Retrospect Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 89 quotes )
Ms. Wormwood: Calvin, can you tell us what Lewis and Clark did? Calvin: No, but I can recite the secret superhero origin of each member of Captain Napalm's Thermonuclear League of Liberty. Ms. Wormwood: See me after class, Calvin. Calvin: [retrospectively] I'm not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.
You end up exhausted and spent, but later, in retrospect, you realize what it all was for. The parts fall into place, and you can see the whole picture and finally understand the role each individual part plays. The dawn comes, the sky grows light, and the colors and shapes of the roofs of houses, which you could only glimpse vaguely before, come into focus.
We write to heighten our own awareness of life. We write to lure and enchant and console others. We write to serenade our lovers. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. We write to expand our world when we feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely...When I don’t write, I feel my world shrinking. I feel I am in prison. I feel I lose my fire and my color. It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave, and I call it breathing.
I understand in retrospect that this was my first introduction to a conflict that dominates all our lives: the endless, irreconcilable conflict between the values of Athens and Jerusalem. On the one hand, very approximately, is the world not of hedonism but of tolerance of the recognition that sex and love have their ironic and perverse dimensions. On the other is the stone-faced demand for continence, sacrifice, and conformity, and the devising of ever-crueler punishments for deviance, all invoked as if this very fanaticism did not give its whole game away.
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody understands at the time--and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
As I have reviewed the past [several] years, I have made some discoveries. One is that countless experiences I have had were not necessarily those one would consider extraordinary. In fact, at the time they transpired, they often seemed unremarkable and even ordinary. And yet, in retrospect, they enriched and blessed lives—not the least of which was my own. I would recommend this same exercise to you—namely, that you take an inventory of your life and look specifically for the blessings, large and small, you have received.
We had been everywhere. We had really seen nothing. And I catch myself thinking today that our long journey had only defiled with a sinuous trail of slime the lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country that by then, in retrospect, was no more to us than a collection of dog-eared maps, ruined tour books, old tires, and her sobs in the night? every night, every night? the moment I feigned sleep.
But what is the sense in forever speculating what might have happened had such and such a moment turned out differently? One could presumably drive oneself to distraction in this way. In any case, while it is all very well to talk of 'turning points', one can surely only recognize such moments in retrospect. Naturally, when one looks back to such instances today, they may indeed take the appearance of being crucial, precious moments in one's life; but of course, at the time, this was not the impression one had. Rather, it was as though one had available a never-ending number of days, months, years in which to sort out the vagaries of one's relationship with Miss Kenton; an infinite number of further opportunities in which to remedy the effect of this or that misunderstanding. There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable.
A great deal has been said about love at first sight; I am perfectly aware of love's retrospective tendency to make a legend of itself, turn its beginnings into myth; so I don't want to assert that it was love; but I have no doubt there was a kind of clairvoyance at work: I immediately felt, sensed, grasped the essence of Lucie's being or, to be more precise, the essence of what she was later to become for me; Lucie had revealed herself to me the way religious truth reveals itself.
I know you have not thought about it. Italians always act without thinking, it's the glory and the downfall of your civilisation. A German plans a month in advance what his bowel movements will be at Easter, and the British plan everything in retrospect, so it always looks as though everything occurred as they intended. The French plan everything whilst appearing to be having a party, and the Spanish...well, God knows. Anyway, Pelagia is Greek, that's my point.
It seems to me in retrospect that the department stores and the dime stores did an excellent job of extending the 'sacred space' of Christmas in those days. And I sometimes wonder whether for people of no religion, this might have been the only sacred space they knew. When people rail now against the 'commercial nature of Christmas,' I'm always conflicted an unable to respond. Because I think those who would banish commercialism from the holiday fail to understand how precious and comforting the shop displays and music can be.
The truth of the matter is that—by an exorbitant paradox—I never stop believing that I am loved. I hallucinate what I desire. Each wound proceeds less from a doubt than from a betrayal: for only the one who loves can betray, only the one who believes himself loved can be jealous: that the other, episodically, should fail in his being, which is to love me—that is the origin of all my woes. A delirium, however, does not exist unless one wakens from it(there are only retrospective deliriums): one day, I realize what has happened to me: I thought I was suffering from not being loved, and yet it is because I thought I was loved that I was suffering; I lived in the complication of supposing myself simultaneously loved and abandoned. Anyone hearing my intimate language would have had to exclaim, as of a difficult child: But after all, what does he want?
...[His] past had now risen, only the pleasures of it seeming to have lost their quality. Night and day, without interruption save of brief sleep which only wove retrospect and fear into a fantastic present, he felt the scenes of his earlier life coming between him and everything else, as obstinately as when we look through the window from a lighted room, the objects we turn our backs on are still before us, instead of the grass and the trees. The successive events inward and outward were there in one view: though each might be dwelt on in turn, the rest still keep their hold in the consciousness.
The act of sending a letter is an act of generosity, even if, in retrospect, it might seem reckless. Why regret one's generosity? Why regret one's impulsiveness, one's misjudgment of others? The inevitable discovery that someone is selling letters you'd written in trust is simply to discover an obvious human truth: there are those who don't cherish us as we'd cherished them, and had wished to be cherished by them.
As he quitted the room, Elizabeth felt how improbable it was that they should ever see each other again on such terms of cordiality... and as she threw a retrospective glance over the whole of their acquaintance, so full of contradictions and varieties, sighed at the perverseness of those feelings which would now have promoted its continuance, and would formerly have rejoiced in its termination.
Men can do nothing without the make-believe of abeginning. Even science, the strict measurer, is obliged to startwith a make-believe unit, and must fix on a point in the stars'unceasing journey when his sidereal clock shall pretend that timeis at Nought. His less accurate grandmother Poetry has always beenunderstood to start in the middle; but on reflection it appearsthat her proceeding is not very different from his; since Science, too, reckons backward as well as forward, divides his unit intobillions, and with his clock-finger at Nought really sets offin medias res. No retrospect will take us to the truebeginning; and whether our prologue be in heaven or on earth, it isbut a fraction of that all-presupposing fact with which our storysets out.
Oh - that family, yes. There are still some photos of them around here. They look like nice people, don't they?"They...'look like nice people'?"Well, they do, don't they? Of course, they never actually existed - except maybe in the most tenuous and retrospective way - but still, it's nice to think they were good people."Uh. Right. Gee, I suppose you must do a lot of drugs.