Moment is a word which most often refers to an ambiguously short length of time, but also signifies in mathematics a quantitative measure of the shape of a set of points, and in physics relates to the perpendicular distance from a point to a line or a surface. Most of the quotes on this page will likely refer primarily to moments in reference to time, but others are permissible, especially when there are ambiguities in their usage which are likely deliberate.
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- "I exist" does not follow from "there is a thought now." The fact that a thought occurs at a given moment does not entail that any other thought has occurred at any other moment, still less that there has occurred a series of thoughts sufficient to constitute a single self. As Hume conclusively showed, no one event intrinsically points to any other. We infer the existence of events which we are not actually observing, with the help of general principle. But these principles must be obtained inductively. By mere deduction from what is immediately given we cannot advance a single step beyond. And, consequently, any attempt to base a deductive system on propositions which describe what is immediately given is bound to be a failure.
- There was no pain when I awoke,
No pain at all. Rest, like a goad,
Spurred my eyes open — and light broke
Upon them like a million swords:
And she was there. There are no words.
- Stephen Vincent Benét, in "The Quality of Courage", in Young Adventure (1918)
- What one needs to do at every moment of one's life is to put an end to the old world and to begin a new world.
- Nikolai Berdyaev, in The Beginning and the End (1947)
- The number of the dead long exceedeth all that shall live. The night of time far surpasseth the day, and who knows when was the Æquinox? Every hour adds unto that current arithmetick, which scarce stands one moment.
- Thomas Browne, in Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial (1658)
- The Now, that indivisible point which studs the length of infinite line
Whose ends are nowhere, is thine all, the puny all thou callest thine.
- No one's ever needed to do it, as much as you do. This is your moment. Believe in yourself.
- If you aren’t in the moment, you are either looking forward to uncertainty, or back to pain and regret.
- He was by himself always. Remote, detached, aloof. Seeing past everyone and everything — that is, until all at once something clicked and he momentarily rephased, reentered their world briefly.
- With God, every moment is the moment of beginning again.
- Catherine Doherty, in Living the Gospel Without Compromise (2002)
- Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
- I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker...
- But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
- The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been.
- For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.
- Look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then... this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, "I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!" For it is the doom of men that they forget.
- I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid for thee, when I shall brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble at every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of thy fall.
- Ezekiel 32:10
- Minor things can become moments of great revelation when encountered for the very first time.
- Margot Fonteyn, in Margot Fonteyn : Autobiography (1975), p. 9
- In truth there is no such thing in man's nature as a settled and full resolve either for good or evil, except at the very moment of execution.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Twice-Told Tales (1842), Fancy's Show Box
- It appears to be an inborn and imperative need of all men to regard the self as a unit. However often and however grievously this illusion is shattered, it always mends again. The judge who sits over the murderer and looks into his face, and at one moment recognizes all the emotions and potentialities and possibilities of the murderer in his own soul and hears the murderer’s voice as his own, is at the next moment one and indivisible as the judge, and scuttles back into the shell of his cultivated self and does his duty and condemns the murderer to death. And if ever the suspicion of their manifold being dawns upon men of unusual powers and of unusually delicate perceptions, so that, as all genius must, they break through the illusion of the unity of the personality and perceive that the self is made up of a bundle of selves, they have only to say so and at once the majority puts them under lock and key, calls science to aid, establishes schizomania and protects humanity from the necessity of hearing the cry of truth from the lips of these unfortunate persons.
- Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927), as translated by Basil Creighton (1929), p. 58
- Eternity is a mere moment, just long enough for a joke.
- Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927), as translated by Basil Creighton (1929), p. 97
- You read the face of the sky and of the earth, but you have not recognized the one who is before you, and you do not know how to read this moment.
- O servant, where dost thou seek Me?
Lo! I am beside thee.
I am neither in temple nor in mosque: I am neither in Kaaba nor in Kailash:
Neither am I in rites and ceremonies, nor in Yoga and renunciation.
If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt at once see Me: thou shalt meet Me in a moment of time.
- Kabir, as translated by Rabindranath Tagore, in Songs of Kabîr (1915)
- Variant translation: Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine
rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding
around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but
When you really look for me, you will see me
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
- As paraphrased by Robert Bly in The Kabir Book (1977)
- The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say, before you have finished reading this paragraph.
- C. S. Lewis, in The World's Last Night (1952)
- The doctrine of the Second Coming has failed, so far as we are concerned, if it does not make us realize that at every moment of every year in our lives Donne's question "What if this present were the world's last night?" is equally relevant.
- C. S. Lewis, in The World's Last Night (1952)
- The devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
- The Moment is coming. The Moment is me. You have to decide.
- It strikes me that self, not just my self, but all self, the phenomenon of self, is perhaps one field, one consciousness – perhaps there is only one ‘I’, perhaps our brains, our selves, our entire identity is little more than a label on a waveband. We are only us when we are here. At this particular moment in space and time, this particular locus, the overall awareness of the entire continuum happens to believe it is Alan Moore. Over there – [he points to another table in the pizza restaurant] – it happens to believe it is something else.
I get the sense that if you can pull back from this particular locus, this web-site if you like, then you could be the whole net. All of us could be. That there is only one awareness here, that is trying out different patterns. We are going to have to come to some resolution about a lot of things in the next twenty years time, our notions of time, space, identity.
- Alan Moore, in "Alan Moore Interview" by Matthew De Abaitua (1998), later published in Alan Moore: Conversations (2011) edited by Eric L. Berlatsky
- Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments.
- I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
- All things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
- Beauty is momentary in the mind —
The fitful tracing of a portal;
But in the flesh it is immortal.
The body dies; the body's beauty lives.
Do I begin and end? And where,
As I strum the thing, do I pick up
That which momentously declares
Itself not to be I and yet
Must be. It could be nothing else.
- Wallace Stevens, in The Man With the Blue Guitar (1937), XII
- We shall forget by day, except
The moments when we choose to play
The imagined pine, the imagined jay.
- Wallace Stevens, in The Man With the Blue Guitar (1937), XXXIII
- The poem refreshes life so that we share,
For a moment, the first idea . . . It satisfies
Belief in an immaculate beginning
And sends us, winged by an unconscious will,
To an immaculate end.
- Wallace Stevens, in Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (1942), It Must Be Abstract, III
- As a man and woman meet and love forthwith.
Perhaps there are moments of awakening,
Extreme, fortuitous, personal, in which
We more than awaken, sit on the edge of sleep,
As on an elevation, and behold
The academies like structures in a mist.
- Wallace Stevens, in Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (1942), It Must Be Abstract, VII
- Like a page of music, like an upper air,
Like a momentary color, in which swans
Were seraphs, were saints, were changing essences.
The west wind was the music, the motion, the force
To which the swans curveted, a will to change,
A will to make iris frettings on the blank.
- Wallace Stevens, in Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (1942), It Must Change, IX
- The difficultest rigor is forthwith,
On the image of what we see, to catch from that
Irrational moment its unreasoning,
As when the sun comes rising, when the sea
Clears deeply, when the moon hangs on the wall
Of heaven-haven. These are not things transformed.
Yet we are shaken by them as if they were.
- Wallace Stevens, in Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (1942), It Must Give Pleasure, I
- I am the angel of reality,
Seen for a moment standing in the door.
- Wallace Stevens, in "Angel Surrounded by Paysans" (1949)
- The best definition of true imagination is that it is the sum of our faculties. Poetry is the scholar's art. The acute intelligence of the imagination, the illimitable resources of its memory, its power to possess the moment it perceives — if we were speaking of light itself, and thinking of the relationship between objects and light, no further demonstration would be necessary . . . What light requires a day to do, and by day I mean a kind of Biblical revolution of time, the imagination does in the twinkling of an eye. It colors, increases, brings to a beginning and end, invents languages, crushes men, and, for that matter, gods in its hands, it says to women more than it is possible to say, it rescues all of us from what we have called absolute fact...
- Wallace Stevens, in The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination (1951), Imagination as Value
- In the most deeply significant of the legends concerning Jesus, we are told how the devil took him up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and the devil said unto him: "All this power will I give unto thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be thine." Jesus, as we know, answered and said "Get thee behind me, Satan!" And he really meant it; he would have nothing to do with worldly glory, with "temporal power;" he chose the career of a revolutionary agitator, and died the death of a disturber of the peace.
- Upton Sinclair, in The Profits of Religion : An Essay in Economic Interpretation (1918), Book Seven : The Church of the Social Revolution, "Christ and Caesar"
- Oh, if life were made of moments,
Even now and then a bad one!
But if life were only moments,
Then you'd never know you had one.
- The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
- Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.
- It must be obvious... that there is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity.
- Alan Watts, in The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951)
- Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think I am a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me. … Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
- "Is," "is." "is" — the idiocy of the word haunts me. If it were abolished, human thought might begin to make sense. I don't know what anything "is"; I only know how it seems to me at this moment.
- Robert Anton Wilson inThe Historical Illuminatus Chronicles
- Throwing down your own sword is also an art of war. If you have attained mastery of swordlessness, you will never lack for a sword. The opponent's sword is your sword. This is acting at the vanguard of the moment.
- Yagyū Munenori, as quoted in Soul of the Samurai (2005) by Thomas Cleary, p. 28
- Life moved ever outward into infinite possibilities and yet all things were perfect and finished in every single moment, their end attained.
- David Zindell, in Neverness (1988)
- The elite of the universal religions have always substituted belief in the Infinite for the experience of it. We all need God — but only in small and measured doses. Who can look upon the burning bush and not be destroyed in its flames? Who can bear the heaven and hell of each moment blazing in time? Who can shine like a star?
- David Zindell, in War in Heaven (1998)