It is not merely because it veers to the right rather than to the left that desire creates difficulties for human beings.Jacques Lacan (trans. Bruce Fink), Écrits, 636
We cannot confine ourselves to giving a new truth its rightful place, for the point is to take up our place in it. The truth requires us to go out of our way. We cannot do so by simply getting used to it. We get used to reality. The truth we repress.Jacques Lacan (trans. Bruce Fink), “The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious,” in Écrits, 433
Never give up on a dream just because of the length of time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.Anonymous
How hard it must be to live only with what one knows and what one remembers, cut off from what one hopes for! […] He realized the bleak sterility of a life without illusions. There can be no peace without hope.Albert Camus (trans. Stuart Gilbert), The Plague, 292
But what does that mean—’plague’? Just life, no more than that.Albert Camus (trans. Stuart Gilbert), The Plague, 307
What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest—health, integrity, purity (if you like)—is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention. And it needs tremendous will-power, a never ending tension of the mind, to avoid such lapses. Yes […] it’s a wearying business, being plague-stricken. But it’s still more wearying to refuse to be it. That’s why everybody in the world today looks so tired; everyone is more or less sick of plague. But that is also why some of us, those who want to get the plague out of their systems, feel such desperate weariness, a weariness from which nothing remains to set us free except death. Pending that release, I know I have no place in the world of today; once I’d definitely refused to kill, I doomed myself to an exile that can never end.Albert Camus (trans. Stuart Gilbert), The Plague, 253
When a war breaks out, people say: “It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.” But though a war may well be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.Albert Camus (trans. Stuart Gilbert), The Plague, 37
For lack of time and thinking, people have to love one another without knowing much about it.Albert Camus (trans. Stuart Gilbert), The Plague, 5
Blundering doesn’t work, except it does. It can’t lead you there, except it’s the only way to get there. I will go so far as to hazard that blundering might be generative, meaning that rooting around in a haystack long and fruitlessly enough could conceivably breed a needle.Kay Ryan, in "Specks"
It’s not so much what poems are, in themselves, but the infinitely larger optimism they offer by their intermittent twinkles: that beneath the little lights on their tiny masts, so far from one another, so lost to each other, there must be a single black sea. We could have no sense of the continuousness of the unknowable without these buoyant specks.
The poem is a space capsule in which impossible combinations feel casual. The body of the capsule is of necessity very strong to have broken out of gravity. It is the hard case for the frail experiments inside. Not frail in the wasted sense, but frail in the opposite sense: the brief visibility of the invisible.
—Kay Ryan, from "Specks" in Poetry (Sept 2013)