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Elias Canetti quotes (showing 1-30 of 69)

“Relearn astonishment.”
Elias Canetti
“All things one has forgotten scream for help in dreams.”
Elias Canetti
“There are books, that one has for twenty years without reading them, that one always keeps at hand, that one takes along from city to city, from country to country, carefully packed, even when there is very little room, and perhaps one leafs through them while removing them from a trunk; yet one carefully refrains from reading even a complete sentence. Then after twenty years, there comes a moment when suddenly, as though under a high compulsion, one cannot help taking in such a book from beginning to end, at one sitting: it is like a revelation. Now one knows why one made such a fuss about it. It had to be with one for a long time; it had to travel; it had to occupy space; it had to be a burden; and now it has reached the goal of its voyage, now it reveals itself, now it illuminates the twenty bygone years it mutely lived with one. It could not say so much if it had not been there mutely the whole time, and what idiot would dare to assert that the same things had always been in it.”
Elias Canetti, The Human Province
“Understanding, as we understand it, is misunderstanding.”
Elias Canetti, Auto-da-Fé
“I cannot become modest; too many things burn in me; the old solutions are falling apart; nothing has been done yet with the new ones. So I begin, everywhere at once, as if I had a century ahead of me.”
Elias Canetti
“A head full of stars, just not in constellation yet.”
Elias Canetti
“Hay libros que tenemos a nuestro lado veinte años sin leerlos, libros de los que no nos alejamos, que llevamos de una ciudad a otra, de un país a otro, cuidadosamente empaquetados, aunque haya muy poco sitio, y que tal vez hojeamos en el momento de sacarlos de la maleta; sin embargo, nos guardamos muy bien de leer aunque sólo sea una frase completa. Luego, al cabo de veinte años, llega un momento en el que, de repente, como si estuviéramos bajo la presión de un imperativo superior, no podemos hacer otra cosa que coger un libro de estos y leerlo de un tirón, de cabo a rabo: este libro actúa como una revelación. En aquel momento sabemos por qué le hemos hecho tanto caso. Tenía que ocupar sitio; tenía que ser una carga, y ahora ha llegado a la meta de su viaje; ahora levanta su vuelo; ahora ilumina los veinte años transcurridos en los que ha vivido mudo a nuestro lado. No hubiera podido decir tantas cosas si no hubiera estado mudo durante este tiempo, y qué imbécil se atrevería a afirmar que en el libro hubo siempre lo mismo.”
Elias Canetti
“...how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?”
Elias Canetti, Kafka's Other Trial: The Letters to Felice
“Travelling, one accepts everything; indignation stays at home. One looks, one listens, one is roused to enthusiasm by the most dreadful things because they are new. Good travellers are heartless.”
Elias Canetti, The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit
“Death is a scandal. The machine is functioning, we are all hostages”
Elias Canetti
tags: death
“...no mind ever grew fat on a diet of novels. The pleasure which they occasionally offer is far too heavily paid for: they undermine the finest characters. They teach us to think ourselves into other men's places. Thus we acquire a taste for change. The personality becomes dissolved in pleasing figments of imagination. The reader learns to understand every point of view. Willingly he yields himself to the pursuit of other people's goals and loses sight of his own. Novels are so many wedges which the novelist, an actor with his pen, inserts into the closed personality of the reader. The better he calculates the size of the wedge and the strength of the resistance, so much the more completely does he crack open the personality of the victim. Novels should be prohibited by the State.”
Elias Canetti
“Every decision is liberating, even if it leads to disaster. Otherwise, why do so many people walk upright and with open arms into their misfortune?”
Elias Canetti
“Almost Kien was tempted to believe in happiness, that contemptible life-goal of illiterates. If it came of itself, without being hunted for, if you did not hold it fast by force and treated it with a certain condescension, it was permissible to endure its presence for a few days”
Elias Canetti, Auto-da-Fé
“It is always the enemy who started it, even if he was not the first to speak out, he was certainly planning it; and if he was not actually planning it, he was thinking of it; and, if he was not thinking of it, he would have thought of it.”
Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power
“ها أنذا أحاول أن أجترح تصوير شيء ما، و ما إن يلفني الصمت حتى أدرك أني ما قلت شيئا على الإطلاق. ثمة مادة دبقة، نورانية، على نحو بديع، بقيت في أعماقي تتحدى الكلمات. و هي اللغة التي لم أتفهمها هناك، و التي من المحتم أنها الآن تجد ترجمتها في دواخلي؟ هناك أحداث، صور، و أصوات بدأ معناها الآن ينبعث حياً، تلك الكلمات التى لم تعرف التسجيل و لا الصياغة التي تكمن فيما وراء الكلمات، أبعد غوراً، أكثر التباساً من الكلمات.”
Elias Canetti, أصوات مراكش
“The act of naming is the great and solemn consolation of mankind”
Elias Canetti
“Most religions do not make men better, only warier.”
Elias Canetti
“What a man touched upon, he should take with him. If he forgot it, he should be reminded. What gives a man worth is that he incorporates everything he has experienced. This includes the countries where he has lived, the people whose voices he has heard. It also takes in his origins, if he can find out something about them... not only one’s private experience but everything concerning the time and place of one’s beginnings. The words of a language one may have spoken and heard only as a child imply the literature in which it flowered. The story of a banishment must include everything that happened before it as well as the rights subsequently claimed by the victims. Others had fallen before and in different ways; they too are part of the story. It is hard to evaluate the justice of such a claim to history... We should know not only what happened to our fellow men in the past but also what they were capable of. We should know what we ourselves are capable of. For that, much knowledge is needed; from whatever direction, at whatever distance knowledge offers itself, one should reach out for it, keep it fresh, water it and fertilize it with new knowledge.”
Elias Canetti, The Memoirs of Elias Canetti: The Tongue Set Free/The Torch in My Ear/The Play of the Eyes
“I have no sounds that could serve to soothe me, no violoncello like him, no lament that anyone would recognize as a lament because it sounds subdued, in an inexpressibly tender language. I have only these lines on the yellowish paper and words that are never new, for they keep saying the same thing through an entire life.”
Elias Canetti
“The hand which scoops up the water is the first vessel. The fingers of both hands intertwined are the first basket. [p. 217]”
Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power
“I want to keep smashing myself until I am whole.”
Elias Canetti, The Human Province
“Books have no life; they lack feeling maybe, and perhaps cannot feel pain, as animals and even plants feel pain. But what proof have we that inorganic objects can feel no pain? Who knows if a book may not yearn for other books, its companions of many years, in some way strange to us and therefore never yet perceived?”
Elias Canetti
“One lives in the naïve notion that later there will be more room than in the entire past.”
Elias Canetti
“The process of writing has something infinite about it. Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation, and it seems most true when it eschews artistic devices of any sort.”
Elias Canetti, The Secret Heart of the Clock
“Border crossings in the Balkans, where bitter wars have been waged, were not regarded as pleasurable; in many places, they weren't even possible, and one avoided them. But, while riding in the droshky and later, when we dismounted, we saw the most luxuriant orchards and vegetable gardens, dark-violet eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, gigantic pumpkins and melons; I couldn't get over my amazement at all the different things that grew here. "That's what it's like here", said Mother, "a blessed land. And it's a civilized land, no one should be ashamed of being born here.”
Elias Canetti, Die gerettete Zunge: Geschichte einer Jugend
“ Um Livreiro pode ser um Rei, mas um Rei jamais será um Livreiro.”
Elias Canetti
“...seizing and incorporating...There is nothing about us which is more strongly primitive. [p. 203]”
Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power
“Graças a Karl Kraus comecei a compreender que cada indivíduo tem uma configuração lingüística própria, que o distingue de todos os demais. Compreendi que embora os homens falem uns com os outros, não se entendem; que suas palavras são golpes que ricocheteiam nas palavras dos outros; que não existe ilusão maior do que a opinião de que a língua é um meio de comunicação entre seres humanos. Fala-se com a outra pessoa, mas de uma maneira que ela não entende. Continua-se a falar, e ela entende ainda menos. Um grita, o outro grita também: a exclamação, que tem uma vida miserável na gramática, apodera-se da língua. Como bolas, as exclamações saltam para lá e para cá, chocam-se e caem pelo chão. Raramente algo que se diz consegue infiltrar-se nos outros; e, quando isso afinal acontece, é entendido às avessas.”
Elias Canetti, The Conscience of Words
“E, então, o tempo, o tempo verdadeiramente físico, não se orienta pelo relógio; ele é antes, e no mais das vezes, uma função da atmosfera na qual transcorre. É, portanto, extraordinariamente difícil determinar, mesmo aproximadamente, quando um se juntou de fato à companhia dos outros, quando o outro se levantou e quando o terceiro realmente partiu.”
Elias Canetti, The Conscience of Words
“His meals were always punctual. Whether she cooked well or badly he did not know; it was a matter of total indifference to him. During his meals, which he ate at his writing desk, he was busy with important considerations. As a rule he would not have been able to say what precisely he had in his mouth. He reserved consciousness for real thoughts; they depend upon it; without consciousness, thoughts are unthinkable. Chewing and digestion happen of themselves.”
Elias Canetti, Auto-da-Fé

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