Twentieth Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 136 quotes )
Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like political freedom: the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery. The nineteenth century and early twentieth century in the Western world stand out as striking exceptions to the general trend of historical development. Political freedom in this instance clearly came along with the free market and the development of capitalist institutions. So also did political freedom in the golden age of Greece and in the early days of the Roman era.
You see, gentlemen, reason is an excellent thing, there's no disputing that, but reason is nothing but reason and satisfies only the rational side of man's nature, while will is a manifestation of the whole life, that is, of the whole human life including reason and all the impulses. And although our life, in this manifestation of it, is often worthless, yet it is life and not simply extracting square roots. Here I, for instance, quite naturally want to live, in order to satisfy all my capacities for life, and not simply my capacity for reasoning, that is, not simply one twentieth of my capacity for life. What does reason know? Reason only knows what it has succeeded in learning (some things, perhaps, it will never learn; this is a poor comfort, but why not say so frankly?) and human nature acts as a whole, with everything that is in it, consciously or unconsciously, and, even if it goes wrong, it lives.
Ever since the days when such formidable mediocrities as Galsworthy, Dreiser, Tagore, Maxim Gorky, Romain Rolland and Thomas Mann were being accepted as geniuses, I have been perplexed and amused by fabricated notions about so-called "great books." That, for instance, Mann's asinine "Death in Venice," or Pasternak's melodramatic, vilely written "Dr. Zhivago," or Faulkner's corn-cobby chronicles can be considered "masterpieces" or at least what journalists term "great books," is to me the sort of absurd delusion as when a hypnotized person makes love to a chair. My greatest masterpieces of twentieth century prose are, in this order: Joyce's "Ulysses"; Kafka's "Transformation"; Bely's "St. Petersburg," and the first half of Proust's fairy tale, "In Search of Lost Time.
Virtually all political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy... Because they were hypocrites, the Victorians were despised in the late twentieth century. Many of the persons who held such opinions were, of course, guilty of the most nefarious conduct themselves, and yet saw no paradox in holding such views because they were not hypocrites themselves-they took no moral stances and lived by none.
In the twentieth century nothing can better cure the anthropocentrism that is the author of all our ills than to cast ourselves into the physics of the infinitely large (or the infinitely small). By reading any text of popular science we quickly regain the sense of the absurd, but this time it is a sentiment that can be held in our hands, born of tangible, demonstrable, almost consoling things. We no longer believe because it is absurd: it is absurd because we must believe.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, old people in America had prayed, "Please God, don't let me look poor." In the year 2000, they prayed, "Please God, don't let me look old." Sexiness was equated with youth, and youth ruled. The most widespread age-related disease was not senility but juvenility.
What happens when an animal or person dies? Something seems to have departed--something like a vital spark that makes the difference between life and death. In the nineteenth century, philosophers believed that there really was such a thing and called it the lan vital, or vital spirit. But when twentieth century science began to unravel the mysteries of how living things work and reproduce, the idea was abandoned and people now accept that there is nothing more to being alive than complex, interrelated, biological functions.
Wars, wars, wars': reading up on the region I came across one moment when quintessential Englishness had in fact intersected with this darkling plain. In 1906 Winston Churchill, then the minister responsible for British colonies, had been honored by an invitation from Kaiser Wilhelm II to attend the annual maneuvers of the Imperial German Army, held at Breslau. The Kaiser was 'resplendent in the uniform of the White Silesian Cuirassiers' and his massed and regimented infantry... reminded one more of great Atlantic rollers than human formations. Clouds of cavalry, avalanches of field-guns and—at that time a novelty—squadrons of motor-cars (private and military) completed the array. For five hours the immense defilade continued. Yet this was only a twentieth of the armed strength of the regular German Army before mobilization. Strange to find Winston Churchill and Sylvia Plath both choosing the word 'roller,' in both its juggernaut and wavelike declensions, for that scene.
The working people of the Flint area hated this rag, but it was our only daily so you read it. Everyone called it the "Flint Urinal." Editorially, the paper had historically been on the wrong side of every major social and political issue of the twentieth century -- "the wrong side" meaning: whatever side the union workers were on, the Urinal took the opposite position.
We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are "harmless," and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are "sideliners" -- coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!
I responded (and with rather touching wholeheartedness) to the sweep of Tolkien's imagination-to the ambition of his story-but I wanted to write my own kind of story, and had I started then, I would have written his... Thanks to Mr. Tolkien, the twentieth century had all the elves and wizards it needed.
[SF] was a commercial genre born in the old adventure pulp magazinesof the first third of the twentieth century, aimed primarily atadolescent males, which, over the decades, in fits and starts, evolved into an intellectually credible, scientifically germane, transcendental literature without losing its popular base. Of what other literature in the history of the western world can this truly be said?
In this century the writer has carried on a conversation with madness. We might almost say of the twentieth-century writer that he aspires to madness. Some have made it, of course, and they hold special places in our regard. To a writer, madness is a final distillation of self, a final editing down. It’s the drowning out of false voices.
He had thought at first that they were all of common stature and costume, with the evident exception of the hairy Gogol. But as he looked at the others, he began to see in each of them exactly what he had seen in the man by the river, a demoniac detail somewhere. That lop-sided laugh, which would suddenly disfigure the fine face of his original guide, was typical of all these types. Each man had something about him, perceived perhaps at the tenth or twentieth glance, which was not normal, and which seemed hardly human. The only metaphor he could think of was this, that they all looked as men of fashion and presence would look, with the additional twist given in a false and curved mirror.
When the valley surrounding St. Cloud's was cleared and the second growth (scrub pine and random, unmanaged softwoods) sprang up everywhere, like swamp weed, and when there were no more logs to send downriver, from Three Mile Falls to St. Cloud's--because there were no more trees--that was when the Ramses Paper Company introduced Maine to the twentieth century by closing down the saw mill and the lumberyard along the river at St. Cloud's and moving camp downstream. . .There were no Ramses Paper Company people left behind, but there were people. . .Not one of the neglected officers of the Catholic Church of St. Cloud's stayed; there were more souls to save by following the Ramses Paper Company downstream.
There is a striking feature of the twentieth century… the musical creation of the 20th century is qualitatively different from the 18th century, in that it lacks that immediate access or short-term access that was true of the past… I have no doubt that if we took two children of today two groups and taught one of them Mozart Haydn & Beethoven and the other Schoenberg and post Schoenbergian music, that there would be very substantial difference in their capacity to comprehend and deal with it, and that may reflect, and in fact if that’s correct it would reflect, something about our innate musical capacities.