Canon Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Canon. Here they are! All 200 of them:

We are made of stardust; why not take a few moments to look up at the family album?
Natalie Angier (The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science)
...the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon.
Noam Chomsky
One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.
Thomas Sowell (The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy)
One day humanity will play with law just as children play with disused objects, not in order to restore them to their canonical use but to free them from it for good.
Giorgio Agamben (State of Exception)
What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Real reading is a lonely activity.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
In all ages the people have honored those who dishonored them. They have worshiped their destroyers; they have canonized the most gigantic liars, and buried the great thieves in marble and gold. Under the loftiest monuments sleeps the dust of murder.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Humboldt From 'The Gods and Other Lectures')
What care I if it be "wild and improbable" and "lacking in literary art"? I refuse to be any longer hampered by such canons of criticism. The one essential thing I demand of a book is that it should interest me. If it does, I forgive it every other fault.
L.M. Montgomery (The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 1: 1889-1910)
I am not a photographer , I am a canon owner !!!
Walaa WalkademAgmal
It's not the side-effects of the cocaine - I'm thinking that it must be love. It's too late to be grateful, It's too late to be hateful, It's too late to be late again, The European canon is here. - Station to Station
David Bowie
During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.
Vladimir Lenin (The State and Revolution)
A Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life: 1. Never put off to tomorrow what you can do to-day. 2. Never trouble another with what you can do yourself. 3. Never spend your money before you have it. 4. Never buy a thing you do not want, because it is cheap, it will be dear to you. 5. Take care of your cents: Dollars will take care of themselves. 6. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold. 7. We never repent of having eat too little. 8. Nothing is troublesome that one does willingly. 9. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened. 10. Take things always by their smooth handle. 11. Think as you please, and so let others, and you will have no disputes. 12. When angry, count 10. before you speak; if very angry, 100.
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
When the late Pope John Paul II decided to place the woman so strangely known as “Mother” Teresa on the fast track for beatification, and thus to qualify her for eventual sainthood, the Vatican felt obliged to solicit my testimony and I thus spent several hours in a closed hearing room with a priest, a deacon, and a monsignor, no doubt making their day as I told off, as from a rosary, the frightful faults and crimes of the departed fanatic. In the course of this, I discovered that the pope during his tenure had surreptitiously abolished the famous office of “Devil’s Advocate,” in order to fast‐track still more of his many candidates for canonization. I can thus claim to be the only living person to have represented the Devil pro bono.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story.
C.S. Lewis
To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.
Stephen Fry
History is the record of what human beings have been impelled to do by their ignorance and the enormous bumptiousness that makes them canonize their ignorance as a political or religious dogma
Aldous Huxley (Island)
The idea of formulated 'rights ... comes not from John Locke and Thomas Jefferson ... but from the canon law of the Catholic Church.
Thomas E. Woods Jr.
Don't canonize me too soon. I'm perfectly capable of fathering a child.
Francis of Assisi
There is nothing mysterious or natural about authority. It is formed, irradiated, disseminated; it is instrumental, it is persuasive; it has status, it establishes canons of taste and value; it is virtually indistinguishable from certain ideas it dignifies as true, and from traditions, perceptions, and judgments it forms, transmits, reproduces.
Edward W. Said (Orientalism)
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, (135) Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this! But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two: (140) So excellent a king; that was, to this,
William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
[...] Technology has tended to devaluate the traditional vision-inducing materials. The illumination of a city, for example, was once a rare event, reserved for victories and national holidays, for the canonization of saints and the crowning of kings. Now it occurs nightly and celebrates the virtues of gin, cigarettes and toothpaste.
Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception / Heaven and Hell)
What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.
Friedrich Nietzsche (On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense)
Reading the very best writers—let us say Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Tolstoy—is not going to make us better citizens. Art is perfectly useless, according to the sublime Oscar Wilde, who was right about everything. He also told us that all bad poetry is sincere. Had I the power to do so, I would command that these words be engraved above every gate at every university, so that each student might ponder the splendor of the insight.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
The flux of life is pouring its aesthetic aspect into your eyes, your ears - and you ignore it because you are looking for your canons of beauty in some sort of frame or glass case or tradition.
Mina Loy
The sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who might have worked, having been canonically established as being ineffective on wood, but nobody had ever figured out how to use the controls on the blasted thing.
Jim C. Hines (Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris, #2))
What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.
Friedrich Nietzsche
For the canons of good society are, or should be, the same as the canons of art. Form is absolutely essential to it.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Writings)
It's marvelous to know another person's entire literary canon by heart. It's like knowing their secret personal language.
Lauren Groff (Florida)
You desire to LIVE "according to Nature"? Oh, you noble Stoics, what fraud of words! Imagine to yourselves a being like Nature, boundlessly extravagant, boundlessly indifferent, without purpose or consideration, without pity or justice, at once fruitful and barren and uncertain: imagine to yourselves INDIFFERENCE as a power—how COULD you live in accordance with such indifference? To live—is not that just endeavouring to be otherwise than this Nature? Is not living valuing, preferring, being unjust, being limited, endeavouring to be different? And granted that your imperative, "living according to Nature," means actually the same as "living according to life"—how could you do DIFFERENTLY? Why should you make a principle out of what you yourselves are, and must be? In reality, however, it is quite otherwise with you: while you pretend to read with rapture the canon of your law in Nature, you want something quite the contrary, you extraordinary stage-players and self-deluders! In your pride you wish to dictate your morals and ideals to Nature, to Nature herself, and to incorporate them therein; you insist that it shall be Nature "according to the Stoa," and would like everything to be made after your own image, as a vast, eternal glorification and generalism of Stoicism! With all your love for truth, you have forced yourselves so long, so persistently, and with such hypnotic rigidity to see Nature FALSELY, that is to say, Stoically, that you are no longer able to see it otherwise—and to crown all, some unfathomable superciliousness gives you the Bedlamite hope that BECAUSE you are able to tyrannize over yourselves—Stoicism is self-tyranny—Nature will also allow herself to be tyrannized over: is not the Stoic a PART of Nature?... But this is an old and everlasting story: what happened in old times with the Stoics still happens today, as soon as ever a philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates the world in its own image; it cannot do otherwise; philosophy is this tyrannical impulse itself, the most spiritual Will to Power, the will to "creation of the world," the will to the causa prima.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil)
The rise and fall of civilizations in the long, broad course of history can be seen to have been largely a function of the integrity and cogency of their supporting canons of myth; for not authority but aspiration is the motivator, builder, and transformer of civilization.
Joseph Campbell
One of the most amazing and perplexing features of mainstream Christianity is that seminarians who learn the historical-critical method in their Bible classes appear to forget all about it when it comes time for them to be pastors. They are taught critical approaches to Scripture, they learn about the discrepancies and contradictions, they discover all sorts of historical errors and mistakes, they come to realize that it is difficult to know whether Moses existed or what Jesus actually said and did, they find that there are other books that were at one time considered canonical but that ultimately did not become part of Scripture (for example, other Gospels and Apocalypses), they come to recognize that a good number of the books of the Bible are pseudonymous (for example, written in the name of an apostle by someone else), that in fact we don't have the original copies of any of the biblical books but only copies made centuries later, all of which have been altered. They learn all of this, and yet when they enter church ministry they appear to put it back on the shelf. For reasons I will explore in the conclusion, pastors are, as a rule, reluctant to teach what they learned about the Bible in seminary.
Bart D. Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them)
Yet often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination, when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend with no intention but to be with him.
Nan Shepherd (The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland (Canons))
Like I said, magic comes from life, and especially from emotions. They're a source of the same intangible energy that everyone can feel when an autumn moon rises and fills you with a sudden sense of bone-deep excitement, or when the first warm breeze of spring rushes past your face, full of the scents of life, and drowns you in a sudden flood of unreasoning joy. The passion of mighty music that brings tears to your eyes, and the raw, bubbling, infectious laughter of small children at play, the bellowing power of a stadium full of football fans shouting "Hey!" in time to that damned song—they're all charged with magic. My magic comes from the same places. And maybe from darker places than that. Fear is an emotion, too. So is rage. So is lust. And madness. I'm not a particularly good person. I'm no Charles Manson or anything, but I'm not going to be up for canonization either. Though in the past, I think maybe I was a better person than I am today. In the past I hadn't seen so many people hurt and killed and terrorized by the same kind of power that damn well should have been making the world a nicer place, or at the least staying the hell away from it. I hadn't made so many mistakes back then, so many shortsighted decisions, some of which had cost people their lives. I had been sure of myself. I had been whole.
Jim Butcher (Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7))
As an addict who will read anything, I obeyed, but I am not saved, and return to tell you neither what to read nor how to read it, only what I have read and think worthy of rereading, which may be the only pragmatic test for the canonical.
Harold Bloom
You can find things in the traditional religions which are very benign and decent and wonderful and so on, but I mean, the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon. The God of the Bible - not only did He order His chosen people to carry out literal genocide - I mean, wipe out every Amalekite to the last man, woman, child, and, you know, donkey and so on, because hundreds of years ago they got in your way when you were trying to cross the desert - not only did He do things like that, but, after all, the God of the Bible was ready to destroy every living creature on earth because some humans irritated Him. That's the story of Noah. I mean, that's beyond genocide - you don't know how to describe this creature. Somebody offended Him, and He was going to destroy every living being on earth? And then He was talked into allowing two of each species to stay alive - that's supposed to be gentle and wonderful.
Noam Chomsky
Then the bow orchestra began to play an apocalyptically beautiful canon, one of those pieces in which, surely, the composer simply transcribed what was given, and trembled in awe of the hand that was guiding him.
Mark Helprin (Winter's Tale)
Well, now, look at you, is that a halo? Did you get canonized while I wasn`t looking? Am I addressing St. Stefan now?
L.J. Smith
Pachelbel’s Canon filled the sun-drowned room where they learned each other and even then the fear flickered across him like an osprey’s shadow: This is too good to live for long.
Thomas Harris (Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter, #1))
The true source of our sufferings has been our timidity.
John Adams (The Portable John Adams)
We must consciously create our own world, not according to mindless customs and destructive prejudices, but according to the canons of reason, reflection, and discourse that uniquely belong to our own species.
Murray Bookchin (The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy)
Good intentions don't excuse destroying somebody's culture. Good intentions don't excuse anything. We can't judge dead men by our standards, fine, but we choose who we canonize, and we can do better. Shouldn't we want to do better?
Katie Henry (Heretics Anonymous)
You are absolute angels of the first order. If I were Pope, I’d canonize you.” “The Pope would probably love to turn a cannon on you!
Libba Bray (The Diviners (The Diviners, #1))
Such a reader does not read for easy pleasure or to expiate social guilt, but to enlarge a solitary existence.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon)
The canons of literary taste as they have hardened in the twentieth century leave little place for Rabelais.
Roger Shattuck
Fanfiction is the madwoman in mainstream culture’s attic, but the attic won’t contain it forever. Writing and reading fanfiction isn’t just something you do; it’s a way of thinking critically about the media you consume, of being aware of all the implicit assumptions that a canonical work carries with it, and of considering the possibility that those assumptions might not be the only way things have to be.
Anne Jamison (Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World)
Pragmatically, aesthetic value can be recognized or experienced, but it cannot be conveyed to those who are incapable of grasping its sensations and perceptions. To quarrel on its behalf is always a blunder.
Harold Bloom
Schoolboy days are no happier than the days of afterlife, but we look back upon them regretfully because we have forgotten our punishments at school and how we grieved when our marbles were lost and our kites destroyed – because we have forgotten all the sorrows and privations of the canonized ethic and remember only its orchard robberies, its wooden-sword pageants, and its fishing holidays.
Mark Twain (The Innocents Abroad)
We love WWII because the cause was so obviously just, because you can't be a good person and say you wouldn't fight against an evil like that. It was so black and white on our side, and on our side so few died. (Our side meaning the lantern-jawed John Wayne Greatest Generation constantly canonized soldiers who strode in late to the graveyard that was Europe. Compared to Jewish, Russian, Roma, and other casualties, our losses were minimal.) We felt so strong. In some ways I think we're always trying to recapture that feeling of being a country of superheroes. With every war we invoke that one, we hope it will be that good. -from her blog
Catherynne M. Valente
The limitation of the ethical phenomenon to its place and time does not imply its rejection but, on the contrary, its validation. One does not use canons to shoot sparrows.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Ethics (Works, # 6))
A real reader creates her own canon, for it consists precisely of those books that she has used to create herself.
William Deresiewicz (Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life)
The Church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity.
J.I. Packer
One breaks into the canon only by aesthetic strength.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. "All the News That's Fit to Print," it says. It's been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it's as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan.
Christopher Hitchens (Letters to a Young Contrarian)
The Gospel is not a mere message of deliverance, but a canon of conduct; it is not a theology to be accepted, but it is ethics to be lived. It is not to be believed only, but it is to be taken into life as a guide.
Alexander MacLaren
All writers are to some extent inventors, describing people as they would like to see them in life.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
To read in the service of any ideology is not to read at all. The mind's dialogue with itself is not primarily a social reality. All that the Western canon can bring one is the proper use of one's own solitude.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Incoming Text: Bert will be so disappointed. He had down that Canon would eat you alive by last night. Note to self: Never bet against Bert.
Qwen Salsbury (The Plan)
An epoch which had gilded individual liberty so that if a man had money he was free in law and fact, and if he had not money he was free in law and not in fact. An era which had canonized hypocrisy, so that to seem to be respectable was to be.
John Galsworthy (The Forsyte Saga (The Forsyte Chronicles, #1-3))
Aesthetic criticism returns us to the autonomy of imaginative literature and the sovereignty of the solitary soul, the reader not as a person in society but as the deep self, our ultimate inwardness.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Aesthetic value emanates from the struggle between texts: in the reader, in language, in the classroom, in arguments within a society. Aesthetic value rises out of memory, and so (as Nietzsche saw) out of pain, the pain of surrendering easier pleasures in favour of much more difficult ones ... successful literary works are achieved anxieties, not releases from anxieties.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Not a moment passes these days without fresh rushes of academic lemmings off the cliffs they proclaim the political responsibilities of the critic, but eventually all this moralizing will subside.
Harold Bloom (Books of the Western Canon: 797 Great Books by 204 Essential Authors)
We are destroying all esthetic standards in the name of social justice.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this! But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother That he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Must I remember? why, she would hang on him, As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on: and yet, within a month-- Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!-- A little month, or ere those shoes were old With which she follow'd my poor father's body, Like Niobe, all tears:--why she, even she-- O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason, Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle, My father's brother, but no more like my father Than I to Hercules: within a month: Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married. O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not nor it cannot come to good: But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
We can trace the communitarian fantasy that lies at the root of all humanism back to the model of a literary society, in which participation through reading the canon reveals a common love of inspiring messages. At the heart of humanism so understood we discover a cult or club fantasy: the dream of the portentous solidarity of those who have been chosen to be allowed to read. In the ancient world—indeed, until the dawn of the modern nation-states—the power of reading actually did mean something like membership of a secret elite; linguistic knowledge once counted in many places as the provenance of sorcery. In Middle English the word 'glamour' developed out of the word 'grammar'. The person who could read would be thought easily capable of other impossibilities.
Peter Sloterdijk (Regels voor het Mensenpark)
Originality must compound with inheritance.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
If you couldn't kill your adversaries, or keep them imprisoned for ever, there was surely only one option left in the Colonel Alexander canon: you change their minds.
Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats)
Characters carrying the playwright's disapproval is a un-Shakespearian burden.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
It drives me crazy how quickly the great ones get canonized. 'Blah-blah-blah is such a terrible loss.' Does that mean that the death of one mediocre slob is not as terrible? Do fags have to be geniuses to justify living?
Sarah Schulman (Rat Bohemia)
Ifemelu would also come to learn that, for Kimberly, the poor were blameless. Poverty was a gleaming thing; she could not conceive of poor people being vicious or nasty because their poverty had canonized them, and the greatest saints were the foreign poor.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah)
The creator of Sir John Falstaff, of Hamlet, and of Rosalind also makes me wish I could be more myself. But that, as I argue throughout this book, is why we should read, and why we should read only the best of what has been written.
Harold Bloom (How to Read and Why)
The more one learns of this intricate interplay of soil, altitude, weather, and the living tissues of plant and insect (an intricacy that has its astonishing moments, as when sundew and butterwort eat the insects), the more the mystery deepens. Knowledge does not dispel mystery.
Nan Shepherd (The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland (Canons))
Marxism, famously a cry of pain rather than a science, has had its poets, but so has every other major religious heresy.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
All that we are is the result of what we have thought:
Anonymous (Dhammapada, a collection of verses; being one of the canonical books of the Buddhists)
Tarkin smiled. “Someone once said that politics is little more than the systematic organization of hostilities.
James Luceno (Tarkin (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel))
Shakespeare will not make us better and will not make us worse, but he may allow us to overhear ourselves when we talk to ourselves.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Sola scriptura means at least this: that the church's proclamation is always subject to potential correction from the canon. It is for this reason that we resist simply collapsing the text into the tradition of its interpretation and performance.
Kevin J. Vanhoozer (The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology)
In the final analysis, it is not critics who create literary canons, it is other writers who create them .... A writer can have published thirty-seven volumes, but if that writer doesn't interest other writers, they will all molder in the library and nobody will ever want to read them again.
Helen Vendler
One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period – the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.
Lancelot Andrewes
I shall remain vigilant and unyielding in my pursuit of the enemies of the Coalition. I will defend and maintain the Order of Life as it was proclaim by the Allfathers of the Coalition in the Octus Canon. I will forsake the life I had before so I may perform my duty as long as I am needed. Steadfast, I shall hold my place in the machine and acknowledge my place in the Coalition. I am a Gear.
Karen Traviss (Aspho Fields (Gears of War, #1))
At our present bad moment, we need above all to recover our sense of literary individuality and of poetic autonomy.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Well-makers lead the water (wherever they like); fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; good people fashion themselves.
Various (Dhammapada, a collection of verses; being one of the canonical books of the Buddhists)
The most effective way of destroying art is the canonization of one given form. And one philosophy.
Yevgeny Zamyatin
Few things are more fun than creating your own canon.
Johanna Mead (Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It)
The greatest importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls...lies in the discovery of biblical manuscripts dating back to only about 300 years after the close of the Old Testament canon.
Philip W. Comfort (The Origin of the Bible)
There is no canonical way to think of our own past. In the endless quest for order and structure, we grasp at whatever picture is floating by and put our past into its frame.
Ian Hacking (Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory)
All canonical writing possesses the quality "of making you feel strangeness at home.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Every child had heard the proverb in the Canon that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Peter V. Brett (The Skull Throne (The Demon Cycle, #4))
Infinite knowledge can never wonder. All wonder is the effect of novelty upon ignorance.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
So, I will just share it here, because I truly believe that the only universal “body” is our breath, because breath is the only thing that all human bodies experience and as such, it is something we all must share, not just with each other, but, in one way or another, with all living things on earth. To this day, I still can’t think of a better way of truly breaking us free from the visual rut that the canon of Western art has left us languishing in, than the breath of an Indigenous Australian woman.
Hannah Gadsby (Ten Steps to Nanette)
The past is always the highest peak, and the hardest to scale. But when you finally pull yourself to the top and peer over the edge, there’s nothing before you but the rest of your life.
Robert Dugoni (The 7th Canon)
Be this as it may, they decided by vote which of the books out of the collection they had made, should be the WORD OF GOD, and which should not. They rejected several; they voted others to be doubtful, such as the books called the Apocrypha; and those books which had a majority of votes, were voted to be the word of God. Had they voted otherwise, all the people since calling themselves Christians had believed otherwise; for the belief of the one comes from the vote of the other.
Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason)
Moderates in every faith are obliged to loosely interpret (or simply ignore) much of their canons in the interests of living in the modern world. No doubt an obscure truth of economics is at work here: societies appear to become considerably less productive whenever large numbers of people stop making widgets and begin killing their customers and creditors for heresy. The first thing to observe about the moderate's retreat from scriptural literalism is that it draws its inspiration not from scripture but from cultural developments that have rendered many of God's utterances difficult to accept as written.
Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason)
One mark of originality that can win canonical status for a literary work is strangeness that we either never altogether assimilate, or that becomes such a given that we are blinded to its idiosyncrasies.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
The aesthetic and the agonistic are one, according to the ancient Greeks.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Greatness recognizes greatness, and is shadowed by it.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
For the canons of good society are, or should be, the same as the canons of art. Form is absolutely essential to it. It should have the dignity of a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and should combine the insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that make such plays delightful to us.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
I am imbued with the notion that a Muse is necessarily a dead woman, inaccessible or absent; that a poetic structure - like the canon, which is only a hole surrounded by steel - can be based only on what one does not have; and that ultimately one can write only to fill a void or at the least to situate, in relation to the most lucid part of ourselves, the place where this incommensurable abyss yawns within us.
Michel Leiris
The defense of the Western Canon is in no way a defense of the West or a nationalist enterprise. . . . The greatest enemies of aesthetic and cognitive standards are purported defenders who blather to us about moral and political values in literature. We do not live by the ethics of the Iliad, or by the politics of Plato. Those who teach interpretation have more in common with the Sophists than with Socrates. What can we expect Shakespeare to do for our semiruined society, since the function of Shakespearean drama has so little to do with civic virtue or social justice?
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Kasyanov, I think I’ve made it pretty clear,” Lachance said. “Our attitude controls is damaged beyond repair, retro capability is down to thirty percent. Several containment bulkheads are cracked, and there’s a good chance if we initiate thrust we’ll just flash-fry ourselves with radiation.” He paused briefly. “We do still have coffee, though. That’s one positive.
Tim Lebbon (Alien: Out of the Shadows (Canonical Alien Trilogy, #1))
Thus nature provides a system for proportioning the growth of plants that satisfies the three canons of architecture. All modules are isotropic and they are related to the whole structure of the plant through self-similar spirals proportioned by the golden mean.
Jay Kappraff (Connections: The Geometric Bridge Between Art and Science (2nd Edition))
Contrary to what some folks would have us believe, it is not tragic, even if undesirable, for a person to leave a liberal arts education not having read major works from this canon. Their lives are not ending. And the exciting dimension of knowledge is that we can learn a work without formally studying it. If a student graduates without reading Shakespeare and then reads or studies this work later, it does not delegitimize whatever formal course of study that was completed.
bell hooks (Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations)
The true use of Shakespeare or of Cervantes, of Homer or of Dante, of Chaucer or of Rabelais, is to augment one’s own growing inner self. Reading deeply in the Canon will not make one a better or a worse person, a more useful or more harmful citizen. The mind’s dialogue with itself is not primarily a social reality. All that the Western Canon can bring one is the proper use of one’s own solitude, that solitude whose final form is one’s confrontation with one’s own mortality.   W
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon)
And to think of this great country in danger of being dominated by people ignorant enough to take a few ancient Babylonian legends as the canons of modern culture. Our scientific men are paying for their failure to speak out earlier. There is no use now talking evolution to these people. Their ears are stuffed with Genesis.
Luther Burbank
In the words of Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. Edith Stein—a Catholic Carmelite nun who died in Auschwitz because of her Catholic faith and her Jewish descent—“Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.
Chris Stefanick (Absolute Relativism - The New Dictatorship and What to do About It)
What therefore is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms: in short a sum of human relations which became poetically and rhetorically intensified, metamorphosed, adorned, and after long usage seem to a notion fixed, canonic, and binding; truths are illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions; worn-out metaphors which have become powerless to affect the senses; coins which have their obverse effaced and now are no longer of account as coins but merely as metal.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Since the purpose of reading, of education, is to become good, our most important task is to choose the right books. Our personal set of stories, our canon, shapes our lives. I believe it is a law of the universe that we will not rise above our canon. Our canon is part of us, deeply, subconsciously. And the characters and teachings in our canon shape our characters--good, evil, mediocre, or great.
Oliver DeMille (A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century)
Even so,” I said levelly, “you wouldn’t shoot me.” “Wouldn’t I?” He raised an eyebrow. “You don’t have a silencer,” I pointed out, “and the sign says to be quiet in the library.” I knew I had him there.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars)
He that hangs himself is a virgin: virginity murders itself, and should be buried in highways, out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese, consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the canon. Keep it not; you cannot choose but lose by’t! Out with’t! within the year it will make itself two, which is a goodly increase, and the principal itself not much the worse. Away with ’t!
William Shakespeare (All's Well That Ends Well)
Life in Japan, nowadays, is nothing like a Kurosawa movie, and only the contemptible Weeaboo thinks that it is. In order to be a whole, well-rounded Otaku, you need to be up on Japanese popular culture, as much as you may be up on anime, samurai philosophy or the canon of Square Enix games.
Alexei Maxim Russell (The Japanophile's Handbook)
There was the cell where Fr. Eulalio, a thriving lunatic of eighty-six who was castigating himself for unchristian pride at having all the vowels in his name, and greatly revered for his continuous weeping, went blind in an ecstasy of such howling proportions that his canonization was assured.
William Gaddis (The Recognitions)
I feel so honored to be able to say "What I do is for my son" without that being an excuse to do stupid things (like what I've heard from some moms over the years, doing lazy, stupid things and then saying it's all for their children). No, I will not say that everything I do, I do for God! And no, I will not say that everything I do, I do because I am a sacrificial saint who is in love with people and should be canonized one day! I've had enough of those lines! Overkill already! It will take the love of a mother to change the world.
C. JoyBell C.
It has always been dangerous to institutionalize hope, and we no longer live in a society in which we will be allowed to institutionalize memory.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Reviewing bad books is bad for the character – WH Auden
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Shakespeare's exquisite imagining belies our total inability to live in the present moment.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Moff Tarkin sends his regards.
James Luceno (Tarkin (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel))
Eye and foot acquire in rough walking a co-ordination that makes one distinctly aware of where the next step is to fall, even while watching sky and land.
Nan Shepherd (The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland (Canons))
Do you know that line of Kierkegaard’s, Canon Chambers? “There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys: they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked the sum out for themselves.” 
James Runcie (Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death (Grantchester Mysteries))
Literature is a field a great many men consider theirs by right. Virginia Woolf committed successful competition in that field. She barely escaped the first and most effective punishment--omission from the literary canon after her death. Yet eighty or ninety years later charges of snobbery and invalidism are still used to discredit and diminish her. Marcel Proust's limitations and his neuroticism were at least as notable as hers. But that Proust needed not only a room of his own but a cork-lined one is taken as proof he was a genius. That Woolf heard the birds singing in Greek shows only that she was a sick woman.
Ursula K. Le Guin (No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters)
Ce n'est pas la première fois que je veux tuer des mouches avec un canon. C'est la cent millième fois. Cela m'arrive tous les jours et tout le jour. Je prévois toujours le pire et je me démène toujours comme si c'était le pire. Eh ! Prends donc l'habitude de considérer que les choses ordinaires arrivent aussi.
Jean Giono (The Horseman on the Roof)
We are great fools. “He has spent his life in idleness,” we say; “I have done nothing today.” What, have you not lived? That is not only the most fundamental but the most illustrious of your occupations. . . . To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquillity in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon)
Along with the mystical wonderment and sense of ecological responsibility that comes with the recognition of connectedness, more disturbing images come to mind. When applied to economics, connectedness seems to take the form of chain stores, multinational corporations, and international trade treaties which wipe out local enterprise and indigenous culture. When I think of it in the realm of religion, I envision smug missionaries who have done such a good job of convincing native people everywhere that their World-Maker is the same as God, and by this shoddy sleight of hand have been steadily impoverishing the world of the great fecundity and complex localism of belief systems that capture truths outside the Western canon. And I wonder—if everything's connected, does that mean that everything can be manipulated and controlled centrally by those who know how to pull strings at strategic places?
Malcolm Margolin
Every time, it’s the same thing, I feel like crying, my throat goes all tight and I do the best I can to control myself but sometimes it gets close: I can hardly keep myself from sobbing. So when they sing a canon I look down at the ground because it’s just too much emotion at once: it’s too beautiful, and everyone singing together, this marvelous sharing. I’m no longer myself. I am just one part of a sublime whole, to which the others also belong, and I always wonder at such moments why this cannot be the rule of everyday life, instead of being an exceptional moment, during a choir.
Muriel Barbery
Side note: Down here, you're either an Amundsen guy, a Shackleton guy, or a Scott guy. Amundsen was the first to reach the Pole, but he did it by feeding dogs to dogs, which makes Amundsen the Michael Vick of polar explorers: you can like him, but keep it to yourself, or you'll end up getting into arguments with a bunch of fanatics. Shackleton is the Charles Barkley of the bunch: he's a legend, all-star personality, but there's the asterisk that he never reached the Pole, i.e. won a championship. How this turned into a sports analogy, I don't know. Finally, there's Captain Scott, canonized for his failure, and to this day never fully embraced because he was terrible with people. He has my vote, you understand.
Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette)
You have your opinion, I have mine, and it takes all kinds of nuts and dips to make a party, right?
Natalie Angier (The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science)
It felt oily in his mind and left an aftertaste in his soul.
James A. Moore (Alien: Sea of Sorrows (Canonical Alien trilogy, #2))
Lawrence will go on burying his own undertakers.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Spiritual power and spiritual authority notoriously shade over into both politics and poetry.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
He had found his monsters, and now was the time to leave them behind.
Tim Lebbon (Alien: Out of the Shadows (Canonical Alien Trilogy, #1))
In literature one has the best company in the world at complete command; one also has the worst. One has a social conscience which dissuades one from harbouring unprofitable company in life, and I find that my two canons are a great aid and support for an analogous literary conscience which speaks up against consorting with unprofitable company in literature.
Albert Jay Nock
Make a ritual ablution before each prayer, beginning every action with "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful." First wash your hands, intending to pull them away from the affairs of this world. Then wash your mouth, remember and reciting God's name, purifying it in order to utter His Name. Wash your nose wishing to inhale the perfumes of the Divine. Wash your face feeling shame, and intending to wipe from it arrogance and hypocrisy. Wash your forearms trusting God to make you do what is good. Wet the top of your head feeling humility and wash your ears (in preparation) to hear the address of your Lord. Wash from your feet the dirt of the world so that you don't stain the sands of Paradise. Then thank and praise the Lord, and send prayers of peace and blessing upon our Master, who brought the canons of Islam and taught them to us. After you leave the place of your ablution without turning your back to it, perform two cycles of prayer out of hope and thankfulness for His making you clean. Next, stand in the place where you are going to make your prayers as if between the two hands of your Lord. Imagine, without forms and lines, that you are facing the Ka'bah, and that there is no one else on the face of this earth but you. Bring yourself to express your servanthood physically. Choose the verses you are going to recite, understanding their meanings within you. With the verses that start with "Say..." feel that you are talking to your Lord as He wishes you to do: let every word contain praise. Allow time between the sentences, contemplating what our Master, the Messenger of God, gave us, trying to keep it in your heart. Believing that your destiny is written on your forehead, place it humbly on the floor in prostration. When you finish and give salutations to your right and to your left, keep your eyes on yourself and your connection with your Lord, for you are saluting the One under whose power you are and who is within you...
Ibn Arabi
If ever we should find ourselves disposed not to admire those writers or artists, Livy and Virgil for instance, Raphael or Michael Angelo, whom all the learned had admired, [we ought] not to follow our own fancies, but to study them until we know how and what we ought to admire; and if we cannot arrive at this combination of admiration with knowledge, rather to believe that we are dull, than that the rest of the world has been imposed on.
Edmund Burke (An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, in Consequence of Some Late Discussions in Parliament, Relative to the Reflections on the French Revolution.)
Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of texts, by logic, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think, ‘The ascetic is our teacher.’4 But when you know for yourselves, ‘These things are unwholesome; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if undertaken and practiced, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them.
Bhikkhu Bodhi (In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon)
The teaching begins by calling upon us to develop a faculty called yoniso manasikāra, careful attention. The Buddha asks us to stop drifting thoughtlessly through our lives and instead to pay careful attention to simple truths that are everywhere available to us, clamoring for the sustained consideration they deserve
Bhikkhu Bodhi (In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha))
We make no saint of Thomas Jefferson—we leave the mindless business of canonization and the worship of humans to the fanatics—but aware as we are of his many crimes and contradictions we say with confidence that his memory and example will endure long after the moral pygmies who try to blot out his name have been forgotten.
Christopher Hitchens
A poem, novel, or play acquires all of humanity's disorders, including the fear of mortality
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Nietzsche tended to equate the memorable with the painful.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Do not speak harshly to anybody; those who are spoken to will answer thee in the same way. Angry speech is painful, blows for blows will touch thee. 134.
Anonymous (Dhammapada, a collection of verses; being one of the canonical books of the Buddhists)
Emily Dickinson sublimely unnames even the blanks.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
Terror and rapture to Emily Dickinson are alternative words for "transport".
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
One reads for oneself and for strangers.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
King die hard, in Shakespeare and in life.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
These tracks give to winter hill walking a distinctive pleasure. One is companioned, though not in time.
Nan Shepherd (The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland (Canons))
The democratic age mourns the value of human beings.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages)
If a traveller does not meet with one who is his better, or his equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no companionship with a fool. 62.
Anonymous (Dhammapada, a collection of verses; being one of the canonical books of the Buddhists)
I had not particularly liked the way in which he wrote about literature in Beginnings, and I was always on my guard if not outright hostile when any tincture of 'deconstruction' or 'postmodernism' was applied to my beloved canon of English writing, but when Edward talked about English literature and quoted from it, he passed the test that I always privately apply: Do you truly love this subject and could you bear to live for one moment if it was obliterated?
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
Never try to live decently, boy—not unless you’re willing to open your life to tragedy and sadness. Live like a beast, and no event, no matter how harrowing, will ever be able to move you.
James Luceno (Tarkin (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel))
Mais les vrais voyageurs sont ceux-là seuls qui partent Pour partir; coeurs légers, semblables aux ballons, De leur fatalité jamais ils ne s´écartent, Et, sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons! Ceux-là dont les désirs ont la forme des nues, Et qui rêvent, ainsi qu´un conscrit le canon, Des vastes voluptés, changeantes, inconnues, Et dont l´esprit humain n´a jamais su le nom!
Charles Baudelaire
Creators of literary fairy tales from the 17th-century onward include writers whose works are still widely read today: Charles Perrault (17th-century France), Hans Christian Andersen (19th-century Denmark), George Macdonald and Oscar Wilde (19th-century England). The Brothers Grimm (19th-century Germany) blurred the line between oral and literary tales by presenting their German "household tales" as though they came straight from the mouths of peasants, though in fact they revised these stories to better reflect their own Protestant ethics. It is interesting to note that these canonized writers are all men, since this is a reversal from the oral storytelling tradition, historically dominated by women. Indeed, Straparola, Basile, Perrault, and even the Brothers Grimm made no secret of the fact that their source material came largely or entirely from women storytellers. Yet we are left with the impression that women dropped out of the history of fairy tales once they became a literary form, existing only in the background as an anonymous old peasant called Mother Goose.
Terri Windling
Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), also known as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, author, and statesman. During his lifetime he earned a reputation as a leading humanist scholar and occupied many public offices, including that of Lord Chancellor from 1529 to 1532. More coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in a book published in 1516. He is chiefly remembered for his principled refusal to accept King Henry VIII's claim to be supreme head of the Church of England, a decision which ended his political career and led to his execution as a traitor. In 1935, four hundred years after his death, More was canonized in the Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI, and was later declared the patron saint of lawyers and statesmen. He shares his feast day, June 22 on the Catholic calendar of saints, with Saint John Fisher, the only Bishop during the English Reformation to maintain his allegiance to the Pope. More was added to the Anglican Churches' calendar of saints in 1980. Source: Wikipedia
Thomas More (Utopia)
A canon is a guarded catalogue of that speech, music and art which houses inside us, which is irrevocably familiar to our homecomings. And this will include, if honestly arrived at and declared (even if solely to oneself), all manner of ephemera, trivial, and possibly mendacious matter…No manor woman need justify his personal anthology, his canonic welcomes. Love does not argue its necessities.
George Steiner (Real Presences)
On Truth and Lie What is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.
Friedrich Nietzsche
We have gone sick by following a path of untrammelled rationalism, male dominance, attention to the visible surface of things, practicality, bottom-line-ism. We have gone very, very sick. And the body politic, like any body, when it feels itself to be sick, it begins to produce antibodies, or strategies for overcoming the condition of dis-ease. And the 20th century is an enormous effort at self-healing. Phenomena as diverse as surrealism, body piercing, psychedelic drug use, sexual permissiveness, jazz, experimental dance, rave culture, tattooing, the list is endless. What do all these things have in common? They represent various styles of rejection of linear values. The society is trying to cure itself by an archaic revival, by a reversion to archaic values. So when I see people manifesting sexual ambiguity, or scarifying themselves, or showing a lot of flesh, or dancing to syncopated music, or getting loaded, or violating ordinary canons of sexual behaviour, I applaud all of this; because it's an impulse to return to what is felt by the body -- what is authentic, what is archaic -- and when you tease apart these archaic impulses, at the very centre of all these impulses is the desire to return to a world of magical empowerment of feeling. And at the centre of that impulse is the shaman: stoned, intoxicated on plants, speaking with the spirit helpers, dancing in the moonlight, and vivifying and invoking a world of conscious, living mystery. That's what the world is. The world is not an unsolved problem for scientists or sociologists. The world is a living mystery: our birth, our death, our being in the moment -- these are mysteries. They are doorways opening on to unimaginable vistas of self-exploration, empowerment and hope for the human enterprise. And our culture has killed that, taken it away from us, made us consumers of shoddy products and shoddier ideals. We have to get away from that; and the way to get away from it is by a return to the authentic experience of the body -- and that means sexually empowering ourselves, and it means getting loaded, exploring the mind as a tool for personal and social transformation. The hour is late; the clock is ticking; we will be judged very harshly if we fumble the ball. We are the inheritors of millions and millions of years of successfully lived lives and successful adaptations to changing conditions in the natural world. Now the challenge passes to us, the living, that the yet-to-be-born may have a place to put their feet and a sky to walk under; and that's what the psychedelic experience is about, is caring for, empowering, and building a future that honours the past, honours the planet and honours the power of the human imagination. There is nothing as powerful, as capable of transforming itself and the planet, as the human imagination. Let's not sell it straight. Let's not whore ourselves to nitwit ideologies. Let's not give our control over to the least among us. Rather, you know, claim your place in the sun and go forward into the light. The tools are there; the path is known; you simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead, and get with the programme of a living world and a re-empowerment of the imagination. Thank you very, very much.
Terence McKenna (The Archaic Revival)
Really, on the whole, Christians rarely pay particularly close attention to what the Bible actually says, for the simple reason that the texts defy synthesis in a canon of exact doctrines, and yet most Christians rely on doctrinal canons. Theologians are often the most cavalier in their treatment of texts, chiefly because their first loyalty is usually to the grand systems of belief they have devised or adopted; but the Bible is not a system. A very great deal of theological tradition consists therefore in explaining away those aspects of scripture that contradict the finely wrought structure of this or that orthodoxy.
David Bentley Hart (That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation)
For me alone Don Quixote was born and I for him. His was the power of action, mine of writing. Only we two are at one, despite that fictitious and Tordillescan scribe who has dared, and may dare again, to pen the deeds of my valorous knight with his coarse and ill-trimmed ostrich feather. This is no weight for his shoulders, no task for his frozen intellect; and should you chance to make his acquaintance, you may tell him to leave Don Quixote's weary and mouldering bones to rest in the grave, nor seek, against all the canons of death, to carry him off to Old Castile, or to bring him out of the tomb, where he most certainly lies, stretched at full length and powerless to make a third journey, or to embark on any new expedition. For the two on which he rode out are enough to make a mockery of all the countless forays undertaken by all the countless knights errant, such has been the delight and approval they have won from all to whose notice they have come, both here and abroad. Thus you will comply with your Christian profession by offering good counsel to one who wishes you ill, and I shall be proud and satisfied to have been the first author to enjoy the pleasure of witnessing the full effect of his own writing. For my sole object has been to arouse men's contempt for all fabulous and absurd stories of knight errantry, whose credit this tale of my genuine Don Quixote has already shaken, and which will, without a doubt, soon tumble to the ground. Farewell.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Don Quixote)
Therefore, one can observe true chastity, natural chastity, and independent chastity among the people only when these cruelties are removed and never through compulsions, a different canon for the two sexes, and commandments written by the mighty for the weak that produce only slavish chastity and enforced chastity.
Periyār (பெண் ஏன் அடிமையானாள்?)
I love the literature that these men created; but I will not live my life as if they are real and I am not. Nor will I tolerate the continuing assumption that they know more about women than we know about ourselves.
Andrea Dworkin (Last Days at Hot Slit: The Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin)
There are six canons of conservative thought: 1) Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. A narrow rationality, what Coleridge called the Understanding, cannot of itself satisfy human needs. "Every Tory is a realist," says Keith Feiling: "he knows that there are great forces in heaven and earth that man's philosophy cannot plumb or fathom." True politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which ought to prevail in a community of souls. 2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems; conservatives resist what Robert Graves calls "Logicalism" in society. This prejudice has been called "the conservatism of enjoyment"--a sense that life is worth living, according to Walter Bagehot "the proper source of an animated Conservatism." 3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a "classless society." With reason, conservatives have been called "the party of order." If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum. Ultimate equality in the judgment of God, and equality before courts of law, are recognized by conservatives; but equality of condition, they think, means equality in servitude and boredom. 4) Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Economic levelling, they maintain, is not economic progress. 5) Faith in prescription and distrust of "sophisters, calculators, and economists" who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs. Custom, convention, and old prescription are checks both upon man's anarchic impulse and upon the innovator's lust for power. 6) Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress. Society must alter, for prudent change is the means of social preservation; but a statesman must take Providence into his calculations, and a statesman's chief virtue, according to Plato and Burke, is prudence.
Russell Kirk (The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot)
The Bible is filled with discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable contradictions. Moses did not write the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) and Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not write the Gospels. There are other books that did not make it into the Bible that at one time or another were considered canonical—other Gospels, for example, allegedly written by Jesus’ followers Peter, Thomas, and Mary. The Exodus probably did not happen as described in the Old Testament. The conquest of the Promised Land is probably based on legend. The Gospels are at odds on numerous points and contain nonhistorical material. It is hard to know whether Moses ever existed and what, exactly, the historical Jesus taught. The historical narratives of the Old Testament are filled with legendary fabrications and the book of Acts in the New Testament contains historically unreliable information about the life and teachings of Paul. Many of the books of the New Testament are pseudonymous—written not by the apostles but by later writers claiming to be apostles. The list goes on.
Bart D. Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them))
For reasons that are both obvious and highly functional, science textbooks (and too many of the older histories of science) refer only to that part of the work of past scientists that can easily be viewed as contributions to the statement and solution of the texts' paradigm problems. Partly by selection and partly by distortion, the scientists of early ages are implicitly represented as having worked upon the same set of fixed problems and in accordance with the same set of fixed canons that the most recent revolution in scientific theory and method has made seem scientific.
Thomas S. Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
Gertrude Stein maintained that one wrote for oneself and for strangers, a superb recognition that I would extend into a parallel apothegm: one reads for oneself and for strangers. The Western Canon does not exist in order to augment preexisting societal elites. It is there to be read by you and by strangers, so that you and those you will never meet can encounter authentic aesthetic power and the authority of what Baudelaire (and Erich Auerbach after him) called “aesthetic dignity.” One of the ineluctable stigmata of the canonical is aesthetic dignity, which is not to be hired.
Harold Bloom (The Western Canon)
Although social and personal circumstances will play their part in contributing to how an individual suffers, in Buddhist thought blame is seen as a "poison" that will only lead to negative actions and will do nothing to reduce suffering.
Desmond Biddulph (Teachings of the Buddha: The Wisdom of The Dharma, from The Pali Canon to The Sutras)
It is an unimaginatively standardized background, a sluggishness, of speech and manners, a rigid ruling of the spirit by the desire to appear respectable. It is contentment...the contentment of the quiet dead, who are scornful of the living for their restless walking. It is negation canonized as the one positive virtue. It is the prohibition of happiness. It is slavery self-sought and self-defended. It is dullness made God. A savorless people, gulping tasteless food, and sitting afterward, coatless and thoughtless, in rocking chairs prickly with inane decorations, listening to mechanical music, saying mechanical things about the excellence of Ford automobiles, and viewing themselves as the greatest race in the world.
Sinclair Lewis (Main Street)
But… it was men writing about men—that much was clear at once. Everything we know about war we know with “a man’s voice.” We are all captives of “men’s” notions and “men’s” sense of war. “Men’s” words. Women are silent. No one but me ever questioned my grandmother. My mother. Even those who were at the front say nothing. If they suddenly begin to remember, they don’t talk about the “women’s” war but about the “men’s.” They tune in to the canon. And only at home or waxing tearful among their combat girlfriends do they begin to talk about their war, the war unknown to me. Not only to me, to all of us.
Svetlana Alexievich (The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II)
The welcome book would have taught us that power and signs of status can’t save us, that welcome—both offering and receiving—is our source of safety. Various chapters and verses of this book would remind us that we are wanted and even occasionally delighted in, despite the unfortunate truth that we are greedy-grabby, self-referential, indulgent, overly judgmental, and often hysterical. Somehow that book “went missing.” Or when the editorial board of bishops pored over the canonical lists from Jerusalem and Alexandria, they arbitrarily nixed the book that states unequivocally that you are wanted, even rejoiced in.
Anne Lamott (Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace)
a leading humanist scholar and occupied many public offices, including that of Lord Chancellor from 1529 to 1532. More coined the word "utopia", a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in a book published in 1516. He is chiefly remembered for his principled refusal to accept King Henry VIII's claim to be supreme head of the Church of England, a decision which ended his political career and led to his execution as a traitor. In 1935, four hundred years after his death, More was canonized in the Catholic Church by Pope Pius XI, and was later declared the patron saint of lawyers and statesmen
Thomas More (Utopia)
The historical emphasis upon the individual has been at the expense of the associative and symbolic relationship that must in fact uphold the individual’s own sense of integrity. (…) “When the relation between man and God is subjective, interior (as in Luther) or in tímeles acts and logic (as in Calvin) man’s utter dependence upon God is not mediated through the concrete facts of historical life”, writes Canon Demant. And when it is not so mediated, the relation with God becomes tenuous, amorphous, and insupportable.
Robert A. Nisbet (The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance))
Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. "All the News That's Fit to Print," it says. It's been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there.
Christopher Hitchens
Many [Tudor-era religious radicals] believed then, exactly as Christian fundamentalists do today, that they lived in the 'last days' before Armageddon and, again just as now, saw signs all around in the world that they took as certain proof that the Apocalypse was imminent. Again like fundamentalists today, they looked on the prospect of the violent destruction of mankind without turning a hair. The remarkable similarity between the first Tudor Puritans and the fanatics among today's Christian fundamentalists extends to their selective reading of the Bible, their emphasis on the Book of Revelation, their certainty of their rightness, even to their phraseology. Where the Book of Revelation is concerned, I share the view of Guy, that the early church fathers released something very dangerous on the world when, after much deliberation, they decided to include it in the Christian canon." [From the author's concluding Historical Note]
C.J. Sansom (Revelation (Matthew Shardlake, #4))
My course is a survey of how readings of the same constant text have varied over the centuries, from the formation of the canon to our present time, dependent on context and subtext. A community in exile will read differently than a community in apparent full possession of all it surveys, with those who have nothing welcoming the promised overturning of the standing order, and those who have much of this world's goods not longing for the end of the age. Depending, then, upon how one reads and interprets, either the Bible is a textbook for the status quo, of quiescent pieties and promises, or it is a recipe for social change and transformation. There are churches dedicated to each point of view, each claiming its share of the good news; but what is good news for some is often bad news for somebody else.
Peter J. Gomes (The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About the Good News?)
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Paul of Tarsus (The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (Pocket Canons))
The characteristics of this kind of reading are perhaps summed up in the word “orthodox,” which is almost always applicable. The word comes from two Greek roots, meaning “right opinion.” These are books for which there is one and only one right reading; any other reading or interpretation is fraught with peril, from the loss of an “A” to the damnation of one’s soul. This characteristic carries with it an obligation. The faithful reader of a canonical book is obliged to make sense out of it and to find it true in one or another sense of “true.” If he cannot do this by himself, he is obliged to go to someone who can. This may be a priest or a rabbi, or it may be his superior in the party hierarchy, or it may be his professor. In any case, he is obliged to accept the resolution of his problem that is offered him. He reads essentially without freedom; but in return for this he gains a kind of satisfaction that is possibly never obtained when reading other books.
Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
Woolf worried about the childlessness from time to time, and suffered from the imposed anxiety that she was not, unlike her friend Vita Sackville-West, a real woman. I do not know what kind of woman one would have to be to stand unflinchingly in front of The Canon, but I would guess, a real one. There is something sadistic in the whip laid on women to prove themselves as mothers and wives at the same time as making their way as artists. The abnormal effort that can be diverted or divided. We all know the story of Coleridge and the Man from Porlock. What of the woman writer and a whole family of Porlocks? For most of us the dilemma is rhetorical but those women who are driven with consummate energy through a single undeniable channel should be applauded and supported as vigorously as the men who have been setting themselves apart for centuries.
Jeanette Winterson (Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery)
But now it seems clear that literary criticism was inherently doomed. Explicitly or otherwise it had based itself on a structure of echelons and hierarchies; it was about the talent elite. And the structure atomized as soon as the forces of democratization gave their next concerted push. Those forces – incomparably the most potent in our culture – have gone on pushing. And they are now running up against a natural barrier. Some citadels, true, have proved stormable. You can become rich without having any talent (via the scratchcard and the rollover jackpot). You can become famous without having any talent (by abasing yourself on some TV nerdathon; a clear improvement on the older method of simply killing a celebrity and inheriting the aura). But you cannot become talented without having any talent. Therefore, talent must go. Literary criticism, now almost entirely confined to the universities, thus moves against talent by moving against the canon. Academic preferment will not come from a respectful study of Wordsworth’s poetics; it will come from a challenging study of his politics – his attitude toward the poor, say, or his unconscious ‘valorization’ of Napoleon; and it will come still faster if you ignore Wordsworth and elevate some (justly) neglected contemporary, by which process the canon may be quietly and steadily sapped. A brief consultation of the Internet will show that meanwhile, everyone has become a literary critic – or at least, a book-reviewer.
Martin Amis (The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000)
For more than half a century I have tried to confront greatness directly, hardly a fashionable stance, but I see no other justification for literary criticism in the shadows of our Evening Land. Over time the strong poets settle these matters for themselves, and precursors remain alive in their progeny. Readers in our flooded landscape use their own perceptiveness. But an advance can be of some help. If you believe that the canon in time will select itself, you still can follow a critical impulse to hasten the process, as I did with the later Stevens, Ashbury, and, more recently, Henri Cole.
Harold Bloom
fiction writers are fully ten times more likely to be bipolar than the general population, and poets are an amazing forty times more likely to struggle with the disorder. Based on statistics like these, psychologist Daniel Nettle writes, “It is hard to avoid the conclusion that most of the canon of Western culture was produced by people with a touch of madness.” Essayist Brooke Allen does Nettle one better: “The Western literary tradition, it seems, has been dominated by a sorry collection of alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, manic-depressives, sexual predators, and various unfortunate combinations of two, three, or even all of the above.
Jonathan Gottschall (The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human)
After an injunction had been judicially intimated to me by this Holy Office, to the effect that I must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the world, and moves, and that I must not hold, defend, or teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing, the said false doctrine, and after it had been notified to me that the said doctrine was contrary to Holy Scripture — I wrote and printed a book in which I discuss this new doctrine already condemned, and adduce arguments of great cogency in its favor, without presenting any solution of these, and for this reason I have been pronounced by the Holy Office to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center and moves: Therefore, desiring to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of all faithful Christians, this vehement suspicion, justly conceived against me, with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error, heresy, and sect whatsoever contrary to the said Holy Church, and I swear that in the future I will never again say or assert, verbally or in writing, anything that might furnish occasion for a similar suspicion regarding me; but that should I know any heretic, or person suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor or Ordinary of the place where I may be. Further, I swear and promise to fulfill and observe in their integrity all penances that have been, or that shall be, imposed upon me by this Holy Office. And, in the event of my contravening, any of these my promises and oaths, I submit myself to all the pains and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents.
Galileo Galilei (Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems)
Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions, and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small, benefits from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual native dignity which prevents that upstart insolence almost inevitably adhering to and disgracing those who are the first acquirers of any distinction. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom.
Edmund Burke (Reflections on the Revolution in France)
To most people today, the name Snow White evokes visions of dwarfs whistling as they work, and a wide–eyed, fluttery princess singing, "Some day my prince will come." (A friend of mine claims this song is responsible for the problems of a whole generation of American women.) Yet the Snow White theme is one of the darkest and strangest to be found in the fairy tale canon — a chilling tale of murderous rivalry, adolescent sexual ripening, poisoned gifts, blood on snow, witchcraft, and ritual cannibalism. . .in short, not a tale originally intended for children's tender ears. Disney's well–known film version of the story, released in 1937, was ostensibly based on the German tale popularized by the Brothers Grimm. Originally titled "Snow–drop" and published in Kinder–und Hausmarchen in 1812, the Grimms' "Snow White" is a darker, chillier story than the musical Disney cartoon, yet it too had been cleaned up for publication, edited to emphasize the good Protestant values held by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. (...) Variants of Snow White were popular around the world long before the Grimms claimed it for Germany, but their version of the story (along with Walt Disney's) is the one that most people know today. Elements from the story can be traced back to the oldest oral tales of antiquity, but the earliest known written version was published in Italy in 1634.
Terri Windling (White as Snow)
In order to think and infer it is necessary to assume beings: logic handles only formulas for what remains the same. That is why this assumption would not be a proof of reality: 'beings' are part of our perspective. ... The fictitious world of subject, substance, 'reason,' etc., is needed-: there is in us a power to order, simplify, falsify, artificially distinguish. ... What then is truth? A moveable host of metaphors, metonomies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force,
Friedrich Nietzsche
Antarctica is the highest, driest, coldest, and windiest place on the planet. The South Pole averages sixty below zero, has hurricane-strength winds, and sits at an altitude of ten thousand feet. In other words, those original explorers didn’t have to just get there, but had to climb serious mountains to do so. (Side note: Down here, you’re either an Amundsen guy, a Shackleton guy, or a Scott guy. Amundsen was the first to reach the Pole, but he did it by feeding dogs to dogs, which makes Amundsen the Michael Vick of polar explorers: you can like him, but keep it to yourself, or you’ll end up getting into arguments with a bunch of fanatics. Shackleton is the Charles Barkley of the bunch: he’s a legend, all-star personality, but there’s the asterisk that he never reached the Pole, i.e., won a championship. How this turned into a sports analogy, I don’t know. Finally, there’s Captain Scott, canonized for his failure, and to this day never fully embraced because he was terrible with people. He has my vote, you understand.)
Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette)
After a long and happy life, I find myself at the pearly gates (a sight of great joy; the word for “pearl” in Greek is, by the way, margarita). Standing there is St. Peter. This truly is heaven, for finally my academic questions will receive answers. I immediately begin the questions that have been plaguing me for half a century: “Can you speak Greek? Where did you go when you wandered off in the middle of Acts? How was the incident between you and Paul in Antioch resolved? What happened to your wife?” Peter looks at me with some bemusement and states, “Look, lady, I’ve got a whole line of saved people to process. Pick up your harp and slippers here, and get the wings and halo at the next table. We’ll talk after dinner.” As I float off, I hear, behind me, a man trying to gain Peter’s attention. He has located a “red letter Bible,” which is a text in which the words of Jesus are printed in red letters. This is heaven, and all sorts of sacred art and Scriptures, from the Bhagavad Gita to the Qur’an, are easily available (missing, however, was the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version). The fellow has his Bible open to John 14, and he is frenetically pointing at v. 6: “Jesus says here, in red letters, that he is the way. I’ve seen this woman on television (actually, she’s thinner in person). She’s not Christian; she’s not baptized - she shouldn’t be here!” “Oy,” says Peter, “another one - wait here.” He returns a few minutes later with a man about five foot three with dark hair and eyes. I notice immediately that he has holes in his wrists, for when the empire executes an individual, the circumstances of that death cannot be forgotten. “What is it, my son?” he asks. The man, obviously nonplussed, sputters, “I don’t mean to be rude, but didn’t you say that no one comes to the Father except through you?” “Well,” responds Jesus, “John does have me saying this.” (Waiting in line, a few other biblical scholars who overhear this conversation sigh at Jesus’s phrasing; a number of them remain convinced that Jesus said no such thing. They’ll have to make the inquiry on their own time.) “But if you flip back to the Gospel of Matthew, which does come first in the canon, you’ll notice in chapter 25, at the judgment of the sheep and the goats, that I am not interested in those who say ‘Lord, Lord,’ but in those who do their best to live a righteous life: feeding the hungry, visiting people in prison . . . ” Becoming almost apoplectic, the man interrupts, “But, but, that’s works righteousness. You’re saying she’s earned her way into heaven?” “No,” replies Jesus, “I am not saying that at all. I am saying that I am the way, not you, not your church, not your reading of John’s Gospel, and not the claim of any individual Christian or any particular congregation. I am making the determination, and it is by my grace that anyone gets in, including you. Do you want to argue?” The last thing I recall seeing, before picking up my heavenly accessories, is Jesus handing the poor man a Kleenex to help get the log out of his eye.
Amy-Jill Levine (The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus)
Even you, the professional helper, often mistaken for the enlightened Guru or Staretz, can become lost in your thoughts that you must be competent without fault. You may become enthralled with your identity as a professional, even the pressures of the culture of mastery that expects you to heal your clients without fail. Never mind all of the variables over which you have no control, it is up to you, according to the canons of mastery, to control the health and well-being of those for whom you provide professional care. This potentiates a furthering alienation between you and your clients. You are at risk to become, if you have not already, the one who does to your clients; to be the one the active subject acting upon the passive and receptive objects, your clients; to be the one in possession of special knowledge, technique and mastery. All of this conspires to coax or coerce you into treating your client as reduced, a mere case. Unawareness to these influences gives you little chance to consider their influence on your practice in the clinical setting, much less give attentive efforts to resist or change them.
Scott E. Spradlin
School of Resentment is a term coined by critic Harold Bloom to describe related schools of literary criticism which have gained prominence in academia since the 1970s and which Bloom contends are preoccupied with political and social activism at the expense of aesthetic values.[1] Broadly, Bloom terms "Schools of Resentment" approaches associated with Marxist critical theory, including African American studies, Marxist literary criticism, New Historicist criticism, feminist criticism, and poststructuralism—specifically as promoted by Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. The School of Resentment is usually defined as all scholars who wish to enlarge the Western canon by adding to it more works by authors from minority groups without regard to aesthetic merit and/or influence over time, or those who argue that some works commonly thought canonical promote sexist, racist or otherwise biased values and should therefore be removed from the canon. Bloom contends that the School of Resentment threatens the nature of the canon itself and may lead to its eventual demise. Philosopher Richard Rorty[2] agreed that Bloom is at least partly accurate in describing the School of Resentment, writing that those identified by Bloom do in fact routinely use "subversive, oppositional discourse" to attack the canon specifically and Western culture in general.
Harold Bloom
Consider the great Samuel Clemens. Huckleberry Finn is one of the few books that all American children are mandated to read: Jonathan Arac, in his brilliant new study of the teaching of Huck, is quite right to term it 'hyper-canonical.' And Twain is a figure in American history as well as in American letters. The only objectors to his presence in the schoolroom are mediocre or fanatical racial nationalists or 'inclusivists,' like Julius Lester or the Chicago-based Dr John Wallace, who object to Twain's use—in or out of 'context'—of the expression 'nigger.' An empty and formal 'debate' on this has dragged on for decades and flares up every now and again to bore us. But what if Twain were taught as a whole? He served briefly as a Confederate soldier, and wrote a hilarious and melancholy account, The Private History of a Campaign That Failed. He went on to make a fortune by publishing the memoirs of Ulysses Grant. He composed a caustic and brilliant report on the treatment of the Congolese by King Leopold of the Belgians. With William Dean Howells he led the Anti-Imperialist League, to oppose McKinley's and Roosevelt's pious and sanguinary war in the Philippines. Some of the pamphlets he wrote for the league can be set alongside those of Swift and Defoe for their sheer polemical artistry. In 1900 he had a public exchange with Winston Churchill in New York City, in which he attacked American support for the British war in South Africa and British support for the American war in Cuba. Does this count as history? Just try and find any reference to it, not just in textbooks but in more general histories and biographies. The Anti-Imperialist League has gone down the Orwellian memory hole, taking with it a great swirl of truly American passion and intellect, and the grand figure of Twain has become reduced—in part because he upended the vials of ridicule over the national tendency to religious and spiritual quackery, where he discerned what Tocqueville had missed and far anticipated Mencken—to that of a drawling, avuncular fabulist.
Christopher Hitchens (Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays)
Nowhere is the hostility of the Anglo-American tradition toward the dialectical more apparent, however, than in the widespread notion that the style of these works is obscure and cumbersome, indigestible, abstract-or, to sum it all up in a convenient catchword, Germanic. It can be admitted that it does not conform to the canons of clear and fluid journalistic writing taught in the schools. But what if those ideals of clarity and simplicity have come to serve a very different ideological purpose, in our present context, from the one Descartes had in mind? What if, in this period of the overproduction of printed matter and the proliferation of methods of quick reading, they were intended to speed the reader across a sentence in such a way that he can salute a readymade idea effortlessly in passing, without suspecting that real thought demands a descent into the materiality of language and a consent to time itself in the form of the sentence?
Fredric Jameson
But now it seems clear that literary criticism was inherently doomed. Explicitly or otherwise it had based itself on a structure of echelons and hierarchies; it was about the talent elite. And the structure atomized as soon as the forces of democratization gave their next concerted push. Those forces – incomparably the most potent in our culture – have gone on pushing. And they are now running up against a natural barrier. Some citadels, true, have proved stormable. You can become rich without having any talent (via the scratchcard and the rollover jackpot). You can become famous without having any talent (by abasing yourself on some TV nerdathon; a clear improvement on the older method of simply killing a celebrity and inheriting the aura). But you cannot become talented without having any talent. Therefore, talent must go. Literary criticism, now almost entirely confined to the universities, thus moves against talent by moving against the canon. Academic preferment will not come from a respectful study of Wordsworth’s poetics; it will come from a challenging study of his politics – his attitude toward the poor, say, or his unconscious ‘valorization’ of Napoleon; and it will come still faster if you ignore Wordsworth and elevate some (justly) neglected contemporary, by which process the canon may be quietly and steadily sapped. A brief consultation of the Internet will show that meanwhile, everyone has become a literary critic – or at least, a book-reviewer.
Martin Amis (The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000)
Therefore, Orientalism is not a mere political subject matter or field that is reflected passively by culture, scholarship, or institutions; nor is it a large and diffuse collection of texts about the Orient; nor is it representative and expressive of some nefarious “Western” imperialist plot to hold down the “Oriental” world. It is rather a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and philological texts; it is an elaboration not only of a basic geographical distinction (the world is made up of two unequal halves, Orient and Occident) but also of a whole series of “interests” which, by such means as scholarly discovery, philological reconstruction, psychological analysis, landscape and sociological description, it not only creates but also maintains; it is, rather than expresses, a certain will or intention to understand, in some cases to control, manipulate, even to incorporate, what is a manifestly different (or alternative and novel) world; it is, above all, a discourse that is by no means in direct, corresponding relationship with political power in the raw, but rather is produced and exists in an uneven exchange with various kinds of power, shaped to a degree by the exchange with power political (as with a colonial or imperial establishment), power intellectual (as with reigning sciences like comparative linguistics or anatomy, or any of the modern policy sciences), power cultural (as with orthodoxies and canons of taste, texts, values), power moral (as with ideas about what “we” do and what “they” cannot do or understand as “we” do). Indeed, my real argument is that Orientalism is—and does not simply represent—a considerable dimension of modern political-intellectual culture, and as such has less to do with the Orient than it does with “our” world.
Edward W. Said (Orientalism)
Sigmund Freud once asserted, "Let one attempt to expose a number of the most diverse people uniformly to hunger. With the increase of the imperative urge of hunger all individual differences will blur, and in their stead will appear the uniform expression of the one unstilled urge." Thank heaven, Sigmund Freud was spared knowing the concentration camps from the inside. His subjects lay on a couch designed in the plush style of Victorian culture, not in the filth of Auschwitz. There, the "individual differences" did not "blur" but, on the contrary, people became more different; people unmasked themselves, both the swine and the saints. And today you need no longer hesitate to use the word "saints": think of Father Maximilian Kolbe who was starved and finally murdered by an injection of carbolic acid at Auschwitz and who in 1983 was canonized. You may be prone to blame for invoking examples that are the exceptions ot the rule. "Sed omnia praeclara tam difficilia quam rara sunt" (but everything great is just as difficult to realize as it is rare to find) reads the last sentence of the Ethics of Spinoza. You may of course ask whether we really need to refer to "saints." Wouldn't it suffice just to refer to decent people? It is true that they form a minority . More than that, they always will remain a minority. And yet I see therein the very challenge to join the minority. For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best. So let us be alert-alert in a twofold sense: Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.
Viktor E. Frankl (Man's Search for Meaning)
A neurosurgeon once told me about operating on the brain of a young man with epilepsy. As is customary in this kind of operation, the patient was wide awake, under only local anesthesia, while the surgeon delicately explored his exposed cortex, makingsure that the parts tentatively to be removed were not absolutely vital by stimulating them electrically and asking the patient what he experienced. Some stimulations provoked visual flashes or hand-raisings, others a sort of buzzing sensation, but one spot produced a delighted response from the patient: "It's 'Outta Get Me' by Guns N' Roses. my favorite heavy metal band!" I asked the neurosurgeon If he had asked the patient to sing or hum along with the music, since it would be fascinating to learn how "high fidelity" the provoked memory was, would it be in exactly the same key and tempo as the record? Such a song (unliken"Silent Night") has one canonical version. so we could simply have superimposed a recording of the patients humming with the standard record and compared the results. Unfortunately, even though a tape recorder had been running during the operation, thesurgeon hadn't asked the patient to sing along. ''Why not?" I asked, and he replied: "I hate rock music!' Later in the conversation the neurosurgeon happened to remark that he was going to have to operate again on the same young man. and I expressed the hope that he would just check to see if he could restimulate the rock music, and this time ask the fellow to sing along. "I can't do it." replied the neurosurgeon. "since I cut out that part." "It was part of the epileptic focus?" I asked. "No,'' the surgeon replied, ''I already told you — I hate rock music.
Wilder Penfield
No follower of Christ knew the shape of the earth. For many centuries this great Peasant of Palestine has been worshiped as God. Millions and millions have given their lives to his service. The wealth of the world was lavished on his shrines. His name carried consolation to the diseased and dying. His name dispelled the darkness of death, and filled the dungeon with light. His name gave courage to the martyr, and in the midst of fire, with shriveling lips the sufferer uttered it again and again. The outcasts, the deserted, the fallen, felt that Christ was their friend, felt that he knew their sorrows and pitied their sufferings. All this is true, and if it were all, how beautiful, how touching, how glorious it would be. But it is not all. There is another side. In his name millions and millions of men and women have been imprisoned, tortured and killed. In his name millions and millions have been enslaved. In his name the thinkers, the investigators, have been branded as criminals, and his followers have shed the blood of the wisest and best. In his name the progress of many nations was stayed for a thousand years. In his gospel was found the dogma of eternal pain, and his words added an infinite horror to death. His gospel filled the world with hatred and revenge; made intellectual honesty a crime; made happiness here the road to hell, denounced love as base and bestial, canonized credulity, crowned bigotry and destroyed the liberty of man. It would have been far better had the New Testament never been written – far better had the theological Christ never lived. Had the writers of the Testament been regarded as uninspired, had Christ been thought of only as a man, had the good been accepted and the absurd, the impossible, and the revengeful thrown away, mankind would have escaped the wars, the tortures, the scaffolds, the dungeons, the agony and tears, the crimes and sorrows of a thousand years.
Robert G. Ingersoll
The Atonist nobility knew it was impossible to organize and control a worldwide empire from Britain. The British Isles were geographically too far West for effective management. In order to be closer to the “markets,” the Atonist corporate executives coveted Rome. Additionally, by way of their armed Templar branch and incessant murderous “Crusades,” they succeeded making inroads further east. Their double-headed eagle of control reigned over Eastern and Western hemispheres. The seats of Druidic learning once existed in the majority of lands, and so the Atonist or Christian system spread out in similar fashion. Its agents were sent from Britain and Rome to many a region and for many a dark purpose. To this very day, the nobility of Europe and the east are controlled from London and Rome. Nothing has changed when it comes to the dominion of Aton. As Alan Butler and Stephen Dafoe have proven, the Culdean monks, of whom we write, had been hired for generations as tutors to elite families throughout Europe. In their book The Knights Templar Revealed, the authors highlight the role played by Culdean adepts tutoring the super-wealthy and influential Catholic dynasties of Burgundy, Champagne and Lorraine, France. Research into the Templars and their affiliated “Salt Line” dynasties reveals that the seven great Crusades were not instigated and participated in for the reasons mentioned in most official history books. As we show here, the Templars were the military wing of British and European Atonists. It was their job to conquer lands, slaughter rivals and rebuild the so-called “Temple of Solomon” or, more correctly, Akhenaton’s New World Order. After its creation, the story of Jesus was transplanted from Britain, where it was invented, to Galilee and Judea. This was done so Christianity would not appear to be conspicuously Druidic in complexion. To conceive Christianity in Britain was one thing; to birth it there was another. The Atonists knew their warped religion was based on ancient Amenism and Druidism. They knew their Jesus, Iesus or Yeshua, was based on Druidic Iesa or Iusa, and that a good many educated people throughout the world knew it also. Their difficulty concerned how to come up with a believable king of light sufficiently appealing to the world’s many pagan nations. Their employees, such as St. Paul (Josephus Piso), were allowed to plunder the archive of the pagans. They were instructed to draw from the canon of stellar gnosis and ancient solar theologies of Egypt, Chaldea and Ireland. The archetypal elements would, like ingredients, simply be tossed about and rearranged and, most importantly, the territory of the new godman would be resituated to suit the meta plan.
Michael Tsarion (The Irish Origins of Civilization, Volume One)
In The Garret Four little chests all in a row, Dim with dust, and worn by time, All fashioned and filled, long ago, By children now in their prime. Four little keys hung side by side, With faded ribbons, brave and gay When fastened there, with childish pride, Long ago, on a rainy day. Four little names, one on each lid, Carved out by a boyish hand, And underneath there lieth hid Histories of the happy band Once playing here, and pausing oft To hear the sweet refrain, That came and went on the roof aloft, In the falling summer rain. 'Meg' on the first lid, smooth and fair. I look in with loving eyes, For folded here, with well-known care, A goodly gathering lies, The record of a peaceful life-- Gifts to gentle child and girl, A bridal gown, lines to a wife, A tiny shoe, a baby curl. No toys in this first chest remain, For all are carried away, In their old age, to join again In another small Meg's play. Ah, happy mother! Well I know You hear, like a sweet refrain, Lullabies ever soft and low In the falling summer rain. 'Jo' on the next lid, scratched and worn, And within a motley store Of headless dolls, of schoolbooks torn, Birds and beasts that speak no more, Spoils brought home from the fairy ground Only trod by youthful feet, Dreams of a future never found, Memories of a past still sweet, Half-writ poems, stories wild, April letters, warm and cold, Diaries of a wilful child, Hints of a woman early old, A woman in a lonely home, Hearing, like a sad refrain-- 'Be worthy, love, and love will come,' In the falling summer rain. My Beth! the dust is always swept From the lid that bears your name, As if by loving eyes that wept, By careful hands that often came. Death canonized for us one saint, Ever less human than divine, And still we lay, with tender plaint, Relics in this household shrine-- The silver bell, so seldom rung, The little cap which last she wore, The fair, dead Catherine that hung By angels borne above her door. The songs she sang, without lament, In her prison-house of pain, Forever are they sweetly blent With the falling summer rain. Upon the last lid's polished field-- Legend now both fair and true A gallant knight bears on his shield, 'Amy' in letters gold and blue. Within lie snoods that bound her hair, Slippers that have danced their last, Faded flowers laid by with care, Fans whose airy toils are past, Gay valentines, all ardent flames, Trifles that have borne their part In girlish hopes and fears and shames, The record of a maiden heart Now learning fairer, truer spells, Hearing, like a blithe refrain, The silver sound of bridal bells In the falling summer rain. Four little chests all in a row, Dim with dust, and worn by time, Four women, taught by weal and woe To love and labor in their prime. Four sisters, parted for an hour, None lost, one only gone before, Made by love's immortal power, Nearest and dearest evermore. Oh, when these hidden stores of ours Lie open to the Father's sight, May they be rich in golden hours, Deeds that show fairer for the light, Lives whose brave music long shall ring, Like a spirit-stirring strain, Souls that shall gladly soar and sing In the long sunshine after rain
Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)
Furious, the beast writhed and wriggled its iterated integrals beneath the King’s polynomial blows, collapsed into an infinite series of indeterminate terms, then got back up by raising itself to the nth power, but the King so belabored it with differentials and partial derivatives that its Fourier coefficients all canceled out (see Riemann’s Lemma), and in the ensuing confusion the constructors completely lost sight of both King and beast. So they took a break, stretched their legs, had a swig from the Leyden jug to bolster their strength, then went back to work and tried it again from the beginning, this time unleashing their entire arsenal of tensor matrices and grand canonical ensembles, attacking the problem with such fervor that the very paper began to smoke. The King rushed forward with all his cruel coordinates and mean values, stumbled into a dark forest of roots and logarithms, had to backtrack, then encountered the beast on a field of irrational numbers (F1) and smote it so grievously that it fell two decimal places and lost an epsilon, but the beast slid around an asymptote and hid in an n-dimensional orthogonal phase space, underwent expansion and came out, fuming factorially, and fell upon the King and hurt him passing sore. But the King, nothing daunted, put on his Markov chain mail and all his impervious parameters, took his increment Δk to infinity and dealt the beast a truly Boolean blow, sent it reeling through an x-axis and several brackets—but the beast, prepared for this, lowered its horns and—wham!!—the pencils flew like mad through transcendental functions and double eigentransformations, and when at last the beast closed in and the King was down and out for the count, the constructors jumped up, danced a jig, laughed and sang as they tore all their papers to shreds, much to the amazement of the spies perched in the chandelier-—perched in vain, for they were uninitiated into the niceties of higher mathematics and consequently had no idea why Trurl and Klapaucius were now shouting, over and over, “Hurrah! Victory!!
Stanisław Lem (The Cyberiad)
Suffice it to say I was compelled to create this group in order to find everyone who is, let's say, borrowing liberally from my INESTIMABLE FOLIO OF CANONICAL MASTERPIECES (sorry, I just do that sometimes), and get you all together. It's the least I could do. I mean, seriously. Those soliloquies in Moby-Dick? Sooo Hamlet and/or Othello, with maybe a little Shylock thrown in. Everyone from Pip in Great Expectations to freakin' Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre mentions my plays, sometimes completely mangling my words in nineteenth-century middle-American dialect for humorous effect (thank you, Sir Clemens). Many people (cough Virginia Woolf cough) just quote me over and over again without attribution. I hear James Joyce even devoted a chapter of his giant novel to something called the "Hamlet theory," though do you have some sort of newfangled English? It looks like gobbledygook to me. The only people who don't seek me out are like Chaucer and Dante and those ancient Greeks. For whatever reason. And then there are the titles. The Sound and the Fury? Mine. Infinite Jest? Mine. Proust, Nabokov, Steinbeck, and Agatha Christie all have titles that are me-inspired. Brave New World? Not just the title, but half the plot has to do with my work. Even Edgar Allan Poe named a character after my Tempest's Prospero (though, not surprisingly, things didn't turn out well for him!). I'm like the star to every wandering bark, the arrow of every compass, the buzzard to every hawk and gillyflower ... oh, I don't even know what I'm talking about half the time. I just run with it, creating some of the SEMINAL TOURS DE FORCE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. You're welcome.
Sarah Schmelling (Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook)
Writing is not always a priority. . . .I only write those things that are necessary for me to write. I love to write, and when I’m not writing, I often feel as if I’m betraying my art, my gift, my calling, but that sensation is probably hubris or neurosis as much as anything else. The problem, and one of the joys of writing poetry, is that none of us can really count on entering the canon. The chances are that none of our work will survive long after we’re gone. That’s just the way it is. To feel otherwise is foolish. we write in competition with the dead for the attention of the unborn. We are writing poems that are trying to take the attention of people away from Sappho, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Baudelaire. Good luck to you! There’s a built-in failure to writing poetry that I find comforting. If you know you’re doomed to failure, then you can work freely. People who think their work is going to last, or that it matters, well . . . I always try to disabuse my students of their desire to write for fame. I ask them, “Who here has read Shakespeare?” Everyone raises his or her hand. We agree that his work is immortal, then I remind them: “he’s still dead. He’s as dead as he’d have been if you hadn’t read him; and you’ll be dead too someday, no matter how well you write.” To sacrifice your life for your art is an appalling notion. On the other hand, I have been called to be a poet, ad it’s an unimaginably rich gift. Like every artist, I know that in order to be a moral, effective human being, I have to give myself wholly to my art. The trick is finding a balance. If you can’t recognize that your art is no more, and no less, important than what you make for dinner, then you should find something else to do.
Tony Leuzzi (Passwords Primeval: 20 American Poets in their Own Words)
Much of Chinese society still expected its women to hold themselves in a sedate manner, lower their eyelids in response to men's stares, and restrict their smile to a faint curve of the lips which did not expose their teeth. They were not meant to use hand gestures at all. If they contravened any of these canons of behavior they would be considered 'flirtatious." Under Mao, flirting with./bre/gners was an unspeakable crime. I was furious at the innuendo against me. It had been my Communist parents who had given me a liberal upbringing. They had regarded the restrictions on women as precisely the sort of thing a Communist revolution should put an end to. But now oppression of women joined hands with political repression, and served resentment and petty jealousy. One day, a Pakistani ship arrived. The Pakistani military attache came down from Peking. Long ordered us all to spring-clean the club from top to bottom, and laid on a banquet, for which he asked me to be his interpreter, which made some of the other students extremely envious. A few days later the Pakistanis gave a farewell dinner on their ship, and I was invited. The military attache had been to Sichuan, and they had prepared a special Sichuan dish for me. Long was delighted by the invitation, as was I. But despite a personal appeal from the captain and even a threat from Long to bar future students, my teachers said that no one was allowed on board a foreign ship. "Who would take the responsibility if someone sailed away on the ship?" they asked. I was told to say I was busy that evening. As far as I knew, I was turning down the only chance I would ever have of a trip out to sea, a foreign meal, a proper conversation in English, and an experience of the outside world. Even so, I could not silence the whispers. Ming asked pointedly, "Why do foreigners like her so much?" as though there was something suspicious in that. The report filed on me at the end of the trip said my behavior was 'politically dubious." In this lovely port, with its sunshine, sea breezes, and coconut trees, every occasion that should have been joyous was turned into misery. I had a good friend in the group who tried to cheer me up by putting my distress into perspective. Of course, what I encountered was no more than minor unpleasantness compared with what victims of jealousy suffered in the earlier years of the Cultural Revolution. But the thought that this was what my life at its best would be like depressed me even more. This friend was the son of a colleague of my father's. The other students from cities were also friendly to me. It was easy to distinguish them from the students of peasant backgrounds, who provided most of the student officials.
Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)
Why would God have inspired the words of the Bible if he chose not to preserve these words for posterity? Put differently, what should make me think he had inspired the words in the first place if I knew for certain (as I did) that he had not preserved them? This became a major problem for me in trying to figure out which Bible I thought was inspired. Another big problem is one that I don’t deal with in Misquoting Jesus. If God inspired certain books in the decades after Jesus died, how do I know that the later church fathers chose the right books to be included in the Bible? I could accept it on faith—surely God would not allow noninspired books in the canon of Scripture. But as I engaged in more historical study of the early Christian movement, I began to realize that there were lots of Christians in lots of places who fully believed that other books were to be accepted as Scripture; conversely, some of the books that eventually made it into the canon were rejected by church leaders in different parts of the church, sometimes for centuries. In some parts of the church, the Apocalypse of John (the book of Revelation) was flat out rejected as containing false teaching, whereas the Apocalypse of Peter, which eventually did not make it in, was accepted. There were some Christians who accepted the Gospel of Peter and some who rejected the Gospel of John. There were some Christians who accepted a truncated version of the Gospel of Luke (without its first two chapters), and others who accepted the now noncanonical Gospel of Thomas. Some Christians rejected the three Pastoral Epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, which eventually made it in, and others accepted the Epistle of Barnabas, which did not. If God was making sure that his church would have the inspired books of Scripture, and only those books, why were there such heated debates and disagreements that took place over three hundred years? Why didn’t God just make sure that these debates lasted weeks, with assured results, rather than centuries?1
Bart D. Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them))
(3) Insight Surpasses All [The Buddha said to Anāthapiṇḍika:] “In the past, householder, there was a brahmin named Velāma. He gave such a great alms offering as this: eighty-four thousand bowls of gold filled with silver; eighty-four thousand bowls of silver filled with gold; eighty-four thousand bronze bowls filled with bullion; eighty-four thousand elephants, chariots, milch cows, maidens, and couches, many millions of fine cloths, and indescribable amounts of food, drink, ointment, and bedding. “As great as was the alms offering that the brahmin Velāma gave, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single person possessed of right view.22 As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred persons possessed of right view, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single once-returner. As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred once-returners, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single nonreturner. As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred nonreturners, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single arahant. As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred arahants, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single paccekabuddha.23 As great as the brahmin Velāma’s alms offering was, and though one would feed a hundred paccekabuddhas, it would be even more fruitful if one would feed a single Perfectly Enlightened Buddha ... it would be even more fruitful if one would feed the Saṅgha of monks headed by the Buddha and build a monastery for the sake of the Saṅgha of the four quarters … it would be even more fruitful if, with a trusting mind, one would go for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, and would undertake the five precepts: abstaining from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from the use of intoxicants. As great as all this might be, it would be even more fruitful if one would develop a mind of loving-kindness even for the time it takes to pull a cow’s udder. And as great as all this might be, it would be even more fruitful still if one would develop the perception of impermanence just for the time it takes to snap one’s fingers.” (AN 9:20, abridged; IV 393–96) VI.
Bhikkhu Bodhi (In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon)
[M]ost Americans are still drawing some water from the Christian well. But a growing number are inventing their own versions of what Christianity means, abandoning the nuances of traditional theology in favor of religions that stroke their egos and indulge or even celebrate their worst impulses. . . . Both doubters and believers stand to lose if religion in the age of heresy turns out to be complicit in our fragmented communities, our collapsing families, our political polarization, and our weakened social ties. Both doubters and believers will inevitably suffer from a religious culture that supplies more moral license than moral correction, more self-satisfaction than self-examination, more comfort than chastisement. . . . Many of the overlapping crises in American life . . . can be traced to the impulse to emphasize one particular element of traditional Christianity—one insight, one doctrine, one teaching or tradition—at the expense of all the others. The goal is always progress: a belief system that’s simpler or more reasonable, more authentic or more up-to-date. Yet the results often vindicate the older Christian synthesis. Heresy sets out to be simpler and more appealing and more rational, but it often ends up being more extreme. . . . The boast of Christian orthodoxy . . . has always been its fidelity to the whole of Jesus. Its dogmas and definitions seek to encompass the seeming contradictions in the gospel narratives rather than evading them. . . . These [heretical] simplifications have usually required telling a somewhat different story about Jesus than the one told across the books of the New Testament. Sometimes this retelling has involved thinning out the Christian canon, eliminating tensions by subtracting them. . . . More often, though, it’s been achieved by straightforwardly rewriting or even inventing crucial portions of the New Testament account. . . . “Religious man was born to be saved,” [Philip Rieff] wrote, but “psychological man is born to be pleased.” . . . In 2005, . . . . Smith and Denton found no evidence of real secularization among their subjects: 97 percent of teenagers professed some sort of belief in the divine, 71 percent reported feeling either “very” or “somewhat” close to God, and the vast majority self-identified as Christian. There was no sign of deep alienation from their parents’ churches, no evidence that the teenagers in the survey were poised to convert outright to Buddhism or Islam, and no sign that real atheism was making deep inroads among the young. But neither was there any evidence of a recognizably orthodox Christian faith. “American Christianity,” Smith and Denton suggested, is “either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself,” or else is “actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith.” They continued: “Most religious teenagers either do not really comprehend what their own religious traditions say they are supposed to believe, or they do understand it and simply do not care to believe it.” . . . An ego that’s never wounded, never trammeled or traduced—and that’s taught to regard its deepest impulses as the promptings of the divine spirit—can easily turn out to be an ego that never learns sympathy, compassion, or real wisdom. And when contentment becomes an end unto itself, the way that human contents express themselves can look an awful lot like vanity and decadence. . . . For all their claims to ancient wisdom, there’s nothing remotely countercultural about the Tolles and Winfreys and Chopras. They’re telling an affluent, appetitive society exactly what it wants to hear: that all of its deepest desires are really God’s desires, and that He wouldn’t dream of judging. This message encourages us to justify our sins by spiritualizing them. . . . Our vaunted religiosity is real enough, but our ostensible Christian piety doesn’t have the consequences a casual observer might expect. . . . We nod to God, and then we do as we please.
Ross Douthat (Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics)