Pursuing the Beautiful

The better you come to know something you love in itself, the better you understand how it differs from everything else, how it does something that has never been done before. but the better you understand that, the more other things you need to know in order to compare them to what you love and to distinguish it from them. and the better you know those things, the more likely you are to find that some of them, too, are beautiful, which will start you all over again in an ever-widening circle of new communities and new things to say. it is a dangerous game, pursuing the beautiful. you may never be able to stop.

Alexander Nehamas, An Essay on Beauty and Judgment

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A Natural Photographer

The way i see is comparable to the way musicians hear, something extra sensory. not judgmental. i don’t differentiate between an idea of what is beautiful and what is not. what i see is a reaffirmation of the many things i need to feel. it has to do with obsessive qualities, not explainable. i am a natural photographer. it is my language, i speak through my photographs more intricately, more deeply than with words.

Richard Avedon

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So Much Beauty

I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die.
First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all; it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time…
For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars…
And yellow leaves, from the maple trees that lined my street…
Or my grandmother’s hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper…
And the first time I saw my cousin Tony’s brand new Firebird…
And Janie…
And Janie…
And… Carolyn.
I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst…
…and then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life…
You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry…
You will someday.

American Beauty

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Take This Waltz

Now in Vienna there’s ten pretty women
There’s a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There’s a lobby with nine hundred windows
There’s a tree where the doves go to die
There’s a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws
Oh I want you, I want you, I want you
On a chair with a dead magazine
In the cave at the tip of the lily
In some hallways where love’s never been
On a bed where the moon has been sweating
In a cry filled with footsteps and sand
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take its broken waist in your hand

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
With its very own breath of brandy and Death
Dragging its tail in the sea

There’s a concert hall in Vienna
Where your mouth had a thousand reviews
There’s a bar where the boys have stopped talking
They’ve been sentenced to death by the blues
Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture
With a garland of freshly cut tears?
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz it’s been dying for years

There’s an attic where children are playing
Where I’ve got to lie down with you soon
In a dream of Hungarian lanterns
In the mist of some sweet afternoon
And I’ll see what you’ve chained to your sorrow
All your sheep and your lilies of snow
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
With its “I’ll never forget you, you know!”

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz …

And I’ll dance with you in Vienna
I’ll be wearing a river’s disguise
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder,
My mouth on the dew of your thighs
And I’ll bury my soul in a scrapbook,
With the photographs there, and the moss
And I’ll yield to the flood of your beauty
My cheap violin and my cross
And you’ll carry me down on your dancing
To the pools that you lift on your wrist
Oh my love, Oh my love
Take this waltz, take this waltz
It’s yours now. It’s all that there is.

Leonard Cohen

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What Is A Saint?

What is a saint? a saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. it is impossible to say what that possibility is. i think it has something to do with the energy of love. contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. a saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. i do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. it is a kind of balance that is his glory. he rides the drifts like an escaped ski. his course is the caress of the hill. his track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. his house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. he can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. it is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.

L. Cohen, Beautiful Losers (1966)

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The Revolution

I will destroy the existing order of things which divides mankind into hostile nations, into strong and weak, into those with rights and those without, into rich and poor, for this order simply makes wretches of all. I will destroy the order of things which makes millions into slaves of the few, and these few into slaves of their own paper and their own wealth. I will destroy this order of things which divides work from enjoyment, which makes work a burden and enjoyment a vice, and renders one man miserable through want and the other miserable through excess. I will destroy this order of things which consumes men’s strength in the service of the dominion of the dead, of lifeless matter which keeps half of mankind inactive or engaged in useless activity, which compels hundreds of thousands to devote the flower of their youth in busy indolence to the preservation of this damnable state of affairs as soldiers, officials, speculators and financiers, while the other half has to sustain the whole shameful edifice at the cost of the exhaustion of their powers and the sacrifice of any enjoyment of life. I will wipe from the face of the earth every trace of this crazy order of things, this compact of violence, lies, worry, hypocrisy, poverty, misery, suffering, tears, deceit and crime which fathers an occasional burst of impure lust, but almost never a ray of pure joy.

Richard Wagner (German Composer), The Revolution

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God’s Omnipotence

The truths of mathematics…were established by god and entirely depend on him, as much as do all the rest of his creatures. …you will be told that if god established these truths he would be able to change them, as a king does his laws; to which it is necessary to reply that this is correct…in general we can be quite certain that god can do whatever we are able to understand, but not that he cannot do what we are unable to understand. for it would be presumptuous to think our imagination extends as far as his power.

Rene Descartes

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