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pearls

when the swine overwhelm, retreat into the wisdom of these words

Friday, March 31, 2006

And though tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people. ~Hannah Arendt

Where liberty is, there is my country. ~Benjamin Franklin

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. ~Henry D. Thoreau

A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read. ~Mark Twain

As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence. ~Benjamin Franklin

How soon not now becomes never. ~Martin Luther.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.

A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in cages.

A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.

All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.

All your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent.

Bohemia has no banner. It survives by discretion.

Don't look forward to the day you stop suffering, because when it comes you'll know you're dead.

Everyone says he's sincere, but everyone isn't sincere. If everyone was sincere who says he's sincere there wouldn't be half so many insincere ones in the world and there would be lots, lots, lots more really sincere ones!

Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.

I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.

I have always been pushed by the negative. The apparent failure of a play sends me back to my typewriter that very night, before the reviews are out. I am more compelled to get back to work than if I had a success.

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.

If I am no longer disturbed myself, I will deal less with disturbed people, but I don't regret having concerned myself with them because I think most of us are disturbed.

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.

In memory everything seems to happen to music.

It is almost as if you were frantically constructing another world while the world that you live in dissolves beneath your feet, and that your survival depends on completing this construction at least one second before the old habitation collapses.

Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.

Luck is believing you're lucky.

Luxury is the wolf at the door and its fangs are the vanities and conceits germinated by success. When an artist learns this, he knows where the danger is.

Make voyages! Attempt them... there's nothing else.

Mendacity is a system that we live in. Liquor is one way out and death's the other.

Most of the confidence which I appear to feel, especially when influenced by noon wine, is only a pretense.

Oh, you weak, beautiful people who give up with such grace. What you need is someone to take hold of you - gently, with love, and hand your life back to you.

Once you fully apprehend the vacuity of a life without struggle, you are equipped with the basic means of salvation.

Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a play, just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life, even in one's own character to himself.

Success and failure are equally disastrous.

Success is blocked by concentrating on it and planning for it... Success is shy - it won't come out while you're watching.

The most dangerous word in any human tongue is the word for brother. It's inflammatory.

The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that's also a hypocrite!

The strongest influences in my life and my work are always whomever I love. Whomever I love and am with most of the time, or whomever I remember most vividly. I think that's true of everyone, don't you?

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.

There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go.

This country of endured but unendurable pain.

Time rushes towards us with its hospital tray of infinitely varied narcotics, even while it is preparing us for its inevitably fatal operation.

We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.

We are all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life.

We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal.

We're all of us guinea pigs in the laboratory of God. Humanity is just a work in progress.

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains.

When I stop working the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing.

When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.

You can be young without money but you can't be old without it.

You've got many refinements. I don't think you need to worry about your failure at long division. I mean, after all, you got through short division, and short division is all that a lady ought to be called on to cope with.

~Tennessee Williams

A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain.

A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity.

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.

Always fall in with what you're asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it over your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever's going. Not against: with.

And were an epitaph to be my story I'd have a short one ready for my own. I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover's quarrel with the world.

Being the boss anywhere is lonely. Being a female boss in a world of mostly men is especially so.

Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.

Education doesn't change life much. It just lifts trouble to a higher plane of regard.

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.

Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.

Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.

I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.

I never dared to be radical when young for fear it would make me conservative when old.

If one by one we counted people out For the least sin, it wouldn't take us long To get so we had no one left to live with. For to be social is to be forgiving.

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.

My sorrow, when she's here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane.

No memory of having starred atones for later disregard, or keeps the end from being hard.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

Nobody was ever meant, To remember or invent, What he did with every cent.

Poetry is about the grief. Politics is about the grievance.

Poetry is what gets lost in translation.

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.

The best things and best people rise out of their separateness; I'm against a homogenized society because I want the cream to rise.

The best way out is always through.

The father is always a Republican toward his son, and his mother's always a Democrat.

The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom... in a clarification of life - not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion.

The middle of the road is where the white line is - and that's the worst place to drive.

The strongest and most effective force in guaranteeing the long-term maintenance of power is not violence in all the forms deployed by the dominant to control the dominated, but consent in all the forms in which the dominated acquiesce in their own domination.

There is the fear that we shan't prove worthy in the eyes of someone who knows us at least as well as we know ourselves. That is the fear of God. And there is the fear of Man-fear that men won't understand us and we shall be cut off from them.

Thinking isn't agreeing or disagreeing. That's voting.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost

All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal.

Conviction without experience makes for harshness.

I am a writer because writing is the thing I do best.

I am not afraid that the book will be controversial, I'm afraid it will not be controversial.

I don't deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.

I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.

It is better to be young in your failures than old in your successes.

It seems that the fiction writer has a revolting attachment to the poor, for even when he writes about the rich, he is more concerned with what they lack than with what they have.

Manners are of such great consequence to the novelist that any kind will do. Bad manners are better than no manners at all, and because we are losing our customary manners, we are probably overly conscious of them; this seems to be a condition that produces writers.

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.

The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.

There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.

When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God's business.

~Flannery O'Connor

Saturday, March 25, 2006

When griping grief the heart doth wound,
and doleful dumps the mind opresses,
then music, with her silver sound,
with speedy help doth lend redress.
~William Shakespeare

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust. ~Samuel Johnson

Whatever we well understand we express clearly, and words flow with ease. ~Nicholas Boileau

Man is the only animal that learns by being hypocritical. He pretends to be polite and then, eventually, he _becomes_ polite. ~Jean Kerr

There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher. ~Victor Hugo

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Americans have been conditioned to respect newness, whatever it costs them.

Among the repulsions of atheism for me has been its drastic uninterestingness as an intellectual position. Where was the ingenuity, the ambiguity, the humanity of saying that the universe just happened to happen and that when we're dead we're dead?

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better.

Art is like baby shoes. When you coat them with gold, they can no longer be worn.

Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.

From infancy on, we are all spies; the shame is not this but that the secrets to be discovered are so paltry and few.

He had a sensation of anxiety and shame, a sensitivity acute beyond usefulness, as if the nervous system, flayed of its old hide of social usage, must record every touch of pain.

I secretly understood: the primitive appeal of the hearth. Television is-its irresistible charm-a fire.

Most of American life consists of driving somewhere and then returning home, wondering why the hell you went.

Perfectionism is the enemy of creation, as extreme self-solitude is the enemy of well-being.

Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.

The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.

There's a crystallization that goes on in a poem which the young man can bring off, but which the middle-aged man can't.

Until the 20th century it was generally assumed that a writer had said what he had to say in his works.

We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one.

We hope the "real" person behind the words will be revealed as ignominiously as a shapeless snail without its shapely shell.

We take our bearings, daily, from others. To be sane is, to a great extent, to be sociable.

What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.

When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas.

Writers may be disreputable, incorrigible, early to decay or late to bloom but they dare to go it alone.

Writers take words seriously-perhaps the last professional class that does-and they struggle to steer their own through the crosswinds of meddling editors and careless typesetters and obtuse and malevolent reviewers into the lap of the ideal reader.

~John Updike


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."

"I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."

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

"The only real valuable thing is intuition."

"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."

"I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice."

"God is subtle but he is not malicious."

"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."

"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."

"Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing."

"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."

"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it."

"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

"God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically."

"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking."

"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater."

"Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity."

"If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut."

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

"In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."

"The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead."

"Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves."

"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!"

"No, this trick won't work...How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?"

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."

"Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever."

"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."

"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence."

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

"One had to cram all this stuff into one's mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year."

"...one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought."

"He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

~Albert Einstein

[(c)Kevin Harris 1995]

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken."

“As early pioneers in the knowing, that when you lose your reason, you attain highest perfect knowing.”

“All things are like visions beyond the reach of the human mind.”

“But let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.”

“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.”

“You can’t have birth without existence and you can’t have death without birth.”

"...Ah, life is a gate, a way, a path to Paradise anyway, why not live for fun and joy and love or some sort of girl by a fireside, why not go to your desire and LAUGH..."

“My witness is the empty sky.”

“Desolation, desolation, I owe so much to desolation.”

“My aunt once said the world would never find peace until men fell at their women’s feet and asked for forgiveness.”

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..."

“You’d be surprised how little I knew even up to yesterday.”

“It’s like old newspapers blowing down Bleecker Street.”
-- response to a question about fame

“I’d rather be thin than famous.”

“Dean, don’t drive so fast in the daytime...ah hell, Dean, I’m going in the back seat, I can’t stand it anymore, I can’ look."
-- "On the Road”

“I’m not a beatnik, I’m a Catholic.”

~Jack Kerouac

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions; in all these cases they are more or less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it. ~ John Stuart Mill, Representative Government, 1861

Thursday, March 02, 2006

America is woven of many strands. I would recognise them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many. This is not prophecy, but description.

By and large, the critics and readers gave me an affirmed sense of my identity as a writer. You might know this within yourself, but to have it affirmed by others is of utmost importance. Writing is, after all, a form of communication.

Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked.

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time been ashamed.

Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it.

Some people are your relatives but others are your ancestors, and you choose the ones you want to have as ancestors. You create yourself out of those values.

The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.

The blues is an art of ambiguity, an assertion of the irrepressibly human over all circumstances, whether created by others or by one's own human failing.

When I discover who I am, I'll be free.
~Ralph Ellison

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