Favorite Passages from Books We Have Read

 

Saul Alinsky- Rules for Radicals:

“Life is the expectation of the unexpected. The things you worry about rarely happen. Something new, the unexpected, will usually come in from outside of the ballpark.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Angle of Repose:

“As a practitioner of hindsight I know that Grandfather was trying to do, by personal initiative and with the financial resources of a small and struggling corporation, what only the immense power of the federal government ultimately proved able to do. That does not mean he was foolish or mistaken. He was premature. His clock was set on pioneer time. He met trains that had not yet arrived, he waited on platforms that hadn’t yet been built, beside tracks that might never be laid. Like many another Western pioneer, he had heard the clock of history strike, and counted the strokes wrong. Hope was always out ahead of fact, possibility obscured the outline of reality.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Angle of Repose:

“One of the charming things about nineteenth-century America was its cultural patriotism- not jingoism, just patriotism, the feeling that no matter how colorful, exotic, and cultivated other countries might be there is no place so ultimately right, so morally sound, so in tune with the hopeful future, as the U.S.A..”

 

Wallace Stegner- Angle of Repose:

“Touch. It is touch that is the deadliest enemy of chastity, loyalty, monogamy, gentility, with its codes and conventions and restraints. By touch we are betrayed, and betray others.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Angle of Repose:

“I wonder if ever again Americans can have that experience of returning to a home place so intimately known, profoundly felt, deeply loved and absolutely submitted to? It is not quite true that you can’t go home again. I have done it, coming back here. But it gets less likely. We have consumed too many divorces, we have consumed too much transportation, we have lived too shallowly in too many places.”

 

Primo Levi- The Drowned and the Saved:

Chapter 7- Stereotypes.

 

Primo Levi- The Drowned and the Saved:

” The ascent of the privileged, not only in the Lager but in all human coexistence, is an anguishing but unfailing phenomenon: only in a utopia is it absent. It is the duty of righteous men to make war on all undeserved privilege, but one must not forget that this is a war without end. Where power is exercised by few or only one against the many, privilege is born and proliferates, even against the will of the power itself. On the other hand, it is normal for power to tolerate and encourage privilege.” 

 

Primo Levi- The Drowned and the Saved:

” The pressure that a modern totalitarian state can exercise over the individual is frightful. Its weapons are substantially three: direct propaganda or propaganda camouflaged as upbringing, instruction, and popular culture; the barrier erected against pluralism of information; and terror.”

 

Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis:

” This is the thing about genius, she said. Genius alters the terms of its habitat… There are rare minds operating, a few, here and there, the polymath, the true futurist.  A consciousness such as yours, hypermaniacal, may have contact points beyond the general perception.”

 

Victor Davis Hanson, Mexifornia, A State of Becoming:

” Rarely now do south-westerners express a confidence in our culture or a willingness to defend the larger values of western civilization. The result is that our public schools are either apathetic about or outright hostile to the Western paradigm- even as millions from the south (Mexico) are voting with their feet and their lives to enjoy what we so often smugly dismiss. Our elites do not understand just how rare consensual government is in the history of civilization. They strongly think that we can instill confidence by praising the less successful cultures that aliens are escaping, rather than explaining the dynamism and morality of the civilization that our newcomers have pledged to join.”

 

Victor Davis Hanson- Mexifornia, A State of Becoming:

” Look at a Chicano studies text and you see a map of the original Nuevo California that includes not just the present day state, but all of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, parts of New Mexico, Colorado and even southern Wyoming! __ As if there were once thousands of prosperous Mexicans plying their culture in a vast Hispanic American North.”

 

Victor Davis Hanson- Mexifornia, A State of Becoming:

” In the last twenty years we have seen a disingenuous new motto ‘the borders crossed us, not we the borders’… But we should remember that as recently as 1970 there were only 800,000 Mexican citizen immigrants in the U.S.  Remember when the U.S. “stole” California, there were fewer than 10,000 Mexicans living in a vast uninhabited area. … And recall that the parents or grandparents of 95% of California’s current adult Mexicans were born in Mexico.”

 

Victor Davis Hanson- Mexifornia, A State of Becoming:

” To restructure the economy in Mexico, democratize the political system and legalize the courts would be to empower the Indians of the rural and mountainous hinterland and thereby keep millions of them home as a vocal force for further change, rather than push millions and their problems northward.”

 

Victor Davis Hanson- Mexifornia, A State of Becoming:

” At the heart of the problem with Mexico are class, race, politics, and economies. Simply put Mexican elites rely on immigration northward as a means of avoiding domestic reform. Market capitalism, constitutional government, the creation of a middle-class ethic or an independent judiciary will never fully come to Mexico as long as potential critics go north instead of marching for a redress of grievances on the suited bureaucrats in Mexico City.”

 

Victor Davis Hanson- Mexifornia, A State of Becoming:

” Californians are increasingly cynical and sense that affirmative action and special preferences are based neither on skin color, nor a pattern of past discrimination, but simply are tied clumsily to a particular minority’s failure to match perceived economic performance of whites.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Wolf Willow:

” A little later there was a stage in which his consciousness hung above him, like the consciousness in a dream where one is both actor and observer, and saw him lying there, numb already nearly to the knees, nearly to the elbows, nose and lips and forehead and the tender sockets of the eyes gone feelingless, ears as impersonal as paper ears pinned to his head. What he saw was essentially a corpse huddling over another corpse. He recognized the fact without surprise or alarm. This was the way it ended, this was the way they would be found.”

 

 Tyra Damm- Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions; Harper Collins Dictionary of Religion; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

 In the 11th century, Bishop Anselm of Canterbury developed an argument for the existence of God. Anselm reasoned that God is ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought.’ If such a force doesn’t exist, then something greater can be imagined. But how could this be? Nothing can be greater than ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought.’  Therefore, there is God.

His philosophy was the first documented ontological argument – an argument for God’s existence based entirely on logic. Anselm’s ideas were further explored by Rene Descartes in the 17th century and Gottfried Leibinz in the 18th century. The arguments may not sway nonbelievers to accept the existence of God, but they have sparked discussion among believers and philosophers for almost a millennium.

 

Wallace Stegner- Wolf  Willow:

” Exhaustion and cold are a kind of idiocy, the mind moves as numbly as the body, the momentary alertness that a breathing spell brings is like sweat that can be raised under many clothes even in the bitterest weather, when the breathing spell is over and the hard work past, mind and body are all the worse for the brief awakening. The sweaty skin chills, the images that temporary alertness has caught scrape and rasp in the mind like edged ice and cannot be dislodged or thought away or emptied out, but slowly coagulate there.”

 

 

Ayn Rand- Atlas Shrugged:

” The boy had remained silent for a moment, then he said, ‘You know Mr. Rearden, there are no absolute standards. We can’t go by rigid principles, we’ve got to be flexible, we’ve got to adjust to the reality of the day and act on the expediency of the moment.’

‘Run along, punk. Go and try to pour a ton of steel without rigid principles, on the expediency of the moment.’ ” 

 

Milton and Rose Friedman- Free to Choose:

” Nearly a century ago, A. V. Dicey explained why the rhetoric in terms of the general interest is so persuasive: “The beneficial effect of state intervention, especially in the form of legislation, is direct, immediate, and so to speak, visible, while its evil effects are gradual and indirect, and lie out of sight. … Hence the majority of mankind must almost of necessity look with undue favor upon governmental intervention.”

 

George Orwell- Keep the Aspidistra Flying:

” The young, even those who had been too young to fight, were in a bad temper with their elders, as well they might be;  practically everyone with any brains at all was for the moment a revolutionary. Meanwhile the old- those over sixty, say- were running in circles like hens, squawking about ” subversive ideas.” Gordon and his friends had quite an exciting time with their “subversive ideas.” For a whole year they ran an unofficial monthly paper called the Bolshevik, duplicated with a jellygraph. It advocated Socialism, free love, the dismemberment of the British Empire, the abolition of the Army and Navy, and so on and so forth. It was great fun. Every intelligent boy at sixteen is a Socialist. At that age one does not see the hook sticking out of the rather stodgy bait.”

 

Milton and Rose Friedman- Free to Choose:

Friedman citing Adam Smith’s answer, two hundred years ago, to the question of what role should be assigned to government:

” All systems either of preference or of restraint, therefore, being thus completely taken away, the obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord. Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men. The sovereign is completely discharged from a duty, in the attempting to perform which he must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, and for the proper performances of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient; the duty of superintending the industry of private people, and of directing it towards the employments most suitable to the interest of the society. According to the system of natural liberty, the sovereign has only three duties to attend to; three duties of great importance, indeed, but plain and intelligible to common understandings: first, the duty of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies; secondly, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and, thirdly, the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public institutions, which can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain; because the profit could never repay the expence to any individual or small number or individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a great society.”

 

 

James Allen-As a Man Thinketh:

” In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. Chance is not. “Gifts,” powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort; they are thoughts completed, objects accomplished, visions realized.”

 

James Allen- As a Man Thinketh:

” A man only begins to be  a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Wolf Willow:

” I grew up hating my weakness and despising my cowardice and trying to pretend that neither existed. The usual result of that kind of condition is bragging. I bragged, and sometimes I got called. Once in Sunday School I said that I was not afraid to jump off the high diving board that the editor of the Leader had projected out over the highest cutbank. The editor, who had been a soldier and a hero, was the only person in town who dared use it. It did not matter that the boys who called my bluff would not have dared to jump off it themselves. I was the one who had bragged, and so after Sunday School I found myself out on that thing, a mile above the water, with the wind very cold around my knees. The tea-brown whirlpools went spinning slowly around the deep water of the bend, looking as impossible to jump into as if they had been whorls of cement. A half dozen times I sucked in my breath and grabbed my courage with both hands and inched out to the burlap pad on the end of the board. Every time, the vibrations of the board started such sympathetic vibrations in my knees that I had to creep back for fear of falling off. The crowd on the bank got scornful, and then ribald, and then insulting;  I could not rouse even the courage to answer back, but went on creeping out, quaking back, creeping out again, until they finally all got tired and left for their Sunday dinners. Then at once I walked out to the end and jumped.

I think I must have come down through thirty or forty feet of air, bent over toward the water, with my eyes out on stems like a lobster’s, and I hit the water just so, with my face and chest, a tremendous belly-flopper that drove my eyes out through the back of my head and flattened me out on the water to the thickness of an oil film. The air was full of colored lights;  I came to enough to realize I was strangling on weed-tasting river water, and moved my arms and legs feebly toward shore. About four hours and twenty deaths later, I grounded on the mud and lay there gasping and retching, sick for a hero I was not, for the humiliation I had endured, for the mess I had made of the jump when I finally made it-even for the fact that no one had been around to see me, and that I would never be able to convince any of them that I really had, at the risk of drowning, done what I bragged I would do.”   

 

William Faulkner:

” It’s all now you see.  Yesterday won’t be over until tomorrow, and tomorrow began ten thousand years ago. For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not  yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades  are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out…”

 

Willie Morris:

” My Mother’s people… the people who captured my imagination when I was growing up, were of the Deep South- emotional, changeable, touched with charisma and given to histrionic flourishes. They were courageous under tension and unexpectedly tough beneath their wild eccentricities, for they had an unusually close working agreement with God. They also had an unusually high quota in bullshit.” 

 

 

Milton and Rose Friedman-Free to Choose:

” Much of the moral fervor behind the drive for equality of outcome comes from the widespread belief that it is not fair that some children should have a great advantage over others simply because they happen to have wealthy parents. Of course it is not fair. However, unfairness can take many forms. It can take the form of the inheritance of property-bonds and stocks, houses, factories; it can also take the form of inheritance of talent–musical ability, strength, mathematical genius. The inheritance of property can be interfered with more readily than the inheritance of talent. But from an ethical point of view, is there any difference between the two? Yet many people resent the inheritance of property but not the inheritance of talent.”

The ethical issues involved are subtle and complex. They are not to be resolved by such simplistic formulas as “fair shares for all.” Indeed, if we took that seriously, youngsters with less musical skill should be given the greatest amount of musical training in order to compensate for their inherited disadvantage, and those with greater musical aptitude should be prevented from having access to good musical training; and similarly with all other categories of inherited personal qualities.  That might be “fair” to the youngsters lacking in talent , but would it be “fair” to the talented, let alone to those who had to work to pay for training the youngsters lacking talent, or to the persons deprived of the benefits that might have come from the cultivation of the talents of the gifted?”

 

Tim O’Brien-Going after Cacciato:

“And then, with the war ended, history decided, he would explain to her why he had let himself go to war. Not because of strong convictions, but because he didn’t know. He didn’t know who was right, or what was right; he didn’t know if it was a war of self-determination or self-destruction, outright aggression or national liberation; he didn’t know which speeches to believe, which books, which politicians; he didn’t know if nations would topple like dominoes or stand separate like trees; he didn’t know who really started the war, or why, or when, or with what motives; he didn’t know if it mattered; he saw sense in both sides of the debate, but he didn’t know where truth lay; he didn’t know if communist tyranny would prove worse in the long run than the tyrannies of Ky or Thieu or Khanh- he simply didn’t know. And who did? Who really did? Oh, he had read the newspapers and magazines. He wasn’t stupid. He wasn’t uninformed. He just didn’t know if the war was right or wrong or somewhere in the murky middle. And who did? Who really knew? So he went to the war for reasons beyond knowledge. Because he believed in law, and law told him to go. Because it was a democracy, after all, and because LBJ and the others had rightful claim to their offices. He went to the war because it was expected. Because not to go was to risk censure, and to bring embarrassment on his father and his town. Because, not knowing, he saw no reason to distrust those with more experience. Because he loved his country and, more than that, because he trusted it. Yes, he did.”

 

 

Ayn Rand- Atlas Shrugged:

Dagny Taggart to a delegate of the Union of Locomotive Engineers:

” I Know what you want. You want a stranglehold on your men by means of the jobs which I give them-and on me, by means of your men. You want me to provide the jobs, and you want to make it impossible for me to have any jobs to provide. Now I’ll give you a choice. That train is going to be run. You have no choice about that. But you can choose whether it’s going to be run by one of your men or not. If you choose not to let them, the train will still run, if I have to drive the engine myself. Then, if the bridge collapses, there won’t be any railroad left in existence, anyway. But if it doesn’t collapse, no member of your union will ever get a job on the John Galt Line. If you think that I need your men more than they need me, choose accordingly. If you know that I can run an engine, but they can’t build a railroad, choose according to that. Now are you going to forbid your men to run that train?”

 

Wallace Stegner- Wolf Willow:

“One indispensable part of the typical nomadic Plains culture began when the first Apache, probably in New Mexico and probably around the year 1630, laid hands on the first escaped Spanish horse. Another part,  just as indispensable, became inevitable in 1668, when the ship Nonsuch anchored at the mouth of the Rupert River, in James Bay, and Medart Chouart Groseilliers built the first post for the Governor and Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson’s Bay. He called the post first for King Charles; it was later known as Rupert’s House. At it and at the later York Factory post, the Cree traded beaver for guns; and as Company middlemen charged with going into the wilderness and bringing back furs, they spread the need of the gun, if not its possession, all along the canoe routes and out into the Plains and eventually clear into the Mackenzie Basin. But always jealously and penuriously, always in the awareness that any Cree who traded a gun to a rival tribe reduced Cree dominance. Not until the aggressive North-West Company Challenged Hudson’s Bay Company power sending white traders into the backlands did a hunter from any western tribes have much of  chance of laying his hands on a musket or on the powder and lead to feed it…

In the Southwest the Spanish controlled the Indian trade so rigidly that few guns fell into Indian hands. But horses were another matter. By war, theft, escape, and trade, the horse spread northward through the Plains until by the middle of the 18th century only the northernmost tribes were still unmounted. The Cree, made powerful by their guns and by Company favor, were still pedestrian; so were the Piegans, Bloods, and Blackfoot Confederacy, at the time allies of the Cree. Sometime about 1736-40, according to the story told by Alexander Henry the Younger by a Cree-Blackfoot named Saukamappee, the Blackfoot and their allies for the first time succeeded in defeating the aggressive mounted Snake to the south. The reason was not an equality in horses, but a handful of Cree guns among the Blackfoot bows and warclubs.”

 

Ron Rash- Serena:

” A car horn startled her, and she knew if she lived here the rest of her life she’d never get used to the busyness of town life, how something was always coming and going and whatever that something was always had a noise. Not soothing like the sound of a creek or rain on a tin roof or a mourning dove’s call, but harsh and grating, no pattern to it, nothing to settle the mind upon. Except in the early morning, those moments before the city waked with all its grime and noise. She could look out the window at the mountains, and their stillness settled inside her like a healing balm.”

 

William Faulkner- Sartoris:

” The young dog was not yet two years old. His net was too hasty for the sedateness of their society overlong. And though at times he set forth with them or came quartering up, splashed and eager from somewhere to join them midfield, it wasn’t for long. And soon he must dash away with his tongue flapping and the tense delicate feathering of his tail in pursuit of the maddening elusive smells with which the world surrounded him and tempted him from every thicket, and copse, and ravine.” 

 

 

Wallace Stegner- Wolf Willow:

Stegner growing up in the Plains of Canada-  ” We had our own grain, and our knots as well, but prairie and town did the shaping, and sometimes I have wondered if they did not cut us to a pattern no longer viable. Far more than Henry Adams, I have felt myself entitled to ask whether my needs and my education were not ludicrously out of phase. Not because I was educated for the past instead of the future-most education trains us for the past, and most preparation for war readies us for the war just over-but because I was educated for the wrong place. Education tried, inadequately and hopelessly, to make a European of me.”

 

Wallace Stegner-Wolf Willow:

Once, in a self pitying frame of mind, I was comparing my background with that of an English novelist friend. Where he had been brought up in London, taken from the age of four onward to the Tate and the National Gallery, sent traveling on the Continent in every school holiday, taught French and German and Italian, given access to bookstores, libraries, and British Museums, made familiar from infancy on with the conversation of the eloquent and great. I had grown up in this dung-heeled sagebrush town on the disappearing edge of nowhere, utterly without painting, without sculpture, without architecture, almost without music or theater, without conversation or languages or travel or stimulating instruction, without libraries and museums or bookstores, almost without books. I was charged with getting in a single lifetime, from scratch, what some people inherit as naturally as they breathe air. And not merely cultural matters. I was nearly twelve before I saw either a bathtub or a water closet, and when I walked past my first lawn, in Great Falls, Montana… I had not known that people anywhere lived with such grace.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Wolf Willow:

“How I asked this Englishman, could anyone from so deprived a background ever catch up? How was one expected to compete as a cultivated man, with people like himself? He looked at me and said dryly, “Perhaps you got something else in place of all that.”

“He meant,  I suppose, that there are certain advantages to growing up a sensuous little savage, and to tell the truth I am not sure I would trade my childhood of freedom and the outdoors and the senses for a childhood of being led by the hand past all the Turners in the National Gallery. And also, he may have meant that anyone starting from deprivation is spared getting bored. You may not get a good start, but you may get up a considerable head of steam. I am reminded of Willa Cather, the bright girl from Nebraska, memorizing long passages from the Aeneid and spurning the dust of Red Cloud and Lincoln with her culture-bound feet. She tried, and her education encouraged her, to be a good European. Nevertheless she was a first rate novelist only when she dealt with what she knew from Red Cloud and the things she had “in place of all that.”  Nebraska was what she was born to write; the rest of it was got up. Eventually, when education had won and nurture had conquered nature and she recognized Red Cloud as a vulgar little hole, she embraced the foreign tradition totally, and ended by being neither quite a good American nor quite a true European nor quite a whole artist.”

 

B. Tanner-Trozas:

… “No war can be waged without people being enslaved, dressed in uniforms, and degraded into dumb creatures incapable of resistance by foolish or brutal superiors. There cannot be war and freedom at the same time, just as one cannot have caoba (Mahogany) and humaneness and mercy toward mankind and animals in the jungle at the same time. For even if the contratistas and the capataces conducted themselves like saints toward the Indians, there would still be the biting flies, the mosquitoes, the ticks, the marshes, the roots, the pumas, the snakes, the pitiless glare of the tropical sun. And it is safe to assume that the biting flies, the mosquitoes, the marshes, the steely roots, and the tropical heat have an important part to play in the growth of the caoba. You can’t have one without the other.”  

 

B. Tanner-Trozas:

…” No one expected such promises to be kept. Only during a revolution do the workers remember them, while those who made the promises then declare that the promises were not meant in the way they were interpreted by the workers but so as to promote the public welfare. And that public welfare is always against the workers, because if it favored the workers it would not be necessary to talk about the public welfare or the good of the people but simply about far more ordinary, unadorned justice.” 

 

B. Tanner-Trozas:

…” It was just as it is in all dictatorships. The dictator is always innocent. He is always surrounded with clouds of glory. It is always the mayordomos (manager or overseer), the capataces (foreman), the prison warders, the policemen, the sergeants, the secret agents, who practice brutalities and injustices.” 

 

Reading Fiction: “Makes you a nicer more empathetic person.”

“Psychologists at the New School for Social Research in New York City asked people between the ages of 18 and 75 to read an excerpt of literary fiction or popular fiction or a non-fiction article and then tested their ability to gauge the emotions of people by looking at pictures of their faces. The subjects who read literary works scored much higher on the tests than the other readers. Study author Emanuele Castano says that’s likely because literary fiction takes readers into other lives and forces them to “reconstruct the mind of the character”- an ability that carries over into real social situations.”

The Week Magazine, December 2013, Volume 13 Issue 650.

 

Jim Thompson-The Transgressors:

D- “But_ but how would it help if I stayed over until tomorrow? I’d still have the same problems?”

T- “Why, no you wouldn’t…”  Danged if I even heard of such nonsense in my life!”

D- “But why?”

T- “Because tomorrow’s another day! Didn’t no one ever tell you that?”

D- “Just how-why?”

T- “Why? Because that’s why? How can you have today’s problems tomorrow, when tomorrow always another day? Just don’t stand to reason!”

“… The problems of tomorrow were not the same as they had been today. A day’s acceptance of them, a day’s gain in strength, did much to reduce their awesomeness. She could smile at them- a little. She could hold them at arm’s length, studying them from all angles, assaying their weight as she tested her own strength.  Since she was one and they were many, they did not get out of hand. Inevitably, usually around nightfall, they threatened to take over. But when that happened, well, so much for them! Off they went into the clothes closet of another day.” 

 

Jim Thompson- The Nothing Man:

“The wetness and the exertion and the long talk were sobering me, and when I sobered I became drunk.  Far drunker than any amount of whisky could make me. All my sureness was gone, and the ten thousand parts of an insane puzzle were scattered to the winds.”

 

Jim Thompson- The Nothing Man:

“There was no further mention of it after that. No further mention of the murders. The paper resumed its puerile emptiness, a newspaper in name only as I was a man in name only. There was nothing in either of us. We were facades for emptiness.”

 

Jim Thompson- The Nothing Man:

“Without whisky, that circle in my mind began to dissolve. I ceased to move around it endlessly, and my vision turned inward. And while I caught only a glimpse of what lay there, that little was so bewildering and maddening-and frightful- That I could look no more.”

 

William Faulkner- As I Lay Dying:

“So I took Anse. And when I knew that I had Cash, I knew that living was terrible and that this was the answer to it. That was when I learned that words are no good; that words don’t ever fit even what they are trying to say at. When he was born I knew that motherhood was invented by someone who had to have a word for it because the ones that had the children didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not. I knew that fear was invented by someone that had never had the fear; pride, who never had the pride. I knew that it had been, not that they had dirty noses, but we had had to use one another by words like spiders, dangling by their mouths from a beam, swinging and twisting and never touching, and that only through the blows of the switch could my blood and their blood flow as one stream.” Addie Bunden

 

Phillip K. Dick- The Man in the High Castle:

“Then it is in me too, the psychotic streak. A psychotic world we live in, the madmen are in power. How long have we known this? Faced this? And- how many of us do know it? Not lots. Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane. Or you are becoming sane, finally waking up. I suppose only a few are aware of all of this. Isolated persons here and there. But the broad masses… What do they think? All these hundreds of thousands in this city, here. Do they imagine that they live in a sane world? Or do they guess, glimpse the truth…?

But he thought, what does it mean, insane? A legal definition. What do I mean? I feel it, see it, but what is it? He thought, it is something they do, something they are. It is their unconsciousness. Their lack of knowledge about others. Their not being aware of what they do to others, the destruction they have caused and are causing,  No, he thought, that isn’t it. I don’t know; I sense it,  intuit it. But– they are purposelessly cruel…is that it? No. God, he thought. I can’t find it, make it clear. Do they ignore parts of reality? Yes, but it is more. It is their plans. Yes, their plans. The conquering of the planets. Something frenzied and demented, as was their conquering of Africa, and before that, Europe and Asia. 

Their view, it is cosmic. Not of a man here, a child there, but an abstraction: race, land. volk. land. Blut. Ehre. Not of honorable men but of Ehre itself, honor;  the abstract is real, the actual is invisible to them. Die Gute, but not good men, this good man. It is their sense of space and time. They see through the here, the now, into the vast black deep beyond, the unchanging. And that is fatal to life. Because eventually there will be no life; here was once only the dust particles in space, the hot hydrogen gases, nothing more, and it will come again. This is an interval, ein Augenblick. The cosmic process is hurrying on, crushing life back into granite and methane, the wheel turns for all life. It is all temporary. And they- these madmen- respond to the granite, the dust, the longing of the inanimate, they want to aid nature.

And, he thought, I know why. They want to be the agents, not the victims of history. They identify with God’s power and believe they are godlike. This is their basic madness. They are overcome by some archetype, their egos have expanded psychotically so that they cannot tell where they begin and the godhead leaves off. It is not hubris, not pride, it is inflation of the ego to its ultimate-confusion between him who worships and that which is worshiped. Man has not eaten God; God has eaten man.”

 

Ayn Rand- Anthem:

” But we must never speak of the times before the Great Rebirth, else we are sentenced to three years in the Palace of Corrective Detention. It is only the Old Ones who whisper about it in the evenings, in the Name of the Useless. They whisper many strange things, of the towers which rose to the sky, in those unmentionable times, and of the wagons which moved without horses, and of the lights which burned without flame. But those times were evil. And those times passed away, when men saw the Great Truth which is this: That all men are one and that there is no will save the will of all men together.”

 

Ayn Rand- Anthem:

” Our name is Equality 7-2521, as it is written on the iron bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their name upon it. … We strive to be like all our brother men, for all men must be alike. … We remember the Home of Infants where we lived till we were five years old. … When we were five years old, we were sent to the Home of the Students, where there are ten words for our ten years of learning. Men must learn till they reach their fifteenth year, Then they go to work. … When you leave the Home of Students the Council of Vocations shall prescribe for you.”

 

John Updike- In the Beauty of the Lilies:

” Each movie, under the Production Code dating back to 1934, was a moral mechanism that had to function toward the elimination of all defective parts. As the Alma- character was borne off by the inevitable censorious rectitude of the script, audiences felt that something precious in themselves was being carried away, in this land of promise where yearning never stops at a particular satisfaction but keeps moving on, into the territory beyond.”

 

Edward Abbey- Abbey Road:

“Writers write for the pleasure of it. For the sheer ecstasy of the creative moment, the creative act. For that blazing revelation when we think, if only in delusion, that we have finally succeeded in grasping, if only for an hour, the thing that has no name. It is this transient moment of bliss which is for the artist, as it is for other lovers, the one ultimate, indescribable, perfectly sufficient justification for the sweat and pain and misery and humiliation and doubt that lead, if lucky, to the consummation we desire.” (Introduction)

 

James Alan McPherson- Gold Coast:

” It is the nature of things that liberal people will tolerate two interracial beatniks more than they will an intelligent, serious minded mixed couple. The former liaison is easy to dismiss as the dregs of both races,  but to serving each other and the contempt of both races while the latter poses a threat because there is no immediacy of overpowering sensuality or “you pick my fleas, I’ll pick yours”, apparent on the surface of things, and people, especially liberals cannot dismiss it so easily.”

 

David Halberstam- The Coldest Winter:

” That was one of the great mysteries of combat, the process of going from green, scared soldiers to tough, grizzled, combat-ready (but still scared) veterans. Some men, a small percentage, never made it; they remained green, a burden to themselves and the men around them, in a permanent, hopeless incarnation as soldiers. They were incapable of or unwilling to break out of their civilian selves. Most men, however, whether they liked it or not, went through that transformation. They might regret it when they came home, and it might be a part of their lives they never wanted to revisit, but they did it. This had become their universe and it was a small brutal one, cut off from all things they had been taught growing up. Most important of all it was a universe without choice.  No one entirely understood the odd process-perhaps the most primal on earth- that turned ordinary, peace loving, law abiding civilians into very good fighting men; or one of its great sub-mysteries- how quickly it could take place.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Recapitulation:

Bruce Mason on his hometown as an adult: ” Here was a living space once accepted and used, relied on without uncertainty or even awareness, security frozen like the expression on a face at the moment of a snapshot. This territory contained and limited a history, personal and social, in which he had once made himself a home. This was his place- First his problem, then his oyster, and now the museum or diorama where early versions of him were preserved.”

 

Russell Banks- Trailerpark:

” When your child lives, he carries with him all his earlier selves, so that you cannot separate your individual memories of him from your view of him now, at this moment. When you recall a particular event in your and your child’s shared past- a day at the beach, a Xmas morning, a sad, weary night of flight from the child’s shouting father, a sweet pathetic supper prepared by the child for your birthday. When you recall these events singly you cannot see the child as a camera would have photographed him then. You see him simultaneously all the way from infancy to adolescence to adulthood and on, as if he had been moving through your life too rapidly for any camera to catch and still, so that the image is blurred, grayed out, as watch of your own past pasted across the foreground of studio photographer’s carefully arranged backdrop.”

 

John Updike- In the Beauty of the Lilies:

“Watching the “movies” took no strength, but recovering from them did- climbing again out of their scintillating bath into the bleak facts of life, his life, gutted by God’s withdrawal, he felt himself fading away, but for the hour when the incandescent power of these manufactured visions filled him. Those black-lipped heart shaped faces, those shapely and agitated eye-whites ringed in Kohl, those imperiled round limbed actresses in glittering pagan undress. Those Babylonian temples, their papier-mache facades blending into painted images of their rear porticos and extensions. The rough men combative and ready to die in their sloggy clops and ornately stitched boots. Those exotic places where life occurred and where he would never go. When the films was over and the pale lights of the world came back on, he stood and looked kindly upon the dazed and stated faces of the others in the audience, who had been motionless by pursuing the same adventures as he,  and who now awoke from the same dream.”

 

Ayn Rand- Anthem:

” The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting; the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word; the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one’s eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing: “But I didn’t mean this!” April 1946-  Author’s forward to Anthem.

 

Ayn Rand- Anthem:

” At first man was enslaved by gods. But he broke their chains. Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his role. But he broke their chains. He declared to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take away from him, no matter what their number, for his is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right.”

 

George Gilder- Wealth and Poverty:

“Keynes rejected all systems that saw the economy as a mechanism, whether of dialects or markets. He offered for the economy a hierarchical ideal. The creative center of the system was the skilled entrepreneur and the goal of policy was to cultivate his skills and ensure his inducement to invest. This today is the theme of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and the rhetoric, at least, of the Republican Party.”

 

Andre Dubus- Voices From the Moon:

” My God there was something about boys that domestic life and even civilization itself could not touch, and often they were infuriating and foolish and yet when they lost that element, as boys or men they became dull. So as a woman you were left with having to choose between a grown boy and a flat American male, either was liable to drive you mad but at least your madness was more homicidal than suicidal, as it was with the other.”

 

Wallace Stegner- The Spectator Bird:

” Something happens to immigrants. ( I don’t mean political exiles, who are another breed; I mean immigrants who left the old country they were at home in in order to better themselves in the land of opportunity.) The trauma of exile petrifies them. Forever will they love, and old sod be fair. They bring it all with them, in its 1890 or 1900 version, and they plant it in America without modification and then spend the rest of their lives defending it against change, while the old country what they knew changes so as to be unrecognizable.”

 

Wallace Stegner- The Spectator Bird:

” I was reminded of a remark of Willa Cather’s, that you can’t paint sunlight, you can only paint what it does with shadows on a wall. If you examine a life, as Socrates has been so tediously advising us to do for so many centuries, do you really examine the life, or do you examine the shadows it casts on other lives?”

 

Cormac McCarthy- The Orchard Keeper:

“In the store the old men gathered, occupying for endless hours the creaking milk cases, speaking slowly and with conviction upon matters of profound inconsequence, eyeing the dull red bulb of the stove with their watery vision.”

 

Russell Banks- The Book of Jamaica:

” …And he would be a scholar in this field, would know precisely by what routes and thought the work of which musicians calypso had got bebop from black night clubs in Florida and became ska, now ska got rock and soul from London, Liverpool, New York, and Detroit and had become raggae, reaching its literary and self conscious phase, was now reinvestigating African roots while at the same time getting itself electrified in Nashville and Los Angeles… would know the effect of poverty on the sound of reggae, how cheap guitars imitating the tinny thin sounds of the Beatles on Japanese transistor radios and plastic stereos from a Woolworth’s in the Bronx had stripped sixties rock of the baroque density of detail to produce a high, thin clarity not heard in Western popular music since the 1920’s.”

 

David Halberstam- Education of a Coach- A Biography of Bill Belichick

” To the degree he could, Belichick shielded his private life from the media, and he worked hard to be a family man. When George Allen, one of the most obsessive coaches of modern times, had coached at Whittier College, he once gave a birthday party for his wife, Etty, at the local country club, at which he had sat around a table with a few male friends, drawing up football plays. She was furious. “Football, football, football,” she said, “even on my birthday.” One of the stories that the brilliant, wonderfully obsessed Bill Walsh liked to tell was of taking his wife out to dinner on the Friday before a game, the two of them sitting at a lovely restaurant in the Bay area, and Geri Walsh had looked over at him,  seeing him off in that other world,  the one that was so hard to penetrate, and said. : “What is it, Bill?  Third and eight?” That seemed to sum up the dilemma of the football wife as much as anything: living in a world where it was always third and eight.”

 

William Faulkner- As I Lay Dying:

“He made Cash drink the whisky, then he run Anse out of the room. “Lucky it was the same leg he broke last summer” Anse says, mournful, mumbling, and blinking. “That’s something.”

We folded the matress across Cash’s legs and set the chair on the matress and me and Jewel set on the chair and the gal held the lamp and Uncle Billy taken a chew of tobacco and went to work. Cash fought pretty hard for a while, until he fainted. Then he laid still, with big balls of sweat standing on his face like they had started to roll down and then stopped to wait for him.”   Armstid

 

John Fowles- A Maggot:

” God placed most worthy and necessary veils upon his mystery, but his ministers too often used them to blindfold their charges and lead them into ignorance and baseless prejudice.”

 

John Fowles- A Maggot:

“… unconsciously show that feature common to all members of extremist sects, whether political or religious, forced to consort with more normal human beings, an awareness, both defiant and embarrassed, of how locked away they are from conventional society.”

 

Wallace Stegner-The Spectator Bird:

“… disciples of sun and kicks. Intent upon what? Rebellions? Repudiations? Apathies?  Boredoms? Fears, panics, terrors?  Or just on now,  the galvanic twitches of the eternal pointless present? What is that Life Style (that jargon term) except a substitute for a life?”

 

D.H. Lawrence- The Plumed Serpent:

” Her feet were feeling the way into the dance step.  She was beginning to learn softly to loosen her weight, to loosen the uplift of all her life, and let it pour slowly, darkly, with an ebbing gush, rhythmical in soft rhythmic gushes from her feet into the dark body of the earth. Erect, strong like a staff of life, yet to loosen all the sap of her strength and let it flow down into the roots of the earth.”

 

John Updike- The Beauty of the Lilies:

“… She was by training anti-method;  at the school on west fifty-seventh street the emphasis had been on outward gesture, the body as a succession of clear signals.  “Move distinctly”, one of her instructors, the strictest Professor Berthoff, would repeatedly say. “Move intelligently. The audience must know immediately exactly what you are doing. There is no room on the stage for the uncertain, ambiguous movements that in real life we make all the time.” Essie had wondered why anything in real life should be excluded from the stage, but then, when she became Alma, she saw this clarity makes a refuge for the actors, and audience both, lifting them up from fumbling reality into a reality keener and more efficient, but not less true.”

 

David Halberstam- The Education of a Coach:

” It was as if he were a man of a certain kind of secular faith: faith in a certain kind of football coached in a certain kind of way, and in his ability in an age of so many football infidels to assemble a group of players who would willingly honor one another and play that type of football. It was of course a fragile kind of faith, not easy to sustain in an age with so many potential corruptions, and Belichick was all too aware that it could be shattered at any moment. But finally it had taken a long time, for it was the sum of his career, everything had come together and his players had shared the faith.”

 

David Halberstam- The Education of a Coach:

” “What’s interesting about him (Belichick), and was judged a weakness in  Cleveland,” Peter Richmond said, “was that he did not play any games. There’s nothing fake, and there never was. He is what he is. There is no pretense, and he is utterly authentic in a world where because of television there is more and more which is inauthentic.  What is troubling about all this is that a lot of people are more comfortable with the inauthentic, if it is reassuring, than they are with the truth, if it is not reassuring. He doesn’t play the role of coach. Instead he is the coach.” ” 

 

David Halberstam- The Education of a Coach:

“Oddly enough, the best case for his value as a coach and a man was eventually made in Boston not by one of the city’s sportswriters but by a political columnists named Joan Vennochi, who rarely wrote about sports. Belichick, she noted, wasn’t “glib or glitzy. At press conferences he sometimes seems a little goofy and is often way too grim. But he is a leader without the swagger, selfishness, and pomposity that so many men in business, politics, and sports embrace as an entitlement of their gender and position.” ”

 

David Halberstam- The Education of a Coach: A Biography of Bill Belichick

“What a curious, complicated, contradictory man, a hard man to reach and to understand completely. He was completely dedicated to fighting off the virus caused by too much ego, all too aware of what it could do to his dominating purpose-playing championship-level team football. But a man like that, who was so driven to win, and who excelled again and again at such a high level, was hardly without ego.  Instead, he had learned how to make his ego work for him, and to keep it from being a negative force. What he had excelled at was taking his ambition and talent and fusing it into something larger than himself. He gloried in the purpose of a successful season, not as so many others did in modern American sports, with so many cameras running live all the time, in personal celebration.”

 

D.H. Lawrence- The Plumed Serpent:

” The tremendous potent elements of the American continent, that give men powerful bodies, but which weigh down the soul, the maleficent elements gradually break it, gradually till he decomposes into ideas and mechanistic activities, in a body full of mechanical energy, but with his blood-soul dead and putrescent.”

 

Richard Ford- A Piece of My Heart:

“… explaining to himself that in behalf of being smart, he couldn’t afford any reliances, since there wasn’t’ anybody to rely on and since there wasn’t any reason to believe the place or anybody in it would turnout any better when he tried to make it honest, working for old man Rudolph, and had gotten squeezed out by the innate stinginess that infested the place and everybody in it like an air that you couldn’t breathe, but couldn’t live without.”

 

Graham Greene- The Power and the Glory:

” He remembered a proverb- it came out of the recesses of his own childhood: His father had used it- “The best smell is bread, the best savour salt, the best love that of children.”

 

James Salter- A Sport and a Pastime:

” His father writes to him in the most beautiful, educated hand, the born hand of a copyist. Admonitions to confront life, to think a little more seriously about this and that. He has already set out on a dazzling voyage which is more like an illness, becoming ever more distant, more legendary. His life filled with these daring impulses which cause him to disappear and next be heard of in Dublin, in Veracruz.

After a while, the second phase begins: the time of few choices. Uncertainties, strange fears of the past. Finally of course, comes the third phase, the closing, and one must begin shutting out the world as if by panels because the strength to consider everything in all its shattering diversity is gone and the shapes of life…. finally appear like a drop about to fall.”


David Hawkins- Power vs. Force:

“… over time, the spiritual principles upon which religions are based become distorted for expedient ends, such as power, money and other worldliness. The spiritual is tolerant, yet religiosity is commonly intolerant, the former leads to peace, the latter to strife, bloodshed, and pious criminality. There remains however, buried within every religion the spiritual foundation that it originated from. Like religions, entire cultures are weakened when the principles that they’re  based upon are obscured or contaminated by false interpretation.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Recapitulation:

” But perhaps the boys knew something that the present has forgotten: that the only place one can first learn love is from a woman, that all tenderness of any kind, derives from what is learned at the breast. Whether women have difficulty getting credit cards or not, it is not they who racket around through empty universes hunting for a place on which to come to nest. They are themselves such a place.”

 

Arthur Herman- How the Scots Invented the Modern World:

Quoting Andrew Carnegie speaking of U.S. Triumphant Democracy: “The Republic may not give wealth or happiness” he wrote “she has not promised these.” It is freedom to pursue these, not their realization, we can claim. But if she does not make the emigrant happy or prosperous this she can do and does do for everyone, she makes him a citizen, a man.”

 

Cormac McCarthy- Blood Meridian:

“Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of the game is not inherent in the game itself but rather the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning  at all.  Games of sport involve the skill and strengths of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere in the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here that which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.”

 

David Halberstam_ The Coldest Winter:

“The trust came in part because they believed he was focused as much on taking care of them as he was on pushing his own career. That was a crucial factor. The men always watched for any commander thought more of his career than of their lives; it was as if any man who had that overwhelming ambition always gave off a special odor that even the youngest and most naive private could detect.”

 

Richard Russo- The Risk Pool:

“… I would return from time to time as a visitor, though, never again as a true resident. But then I wouldn’t be a true resident of any other place either, joining instead the great multitude of wandering Americans, so many of whom have a Mohawk in their past, the memory of which propels us we know not precisely where, so long as it is away. Return we do, but only to gain momentum for our next outward arc, each further that the last, until there is no elasticity left, nothing to draw us home.”

 

Margaret Atwood– Handmaids’ Tale

“What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close ups, hairs, the weave of the bed sheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility crisscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Recapitulation:

Bruce Mason on his youth- “He also told himself, he must not, must never, exaggerate the pain and anger of his youth. Because however he may have felt at the time, his youth was something that he now looked back on with fascination, disbelief, and a winking sort of pleasure.  …any hour could bring him  some unimaginable, gorgeous fulfillment. He had no ambition, he did not plan toward any future, he felt no high resolve, he comprehended no goals. He simply lived the full present, and every morning opened his eyes on a new installment of it and he trusted the new installments never to fail.”

 

D.H. Lawrence- The Rainbow:

“So they were together in a darkness, passionate, electric, forever haunting the back of the common day, never in the light. In the light, he seemed to sleep, unknowing. Only she knew him when the darkness set him free, and he would see with his gold-glowing eyes his intention and his desires in the dark. Then she was in a spell, then she answered his harsh, penetrating call with a soft leap of her soul, the darkness woke up, electric, bristling with an unknown overwhelming insinuation.”  William and Anna

 

John Updike- In the Beauty of the Lilies:

“Each movie, under the Production Code dating back to 1934, was a moral mechanism that had to function toward the elimination of all defective parts. As the Alma-character was borne off by the inevitable censorious rectitude of the script, audiences felt that something precious in themselves was being carried away, in this land of promise where yearning never stops at a particular satisfaction but keeps moving on, into the territory beyond.”

 

William Faulkner- As I Lay Dying:

“He had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that word was like the others. Just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn’t need a word for that anymore than pride or fear.” Addie Brunden

 

Thomas Berger- Reinhart in Love:

“You are a man of good will but little faith, and thus more gifted in the critical area than the creative. You know how to deal with what already exists, but are altogether without the power to bring something new into existence. Not even your remarkable courage can overcome this natural limitation, for it is primarily an instrument of defense. You are like the present-day English, who cannot be defeated and at the same time never win. I admire you enormously, and if I did not, would hardly dare to be so frank.

Now I of course am the diametrical opposite, a person of poor judgement and fundamentally craven. The worst man in a pinch. I am saved from being an absolute failure only by my fecund imagination and my irrepressible audacity, which I am enabled to exercise by reason of a social situation in which no one expects anything of me.”

 

 

Thomas Berger- Reinhart in Love:

“Marriage was a creation of civilization, not nature: no two tigers cohabited for twenty years; and a rabbit will of course sock it into anything that crosses his path and hop on, contrary to the fairy tales that bring him home each evening to a Mrs. Bunny waiting with easy chair and slippers. On the other hand, certain human fanatics disapproved even of legal coitus:  St Paul, Count Tolstoy, and Mahatma Gandhi. But there are those like Plato who maintained anybody could do it with anybody else as long as the state said when. The Gods assured Aeneas that founding Rome was more important than loving Dido, so off he sailed leaving her to suicide.  St Augustine screwed like a mink and then, going for priest, knocked off the sex absolutely.  They made Abelard a bullock for hopping Heloise, and Tristan and Isolde ended up scarcely better.” 

 

Thomas Berger- Reinhart in Love:

“Yet the great thing about literature as opposed to science, was that if asked about a book you could make up something quite as appropriate as -perhaps even better than- the particulars you had forgotten. “And a narrative got better and better as one’s memory of it receded, ….”

 

Tim O’Brien-Going After Cacciato:

“Not knowing the people, they did not know friends from enemies. They did not know if it was a popular war, or, if popular, in what sense. They did not know if the people of  Quang Ngai viewed the war stoically, as it sometimes seemed, or with grief, as it seemed other times, or with bewilderment or greed or partisan fury. It was impossible to know. They did not know religions or philosophies or theories of justice. More than that, they did not know how emotions worked in Quang Ngai. Twenty years of war had rotted away ordinary reactions to death and disfigurement. Astonishment, the first response, was never there in the faces of Quang Ngai. Disguised, maybe. But who knew? Who ever knew? Emotions and beliefs and attitudes, motives, and aims, hopes-these were unknown to the men in Alpha Company, and Quang Ngai told nothing.”

 

Ayn Rand- We the Living:

” I’m here to make a report to my Party comrades, Comrade Chairman. It’s a very crucial report and I think they should hear it. Yes, it’s about our work in the villages, and in the cities, and among the millions, the living millions. Only there are questions. There are questions that must be answered. Why should we be afraid if we can answer them? But if we can’t…? If we can’t… Comrades! Brothers! Listen to me! Listen, you consecrated warriors of a new life! Are we sure we know what we are doing? No one can tell men what they must live for. No one can take that right-because there are things in men, in the best of us, which are above all states, above all collectives! Do you ask: what things? Man’s mind and his values. Look into yourself, honestly and fearlessly. Look and don’t tell me, don’t tell anyone, just tell yourself: what are you living for? Aren’t you living for yourself and only for yourself? Call it your aim, your love, your cause-isn’t it still your cause? Give your life, die for your ideal-isn’t it still your ideal? Every honest man lives for himself. Every man worth calling a man lives for himself. The one who doesn’t-doesn’t live at all. You cannot change it. You cannot change it because that’s the way man is born, alone, complete, and end in himself. No laws, no Party, no G.P.U. will ever kill that thing in man which knows how to say ‘I.’ You cannot enslave man’s mind, you can only destroy it. You have tried. Now look at what you’re getting. Look at those whom you allow to triumph. Deny the best in men-and see what will survive. Do we want the crippled, creeping, crawling, broken monstrosities that we are producing? Are we not castrating life in order to perpetuate it?”

 

Ayn Rand- We the Living:

…”And who-in this damned universe-who can tell me why I should live for anything but for that which I want? Who can answer that in human sounds that speak for human reason?… But you’ve tried to tell us what we should want. You came as a solemn army to bring a new life to men. You tore that life you knew nothing about, out of their guts-and you told them what it had to be. You took their every hour, every minute, every nerve, every thought in the farthest corners of their souls- and you told them what it had to be. You came and you forbade life to the living. You’ve driven us all into an iron cellar and you’ve closed all doors, and you’ve locked us airtight, airtight till the blood vessels of our spirits burst! Then you stare and wonder what it’s doing to us. Well, then, look! All of you have eyes left-look!

 

Ayn Rand- We the Living:

“Do you think the Russian worker is a beast that licks its yoke while his mind is being battered out of him? Do you think he’s fooled by the clatter of a very noisy gang of tyrants? Do you know what he reads? Do you know the books that are hidden in the factories? The papers that pass secretly through many hands? Do you know that the people is awakening…….”

 

Ayn Rand- We the Living:

“Certainly,” said the landlady. “Certainly, citizens, I can let you have room for the night. But first you must get a certificate from your Upravdom as to where you live in the city, and a permit from your militia department, and then you must bring me your labor books, and I must register them with our Soviet here, and our militia department, and get a permit for you as transient guests, and there’s a tax to pay, and then you can have a room.”

 

Ayn Rand- We the Living:

“For one reason, mainly, chiefly and eternally, no matter how much your Party promises to accomplish, no matter what paradise it plans to bring mankind. Whatever your other claims may be, there’s one you can’t avoid, one that will turn your paradise into the most unspeakable hell: your claim that man must live for the state.”

 

Tim O’Brien- Going After Cacciato:

The Silver Star:  “Oh he would have liked winning it, true, but that wasn’t the issue. He would’ve liked showing the medal to his father, the heavy feel of it, looking his father in the eye to show he had been brave, but even that was not the real issue. The real issue was the power of will to defeat fear. A matter of figuring a way to do it. Somehow working his way into that secret chamber of the human heart, where, in tangles, lay the circuitry for all that was possible, the full range of what a man might be. He believed, like Doc Peret, that somewhere inside each man is a biological center for the exercise of courage, a piece of tissue that might be touched and sparked and made to respond, a chemical maybe, or a lone chromosome that when made to fire would produce a blaze of valor that even the biles could not extinguish. A filament, a fuse, that if ignited would release the full energy of what might be. there was a Silver Star twinkling somewhere inside him.” 

Posted December 2012

 

Russell Banks- The Book of Jamaica:

Rastafarian speech: “It was not the same as learning to speak patois, a “pidgin” that had evolved several hundred years ago to deal with the needs to communicate between masters who spoke European Languages and slaves who spoke African Languages. Necessity had brought that about, a more or less English vocabulary tacked on top of a more or less African grammar and syntax, and though there were many ways of representing it phonetically by means of the Phoenician Alphabet, the language resisted visual representation and existed solely and fully in the speaker’s mouths and ears.”

Posted December 2012

 

Julian Barnes- Metroland:

“We agreed-indeed no sane friend of ours would bother to argue-that Art was the most important thing in life, the constant to which one could be unfailingly devoted and which would never cease to reward; more crucially, it was the stuff whose effect on those exposed to it was ameliorative. It made people not just fitter for friendship and more civilized but better, kinder, wiser, nicer, more peaceful, more active, more sensitive. If it didn’t what good was it?”

Posted December 2012

 

B. Tavern- March to The Monteria:

“But every power rests upon recognition. No power can exist of its own and continue like a constantly renewed universe. No dictator is so strong that his power cannot be evaded. Concentration camps, Siberia, slave labor tortures, and death penalties have their narrow limits, because the will to non obedience, to resist brute force, is in the end, infinitely stronger than the will to attack or to exercise a similar brute force.” 

Posted December 2012.

 

Arthur Herman-How Scots Invented the Modern World:

Scots during the 1700’s settled in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

“Placenames and language reflected their northern Irish or Southern( Scottish) Lowlands origins. They said “whar” for “where”, “thar” for “there”, “critter” for “creature”, “nekkid” for “naked”, “widder” for  “widow” and “younguns'” for “young ones”. They were always “fixin” to do something, or go “sparkin'” instead of “courting”, and the “younguns'” “growed up” instead of “grew up”. As David Hackett Fisher has suggested, these were the first utterings of the American dialect of Appalachian mountaineers, cowboys, truck drivers, and back country politicians.” 

 

John Updike- In the Beauty of the Lilies:

‘”At first stage plays and music hall routines were filmed as if through the eyes of a rigid front row theater goer, but from year to year the camera had grown in cunning and flexibility, finding its vocabulary of cut, dissolve, close-up, tracking and dolly shot. Eyes have never before seen in this manner: impossibilities of connection and disjunction formed a magic, glittering sequence that left real time and its three rigid dimensions behind.” 

 

Harry Browne-  How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World:

“Government regulation always overrules the consumers. What consumers don’t want, they don’t have to buy, what governments don’t want, consumers can’t buy. What consumers want (protection, inspection, etc.) they can get. What the government thinks they should have, consumers are forced to take and forced to pay for.”  

 

A.B. Guthrie- The Big Sky:

“It was all in the way a man thought, though, the way a young man thought. When the blood was strong and the heat high a body felt the earth was new- born like himself, but when he got some years on him he knew different. Down deep in his bones he understood that everything was old, old as time.”

 

Larry McMurtry- Cadillac Jack:

“Before going any further I might quote the well known Coke bottle scout Zack Jenks, who found a near mint 1924 Coke bottle besides I-85 near Gaffney, South Carolina, in the summer of 1979. “Anything can be Anywhere” Zack said, a statement that is to scouting what E=MC2 is to physics.”

 

Robert Olen Butler- Alley of Eden:

“Every art cuts away whole areas of human experience to focus your attention on a selected few elements. Painting cuts away sound and words so you can see better. Music cuts away words and vision so you hear better.” 

 

D.H. Lawrence- The Virgin and the Gypsy:

“They were left free in their movements. Their parents let them do almost entirely as they liked. There wasn’t really a fetter to break, nor a prison bar to file through, nor a bolt to shatter. The keys of their lives were in their own hands. And there they dangled inert. 

It is very much easier to shatter prison bars than to open undiscovered doors of life.” 

 

Christopher Hitchens on Hannah Arendt:

“Hannah Arendt once wrote the great success of Stalinism among intellectuals could be attributed to one annihilating tactic. Stalinism replaced all debate about the merit of an argument, or a position, or even a person, with an inquiry about motive.”

 

Ayn Rand-Atlas Shrugged:

“Why should this seem so startling?  There is only one kind of men who have never been on strike in human history. Every other kind of class have stopped, when they so wished, and have presented demands to the world, claiming to be indispensable-except the men who have carried the world on their shoulders, have kept it alive, have endured torture as sole payment, but have never walked out on the human race. Well, their turn has come. Let the world discover who they are, what they do and what happens when they refuse to function. This is the strike of men of the mind, Miss Taggart. This is the mind on strike.” 

 

B. Tavern- March of The Monteria:

“But every power rests upon recognition. No power can exist of its own and continue like a constantly renewed universe. No dictator is so strong that his power cannot be evaded. Concentration camps, Siberia, slave labor, tortures, and death penalties have their narrow limits, because the will of the non obedience, to resist brute force, is in the end, infinitely stronger than the will to attack or to exercise a similar brute force.”

 

James Salter-A Sport and a Pastime:

“One must have heroes, which is to say, one must create them and they become real through our envy, our devotion. It is we who give them their majesty, their power, which we ourselves could never possess. And in turn they give some back. But they are mortal these heroes just as we are. They do not last forever. They fade. They vanish. They are surpassed, forgotten, one hears of them no more.”

 

Jim Harrison- Wolf:

“I think of those years 1957 through 1960 as unbearably convulsive but then the years after that seem strangely blank and a few of them have no isolatable events. When books were physical events and capable of overwhelming you for weeks, they entered your breath and you adopted their conversational patterns and thoughts as your own.”

 

Wallace Stegner- Recapitulation:

“…he had now no external evidence except the memorabilia of a love affair that, compared with the death of his mother and his total failure to be reconciled with his father, had come to seem minor, even trivial. He told himself that it is easy enough to recover from a girl, who represents to some extent a choice. It is not so easy to recover from parents, who are fate.”

 

Cormac McCarthy- The Orchard Keeper:

“I recollect one evening I was at the store getting some things, late summer it was and nigh dark, bout eight o’clock I reckon, when it commenced hollerin. Well, I never said nothin. In a little bit it come again. Boys, I mean it got quiet in that store to where you could hear the ants in the candy jar.”

 

Tom Robbins-  Skinny Legs and All:

“In spite of his lameness, he boogied to country rock more flamboyantly than any man in East-Central Virginia. Some dance critic, who worked behind the bar in a honky tonk, said that when Boomer danced he looked like a monkey on roller skates juggling razor blades in a hurricane.”

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