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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity





"In order to move others deeply we must deliberately allow ourselves to be carried away beyond the bounds of our normal sensibility." Joseph Conrad


Editor's 1-Minute Essay: Sensibility





Henry James: “Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.”

Zadie Smith: “When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility.”

William Tecumseh Sherman: “Courage - a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to endure it.”


sense and sensibility, metaphorically represented by two sisters


Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility features the two Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, exemplifying these capacities.

Elinor is offered as the puportedly more mature, the one possessing discreet, quiet, good “sense”; her thoughts and feelings are typically restricted to an inner world which seldom expresses itself overmuch. Marianne, however, is the flamboyant one, knows a vivacity which prudence would disallow, and is of dramatic “sensibility”; her sentiments are often worn on the outside, sometimes suggesting the anarchic.

This brief description, however, does not accurately portray the sisters as, at times, they switched roles and characteristics.

Sense And Sensibility offers a glimpse of patriarchal England circa 1800. A woman had few rights and her best opportunity to provide a means and a life for herself was to enter the marriage market. This could often prove dehumanizing. Upon allowing herself to be sought for, decisions would need to be made concerning how much of the inner life must be sacrificed upon the sacrificial altar of the cares of this world.

Nietzsche offered another take on “sense and sensibility” with Apollo and Dionysus

In his 1872 work The Birth of Tragedy, which presents a theory of drama, Friedrich Nietzsche explores “sense and sensibility” as exemplified by two Greek gods, Apollo and Dionysus. Apollo represents the thoughtful life, rationality, order, method, and system, while Dionysus came to be associated with wine, frenzy, dance, emotionality, and irrationality.



Bret Easton Ellis: “Regardless of the business aspect of things, is there a reason that there isn't a female Hitchcock or a female Scorsese or a female Spielberg? I don't know. I think it's a medium that really is built for the male gaze and for a male sensibility.”

Herbert Read: “Art is pattern, informed by sensibility.”

Joseph Conrad: “In order to move others deeply we must deliberately allow ourselves to be carried away beyond the bounds of our normal sensibility.”

Andy Garcia: “Children make you a better everything. Daughters open up a whole different sensibility to you. When you have children, it focuses you on them as opposed to on yourself.”

Margaret Sanger: “The submission of her body without love or desire is degrading to the woman's finer sensibility, all the marriage certificates on earth to the contrary notwithstanding.”

Álvaro de Campos: “He possesses the minimum sensibility necessary for his intelligence not to be merely mathematical, the minimum a human being needs so that it can be proven with a thermometer that he's not dead.”



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