Elegant Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 143 quotes )
Nobody knew literature and history better than these people, nobody could write better Russian than they, nobody despised our times more profoundly. For these characters civilization meant more than daily bread and a nightly hug. This wasn’t, as it would seem, another lost generation. This was the only generation of Russians that had found itself, for whom Giotto and Mandelstam were more imperative than their own personal destinies. Poorly dressed yet somehow still elegant…broken, growing old, they still retained their love for the non-existent (or existing only in their balding heads) thing called ‘civilization.
The mockingbird took a single step into the air and dropped. His wings were still folded against his sides as though he were singing from a limb and not falling, accelerating thirty-two feet per second per second, through empty air. Just a breath before he would have been dashed to the ground, he unfurled his wings with exact, deliberate care, revealing the broad bars of white, spread his elegant, white-banded tail, and so floated onto the grass. I had just rounded a corner when his incouciant step caught my eye; there was no one else in sight. The fact of his free fall was like the old philosophical conundrum about the tree that falls in the forest. The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.
Japan and Hong Kong are steadily whittling away at the last of the elephants, turning their tusks (so much more elegant left on the elephant) into artistic carvings. In much the same way, the beautiful furs from leopard, jaguar, Snow leopard, Clouded leopard and so on, are used to clad the inelegant bodies of thoughtless and, for the most part, ugly women. I wonder how many would buy these furs if they knew that on their bodies they wore the skin of an animal that, when captured, was killed by the medieval and agonizing method of having a red-hot rod inserted up its rectum so as not to mark the skin.
He was a physicist, more precisely an astrophysicist, diligent and eager but without illusions: the Truth lay beyond, inaccessible to our telescopes, accessible to the initiates. This was a long road which he was traveling with effort, wonderment, and profound joy. Physics was prose: elegant gymnastics for the mind, mirror of Creation, the key to man's dominion over the planet; but what is the stature of Creation, of man and the planet? His road was long and he had barely started up it, but I was his disciple: did I want to follow him?
I do not mean to say that I viewed those desires of mine that deviated from accepted standards as normal and orthodox; nor do I mean that I labored under the mistaken impression that my friends possessed the same desires. Surprisingly enough, I was so engrossed in tales of romance that I devoted all my elegant dreams to thoughts of love between man and maid, and to marriage, exactly as though I were a young girl who knew nothing of the world. I tossed my love for Omi onto the rubbish heap of neglected riddles, never once searching deeply for its meaning. Now when I write the word love, when I write affection, my meaning is totally different from my understanding of the words at that time. I never even dreamed that such desires as I had felt toward Omi might have a significant connection with the realities of my "life.
I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said that you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.)
Those who are esteemed umpires of taste, are often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever is elegant; but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire, all the rest remaining cold. Their knowledge of the fine arts is some study of rules and particulars, or some limited judgment of color or form which is exercised for amusement or for show. It is a proof of the shallowness of the doctrine of beauty, as it lies in the minds of our amateurs, that men seem to have lost the perception of the instant dependence of form upon soul.
How could you receive a member of the Male Sex in your bedroom, and in your dressing gown? Sir, I must request you to leave immediately1 You don't mean to tell me that's a dressing gown? interrupted Mr Carlton, a dangerous gleam in his eyes. Well, it's by far the most elegant one I've ever been priviledged to see, and I suppose I must have seen scores of 'em in my time-paid for them too!
That day in Chartres they had passed through town and watched women kneeling at the edge of the water, pounding clothes against a flat, wooden board. Yves had watched them for a long time. They had wandered up and down the old crooked streets, in the hot sun; Eric remembered a lizard darting across a wall; and everywhere the cathedral pursued them. It is impossible to be in that town and not be in the shadow of those great towers; impossible to find oneself on those plains and not be troubled by that cruel and elegant, dogmatic and pagan presence. The town was full of tourists, with their cameras, their three-quarter coats, bright flowered dresses and shirts, their children, college insignia, Panama hats, sharp, nasal cries, and automobiles crawling like monstrous gleaming bugs over the laming, cobblestoned streets. Tourist buses, from Holland, from Denmark, from Germany, stood in the square before the cathedral. Tow-haired boys and girls, earnest, carrying knapsacks, wearing khaki-colored shorts, with heavy buttocks and thighs, wandered dully through the town. American soldiers, some in uniform, some in civilian clothes, leaned over bridges, entered bistros in strident, uneasy, smiling packs, circled displays of colored post cards, and picked up meretricious mementos, of a sacred character. All of the beauty of the town, all the energy of the plains, and all the power and dignity of the people seemed to have been sucked out of them by the cathedral. It was as though the cathedral demanded, and received, a perpetual, living sacrifice. It towered over the town, more like an affliction than a blessing, and made everything seem, by comparison with itself, wretched and makeshift indeed. The houses in which the people lived did not suggest shelter, or safety. The great shadow which lay over them revealed them as mere doomed bits of wood and mineral, set down in the path of a hurricane which, presently, would blow them into eternity. And this shadow lay heavy on the people, too. They seemed stunted and misshapen; the only color in their faces suggested too much bad wine and too little sun; even the children seemed to have been hatched in a cellar. It was a town like some towns in the American South, frozen in its history as Lot's wife was trapped in salt, and doomed, therefore, as its history, that overwhelming, omnipresent gift of God, could not be questioned, to be the property of the gray, unquestioning mediocre.
Though recognition's been delayed by its circuitous construction, now the pattern, long concealed, emerges into view. Is it not fine? Is it not simple, and elegant, and severe? How strange, after the long exacting toil of preparation, it takes only the slightest effort and less thought to send this brief, elaborate amusement on its breathless, hurtling race. The merest touch, no more, and everything falls into place. The pieces can't perceive as we the mischief their arrangement tempts. Those stolid law-abiding queues, so pregnant with catastrophe. Insensible before the wave so soon released by callous fate. Affected most, they understand the least, and understanding, when it comes, invariably arrives too late.
The uncommon abilities and fortune of Severus have induced an elegant historian to compare him with the first and greatest of the Csars. The parallel is, at least, imperfect. Where shall we find, in the character of Severus, the commanding superiority of the soul, the generous clemency, and the various genius, which could reconcile and unite the love of pleasure, the thirst of knowledge, and the fire of ambition? Though it is not, most assuredly, the intention of Lucan to exalt the character of Csar, yet the idea he gives of that hero, in the tenth book of the Pharsalia, where he describes him, at the same time making love to Cleopatra, sustaining a siege against the power of Egypt, and conversing with the sages of the country, is, in reality, the noblest panegyric.
Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall. That is a matter of practice, not of theory. We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
Reading the book now means that one can, if one wants, play Fantasy Literature--match writers off against each other and see who won over the long haul. Faulkner or Henry Green? I reckon the surprise champ was P.G. Wodehouse, as elegant and resourceful a prose stylist as anyone held up for our inspection here...he has turned out to be as enduring as anyone apart from Orwell. Jokes, you see. People do like jokes.(Hornby's thoughts after reading "Enemies of Promise" by Cyril Connolly)