It is only a short step from exaggerating what we can find in the world to exaggerating our power to remake the world. Expecting more novelty than there is, more greatness than there is, and more strangeness than there is, we imagine ourselves masters of a plastic universe. But a world we can shape to our will is a shapeless world.
Where we cannot invent, we may at least improve; we may give somewhat of novelty to that which was old, condensation to that which was diffuse, perspicuity to that which was obscure, and currency to that which was recondite.
All my life I have been trying to learn, to read, to see and hear, and to write. At sixty-five I began my first novel and after the five years, lacking a month, I took to finish it, I was still traveling, still a seeker.
What a chimera then is man! What a novelty! What a monster, what a chaos, what a subject of contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, depository of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error, the glory and the shame of the universe.