Unattainable Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 60 quotes )
At my age, one should be aware of one's limits, and this knowledge may make for happiness. When I was young, I thought of literature as a game of skillful and surprising variations; now that I have found my own voice, I feel that tinkering and tampering neither greatly improve nor greatly spoil my drafts. This, of course, is a sin against one of the main tendencies of letters in this century--the vanity of overwriting-- ... I suppose my best work is over. This gives me a certain quiet satisfaction and ease. And yet I do not feel I have written myself out. In a way, youthfulness seems closer to me today than when I was a young man. I no longer regard happiness as unattainable; once, long ago, I did. Now I know that it may occur at any moment but that it should never be sought after. As to failure or fame, they are quite irrelevant and I never bother about them. What I'm out for now is peace, the enjoyment of thinking and of friendship, and, though it may be too ambitious, a sense of loving and of being loved.
Lord Peter's library was one of the most delightful bachelor rooms in London. Its scheme was black and primrose; its walls were lined with rare editions, and its chairs and Chesterfield sofa suggested the embraces of the houris. In one corner stood a black baby grand, a wood fire leaped on a wide old-fashioned hearth, and the Svres vases on the chimneypiece were filled with ruddy and gold chrysanthemums. To the eyes of the young man who was ushered in from the raw November fog it seemed not only rare and unattainable, but friendly and familiar, like a colourful and gilded paradise in a medival painting
Distance... is like futurity. A dim vastness is spread before our souls; the perceptions of our mind are as obscure as those of our vision... But alas! when we have attained our object, when the distant 'there' becomes the present 'here,' all is changed; we are as poor and circumscribed as ever, and our souls still languish for unattainable happiness.
Every man that ever lived craved perfect happiness, the detective poignantly reflected. But how can we have it when we know we’re going to die? Each joy was clouded by the knowledge it would end. And so nature had implanted in us a desire for something unattainable? No. It couldn’t be. It makes no sense. Every other striving implanted by nature had a corresponding object that wasn’t a phantom. Why this exception? the detective reasoned. It was nature making hunger when there wasn’t any food. We continue. We go on. Thus death proved life.
Yet what happened in fact? In the middle of the night John woke up and saw me sleeping beside him with no doubt a look of peace on my face, even of bliss, bliss is not unattainable in this world. He saw me—saw me as I was at that moment—took fright, hurriedly strapped the armour back over his heart, this time with chains and a double padlock, and stole out into the darkness.
Our human tragedy is that we are unable to comprehend our experience, it slips through our fingers, we can't hold on to it, and the more time passes, the harder it gets...My father said that the natural world gave us explanations to compensate for the meanings we could not grasp. The slant of the cold sunlight on a winter pine, the music of water, an oar cutting the lake and the flight of birds, the mountains' nobility , the silence of the silence. We are given life but must accept that it is unattainable and rejoice in what can be held in the eye, the memory, the mind.
You think the end justifies the means, however vile. I tell you: the end is the means by which you achieve it. Today's step is tomorrow's life. Great ends cannot be attained by base means. You've proved that in all your social upheavals. The meanness and inhumanity of the means make you mean and inhuman and make the end unattainable.
Reality is a very subjective affair. I can only define it as a kind of gradual accumulation of information; and as specialization. If we take a lily, for instance, or any other kind of natural object, a lily is more real to a naturalist than it is to an ordinary person. But it is still more real to a botanist. And yet another stage of reality is reached with that botanist who is a specialist in lilies. You can get nearer and nearer, so to speak, to reality; but you never get near enough because reality is an infinite succession of steps, levels of perception, false bottoms, and hence unquenchable, unattainable. You can know more and more about one thing but you can never know everything about one thing: it’s hopeless. So that we live surrounded by more or less ghostly objects— that machine, there, for instance. It’s a complete ghost to me— I don’t understand a thing about it and, well, it’s a mystery to me, as much of a mystery as it would be to Lord Byron.
She was not happy--she never had been. Whence came this insufficiency in life--this instantaneous turning to decay of everything on which she leaned? But if there were somewhere a being strong and beautiful, a valiant nature, full at once of exaltation and refinement, a poet's heart in an angel's form, a lyre with sounding chords ringing out elegiac epithalamia to heaven, why, perchance, should she not find him? Ah! How impossible! Besides, nothing was worth the trouble of seeking it; everything was a lie. Every smile hid a yawn of boredom, every joy a curse, all pleasure satiety, and the sweetest kisses left upon your lips only the unattainable desire for a greater delight.
The values, first of all, of individual freedom, based upon the facts of human diversity and genetic uniqueness; the values of charity and compassion, based upon the old familiar fact, lately rediscovered by modern psychiatry - the fact that, whatever their mental and physical diversity, love is as necessary to human beings as food and shelter; and finally the values of intelligence, without which love is impotent and freedom unattainable.
The Love you have for what you're doing is actually the most important thing. Love is the only thing that's going to pull you through and get you to finish... but there is also a paradoxical and interesting fact: The thing you actually end up making is going to be such a failure compared to the original feeling that you had, the original vision that you had. If you finish and you find out that it's not a failure, it means that you didn't try hard enough, because when you really fall in love with something, you idealize it, and you develop a vision of it that's actually unattainable in reality. The feeling is so pure that you can't make a real thing that has that feeling and so you're inevitably going to be disappointed by it. And in some way, the depth of that disappointment is in direct correlation to how beautiful the vision was to begin with.
Sooner or later in life everyone discovers that perfect happiness is unrealizable, but there are few who pause to consider the antithesis: that perfect unhappiness is equally unattainable. The obstacles preventing the realization of both these extreme states are of the same nature: they derive from our human condition which is opposed to everything infinite.
Dreams, memories, the sacred--they are all alike in that they are beyond our grasp. Once we are even marginally separated from what we can touch, the object is sanctified; it acquires the beauty of the unattainable, the quality of the miraculous. Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch. How strange man is! His touch defiles and yet he contains the source of miracles.
I had set myself an unattainable ideal. Such human skill I could summon wasn’t enough for the job. I felt the suicidal despair of all who longed to do what they couldn’t, what only a few in each century could – whether blessed or cursed in spirit. No achievement was ever finite. There was no absolute summit. No peak of Everest to plant a flag on. Success was someone else’s opinion.
The limits of variation are really much wider than any one would imagine from the sameness of women's coiffure and the favourite love-stories in prose and verse. Here and there a cygnet is reared uneasily among the ducklings in the brown pond, and never finds the living stream in fellowship with its own oary-footed kind. Here and there is born a Saint Theresa, foundress of nothing, whose loving heart-beats and sobs after an unattained goodness tremble off and are dispersed among hindrances, instead of centering in some long-recognisable deed.