Saul Bellow 1915 – 2005

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Excerpts from Mr. Sammler’s Planet:

You had to be a crank to insist on being right. Being right was largely a matter of explanation.


Things met with in this world are tied to the forms of our perception in space and time and to the forms of our thinking. We see what is before us, the present, the objective. Eternal being makes its temporal appearance in this way. The only way out of captivity in the forms, out of confinement in the prison of projections, the only contact with the eternal, is through freedom.


Both knowing and not knowing—one of the more frequent human arrangements.


As Mr. Sammler saw the thing, human beings, when they have room, when they have liberty and are supplied also with ideas, mythologize themselves. They legendize. They expand by imagination and try to rise above the limitations of the ordinary forms of common life. And what is ‘common’ about ‘the common life’? What if some genius were to do with ‘common life’ what Einstein did with ‘matter’?


One could not be the thing itself—Reality. One must be satisfied with the symbols.


And all this will continue. It will simply continue. Another six billion years before the sun explodes. Six billion years of human life! It lames the heart to contemplate such a figure. Six billion years! What will become of us?


Man is a killer. Man has a moral nature. The anomaly can be resolved by insanity only, by insane dreams in which delusions of consciousness are maintained by organization, in states of mad perdition clinging to forms of business administration.


Life! Everyone who had it was bound to lose it.


The individual was the supreme judge of nothing. Because he had to find things out for himself, he was necessarily the intermediate judge. But never final. Existence was not accountable to him. Indeed not.


Dear brethren, let us all be human together. Let us all be in the great fun fair, and do this droll mortality with one another. Be entertainers of your near and dear. Treasure hunts, flying circuses, comical thefts, medallions, wigs and saris, beards. Charity, all of it, sheer charity, when you consider the state of things, the blindness of the living. It is fearful! Not to be borne! Intolerable! Let us divert each other while we live!


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