Saul Bellow Quotes

Reading Decline of the West I learned that in Spenglers view ours was a Faustian civilization and that we, the Jews, were Magians, the survivors and representatives of an earlier type, totally incapable of comprehending the Faustian spirit that had created the great civilization of the West. ... What Magians were to Faustians, Faustians might very well be to Americans.

Saul Bellow

A millennial belief in a Holy God may have the effect of deepening the soul, but it is also obviously archaic, and modern influences would presently bring me up to date and reveal how antiquated my origins were. To turn away from those origins, however, has always seemed to me an utter impossibility. It would be a treason to my first consciousness to un-Jew myself.

Saul Bellow

Much of junk culture has a core of crisis shoot-outs, conflagrations, bodies weltering in blood, naked embracers or rapist-stranglers. The sounds of junk culture are heard over a ground bass of extremism. Our entertainments swarm with specters of world crisis. Nothing moderate can have any claim to our attention.

Saul Bellow

We take foreigners to be incomplete Americans convinced that we must help and hasten their evolution.

Saul Bellow

In politics continental Europe was infantile horrifying. What America lacked, for all its political stability, was the capacity to enjoy intellectual pleasures as though they were sensual pleasures. This is what Europe offered, or was said to offer.

Saul Bellow

One naturally regrets not being an expert or one of those insiders who thoroughly understand. It's hell to be an amateur. A little reflection calms your sorrow, however. The experts in their own little speedboat, the rest of us floating with the rest of mankind in a great barge that is the picture.

Saul Bellow

There is simply too much to think about. It is hopeless too many kinds of special preparation are required. In electronics, in economics, in social analysis, in history, in psychology, in international politics, most of us are, given the oceanic proliferating complexity of things, paralyzed by the very suggestion that we assume responsibility for so much. This is what makes packaged opinion so attractive.

Saul Bellow

Can we find nothing good to say about TV? Well, yes, it brings scattered solitaries into a sort of communion. TV allows your isolated American to think that he participates in the life of the entire country. It does not actually place him in a community, but his heart is warmed with the suggestion (on the whole false) that there is a community somewhere in the vicinity and that his atomized consciousness will be drawn back toward the whole.

Saul Bellow

Americans must be the most sententious people in history. Far too busy to be religious, they have always felt that they sorely needed guidance.

Saul Bellow

Apparently the rise of consciousness is linked to certain kinds of privation. It is the bitterness of self-consciousness that we knowers know best. Critical of the illusions that sustained mankind in earlier times, this self-consciousness of ours does little to sustain us now. The question is: which is disenchanted, the world itself or the consciousness we have of it?

Saul Bellow

It seems hard for the American people to believe that anything could be more exciting than the times themselves. What we read daily and view on the TV has thrust imagined forms into the shadow. We are staggeringly rich in facts, in things, and perhaps, like the nouveau riche of other ages, we want our wealth faithfully reproduced by the artist.

Saul Bellow

Anxiety destroys scale, and suffering makes us lose perspective.

Saul Bellow

When we read the best nineteenth- and twentieth-century novelists, we soon realize that they are trying in a variety of ways to establish a definition of human nature, to justify the continuation of life as well as the writing of novels.

Saul Bellow

People reserve their best thinking for their professional specialties and, next in line, for serious matters confronting the alert citizeneconomics, politics, the disposal of nuclear waste, etc. The days work done, they want to be entertained.

Saul Bellow

The book of the world, so richly studied by autodidacts, is being closed by the learned, who are raising walls of opinions to shut the world out.

Saul Bellow

As for types like my own, obscurely motivated by the conviction that our existence was worthless if we didnt make a turning point of it, we were assigned to the humanities, to poetry, philosophy, painting the nursery games of humankind, which had to be left behind when the age of science began. The humanities would be called upon to choose a wallpaper for the crypt, as the end drew near.

Saul Bellow
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