1/1: Anyone may now and then have the sense of occupying only a point and a moment; to have such a sense day and night, hour by hour, is less frequent, and it is from this experience, this datum, that one turns toward nirvana or sarcasm -- or toward both at once. (TBB 205:1)

1/2: "What are you working on? What are you doing now?" Would anyone have dared ask Pyrrho or Laotsu such a question? We do not imagine that the questions no one could have asked our idols can be asked of us. (NG 117.1) 

1/3: Models of Style: the swearword, the telegram, the epitaph. (AGD 8:1)

1/4: My faculty for disappointment surpasses understanding. It is what lets me comprehend Buddha, but also what keeps me from following him. (TBB 7:2)

1/5: Demosthenes copied out Thucydides eight times. That is how you learn a language. One ought to have the courage to transcribe all the books one loves. (AA 170:6)

1/6: Two enemies -- the same man divided. (TBB 75:2)

1/7: A book should open old wounds, even inflict new ones. A book should be a danger. (DQ 67)

1/8: The intrinsic value of a book does not depend on the importance of its subject (else the theologians would prevail, and mightily), but on the matter of approaching the accidental and the insignificant, of mastering the infinitesimal. The essential has never required the least talent. (TBB 30:4)

1/9: You are calm, you forget your enemy, who meanwhile watches and waits. Yet there is every reason to be ready when he attacks. You will triumph, for he will be weakened by that enormous consumption of energy, his hatred. (AA 148:5)

1/10: Rare to come upon a free mind, and when you do, you realize that the best of such a mind is not revealed in his works (when we write we bear, mysteriously, chains) but in those confidences where, released from conviction and pose, as from all concern with rigor or standing, it displays its weaknesses. And where it behaves as a heretic to itself. (TBB 106.4)

1/11: That uncertain feeling when we try to imagine the daily life of great minds…Whatever could it be that Socrates was doing around two in the afternoon? (AGD 22:2)

1/12: When the bird of sleep thought to nest in my pupils, it saw the lashes and fled in fear of the net." Who better than this Ben al-Hamara, an Arab poet of Andalusia, has perceived the unfathomability of insomnia? (AA 145:2)

1/13: At the age when, for lack of experience, one takes to philosophy, I determined to write a thesis like everyone else. What subject to choose? I wanted one that would be both familiar and unwonted. The moment I imagined I had found it, I hastened to announce my discovery to my professor. "What would you think of A General Theory of Tears? I feel ready to start work on that." "Possibly," he said, "but you'll have your work cut out, finding a bibliography." "That doesn’t matter so much. All History will afford me its authority," I replied in a tone of triumphant impertinence. But when, in his impatience, he shot me a glance of disdain, I resolved then and there to murder the disciple in myself. (AGD 38:1)

1/14: Nothing makes us modest, not even the sight of a corpse. (DQ 87)

1/15: Every misanthrope, however sincere, at times reminds me of that old poet, bedridden and utterly forgotten, who in a rage with his contemporaries declared he would receive none of them. His wife, out of charity, would ring at the door from time to time… (TBB 50:3)

1/16: What a pity that to reach God we must pass through faith! (AGD 86:2)

1/17: According to a Chinese sage, a single hour of happiness is all that a centenarian could acknowledge after carefully reflecting upon the vicissitudes of his existence…. Since everyone exaggerates, why should the sages constitute an exception? (AA 141:5)

1/18: What folly to link oneself with beings and things, and what greater folly to suppose that one can loose oneself from them. To have sought renunciation at any price and still be only a candidate for renunciation. (DQ 177)

1/19: A philosophical vogue is as irresistible as a gastronomic one: an idea is no better refuted than a sauce (AGD 23:5)

1/20: Any and every nation, at a certain moment of its career, considers itself chosen. It is at this moment that it gives the best and the worst of itself. (TBB 125:4)

1/21: All great events have been set in motion by madmen, by mediocre madmen. Which will be true, we may be sure, of the "end of the world" itself. (TBB 136:6)

1/22: To want fame is to prefer dying scorned than forgotten (NG 87:4)

1/23: The number of fanatics, extremists, and degenerates I have been able to admire! A relief bordering on orgasm at the notion that one will never again embrace a cause, any cause… (TBB 160:6)

1/24: My books, my work: the grotesquerie of such possessives. Everything was spoiled once literature stopped being anonymous. Decadence dates from the first author. (AA164:3)

1/25: Aristotle, Aquinas, Hegel -- three enslavers of the mind. The worst form of despotism is the system, in philosophy and in everything. (TBB 117:5)

1/26: The Old Testament knew how to intimidate Heaven, how to shake a fist at whatever was on high: prayer was a quarrel between the creature and its creator. Came the Gospels to make nice: Christianity's unforgivable error. (AGD 96:4)

1/27: To define nothing is among the skeptic's obligations. But what can we oppose to the swagger that follows the merest definition we happen to have found? To define is one of the most inveterate of our madnesses, and it must have been born with the first word. (DQ, 163)

1/28: To claim you are more detached, more alien to everything than anyone, and to be merely a fanatic of indifference (TBB 40:2)

1/29: Love's dignity resides in the disabused affection surviving a moment's slobber. (AGD 111:2)

1/30: "The sensation of being everything and the certitude of being nothing" (Paul Valery). A poet's conclusion -- obligatory for those who have kept company with the saints. (TS 25:3)

1/31: Although I have sworn never to sin against blessed concision, I am still in complicity with words, and if I am seduced by silence I dare not enter it, I merely prowl on its peripheries. (TWBB 205:2)



AGD: All Gall is Divided

AA: Anathemas and Admirations

DQ: Drawn and Quartered

NG: The New Gods

TS: Tears and Saints

TBB: The Trouble with Being Born