“Living Arduously in the Quiet”

September 1, 2009 @ 7:44 pm | Filed under: Books

“There are quiet places also in the mind,” he said meditatively. “But we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately—to put a stop to the quietness….All the thoughts, all the preoccupations in my head—round and round, continually, What’s it for? What’s it all for? To put an end to the quiet, to break it up and disperse it, to pretend at any cost that it isn’t there. Ah, but it is; it is there, in spite of everything, at the back of everything. Lying awake at night—not restlessly, but serenely, waiting for sleep—the quiet re-establishes itself, piece by piece; all the broken bits…It re-establishes itself, an inward quiet, like the outward quiet of grass and trees. It fills one, it grows— a crystal quiet, a growing, expanding crystal. It grows, it becomes more perfect; it is beautiful and terrifying … For one’s alone in the crystal, and there’s no support from the outside, there is nothing external and important, nothing external and trivial to pull oneself up by or stand on…There is nothing to laugh at or feel enthusiast about. But the quiet grows and grows. Beautifully and unbearably. And at last you are conscious of something approaching; it is almost a faint sound of footsteps. Something inexpressively lovely and wonderful advances through the crystal, nearer, nearer. And, oh, inexpressively terrifying. For if it were to touch you, if it were to seize you and engulf you, you’d die; all the regular, habitual daily part of you would die….one would have to begin living arduously in the quiet, arduously in some strange, unheard of manner.”

—Aldous Huxley, Antic Hay


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  1. I’m going to break the quiet of “No comments” on this post and say that I just read it twice and it’s stunning.