Passages
 

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.


[Caption: Solzhenitsyn in Vermont, where he lived while in the West.]


Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 20th century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.


Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.


The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.


Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.


Literature that is not the breath of contemporary society, that dares not transmit the pains and fears of that society, that does not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers — such literature does not deserve the name of literature; it is only a façade. Such literature loses the confidence of its own people, and its published works are used as wastepaper instead of being read.


In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.


For us in Russia, communism is a dead dog, while, for many people in the West, it is still a living lion.


Our Twentieth Century has proved to be more cruel than preceding centuries, and the first fifty years have not erased all its horrors. Our world is rent asunder by those same old cave-age emotions of greed, envy, lack of control, mutual hostility which have picked up in passing respectable pseudonyms like class struggle, racial conflict, struggle of the masses, trade-union disputes. The primeval refusal to accept a compromise has been turned into a theoretical principle and is considered the virtue of orthodoxy. It demands millions of sacrifices in ceaseless civil wars, it drums into our souls that there is no such thing as unchanging, universal concepts of goodness and justice, that they are all fluctuating and inconstant. Therefore the rule — always do what's most profitable to your party. Any professional group no sooner sees a convenient opportunity to BREAK OFF A PIECE, even if it be unearned, even if it be superfluous, than it breaks it off there and then and no matter if the whole of society comes tumbling down.


Joan Didion


The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.


I have never been sure what the word "nouveau" can possibly mean in America, implying as it does that the speaker is gazing down six hundred years of rolled lawns.


I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.


Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.


We tell ourselves stories in order to live.


Writers are always selling somebody out.


To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves - there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.


Dolphins, I learned from J. Worden of the Harvard Child Bereavement Study at Massachusetts General Hospital, had been observed refusing to eat after the death of a mate. Geese had been observed reacting to such a death by flying and calling, searching until they themselves became disoriented and lost.


You have to pick the places you don't walk away from.


Pablo Casals


The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?


Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.


The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.


We ought to think that we are one of the leaves of a tree, and the tree is all humanity. We cannot live without the others, without the tree.


Let us not forget that the greatest composers were also the greatest thieves. They stole from everyone and everywhere.


I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.


I am perhaps the oldest musician in the world. I am an old man but in many senses a very young man. And this is what I want you to be, young, young all your life, and to say things to the world that are true.



Geoffrey Chaucer


Time and tide wait for no man.


The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne.
Th’ assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge,
The dredful joye, alwey that slit so yerne;
Al this mene I be love.


The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people.


And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.


He was as fresh as is the month of May.


Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swych licour

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open ye

(So priketh hem nature in hir corages);

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages.


People can die of mere imagination.


The guilty think all talk is of themselves.


Forbid us something, and that thing we desire.


There's never a new fashion but it's old.


Muddy Waters


I been in the blues all my life. I'm still delivering 'cause I got a long memory.


I got up one Christmas morning and we didn't have nothing to eat. We didn't have an apple, we didn't have an orange, we didn't have a cake, we didn't have nothing.


Oh, I started out young. They handed me a cotton sack when I was about 8 years old. Give me a little small one, tell me to fill it up. I never did like the farm but I was out there with my grandmother, didn't want to get away from around her too far.


I went to school, but they didn't give you too much schooling because just as soon as you was big enough, you get to working in the fields. I guess I was a big boy for my age.


I wanted to get out of Mississippi in the worst way. Go back? What I want to go back for?


Saturday night is your big night. Everybody used to fry up fish and have one hell of a time. Find me playing till sunrise for 50 cents and a sandwich. And be glad of it. And they really liked the low-down blues.


I was messing around with the harmonica... but I was 13 before I got a real good note out of it.


Of course that was my idol, Son House. I think he did a lot for the Mississippi slide down there.


I rambled all the time. I was just like that, like a rollin' stone.


Aretha Franklin


Sam Cooke had a huge influence on me. He left the gospel field at one point and went into the secular, and he had this huge hit, 'You Send Me.' Irma, my older sister, and I heard 'You Send Me' on the radio while we were driving through the South one night. We had to stop the car. We got out and danced around the car out on the highway.


I think women and children and older people are the three least-respected groups in our society.


Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.


Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I'm happy with that.


I sing to the realists; people who accept it like it is.


I always felt rock and roll was very, very wholesome music.


Don't say Aretha is making a comeback, because I've never been away!


I'm the lady next door when I'm not on stage.


My faith always has been and always will be important to me.


I think the hardest thing is losing weight. That's the hardest thing more than anything else.


Dorothy Maclean


If there ever was a time in our evolution of consciousness it is now—the ground is prepared for this planting.


There is no doubt that the planet is going through a transformation where all of us are learning to recognize our wholeness. The soul is being grounded in a new way. As we bring love into all things we transform the planet into a higher vibration.


We judge everything as good or evil and forget that resistance, pain and difficulties are there so we can learn when we leave balance.


The key is love, the action is service, and the joy is knowing the grandeur that is God in us and in everything.


Stress is caused by our resistance to what already is. Even our difficulties we need to accept. My greatest wish is to do God's will.


I've always thought that we have to bring our spirituality into our everyday life such as even brushing our teeth with God.


I've also found that at the bottom of all of these qualities is love. If you have enough love you have enough courage, enough love then you have patience.



Pauline Kael


Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash we have very little reason to be interested in them.


A mistake in judgment isn't fatal, but too much anxiety about judgment is.


Citizen Kane is perhaps the one American talking picture that seems as fresh now as the day it opened. It may seem even fresher.


There is a dreadful discrepancy between Michelangelo's works and the words put into the mouth of Charlton Heston, who represents him here, and this picture — which is mostly about a prolonged wrangle between the sculptor and Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison), who keeps sweeping into the Sistine Chapel and barking, "When will you make an end of it?" — isn't believable for an instant.


In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising.


Object to the Hollywood film and you’re an intellectual snob, object to the avant-garde films and you’re a Philistine. But, while in Hollywood, one must often be a snob; in avant-garde circles one must often be a Philistine.


The first prerogative of an artist in any medium is to make a fool of himself.


A woman who taught at Berkeley dropped in on me once and saw a book burning in the fireplace. She pointed at it in terror, and I explained that it was a crummy ghostwritten life of a movie star and that it was an act of sanitation to burn it rather than sending it out into the world which was already clogged with too many copies of it. But she said, "You shouldn’t burn books" and began to cry.


Her only flair is in her nostrils.


It seems likely that many of the young who don't wait for others to call them artists, but simply announce that they are, don't have the patience to make art.


Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize.


John McCain


“War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.” - May 6, 1999, speech to the American Red Cross.


“No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about” - October 2008 at a town hall to a questioner who asked if his opponent for the White House, then-Sen. Barack Obama, was an “Arab” implying he was not American.


(Referencing his own experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and rebuking his Republican colleagues by endorsing the study's findings)


“It is a thorough and thoughtful study of practices that I believe not only failed their purpose—to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies—but actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world.”


“Look, I am the luckiest person that you will ever have on your show, ever. And I am very aware of that, and I am very happy. For a guy who stood at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, we've come a hell of a long way.” -- McCain said in an Aug. 2, 2017, interview on KFYI radio in Phoenix after his cancer diagnosis.


“He served his country, and not always right -- made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors -- but served his country, and I hope we can add, honorably” - Sept. 12, 2017, in an interview on how he hopes he's remembered.


“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to.” — Oct. 17, 2017, speech at National Constitutional Center.


Renata Adler


The girls were always running out of money, out of cash, precisely, to pay taxi drivers, train conductors, men who delivered pizzas after dark. They borrowed cash, normally, upon arrival. They borrowed passions—Wallace Stevens, Joseph Conrad, Mozart, hiking, the Bible—from each other, as girls of another generation borrowed clothes.


Idle people are often bored and bored people, unless they sleep a lot, are cruel. It is not accident that boredom and cruelty are great preoccupations in our time.


Fear... is forward. No one is afraid of yesterday.


In the strange heat all litigation brings to bear on things, the very process of litigation fosters the most profound misunderstandings in the world.


It is always self-defeating to pretend to the style of a generation younger than your own; it simply erases your own experience in history.


Nothing defines the quality of life in a community more clearly than people who regard themselves, or whom the consensus chooses to regard, as mentally unwell.


No one ever confides a secret to one person only. No one destroys all copies of a document.


Late-sleeping Utopians, especially, persist like mercury. I am a fanatic myself, although not a woman of temperament. I get nervous at scenes. I stole a washcloth once from a motel in Angkor Wat. The bellboy was incensed. I had to give it back. To promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity—I believe all that. I go to parties almost whenever I am asked. I think a high tone of moral indignation, used too often, is an ugly thing. I get up at eight. Quite often now I have a drink before eleven. In some ways, I have overshot my mark in life in spades.


Marshall McLuhan


The inner trip is not the sole prerogative of the LSD traveler; it’s the universal experience of TV watchers.


Literacy, in translating man out of the closed world of tribal depth and resonance, gave man an eye for an ear and ushered him into a visual open world of specialized and divided consciousness.


Radio affects most intimately, person-to-person, offering a world of unspoken communication between writer-speaker and the listener. That is the immediate aspect of radio. A private experience. The subliminal depths of radio are charged with the resonating echoes of tribal horns and antique drums. This is inherent in the very nature of this medium, with its power to turn the psyche and society into a single echo chamber.


World War I a railway war of centralization and encirclement. World War II a radio war of decentralization concluded by the Bomb. World War III a TV guerrilla war with no divisions between civil and military fronts.


When we invent a new technology, we become cannibals. We eat ourselves alive since these technologies are merely extensions of ourselves. The new environment shaped by electric technology is a cannibalistic one that eats people. To survive one must study the habits of cannibals.


McLuhan was credited with coining the phrase Turn on, tune in, drop out by its popularizer, Timothy Leary, in the 1960s. In a 1988 interview with Neil Strauss, Leary stated that slogan was "given to him" by McLuhan during a lunch in New York City. Leary said McLuhan "was very much interested in ideas and marketing, and he started singing something like, 'Psychedelics hit the spot / Five hundred micrograms, that’s a lot,' to the tune of a Pepsi commercial. Then he started going, 'Tune in, turn on, and drop out.



V. S. Naipaul


In England people are very proud of being very stupid.


If ever you wish to meet intellectual frauds in quantity, go to Paris.


If a writer doesn't generate hostility, he is dead.


I'm the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.


It's very attractive to people to be a victim. Instead of having to think out the whole situation, about history and your group and what you are doing... if you begin from the point of view of being a victim, you've got it half-made. I mean intellectually.


The first 50 years of the cinema were absolutely great years. Original minds were at work establishing the ways to tell a story. And what is happening now is a copying, a pastiche-ing of what was done by great men.


An autobiography can distort; facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies: it reveals the writer totally.


One isn't born one's self. One is born with a mass of expectations, a mass of other people's ideas - and you have to work through it all.


The longer I live the more convinced I become that one of the greatest honors we can confer on other people is to see them as they are, to recognize not only that they exist, but that they exist in specific ways and have specific realities.


In England I am not English, in India I am not Indian. I am chained to the 1,000 square miles that is Trinidad; but I will evade that fate yet.


I became very interested in the Islamic question, and thought I would try to understand it from the roots, ask very simple questions and somehow make a narrative of that discovery.




Candice Bergen


Men say they love independence in a woman, but they don't waste a second demolishing it brick by brick.


I couldn't hold it together today. George Clooney asked me if I was OK, and I practically collapsed. I couldn't stop crying, I had to go off sobbing like an idiot.


Dreams are, by definition, cursed with short life spans.


Hollywood is like Picasso's bathroom.


Beauty set up distance between other people and me. It warped their behavior. People see you as an object, not as a person, and they project a set of expectations onto you. People who don't have it think beauty is a blessing, but actually it sets you apart. Though beauty gives you a weird sense of entitlement, it's rather frightening and threatening to have others ascribe such importance to something you know you're just renting for a while.


I guess I was a mom so late in life, my daughter was the greatest thing since sliced bread.


It's impossible to be more flat-chested than I am.


Were women meant to do everything - work and have babies?


Kingsley Amis


A great British prime minister once remarked that the people were divided into two nations, the rich and the poor, and in effect that these had no knowledge of each other. One might say the same, perhaps, of those who live in parts of the world where segregation by races is practised. But these barriers, or the reasons for them, belong to a part of our history which is fortunately passing away. There is one barrier, however, which no amount of progress or tolerance or legislation can ever diminish. I'm talking about the barrier between the attractive and the unattractive.


'Oh, I see,' said Jenny. 'But you're just getting these men [New Age gurus] to help you all feel better. I thought when you talked about helping people you meant other people. You know, like the blind.'

'Isn't everybody blind, in one way or another?' asked Wendy.


If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.


He resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again.


There was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.


He was of the faith chiefly in the sense that the church he currently did not attend was Catholic.


It is no wonder that people are so horrible when they start their life as children.


Death has got something to be said for it: There’s no need to get out of bed for it; Wherever you may be, They bring it to you, free.


I sometimes feel that more lousy dishes are presented under the banner of pate than any other.


Outside every fat man there was an even fatter man trying to close in.



Jerry Lee Lewis


Either be hot or cold. If you are lukewarm, the Lord will spew you forth from His mouth.


My momma always said, ‘You and Elvis are pretty good, but y’all ain’t no Chuck Berry


Hippies? Why, I'm the original.


Carl Perkins and John Cash was telling me, ‘Man, everybody loves you, but you ought to do something a little different up there.’ I said, ‘Like what?’ ‘Just run around the piano or do something. You’d be surprised the reaction you’d get.’ I said, ‘Well, I’d have to think about it.’ Then I just kicked my stool back, knocked it over… I know I started off opening the show. And before the tour was over, I was closing the show. I never did figure that one out.


When they look back on me I want 'em to remember me not for all my wives, although I've had a few, and certainly not for any mansions or high livin' money I made and spent. I want 'em to remember me simply for my music.


Other people - they practice and they practice... these fingers of mine, they got brains in 'em. You don't tell them what to do - they do it. God given talent.


Normally, things are viewed in these little segmented boxes. There's classical, and then there's jazz; romantic, and then there's baroque. I find that very dissatisfying. I was trying to find the thread that connects one type of music - one type of musician - to another, and to follow that thread in some kind of natural, evolutionary way.




Jiddu Krishnamurti


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.


I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.


All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man.


The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.


If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem.


If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.


We all want to be famous people, and the moment we want to be something we are no longer free.


Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem.


Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.


A man who is not afraid is not aggressive, a man who has no sense of fear of any kind is really a free, a peaceful man.


Annie Besant


A note on the subject:— Annie Besant, née Wood was a British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule.


A myth is far truer than a history, for a history only gives a story of the shadows, whereas a myth gives a story of the substances that cast the shadows.


Quick condemnation of all that is not ours, of views with which we disagree, of ideas that do not attract us, is the sign of a narrow mind, of an uncultivated intelligence. Bigotry is always ignorant, and the wise boy, who will become the wise man, tries to understand and to see the truth in ideas with which he does not agree.


No philosophy, no religion, has ever brought so glad a message to the world as this good news of Atheism.


Refusal to believe until proof is given is a rational position; denial of all outside of our own limited experience is absurd.


For centuries the leaders of Christian thought spoke of women as a necessary evil, and the greatest saints of the Church are those who despise women the most.


'Easter' is a movable event, calculated by the relative positions of sun and moon, an impossible way of fixing year by year the anniversary of a historical event, but a very natural and indeed inevitable way of calculating a solar festival. These changing dates do not point to the history of a man, but to the hero of a solar myth.



Nasreddin


A note the subject: Nasreddin (variously Nasrudin, Nasrettin, etc.) is a legendary folk character in the Middle East and Central Asia, portrayed as a wise fool, clever simpleton, or instructive prankster.

Nothing is conclusively known about the person who originally inspired the stories, but popular tradition considers him a minor cleric from Anatolia in the 13th or early 14th century. The oldest surviving manuscripts containing tales of Nasreddin date from 16th century, and are Turkish. By the 19th century, tales of the older Arabic trickster character Juha became amalgamated into the lore of Nasreddin.


"Nasrudin, your donkey has been lost."

"Thank goodness I was not on the donkey at the time, or I would be lost too."


Nasrudin walked into a house and exclaimed, "The moon is more useful than the sun."

"Why?" he was asked.

"Because at night we need the light more."


Nesretten Hoca's Wife: In our society, they treat us as if women have no names of their own—you are always so-and-so's wife. I mentioned this to my husband once—and, believe me, I didn't do it to blame or scold anyone. He was deeply touched and saddened. He said to me: "You are right, my dear wife. From now on, whenever they ask me what my name is, I'll say 'I'm the husband of the wife of Nasrettin Hoca.' "


Nasrudin used to take a donkey across a frontier every day, with the panniers loaded with straw. Since he admitted to being a smuggler when he trudged home every night, the frontier guards searched him again and again. They searched his person, staffed the straw, steeped it in water, even burned it from time to time. [...] One of the customs officers met him years later.

"You can tell me now, Nasrudin," he said. "Whatever was it that you were smuggling, when we could never catch you out?"

"Donkeys," said Nasrudin.


"I can see in the dark."

"That may be so, Mulla. But if it is true, why do you sometimes carry a candle at night?"

"To prevent other people from bumping into me."




Lionel Trilling


A note on the subject: Lionel Mordecai Trilling was an American literary critic, short story writer, essayist, and teacher. He was one of the leading U.S. critics of the 20th century who traced the contemporary cultural, social, and political implications of literature.


Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal.


Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood.


It is now life and not art that requires the willing suspension of disbelief.


Literature is the human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.


Being a Jew is like walking in the wind or swimming: you are touched at all points and conscious everywhere.


The poet... may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather.


We who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.


In the American metaphysic, reality is always material reality, hard, resistant, unformed, impenetrable, and unpleasant.


Probably it is impossible for humor to be ever a revolutionary weapon. Candide can do little more than generate irony.


The poet is in command of his fantasy, while it is exactly the mark of the neurotic that he is possessed by his fantasy.


Peter Dinklage


I like animals, all animals. I wouldn't hurt a cat or a dog - or a chicken or a cow. And I wouldn't ask someone else to hurt them for me. That's why I'm a vegetarian.


When people are infected by my charm, they don't see my size. My piercing deep blue eyes are distracting.


My favourite superhero? I have a soft spot for Batman, because he doesn't have any super powers - he's just a person. And he's pretty dark.


It's a shame how a lot of actors use theater as a stepping stone to film and television work; I think it shouldn't be treated that way. Maybe it's narcissism or something. I think we should always go back to it. I try and do a play a year, and I think that's really helped me.


I was a sullen kid who smoked cigarettes and wore black every day, and I went to a school that was lacrosse players and Izods.


I spend my nights just sitting and reading a book and drinking my tea and walking my dog. That's about as exciting as my life gets.


I never know where women are coming from.


We, as Americans, at least - I mean, I love my country - but we're so self-righteous sometimes, in terms of, like, our nationality, our country. But we're people from somewhere else; the true 'Americans' are the original peoples. It's funny, but we're a very territorial species.