“Suffering pulls us farther away from other human beings. It builds a wall made of cries and contempt to separate us.”
“The sky is so close to the sea that it is difficult to tell which is reflected in the other, which one needs the other, which one is dominating the other.”
“Life is really fascinated only by death. It vibrates only when it comes in contact with death.”
“I learned that man lives differently, depending on whether he is in a horizontal or vertical position. The shadows on the walls, on the faces, are not the same.”
“Man prefers to blame himself for all possible sins and crimes rather than come to the conclusion that God is capable of the most flagrant injustice. I still blush every time I think of the way God makes fun of human beings, his favorite toys.”
“man carries his fiercest enemy within himself. Hell isn’t others. It’s ourselves. Hell is the burning fever that makes you feel cold.”
“In fact, the question has haunted me for a long time: Does life have meaning after Auschwitz? In a universe cursed because it is guilty, is hope still possible? For a young survivor whose knowledge of life and death surpasses that of his elders, wouldn’t suicide be as great a temptation as love or faith?”
“He struggles to understand why fate has spared him and not so many others. Was it to know happiness? His happiness will never be complete. To know love? He will never be sure of being worthy of love. A part of him is still back there, on the other side, where the dead deny the living the right to leave them behind. His recovery will be a road into exile, a journey in which the touch of the woman he loves will matter less than the image of his grandmother buried under a mountain of ashes.”
“A man who has suffered more than others, and differently, should live apart. Alone. Outside of any organized existence. He poisons the air. He makes it unfit for breathing. He takes away from joy its spontaneity and its justification. He kills hope and the will to live. He is the incarnation of time that negates present and future, only recognizing the harsh law of memory. He suffers and his contagious suffering calls forth echoes around him.”
“That said, certain episodes here are true—that is, taken from life. The accident actually happened to me. I didn’t see the taxi coming. The possibility of a suicidal impulse was invented for the sake of the story. In fact, the question has haunted me for a long time: Does life have meaning after Auschwitz? In a universe cursed because it is guilty, is hope still possible? For a young survivor whose knowledge of life and death surpasses that of his elders, wouldn’t suicide be as great a temptation as love or faith?”
“Suffering is given to the living, not to the dead,” he said looking right through me. “It is man’s duty to make it cease, not to increase it. One hour of suffering less is already a victory over fate.”
“I tried to put on a smile but, being too cold, I could only manage a grin. That’s one reason why I don’t like winter: smiles become abstract.”
“Suffering brings out the lowest, the most cowardly in man. There is a phase of suffering you reach beyond which you become a brute: beyond it you sell your soul—and worse, the souls of your friends—for a piece of bread, for some warmth, for a moment of oblivion, of sleep. Saints are those who die before the end of the story. The others, those who live out their destiny, no longer dare look at themselves in the mirror, afraid they may see their inner image: a monster laughing at unhappy women and at saints who are dead…”
“All right, I told myself. I’ll also have to learn to eat. And to love. You can learn anything.”
“I thought he was talking about my grandmother. I didn't want to see her. I knew she had died - of thirst, maybe - and I was afraid she wouldn't be as I remembered her. I was afraid she wouldn't have the black shawl on her head, nor those burning tears in her eyes, nor that clear, calm expression that could make you forget you were cold.”
“Do you believe in God, Doctor?” My question took him by surprise. He stopped suddenly, wrinkling his forehead. “Yes,” he answered. “But not in the operating room. There I only count on myself.” His eyes looked deeper. He added, “On myself and on the patient. Or, if you prefer, on the life in the diseased flesh. Life wants to live. Life wants to go on. It is opposed to death. It fights. The patient is my ally. He fights on my side. Together we are stronger than the enemy. Take the boy last night. He didn’t accept death. He helped me to win the battle. He was holding on, clinging. He was asleep, anesthetized, and yet he was taking part in the fight…” Still motionless, he”
“I'm serious," she said. "I read your articles. They are written by a man who has come to the end of his life, to the end of his hopes."
"That is a sign of youth," I answered. "The young today don't believe that someday they'll be old: they are convinced they'll die young. Old men are the real youngsters of our generation. They at least can brag about having had what we do not have: a slice of life called youth.”
“You speak of destiny as if it was fixed.”
“… Get up against that wall now – let’s see your face against the tiles.”
Your voice is little more than a growl and the instruction takes a
moment to register. You push me up against the tiles, holding my hands
behind my back.”
“We are one miracle inter-linked with another, and another, and another, entire heavens located upon this single page as well as inside the fingertip that turns it.”
“PSALM 115 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”
“It was not such a long way to the weightlessness of the needle’s hollow interior. She had her choice then: either towards the engine core, where Sering had no doubt taken steps to ensure that he would not be disturbed; or away. Away, in a very final sense. She could override anything Sering had done. She had full confidence in the superiority of her abilities. It would take time, though. If she cast herself that way down the needle, towards Sering and his traps and locked barriers, then time would be something she would not have the benefit of.”
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