Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
And here she was, an old woman now, living and hoping, keeping faith, afraid of evil, full of anxiety for the living and an equal concern for the dead; here she was, looking at the ruins of her home, admiring the spring sky without knowing that she was admiring it, wondering why the future of those she loved was so obscure and the past so full of mistakes, not realizing that this very obscurity and unhappiness concealed a strange hope and clarity, not realizing that in the depths of her soul she already knew the meaning of both her own life and the lives of her nearest and dearest, not realizing that even though neither she herself nor any of them could tell what was in store, even though they all knew only too well that at times like these no man can forge his own happiness and that fate alone has the power to pardon and chastise, to raise up to glory and to plunge into need, to reduce a man to labour- camp dust, nevertheless neither fate, nor history, nor the anger of the State, nor the glory or infamy of battle has any power to affect those who call themselves human beings. No, whatever life holds in store – hard-won glory, poverty and despair, or death in a labour camp – they will live as human beings and die as human beings, the same as those who have already perished; and in this alone lies man's eternal and bitter victory over all the grandiose and inhuman forces that ever have been or will be.
I pray that the world never runs out of dragons. I say that in all sincerity, though I have played a part in the death of one great wyrm. For the dragon is the quintessential enemy, the greatest foe, the unconquerable epitome of devastation. The dragon, above all other creatures, even the demons and the devils, evokes images of dark grandeur, of the greatest beast curled asleep on the greatest treasure hoard. They are the ultimate test of the hero and the ultimate fright of the child. They are older than the elves and more akin to the earth than the dwarves. The great dragons are the preternatural beast, the basic element of the beast, that darkest part of our imagination.The wizards cannot tell you of their origin, though they believe that a great wizard, a god of wizards, must have played some role in the first spawning of the beast. The elves, with their long fables explaining the creation of every aspect of the world, have many ancient tales concerning the origin of the dragons, but they admit, privately, that they really have no idea of how the dragons came to be.My own belief is more simple, and yet, more complicated by far. I believe that dragons appeared in the world immediately after the spawning of the first reasoning race. I do not credit any god of wizards with their creation, but rather, the most basic imagination wrought of unseen fears, of those first reasoning mortals.We make the dragons as we make the gods, because we need them, because, somewhere deep in our hearts, we recognize that a world without them is a world not worth living in.There are so many people in the land who want an answer, a definitive answer, for everything in life, and even for everything after life. They study and they test, and because those few find the answers for some simple questions, they assume that there are answers to be had for every question. What was the world like before there were people? Was there nothing but darkness before the sun and the stars? Was there anything at all? What were we, each of us, before we were born? And what, most importantly of all, shall we be after we die?Out of compassion, I hope that those questioners never find that which they seek.One self-proclaimed prophet came through Ten-Towns denying the possibility of an afterlife, claiming that those people who had died and were raised by priests, had, in fact, never died, and that their claims of experiences beyond the grave were an elaborate trick played on them by their own hearts, a ruse to ease the path to nothingness. For that is all there was, he said, an emptiness, a nothingness.Never in my life have I ever heard one begging so desperately for someone to prove him wrong.This is kind of what I believe right now… although, I do not want to be proved wrong…For what are we left with if there remains no mystery? What hope might we find if we know all of the answers?What is it within us, then, that so desperately wants to deny magic and to unravel mystery? Fear, I presume, based on the many uncertainties of life and the greatest uncertainty of death. Put those fears aside, I say, and live free of them, for if we just step back and watch the truth of the world, we will find that there is indeed magic all about us, unexplainable by numbers and formulas. What is the passion evoked by the stirring speech of the commander before the desperate battle, if not magic? What is the peace that an infant might know in its mother’s arms, if not magic? What is love, if not magic?No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.And that, I fear, for any reasoning, conscious being, would be the cruelest trick of all.-Drizzt Do’Urden
Catti-brie had to believe that now, recalling the scene in light of the drow's words. She had to believe that her love for Wulfgar had been real, very real, and not misplaced, that he was all she had thought him to be.Now she could. For the first time since Wulfgar's death, Cattie-brie could remember him without pangs of guilt, without the fears that, had he lived, she would not have married him. Because Drizzt was right; Wulfgar would have admitted the error despite his pride, and he would have grown, as he always had before. That was the finest quality of the man, an almost childlike quality, that viewed the world and his own life as getting better, as moving toward a better way in a better place.What followed was the most sincere smile on Cattie-brie's face in many, many months. She felt suddenly free, suddenly complete with her past, reconciled and able to move forward with her life.She looked at the drow, wide-eyed, with a curiosity that seemed to surprise Drizzt. She could go on, but what exactly did that mean?Slowly, Cattie-brie began shaking her head, and Drizzt came to understand that the movement had something to do with him. He lifted a slender hand and brushed some stray hair back from her cheek, his ebony skin contrasting starkly with her light skin, even in the quiet light of night."I do love you," the drow admitted. The blunt statement did not catch Catti-brie by surprise, not at all. "As you love me," Drizzt went on, easily, confident that his words were on the mark. "And I, too, must look ahead now, must find my place among my friends, beside you, without Wulfgar.""Perhaps in the future," Catti-brie said, her voice barely a whisper."Perhaps," Drizzt agreed. "But for now...""Friends," Catti-brie finished.Drizzt moved his hand back from her cheek, held it in the air before her face, and she reached up and clasped it firmly.Friends
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Perhaps real wisdom lies in not seeking answers at all. Any answer we find will not be true for long. An answer is a place where we can fall asleep as life moves past us to its next question. After all these years I have begun to wonder if the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.
To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings.We may seek, too, a relaxing of inhibitions that makes it easier to bond with each other, or transports that make our consciousness of time and mortality easier to bear. We seek a holiday from our inner and outer restrictions, a more intense sense of the here and now, the beauty and value of the world we live in.
We live in a modern society. Husbands and wives don'tgrow on trees, like in the old days. So wheredoes one find love? When you're sixteen it's easy, like being unleashed with a credit cardin a department store of kisses. There's the first kiss.The sloppy kiss. The peck.The sympathy kiss. The backseat smooch. The weshouldn't be doing this kiss. The but your lipstaste so good kiss. The bury me in an avalanche of tingles kiss.The I wish you'd quit smoking kiss.The I accept your apology, but you make me really madsometimes kiss. The I knowyour tongue like the back of my hand kiss. As you getolder, kisses become scarce. You'll be drivinghome and see a damaged kiss on the side of the road, with its purple thumb out. If youwere younger, you'd pull over, slide open the mouth'sred door just to see how it fits. Oh wheredoes one find love? If you rub two glances, you get a smile.Rub two smiles, you get a warm feeling.Rub two warm feelings and presto-you have a kiss. Now what? Don't invite the kiss overand answer the door in your underwear. It'll get suspiciousand stare at your toes. Don't water the kiss with whiskey. It'll turn bright pink and explode into a thousand luscious splinters, but in the morning it'll be ashamed and sneak out ofyour body without saying good-bye, and you'll remember that kiss forever by all the little cuts it lefton the inside of your mouth. You mustnurture the kiss. Turn out the lights. Notice how itilluminates the room. Hold it to your chestand wonder if the sand inside hourglasses comes from aspecial beach. Place it on the tongue's pillow, then look up the first recorded kiss in an encyclopedia: beneatha Babylonian olive tree in 1200 B.C.But one kiss levitates above all the others. Theintersection of function and desire. The I do kiss.The I'll love you through a brick wall kiss. Even when I'm dead, I'll swim through the Earth, like a mermaid of the soil, just to be next to your bones.
We live by revelation, as Christians, as artists, which means we must be careful never to get set into rigid molds. The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions, and we become smug like the Pharisee who listed all his considerable virtues, and thanked God that he was not like other men.Unamuno might be describing the artist as well as the Christian as he writes, "Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.
A thousand years from now nobody is going to know that you or I ever lived. The cynic is right, but lazy. He says ‘You live, you die and nothing you do will ever make a difference.’ But as long as I live, I’m going to be like Beethoven and shake my fist at fate and try to do something for those who live here now and who knows how far into the future that will go. If I accomplish nothing more than making my arm sore, at least I will be satisfied that I have lived.
What Kant took to be the necessary schemata of reality,' says a modern Freudian, 'are really only the necessary schemata of repression.' And an experimental psychologist adds that 'a sense of time can only exist where there is submission to reality.' To see everything as out of mere succession is to behave like a man drugged or insane. Literature and history, as we know them, are not like that; they must submit, be repressed. It is characteristic of the stage we are now at, I think, that the question of how far this submission ought to go--or, to put it the other way, how far one may cultivate fictional patterns or paradigms--is one which is debated, under various forms, by existentialist philosophers, by novelists and anti-novelists, by all who condemn the myths of historiography. It is a debate of fundamental interest, I think, and I shall discuss it in my fifth talk.Certainly, it seems, there must, even when we have achieved a modern degree of clerical scepticism, be some submission to the fictive patterns. For one thing, a systematic submission of this kind is almost another way of describing what we call 'form.' 'An inter-connexion of parts all mutually implied'; a duration (rather than a space) organizing the moment in terms of the end, giving meaning to the interval between tick and tock because we humanly do not want it to be an indeterminate interval between the tick of birth and the tock of death. That is a way of speaking in temporal terms of literary form. One thinks again of the Bible: of a beginning and an end (denied by the physicist Aristotle to the world) but humanly acceptable (and allowed by him to plots). Revelation, which epitomizes the Bible, puts our fate into a book, and calls it the book of life, which is the holy city. Revelation answers the command, 'write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter'--'what is past and passing and to come'--and the command to make these things interdependent. Our novels do likewise. Biology and cultural adaptation require it; the End is a fact of life and a fact of the imagination, working out from the middle, the human crisis. As the theologians say, we 'live from the End,' even if the world should be endless. We need ends and kairoi and the pleroma, even now when the history of the world has so terribly and so untidily expanded its endless successiveness. We re-create the horizons we have abolished, the structures that have collapsed; and we do so in terms of the old patterns, adapting them to our new worlds. Ends, for example, become a matter of images, figures for what does not exist except humanly. Our stories must recognize mere successiveness but not be merely successive; Ulysses, for example, may be said to unite the irreducible chronos of Dublin with the irreducible kairoi of Homer. In the middest, we look for a fullness of time, for beginning, middle, and end in concord.For concord or consonance really is the root of the matter, even in a world which thinks it can only be a fiction. The theologians revive typology, and are followed by the literary critics. We seek to repeat the performance of the New Testament, a book which rewrites and requites another book and achieves harmony with it rather than questioning its truth. One of the seminal remarks of modern literary thought was Eliot's observation that in the timeless order of literature this process is continued. Thus we secularize the principle which recurs from the New Testament through Alexandrian allegory and Renaissance Neo-Platonism to our own time. We achieve our secular concords of past and present and future, modifying the past and allowing for the future without falsifying our own moment of crisis. We need, and provide, fictions of concord.
He asked me innocently, what then had brought me to his home, and without a minutes hesitation I told him an astounding lie. A lie which was later to prove a great truth. I told him I was only pretending to sell the encyclopedia in order to meet people and write about them. That interested him enormously, even more than the encyclopedia. He wanted to know what I would write about him, if I could say.It's taken me twenty years to answer that question, but here it is. If you would still like to know, John Doe of the city of Bayonne, this is it. I owe you a great deal, because after that lie I told you, I left your house and I tore up the prospectus furnished me by The Encyclopedia Britannica and I threw it in the gutter. I said to myself I will never again go to people under false pretenses, even if is to give them the Holy Bible. I will never again sell anything, even if I have to starve. I am going home now and I will sit down and really write about people and if anybody knocks at my door to sell me something, I will invite him in and say "Why are you doing this?" and if he says it is because he needs to make a living I will offer him what money I have and beg him once again to think what he is doing. I want to prevent as many men as possible from pretending that they have to do this or that because they must earn a living. It is not true. One can starve to death, it is much better. Every man who voluntarily starves to death jams another cog in the automatic process. I would rather see a man take a gun and kill his neighbor in order to get the food he needs than keep up the automatic process by pretending that he has to earn a living. That's what I want to say, Mr John Doe.
One of the questions I have been asked many times since this story broke is this: Now that the facts are out there, what can we do? My answer, depressing and cynical as it may be, is always the same. Not much. Not now. And certainly not until the American public and its Congressional representatives regain control of the CIA and shred the curtain of secrecy that keeps us from discovering these crimes of state until its too late.Perhaps when the government officials who presided over these outrages are safely in their crypts, and their apologists and cheerleaders are buried woth them, future historians can finally call these men to account for the miseries they caused. Even if that's all that ever happens, it will be fitting and just, because the favorable judgment of history is ultimately what they craved.
I had a dream about you. It's been a while since I could remember any of my dreams, and still, this one has left me with such strong impression. Even now, when I am fully awake, your face flashes before my eyes. It's a face I can totally relate to, as if it wasn't any more yours than it is mine. Terrifying thing, you know? I can't say I've felt that sort of intimacy with anyone. For a moment you knew all my secrets, without me even having to tell them. For a moment I even knew them myself…While I was looking into your eyes, I suddenly started to realize things about myself that were unspoken for years, like fragments of my inner life that were deeply repressed. It’s hard to distinguish if they were buried inside because dealing with them was such a dirty work, or if leaving them unnamed meant that it was not possible to define them precisely enough, so they would keep their true meaning. Perhaps, all this life that I've known so far was in fact no more but a dream about living. The only thing that has kept me in touch with reality was you…I know it comes as a surprise, and you may be wondering why it took me so long to come clean. You also may be wondering how come you've never noticed before. I've tricked you on purpose, yes, and you must realize it really has nothing to do with you. It’s always been me. This is why, seeing you in my dream like that, came out as a shock. You also must forgive me. You must forgive me because I know how it looks like, that everything we ever shared was a lie, and it wasn't…I am more of an illusionist that a deceiver, but it all comes from being in fact, a very private person. Even if it was true that you knew me better than anyone, I’d never admit it. I’d rather dig my own heart out, with a rotten spoon, than admitting it. I may let people in my own little world occasionally, but I would never let them be aware of it. I don’t throw my intimacy in front of others, especially when I care. The more I care, the less I give away, and this is something for you to understand, and grant me your forgiveness. I didn't play my tricks on you in order to deceive you, but rather to save myself, and maybe even deceive myself as well. I’ve had hidden my feelings for you so deeply that I've learned to live with them, as if any other casualty. I have done wrong to myself as much as I did to you, and I don’t know if I can forgive myself. So now I wonder, could you forgive me without feeling sorry for me? I certainly don’t deserve your pity. Especially not now that I am awake.
The goal is not to answer these questions. The goal is to be present to them with all that we are. In a way we are following the poet Rilke's advice when he counseled the young artist, "be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along into the answer.