Octavio Paz Quotes

Literature is the expression of a feeling of deprivation, a recourse against a sense of something missing. But the contrary is also true: language is what makes us human. It is a recourse against the meaningless noise and silence of nature and history.
Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "The Exception to the Rule," Alternating Current (1967).
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The North American system only wants to consider the positive aspects of reality. Men and women are subjected from childhood to an inexorable process of adaptation; certain principles, contained in brief formulas are endlessly repeated by the press, the radio, the churches, and the schools, and by those kindly, sinister beings, the North American mothers and wives. A person imprisoned by these schemes is like a plant in a flowerpot too small for it: he cannot grow or mature.
Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet, essayist. The Labyrinth of Solitude, ch. 1 (1950, trans. 1961).
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Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide-awake. But this wide-awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason.
Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet, essayist. The Labyrinth of Solitude, ch. 9 (1950, trans. 1961).
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Alcoholism is a search for a common language, or at least, it is a compensation for a language that has been lost. The use of drugs does not imply the overestimation of the value of language but of silence. Drunkenness exaggerates communication; drugs destroy it. Young people's preference for drugs reveals a change in the contemporary attitude toward language and communication. The first to see the differences between drugs and wine was Baudelaire: "Wine exalts the will; hashish destroys it. Wine is a physical stimulant; hashish a suicidal weapon. Wine mellows us and makes us sociable; hashish isolates us." Wine is social, drugs solitary; the one inflames the senses, the other rouses the imagination.
Octavio Paz (b. 1914), Mexican poet. "The Symposium and the Hermit," Alternating Current, Viking (1973).
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