Trace Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 353 quotes )
For me the world has always been more of a puppet show. But when one looks behind the curtain and traces the strings upward he finds they terminate in the hands of yet other puppets, themselves with their own strings which trace upward in turn, and so on. In my own life I saw these strings whose origins were endless enact the deaths of great men in violence and madness. Enact the ruin of a nation.
How can the mind be so imperfect?" she says with a smile. I look at my hands. Bathed in the moonlight, they seem like statues, proportioned to no purpose."It may well be imperfect," I say, "but it leaves traces. And we can follow those traces, like footsteps in the snow."Where do the lead?"To oneself," I answer. "That's where the mind is. Without the mind, nothing leads anywhere."I look up. The winter moon is brilliant, over the Town, above the Wall."Not one thing is your fault," I comfort her.
But a punishment like forced labour or even imprisonment – mere loss of liberty – has never functioned without a certain additional element of punishment that certainly concerns the body itself: rationing of food, sexual deprivation, corporal punishment, solitary confinement … There remains, therefore, a trace of ‘torture’ in the modern mechanisms of criminal justice – a trace that has not been entirely overcome, but which is enveloped, increasingly, by the non-corporal nature of the penal system
Perhaps I identify too well with my father's illicit awe. A trace of this seems caught in the photo, just as a trace of Roy has been caught on the light-sensitive paper...It's a curiously ineffectual attempt at censorship. Why cross out the year and not the month? Why, for that matter, leave the photo in the envelope at all? In an act of prestidigitation typical of the way my father juggled his public appearance and private reality, the evidence is simultaneously hidden and revealed.
How long your closet held a whiff of you, Long after hangers hung austere and bare. I would walk in and suddenly the true. Sharp sweet sweat scent controlled the air. And life was in that small still living breath. Where are you? since so much of you is here, Your unique odour quite ignoring death. My hands reach out to touch, to hold what's dear. And vital in my longing empty arms. But other clothes fill up the space, your space, And scent on scent send out strange false alarms. Not of your odour there is not a trace. But something unexpected still breaks through. The goneness to the presentness of you.
Under this swarm of waspish self-inquiries he began to feel sorry for himself - a brilliant man trapped, a Byron tamed; and his mind wandered back to Sarah, to visual images, attempts to recollect that face, that mouth, that generous mouth. Undoubtedly it awoke some memory in him, too tenuous, perhaps too general, to trace to any source in his past; but it unsettled him and haunted him, by calling to some hidden self he hardly knew existed. He said it to himself: It is the stupidest thing, but that girl attracts me. It seemed clear to him that it was not Sarah in herself who attracted him - how could she, he was betrothed - but some emotion, some possibility she symbolized. She made him aware of a deprivation. His future had always seemed to him of vast potential; and now suddenly it was a fixed voyage to a known place. She had reminded him of that.
Is it possible to become friends with a butterfly?"It is if you first become a part of nature. You suppress your presence as a human being, stay very still, and convince yourself that you are a tree or grass or a flower. It takes time, but once the butterfly lets its guard down, you can become friends quite naturally."..." ... I come here every day, say hello to the butterflies, and talk about things with them. When the time comes, though, they just quietly go off and disappear. I'm sure it means they've died, but I can never find their bodies. They don't leave any trace behind. It's like they've been absorbed by the air. They're dainty little creatures that hardly exist at all: they come out of nowhere, search quietly for a few, limited things, and disappear into nothingness again, perhaps to some other world.
The day may come when, contemplating a world given back to the primeval forst, a human survivor will have no means of even guessing how much intelligence Man once imposed upon the forms of the earth, when he set up the stones of Florence in the billowing expanse of the Tuscan olive-groves. No trace will be left then of the palaces that saw Michelangelo pass by, nursing his grievances against Raphael; and nothing of the little Paris cafes where Renoir once sat beside Cezanne, Van Gogh beside Gauguin. Solitude, vicegerent of Eternity, vanquishes men's dreams no less than armies, and men have known this ever since they came into being and realized that they must die.
Finally he said that in his first years of darkness his dreams had been vivid beyond all expectation and that he had come to thirst for them but that dreams and memories alike had faded one by one until there were no more. Of all that once had been no trace remained. The look of the world. The faces of loved ones. Finally even his own person was lost to him. Whatever he had been he was no more. He said that like every man who comes to the end of something there was nothing to be done but to begin again. I can’t remember the world of light, he said. It has been so long. The world is a fragile world. Ultimately, what can be seen is what endures. What is true. . . . In my first years of blindness, I thought it was a form of death. I was wrong. Losing one’s sight is like falling in a dream. You think there’s no bottom to this abyss. You fall and fall. Light recedes. Memory of light. Memory of the world. Of your own face. Of the grim-faced mask.
Do stories, apart from happening, being, have something to say? For all my skepticism, some trace of irrational superstition did survive in me, the strange conviction, for example, that everything in life that happens to me also has a sense, that it means something, that life speaks to us about itself through its story, that it gradually reveals a secret, that it takes the form of a rebus whose message must be deciphered, that the stories we live compromise the mythology of our lives and in that mythology lies the key to truth and mystery. Is it an illusion? Possibly, even probably, but I can’t rid myself of the need continually to decipher my own life.
Down by the stream in back of 124 her footprints come and go, come and go. They are so familiar. Should a child, an adult place his feet in them, they will fit. Take them out and they disappear again as though nobody ever walked there. By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there. The rest is weather. Not the breath of the disremembered and unaccounted for, but wind in the eaves, or spring ice thawing too quickly. Just weather. Certainly no clamor for a kiss.
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and practically blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive; why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong women the man, many years of analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our sense of order
We discover that we do not know our role; we look for a mirror; we want to remove our make-up and take off what is false and real. But somewhere a piece of disguise that we forgot still sticks to us. A trace of exaggeration remains in our eyebrows; we do not notice that the corners of our mouth are bent. And so we walk around, a mockery and a mere half: neither having achieved being nor actors.
Just as one spoils the stomach by overfeeding and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment. For the more one reads the fewer are the traces left of what one has read; the mind is like a tablet that has been written over and over. Hence it is impossible to reflect; and it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has read. If one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later, what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost.
To him it seemed a miracle that we should last so much as a single day. There is no antidote, he writes, against the opium of time. The winter sun shows how soon the light fades from the ash, how soon night enfolds us. Hour upon hour is added to the sum. Time itself grows old. Pyramids, arches and obelisks are melting pillars of snow. Not even those who have found a place amidst the heavenly constellations have perpetuated their names: Nimrod is lost in Orion, and Osiris in the Dog Star. Indeed, old families last not three oaks. To set one’s name to a work gives no one a title to be remembered, for who knows how many of the best of men have gone without a trace? The iniquity of oblivion blindly scatters her poppyseed and when wretchedness falls upon us one summer’s day like snow, all we wish for is to be forgotten.
Once, on a walk by a river- Eskdale in low reddish sunlight, with a dusting of snow- his daughter quoted to him an opening verse by her favourite poet. Apparently, not many young women loved Phillip Larkin the way she did. 'If I were to construct a religion/ I should make use of water.' She said she liked the laconic use of 'called in'- as if he would be, as if anyone ever is. They stopped to drink coffee from a flask, and Perowne, tracing a line of lichen with a finger, said that if he ever got the call, he'd make us of evolution. What better creation myth? An unimaginable sweep of time, numberless generations spawning by infinitesimal steps complex living beauty out of inert matter, driven on by the blind furies of random mutation, natural selection and environmental change, with the tragedy of forms continually dying, and lately the wonder of minds emerging and with them morality, love, art, cities- and the unprecedented bonus of this story happening to be demonstrably true.