“I have heard that in some debating clubs there is a rule that the members may discuss anything except religion and politics. I cannot imagine what they do discuss; but it is quite evident that they have ruled out the only two subjects which are either important or amusing.” — G. K. Chesterton, Introduction to Dickens’ Hard Times

Lowry, L. S. The Old Town Hall and St Hilda’s Church, Middlesbrough. 1959. Oil on canvas.

To be, or not to be

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep —
No more — and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep:
To sleep, perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay, 
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all:
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn away,
And lose the name of action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia.— Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
— William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Act 3, Scene 1.

Abbey, Edwin Austin. “The Play Scene in Hamlet.” 1897.

“la luz no absuelve ni condena,
no es justa ni es injusta.”
– Octavio Paz, “La Vista, El Tacto”

“the light does not absolve or condemn,
it is neither just nor unjust.”
– Octavio Paz, “Sight and Touch”

“αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις, ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος ἢ τὸ φῶς· ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα. πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ· ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ἐν Θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα.” – Κατα Ιωαννην 3:19-21 (Nestle-Aland 28)

“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” – John 3:19-21 (NRSV)

Michelangelo, Conversion of Saul 1542-5.jpg
Michelangelo. Conversion of Saul. Cappella Paolina, Vacitcan City. 1542. Fresco.

“This is the city of losses. It would be nice to level it. To plant again thick Finnish forests, introduce bears, elk, deer: let them graze around the moss-covered Kremlin ruins, let perches swim in its rivers and lakes returned to life, let wild bees focus on storing honey in the deepest fragrant tree cavities. This land needs a rest from its criminal capital. Perhaps then it will be capable of something good. Since it can’t go on forever poisoning the world with the bacilli of evil, oppression, and aggressive dumb destruction!” – Yuri Andrukhovych, The Moscoviad

Albrecht, Adam. Napoleon in burning Moscow. 1841.Albrecht, Adam. Napoleon in burning Moscow. 1841.

The identity of a people and of a civilization is reflected and concentrated in what has been created by the mind—in what is known as “culture.” If this identity is threatened with extinction, cultural life grows correspondingly more intense, more important, until culture itself becomes the living value around which all people rally. – Milan Kundera, “The Tragedy of Central Europe.” New York Review of Books.

Raphael. The Parnassus. 1511. Fresco.
Raphael. The Parnassus. 1511. Fresco.