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Benjamin, Walter

  • Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.

  • The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion.

  • To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.

  • The idea that happiness could have a share in beauty would be too much of a good thing.

  • All religions have honored the beggar. For he proves that in a matter at the same time as prosaic and holy, banal and regenerative as the giving of alms, intellect and morality, consistency and principles are miserably inadequate.

  • Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method. . . . Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.

  • Books and harlots have their quarrels in public.

  • The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.

  • Only he who can view his own past as an abortion sprung from compulsion and need can use it to full advantage in the present. For what one has lived is at best comparable to a beautiful statue which has had all its limbs knocked off in transit, and now yields nothing but the precious block out of which the image of one's future must be hewn.

  • The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions.