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quotations about illusion

Illusion begets and sustains the world; we do not destroy one without destroying the other.

EMIL CIORAN, Drawn and Quartered

People are so ridiculous with their illusions, carrying their fool's caps unawares, thinking their own lies opaque while everybody else's are transparent, making themselves exceptions to everything, as if when all the world looked yellow under a lamp they alone are rosy.

GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch

Even the loveliest dream bears like a blemish its difference from reality, the awareness that what it grants is mere illusion.


Your illusions are a part of you like your bones and flesh and memory.

WILLIAM FAULKNER, Absalom, Absalom!

A man cannot drink from a mirage, but he can drown in it.


We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament, and embrace it with passion, if we want to be happy.

CYRIL CONNOLLY, The Unquiet Grave

People are distracted by objects of desire, and afterwards repent of the lust they've indulged, because they have indulged with a phantom and are left even farther from Reality than before. Your desire for the illusory is a wing, by means of which a seeker might ascend to Reality. When you have indulged a lust, your wing drops off; you become lame and that fantasy flees. Preserve the wing and don't indulge such lust, so that the wing of desire may bear you to Paradise. People fancy they are enjoying themselves, but they are really tearing out their wings for the sake of an illusion.

JALALUDDIN RUMI, quoted in The Pocket Rumi Reader

Life consists in molting our illusions. We form creeds today only to throw them away tomorrow. The eagle molts a feather because he is growing a better one.

ELBERT HUBBARD, The American Bible

In youth, we feel the richer for every new illusion; in mature years, for every one we lose.

MADAME SWETCHINE, "Airelles," The Writings of Madame Swetchine

One of the greatest bores in life is a too knowing fellow, who sees through all delusions, and will never let you enjoy any of them, not even your favorite ones, no matter how agreeable they may be, but must be always waking you out of some delicious dream, only to tell you, "My dear sir, you are dreaming;" as if it were not both proper and natural to dream. He forgets that many things are pleasant only while the delusions which make them so last.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.


An illusion dissipated is an experience gained.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.

W. H. AUDEN, The Age of Anxiety

The only cure for loss of illusions is fresh illusions, more illusions, and always illusions.

WILLIAM JOHN LOCKE, The Glory of Clementina

I think my quarry is illusion. I war against magic. I believe that, though illusion often cheers and comforts, it ultimately and invariably weakens and constricts the spirit.

IRVIN D. YALOM, Love's Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy

Read Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on Illusions


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