"Maybe it’s not, in the end, the virtue of others that so wrenches our hearts as it is the sense of almost unbearably poignant recognition when we see them at their most base, in their sorrow and gluttony and foolishness. You need the virtues, too — some sort of virtues — but we don’t care about Emma Bovary or Anna Karenina or Raskolnikov because they’re good. We care about them because they’re not admirable, because they’re us, and because great writers have forgiven them for it."
"Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads - at least that’s where I imagine it - there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library."
"What more could I have done when I did not know that to love is both to seek and to be sought? For me love was nothing but a dialogue of little riddles, with no answers given. As my spirit of adoration, I never even imagined it to be a thing that required some sort of answer."
Distant Sound of Deer (18th century) by Fukuda Teruhisa
For the meaning of any beautiful created thing is, at least, as much in the soul of him who looks at it, as it was in his soul who wrought it.
— Oscar Wilde, the Critic as Artisit
"steam locomotives billowing black filth, scheming widows in pillbox hats with lace netting, a city outside the boundaries of time suffocated by a fog that will not lift, street urchins, sea urchins, public lives and private lives, the ominous gong of scandal and the ubiquitous gong of the clock-towers, nefarious ‘understanding’s, clotted cream and peat moss, country houses, manipulative gentlemen in moth-eaten morning coats, frozen marriages, byronic heroes, fainting couches as the centrepieces of burgundy drawing-rooms, professional eavesdroppers and persuasive coat-tail-clingers, black markets, grey morals, white lips"
"The world I am now in is one of diseased nerves, lucid as ice. Such voluntary death must give us peace, if not happiness. Now that I am ready, I find nature more beautiful than ever, paradoxical as this may sound. I have seen, loved, and understood more than others. In this at least I have a measure of satisfaction, despite all the pain I have thus far had to endure."