The Alexandria Quartet
The Alexandria Quartet
- Author: [[Lawrence Durrell]]
- Full Title: The Alexandria Quartet
- Category: #books
- As for me I am neither happy nor unhappy; I lie suspended like a hair or a feather in the cloudy mixtures of memory. I spoke of the uselessness of art but added nothing truthful about its consolations.
- I suppose the secret of his success is his tremendous idleness, which almost approaches the supernatural.
- Anything pressed too far becomes a sin.
- We are the children of our landscape; it dictates behaviour and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it. I can think of no better identification. ‘Your doubt, for example, which contains so much anxiety and such a thirst for an absolute truth, is so different from the scepticism of the Greek, from the mental play of the Mediterranean mind with its deliberate resort to sophistry as part of the game of thought; for you thought is a weapon, a theology.’ ‘But how else can action be judged?’ ‘It cannot be judged comprehensively until thought itself can be judged, for our thoughts themselves are acts. It is an attempt to make partial judgements upon either that leads to misgivings.’
- ‘Idle’ she writes ‘to imagine falling in love as a correspondence of minds, of thoughts; it is a simultaneous firing of two spirits engaged in the autonomous act of growing up. And the sensation is of something having noiselessly exploded inside each of them. Around this event, dazed and preoccupied, the lover moves examining his or her own experience; her gratitude alone, stretching away towards a mistaken donor, creates the illusion that she communicates with her fellow, but this is false. The loved object is simply one that has shared an experience at the same moment of time, narcissistically; and the desire to be near the beloved object is at first not due to the idea of possessing it, but simply to let the two experiences compare themselves, like reflections in different mirrors. All this may precede the first look, kiss, or touch; precede ambition, pride or envy; precede the first declarations which mark the turning point — for from here love degenerates into habit, possession, and back to loneliness.’
- ‘This is nothing of medical interest — a small chill. Diseases are not interested in those who want to die.’
- A city becomes a world when one loves one of its inhabitants.
- ‘We are all hunting for rational reasons for believing in the absurd.’
- ‘Ah! my dear, after all the work of the philosophers on his soul and the doctors on his body, what can we say we really know about man? That he is, when all is said and done, just a passage for liquids and solids, a pipe of flesh.’
- To the Cartesian proposition: “I think, therefore I am”, he opposed his own, which must have gone something like this: “I imagine, therefore I belong and am free”.’
- Justine was copying into her diary the terrible aphorisms of Herakleitos. The book lies beside me now. On one page she has written: ‘It is hard to fight with one’s heart’s desire; whatever it wishes to get, it purchases at the cost of soul.’
- I knew he was unhappy; even had he not been he would have felt obliged to simulate unhappiness. All artists today are expected to cultivate a little fashionable unhappiness. And being Anglo-Saxon there was a touch of maudlin self-pity and weakness which made him drink a bit.
- ‘For years one has to put up with the feeling that people do not care, really care, about one; then one day with growing alarm, one realizes that it is God who does not care: and not merely that he does not care, he does not care one way or the other’).
- ‘One needs a tremendous ignorance to approach God. I have always known too much, I suppose.’
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- I meant of course the whole portentous scrimmage of sex itself, the act of penetration which could lead a man to despair for the sake of a creature with two breasts and le croissant as the picturesque Levant slang has it.