Only he who can view his own past as an abortion sprung from compulsion and need can use it to full advantage in the present. For what one has lived is at best comparable to a beautiful statue which has had all its limbs knocked off in transit, and now yields nothing but the precious block out of which the image of one's future must be hewn.
You said, 'I love you.' Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? 'I love you' is always a quotation. You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them. I did worship them but now I am alone on a rock hewn out of my own body.
It is well-known that there are many faces in the world over the finishing of which nature did not take much trouble, did not employ any fine tools such as files, gimlets, and so on, but simply hacked them out with round strokes: one chop-a nose appears; another chop-lips appear; eyes are scooped out with a big drill; and she lets it go into the world rough-hewn, saing: "ALIVE!
A minute analysis of life at once destroys that splendor which dazzles the imagination. Whatsoever grandeur can display, or luxury enjoy, is procured by offices of which the mind shrinks from the contemplation. All the delicacies of the table may be traced back to the shambles and the dunghill; all magnificence of building was hewn from the quarry, and all the pomp of ornament dug from among the damps and darkness of the mine.
Today's Gypsies, who have lived in Prague for only two generations, light a ritual fire wherever they work, a nomads' fire crackling only for the joy of it, a blaze of rough-hewn wood like a child's laugh, a symbol of the eternity that preceded human thought, a free fire, a gift from heaven, a living sign of the elements unnoticed by the world-weary pedestrian, a fire in the ditches of Prague warming the wanderer's eye and soul.
Trees which grow in places facing the course of the sun are not of porous fiber but are solid, being drained by the dryness... The trees in sunny neighborhoods, therefore, being solidified by the compact texture of their fiber, and not being porous from moisture, are very useful, so far as durability goes, when they are hewn into timber. The lowland firs, being conveyed from sunny places, are better than those highland firs, which are brought here from shady places.
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio
God warned Israel, "And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it" (Ex. 20:25). To pollute something is to make it ordinary. God insists that any approach crafted by human ingenuity will produce a worship system just like all the pagan systems in the world. In other words, it will be common or profane - just like everyone else's paganism.
I remember once visiting an outdoor exhibition of sculpture in Arnhem, the Netherlands. One of the artists had placed this notice at the base of a majestic beech: "Statues are hewn by fools like me: only God could make this tree." The Taoists looked at the inside of the tree. They saw God present, not as the super-sculptor, but as the primal force from which the tree drew its being and its specific form. Becoming aware of this divine origin was for them "great knowledge," to be distinguished from the "small knowledge" of our petty, every-day existence.
The architecture of the Minotaur's heart is ancient. Rough hewn and many chambered, his heart is a plodding laborious thing, built for churning through the millennia. But the blood it pumps-the blood it has pumped for five thousand years, the blood it will pump for the rest of his life-is nearly human blood. It carries with it, through his monster's veins, the weighty, necessary, terrible stuff of human existence: fear, wonder, hope, wickedness, love. But in the Minotaur's world it is far easier to kill and devour seven virgins year after year, their rattling bones rising at his feet like a sea of cracked ice, than to accept tenderness and return it.
They were different colors: the right one blue, the left green. And her face in the light of the candle on the table startled me at first, just as it had in the icy night air. After seeing it on the street, I was afraid I had only imagined it: a still, luminous face with a silvery sheen. Finely hewn, with a long, straight nose and a wide mouth, it was nearly identical to another face, which I had photographed years before. Not on a person, bu on the fragment of a frieze I found in some ruins near Verona, The frieze, which depicted a band of musicians, had once been shadowed beneath a cornice high on the temple of Mercury, god of magic. Belonging to one of the musicians, it was a riveting face - like a puzzle that could not be solved - which I had never found, or expected to find, on a living woman.