Indeterminate 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
I, for example, quiet plainly and simply insist upon annihilation for myself. 'No, ' they say, 'you must go on living, for without you there would be nothing. If everything on earth were reasonable, nothing would ever happen. Without you there would be no events, and it is necessary that there should be events.' Well, and so on I drudge with unwilling heart so that there be events, and bring about unreason by command. People think toute cette comedie is something serious, all there unquestionable intelligence notwithstanding. There lies there tragedy. Well, and they suffer, of course, but ... al the same they live, they live in reality, not in fantasy; for suffering is also life. Without suffering what pleasure would there be in it? Everything would turn into one single, endless church service: much holy soaring, but rather boring. Well, and I? I suffer, but even so I do not live. I am the 'x' in an indeterminate equation. I am one of life's ghosts, who has lost all the ends and the beginnings, and even at last forgotten what to call myself. You are laughing... No, you are not laughing, you are angry again. You are eternally angry, you would like there to be nothing but intelligence, but I will tell you again that I would renounce all this empyrean existence, all these honours and ranks just in order to be able to take fleshy form in the person of a seven-pood merchant's wife and set up candles to God in church. 'So, you don't believe in God either?' Ivan said, smiling with hatred. 'Well, how can I explain it to you, if you are serious, that is... ' 'Does God exist or not?' Ivan barked, again with ferocious insistence. 'Ah, so you are serious? My dear little dove, I swear to God I do not know, pour vous dire le grand mot.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The missing remained missing and the portraits couldn't change that. But when Akhmed slid the finished portrait across the desk and the family saw the shape of that beloved nose, the air would flee the room, replaced by the miracle of recognition as mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, and cousin found in that nose the son, brother, nephew, and cousin that had been, would have been, could have been, and they might race after the possibility like cartoon characters dashing off a cliff, held by the certainty of the road until they looked down - and plummeted is the word used by the youngest brother who, at the age of sixteen, is tired of being the youngest and hopes his older brother will return for many reasons, not least so he will marry and have a child and the youngest brother will no longer be youngest; that youngest brother, the one who has nothing to say about the nose because he remembers his older brother's nose and doesn't need the nose to mean what his parents need it to mean, is the one who six months later would be disappeared in the back of a truck, as his older brother was, who would know the Landfill through his blindfold and gag by the rich scent of clay, as his older brother had known, whose fingers would be wound with the electrical wires that had welded to his older brother's bones, who would stand above a mass grave his brother had dug and would fall in it as his older brother had, though taking six more minutes and four more bullets to die, would be buried an arm's length of dirt above his brother and whose bones would find over time those of his older brother, and so, at that indeterminate point in the future, answer his mother's prayer that her boys find each other, wherever they go; that younger brother would have a smile on his face and the silliest thought in his skull a minute before the first bullet would break it, thinking of how that day six months earlier, when they all went to have his older brother's portrait made, he should have had his made, too, because now his parents would have to make another trip, and he hoped they would, hoped they would because even if he knew his older brother's nose, he hadn't been prepared to see it, and seeing that nose, there, on the page, the density of loss it engendered, the unbelievable ache of loving and not having surrounded him, strong enough to toss him, as his brother had, into the summer lake, but there was nothing but air, and he'd believed that plummet was as close as they would ever come again, and with the first gunshot one brother fell within arms' reach of the other, and with the fifth shot the blindfold dissolved and the light it blocked became forever, and on the kitchen wall of his parents' house his portrait hangs within arm's reach of his older brother's, and his mother spends whole afternoons staring at them, praying that they find each other, wherever they go.

Anthony Marra
What Kant took to be the necessary schemata of reality, ' says a modern Freudian, 'are really only the necessary schemata of repression.' And an experimental psychologist adds that 'a sense of time can only exist where there is submission to reality.' To see everything as out of mere succession is to behave like a man drugged or insane. Literature and history, as we know them, are not like that; they must submit, be repressed. It is characteristic of the stage we are now at, I think, that the question of how far this submission ought to go-or, to put it the other way, how far one may cultivate fictional patterns or paradigms-is one which is debated, under various forms, by existentialist philosophers, by novelists and anti-novelists, by all who condemn the myths of historiography. It is a debate of fundamental interest, I think, and I shall discuss it in my fifth talk. Certainly, it seems, there must, even when we have achieved a modern degree of clerical scepticism, be some submission to the fictive patterns. For one thing, a systematic submission of this kind is almost another way of describing what we call 'form.' 'An inter-connexion of parts all mutually implied'; a duration (rather than a space) organizing the moment in terms of the end, giving meaning to the interval between tick and tock because we humanly do not want it to be an indeterminate interval between the tick of birth and the tock of death. That is a way of speaking in temporal terms of literary form. One thinks again of the Bible: of a beginning and an end (denied by the physicist Aristotle to the world) but humanly acceptable (and allowed by him to plots). Revelation, which epitomizes the Bible, puts our fate into a book, and calls it the book of life, which is the holy city. Revelation answers the command, 'write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter'-'what is past and passing and to come'-and the command to make these things interdependent. Our novels do likewise. Biology and cultural adaptation require it; the End is a fact of life and a fact of the imagination, working out from the middle, the human crisis. As the theologians say, we 'live from the End, ' even if the world should be endless. We need ends and kairoi and the pleroma, even now when the history of the world has so terribly and so untidily expanded its endless successiveness. We re-create the horizons we have abolished, the structures that have collapsed; and we do so in terms of the old patterns, adapting them to our new worlds. Ends, for example, become a matter of images, figures for what does not exist except humanly. Our stories must recognize mere successiveness but not be merely successive; Ulysses, for example, may be said to unite the irreducible chronos of Dublin with the irreducible kairoi of Homer. In the middest, we look for a fullness of time, for beginning, middle, and end in concord. For concord or consonance really is the root of the matter, even in a world which thinks it can only be a fiction. The theologians revive typology, and are followed by the literary critics. We seek to repeat the performance of the New Testament, a book which rewrites and requites another book and achieves harmony with it rather than questioning its truth. One of the seminal remarks of modern literary thought was Eliot's observation that in the timeless order of literature this process is continued. Thus we secularize the principle which recurs from the New Testament through Alexandrian allegory and Renaissance Neo-Platonism to our own time. We achieve our secular concords of past and present and future, modifying the past and allowing for the future without falsifying our own moment of crisis. We need, and provide, fictions of concord.

Frank Kermode
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