I want to overhear passionate arguments about what we are and what we are doing and what we ought to do. I want to feel that art is an utterance made in good faith by one human being to another. I want to believe there are geniuses scheming to astonish the rest of us, just for the pleasure of it.
At forty-two, I had never done anything that took my own breath away, and I suppose now that was part of the problem--my chronic inability to astonish myself. I promise you, no one judges me more harshly than I do myself; I caused a brilliant wreckage. Some say I fell from grace; they're being kind. I didn't fall. I dove.
Sue Monk Kidd
Why d'you think she did it?' I told him I had no idea. He seemed disappointed that I shouldn't know. 'A broken heart, ' I suggested. 'Do people suffer so much?' 'For love? Oh, I imagine so.' 'To drown herself?' 'Why does that astonish you? Dido threw herself on the flames.' 'In legend.' 'And real life's different?' I asked.
I do not like to think too much on this Africa. It is too large and too empty, ' he said. 'People like De Buys, they astonish me with their courage - or perhaps it is a lack in them; they cannot imagine. I think that is one way to be not afraid: in a covered wagon looking at the piece of the horizon your mind can hold, and do not suffer thoughts about endless lands and unknowable things.
Books never cease to astonish me. When I was a child, I knew-in the incontestable way that children know things-that God was an author who'd imagined me, which is why I (and everyone else) existed: to populate His narrative. My task was to imagine God in return: this was all He and I owed each other.
In all areas of your life, look for the multiplier opportunities where you can go a little further, push yourself a little harder, last a little longer, prepare a little better, and deliver a little bit more. Where can you do better and more than expected? When can you do the totally unexpected? Find as many opportunities for 'WOW, ' and the level and speed of your accomplishments will astonish you... and everyone else around you.
I marvel at how good I was before I met him, how I lived molded to the smallest space possible, my days the size of little beads that passed without passion through my fingers. So few people know what they're capable of. At forty-two I'd never done anything that took my own breath away, and I suppose now that was part of the problem - my chronic inability to astonish myself.
Sue Monk Kidd
The people with very hard problems are understood by God. He knows what wretched machines they are trying to drive. Some day he will fling them away and give those people new ones; then they may astonish everyone, for they learned their driving in a hard school. Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.
C. S. Lewis
People of peace, men and women of desire, such is the splendor of the Temple in which you will one day have the right to take your place. Such privilege should astonish you less, however, than your ability to commence building it down here, your ability, in fact, to adorn it at every moment of your existence. Remember the saying 'as above, so below', and contribute to this by making 'as below, so above'.
Louis Claude de Saint-Martin
I enter into discussion and argument with great freedom and ease, inasmuch as opinion finds me in a bad soil to penetrate and take deep root in. No propositions astonish me, no belief offends me, whatever contrast it offers to my own. There is no fancy so frivolous and so extravagant that it does not seem to me quite suitable to the production of the human mind.
Michel de Montaigne
We incline to think that God cannot explain His own secrets and that He would like a little information upon certain points Himself. We mortals astonish Him as much as He us. But it is this Being of the matter; there lies the knot with which we choke ourselves. As soon as you say Me, a God, a Nature, so soon you jump off from your stool and hang from the beam. Yes, that word is the hangman. Take God out of the dictionary, and you would have Him in the street.
Never give up on your aspirations. Sometimes life is funny and can get in the way with simple distractions, but don't let that stop you. If you have a dream, then go for it. You have the power to make it manifest itself into something fantastic, so mesmerizing that it has the possibility to astonish even the most daring of minds. Dream on and make it a reality.
Sheila Renee Parker
These wickets of the soul are plac'd so high,Because all sounds do highly move aloft;And that they may not pierce too violently,They are delay'd with turns and twinings oft.For should the voice directly strike the brain,It would astonish and confuse it much;Therefore these plaits and folds the sound restrain.That it the organ may more gently touch.
Sir John Davies
I knew there would be some controversy over the 'Potter' series between religious people and secular-minded people - that was inevitable - what astonished me and continues to astonish me is the intense controversy that erupted very early on among Christians themselves, in all the churches. It cuts across every denominational line.
Everybody is I, you all know you are you. And wheresoever's beings exist throughout all galaxies it doesn't any difference. You are all of them, and when they come into being that's you coming into being, you know that very well. Only you don't have to remember the past in the same way you don't have to think about how you work your thyroid gland. You don't have to know how to shine the sun, you just do it, like you breathe. Doesn't it really astonish you that you are this fantastically complex thing, and that you're doing all of this and you never had any education on how to do it.
Our forefathers looked upon nature with more reverence and horror, before the world was enlightened by learning and philosophy, and loved to astonish themselves with the apprehensions of witchcraft, prodigies, charms, and inchantments. There was not a village in England that had not a ghost in it, the church-yards were all haunted, every large common had a circle of fairies belonging to it, and there was scarce a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit.
Ambitious men spend their youth in rendering themselves worthy of patronage; it is their great mistake. While the foolish creatures are laying in stores of knowledge and energy, so that they shall not sink under the weight of responsible posts that recede from them, schemers come and go who are wealthy in words and destitute of ideas, astonish the ignorant, and creep into the confidence of those who have a little knowledge.
Honore de Balzac
The moral nature of man is more sacred in my eyes than his intellectual nature. I know they cannot be divorced -- that without intelligence we should be brutes -- but it is the tendency of our gaping, wondering dispositions to give pre-eminence to those faculties which most astonish us. Strength of character seldom, if ever, astonishes; goodness, lovingness, and quiet self-sacrifice, are worth all the talents in the world.
George Henry Lewes
For in grief nothing "stays put." One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it? How often - will it be for always? - how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time.
For in grief nothing "stays put." One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it? How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, "I never realized my loss till this moment"? The same leg is cut off time after time.
C. S. Lewis
What a wonder is it, that two natures infinitely distant, should be more intimately united than anything in the world; and yet without any confusion! That the same person should have both a glory and a grief; an infinite joy in the Deity, and an inexpressible sorrow in the humanity! That a God upon a throne should be an infant in a cradle; the thundering Creator be a weeping babe and a suffering man, are such expressions of mighty power, as well as condescending love, that they astonish men upon earth, and angels in heaven.
I'd have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled with books, and I'd write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie's music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle,-something heroic, or wonderful,-that won't be forgotten after I'm dead. I don't know what, but I'm on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.
Louisa May Alcott
If one were to reply that those who compose these books write them as fictions, and therefore are not obliged to consider the fine points of truth, I should respond that the more truthful the fiction, the better it is, and the more probable and possible, the more pleasing. Fictional tales must engage the minds of those who read them, and by restraining exaggeration and moderating impossibility, they enthrall the spirit and thereby astonish, captivate, delight, and entertain, allowing wonder and joy to move together at the same pace; none of these things can be accomplished by fleeing verisimilitude and mimesis, which together constitute perfection in writing.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
But if you are a poor creature--poisoned by a wretched up-bringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels--saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion--nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends--do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day He will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all - not least yourself.
C. S. Lewis
Flawless . . . Tightly choreographed . . . Shipstead gains entry into exclusive worlds and trains her opera glasses on private social rituals, as well as behind-the-scenes hanky panky . . . Similar to classic ballet, the power of Astonish Me arises out of the pairing of a melodramatic storyline with scrupulously executed range of movement . . . Shipstead sweeps you into this insider world of sweat, narcissism, and short-lived magic . . . Transcendent.
What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us. We live, true, we breathe, true; we walk, we go downstairs, we sit at a table in order to eat, we lie down on a bed on order to sleep. How? Where? When? Why? Describe your street. Describe another. Compare.
Nice writing isn't enough. It isn't enough to have smooth and pretty language. You have to surprise the reader frequently, you can't just be nice all the time. Provoke the reader. Astonish the reader. Writing that has no surprises is as bland as oatmeal. Surprise the reader with the unexpected verb or adjective. Use one startling adjective per page.
To secure the safety of the navigation of the Mississippi River I would slay millions. On that point I am not only insane, but mad... I think I see one or two quick blows that will astonish the natives of the South and will convince them that, though to stand behind a big cottonwood and shoot at a passing boat is good sport and safe, it may still reach and kill their friends and families hundreds of miles off. For every bullet shot at a steamboat, I would shoot a thousand 30-pounder Parrots into even helpless towns on Red, Ouachita, Yazoo, or wherever a boat can float or soldier march.
William Tecumseh Sherman
Are you prepared to be the complete Watson?" he asked. "Watson?" "Do-you-follow-me-Watson; that one. Are you prepared to have quite obvious things explained to you, to ask futile questions, to give me chances of scoring off you, to make brilliant discoveries of your own two or three days after I have made them myself all that kind of thing? Because it all helps." "My dear Tony, " said Bill delightedly, "need you ask?" Antony said nothing, and Bill went on happily to himself, "I perceive from the strawberry-mark on your shirt-front that you had strawberries for dessert. Holmes, you astonish me. Tut, tut, you know my methods. Where is the tobacco? The tobacco is in the Persian slipper. Can I leave my practice for a week? I can.
The first dinner-party of a bride's career is a momentous occasion, entailing a world of small anxieties. The accomplishments which have won her acclaim in the three years since she left the schoolroom are no longer enough. It is no longer enough to dress exquisitely, to chuse jewels exactly appropriate to the situation, to converse in French, to play the pianoforte and sing. Now she must turn her attention to French cooking and French wines. Though other people may advise her upon these important matters, her own taste and inclinations must guide her. She is sure to despise her mother's style of entertaining and wish to do things differently. In London fashionable people dine out four, five times a week. However will a new bride - nineteen years old and scarcely ever in a kitchen before - think of a meal to astonish and delight such jaded palates?
Much, maybe too much, has been written about literature. (I know better than anyone; I'm an expert in the field). Yet the special thing about literature, the major art form of a Western civilization now ending before our very eyes, is not hard to define. Like literature, music can overwhelm you with sudden emotion, can move you to absolute sorrow or ecstasy; like literature, painting has the power to astonish, and to make you see the world through fresh eyes. But only literature can put you in touch with another human spirit, as a whole, with all its weaknesses and grandeurs, it limitations, its pettinesses, its obsessions, its beliefs; with whatever it finds moving, interesting, exciting, or repugnant. Only literature can grant you access to a spirit from beyond the grave-a more direct, more complete, deeper access than you'd have in conversation with a friend. Even in our deepest, most lasting friendships, we never speak so openly as when we face a blank page and address an unknown reader.
A lot of the nonsense was the innocent result of playfulness on the part of the founding fathers of the nation of Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout. The founders were aristocrats, and they wished to show off their useless eduction, which consisted of the study of hocus-pocus from ancient times. They were bum poets as well. But some of the nonsense was evil, since it concealed great crime. For example, teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked the children to memorize it with pride and joy: 1492 The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them. Here was another piece of nonsense which children were taught: that the sea pirates eventually created a government which became a beacon of freedom of human beings everywhere else. There were pictures and statues of this supposed imaginary beacon for children to see. It was sort of ice-cream cone on fire. It looked like this: [image] Actually, the sea pirates who had the most to do with the creation of the new government owned human slaves. They used human beings for machinery, and, even after slavery was eliminated, because it was so embarrassing, they and their descendants continued to think of ordinary human beings as machines. The sea pirates were white. The people who were already on the continent when the pirates arrived were copper-colored. When slavery was introduced onto the continent, the slaves were black. Color was everything. Here is how the pirates were able to take whatever they wanted from anybody else: they had the best boats in the world, and they were meaner than anybody else, and they had gunpowder, which is a mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulphur. They touched the seemingly listless powder with fire, and it turned violently into gas. This gas blew projectiles out of metal tubes at terrific velocities. The projectiles cut through meat and bone very easily; so the pirates could wreck the wiring or the bellows or the plumbing of a stubborn human being, even when he was far, far away. The chief weapon of the sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was much too late, how heartless and greedy they were.