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- How absurd it must seem for an immortal soul to be destined for Heaven or Hell, and yet be sitting in a kitchen, as a maid, or to see oneself objectified as a mechanic! how falsely the usual sunrise waked us, the clock dial, the city street the job! How wrongfully people find themselves in these systems — our time isn't there, our space isn't there, our space isn't even here... the whole social story of waking, and certainly the day of the mechanic, is false.
- Traces (1930), p. 27
- In death too, there is always something of the rich cat that lets the mouse run before devouring it
- Traces (1930), p. 30
- On bourgeois ground … change is impossible anyway even if it were desired. In fact, bourgeois interest would like to draw every other interest opposed to it into its own failure; so, in order to drain the new life, it makes its own agony apparently fundamental, apparently ontological. The futility of bourgeois existence is extended to be that of the human situation in general, of existence per se.
- The Principle of Hope (1959), N. Plaice, trans. (1986), p. 4
- Evil does not approach us as pride any more, but on the contrary as slumber, lassitude, concealment of the "I." … It may make us so quickly contented, that any definitive fire will die down. The venomous, breathtaking frigid mist seems able … to harden hearts and fill them with envy, obduracy and resentment, with bloody scorn for the divine image and light, with all the causes of the only true original sin, which is not wanting to be like God.
- Man on His Own (1959), B. Ashton, trans. (1970), p. 62
Essays on the Philosophy of Music (1985)
- We hear only ourselves.
- For we gradually become blind to the outside world.
- Whatever we shape leads back around ourselves again. It is not so much exclusively self-oriented, not so much hazy, floating, warm, dark and incorporeal as the feeling always of being simply with ourselves, simply self-aware. It is material and it is experience with alien affiliations. But we walk in the forest and feel we are or might be what the forest is dreaming. We pass between the pillars of its tree trunks, small, spiritual and invisible to ourselves, as their sound, as that which could not become forest again or external appearance of day and visibility. We do not possess it, that which all this around us—moss, curious flowers, roots, trunks and streaks of light is or signifies—because we are it itself and are standing too close to it, the spectral and still ineffable nature of consciousness or interiorisation. But the sound burns out of us, the heard note, not the sound itself or its forms. This, however, shows us our path without alien means, our historically inward path, as a fire in which not the vibrating air but we ourselves begin to quiver and to cast off our cloaks.
- "The Philosophy of Music: Dream", p. 1; originally "Philosophie der Musik: Traum" in: Ernst Bloch, Geist der Utopie (1918)
- For an alternative translation see The Spirit of Utopia, Stanford University Press, 2000, p. 34