Enigma Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 61 quotes )
He won the Civil War for the North, and re-established the Union which today has grown into the vastest consolidated power since the fall of Rome. He fought some of the great campaigns in history; was never defeated, and after the war was twice chosen by his countrymen as their President. If there is not food for myth here, where shall we seek it? His story is as amazing as Napoleon's, and as startling as Lenin's; yet enigma he lived and enigma he died, and though occasion was propitious and circumstances were favorable, enigma he remains.
Gradually, the concrete enigma I labored at disturbed me less than the generic enigma of a sentence written by a god. What type of sentence (I asked myself) will an absolute mind construct? I considered that even in the human languages there is no proposition that does not imply the entire universe: to say "the tiger" is to say the tigers that begot it, the deer and turtles devoured by it, the grass on which the deer fed, the earth that was mother to the grass, the heaven that gave birth to the earth. I considered that in the language of a god every word would enunciate that infinite concatenation of facts, and not in an implicit but in an explicit manner, and not progressively but instantaneously. In time, the notion of a divine sentence seemed puerile or blasphemous. A god, I reflected, ought to utter only a single word and in that word absolute fullness. No word uttered by him can be inferior to the universe or less than the sum total of time.
It could have been--it didn't have to be obscene.... It could have been--a bird out of season, dropping bright-feathered on my shoulder.... It could have been a tongueless dwarf standing by the road to point the way.... I was prepared. But it's this, is it? No enigma, no dignity, nothing classical, portentous, only this--a comic pornographer and a rabble of prostitutes....
Powerful winds that crack the boughs of November! - and the bright calm sun, untouched by the furies of the earth, abandoning the earth to darkness, and wild forlornness, and night, as men shiver in their coats and hurry home. And then the lights of home glowing in those desolate deeps. There are the stars, though! - high and sparkling in a spiritual firmament. We will walk in the windsweeps, gloating in the envelopment of ourselves, seeking the sudden grinning intelligence of humanity below these abysmal beauties. Now the roaring midnight fury and the creaking of our hinges and windows, now the winder, now the understanding of the earth and our being on it: this drama of enigmas and double-depths and sorrows and grave joys, these human things in the elemental vastness of the windblown world.
The years... when I pursued the inner images were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything was then.
The problem with the religious solution [for mysteries such as consciousness and moral judgments] was stated by Mencken when he wrote, "Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing." For anyone with a persistent intellectual curiosity, religious explanations are not worth knowing because they pile equally baffling enigmas on top of the original ones. What gave God a mind, free will, knowledge, certainty about right and wrong? How does he infuse them into a universe that seems to run just fine according to physical laws? How does he get ghostly souls to interact with hard matter? And most perplexing of all, if the world unfolds according to a wise and merciful plan, why does it contain so much suffering? As the Yiddish expression says, If God lived on earth, people would break his window.
Modern poets like Frost still want to make 'deep' statements; but they are also more sceptical of such high-sounding generalities than many of their forebears. So, rather like T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, they gesture enigmatically to such profundities while at the same time being nervous of committing themselves to them.
To imagine writing as absence seems to be a simple repetition, in transcendental terms, of both the religious principle of the inalterable and yet never fulfilled tradition, and the aesthetic principle of the work's survival, its perpetuation beyond the author's death, and it enigmatic excess in relation to him.
Do you play tennis, Senator?"Now and then," he said with a ghost of a smile. He didn't add he'd lettered i the sport at Harvard."I'd imagine chess would be your game-plotting, long-term strategy."His smile remained enigmatic as he reached for his wine. "We'll have to have a game."Shelby's low laugh drifted over him. "I believe we already have."His hand brushed lightly over hers. "Want a rematch?"Shelby gave him a look that made his blood spring hotly. "No. You might not outmaneuver me a second time.
Tell me, enigmatical man, whom do you love best, your father, Your mother, your sister, or your brother? I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother. Your friends? Now you use a word whose meaning I have never known. Your country? I do not know in what latitude it lies. Beauty? I could indeed love her, Goddess and Immortal. Gold? I hate it as you hate God. Then, what do you love, extraordinary stranger? I love the clouds the clouds that pass up there Up there the wonderful clouds!
If in this world there is one misery having no relief, it is the pressure on the heart from the Incommunicable. And if another Sphinx should arise to propose another enigma to man–saying, what burden is that which only is insupportable by human fortitude? I should answer at once: It is the burden of the Incommunicable
How very paltry and limited the normal human intellect is, and how little lucidity there is in the human consciousness, may be judged from the fact that, despite the ephemeral brevity of human life, the uncertainty of our existence and the countless enigmas which press upon us from all sides, everyone does not continually and ceaselessly philosophize, but that only the rarest of exceptions do.
Curious the small and lesser fates that join to lead a man to this. The thousand brawls and stoven jaws, the clubbings and the broken bottles and the little knives that come from nowhere. For him perhaps it all was done in silence, or how would it sound, the shot that fired the bullet that lay already in his brain? These small enigmas of time and space and death.
We have come from all the countries of the world and are going to Saintes-Maries de la Mer. Nomads of the enigma, we gather there each year after having carried our mystery through ordinary countryside and fluid towns. Since we become transformed by our wanderings we are despised by those who stand still and retain a memory of giant serpents and metallic green.
What I heard was but the melody of children at play, nothing but that, and so limpid was the air that within this vapor of blended voices, majestic and minute, remote and magically near, frank and divinely enigmatic—one could hear now and then, as if released, an almost articulate spurt of vivid laughter, or the crack of a bat, or the clatter of a toy wagon, but it was all really too far for the eye to distinguish any movement in the lightly etched streets. I stood listening to that musical vibration from my lofty slope, to those flashes of separate cries with a kind of demure murmur for background, and then I knew that the hopelessly poignant thing was not Lolita’s absence from my side, but the absence of her voice from that concord.
It is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical will live the relation to another as something alive.
Reading, therefore, is a co-production between writer and reader. The simplicity of this tool is astounding. So little, yet out of it whole worlds, eras, characters, continents, people never encountered before, people you wouldn’t care to sit next to in a train, people that don’t exist, places you’ve never visited, enigmatic fates, all come to life in the mind, painted into existence by the reader’s creative powers. In this way the creativity of the writer calls up the creativity of the reader. Reading is never passive.