God has lent us the earth for our life; it is a great entail. It belongs as much to those who are to come after us, and whose names are already written in the book of creation, as to us; and we have no right, by anything that we do or neglect, to involve them in unnecessary penalties, or deprive them of benefits which it was in our power to bequeath. And this the more, because it is one of the appointed conditions of the labor of men that, in proportion to the time between the seed-sowing and the harvest, is the fulness of the fruit; and that generally, therefore, the farther off we place our aim, and the less we desire to be ourselves the witnesses of what we have labored for, the more wide and rich will be the measure of our success. Men cannot benefit those that are with them as they can benefit those who come after them; and of all the pulpits from which human voice is ever sent forth, there is none from which it reaches so far as from the grave.
—John Ruskin, from The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849)
All time exists. That is the truth beyond the legends the epopts tell. If the future did not exist now, how could we journey toward it? If the past does not exist still, how could we leave it behind us? In sleep the mind is encircled by its time, which is why we so often hear the voices of the dead there, and receive intelligence of things to come.
The Claw of the Conciliator, Chapter XXXI,
Good human work honors God’s work. Good work uses no thing without respect, both for what it is in itself and for its origin. It uses neither tool nor material that it does not respect and that it does not love. It honors nature as a great mystery and power, as an indispensable teacher, and as the inescapable judge of all work of human hands. It does not dissociate life and work, or pleasure and work, or love and work, or usefulness and beauty. To work without pleasure or affection, to make a product that is not both useful and beautiful, is to dishonor God, nature, the thing that is made, and whomever it is made for. This is blasphemy: to make shoddy work of the work of God. But such blasphemy is not possible when the entire Creation is understood as holy and when the works of God are understood as embodying and thus revealing His spirit.
—Wendell Berry, "Christianity and The Survival of Creation”,
via Alan Jacobs
At eight of a hot morning, the cicada speaks his first piece. He says of the world: heat. At eleven of the same day, still singing, he has not changed his note but has enlarged his theme. He says of the morning: love. In the sultry middle of the afternoon, when the sadness of love and of heat has shaken him, his symphonic soul goes into the great movement and he says: death. But the thing isn’t over. After supper he weaves heat, love, death into a final stanza, subtler and less brassy than the others. He has one last heroic monosyllable at his command. Life, he says, reminiscing. Life.
— E. B. White, “Life,” in E.B. White: Writings from the New Yorker, 1925-1976, ed. Rebecca M. Dale (New York: HarperCollins, 1990), 3.
Ferrets are small, tawny animals with four paws and a snout. They use their front paws to dig their underground cities, to hunt rats, and to hold food and baby ferrets. They use their hind paws to stand up, to mount females, and to jump. They use all four paws to run, walk, and dance. They use their snout for sniffing and to grow whiskers on, for eating, and to show their kind and benevolent feelings. They also have a furry tail, which is a source of pride to them. Justified pride, moreover, for what would become of a ferret who wasn’t proud of being a ferret? Their congenital trait is prudence, but with time they acquire wisdom as well. For them, everything in the world is red, because their eyes are red, that being the appropriate eye-color for ferrets. They are deeply interested in engineering and music. They have certain gifts of prescience, and would like to be able to fly, but so far have not done so, prevented by their prudence. They are loyal and brave. And they generally carry out their intentions.
—Renka to Livna'lams,
Kalpa Imperial, Angélica Gorodischer
Last December I watched the early snow fall in the High City. That morning, when it looked as if the weather would improve, I sat in the Charcuterie Vivien hoping that the sun would come out. Someone I had been expecting arrived, or spoke, or smiled. We were to go skating the next day if it froze.
Moments like this seemed permanent but they cannot be repaired; I cannot now regenerate them. And that is not to go back very far.
"The Lamia and Lord Cromis", Viriconium
M. John Harrison