"What, anyway, was that sticky infusion, that rank flavor of blood, that poetry, by which I lived?"
Rest In Peace
"I don’t recognize the distinction between nature poetry and, what would be the other thing? Human civilization poetry? We are creatures of the earth who build our elaborate cities and beavers are creatures of the earth who build their elaborate lodges and canal operations and dams, just as we do..."
"People with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called 'character,' a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues... Nonetheless, character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life — is the source from which self-respect springs."
"Everything we do has significance. Every action, every thought leaves an imprint — not only on the self, but on the world, on the others, and even on time, on all who come after us! This implies a responsibility for one's thoughts and actions that should be taken most seriously! And yet one feels helpless, a hapless victim of circumstances beyond one's control, as if one's behavior and thoughts did not originate in the self, but were a product, an accumulation of imprints from the world, from our ancestors, from the people around us. It behooves one to take responsibility, to take the power to decide how one will act, and even how one will think! Not only for the betterment of one's self, but for the betterment of the world, all the others, and all who will come after us!"
"He was free, free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, free to accept, free to refuse, free to equivocate; to marry, to give up the game, to drag this death weight about with him for years to come. He could do what he liked, no one had the right to advise him, there would be for him no Good or Evil unless he thought them into being."
"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph."
The twins strut proudly down the avenue, in plain view of all. It's obvious that they have not a care in the world, with their hoods pulled tight on their aging skulls, scratched-up goggles strapped even tighter around the back of their necks. They carry tattered shopping bags, rumored to be filled with decades of newspaper clippings. No one seems to know how long they've worn those goggles, why, or where the two of them live. Rumor had it that one of them died. But no, there they are, walking lock-step, with a determination that's inspiring. Never a smile, but you can sense their contentment.
The streets have changed over the years. Stores open and close. The old charmed faces fade into younger colder ones, and the sense of community folds into a heartless nod of the head. The twins never left, despite their scarcity at times. I'm going to miss them terribly one day — and I don't even know their names.
"Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones..."
"In this sense the Dionysian man resembles Hamlet: both have once looked truly into the essence of things, they have gained knowledge, and nausea inhibits action; for their action could not change anything in the eternal nature of things; they feel it to be ridiculous or humiliating that they should be asked to set right a world that is out of joint. Knowledge kills action; action requires the veils of illusion: that is the doctrine of Hamlet, not that cheap wisdom of Jack the Dreamer who reflects too much and, as it were, from an excess of possibilities does not get around to action. Not reflection, no--true knowledge, an insight into the horrible truth, outweighs any motive for action, both in Hamlet and in the Dionysian man."
"Any honest examination of the national life proves how far we are from the standard of human freedom with which we began. The recovery of this standard demands of everyone who loves this country a hard look at himself, for the greatest achievements must begin somewhere, and they always begin with the person. If we are not capable of this examination, we may yet become one of the most distinguished and monumental failures in the history of nations."
"In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come — not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary; more pain will follow. It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul. So the decision-making of daily life involves not, as in normal affairs, shifting from one annoying situation to another less annoying — or from discomfort to relative comfort, or from boredom to activity — but moving from pain to pain. One does not abandon, even briefly, one’s bed of nails, but is attached to it wherever one goes. And this results in a striking experience — one which I have called, borrowing military terminology, the situation of the walking wounded. For in virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devastation would by lying flat in bed, possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life-support systems, but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting. His invalidism would be necessary, unquestioned and honorably attained. However, the sufferer from depression has no such option and therefore finds himself, like a walking casualty of war, thrust into the most intolerable social and family situations. There he must, despite the anguish devouring his brain, present a face approximating the one that is associated with ordinary events and companionship. He must try to utter small talk, and be responsive to questions, and knowingly nod and frown and, god help him, even smile. But it is a fierce trial attempting to speak a few simple words."
"Laws, it is said, are for the protection of the people. It's unfortunate that there are no statistics on the number of lives that are clobbered yearly as a result of laws: outmoded laws; laws that found their way onto the books as a result of ignorance, hysteria or political haymaking; antilife laws; biased laws; laws that pretend that reality is fixed and nature is definable; laws that deny people the right to refuse protection. A survey such as that could keep a dozen dull sociologists out of mischief for months."
"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"
Whiskey-smacked birdmen take to the sky once again, avenging all so-called transgressions via radio-wave breakdown, and always with a nod and bow to the ancients. The pain comes in fast and hard, with little relevance to the affair at hand, let alone rational intent.
A self-inflicted blow to the face, with the force of months of disoriented walks through heaps of Dionysian rubble. The loss of taste is the worst of it, but at least sight remains, allowing for glorious sunspots, and the awareness of those precious, awkward smiles.
"Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don't change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow."
"When I was very young, I admired hardened criminals locked behind prison doors; I visited inns and taverns they frequented; with their eyes, I saw the blue sky and the blossoming work of the fields; I tracked their scent through cities. They were more powerful than saints, more prudent than explorers — and they, they alone, were witnesses to glory and reason!"