Loren Eiseley quotes

  • It is a commonplace of all religious thought, even the most primitive, that the man seeking visions and insight must go apart from his fellows and love for a time in the wilderness.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Religious #Men #Vision

  • Each one of us is a statistical impossibility around which hover a million other lives that were never destined to be born.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Born #Impossibility

  • If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Garden #Rivers #Water

  • It is frequently the tragedy of the great artist, as it is of the great scientist, that he frightens the ordinary man.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Art #Men #Tragedy

  • What if I am, in some way, only a sophisticated fire that has acquired an ability to regulate its rate of combustion and to hoard its fuel in order to see and walk?
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Fire #Order #What If

  • Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Beach #War #Ocean

  • Man no longer dreams over a book in which a soft voice, a constant companion, observes, exhorts, or sighs with him through the pangs of youth and age. Today he is more likely to sit before a screen and dream the mass dream which comes from outside.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Dream #Book #Men

  • We are rag dolls made out of many ages and skins, changelings who have slept in wood nests, and hissed in the uncouth guise of waddling amphibians. We have played such roles for infinitely longer ages than we have been human. Our identity is a dream. We are process, not reality.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Dream #Reality #Age

  • One does not meet oneself until one catches the reflection from an eye other than human.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Eye #Animal #Reflection

  • If it should turn out that we have mishandled our own lives as several civilizations before us have done, it seems a pity that we should involve the violet and the tree frog in our departure.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Civilization #Tree #Frogs

  • It has been said repeatedly that one can never, try as he will, get around to the front of the universe. Man is destined to see only its far side, to realize nature only in retreat.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Nature #Men #Trying

  • The need is not really for more brains, the need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger and the bear. The hand that hefted the ax, out of some old blind allegiance to the past fondles the machine gun as lovingly. It is a habit man will have to break to survive, but the roots go very deep.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Past #Men #Gun

  • The journey is difficult, immense. We will travel as far as we can, but we cannot in one lifetime see all that we would like to see or to learn all that we hunger to know.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Travel #Memorable #Journey

  • Perhaps a creature of so much ingenuity and deep memory is almost bound to grow alienated from his world, his fellows, and the objects around him. He suffers from a nostalgia for which there is no remedy upon earth except as it is to be found in the enlightenment of the spirit--some ability to have a perceptive rather than an exploitive relationship with his fellow creatures.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Nature #Memories #Suffering

  • The creative element in the mind of man . . . emerges in as mysterious a fashion as those elementary particles which leap into momentary existence in great cyclotrons, only to vanish again like infinitesimal ghosts.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Fashion #Men #Creative

  • I once saw, on a flower pot in my own living room, the efforts of a field mouse to build a remembered field. I have lived to see this episode repeated in a thousand guises, and since I have spent a large portion of my life in the shade of a nonexistent tree I think I am entitled to speak for the field mouse.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Flower #Thinking #Effort

  • The secret, if one may paraphrase a savage vocabulary, lies in the egg of night.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Lying #Night #Vocabulary

  • For the first time in four billion years a living creature had contemplated himself and heard with a sudden, unaccountable loneliness, the whisper of the wind in the night reeds.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Loneliness #Night #Years

  • I was a shadow among shadows brooding over the fate of other shadows that I alone strove to summon up out of the all-pervading dusk.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Fate #Shadow #Brooding

  • Out of the choked Devonian waters emerged sight and sound and the music that rolls invisible through the composer's brain. They are there still in the ooze along the tideline, though no one notices. The world is fixed, we say: fish in the sea, birds in the air. But in the mangrove swamps by the Niger, fish climb trees and ogle uneasy naturalists who try unsuccessfully to chase them back to the water. There are things still coming ashore.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Sight #Air #Sea

  • I no longer cared about survival...I merely loved.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Friendship #Survival

  • Choices, more choices than we like afterward to believe, are made far backward in the innocence of childhood.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Believe #Choices #Childhood

  • The iron did not remember the blood it had once moved within, the phosphorous had forgot the savage brain.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Blood #Iron #Brain

  • In the end, science as we know it has two basic types of practitioners. One is the educated man who still has a controlled sense of wonder before the universal mystery, whether it hides in a snail's eye or within the light that impinges on that delicate organ. The second kind of observer is the extreme reductionist who is so busy stripping things apart that the tremendous mystery has been reduced to a trifle, to intangibles not worth troubling one's head about.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Eye #Science #Men

  • Nothing grows among its pinnacles; there is no shade except under great toadstools of sandstone whose bases have been eaten to the shape of wine glasses by the wind. Everything is flaking, cracking, disintegrating, wearing away in the long, inperceptible weather of time. The ash of ancient volcanic outbursts still sterilizes its soil, and its colors in that waste are the colors that flame in the lonely sunsets on dead planets.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Lonely #Wine #Sunset

  • Great minds have always seen it. That is why man has survived his journey this long. When we fail to wish any longer to be otherwise than what we are, we will have ceased to evolve. Evolution has to be lived forward. I say this as one who has stood above the bones of much that has vanished, and at midnight has examined his own face.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Journey #Men #Long

  • There is nothing very 'normal' about nature.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Normal

  • One (practitioner of science) is the educated man who still has a controlled sense of wonder before the universal mystery, whether it hides in a snail's eye or within the light that impinges on that delicate organ.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Eye #Men #Light

  • If you cannot bear the silence and the darkness, do not go there; if you dislike black night and yawning chasms, never make them your profession. If you fear the sound of water hurrying through crevices toward unknown and mysterious destinations, do not consider it. Seek out the sunshine. It is a simple prescription. Avoid the darkness.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Sunshine #Simple #Night

  • The great artist, whether he be musician, painter, or poet, is known for this absolute unexpectedness.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Artist #Musician #Poet

  • Subconsciously the genius is feared as an image breaker; frequently he does not accept the opinions of the mass, or man's opinion of himself.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Men #Doe #Genius

  • Man inhabits a realm half in and half out of nature, his mind reaching forever beyond the tool, the uniformity, the law, into some realm which is that of the mind alone.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Nature #Men #Law

  • Man is dragged hither and thither, at one moment by the blind instincts of the forest, at the next by the strange intuitions of a higher self whose rationale he doubts and does not understand.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Nature #Men #Self

  • When man becomes greater than nature, nature, which gave us birth, will respond.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Men #Birth

  • I love forms beyond my own, and regret the borders between us
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Regret #Borders #Form

  • I am what I am and cannot be otherwise because of the shadows.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Shadow #I Am What I Am

  • Man is always marveling at what he has blown apart, never at what the universe has put together, and this is his limitation.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Men #Together #Marveling

  • We are one of many appearances of the thing called Life; we are not its perfect image, for it has no perfect image except Life, and life is multitudinous and emergent in the stream of time.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Perfect #Life Is #Appearance

  • This is the most enormous extension of vision of which life is capable: the projection of itself into other lives. This is the lonely, magnificent power of humanity. It is . . . the supreme epitome of the reaching out.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Lonely #Empathy #Humanity

  • Since the first human eye saw a leaf in Devonian sandstone and a puzzled finger reached to touch it, sadness has lain over the heart of man. By this tenuous thread of living protoplasm, stretching backward into time, we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone. The stars that caught our blind amphibian stare have shifted far or vanished in their courses, but still that naked, glistening thread winds onward. No one knows the secret of its beginning or its end. Its forms are phantoms. The thread alone is real; the thread is life.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Beach #Stars #Real

  • As we passed under a streetlamp I noticed, beside my own bobbing shadow, another great, leaping grotesquerie that had an uncanny suggestion of the frog world about it . . . judging from the shadow, it was soaring higher and more gaily than myself. 'Very well,' you will say, 'Why didn’t you turn around. That would be the scientific thing to do.' But let me tell you it is not done ― not on an empty road at midnight.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Judging #Shadow #World

  • To have dragons one must have change; that is the first principle of dragon lore.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Dragons #Principles #Firsts

  • Though men in the mass forget the origins of their need, they still bring wolfhounds into city apartments, where dog and man both sit brooding in wistful discomfort. The magic that gleams an instant between Argos and Odysseus is both the recognition of diversity and the need for affection across the illusions of form. It is nature's cry to homeless, far-wandering, insatiable man: "Do not forget your brethren, nor the green wood from which you sprang. To do so is to invite disaster.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Dog #Men #Cities

  • In the days of the frost seek an minor sun.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Frost #Sun #Minors

  • Animals are molded by natural forces they do not comprehend. To their minds there is no past and no future. There is only the everlasting present of a single generation, its trails in the forest, its hidden pathways in the the air and in the sea. There is nothing in the Universe more alone than Man. He has entered into the strange world of history.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Past #Men #Animal

  • A man who has once looked with the archaeological eye will never see quite normally. He will be wounded by what other men call trifles. It is possible to refine the sense of time until an old shoe in the bunch grass or a pile of nineteenth century beer bottles in an abandoned mining town tolls in one's head like a hall clock.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Eye #Beer #Men

  • Some degree of withdrawal serves to nurture man's creative powers. The artist and the scientist bring out of the dark void, like the mysterious universe itself, the unique, the strange, the unexpected. Numerous observers have testified upon the loneliness of the process.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Loneliness #Dark #Men

  • You think that way as you begin to get grayer and you see pretty plainly that the game is not going to end as you planned.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Philosophy #Thinking #Games

  • Mind is locked in matter like the spirit Ariel in a cloven pine. Like Ariel, men struggle to escape the drag of the matter they inhabit, yet it is the spirit that they fear.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Philosophy #Struggle #Men

  • The future is neither ahead nor behind, on one side or another. Nor is it dark or light. It is contained within ourselves; its evil and good are perpetually within us.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Time #Philosophy #Dark

  • Modern man lives increasingly in the future and neglects the present.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Philosophy #Men #Modern

  • The freedom to create is somehow linked with facility of access to those obscure regions below the conscious mind.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Mind #Crafts #Obscure

  • God knows how many things a man misses by becoming smug and assuming that matters will take their own course.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Men #Missing #Matter

  • [On common water.] Its substance reaches everywhere; it touches the past and prepares the future; it moves under the poles and wanders thinly in the heights of air. It can assume forms of exquisite perfection in a snowflake, or strip the living to a single shining bone cast up by the sea.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Moving #Past #Sea

  • After chiding the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what, after long effort, could not be proved to take place today had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Taken #Past #Long

  • It was the failures who had always won, but by the time they won they had come to be called successes.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Human Nature

  • It is a funny thing what the brain will do with memories and how it will treasure them and finally bring them into odd juxtapositions with other things, as though it wanted to make a design, or get some meaning out of them, whether you want it or not, or even see it.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Memories #Funny Things #Design

  • At the core of the universe, the face of God wears a smile
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Faces #Universe

  • As for men, those myriad little detached ponds with their own swarming corpuscular life, what were they but a way that water has of going about beyond the reach of rivers?
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Nature #Men #Rivers

  • When the human mind exists in the light of reason and no more than reason, we may say with absolute certainty that Man and all that made him will be in that instant gone.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Men #Light #Mind

  • From the solitude of the wood, (Man) has passed to the more dreadful solitude of the heart.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Heart #Men #Solitude

  • Many of us who walk to and fro upon our usual tasks are prisoners drawing mental maps of escape.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Drawing #Usual #Tasks

  • Each and all, we are riding into the dark. Even living, we cannot remember half the events of our own days.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Dark #Events #Riding

  • We think we learn from teachers, and we sometimes do. But the teachers are not always to be found in school or in great laboratories. Sometimes what we learn depends upon our own powers of insight.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Teacher #Learning #School

  • Lights come and go in the night sky. Men, troubled at last by the things they build, may toss in their sleep and dream bad dreams, or lie awake while the meteors whisper greenly overhead. But nowhere in all space or on a thousand worlds will there be men to share our loneliness.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Dream #Loneliness #Lying

  • Primitives of our own species, even today are historically shallow in their knowledge of the past. Only the poet who writes speaks his message across the millennia to other hearts.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Writing #Heart #Past

  • Every man contains within himself a ghost continent.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Men #Ghost #Continents

  • Like the herd animals we are, we sniff warily at the strange one among us.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Animal #Strange #Herds

  • It is frequently the tragedy of the great artist for example Vincent Van Gogh, as it is of the great scientist, that he frightens the ordinary man. If he is more than a popular story-teller it may take humanity a generation to absorb and grow accustomed to the new geography with which the scientist or artist presents us. Even then, perhaps only the more imaginative and literate may accept him. Subconsciously the genius is feared as an image breaker; frequently he does not accept the opinions of the mass, or man's opinion of himself.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Art #Men #Humanity

  • Once in a lifetime, perhaps, one escapes the actual confines of the flesh. Once in a lifetime, if one is lucky, one so merges with sunlight and air and running water that whole eons, the eons that mountains and deserts know, might pass in a single afternoon without discomfort.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Running #Air #Water

  • It has been asserted that we are destined to know the dark beyond the stars before we comprehend the nature of our own journey.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Stars #Dark #Journey

  • Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war... Mostly the animals understand their roles, but man, by comparison, seems troubled by a message that, it is often said, he cannot quite remember or has gotten wrong... Bereft of instinct, he must search continually for meanings... Man was a reader before he became a writer, a reader of what Coleridge once called the mighty alphabet of the universe.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Beach #War #Animal

  • Life, unlike the inanimate, will take the long way round to circumvent barrenness. A kind of desperate will resides even in a root.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Life #Roots #Long

  • I am older now, and sleep less, and have seen most of what there is to see and am not very much impressed any more, I suppose, by anything.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Life #Sleep

  • Without the gift of flowers and the infinite diversity of their fruits, man and bird, if they had continued to exist at all, would be today unrecognizable.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Flower #Men #Diversity

  • Tomorrow lurks in us, the latency to be all that was not achieved before....
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Tomorrow

  • I am not nearly so interested in what monkey man was derived from as I am in what kind of monkey he is to become.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Men #Mindfulness #Monkeys

  • Fire, as we have learned to our cost, has an insatiable hunger to be fed. It is a nonliving force that can even locomote itself.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Fire #Cost #Hunger

  • Of all the unexpected qualities of an unexpected universe, the sheer organizing power of animal and plant metabolism is one of the most remarkable. . . . Where it reaches its highest development, in the human mind, we forget it completely. . . . So important does nature regard this unseen combustion . . . that a starving man's brain will be protected to the last while his body is steadily consumed.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Animal #Men #Brain

  • In the desert, an old monk had once advised a traveler, the voices of God and the Devil are scarcely distinguishable.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Voice #Devil #Desert

  • It has been said that great art is the night thought of man. It may emerge without warning from the soundless depths of the unconscious, just as supernovas may blaze up suddenly in the farther reaches of void space.
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Art #Night #Men

  • Man would not be man if his dreams did not exceed his grasp... If I remember the sunflower forest it is because from its hidden reaches man arose. The green world is his sacred center. In moments of sanity he must still seek refuge there...
    -- Loren Eiseley

    #Dream #Men #Sunflower