Pretext Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 48 quotes )
on war and conquest: in the realm of human affairs one also needs a pretext. it is important to give it the rank of a universal imperative or of a divine commandment. The range of choices is not great; either it is that we must defend ourselves, or that we have an obligation to help others, or that we are fulfilling heaven's will. the optimal pretext would link all three of the motives.
Where does it all begin? History has no beginnings, for everything that happens becomes the cause or pretext for what occurs afterwards, and this chain of cause and pretext stretches back to the Palaeolithic age, when the first Cain of one tribe murdered the first Abel of another. All war is fratricide, and there is therefore an infinite chain of blame that winds its circuitous route back and forth across the path and under the feet of every people and every nation, so that a people who are the victims of one time become the victimisers a generation later, and newly liberated nations resort immediately to the means of their former oppressors. The triple contagions of nationalism, utopianism and religious absolutism effervesce together into an acid that corrodes the moral metal of a race, and it shamelessly and even proudly performs deeds that it would deem vile if they were done by any other.
He said to himself, that this child had a right to know life before renouncing it, that to deprive her in advance, and in some sort without consulting her, of all joys, under the pretext of saving her from all trials, to take advantage of her ignorance of her isolation, in order to make an artificial vocation germinate in her, was to rob a human creature of its nature and to lie to God.
According to the legend an evil old doctor, who called himself God and us dogs, created the first boy in his adolescent image. The boy peopled the garden with male phantoms that rose from his ejaculations. This angered God, who was getting on in years. He decided it endangered his position as CREATOR. So he crept upon the boy and anaesthetized him and made Eve from his rib. Henceforth all creation of beings would process through female channels. But some of Adam's phantoms refused to let God near them under any pretext.
After two or three stanzas and several images by which he was himself astonished, his work took possession of him and he experienced the approach of what is called inspiration. At such moments the correlation of the forces controlling the artist is, as it were, stood on its head. The ascendancy is no longer with the artist or the state of mind which he is trying to express, but with language, his instrument of expression. Language, the home and dwelling of beauty and meaning, itself begins to think and speak for man and turns wholly into music, not in the sense of outward, audible sounds but by virtue of the power and momentum of its inward flow. Then, like the current of a mighty river polishing stones and turning wheels by its very movement, the flow of speech creates in passing, by the force of its own laws, rhyme and rhythm and countless other forms and formations, still more important and until now undiscovered, unconsidered and unnamed.At such moments Yury felt that the main part of his work was not being done by him but by something which was above him and controlling him: the thought and poetry of the world as it was at that moment and as it would be in the future. He was controlled by the next step it was to take in the order of its historical development; and he felt himself to be only the pretext and the pivot setting it in motion....In deciphering these scribbles he went through the usual disappointments. Last night these rough passages had astonished him and moved him to tears by certain unexpectedly successful lines. Now, on re-reading these very lines, he was saddened to find that they were strained and glaringly far-fetched.
Narziss, I am guilty of having passed rash judgement on you. I had thought you proud, and perhaps I did you an injustice. You are much alone, brother; you have many to admire you, but no friends. I wished to find the pretext to chide you a little. But I find none. I wanted to see you as disobedient as young men of your age so easily are. But you never disobey. Sometimes Narziss, you make me uneasy.
In itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy . . . whence the birth of ideologies, doctrines, deadly games. Idolaters by instinct, we convert the objects of our dreams and our interests into the Unconditional. History is nothing but a procession of false Absolutes, a series of temples raised to pretexts, a degradation of the mind before the Improbable. Even when he turns from religion, man remains subject to it; depleting himself to create fake gods, he feverishly adopts them: his need for fiction, for mythology triumphs over evidence and absurdity alike.
As soon as we entered I plunged into the giddy whirl of the waltz. That delightful exercise has always been dear to me; I know of nothing more beautiful, more worthy of a beautiful woman and a young man; all dances compared with the waltz are but insipid conventions or pretexts for insignificant converse. It is truly to possess a woman, in a certain sense, to hold her for a half hour in your arms, and to draw her on in the dance, palpitating in spite of herself, in such a way that it can not be positively asserted whether she is being protected or seduced. Some deliver themselves up to the pleasure with such modest voluptuousness, with such sweet and pure abandon, that one does not know whether he experiences desire or fear, and whether, if pressed to the heart, they would faint or break in pieces like the rose. Germany, where that dance was invented, is surely the land of love.
A subject to which few intellectuals ever give a thought is the right to be a vagrant, the freedom to wander. Yet vagrancy is a deliverance, and life on the open road is the essence of freedom. To have the courage to smash the chains with which modern life has weighted us (under the pretext that it was offering us more liberty), then to take up the symbolic stick and bundle and get out.
They knew that to put God in the constitution was to put man out. They knew that the recognition of a Deity would be seized upon by fanatics and zealots as a pretext for destroying the liberty of thought. They knew the terrible history of the church too well to place in her keeping or in the keeping of her God the sacred rights of man. They intended that all should have the right to worship or not to worship that our laws should make no distinction on account of creed. They intended to found and frame a government for man and for man alone. They wished to preserve the individuality of all to prevent the few from governing the many and the many from persecuting and destroying the few.
There are, first of all, two kinds of authors: those who write for the subject's sake, and those who write for writing's sake. [...] The truth is that when an author begins to write for the sake of covering paper, he is cheating the reader; because he writes under the pretext that he has something to say.
He is no longer the pretext for a story: the story itself renders him homage. The works of Fantomas can neither be destroyed nor accept modifications. ...Fantomas requires more of others than of himself ... He is never completely invisible. His likeness can be seen through his face. ... Fantomas's science is more precious than the word. It is not possible to guess it - and no one can doubt its power.
... There, in his foul, stinking cellar, our offended, down-trodden and ridiculed mouse immerses himself in cold, venomous and, cheifly, everlasting spite. For forty years on end he will remember the offence, down to the smallest and most shameful detail, constantly adding more shameful details of his own, maliciously teasing and irritating himself with his own fantasies. He himself will be ashamed of his fantasies, but nevertheless he will remember all of them, weighing them up and inventing all sorts of things that never happend to him, on the pretext that they too could have happend and he'll forgive nothing. Probably he'll start taking his revenge, but somehow in fits and starts, pettily, anonymously, from behind the stove, believing neither in his right to take revenge, nor in the success of his revenge and knowing beforehand that he will suffer one hundred times more from every single one of his attempts at revenge than the object of his revenge, who, most likely, wont't give a damn.
I’ve alway been struck by how little adults understand children, even their own fathers and mothers. Nothing should be kept from children on the pretext that they’re little and it’s too soon for them to know. Such a sad, wretched idea! Children themselves are well aware that their parents regard them as as too small and uncomprehending, when actually they understand everything. Adults don’t realize that children can give extremely valuable advice in the most difficult situations. Heavens! When that pretty little bird looks at you, so happy and trusting, you are ashamed to betray it!
It was a curious game. This curiousness was evidenced, for example, in the fact that the young man, even though he himself was playing the unknown driver remarkably well, did not for a moment stop seeing his girl in the hitchhiker. And it was precisely this that was tormenting. He saw his girl seducing a strange man, and had the bitter privilege of being present, of seeing at close quarters how she looked and of hearing what she said when she was cheating on him (when she had cheated on him, when she would cheat on him). He had the paradoxical honor of being himself the pretext for her unfaithfulness. This was all the worse because he worshipped rather than loved her. It had always seemed to him that her inward nature was real only within the bounds of fidelity and purity, and that beyond these bounds she would cease to be herself, as water ceases to be water beyond the boiling point.