Immensity Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 65 quotes )
What more could he need, this old man whose little leisure was divided between day-time gardening and night-time contemplation? Was not that narrow space with the sky its ceiling room enough for the worship of God in the most delicate of his works and in the most sublime? A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in -what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.
(about sailors) Their minds are of the stay-at-home order, and their home is always with them - the ship; and so is their country - the sea. One ship is very much like another, and the sea is always the same. In the immutability of their surroundings the foreign shores, the foreign faces, the changing immensity of life, glide past, veiled not by a sense of mystery but by a slightly disdainful ignorance; for there is nothing mysterious to a seaman unless it be the sea itself, which is the mistress of his existence and as inscrutable as Destiny. For the rest, after his hours of work, a casual stroll or a casual spree on shore suffices to unfold for him the secret of a whole continent, and generally he finds the secret not worth knowing. The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut.
What was more needed by this old man who divided the leisure hours of his life, where he had so little leisure, between gardening in the daytime, and contemplation at night? Was not this narrow enclosure, with the sky for a background, enough to enable him to adore God in his most beautiful as well as in his most sublime works? Indeed, is not that all, and what more can be desired? A little garden to walk, and immensity to reflect upon. At his feet something to cultivate and gather; above his head something to study and meditate upon: a few flowers on the earth, and all the stars in the sky.
...most seamen lead, if one may so express it, a sedentary life. Their minds are of the stay-at-home order.... In the immutability of their surroundings, the foreign shores, the foreign faces, the changing immensity of life glide past, veiled not by a sense of mystery but by a slightly disdainful ignorance; ... a casual stroll or a casual spree on shore suffices to unfold for him the secret of a whole continent, and generally he finds the secret not worth knowing.
So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.
Am I mistaken to think that even back then, in the vivid present, the fullness of life stirred our emotions to an extraordinary extent? Has anywhere since so engrossed you in its ocean of details? The detail, the immensity of the detail, the force of the detail, the weight of the detailthe rich endlessness of detail surrounding you in your young life like the six feet of dirt that’ll be packed on your grave when you’re dead
With winter the feeling had deepened. I would see a neighbor running along the sidewalk in front of the house, training, I imagined, for a climb up Kilimanjaro. Or a friend at my book club giving a blow-by-blow of her bungee jump from a bridge in Australia. Or - and this was the worst of all - a TV show about some intrepid woman traveling alone in the blueness of Greece, and I'd be overcome by the little sparks that seemed to run beneath all that, the blood/sap/wine, aliveness, whatever it was. It had made me feel bereft over the immensity of the world, the extraordinary things people did with their lives - though, really, I didn't want to do any of those particular things. I didn't know then what I wanted, but the ache for it was palpable.
When I consider the small span of my life absorbed in the eternity of all time, or the small part of space which I can touch or see engulfed by the infinite immensity of spaces that I know not and that know me not, I am frightened and astonished to see myself here instead of there? now instead of then.
To harden the earththe rocks took charge: instantlythey grew wings: the rocksthat soared: the survivorsflew upthe lightning bolt, screamed in the night, a watermark, a violet sword, a meteor. The succulentskyhad not only clouds, not only space smelling of oxygen, but an earthly stoneflashing here and therechanged into a dove, changed into a bell, into immensity, into a piercingwind: into a phosphorescent arrow, into salt of the sky.
They laid up in the shade of a rock shelf until past noon, scratching out a place in the gray lava dust to sleep, and they set forth in the afternoon down the valley following the war trail and they were very small and they moved very slowly in the immensity of that landscape. Come evening they hove toward the rimrock again and Sproule pointed out a dark stain on the face of the barren cliff. It looked like the black from old fires. The kid shielded his eyes. The scalloped canyon walls rippled in the heat like drapery folds.
A habitual indulgence in the inarticulate is a sure sign of the philosopher who has not learned to think, the poet who has not learned to write, the painter who has not learned to paint, and the impression that has not learned to express itself--all of which are compatible with an immensity of genius in the inexpressible soul.
Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of lightyears and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
I smell guilt. There is a stench of guilt upon the air. I see you all, whole and healthy, with your powers intact? such prompt appearances!? and I ask myself . . . why did this band of wizards never come to the aid of their master, to whom they swore eternal loyalty? And I answer myself, they must have believed me broken, they thought I was gone. They slipped back among my enemies, and they pleaded innocence, and ignorance, and bewitchment. . . . And then I ask myself, but how could they have believed I would not rise again? They, who knew the steps I took, long ago, to guard myself against mortal death? They, who had seen proofs of the immensity of my power in the times when I was mightier than any wizard living? And I answer myself, perhaps they believed a still greater power could exist, one that could vanquish even Lord Voldemort . . . perhaps they now pay allegiance to another. . .
When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than then. Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time been allotted to me? Memoria hospitis unius diei prtereuntis.
People think about who they are in the stillest hour of the night. I carry this thought, the child's mystery and terror of this thought, I feel this immensity in my soul every second of my life. I have my iron desk that I hauled up three flights of stairs, with ropes and wedges. I have my pencils that I sharpen with a paring knife. There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist?
To read fiction means to play a game by which we give sense to the immensity of things that happened, are happening, or will happen in the actual world. By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something true about the world. This is the consoling function of narrative? the reason people tell stories, and have told stories from the beginning of time.
In school I ended up writing three different papers on "The Castaway" section of Moby-Dick, the chapter where the cabin boy Pip falls overboard and is driven mad by the empty immensity of what he finds himself floating in. And when I teach school now I always teach Crane's horrific "The Open Boat," and get all bent out of shape when the kids find the story dull or jaunty-adventurish: I want them to feel the same marrow-level dread of the oceanic I've always felt, the intuition of the sea as primordial nada, bottomless, depths inhabited by cackling tooth-studded things rising toward you at the rate a feather falls.
If man merely sat back and thought about his impending termination, and his terrifying insignificance and aloneness in the cosmos, he would surely go mad, or succumb to a numbing sense of futility. Why, he might ask himself, should he bother to write a great symphony, or strive to make a living, or even to love another, when he is no more than a momentary microbe on a dust mote whirling through the unimaginable immensity of space? Those of us who are forced by their own sensibilities to view their lives in this perspective? who recognize that there is no purpose they can comprehend and that amidst a countless myriad of stars their existence goes unknown and unchronicled? can fall prey all too easily to the ultimate anomie. The world's religions, for all their parochialism, did supply a kind of consolation for this great ache.
The best place for discovering what a man is is the heart of the desert. Your plane has broken down, and you walk for hours, heading for the little fort at Nutchott. You wait for the mirages of thirst to gape before you. But you arrive and you find an old sergeant who has been isolated for months among the dunes, and he is so happy to be found that he weeps. And you weep, too. In the arching immensity of the night, each tells the story of his life, each offers the other the burden of memories in which the human bond is discovered. Here two men can meet, and they bestow gifts upon each other with the dignity of ambassadors.