Devoting Quotes

Authors: 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
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
If you don't know your father, ' Odysseus was answering in that low, calm, but fiercely firm voice of his that always seemed to carry as far as it had to, 'how can you know yourself? I am Odysseus, son of Laertes. My father is a king, but also a man of the soil. When I saw him last, the old man was down on his knees in the dirt, planting a tree where an old giant of a tree had finally - cut down by his hand finally - after being struck by lightning. If I do not know my father, and his father before him, and what these men were worth, what they lived for and were willing to die for, how can I know myself?' 'Tell us again about areªte, ' came a voice from the front row. Ada recognised the man speaking as Petyr, one of the earliest visitors. Petyr was no boy - Ada thought he was in his fourth Twenty - but his beard was already almost as full as Odysseus'. Ada didn't think the man had left Ardis since he'd first heard Odysseus speak that second or third day, when the visitors could be counted on two hands. 'Areªte is simply excellence and the striving for excellence in all things, ' said Odysseus. 'Areªte simply means the act of offering all actions as of sacrament to excellence, of devoting one's life to finding excellence, identifying it when it offers itself, and achieving it in your own life.' A newcomer ten rows up the hill, a heavyset man who reminded Ada a bit of Daemon, laughed, and said, 'How can you achieve excellence in all things, Teacher? Why would you want to? It sounds terribly tiring.' The heavy man looked around, sure of laughter, but the others on hill looked at him silently and then turned back to Odysseus. The Greek smiled easily - strong white teeth flashing against his tanned cheeks and short, gray beard - and said, 'You can't achieve excellence in all things, my friend, but you have to try. And how could you not want to?' 'But there are so many things to do, ' laughed the heavy man. 'One can't practice for them all. One has to make choices and concentrate on the important things.' The man squeezed the young woman next to him, obviously his companion, and she laughed loudly, but she was the only one to laugh. 'Yes, ' said Odysseus, 'but you insult all these actions in which you do not honour areªte. Eating? Eat as if it was your last meal. Prepare the food as if there were no more food! Sacrifices to the gods? You must make each sacrifice as if the lives of your family depended upon your energy and devotion and focus. Loving? Yes, love as if it was the most important thing in the world, but make it just one in the constellation that is areªte.

Dan Simmons
Eliot's own reflections on the primitive mind as a model for nondualistic thinking and on the nature and consequences of different modes of consciousness were informed by an excellent education in the social sciences and philosophy. As a prelude to our guided tour of the text of The Waste Land, we now turn to a brief survey of some of his intellectual preoccupations in the decade before he wrote it, preoccupations which in our view are enormously helpful in understanding the form of the poem. Eliot entered Harvard as a freshman in 1906 and finished his doctoral dissertation in 1916, with one of the academic years spent at the Sorbonne and one at Oxford. At Harvard and Oxford, he had as teachers some of modern philosophy's most distinguished individuals, including George Santayana, Josiah Royce, Bertrand Russell, and Harold Joachim; and while at the Sorbonne, he attended the lectures of Henri Bergson, a philosophic star in Paris in 1910-11. Under the supervision of Royce, Eliot wrote his dissertation on the epistemology of F. H. Bradley, a major voice in the late-nineteenth-, early-twentieth-century crisis in philosophy. Eliot extended this period of concentration on philosophical problems by devoting much of his time between 1915 and the early twenties to book reviewing. His education and early book reviewing occurred during the period of epistemological disorientation described in our first chapter, the period of "betweenness" described by Heidegger and Ortega y Gasset, the period of the revolt against dualism described by Lovejoy. 2 Eliot's personal awareness of the contemporary epistemological crisis was intensified by the fact that while he was writing his dissertation on Bradley he and his new wife were actually living with Bertrand Russell. Russell as the representative of neorealism and Bradley as the representative of neoidealism were perhaps the leading expositors of opposite responses to the crisis discussed in our first chapter. Eliot's situation was extraordinary. He was a close student of both Bradley and Russell; he had studied with Bradley's friend and disciple Harold Joachim and with Russell himself. And in 1915-16, while writing a dissertation explaining and in general defending Bradley against Russell, Eliot found himself face to face with Russell across the breakfast table. Moreover, as the husband of a fragile wife to whom both men (each in his own way) were devoted, Eliot must have found life to be a kaleidoscope of brilliant and fluctuating patterns.

Jewel Spears Brooker
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