Down the helical stairs of the bus that drew up came a pair of charming silk legs: we know of course that this has been worn threadbare by the efforts of a thousand male writers, but nevertheless down they came, these legs-and deceived: the face was revolting. Fyodor climbed aboard, and the conductor, on the open top deck, smote its plated side with his palm to tell the driver he could move on. Along this side and along the toothpaste advertisement upon it swished the tips of soft maple twigs-and it would have been pleasant to look down from above on the gliding street ennobled by perspective, if it were not for the everlasting, chilly thought: there he is, a special, rare and as yet undescribed and unnamed variant of man, and he is occupied with God knows what, rushing from lesson to lesson, wasting his youth on a boring and empty task, on the mediocre teaching of foreign languages-when he has his own language, out of which he can make anything he likes-a midge, a mammoth, a thousand different clouds. What he should be really teaching was that mysterious and refined thing which he alone-out of ten thousand, a hundred thousand, perhaps even a million men-knew how to teach: for example-multilevel thinking: you look at a person and you see him as clearly as if he were fashioned of glass and you were the glass blower, while at the same time without in the least impinging upon that clarity you notice some trifle on the side-such as the similarity of the telephone receiver’s shadow to a huge, slightly crushed ant, and (all this simultaneously) the convergence is joined by a third thought-the memory of a sunny evening at a Russian small railway station; i.e., images having no rational connection with the conversation you are carrying on while your mind runs around the outside of your own words and along the inside of those of your interlocutor. Or: a piercing pity-for the tin box in a waste patch, for the cigarette card from the series National Costumes trampled in the mud, for the poor, stray word repeated by the kindhearted, weak, loving creature who has just been scolded for nothing-for all the trash of life which by means of a momentary alchemic distillation-the “royal experiment”-is turned into something valuable and eternal. Or else: the constant feeling that our days here are only pocket money, farthings clinking in the dark, and that somewhere is stocked the real wealth, from which life should know how to get dividends in the shape of dreams, tears of happiness, distant mountains. All this and much more (beginning with the very rare and painful so-called “sense of the starry sky,” mentioned it seems in only one treatise [Parker’s Travels of the Spirit], and ending with professional subtleties in the sphere of serious literature), he would have been able to teach, and teach well, to anyone who wanted it, but no one wanted it-and no one could, but it was a pity, he would have charged a hundred marks an hour, the same as certain professors of music. And at the same time he found it amusing to refute himself: all this was nonsense, the shadows of nonsense, presumptuous dreams. I am simply a poor young Russian selling the surplus from a gentleman’s upbringing, while scribbling verses in my spare time, that’s the total of my little immortality. But even this shade of multifaceted thought, this play of the mind with its own self, had no prospective pupils.
Vladimir Nabokov, The Gift
No more was then said, but the remark horrified Fielding. He couldn’t bear to think of the queer honest girl losing her money and possibly her young man too. She advanced into his consciousness suddenly. And, fatigued by the merciless and enormous day, he lost his usual sane view of human intercourse, and felt that we exist not in ourselves, but in terms of each other’s minds - a notion for which logic offers no support and which had attacked him only once before, the evening after the catastrophe, when from the verandah of the club he saw the fists and fingers of the Marabar swell until they included the whole night sky.
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
Although her hard school-mistressy manner remained, she was no longer examining life, but being examined by it; she had become a real person.
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
Outside, the fire-red, gas-blue, ghost-green signs shone smokily through the tranquil rain. It was late afternoon and the streets were in movement; the bistros gleamed. At the corner of the Boulevard des Capucines he took a taxi. The Place de la Concorde moved by in pink majesty; they crossed the logical Seine, and Charlie felt the sudden provincial quality of the Left Bank.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Babylon Revisited
When the new house was finished Peter Hamill, a dear friend of father’s, came to see it. I heard him say to father: ‘Ye’ll have to be taken out the window if ye die upstairs.’
Father said he didn’t care how his coffin was taken out. The landing top of the stairs was too short on which to turn a coffin.
People in Ireland never forget that they have to die. Even at the building of a new house the thought of the last going out was in somebody’s mind.

Patrick Kavanagh, The Green Fool
Our philosophy is what it is because it finds itself mounted upon the shoulders of its predecessors - like “the human tower” number performed in the circus by a family of acrobats. Or, if you prefer another image, one can view philosophizing humanity as a long, long road that must be traversed century after century, but a road that in the process winds upon itself, and becomes a load on the traveler’s back - it is transformed from a road into luggage.
José Ortega y Gasset, The Origin of Philosophy
While the child’s boredom is often recognized as an incapacity, it is usually denied as an opportunity. A precociously articulate eleven-year-old boy was referred to me because, in his mother’s words, he was ‘more miserable than he realized’, and had no friends because of his ‘misleading self-representation’. For several weeks, while we got to know each other, he chatted fluently in a quite happy, slightly dissociated way about his vast array of interests and occupations. The only significant negative transference occurred when he mentioned, in passing, that he might sometimes be too busy to come and see me. He was mostly in state of what I can only describe as blank exuberance about how full his life was. As he was terrified of his own self-doubt, I asked him very few questions, and they were always tactful. But at one point, more direct than I intended to be, I asked him if he was ever bored. He was surprised by the question and replied, with a gloominess I hadn’t seen before in this relentlessly cheerful child, ‘I’m not allowed to be bored.’ I asked him what would happen if he allowed himself to be bored, and he paused for the first time, I think, in the treatment, and said ‘I wouldn’t know what I was looking forward to,’ and was momentarily, quite panic-stricken by this thought. This led us, over the next year, into discussion of what in one language would be called this boy’s false self. Being good, in terms of the maternal demand, was having lots of interests; interests, that is, of a respectable, embarrassing sort, nothing that could make him feel awkward and strong. In the course of the treatment he gradually developed in himself a new capacity, the capacity to be bored. I once suggested to him that being good was a way of stopping people knowing him, to which he agreed but added, ‘When I’m bored I don’t know myself!’
Adam Phillips, ‘On Boredom’, from One Way and Another: New and Selected Essays