Devious Quotes

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Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
But that there is a simple relation between literary and other fictions seems, if one attends to it, more obvious than has appeared. If we think first of modern fictions, it can hardly be an accident that ever since Nietzsche generalized and developed the Kantian insights, literature has increasingly asserted its right to an arbitrary and private choice of fictional norms, just as historiography has become a discipline more devious and dubious because of our recognition that its methods depend to an unsuspected degree on myths and fictions. After Nietzsche it was possible to say, as Stevens did, that 'the final belief must be in a fiction.' This poet, to whom the whole question was of perpetual interest, saw that to think in this way was to postpone the End-when the fiction might be said to coincide with reality-for ever; to make of it a fiction, an imaginary moment when 'at last' the world of fact and the mundo of fiction shall be one. Such a fiction-the last section of Notes toward a Supreme Fiction is, appropriately, the place where Stevens gives it his fullest attention-such a fiction of the end is like infinity plus one and imaginary numbers in mathematics, something we know does not exist, but which helps us to make sense of and to move in the world. Mundo is itself such a fiction. I think Stevens, who certainly thought we have to make our sense out of whatever materials we find to hand, borrowed it from Ortega. His general doctrine of fictions he took from Vaihinger, from Nietzsche, perhaps also from American pragmatism.

Frank Kermode
It is a great wonder How Almighty God in his magnificence Favors our race with rank and scope And the gift of wisdom; His sway is wide. Sometimes He allows the mind of a man Of distinguished birth to follow its bent, Grants him fulfillment and felicity on earth And forts to command in his own country. He permits him to lord it in many lands Until the man in his unthinkingness Forgets that it will ever end for him. He indulges his desires; illness and old age Mean nothing to him; his mind is untroubled By envy or malice or thought of enemies With their hate-honed swords. The whole world Conforms to his will, he is kept from the worst Until an element of overweening Enters him and takes hold While the soul's guard, its sentry, drowses, Grown too distracted. A killer stalks him, An archer who draws a deadly bow. And then the man is hit in the heart, The arrow flies beneath his defenses, The devious promptings of the demon start. His old possessions seem paltry to him now. He covets and resents; dishonors custom And bestows no gold; and because of good things That the Heavenly powers gave him in the past He ignores the shape of things to come. Then finally the end arrives When the body he was lent collapses and falls Prey to its death; ancestral possessions And the goods he hoarded and inherited by another Who lets them go with a liberal hand. 'O flower of warriors, beware of that trap. Choose, dear Beowulf, the better part, Eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride. For a brief while your strength is in bloom But it fades quickly; and soon there will follow Illness or the sword to lay you low, Or a sudden fire or surge of water Or jabbing blade or javelin from the air Or repellent age. Your piercing eye Will dim and darken; and death will arrive, Dear warrior, to sweep you away.

Seamus Heaney
Civilized people must, I believe, satisfy the following criteria: 1) They respect human beings as individuals and are therefore always tolerant, gentle, courteous and amenable... They do not create scenes over a hammer or a mislaid eraser; they do not make you feel they are conferring a great benefit on you when they live with you, and they don't make a scandal when they leave. (...) 2) They have compassion for other people besides beggars and cats. Their hearts suffer the pain of what is hidden to the naked eye. (...) 3) They respect other people's property, and therefore pay their debts. 4) They are not devious, and they fear lies as they fear fire. They don't tell lies even in the most trivial matters. To lie to someone is to insult them, and the liar is diminished in the eyes of the person he lies to. Civilized people don't put on airs; they behave in the street as they would at home, they don't show off to impress their juniors. (...) 5) They don't run themselves down in order to provoke the sympathy of others. They don't play on other people's heartstrings to be sighed over and cosseted... that sort of thing is just cheap striving for effects, it's vulgar, old hat and false. (...) 6) They are not vain. They don't waste time with the fake jewellery of hobnobbing with celebrities, being permitted to shake the hand of a drunken [judicial orator], the exaggerated bonhomie of the first person they meet at the Salon, being the life and soul of the bar... They regard prases like 'I am a representative of the Press!!' - the sort of thing one only hears from [very minor journalists] - as absurd. If they have done a brass farthing's work they don't pass it off as if it were 100 roubles' by swanking about with their portfolios, and they don't boast of being able to gain admission to places other people aren't allowed in (...) True talent always sits in the shade, mingles with the crowd, avoids the limelight... As Krylov said, the empty barrel makes more noise than the full one. (...) 7) If they do possess talent, they value it... They take pride in it... they know they have a responsibility to exert a civilizing influence on [others] rather than aimlessly hanging out with them. And they are fastidious in their habits. (...) 8) They work at developing their aesthetic sensibility... Civilized people don't simply obey their baser instincts... they require mens sana in corpore sano. And so on. That's what civilized people are like... Reading Pickwick and learning a speech from Faust by heart is not enough if your aim is to become a truly civilized person and not to sink below the level of your surroundings. [From a letter to Nikolay Chekhov, March 1886]

Anton Chekhov
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