The Notebooks
  • IT WAS THE GERMANS who invented mechanical clocks, these terrifying symbols of the flow of time, those sonorous chimes ring out by day and night from numerable towns in Western Europe, and which are perhaps the most gigantic expression that a historical attitude toward the world is capable of producing.
  • What meaning can the person of the superman have for the world of Islam?
  • Every day he used to put the gun on the table. When he had finished work, he would put his papers in order, put his head close to the revolver, place his forehead against it, roll his temples on it, cooling his hot, feverish cheeks against the cool metal. Then, for a long time, he would let his fingers wander along the trigger, playing with the safety catch, until the world grew silent about him, and, already half asleep, his whole being huddled down into the one sensation of this cold and salty metal from which could spring death.
    As soon as one does not kill oneself, one must keep silent about life. And, as he woke up, his mouth filled with an already bitter saliva, he licked the barrel, poking his tongue into it, and with a death rattle of infinite happiness said again and again in wonder and astonishment: "My joy is priceless."
  • The destiny of a culture is to produce a civilization. Thus Rome follows Athens. The Greek soul and Roman intelligence. In the classical world, culture becomes civilization in the fourth century, in the West in the nineteenth.
  • What we found moving was her way of hanging on to his clothes, of squeezing his arm when walking along with him, the complete trust with which she gave herself and which appealed to the man in him. There was also her silence, which made her coincide exactly with what she happened to be doing, and completed her resemblance to a cat, which was linked with the gravity she put into her kisses. . . .
    At night, he ran his fingers over her high and ice-cold cheekbones, and felt them sink into the soft warmth of her lips. Then he felt as if, somewhere within himself, a great, impersonal, and burning cry had been uttered. And as he stood watching both the night, laden to a bursting point with stars, and the town, like an upturned sky, swollen with human lights, the deep warm breath that rose from the port brought him a thirst for that lukewarm stream, a limitless desire to carry off from those living lips the whole meaning of the inhuman and sleeping world, as if it were a silence locked away within her mouth. He bent down, and it was as if he had placed his lips upon a bird. Marthe groaned. He bit into her lips, and, as their mouths clung together for minutes on end, breathed in that gentle warmth which carried him into ecstasy as if he were clasping the whole world in his arms. She, in the meantime, clinging to him like a drowning woman, flashed out from time to time from the great depths into which she had been thrown, thrust his lips away and then drew them to her again, falling back into the black and icy waters which burned her like a people of gods.
  • "The mistake," said M., "Is in thinking that you must choose, that you must do what you want and that there are conditions for happiness. Happiness either is or it isn't. It's the will to happiness which matters, a kind of vast, ever present awareness. Everything else --- women, art, worldly triumphs --- are just so many pretexts. An empty canvas for us to decorate."
  • --- Andre Malraux

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