Paul Bowles Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 30 quotes)
I've always wanted to get as far as possible from the place where I was born. Far both geographically and spiritually. To leave it behind ... I feel that life is very short and the world is there to see and one should know as much about it as possible. One belongs to the whole world, not just one part of it.
How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
The desert landscape is always at its best in the half-light of dawn or dusk. The sense of distance lacks: a ridge nearby can be a far-off mountain range, each small detail can take on the importance of a major variant on the countryside's repetitious theme. The coming of day promises a change; it is only when the day had fully arrived that the watcher suspects it is the same day returned once again--the same day he has been living for a long time, over and over, still blindingly bright and untarnished by time.
How many times his (Port's) friends, envying him his life, had said to him: "Your life is so simple." "Your life seems always to go in a straight line." Whenever they had said the words he heard in them an implicit reproach: it is not difficult to build a straight road on a treeless plain. He felt that what they really meant to say was: "You have chosen the easiest terrain." But if they elected to place obstacles in their own way-which they clearly did, encumbering themselves with every sort of unnecessary allegiance-that was no reason why they should object to his having simplified his life. So it was with a certain annoyance that he would say: "Everyone makes the life he wants. Right?" as though there were nothing further to be said.
These were the first moments of a new existence, a strange one in which she already glimpsed the element of timelessness that would surround her. The person who frantically has been counting the seconds on his way to catch a train, and arrives panting just as it disappears, knowing the next one is not due for many hours, feels something of the same sudden surfeit of time, the momentary sensation of drowning in an element become too rich and too plentiful to be consumed, and thereby made meaningless, non-existent.
Death is always on its way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t, we get to think of life as inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really.
Many days later another caravan was passing and a man saw something on top of the highest dune there. And when they went up to see, they found Outka, Mimouna and Aicha; they were still there, lying the same way as when they had gone to sleep. And all three of the glasses,' he held up his own little tea glass, 'were full of sand. That was how they had their tea in the Sahara.
He awoke, opened his eye. The room meant very little to him; he was too deeply immersed in the non-being from which he had just come. If he had not the energy to ascertain his position in time and space, he also lacked the desire. ... In utter comfort, utter relaxation he lay absolutely still for a while, and then sank back into on the the light momentary sleeps that occur after a long, profound one.
You will find yourself among people. There is no help for this nor should you want it otherwise. The passages where no one waits are dark and hard to navigate. The wet walls touch your shoulders on each side. When the trees were there I cared that they were there. And now they are gone, does it matter? The passages where no one waits go on and give no promise of an end. You will find yourself among people, Faces, clothing, teeth and hair and words, and many words When there was life, I said that life was wrong. What do I say now? You understand?