"When you have lived as long as I, you will see that every human being has his shell, and that you must take the shell into account. By the shell I mean the whole envelope of circumstances. There is no such thing as an isolated man or woman; we are each of us made up of a cluster of appurtenances. What do you call one's self? Where does it begin? Where does it end? It overflows into everything that belongs to us—and then flows back again. One's self—for other people—is one's expression of one's self; and one's house, one's clothes, the books one reads, the company one keeps - these things are all expressive."
— Henry James (via whiskey river)
"So it follows that all that is here is not to be despised and put down, but, precisely because it did precede us, to be taken by us with the innermost understanding that these appearances and things must be seen and transformed."
— Rainer Maria Rilke, from a letter to Witold Hulewicz, 13 November 1925 (via)