Longing for the Everlasting
C.S. Lewis on Immanence said...
Surprised by Joy (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Harvest Books 1955), 238.
It was as though the voice which had called to me from the world's end were now speaking at my side. It was with me in the room, or in my body, or behind me. If it had once eluded me by its distance, it now eluded me by proximity — some thing too near to see, too plain to be understood, on this side of knowledge.
Vincent van Gogh on the Journey said...
The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh L74, Written Aug 26, 1876 (NY Graphic Society, 1958), I:66.
Did I ever tell you about a picture by Boughton, "The Pilgrim's Progress"? It is toward evening. A sandy path leads over the hills to a mountain, on the top of which is the Holy City, lit by the red sun setting behind the gray evening clouds. On the road is a pilgrim who wants to go to the city; he is already tired and asks a woman in black, who is standing by the road and whose name is "Sorrowful yet always Rejoicing": "Does the road go uphill all the way?" "Yes, to the very end." "And will the journey take all day long?" "Yes, from morn till night my friend." Truly, it is not a picture, but an inspiration.
The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh L248, Written 26,27 Dec 1882 (NY Graphic Society, 1958), I:495.
It seems to me it's a painter's duty to try to put an idea into his work. In this print I have tried to express what seems to me one of the strongest proofs of the existence of the "quelque chose l'-haut" [something on high] in which Millet believed, namely the existence of God and eternity... ¶ [It is] certainly in the infinitely touching expression of a little old man, which he himself is unconscious of, when he is sitting quietly in the corner by the fire. At the same time, there is something noble, something great, which cannot be destined for the worms... This is far from all theology, simply the fact that the poorest little woodcutter or peasant on the hearth or miner can have moments of emotion and inspiration that give him a feeling of an eternal home, and of being close to it.
Plato on Not Knowing the Way said...
This every soul seeketh and for the sake of this doth all her actions, having an inkling that it is; but what it is she cannot sufficiently discern, and she knoweth not her way, and concerning this she hath no constant assurance as she hath of other things.
C.S. Lewis on Sehnsucht said...
in The Pilgrim's Regress (1926)
Sehnsucht is "the longing for that unnameable something, the desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of a bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of, The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of Kubla Khan, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves."
Fyodor Dostoevsky on Sehnsucht said...
The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, in The Best Short Stories of Dostoevsky, trans. David Magarshack (New York: The Modern Library, 1992), 335-6.
I often told them that I had had a presentiment of it years ago and that all that joy and glory had been perceived by me while I was still on our earth as a nostalgic yearning, bordering at times on unendurably poignant sorrow; that I had had a presentiment of them all and of their glory in the dreams of my heart and in the reveries of my soul; that often on our earth I could not look at the setting sun without tears.... That there always was a sharp pang of anguish in my hatred of the men of our earth; why could I not hate them without loving them too? why could I not forgive them? And in my love for them, too, there was a sharp pang of anguish: Why could I not love them without hating them?
After Death, What? (New York: The Christian Herald, 1908), 81.
Were we to believe that death ends all, that the cessation of the mortal life terminated the career of being, that the sun of hope was never to arise above the eternal horizon of tomorrow, the present existence would be a nightmare of horror, even to those who fall heirs to the enjoyments of the world, for earth's pleasures are but pain, earth's riches but dross. Nothing satisfies here; everything cloys and palls upon the senses. The man of wealth and learning in this respect is no better off than his poorest neighbor. The latter is often envying the wealthy, while the rich man is sighing for an indefinable something to fill up the void in his life, but the void can never be filled by time; its capacity is the measure of eternity. The ever-constant longing in the heart of man is a proof that this world is not his home, that the tomb is not the objective point where the final line is drawn, beyond which none may go.