Enigma Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 38 quotes )
He won the Civil War for the North, and re-established the Union which today has grown into the vastest consolidated power since the fall of Rome. He fought some of the great campaigns in history; was never defeated, and after the war was twice chosen by his countrymen as their President. If there is not food for myth here, where shall we seek it? His story is as amazing as Napoleon's, and as startling as Lenin's; yet enigma he lived and enigma he died, and though occasion was propitious and circumstances were favorable, enigma he remains.
Gradually, the concrete enigma I labored at disturbed me less than the generic enigma of a sentence written by a god. What type of sentence (I asked myself) will an absolute mind construct? I considered that even in the human languages there is no proposition that does not imply the entire universe: to say "the tiger" is to say the tigers that begot it, the deer and turtles devoured by it, the grass on which the deer fed, the earth that was mother to the grass, the heaven that gave birth to the earth. I considered that in the language of a god every word would enunciate that infinite concatenation of facts, and not in an implicit but in an explicit manner, and not progressively but instantaneously. In time, the notion of a divine sentence seemed puerile or blasphemous. A god, I reflected, ought to utter only a single word and in that word absolute fullness. No word uttered by him can be inferior to the universe or less than the sum total of time.
It could have been--it didn't have to be obscene.... It could have been--a bird out of season, dropping bright-feathered on my shoulder.... It could have been a tongueless dwarf standing by the road to point the way.... I was prepared. But it's this, is it? No enigma, no dignity, nothing classical, portentous, only this--a comic pornographer and a rabble of prostitutes....
Powerful winds that crack the boughs of November! - and the bright calm sun, untouched by the furies of the earth, abandoning the earth to darkness, and wild forlornness, and night, as men shiver in their coats and hurry home. And then the lights of home glowing in those desolate deeps. There are the stars, though! - high and sparkling in a spiritual firmament. We will walk in the windsweeps, gloating in the envelopment of ourselves, seeking the sudden grinning intelligence of humanity below these abysmal beauties. Now the roaring midnight fury and the creaking of our hinges and windows, now the winder, now the understanding of the earth and our being on it: this drama of enigmas and double-depths and sorrows and grave joys, these human things in the elemental vastness of the windblown world.
The problem with the religious solution [for mysteries such as consciousness and moral judgments] was stated by Mencken when he wrote, "Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing." For anyone with a persistent intellectual curiosity, religious explanations are not worth knowing because they pile equally baffling enigmas on top of the original ones. What gave God a mind, free will, knowledge, certainty about right and wrong? How does he infuse them into a universe that seems to run just fine according to physical laws? How does he get ghostly souls to interact with hard matter? And most perplexing of all, if the world unfolds according to a wise and merciful plan, why does it contain so much suffering? As the Yiddish expression says, If God lived on earth, people would break his window.
If in this world there is one misery having no relief, it is the pressure on the heart from the Incommunicable. And if another Sphinx should arise to propose another enigma to man–saying, what burden is that which only is insupportable by human fortitude? I should answer at once: It is the burden of the Incommunicable
How very paltry and limited the normal human intellect is, and how little lucidity there is in the human consciousness, may be judged from the fact that, despite the ephemeral brevity of human life, the uncertainty of our existence and the countless enigmas which press upon us from all sides, everyone does not continually and ceaselessly philosophize, but that only the rarest of exceptions do.
Curious the small and lesser fates that join to lead a man to this. The thousand brawls and stoven jaws, the clubbings and the broken bottles and the little knives that come from nowhere. For him perhaps it all was done in silence, or how would it sound, the shot that fired the bullet that lay already in his brain? These small enigmas of time and space and death.
We have come from all the countries of the world and are going to Saintes-Maries de la Mer. Nomads of the enigma, we gather there each year after having carried our mystery through ordinary countryside and fluid towns. Since we become transformed by our wanderings we are despised by those who stand still and retain a memory of giant serpents and metallic green.
God knows instantly and effortlessly all matter and all matters, all mind and every mind, all spirit and all spirits, all being and every being, all creaturehood and all creatures, every plurality and all pluralities, all law and every law, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all enigmas, all feeling, all desires, every unuttered secret, all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and hell.
That’s another enigma about memory, more basic than all the rest: do recollections have some measurable temporal volume? do they unfold over a span of time? […] And there lies the horror: the past we remember is devoid of time. Impossible to reexperience a moment the way we reread a book or resee a film.