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Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong. And who really can forget the past? What else is there to know?

Robert M Pirsig, ‘Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance’

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.

DH Lawrence, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’

When a man invents an image that he wants to propagate, that he may even want to substitute for himself, he starts by experimenting, making mistakes, sketching out freaks and other non-viable monsters that he has to tear up unless they disintegrate of their own accord. But the operative image is the one that’s left after the person dies or withdraws from the world, as in the case of Socrates, Christ, Saladin, Saint-Just and so on. They succeeded in projecting an image around themselves and into the future. It doesn’t matter whether or not the image corresponds to what they were really like: they managed to wrest a powerful image from that reality.

Jean Genet, ‘Prisoner Of Love’

Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.

China Miéville, ‘The Scar’

It is remarkable how a man cannot summarize his thoughts in even the most general sort of way without betraying himself completely, without putting his whole self into it, quite unawares, presenting as if in allegory the basic themes and problems of his life.

Thomas Mann, ‘The Magic Mountain’

But the ominous thing in the crow’s flight, the bare-faced, bandit thing, the tattered beggarly gipsy thing, the caressing and shaping yet slightly clumsy gesture of the down-stroke, as if the wings were both too heavy and too powerful, and the headlong sort of merriment, the macabre pantomime ghoulishness and the undertaker sleekness – you could go on for a very long time with phrases of that sort and still have completely missed your instant, glimpse knowledge of the world of the crow’s wingbeat.

Ted Hughes, ‘Poetry In The Making’

“It’s nothing to do with eternity,” said Shevek, grinning, a thin shaggy man of silver and shadow. “All you have to do to see life as a whole is to see it as mortal. I’ll die, you’ll die; how could we love each other otherwise? The sun’s going to burn out, what else keeps it shining?”

Ursula Le Guin, ‘The Dispossessed’

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

F Scott Fitzgerald, ‘The Great Gatsby’

Oh prisoners, harken unto me! I deliver you from your science, your formulas, your laws, from that bondage of the spirit, from that determinism which is more obdurate than fate. I am the cleft in the armour-plating. I am the loophole in the prison. I am the error in the calculation. I am life.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, ‘Southern Mail’