Later, when I stood in front of an altar waving incense, I would remember standing in front of the bar at Dante’s waving cigarette smoke out of my face, and the exact same feeling of tenderness would wash over me, because the people in both places were so much alike. We were all seeking company, meaning, solace, self-forgetfulness. Whether we found those things or not, it was the seeking that led us to find each other in the cloud even when we had nothing else in common. Sometimes I wondered if it even mattered if our communion cups were filled with consecrated wine or draft beer, as long as we bent over them long enough to recognize each other as kin.
We will be able to depart this life with the quiet peace-giving notion, that we were permitted to contribute to the happiness of many who will live after us. In our long lives we endeavored to unfold the collective consciousness. In our lives we have known hell and heaven; the final balance, however, is that we helped pave the way to dynamic harmony in this earthly house. That, I believe, is the meaning of life.
There is something beautiful about a blank canvas, the nothingness of the beginning that is so simple and breathtakingly pure. It’s the paint that changes its meaning and the hand that creates the story. Every piece begins the same, but in the end they are all uniquely different.
I thought of that lost book and all the memories it held and how it was just one of millions of objects in the world loaded with secret history which pass hands until eventually they excite nothing more than mild curiosity or, often, complete apathy. It was like all the sadness and loneliness of life resided in these objects. I realised the moment anything loses its context it becomes a husk.
When I felt I was dying, these past few days, things were no longer anthropomorphic. The telephone, which looks like a sort of upturned black snake, was merely a telephone. Every thing was just a thing. The couch, which looked like a big square face drawn by Rubens, with buttons on the cover like wicked little eyes, was just a couch, rather shabby but nothing more. At such a time things don’t matter to you; you don’t bathe everything in your presence, like an amoeba. Things become innocent because you draw away from them; experience becomes virginal, as it was for the first man when he saw the valleys and the plains. You feel you are set in a tidy world: that is a door and it behaves like a door, that is white and behaves like white. What heaven: the symbolism of meanings loses all meaning. You see objects which are comforting because they are quite free. But suddenly you are flung into a new form of suffering because, when you come to miss the meaning of, say, a stool, reality suddenly becomes terrifying. Everything becomes monstrous, unattainable.
― Federico Fellini, Fellini On Fellini
Retombante Stool, Public Domain Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The truth beyond the fetish’s glimmering mirage is the relationship of laborer to product; it is the social account of how that object came to be. In this view every commodity, beneath the mantle of its price tag, is a hieroglyph ripe for deciphering, a riddle whose solution lies in the story of the worker who made it and the conditions under which it was made.
― Leah Hager Cohen, Glass, Paper, Beans: Revolutions on the Nature and Value of Ordinary Things
Why, for example, do the great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Because surprise is merely an instrument of the unusual, whereas anticipation of a consequence enlarges our understanding of what is happening.
To love is to be selfless. To be selfless is to be fearless. To be fearless is to strip enemies of their greatest weapon. Even if they break our bodies and drain our blood, we are unvanquished. Our goal was never to live; our goal is to love.