Marginal Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 160 quotes )
The principal difference between an adventurer and a suicide is that the adventurer leaves himself a margin of escape (the narrower the margin the greater the adventure), a margin whose width and length may be determined by unknown factors but whose navigation is determined by the measure of the adventurer's nerve and wits. It is exhilarating to live by one's nerves or toward the summit of one's wits.
In the same way that the picturesque designers were always careful to include some reminder of our mortality in their gardens -- a ruin, sometimes even a dead tree -- the act of leaving parts of the garden untended, and calling attention to its margins, seems to undermine any pretense to perfect power or wisdom on the part of the gardener. The margins of our gardens can be tropes too, but figures of irony rather than transcendence -- antidotes, in fact, to our hubris. It may be in the margins of our gardens that we can discover fresh ways to bring our aesthetics and our ethics about the land into some meaningful alignment.
Literary fiction and poetry are real marginalized right now. There's a fallacy that some of my friends sometimes fall into, the ol' "The audience is stupid. The audience only wants to go this deep. Poor us, we're marginalized because of TV, the great hypnotic blah, blah." You can sit around and have these pity parties for yourself. Of course this is bullshit. If an art form is marginalized it's because it's not speaking to people. One possible reason is that the people it's speaking to have become too stupid to appreciate it. That seems a little easy to me.
So when modern-day religious conservatives wax nostalgic about how marriage is a sacred tradition that reaches back into history for thousands of uninterrupted years, they are correct, but in only one respect - only if they happen to be talking about Judaism. Christianity simply does not share that deep and consistent historical reverence toward matrimony. Lately it has, yes- but not originally. For the first thousand or so years of Christian history, the church regarded monogamous marriage as marginally less wicked that flat-out whoring but only very marginally.
There must always be a fringe of the experimental in literature--poems bizarre in form and curious in content, stories that overreach for what has not hitherto been put in story form, criticism that mingles a search for new truth with bravado. We should neither scoff at this trial margin nor take it too seriously. Without it, literature becomes inert and complacent. But the everyday person's reading is not, ought not to be, in the margin. He asks for a less experimental diet, and his choice is sound. If authors and publishers would give him more heed they would do wisely. They are afraid of the swarming populace who clamor for vulgar sensation (and will pay only what it is worth), and they are afraid of petulant literati who insist upon sophisticated sensation (and desire complimentary copies). The stout middle class, as in politics and industry, has far less influence than its good sense and its good taste and its ready purse deserve.
The encrusted religious structure is not changed by its institutional dependents--they are part of the crust. It is changed by one who goes alone to the wilderness, where he fasts and prays, and returns with cleansed vision. In going alone, he goes independent of institutions, forswearing orthodoxy ("right opinion"). In going to the wilderness he goes to the margin, where he is surrounded by the possibilities--by no means all good--that orthodoxy has excluded. By fasting he disengages his thoughts from the immediate issues of livelihood; his willing hunger takes his mind off the payroll, so to speak. And by praying he acknowledges ignorance; the orthodox presume to know, whereas the marginal person is trying to find out. He returns to the community, not necessarily with new truth, but with a new vision of the truth; he sees it more whole than before.
But all over-expression, whether by journalists, poets, novelists, or clergymen, is bad for the language, bad for the mind; and by over-expression, I mean the use of words running beyond the sincere feeling of writer or speaker or beyond what the event will sanely carry. From time to time a crusade is preached against it from the text: ‘The cat was on the mat.’ Some Victorian scribe, we must suppose, once wrote: ‘Stretching herself with feline grace and emitting those sounds immemorially connected with satisfaction, Grimalkin lay on a rug whose richly variegated pattern spoke eloquently of the Orient and all the wonders of the Arabian Nights.’ And an exasperated reader annotated the margin with the shorter version of the absorbing event. How the late Georgian scribe will express the occurrence we do not yet know. Thus, perhaps: ‘What there is of cat is cat is what of cat there lying cat is what on what of mat laying cat.’ The reader will probably the margin with ‘Some cat!
In the dewy wood tinselled with bewildering moonlight, the bumbling, tumbling babies of the fairy creche trip over the hem of her dress, which is no more nor less than the margin of the wood itself; they stumble in the tangled grass as they play with the coneys, the quick brown fox-cubs, the russet fieldmice and the wee scraps of grey voles, blind velvet Mole and striped Brock with his questing snout - all the denizens of the woodland are her embroiderings, and the birds flutter round her head, settle on her shoulders and make their nests in her great abundance of disordered hair, in which are plaited poppies and ears of wheat.
At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues, even though he understood them little, held him in a spell, as soon as as he began to attend to them. Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above the seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. Then the enchantment became more and more dreamlike, until he felt that an endless river of swelling gold and silver was flowing over him, too multitudinous for its pattern to be comprehended; it became part of the throbbing air about him, and it drenched and drowned him. swiftly he sank under its shining weight into a deep realm of sleep.
There are three ways that men get what they want: by planning, by working, and by praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning or thinking. Then you must have well trained troops to carry it out: that's working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory; success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks. I call it God. God has His part or margin in everything. That's where prayer comes in.
You see all the other fellows were so active and earnest and all that sort of thing- always rampaging, and skirmishing, and scouring the desert sands, and pacing the margin of the sea, and chasing knights all over the place, and devouring damsels, and going on generally- whereas I liked to get my meals regular and then to prop my back against a bit of rock and snooze a bit, and wake up and think of things going on and how they kept going on just the same, you know!
There was a survey done a few years ago that affected me greatly. it was discovered that intelligent people either estimate their intelligence accurately or slightly underestimate themselves, but stupid people overestimate their intelligence and by huge margins. (And these were things like straight up math tests, not controversial IQ tests.)
Going public was a difficult decision, and I had misgivings. My subjective experience was now an objective fact in the wider world. It didn't belong to just me anymore - though I quickly learned that it hadn't belonged to just me in the first place. More than a million Americans and their families were going through the same thing; some openly, some in secret due to concerns of being misunderstood and marginalized.
Scientific education is based in the main on statistical truths and abstract knowledge and therefore imparts an unrealistic, rational picture of the world, in which the individual, as a merely marginal phenomenon, plays no role. The individual, however, as an irrational datum, is the true and authentic carrier of reality, the concrete man as opposed to the unreal ideal or “normal” man to whom the scientific statements refer.
For some people, the time differentials established in youth never really disappear: the elder remains the elder, even when both are dribbling greybeards. For some people, a gap of, say, five months means that one will perversely always think of himself--herself--as wiser and more knowledgeable than the other, whatever the evidence to the contrary. Or perhaps I should say because of the evidence to the contrary. Because it is perfectly clear to any objective observer that the balance has shifted to the marginally younger person, the other one maintains the assumption of superiority all the more rigorously. All the more neurotically.