Natsume Sōseki Quotes
“You seem to be under the impression that there is a special breed of bad humans. There is no such thing as a stereotype bad man in this world. Under normal conditions, everybody is more or less good, or, at least, ordinary. But tempt them, and they may suddenly change. That is what is so frightening about men.”
“I do not want your admiration now, because I do not want your insults in the future. I bear with my loneliness now, in order to avoid greater loneliness in the years ahead. You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves.”
“I often laughed, and you often gave me a dissatisfied look, till you pressed me to unfold my past before you as if it were a roll of pictures. It was then I felt respect for you. Because you unreservedly showed me your resolution to catch something alive in my being, and to sip the warm blood running in my body, by cutting my heart. At that time, I was still living, and did not want to die. So I rejected your request, promising to satisfy you some day. Now I am going to destroy my heart myself, and pour my blood into your veins. I shall be happy if a new life can enter into your bosom, when my heart has stopped beating.”
“I am a lonely man," he said again that evening. "And is it not possible that you are also a lonely person? But I am an older man, and I can live with my loneliness, quietly. You are young, and it must be difficult to accept your loneliness. You must sometimes want to fight it."
"But I am not at all lonely."
"Youth is the loneliest time of all. Otherwise, why should you come so often to my house?"
Sensei continued: "But surely, when you are with me, you cannot rid yourself of your loneliness. I have not it in me to help you forget it. You will have to look elsewhere for the consolation you seek. And soon, you will find that you no longer want to visit me."
As he said this, Sensei smiled sadly.”
“Now that I thought about it, though, I realized that most people actually encourage you to turn bad. They seem to think that if you don't, you'll never get anywhere in the world. And then on those rare occasions when they encounter somebody who's honest and pure-hearted, they look down on him and say he's nothing but a kid, a Botchan. If that's the way it is, it would be better if they didn't have those ethics classes in elementary school and middle school where the teacher is always telling you to be honest and not lie. The schools might as well just go ahead and teach you how to tell lies, how to mistrust everybody, and how to take advantage of people. Wouldn't their students, and the world at large, be better off that way? Redshirt had laughed at me for being simpleminded. If people are going to get laughed at for being simpleminded and sincere, there's no hope. Kiyo never laughed at me for saying anything like what I said to Redshirt. She would have been deeply impressed by it. Compared to Redshirt, she's far and away the superior person.”
“He is totally abandoned in the way he buys book after book, never to read a single one. I wouldn't mind if he used his head and bought in moderation, but no. Whenever the mood takes him, he ambles off to the biggest bookshop in the city and brings back home as many books as chance to catch his fancy. Then, at the end of the month, he adopts an attitude of complete detachment.”
“In the old days, a man was taught to forget himself. Today it is quite different: he is taught not to forget himself and he accordingly spends his days and nights in endless self-regard. Who can possibly know peace in such an eternally burning hell? The apparent realities of this awful world, even the beast lines of being, are all symptoms of that sickness for which the only cure lies in learning to forget the self.”