Too much faith is the worst ally. When you believe in something literally, through your faith you'll turn it into something absurd. One who is a genuine adherent, if you like, of some political outlook, never takes its sophistries seriously, but only its practical aims, which are concealed beneath these sophistries. Political rhetoric and sophistries do not exist, after all, in order that they be believed; rather, they have to serve as a common and agreed upon alibi. Foolish people who take them in earnest sooner or later discover inconsistencies in them, begin to protest, and finish finally and infamously as heretics and apostates. No, too much faith never brings anything good...
People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It's not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.
We will never cease our critique of those persons who distort the past, rewrite it, falsify it, who exaggerate the importance of one event and fail to mention some other; such a critique is proper (it cannot fail to be), but it doesn't count for much unless a more basic critique precedes it: a critique of human memory as such. For after all, what can memory actually do, the poor thing? It is only capable of retaining a paltry little scrap of the past, and no one knows why just this scrap and not some other one, since in each of us the choice occurs mysteriously, outside our will or our interests. We won't understand a thing about human life if we persist in avoiding the most obvious fact: that a reality no longer is what it was when it was; it cannot be reconstructed. Even the most voluminous archives cannot help.
Youth is terrible: it is a stage trod by children in buskins and a variety of costumes mouthing speeches they've memorized and fanatically believe but only half understand. And history is terrible because it so often ends up a playground for the immature; a playground for the young Nero, a playground for the young Bonaparte, a playground for the easily roused mobs of children whose simulated passions and simplistic poses suddenly metamorphose into a catastrophically real reality.
Ya hoy la historia no es más que la estrecha hebra de lo recordado sobre el océano de lo olvidado, pero el tiempo sigue su marcha y llegará la época en que los años tengan muchas cifras, y la memoria del individuo, que habrá permanecido igual en su extensión, no será capaz de abarcarlos; por eso irán desapareciendo de ella siglos y milenios enteros, siglos de cuadros y música, siglos de descubrimientos, batallas, libros, y eso será grave, porque el hombre perderá la conciencia de sí mismo y su historia, inconceptuable,incontenible, se encogerá en unas cuantas abreviaturas carentes de sentido
In times when history still moved slowly, events were few and far between and easily committed to memory. They formed a commonly accepted for thrilling scenes of adventure in private life. Nowadays, history moves at a brisk clip. A historical event, though soon forgotten, sparkles the morning after with the dew of novelty. No longer a backdrop, it is now the itself, an adventure enacted before the backdrop of the commonly accepted banality of private life.
Whenever I think about ancient cultures nostalgia seizes me. Perhaps this is nothing but envy of the sweet slowness of the history of that time. The era of ancient Egyptian culture lasted for several thousand years; the era of Greek antiquity for almost a thousand. In this respect, a single human life imitates the history of mankind; at first it is plunged into immobile slowness, and then only gradually does it accelerate more and more.