Saturday, October 18, 2014

"This kingdom thou shalt not take for thine own..."

And Manwë said unto Melkor: `This kingdom thou shalt not take for thine own, wrongfully, for many others have laboured here no less than thou.'

- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Ainulindale: The Music of the Ainur

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"The most bitter critic of American platitude and delusion ... that ever lived."

H.L. Mencken, from Mark Twain's Americanism:

When Mark Twain died, in 1910, one of the magnificos who paid public tribute to him was William H. Taft, then President of the United States. "Mark Twain," said Dr. Taft, "gave real intellectual enjoyment to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come. He never wrote a line that a father could not read to a daughter."

The usual polite flubdub and not to be exposed, perhaps, to critical analysis. But it was, in a sense, typical of the general view at that time, and so it deserves to be remembered for the fatuous inaccuracy of the judgment in it. For Mark Twain dead is beginning to show far different and more brilliant colors than those he seemed to wear during life, and the one thing no sane critic would say of him to-day is that he was the harmless fireside jester, the mellow chautauquan, the amiable old grandpa of letters that he was once so widely thought to be.

The truth is that Mark was almost exactly the reverse. Instead of being a mere entertainer of the mob, he was in fact a literary artist of the very highest skill and sophistication, and, in all save his superficial aspect, quite unintelligible to Dr. Taft's millions. And instead of being a sort of Dr. Frank Crane in cap and bells, laboriously devoted to the obvious and the uplifting, he was a destructive satirist of the utmost pungency and relentlessness, and the most bitter critic of American platitude and delusion, whether social, political or religious, that ever lived.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"I speak to vent my anger, to cry out like a wounded animal..."

"Every person endowed with even a minimum of sensitivity and independence must rebel against the meanness and narrow-mindedness surrounding him, against the lies and the restrictions to his individual freedoms; and if he has no opportunity to show his opposition to the present situation, then hatred, scorn, resentment and despair will build up in his breast until they threaten to smother him. Then, like the drowning man who grasps at straws, he must somehow shake off his overwhelming burden. For these reasons I speak to vent my anger, to cry out like a wounded animal; for I imagine that one single person out of all the thousands will indeed have to hear me, will understand me, will comprehend my outrage, will feel with me, and will hate and struggle against cruelty, coercion, and subjugation. It has been and will continue to be for this single person that I act, and I go to them precisely because among the many, one real, honorable and great person can be found."

- Emma Goldman, from Made for America (1897)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"You’re going to eat rocks and dirt and weeds from the back yard for the first ten years."

"Phil: Well, I use to just write all the time. I use to just get up at noon and sit down at the typewriter and write until 2 AM. Just write from noon in the morning until 2 AM. You’ve got to do that when you start out. Or you’re going to die on the vine. I mean you’ve got to just – you’re going to live on two thousand dollars a year. You’re going to eat rocks and dirt and weeds from the back yard for the first ten years. And then after the first ten years, you get to eat instant breakfast. You work up till you’re rich enough to get a phone put in. And you get to buy an old automobile. And you get to drive around in an old automobile, which you crank-start every morning. And then after 25 years, you manage to get a used Dodge. It costs you $795.00, but, the radio doesn’t work in it. And there’s people that’re standing behind grocery counters are making more money. One time I was in Trader-Jones, a grocery store, and I was talking with the clerk and he made more money than I did. And I was really sore. I really took it bad. Because they had just hired him. He didn’t even have seniority as a grocery clerk. At least he could have been a senior clerk. I said, how much do you make? And he says, such and such. And I said, jeepers, that’s a lot of money." P.K. Dick on KPFK-FM, Hour 25, June 26, 1976.

Friday, May 16, 2014

"We have reached the ultimate point of egotism, the atomic state of being. There we go to smash."

"We have reached the ultimate point of egotism, the atomic state of being. There we go to smash. We are preparing now for the death of the little self in order that the real self may emerge. Unwittingly and unconsciously we have made the world one, but one in nullity. We must go through a collective death in order to emerge as genuine individuals." - From Henry Miller, Time of the Assassins

Sunday, May 4, 2014

War or Revolution, Socialism or Barbarism

"One hundred years ago, humanity stood before a dilemma whose solution lies in the hands of the proletariat alone: socialism or barbarism. That dilemma is still with us today."
[Source: 1914: How the Bloodletting Began.]

Visit the International Communist Current web site.

"Marxism is not a dogma, nor a fixed theory based on unchanging positions; on the contrary it is a living theory. If it is to be an effective weapon of the proletarian struggle for emancipation, the theory and method of Marxism must be constantly tested against the development of historical reality."
[Source: Introduction.]

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"We shall see that peace which is above all reason, that perfect calm of the spirit..."

Correggio, Leda and the Swan (circa 1532)

Arthur Schopenhauer:
''...instead of the restless striving and effort, instead of the constant transition from wish to fruition, and from joy to sorrow, instead of the never-satisfied and never-dying hope which constitutes the life of the man who wills, we shall see that peace which is above all reason, that perfect calm of the spirit, that deep rest, that inviolable confidence and serenity, the mere reflection of which in the countenance, as Raphael and Correggio have represented it, is an entire and certain gospel; only knowledge remains, the will has vanished."

Friday, March 7, 2014

"How vainly seek the selfish for that happiness denied..."

                                              "How vainly seek
The selfish for that happiness denied
To aught but virtue! Blind and hardened, they,
Who hope for peace amid the storms of care,
Who covet power they know not how to use,
And sigh for pleasure they refuse to give, -
Madly they frustrate still their own designs;
And, where they hope that quiet to enjoy
Which virtue pictures, bitterness of soul,
Pining regrets, and vain repentances,
Disease, disgust and lassitude pervade
Their valueless and miserable lives.

"But hoary-headed selfishness has felt
Its death-blow and is tottering to the grave;
A brighter morn awaits the human day,
When every transfer of earth’s natural gifts
Shall be a commerce of good words and works;
When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame,
The fear of infamy, disease and woe,
War with its million horrors, and fierce hell,
Shall live but in the memory of time,
Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start,
Look back, and shudder at his younger years."

- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Queen Mab

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Poor people, living as neighbors to the rich ... They can never have peace of mind."

Kamo no Chomei (1153-1216), from An Account of My Hut:
Someone of low status who becomes a neighbor of a man of power, even when he has cause to be very happy, cannot celebrate loudly, or if his sorrow is severe, his lamentation and weeping must be muted. His conduct is controlled by anxiety, for in any situation he is as fearful as a sparrow caught in a hawk's nest. Poor people, living as neighbors to the rich, morning and evening are embarrassed by their poorly dressed appearance, even as they go into and leave the house, seeing their neighbor's flattering condescension. The wife and children envy the neighbor's servants, who look down on them with haughty expression, provoking bad feelings. They can never have peace of mind.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Nothing is more wonderful than sympathy..."

Sei Shonagon, from The Pillow Book:
Nothing is more wonderful than sympathy — in a man of course, but also in a woman. It may be only some passing remark, it may not be anything particularly deeply felt, but to hear that someone has said of a sad situation, ‘How sad for her’, or of some touching circumstance, ‘I do wonder how she must be feeling’, makes you much gladder than hearing it said directly face to face. I always long to find a way to let such a person know that I’ve learned of their sympathetic response. You don’t feel particularly surprised and moved, of course, in the case of someone whom you can rely on to feel for you or visit you at such times. But if someone unexpected responds to the tale of your sorrows with reassuring words, it fills you with pleasure. It’s such a simple thing to do, yet so rare....