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from Sens-Plastique

30:8 Tasting is quick, brief, and distinct, like fingers tapping piano keys. Our tastings blend into an aftertaste in the way fingers enfold separate percussions into a harmonic resolution. Smelling is quite different. We take in a whole range of ambient odors in the background whenever we sniff, bringing each one forward, one at a time, while we select the odors we like and refuse the ones we don't. But the more we repel the unwanted smells, the more they insist on forcing their way in.

13:3 The skin is a continuing caress, each pore a rung of thrills on the endless ladder of sensual pleasure.

15:13 All those stamens in a flower give it a perpetual "come on" look.

32:4 All forms of worship are symbolic at best, and as human beings our way of practicing devotion is by talking to God. In nature, symbolism reverses the order of the mass, with God talking to us instead of the man-to-God mass we ordinarily think of as the only kind.

24:7 The fur of his hide is the beast's armorial signature, while naked man has to wear a coat and a coat of arms separately.

29:7 The soul of the "other" is the stopper of sexual pleasure. A stopper so tightly twisted in, it shocks us into self-consciousness on impact.

76:7 Shade cast by the sun contains all the colors of the rainbow, given differences in climate, altitude, and time of day--except where flowers are concerned. Flowers of all colors show up as blue in shade, even in the deepest shade. Without this uniform shade of blue in flowers joined to the green of leaves with some blue of their own, and to the blue of the sky with its tinges of green--plants, flowers, and sky would be unable to harmonize their blueness but would have to be seen in separate frames. Different parts of nature could not fuse together on the retina. Our human vision wouldn't be capable of contemplating nature as all of a piece, for in trying to see the sky as one, the eye would have to relinquish the flower, and in trying to see the flower as one, the eye would have to relinquish the plant. If the deepest shade in the flower didn't run to blue, nature would lose one of the principal connecting links indispensable to its perfection, thereby weakening the infinite chain of its unity.

45:9 Although the human face has a lofty look, it might seem as if the look were perpetually rising if it weren't for the falling effect of the hair on the head counterbalancing the initial effect of the expression's climb. Gaze at a completely bald head from a distance: hairlessness gives the appearance of the head's wanting to detach itself from the neck.

46:3 If we ever come to realize and recognize that all offenses are interdependent and belong under the heading of selfishness, we can do away with the court system and hold everyone criminally responsible.

46:9 Like an airplane taxiing faster and faster until it suddenly lifts off and heads straight for the clouds, the human mind reaches a certain speed of thought on its cerebral runway before it spins off into the cerebellum. Thinking beyond certain speeds becomes subconscious.

47:2 People with good sense can be found everywhere, fewer have good judgment, hardly any are intuitive, and rarest are the divinely gifted. It takes centuries to make a prophet, which is fortunate for us because almost all the real prophets either inspire the founding of a religion or found one themselves. If prophets were everywhere, creeds would cover the globe, creating havoc in people's minds about which of all those gods to believe in. Babel would return to mankind, a new spiritual Babel, dispersing our mental capacities in every direction and inevitably ending in the extinction of the human race.

47:3 The flower goes around naked but devoid of indecency by the very fact that covering up never occurs to it. The human body is sexually provocative because it doesn't ever feel free inside clothing.

48:3 The act of love is a double impasse between two carnal cities, each body hurling itself desperately but in vain against the walls of the other. If they could straddle the walls, they would fall into the great beyond.

48:4 When we walk in a dense forest everything clings to us. We sense the pull of inert forms on all sides, inert with one exception: when we brush past the thorny stalks of a creeper, nature seems to check our progress with the fingers of a living hand drawing us towards it. Liana--you hyphenated vegetable-animal, your silent supple clawings evoke the supreme loveliness of the human touch.

49:5 If Cinderella hadn't lost her slipper, Prince Charming would never have materialized. Accidents make lucky accidents possible.

49:8 The mind gets easily distracted in all sorts of ways. The heart is its own exclusive concern and diversion.

49:10 Semi-darkness lends bodies an air of mystery. To penetrate the enigma of the human face we need all the daylight we can get. At night we address a person's body. In the daytime we talk to the face.

51:2 Heredity, a mixture of parentage in most people, is "layered" in a rare few. Like a palimpsest readable only after successive effacements have been removed or like some overpainted object from which coats of paint have been lifted, many of us have to live through sections of ourselves because we were born through layers of parentage.

51:4 Not until one pleasure has been satisfied does it become possible for you to enjoy something else. This should be as obvious as having to digest one meal before taking on another. Only hysterics accumulate their pleasures, mounting them in heaps like a snowfall piling up a confusion of snow in a snow bank. The result is an emotional irritability that bursts out in weeping. Hysterics don't know how to taste their pleasures quickly enough to keep them in order because their nerve endings are maladjusted in their brains. They are simply insatiable.

51:7 If we try to be completely alone with our inner selves by seeking solitude and deliberately avoiding the company of others, we try in vain. The reason is that whenever we concentrate on ourselves, the person inside us simply goes off on its own. The only possible school for us humans is the world we live in. Solitude is the school of otherness.

52:1 Napoleon made up for his lowly birth with an emperor's crown. Had he been born in a stable he would have sought godhead. The lower their origins, the more playthings the Olympians needed. Christ was an exception to the rule because he reigned infinitely more over our hearts than over our heads. Attract the love of others and you won't need to create sensations.

52:2 The fountain is the acme of good taste, its lace, jewels, and ribbons of water being none other than the watery dress itself. Nothing "uglifies" more than embellishments.

52:5 In lovemaking the five senses sink into the body leaving the sixth sense to take charge of the mind. If man didn't at some point depend on his sixth sense, his mind's kite would snap away from its attachment to the act of love, his mind would fly off into space and the spasm would kill him.

52:7 The misery people of a certain age bring on themselves by overdressing to look young is that overdressing simply makes them look older, so they doll up even more to avoid ridicule, compounding the ridicule--and they end up looking older than ever. A vicious circle. Like being trapped in quicksand where each little movement makes you sink lower. To avoid adding a surplus of years, look your age.

53:3 In sunlight our shadow is like a thing apart. At night our shadow is like a piece of us following step by step behind. This is because the soul's machinery speeds up from twilight on, projecting a larger and larger part of our selves into everything that emanates from us. At night we even feel as if our own shadow is aware of us. In the dead of night, no matter how bright the light around us, a presence seems to be hovering nearby. During the day our shadow is a companion. When night falls it peoples the whole room.

54:3 We speak a foreign language by eliding the vowels and grasping at the consonants. like a drunk slipping and sliding and trying to hold on to whatever he can.

54:1 Physical repulsion is copulation with a third party in the room: you, yourself, are witness, judge, and accused. Physical repulsion in the act of love is criminal masturbation in the victimized body of the other.

76:1 God is unidirectional, which is why there's no returning from the other world, or from time before to time after. You can't "turn back" from God. The road to Hell is not in the opposite direction from God's road but at right angles to it, so that, in effect, God acts as a structural brace between the two, seeing to it that Hell doesn't flow into Heaven.

75:3 You can hear all the stringed instruments, one after another in the flight of a fly, depending on how fast it is flying, the way it veers off suddenly, or whether the flight is on an even course or keeps mounting higher. That, at least, is what takes place naturally. But just interrupt a swarm in its progress, and one fly will go off into a woodwind flight, this one sounds like a flute, that one honks, and another brays like one of the brasses or even taps a drum. What seems to be happening is that the separate actions and reactions of each fly in the mass of disturbed flies makes them all sound together like an accordion.

74:3 If the food put before us assailed our nostrils directly instead of from all sides, the smell would fall into our sense of taste like a stone crashing into a well. The sudden shock would paralyze tasting for a while. It might take so long for our appetite to recover that we would have to completely forget what the food smelled like in order to eat it.

73:9 Water talks with its mouth full, the air with its mouth open. Which is why we can understand the language of the wind better than what the brook burbles.

73:1 If only faces could talk there would be fewer compulsive babbles.

45:10 The bee is too busy gathering honey to pause and gaze at those heavenly halls it keeps constantly entering. Man is too busy making a living to live.

72:10 Objects are the clasps on the pockets of space.

46:1 In the eternal commerce of existence, in the business office of life, God is the last customer waiting to be served, like the lowest- level clerk in a bureau.

49:9 A cheated heart demands collateral and then lends only at mortgage rates. Deception eventually turns it into a businessman.

53:2 The bee soothing the flower with suck sweetens its scent. Just smell the sweetness of a nursing mother's breath!

translated by Irving Weiss