me. Initially imprecise in outline, it seemed to become more and more intricately woven, as if to conceal from the listener how eventually it would end. This weaving and re-weaving became so complicated that one wondered how it could possibly be unravelled; and then suddenly one note would resolve the whole problem, and the solution would seem yet more audacious than the procedures which had preceded, called for, and made possible its arrival; when it was heard, all that had gone before took on a new meaning, and the quest, which had seemed arbitrary, was seen to have prepared the way for this undreamed-of solution.
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From time to time, too, and for the space of two or three paces, an image or an echo would rise up from the recesses of time: in the little streets of the beaters of silver and gold, for instance, there was a clear, unhurried tinkling, as if a djinn with a thousand arms was absent-mindedly practising on a xylophone.
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In the case of European towns, the passing of centuries provides an enhancement; in the case of American towns, the passing of years brings degeneration. It is not simply that they have been newly built; they were built so as to be renewable as quickly as they were put up, that is, badly.
The work of the painter, the poet or the musician, like the myths and symbols of the savage, ought to be seen by us, if not as a superior form of knowledge, at least as the most fundamental and the only one really common to us all; scientific thought is merely the sharp point more penetrating because it has been whetted on the stone of fact, but at the cost of some loss of substance and its effectiveness is to be explained by its power to pierce sufficiently deeply for the main body of the tool to follow the head.
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While I complain of being able to glimpse no more than the shadow of the past, I may be insensitive to reality as it is taking shape at this very moment, since I have not reached the stage of development at which I would be capable of perceiving it. A few hundred years hence, in this same place, another traveller, as despairing as myself, will mourn the disappearance of what I might have seen, but failed to see.
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There is today a frightful disappearance of living species, be they plants or animals. And it's clear that the density of human beings has become so great, if I can say so, that they have begun to poison themselves. And the world in which I am finishing my existence is no longer a world that I like.
Civilization has ceased to be that delicate flower which was preserved and painstakingly cultivated in one or two sheltered areas of a soil rich in wild species ... Mankind has opted for monoculture; it is in the process of creating a mass civilization, as beetroot is grown in the mass. Henceforth, man's daily bill of fare will consist only of this one item.
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Being human signifies, for each one of us, belonging to a class, a society, a country, a continent and a civilization; and for us European earth-dwellers, the adventure played out in the heart of the New World signifies in the first place that it was not our world and that we bear responsibility for the crime of its destruction.
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The order and harmony of the Western world, its most famous achievement, and a laboratory in which structures of a complexity as yet unknown are being fashioned, demand the elimination of a prodigious mass of noxious by-products which now contaminate the globe. The first thing we see as we travel round the world is our own filth, thrown into the face of mankind.
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Our students wanted to know everything: but only the newest theory seemed to them worth bothering with. Knowing nothing of the intellectual achievements of the past, they kept fresh and intact their enthusiasm for 'the latest thing'. Fashion dominated their interest: they valued ideas not for themselves but for the prestige that they could wring from them.
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In the old days, people used to risk their lives in India or in the Americas in order to bring back products which now seem to us to have been of comically little worth, such as brazilwood and pepper, which added a new range of sense experience to a civilization which had never suspected its own insipidity... From these same lands our modern Marco Polos now bring back the moral spices of which our society feels an increasing need as it is conscious of sinking further into boredom, but that this time they take the form of photographs, books, and travelers tales.
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Music is a language by whose means messages are elaborated, that such messages can be understood by the many but sent out only by few, and that it alone among all the languages unites the contradictory character of being at once intelligible and untranslatable - these facts make the creator of music a being like the gods.
The only phenomenon with which writing has always been concomitant is the creation of cities and empires, that is the integration of large numbers of individuals into a political system, and their grading into castes or classes. It seems to have favored the exploitation of human beings rather than their enlightenment.
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[ Serialism ] is like a sailless ship, driven out to sea by its captain, who has grown tired of its being used only as a pontoon, and who is privately convinced that by subjecting life aboard to the rules of an elaborate protocol, he will prevent the crew from thinking nostalgically either of their home port or of their ultimate destination....
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Freedom is neither a legal invention nor a philosophical conquest, the cherished possession of civilizations more valid than others because they alone have been able to create or preserve it. It is the outcome of an objective relationship between the individual and the space he occupies, between the consumer and the resources at his disposal.
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The dogma of cultural relativism is challenged by the very people for whose moral benefit the anthropologists established it in the first place. The complaint the underdeveloped countries advance is not that they are being westernized, but that the westernization is proceeding too slowly.