Precipice Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 57 quotes )
There is a sacred horror about everything grand. It is easy to admire mediocrity and hills; but whatever is too lofty, a genius as well as a mountain, an assembly as well as a masterpiece, seen too near, is appalling. Every summit seems an exaggeration. Climbing wearies. The steepnesses take away one's breath; we slip on the slopes, we are hurt by the sharp points which are its beauty; the foaming torrents betray the precipices, clouds hide the mountain tops; mounting is full of terror, as well as a fall. Hence, there is more dismay than admiration. People have a strange feeling of aversion to anything grand. They see abysses, they do not see sublimity; they see the monster, they do not see the prodigy.
But in truth, the world is constantly shifting: shape and size, location in space. It's got edges and chasms, too many to count. They open up, close, reappear somewhere else. Geologists nay have mapped out the planet's tectonic plates -hidden shelves of rock that grind, one against the other, forming mountains, creating continents - but thy can't plot the fault lines that run through our heads, divide out hearts. The map of the world is always changing; sometimes it happens overnight. All it takes is the blink of an eye, the squeeze of a trigger, a sudden gust of wind. Wake up and your life is perched on a precipice; fall asleep, it swallows you whole
There must be another life, she thought, sinking back into her chair, exasperated. Not in dreams; but here and now, in this room, with living people. She felt as if she were standing on the edge of a precipice with her hair blown back; she was about to grasp something that just evaded her. There must be another life, here and now, she repeated. This is too short, too broken. We know nothing, even about ourselves.
In the instant before the door opened, I could almost sense my life expanding just like a river whose waters have begun to swell; for I had never before taken such a drastic step to change the course of my own future. I was like a child tiptoeing along a precipice overlooking the sea. And yet somehow I hadn't imagined a great wave might come and strike me there, and wash everything away.
Now, I did know a certain young lady of the 'romantic' generation of not so long ago who, after being mysteriously in love for several years with a certain gentleman whom she could have married at any time without the least difficulty, suddenly broke off their relationship, inventing for herself all manner of insurmountable obstacles, and one stormy night plunged from a high, precipitous cliff into a fairly deep and fast-flowing river, where she perished from her own caprice solely through her attempt to imitate Shakespeare's Ophelia, for, had the precipice, which she had long before singled out and been compulsively drawn to, been less picturesque, and had there been only a prosaically flat bank in its stead, perhaps there would have been no suicide at all.
Across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword. On one side all is correct, definite, orderly; the paths are straight, the trees regular, the sun shaded; escorted by gentlemen, protected by policemen, wedded and buried by clergymen, she has only to walk demurely from cradle to grave and no one will touch a hair of her head. But on the other side all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course. The paths wind between bogs and precipices; the trees roar and rock and fall in ruin.
I know a rock in a highland's ravine, On which only eagles might ever be seen, But a black wooden cross o'er a precipice reigns, It rots and it ages from tempests and rains. And many years have gone without any hints, From times when it was seen from faraway hills. And its every arm is raised up to the sky, As if catching clouds or going to fly. Oh, if I were able to rise there and stay, Then how I'd cry there and how I'd pray; And then I would throw off real life's chains. And live as a brother of tempests and rains!
What precipices are sloth and pleasure! To do nothing is a sorry resolve to take; are you aware of that? To live in indolence on the goods of others, to be useless, that is to say, injurious! This leads straight to the depths of misery. Woe to the man who would be a parasite! He will become vermin! Ah, it does not please you to work! Ah, you have but one thought--to drink well, to eat well, and sleep well. You will drink water; you will eat black bread; you will sleep on a plank, with fetters riveted to your limbs, and you will feel their cold touch at night on your flesh!
As he looked up at the clouds or down at the precipice, he realized that this woman was the most important thing in his life; that she was the explanation, the sole reason for the existence of those rocks, that sky, that winter. If she were not there with him, it wouldn't matter if all the angels of heaven came flying down to comfort him--Paradise would make no sense.
Another hour it would come streaming through the Golden Gate to shroud the romantic city in white, and a young man would hold his girl by the hand and climb slowly up a long white sidewalk with a bottle of Tokay in his pocket. That was Frisco; and beautiful women standing in white doorways, waiting for their men; and Coit Tower, and the Embarcadero, and Market Street, and the eleven teeming hills. I spun around till I was dizzy; I thought I'd fall down as in a dream, clear off the precipice. Oh where is the girl I love? I thought, and looked everywhere, as I had looked everywhere in the little world below. And before me was the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent; somewhere far across, gloomy, crazy New York was throwing up its cloud of dust and brown steam. There is something brown and holy about the East; and California is white like washlines and emptyheaded -- at least that's what I thought then.
Suppressing the fear of death makes it all the stronger. The point is only to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that "I" and all other "things" now present will vanish, until this knowledge compels you to release them - to know it now as surely as if you had just fallen off the rim of the Grand Canyon. Indeed you were kicked off the edge of a precipice when you were born, and it's no help to cling to the rocks falling with you. If you are afraid of death, be afraid. The point is to get with it, to let it take over - fear, ghosts, pains, transience, dissolution, and all. And then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise; you don't die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are.
If you choose to believe me, good. Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made. There is a precipice between two steep mountains: the city is over the void, bound to the two crests with ropes and chains and catwalks. You walk on the little wooden ties, careful not to set your foot in the open spaces, or you cling to the hempen strands. Below there is nothing for hundreds and hundreds of feet: a few clouds glide past; farther down you can glimpse the chasm's bed. This is the foundation of the city: a net which serves as passage and as support. All the rest, instead of rising up, is hung below: rope ladders, hammocks, houses made like sacks, clothes hangers, terraces like gondolas, skins of water, gas jets, spits, baskets on strings, dumb-waiters, showers, trapezes and rings for children's games, cable cars, chandeliers, pots with trailing plants. Suspended over the abyss, the life of Octavia's inhabitants is less uncertain than in other cities. They know the net will only last so long.
Consider how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down in the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist's arm-chair and confuse his "Rinse the mouth-rinse the mouth" with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us - when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature
When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong - faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it's to late.
The light. The light is so bright that all that remains is you and the darkness. You can feel the audience breathing. It's like holding a gun or standing on a precipice and knowing you must jump. It feels slow and fast. It's like dying and being born and fucking and crying. It's like falling in love and being utterly alone with God; you taste your own mouth and feel your own skin and I knew I was alive and I knew who I was and that that wasn't who I'd been up till then. I'd been so far away but I knew I was home.
You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?