Quotes of the Day – Edith Wharton and Muriel Spark

Our culture is big on appearances. Do the right thing, say the right words, put your best foot forward. But at what point does your facade become your true face? No matter what you claim to feel on the inside, what you do with the outside is the tangible evidence of who you are. As Edith Wharton and Muriel Spark argue, in their inimitable fashion.

The worst of doing one’s duty was that it apparently unfitted one for doing anything else.
– Edith Wharton ‘The Age of Innocence’

She did not know then that the price of allowing false opinions was the gradual loss of one’s capacity for forming true ones.
– Muriel Spark ‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’

Quote of the Day – Muriel Spark

How’s this for some flat-out incredible description?

Unencumbered youth who swing and thread through the crowds like antelopes whose heads, invisibly antlered, are airborne high to sniff the prevailing winds, and who so appear to own the terrain beneath their feet that they never look at it.
–Muriel Spark (from ‘The Driver’s Seat’)

Quote of the Day – Abraham Lincoln

In honour of Lincoln’s birthday, a quote I misread at first

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.

I thought it said: when I feel good, I do good. When I feel bad, I do bad. That version makes a lot of sense. There is a streak of mean in Western culture born, I think, of too little attention to Jesus’ admonition to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 19:19) and too much reverence for blessing them that curse you (Matthew 5:44). Somewhere along the line the Church embraced the notion we should love everyone better than ourselves. After all, easy wins no brownie points with a fearsome God. To curry favour you have to suffer. Flagellation and hairshirts have gone out of style, but the self-abasing ideology of treating others better than we treat ourselves still has currency.

Which is idiotic. It isn’t just difficult to care about other peoples’ problems when neck-deep in your own, it is literally impossible. You might be able to feign interest, or force yourself to perform your social duties, but there won’t be a hole deep enough to bury your resentment. Anyway, how if you’re hurt, or struggling, how can you soothe pain or offer succor? Two drowners clinging together only sink faster.