Alfred: Do you know what lies at the bottom of the mainstream? Mediocrity.
Gustav von Aschenbach: Madame, will you permit an entire stranger, to serve you with a word of advice and warning, which self-interests prevents others from saying. Go away! Go away, immediately. Don't delay. Please, I beg you.
Gustav von Aschenbach: You cannot reach the spirit with the senses. You cannot. It's only by complete domination of the senses that you can ever achieve wisdom, truth, and human dignity.
Alfred: Wisdom. Truth. Human Dignity. All finished! Now there is no reason why you cannot go to your grave with your music.
Gustav von Aschenbach: You know sometimes I think that artists are rather like hunters aiming in the dark. They don't know what their target is, and they don't know if they've hit it. But you can't expect life to illuminate the target and steady your aim. The creation of beauty and purity is a spiritual act.
Alfred: No Gustav, no. Beauty belongs to the senses. Only to the senses.
Gustav von Aschenbach: I remember we had one of these in my father's house. The aperture through which the sand runs is so tiny that... that first it seems as if the level in the upper glass never changes. To our eyes it appears that the sand runs out only... only at the end... and until it does, it's not worth thinking about... 'til the last moment... when there's no more time left to think about it.