Selected Essays of Zhou Zuoren. Chinese University Press, As a result of long-standing cultural habit, nonfiction prose tends to be relegated to the margins in western literatures.
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The past is all of one texture—whether feigned or suffered—whether acted out in three dimensions, or only witnessed in that small theatre of the brain which we keep brightly lighted all night long, after the jets are down, and darkness and sleep reign undisturbed in the remainder of the body.
There is no distinction on the face of our experiences; one is vivid indeed, and one dull, and one pleasant, and another agonising to remember; but which of them is what we call true, and which a dream, there is not one hair to prove.
The past stands on a precarious footing; another straw split in the field of metaphysic, and behold us robbed of it. There is scarce a family that can count four generations but lays Selected essays claim to some dormant title or some castle and estate: A man's claim to his own past is yet less valid.
A paper might turn up in proper story—book fashion in the secret drawer of an old ebony secretary, and restore your family to its ancient honours, and reinstate mine in a certain West Indian islet not far from St. Kitt's, as beloved tradition hummed in my young ears which was once ours, and is now unjustly some one else's, and for that matter in the state of the sugar trade is not worth anything to anybody.
I do not say that these revolutions are likely; only no man can deny that they are possible; and the past, on the other baud, is, lost for ever: Not an hour, not a mood, not a glance of the eye, can we revoke; it is all gone, past conjuring.
And yet conceive us robbed of it, conceive that little thread of memory that we trail behind us broken at the pocket's edge; and in what Selected essays nullity should we be left!
Upon these grounds, there are some among us who claim to have lived longer and more richly than their neighbours; when they lay asleep they claim they were still active; and among the treasures of memory that all men review for their amusement, these count in no second place the harvests of their dreams.
There is one of this kind whom I have in my eye, and whose case is perhaps unusual enough to be described. He was from a child an ardent and uncomfortable dreamer. When he had a touch of fever at night, and the room swelled and shrank, and his clothes, hanging on a nail, now loomed up instant to the bigness of a church, and now drew away into a horror of infinite distance and infinite littleness, the poor soul was very well aware of what must follow, and struggled hard against the approaches of that slumber which was the beginning of sorrows.
But his struggles were in vain; sooner or later the night—hag would have him by the throat, and pluck him strangling and screaming, from his sleep. His dreams were at times commonplace enough, at times very strange, at times they were almost formless: The two chief troubles of his very narrow existence—the practical and everyday trouble of school tasks and the ultimate and airy one of hell and judgment—were often confounded together into one appalling nightmare.
He seemed to himself to stand before the Great White Throne; he was called on, poor little devil, to recite some form of words, on which his destiny depended; his tongue stuck, his memory was blank, hell gaped for him; and he would awake, clinging to the curtain—rod with his knees to his chin.
These were extremely poor experiences, on the whole; and at that time of life my dreamer would have very willingly parted with his power of dreams. But presently, in the course of his growth, the cries and physical contortions passed away, seemingly for ever; his visions were still for the most part miserable, but they were more constantly supported; and he would awake with no more extreme symptom than a flying heart, a freezing scalp, cold sweats, and the speechless midnight fear.
His dreams, too, as befitted a mind better stocked with particulars, became more circumstantial, and had more the air and continuity of life. The look of the world beginning to take hold on his attention, scenery came to play a part in his sleeping as well as in his waking thoughts, so that he would take long, uneventful journeys and see strange towns and beautiful places as he lay in bed.
And, what is more significant, an odd taste that he had for the Georgian costume and for stories laid in that period of English history, began to rule the features of his dreams; so that he masqueraded there in a three—cornered hat and was much engaged with Jacobite conspiracy between the hour for bed and that for breakfast.
About the same time, he began to read in his dreams—tales, for the most part, and for the most part after the manner of G.
James, but so incredibly more vivid and moving than any printed book, that he has ever since been malcontent with literature. And then, while he was yet a student, there came to him a dream—adventure which he has no anxiety to repeat; he began, that is to say, to dream in sequence and thus to lead a double life—one of the day, one of the night—one that he had every reason to believe was the true one, another that he had no means of proving to be false.
I should have said he studied, or was by way of studying, at Edinburgh College, which it may be supposed was how I came to know him. Well, in his dream—life, he passed a long day in the surgical theatre, his heart in his mouth, his teeth on edge, seeing monstrous malformations and the abhorred dexterity of surgeons.
In a heavy, rainy, foggy evening he came forth into the South Bridge, turned up the High Street, and entered the door of a tall LAND, at the top of which he supposed himself to lodge.
All night long, in his wet clothes, he climbed the stairs, stair after stair in endless series, and at every second flight a flaring lamp with a reflector.
All night long, he brushed by single persons passing downward—beggarly women of the street, great, weary, muddy labourers, poor scarecrows of men, pale parodies of women—but all drowsy and weary like himself, and all single, and all brushing against him as they passed.
In the end, out of a northern window, he would see day beginning to whiten over the Firth, give up the ascent, turn to descend, and in a breath be back again upon the streets, in his wet clothes, in the wet, haggard dawn, trudging to another day of monstrosities and operations.
Time went quicker in the life of dreams, some seven hours as near as he can guess to one; and it went, besides, more intensely, so that the gloom of these fancied experiences clouded the day, and he had not shaken off their shadow ere it was time to lie down and to renew them. I cannot tell how long it was that he endured this discipline; but it was long enough to leave a great black blot upon his memory, long enough to send him, trembling for his reason, to the doors of a certain doctor; whereupon with a simple draught he was restored to the common lot of man.
The poor gentleman has since been troubled by nothing of the sort; indeed, his nights were for some while like other men's, now blank, now chequered with dreams, and these sometimes charming, sometimes appalling, but except for an occasional vividness, of no extraordinary kind. I will just note one of these occasions, ere I pass on to what makes my dreamer truly interesting.
It seemed to him that he was in the first floor of a rough hill—farm.Nature and Selected Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson An indispensible look at Emerson's influential life philosophy Through his writing and his own personal philosophy, Ralph Waldo Emerson unburdened his young country of Europe's traditional sense of history and showed Americans how to be creators of their own circumstances.
SELECTED SAYINGS from the PERFECTION OF WISDOM. Buddhist Society, London THE BUDDHA'S LAW AMONG THE BIRDS. Transl. & Comm. Cqssirer, Oxford BUDDHIST MEDITATION. Allen & Unwin, London VA JRACCHEDIKA PRA JRAPARAMITA. ~d.
& Transl. Serie Orientale Roma XIII, BUDDHIST WISDOM BOOKS. The Diamond Sutra. The Heart Sutra. Find Selected Essays by Warren, Robert Penn at Biblio. Uncommonly good collectible and rare books from uncommonly good booksellers.
The conceptual morass into which the Tylorean kind of pot-au-feu theorizing about culture can lead, is evident in what is still one of the better general introductions to anthropology, Clyde. A poet, critic, and theoretician during the Silver Age of Russian poetry, at the turn of the Twentieth century, Viacheslav Ivanov was dubbed "Viacheslav the Magnificent" by his contemporaries for his erudition, sumptuous and allusive poetry, and brilliant essays.
A selection of 33 essays by the 20th century spiritual master that provides a broad cross section of Merton's work as an essayist, collection pieces that reflect characteristic examples of his astonishing output and the fantastic breadth of his interests.