The Wisdom of Hilaire Belloc

So I only recently heard of Hilaire Belloc, but you may recognise some of his more famous quotes! A twentieth century Anglo-French writer, he has such a fantastic way with words, and I was instantly drawn to his sense of humour. All that said, here are some of my favourite Belloc quotes – enjoy!

Any subject can be made interesting, and therefore any subject can be made boring.

(‘A Guide to Boring’, A Conversation with a Cat)

Then let us love one another and laugh. […] Let us suffer absurdities, for this is only to suffer one another.

(The Path to Rome)

The object of a religion or a philosophy is not to make men wealthy or powerful, but to make them, in the last issue, happy: that is, to fulfil their being.

 

It is in the irony of Providence that the more man comes to control the material world about him, the more does he lose control over the effects of his action; and it is when he is remaking the world most speedily that he knows least whither he is driving.

(Survivals and New Arrivals)

All creation must be chaos first

(The Four Men: A Farrago)

And I couldn’t really write a post like this without ending on this utter gem:

When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
‘His sins were scarlet, But his books were read’.

What’s your favourite quote? And which quips and gems have I missed?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

The Art of Togetherness

So, I recently took up nail art as part of my fundraising efforts (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you could read this post). Nail art is pretty much my new favourite thing though. I love the intricacy of it, and the way it makes your fingernails look iced – almost good enough to eat.

DSC_0057

An early attempt at something vaguely hipster-y

And the reason this slightly random topic is getting a blog post is this: every single nail I’ve ever painted – ever – is kind of messed up. I make mistakes all the time – I swear, it is impossible to make straight lines on that kind of scale! But most people have ten finger nails. The smudge on the little finger, or the chip at the base of the thumb aren’t the main focus; it’s the total, the summation of the ten tiny paintings, together. The art is not in one single nail, because I don’t think any of them could stand up to that kind of scrutiny. The art is in the togetherness.

[You can always trust an English Lit student to run with the weirdest metaphors – I’m not even sorry.]

This whole thing got me thinking about community – whether that’s family, housemates, colleagues, church or ‘squad’. I think every time, there’s something really beautiful about togetherness. We really really weren’t made to be alone.

There are an absolute tonne of books that deal with community, but today I wanted to point out some of my favourites.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis 

This applies to all of the books, but my particular favourite scene is in The Horse and His Boy, where we get a glimpse of a peace-time Narnian community. I love the way that everyone knows everybody, and there’s a real sense of inclusion and all round ‘getting along’.

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Is this not everyone’s favourite, though? I am so in love with the Clave community: the way that although there are differences and personality clashes, there’s this fierce loyalty among the shadowhunters.

The Bible

Maybe slightly different to the other books on this list, but for real! The Bible is full of community – even in the Trinity (the doctrine of one God, three persons), there’s a real model of harmony and putting other people first. In the early church, we see the new Christians selling their belongings to provide for less well-off members of their community. (Acts 4:34)

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

I think this is maybe an obvious pick – there’s such a heavy  emphasis in this series on friendship, and not going it alone. My favourite example of this is Frodo taking the ring to Mount Doom: his friend Sam his there with him until the end. There is such intense loyalty and selflessness in this story – gah. It’s great.

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

This pick is maybe a little more obscure than the others, but I’d highly recommend it! I wrote a review here, if you’re interested. My favourite thing about the community in this book is the glaring differences in upbringing, culture and circumstance of each of the women. They each have their own stories, but they have a web of support as a group of friends.

Is this really cheesy? I find a lot of books (especially post-Romantic period?) have this really focus on individuality, and being strong enough to defeat the odds in your own strength. To my mind, that’s neither practical nor practicable – I think a need for community is not a weakness; but a strength!

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

-Howard Zinn

I want to hear your thoughts! What are your favourite books about community?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Things I Learned from Beauty and the Beast

I’m obsessed with the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast! I think it’s such a profound work, and I wanted to share some gems of wisdom:

  • Chat-up lines are like Nutella: they should be used in copious amounts, in all situations, at all times.

Gaston7

Gaston is the perfect mentor in this area; here are a few favourites for you to whack out:

We shall be the perfect pair – rather like my thighs.

You are face to face with destiny.

All’s well that ends with me!

Gaston, you charmer.

  • Eat stuff. It will make you feel better.

Be Our Guest

If you’re stressed, it’s fine dining we suggest.

Thanks, Lumiere.

  • Hunting is in this season. Also next season. Actually, just every season.

Antlers

I use antlers in all of my decorating.

My – what a guy, that Gaston.

  • Do you know what’s cool? Superlatives.

kill the beast

It’s a beast! As tall as a mountain

Accurate communication is alright, but superlatives are better. Use liberally.

  • The majority is always right, especially if you’re French.

mob

Here we come! We’re fifty strong, and fifty Frenchmen can’t be wrong

Ah, classic mob logic.

Disclaimer: I am not serious. I love Beauty and the Beast, and I think it is wonderful. Please never use a Gaston pick-up line, unless you enjoy getting punched in the face.

~Dani

George Orwell on Writing

George Orwell is one of those authors that everyone knows about…and whose works I have actually yet to read. I was listening to a writing lecture by Stephen King, and he was really enthusiastic about Orwell’s instruction on writing, so I decided to poke around a bit and see what quotes I could find online. Here’s what I came up with!

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use the passive voice where you can use the active. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

An illusion can become a half-truth, a mask can alter the expression of a face.

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

To write or even speak English is not a science but an art. There are no reliable words. Whoever writes English is involved in a struggle that never lets up even for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective, against the encroachment of Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up.

Good prose should be transparent, like a window pane.

I think a lot of Orwell’s advice is really helpful! I do also think he’s a bit too negative and cynical for my liking, but I’ll withhold my judgment until I’ve actually read one of his books.

Have you read any Orwell novels? Do you find his writing advice useful?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Maya Angelou Quotes

I recently finished reading ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’, which is the first instalment of Maya Angelou’s autobiography. It’s a fantastic book; beautifully written and sagely told, and it made me really curious to learn more about this very famous writer. Here are some of my favourite quotes that I came across – enjoy!

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.

Love recognises no barriers.It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

We are only as blind as we want to be.

Have enough courage to trust love one more time.

Maya Angelou has quickly become one of my favourite writers, and I can’t wait to get into more of her work.

Do you have any favourite Angelou poems or quotes?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Travel

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

-Mark Twain

Stories

Stories do not explain. They seem to, but all they provide is a starting point. A story never ends at the end. There is always after. And even within itself, even by saying that this version is the right one, it suggests other versions, versions that exist in parallel. No, a story is not an explanation, it is a net, a net through which the truth flows. The net catches some of the truth, but not all, never all, only enough so that we can live with the extraordinary without it killing us.

Patrick Ness, The Crane Wife