Sort of a “cheater’s post” for now- I dislike posting less than twice a month, and in truth have several essays sketched or half-finished; but I never post anything without editing it at least twice, never mind finishing it.
And since it’s finals time here at t’law school, and I leave the country in less than two weeks, it’s unlikely in the extreme that I’ll have anything decent done before that time.
So here, for your delectation, are some quotes and prose excerpts (the latter in italics) from things I’ve read this past year, attributed whenever I can remember the correct author. No pattern, no method- writers ranging from personal friends to Jay-Z to Seuss to Freud to Franklin to Plutarch. (If you see something by yourself or someone you know and it’s not attributed or misattributed, please email and let me know so I can correct it.)
The object of art is to crystallize emotion into thought and then give it form.
Eroticism is like a dance: one always leads the other.
Let me tell you the truth of love, what life and death have taught me of it. Love is woven of chains, chains that bind you to your lover’s fate. Love makes you bare your throat to God’s sword and your chest to the Devil’s. At the whim of either one, a sickness, childbed, those chains will drag you under with the one who owns your heart. I’m a coward, dearest, you know the truth of that, but death showed me what the afterlife can be if you’ve never risked those chains. Endless, empty, no voices, just the rattle of regret and hollow freedom.
Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent.
Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged.
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think... you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
–Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Difficult takes a day; impossible takes a week.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
Man has always engaged in pernicious acts of foolery: imperialism, murder, war among others. Of all of them, by far the worst is love.
Those who know how to win are much more numerous than those who know how to make proper use of their victories.
Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself to it.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
-The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
Whenever people say 'We mustn't be sentimental,' you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add 'We must be realistic,' they mean they are going to make money out of it.
Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.
The art of illusion is the art of love, and the art of love is the blood-red heart of the world. At times I think there is nothing else.
-The Illusion, Pierre Corneille (translated by Tony Kushner)
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid.
-Les Liasons Dangereuses, Pierre Ambroise Francois Choderios de LaClos
Too many people spend money they haven't earned to buy things they don't want to impress people they don't like.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
"If anyone, and I mean anyone, mentions this... this... incident ever again, anywhere, under any circumstances whatsoever, I will know about it. And that person, and their children and their children's children even unto the seventh generation, will know no rest. I will devote the remainder of my natural life to that end. If necessary, I will add special provisions to my will to ensure that that person and their descendants live lifetimes of suffering beyond imagination." He looked around the room. "Do I make myself absolutely clear?"
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?
The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.
- James Baldwin
The problem with you- it’s worse cause you’re so damn smart- is that you have to be logical. 30/20 vision, sight down things like a telescope, every leaf in the forest coming clear further than most’d see trees. And you miss the pissed-off cougar coming at you from the side. Logical doesn’t mean practical, Sumi.
-Email from a personal friend *winces*
An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.
Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors.
No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.
"Watch your tongue," he said conversationally.
"It's not long enough," John said. "I'd go cross-eyed."
Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established.
To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.
"Is it so hard to believe that an attractive, intelligent, spirited, gentle woman might be interested in me? That she might be able to see past the man you all think I am?"
He exploded. "Of course it is, you damned fool. Listen to yourself, for God's sake!”
The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief ... that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.
What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
It started softly, like a tuning fork lightly struck, but grew, a pure note, blown by a trumpeter of inexhaustible breath, till there was nothing but the sound. The sound of Astarael. “Astarael, the Sorrowful,” whispered Sabriel. Astarael was the banisher, the final bell. Properly rung, it cast everyone who heard it far into Death. Everyone, including the ringer.
-Sabriel, Garth Nix
Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
John was about to snap back at him, but she laid a hand on his head. "Blessed are the ignorant, for they cannot be tortured for information."
The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness.
"I heard a lot of the same speeches… the failure in my responsibilities, the throwing away of my potential, my certain poverty and disgrace- but in the end, it was a matter of making the choice I, myself, could live with."
"…But I don't know what that is," she whispered. "I have to choose between giving up my family or... or myself, everything that I am."
"No, you don't. You have to choose between leaving one of your families and giving up what you have been... I know what you mean, I said the same things to myself, but they weren't true. You won't give up yourself, no matter what you decide. You are your own, and you can't be given away…”
“And you will still be yourself, no matter what path you choose. It's important that you know that. It's... so much less frightening when you know that."
The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.
Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.
It is not possible to find in all geometry more difficult and intricate questions, or more simple and lucid explanations… No amount of investigation of yours would succeed in attaining the proof, and yet, once seen, you immediately believe you would have discovered it; by so smooth and so rapid a path he leads you to the conclusion required.
…The charm of his familiar and domestic Siren made him forget his food and neglect his person, to that degree that when he was occasionally carried by absolute violence to bathe or have his body anointed, he used to trace geometrical figures in the ashes of the fire, and diagrams in the oil on his body, being in a state of entire preoccupation, and, in the truest sense, divine possession with his love and delight in science…
-Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Plutarch (translated by John Dryden)