Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.
To think better, to think like the best humans, we are probably going to have to learn again to judge a person’s intelligence, not by the ability to recite facts, but by the good order or harmoniousness of his or her surroundings. We must suspect that any statistical justification of ugliness and violence is a revelation of stupidity.
―Wendell Berry, “People, Land, and Community”, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
Few minds are spacious; few even have an empty place in them or can offer some vacant point. Almost all have narrow capacities and are filled by some knowledge that blocks them up. What a torture to talk to filled heads, that allow nothing from the outside to enter them! A good mind, in order to enjoy itself and allow itself to enjoy others, always keeps itself larger than its own thoughts. And in order to do this, these thoughts must be given a pliant form, must be easily folded and unfolded, so that they are capable, finally, of maintaining a natural flexibility.
―Joseph Joubert, The Notebooks of Joseph Joubert
I was helpless in trying to return people’s kindness, but alswo helpless to resist it. Kindness is a scarier force than cruelty, that’s for sure. Cruelty isn’t that hard to understand. I had no trouble comprehending why the phone company wanted to screw me over; they just wanted to steal some money, it was nothing personal. That’s the way of the world. It made me mad, but it didn’t make me feel stupid. If anything, it flattered my intelligence. Accepting all that kindness, though, made me feel stupid.
Fred Stone and David Montgomery as Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman, 1902 Public Domain Image
“All the same,” said the Scarecrow, “I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.” “I shall take the heart,” returned the Tin Woodman; “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.”
A face that has the marks of having lived intensely, that expresses some phase of life, some dominant quality or intellectual power, constitutes for me an interesting face. For this reason the face of an older person, perhaps not beautiful in the strictest sense, is usually more appealing than the face of a younger person who has scarcely been touched by life.
Inspiration comes unawares, from unaccountable sources that have nothing to do with planning or intelligence. Let it cool ever so slightly, and you are left, pen or brush in hand, with no inspiration at all. Gifted people need not, therefore, make a song and dance about being or supposing themselves superior. They simply happened to be born with that fortunate, subconscious equipment of theirs, and the mystery exists independently of intelligence or ambition.
― Maurice Chevalier, Bravo Maurice!: A compilation from the autobiographical writings of Maurice Chevalier