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Levels of Life Levels of Life by Julian Barnes
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Levels of Life Quotes Showing 1-30 of 98
“ You put together two people who have not been put together before. Sometimes it is like that first attempt to harness a hydrogen balloon to a fire balloon: do you prefer crash and burn, or burn and crash?
But sometimes it works, and something new is made, and the world is changed. Then, at some point, sooner or later, for this reason or that, one of them is taken away. and what is taken away is greater than the sum of what was there. this may not be mathematically possible; but it is emotionally possible.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Every love story is a potential grief story.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Nature is so exact, it hurts exactly as much as it is worth, so in a way one relishes the pain, I think. If it didn't matter, it wouldn't matter.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Because love is the meeting point of truth and magic. Truth, as in photography; magic, as in ballooning.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“There is a German word, Sehnsucht, which has no English equivalent; it means 'the longing for something'. It has Romantic and mystical connotations; C.S. Lewis defined it as the 'inconsolable longing' in the human heart for 'we know not what'. It seems rather German to be able to specify the unspecifiable. The longing for something - or, in our case, for someone.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“We live on the flat, on the level, and yet - and so - we aspire. Groundlings, we can sometimes reach as far as the gods. Some soar with art, others with religion; most with love. But when we soar, we can also crash. There are few soft landings. We may find ourselves bouncing across the ground with leg-fracting force, dragged towards some foreign railway line. Every love story is a potential grief story. If not at first, then later. If not for one, then for the other. Sometimes, for both.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Love may not lead where we think or hope, but regardless of outcome it should be a call to seriousness and truth. If it is not that - if it is not moral in its effect - then love is no more than an exaggerated form of pleasure.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed. People may not notice at the time, but that doesn’t matter. The world has been changed nonetheless.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Early in life, the world divides crudely into those who have had sex and those who haven't. Later, into those who have known love, and those who haven't. Later still - at least, if we are lucky (or, on the other hand, unlucky) - it divides into those who have endured grief, and those who haven't. These divisions are absolute; they are tropics we cross.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“What happiness is there in just the memory of happiness?”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“This is what those who haven’t crossed the tropic of grief often fail to understand: the fact that someone is dead may mean that they are not alive, but doesn’t mean that they do not exist.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Perhaps the world progresses not by maturing, but by being in a permanent state of adolescence, of thrilled discovery.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Grief reconfigures time, its length, its texture, its function: one day means no more than the next, so why have they been picked out and given separate names?”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed...”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“There are two essential kinds of loneliness: that of not having found someone to love, and that of having been deprived of the one you did love. The first kind is worse. Nothing can compare to the loneliness of the soul in adolescence.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“It is all just the universe doing its stuff, and we are the stuff it is being done to.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“You lose the world for a glance? Of course you do. That is what the world is for: to lose under the right circunstances.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Initially, you continue doing what you used to do with her, out of familiarity, love, the need for a pattern. Soon, you realise the trap you are in: caught between repeating what you did with her, but without her, and so missing her; or doing new things, things you never did with her, and so missing her differently. You feel sharply the loss of shared vocabulary, of tropes, teases, short cuts, injokes, sillinesses, faux rebukes, amatory footnotes – all those obscure references rich in memory but valueless if explained to an outsider.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Every love story is a potential grief story. If not at first, then later. If not for one, then for the other. Sometimes for both.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Studies of cancer patients show that attitudes of mind have very little effect on clinical outcome. We may say we are fighting cancer, but cancer is merely fighting us; we may think we have beaten it, when it has only gone away to regroup. It is all just the universe doing its stuff, and we are the stuff it is being done to. And so, perhaps, with grief. We imagine we have battled against it, been purposeful, overcome sorrow, scrubbed the rust from our soul, when all that has happened is that grief has moved elsewhere, shifted its interest.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“The, at some point, sooner or later, for this reason or that, one of them is taken away. And what is taken away is greater than the sum of what was there. This may not be mathematically possible; but it is emotionally possible.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“The heart of my life; the life of my heart.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“You put together two people who have not been put together before; and sometimes the world is changed, sometimes not. They may crash and burn, or burn and crash. But sometimes, something new is made, and then the world is changed. Together, in that first exaltation, that first roaring sense of uplift, they are greater than their two separate selves. Together, they see further, and they see more clearly.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“But if being on the level didn't shield you from pain, maybe it was better to be up in the clouds.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“It took a while, but I remember the moment – or rather, the suddenly arriving argument – which made it less likely that I would kill myself. I realised that, insofar as she was alive at all, she was alive in my memory. Of course, she remained powerfully in other people’s minds as well; but I was her principal rememberer. If she was anywhere, she was within me, internalised. This was normal. And it was equally normal – and irrefutable – that I could not kill myself because then I would also be killing her.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“(...) juries should ask not "Is he guilty?" but rather "Is he dangerous?”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Why should anything happen when everything has happened?”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“Though I remember, sharply, last things. The last book she read. The last play (and film, and concert, and opera, and art exhibition) that we went to together. The last wine she drank, the last clothes she bought. The last weekend away. The last bed we slept in that wasn't ours. The last this, the last that. The last piece of my writing that made her laugh. The last words she wrote herself; the last time she signed her name. The last piece of music I played her when she came home. Her last complete sentence. Her last spoken word.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“There is a grotesquerie to grief as well. You lose the sense of your existence being rational, or justifiable. You feel absurd.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
“The conventional accept and are frequently charmed by a certain unconventionality.”
Julian Barnes, Levels of Life

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