Month: April 2020

“It is not the perfect, but the imperfect, who have need of love. It is when we are wounded by our own hands, or by the hands of others, that love should come to cure us—else what use is love at all? All sins, except a sin against itself, Love should forgive. All lives, save loveless lives, true Love should pardon.” – Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

“Life cannot be understood without much charity, cannot be lived without much charity. It is love, and not German philosophy, that is the true explanation of this world, whatever may be the explanation of the next.” – Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

“I tell you that there are terrible temptations that it requires strength, strength and courage, to yield to. To stake all one’s life on a single moment, to risk everything on one throw, whether the stake be power or pleasure, I care not—there is no weakness in that. There is a horrible, a terrible courage.” – Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

“We have lost the symbolic value of the family meal; our festal days no longer remind us of human continuity or a vie antérieure common to all, but are monstrously corrupted and humiliated by a consumer society. The institutions we have devised to make daily life more harmonious continue to impose themselves as obstacles between feeling and value. We live with objects so secularised that we can only suppose behind them a void, an absence. The first result is that increasingly meaning becomes not a natural aura surrounding objects, events, and relationships but the work of will, spasmodic and synthetic. Meaning is invented, instigated, and produced by an imagination determined upon that labour.” – Denis Donoghue, The Sovereign Ghost

“It is not the purpose of imagination to act as cheerleader for the spirit of the age but to find or make a place in aesthetic forms for values which the spirit of the age cannot even recognise. Increasingly, fundamental values must be apprehended as living beneath or beyond the structure of needs and drives which, in a consumer society, constitutes normal life. There are values so alien to those of any actual society that they can be sustained only in effigy as the virtualities of artistic form: this is the role of form, to preserve as fundamental truths the values which are otherwise homeless. So it is that the artist has been driven into the position of writing against time in the desperate hope of redeeming time.” – Denis Donoghue, The Sovereign Ghost

“Writers accept the limitation of words at least in theory, though they struggle to circumvent it in practice; they know that words serve two masters, the purity of the work of art and the impurity of common use. Words used with pure intention drag impure allegiance into the sanctuary of art; there is no help for this situation. The novelist makes his fiction, and the normal means is by reciting a story, because stories, like lives, are temporal and they must begin and end. If he wants something more subtle, the novelist secretes it in the texture of his story. In return for the story, the available part of fiction, the novelist claims the right to qualify his report, insinuating doubts and hesitations where the story would run boldly from one episode to the next.” – Denis Donoghue, The Sovereign Ghost

“The essential power of imagination, the quality of spirit, is the power of making fictions and making sense of life by that means. Fiction is the most available form of freedom, freedom of feeling and action.” – Denis Donoghue, The Sovereign Ghost

“The true business of literature, as of all intellect, critical or creative, is to remind the powers that be, simple and corrupt as they are, of the turbulence they have to control.” – R. P. Blackmur, The Lion and the Honeycomb

“Some men and women, indeed, there are who can live on smiles and the word ‘yes’ forever. But for others (indeed for most) this is too tepid and relaxed a moral climate. Passive happiness is slack and insipid, and soon grows mawkish and intolerable. Some austerity and wintry negativity, some roughness, danger, stringency, and effort, some ‘no! no!’ must be mixed in, to produce the sense of an existence with character and texture and power.” – William James, Varieties of Religious Experience

“There is the same world for all of us, and good and evil, sin and innocence, go through it hand in hand. To shut one’s eyes to half of life that one may live securely is as though one blinded oneself that one might walk with more safety in a land of pit and precipice.” – Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan