Monday, April 12, 2010

Quotation for the Day

I am a big fan of sharing striking quotations I come across in my reading. They tend to be drawn from a wide spectrum of sources. I wont agree with them all, but I find each interesting.

Quotation of the Day from Melville's Moby-Dick:

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"

This is such a nice reversal of the island imagery we find in Rousseau and Kant. Here is a bit of Kant:

"We have now not only traveled through the land of pure understanding, and carefully inspected each part of it, but we have also surveyed it, and determined the place for each thing in it. This land, however, is an island, and enclosed in unalterable boundaries by nature itself. It is the land of truth (a charming name), surrounded by a broad and stormy ocean, the true seat of illusion, where many a fog bank and rapidly melting iceberg pretend to be new lands and, ceaselessly deceiving with empty hopes the voyager looking around for new discoveries, entwine him in adventures from which he can never escape and yet also never bring to an end."


  1. The open sea - the real open sea, not a metaphor - makes me tremble.

    I love this passage. Just today I read this from Bataille's Inner Experience: "We are only totally laid bare by proceeding without trickery to the unknown....But the unknown demands in the end sovereignty without partition."

  2. I think I am going through a change in my relation to the sea. Always before I found the sea very comforting, probably because I grew up on the beach and on fishing boats. Recently, however, I have found myself haunted in dreams by the image of being alone at night in the middle of the ocean. I tread water and feel, really for the first time, the utter foreignness and threat of the sea. I think this fits fairly well with Bataille.