William James used to preach the "will-to-believe." For my part, I should wish to preach the "will-to-doubt." None of our beliefs are quite true; all at least have a penumbra of vagueness and error. What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.
sometimes I do actually forget that the person to whom I owe that love is a real person, complete in himself, not someone who should make do with some rather diffuse emotion which gradually resigns itself to its own fatal vagueness, as if that were a fate against which there were no possible appeal...
An artist has to go to every extreme, to stretch his sensibility through excess and suffering in order to feel and to communicate more. I have always been fascinated by blood. Pain can be vitalizing; it gives intensity in the place of vagueness and emptiness. If we don't suffer, how do we know that we live?
My struggle has been to return painting to the tangible object, which is like returning the personality to touching and feeling the world around it, to offset the tendency to vagueness and abstraction. To remind people of practical activity, to suggest the sense and not to escape from the senses.
We think of it as a sort of traffic accident of the heart. It is an emotion that scares us more than cruelty, more than violence, more than hatred. We allow ourselves to be foiled by the vagueness of the word. After all, love requires the utmost vulnerability. We equip someone with freshly sharpened knives; strip naked; then invite him to stand close. What could be scarier?
When people talk, they lay lines on each other, do a lot of role playing, sidestep, shilly-shally and engage in all manner of vagueness and innuendo. We do this and expect others to do it, yet at the same time we profess to long for the plain truth, for people to say what they mean, simple as that. Such hypocrisy is a human universal.
As we lose our vagueness about ourself, our values, our life situation, we become available to the moment. It is there, in the particular, that we contact the creative self. Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet our truth and we meet ourselves; we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression .
To write or even speak English is not a science but an art. There are no reliable words. Whoever writes English is involved in a struggle that never lets up even for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective, against the encroachment of Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up.
Fatalism, whose solving word in all crises of behavior is All striving is vain, will never reign supreme, for the impulse to take life strivingly is indestructible in the race. Moral creeds which speak to that impulse will be widely successful in spite of inconsistency, vagueness, and shadowy determination of expectancy. Man needs a rule for his will, and will invent one if one be not given him.
O smile, going where? O upturned look: new, warm, receding surge of the heart-; alas, we are that surge. Does then the cosmic space we dissolve in taste of us? Do the angels reclaim only what is theirs, their own outstreamed existence, or sometimes, by accident, does a bit of us get mixed in? Are we blended in their features like the slight vagueness that complicates the looks of pregnant women? Unnoticed by them in their whirling back into themselves? (How could they notice?)
Rainer Maria Rilke
The more I read, the less I admire modern theology. the more I study the productions of the new schools of theological teachers, the more I marvel that men and women can be satisfied with such writings. There is a vagueness, a mistiness, a shallowness, an indistinctness, a superficiality, an aimlessness, a hollowness about the literature of the 'broader and kinder systems', as they are called, which to my mind stamps their origin on their face. They are of the earth, earthy.
J. C. Ryle
Suppose the looking glass smashes, the image disappears, and the romantic figure with the green of forest depths all about it is there no longer, but only that shell of a person which is seen by other people - what an airless, shallow, bald, prominent world it becomes! A world not to be lived in. As we face each other in omnibuses and underground railways we are looking into the mirror that accounts for the vagueness, the gleam of glassiness, in our eyes.
I can't write from the subconscious actually, because a lot of the time when I co-write with other people, I'm writing for them as opposed to for myself. When it comes to lyrics, I tend to want to give them their voice, since it's most likely going to be on their record, or somebody else's record. And I find for more commerial-style music, people want simplicity, less vagueness, and less space to fill between the lines, so to speak. So I can't be quite as ethereal and mystical.
In a play, certainly, the subject is of more importance than in any other work of art. Infelicity, triviality, vagueness of subject, may be outweighed in a poem, a novel, or a picture, by charm of manner, by ingenuity of execution; but in a drama the subject is of the essence of the work-it is the work. If it is feeble, the work can have no force; if it is shapeless, the work must be amorphous.
[F]or a social theorist ignorance is more excusable than vagueness. Other investigators can easily show I am wrong if I am sufficiently precise. They will have much more difficulty showing by investigation what, precisely, I mean if I am vague. I hope not to be forced to weasel out with 'But I didn't really mean that.' Social theorists should prefer to be wrong rather than misunderstood. Being misunderstood shows sloppy theoretical work.
Arthur L. Stinchcombe
Conventions of generality and mathematical elegance may be just as much barriers to the attainment and diffusion of knowledge as may contentment with particularity and literary vagueness... It may well be that the slovenly and literary borderland between economics and sociology will be the most fruitful building ground during the years to come and that mathematical economics will remain too flawless in its perfection to be very fruitful.
Kenneth E. Boulding
The 'Little' or 'Barebones' Parliament, summoned by Oliver Cromwell to meet at Westminster on 4th July, 1653, after the dissolution of the remains of the Long Parliament, may have been an unpractical body, so far as the task of administration in troublous times was concerned. But it seems quite possible that the wealth of contumely and scorn which has been poured upon it was, originally, due quite as much to the fierce anger of vested interests against outspoken criticism, as to any real vagueness or want of practical wisdom in the plans of the House itself.
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.
It is easy enough to write and talk about God while remaining comfortable within the contemporary intellectual climate. Even people who would call themselves unbelievers often use the word gesturally, as a ready-made synonym for mystery. But if nature abhors a vacuum, Christ abhors a vagueness. If God is love, Christ is love for this one person, this one place, this one time-bound and time-ravaged self.
The intersection of pork and man was circumscribed with vagueness. Until now sausage was a mysterious world: the fenced-in landscapes of strange, exotic muds, the cloak-and-dagger butchers that veiled their conversations in Old French, the silencing of whole towns upon a nocturnal report of a flying swarm of oinks, the secret herbs and spices involved in the intestinal displacement before my screen. My own sacred art suddenly stirred a sense of understanding in me as to why pig farmers were so reluctant to explain their missing bicuspids to outsiders: sausage could not have effects.
They ordered punch. They drank it. It was hot rum punch. The pen falters when it attempts to treat of the excellence thereof; the sober vocabulary, the sparse epithet of this narrative, are inadequate to the task; and pompous term, jewelled, exotic phrases rise to the excited fancy. It warmed the blood and cleared the head; it filled the soul with well-being; it disposed the mind at once to utter wit, and to appreciate the wit of others; it had the vagueness of music and the precision of mathematics. Only one of its qualities was comparable to anything else; it had the warmth of a good heart; but its taste, its smell, its feel, were not to be described in words.
W. Somerset Maugham
It argued a special genius; he was clearly a case of that. The spark of fire, the point of light, sat somewhere in his inward vagueness as a lamp before a shrine twinkles in the dark perspective of a church; and while youth and early middle-age, while the stiff American breeze of example and opportunity were blowing upon it hard, had made the chamber of his brain a strange workshop of fortune. This establishment, mysterious and almost anonymous, the windows of which, at hours of highest pressure, never seemed, for starers and wonderers, perceptibly to glow, must in fact have been during certain years the scene of an unprecedented, a miraculous white-heat, the receipt for producing which it was practically felt that the master of the forge could not have communicated even with the best intentions.
For the rest, she grew used to the life that she was leading - used to the enormous sleepless nights, the cold, the dirt, the boredom, and the horrible communism of the Square. After a day or two she had ceased to feel even a flicker of surprise at her situation. She had come, like everyone about her, to accept this monstrous existence almost as though it were normal. The dazed, witless feeling that she had known on the way to the hopfields had come back upon her more strongly than before. It is the common effect of sleeplessness and still more of exposure. To live continuously in the open air, never going under a roof for more than an hour or two, blurs your perceptions like a strong light glaring in your eyes or a noise drumming in your ears. You act and plan and suffer, and yet all the while it is as though everything were a little out of focus, a little unreal. The world, inner and outer, grows dimmer till it reaches almost the vagueness of a dream.