Displaced Quotes

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So, you wrecked Alcatraz Island, made Mount St. Helens explode, and displaced half a million people, but at least you're safe." "Yep, that pretty much covers it.
Rick Riordan
أشعر أنني منفصل تماما عن كل البلدان وعن كل المجموعات. أنا متشرد ميتافيزيقي I feel completely detached from any country, any group. I am a metaphysically displaced person
Emil M. Cioran
Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since – on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to displace with your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!
Charles Dickens (Great Expectations)
I've always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I've worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn't know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.
Jeanette Winterson (Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?)
If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.
Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #1))
fit in here, in my palm, in my shadow, don’t be bigger than my idea of you, don’t be more beautiful than i can accept, don’t be more human than i am willing to allow you to be and be quiet, you’re too loud, even your un-belonging is loud. quiet your dreams, your voice, your hair, quiet your skin, quiet your displacement, quiet your longing, your colour, quiet your walk, your eyes. who said you could look at me like that? who said you could exist without permission? why are you even here? why aren’t you shrinking? i think of you often. you vibrate. you walk into a room and the temperature changes. i lean in and almost recognise you as human. but, no. we can’t have that.
Warsan Shire
The zipper displaces the button and a man lacks just that much time to think while dressing at dawn, a philosophical hour, and thus a melancholy hour.
Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)
Humility is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.
Andrew Murray (Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness)
The fish, Even in the fisherman's net, Still carries, The smell of the sea.
مريد البرغوثي
In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else's mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one's own place and economy. In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers... Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else's legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed? The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth - that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community - and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.
Wendell Berry (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)
The personal, as everyone’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, take it personally. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here – it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft-. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide from under it with a wink and a grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it personal. Do as much damage as you can. Get your message across. That way, you stand a better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous marks the difference - the only difference in their eyes - between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life and that it’s nothing personal. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.
Richard K. Morgan (Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1))
You need a story to displace a story.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable)
Many...have learned that the magnitude of lives is not as to their external displacements, but as to their subjective experiences. The impressionable peasant leads a larger, fuller, more dramatic life than the pachydermatous king.
Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D’Urbervilles)
I simply state that I'm a product of a versatile mind in a restless generation-with every reason to throw my mind and pen in with the radicals. Even if, deep in my heart, I thought we were all blind atoms in a world as limited as a stroke of a pendulum, I and my sort would struggle against tradition; try, at least, to displace old cants with new ones. I've thought I was right about life at various times, but faith is difficult. One thing I know. If living isn't seeking for the grail it may be a damned amusing game.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (This Side of Paradise)
Yet if there's no reason to live without a child, how could there be with one? To answer one life with a successive life is simply to transfer the onus of purpose to the next generation; the displacements amounts to a cowardly and potentially infinite delay. Your children's answer, presumably, will be to procreate as well, and in doing so to distract themselves, to foist their own aimlessness onto their offspring.
Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
His fingers touched the strings and all my thoughts were displaced. The sound was pure and sweet as water, bright as lemons. It was like no music I had ever heard before. It had warmth as a fire does, a texture and weight like polished ivory. It buoyed and soothed at once.
Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles)
The whole world seems tilted, my inner ear displaced by a hole where my spouse used to be.
Suzanne Finnamore (Split: A Memoir of Divorce)
It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them. —George Yeoman Pocock
Daniel James Brown (The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics)
If this is the price to be paid for an idea, then let us pay. There is no need of being troubled about it, afraid, or ashamed. This is the time to boldly say, “Yes, I believe in the displacement of this system of injustice by a just one; I believe in the end of starvation, exposure, and the crimes caused by them; I believe in the human soul regnant over all laws which man has made or will make; I believe there is no peace now, and there will never be peace, so long as one rules over another; I believe in the total disintegration and dissolution of the principle and practice of authority; I am an Anarchist, and if for this you condemn me, I stand ready to receive your condemnation.
Voltairine de Cleyre (Exquisite Rebel: The Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre — Anarchist, Feminist, Genius)
The Jews are a peculiar people: Things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it. Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchmen. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese--and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.
Eric Hoffer
To name her is to sink her,” he told me. “That which we name takes greater weight than the sea it displaces. Ask any shipwreck.
Neal Shusterman (Challenger Deep)
Do you ever want to go home?' I asked Paul. He brushed an ash from my face. 'It's the century of the displaced person,' he said. 'You can never go home.
Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
In England Have My Bones White wrote one of the saddest sentences I have ever read: ‘Falling in love is a desolating experience, but not when it is with a countryside.’ He could not imagine a human love returned. He had to displace his desires onto the landscape, that great, blank green field that cannot love you back, but cannot hurt you either.
Helen Macdonald (H is for Hawk)
to read is to surrender oneself to an endless displacement of curiosity and desire from one sentence to another, from one action to another, from one level of a text to another. The text unveils itself before us, but never allows itself to be possessed; and instead of trying to possess it we should take pleasure in its teasing
David Lodge (Small World (The Campus Trilogy, #2))
I sit in the sky like a sphinx misunderstood; My heart of snow is wed to the whiteness of swans; I hate the movement that displaces the rigid lines, With lips untaught neither tears nor laughter do I know.
Charles Baudelaire (Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du mal: A Bilingual Edition)
Let’s take this figure of the feminist killjoy seriously. Does the feminist kill other people’s joy by pointing out moments of sexism? Or does she expose the bad feelings that get hidden, displaced, or negated under public signs of joy? Does bad feeling enter the room when somebody expresses anger about things, or could anger be the moment when the bad feelings that circulate through objects get brought to the surface in a certain way?
Sara Ahmed (The Promise of Happiness)
How could you have guessed?” Miserable though Will was, he felt free, as if a heavy burden had been displaced from him. “I did all I could to hide and deny it. You—you never hid your feelings. Looking back, it was clear and plain, and yet I never saw it. I was astonished when Tessa told me that you were engaged. You’ve always been the source in my life of such good things, James. I never thought you would be the source of pain, and so, wrongly, I never thought of your feelings at all. And that is why I was so blind.
Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3))
What? she said once to herself, and then once aloud, What? She felt a total displacement, like a spinning globe brought to a sudden halt by the light touch of a finger. How did she end up here, like this? How could there have been so much - so many moments, so many people and things, so many razors and pillows, timepieces and subtle coffins - without her being aware? How did her life live itself without her?
Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything is Illuminated)
Though all three men faced the same hardship, their differing perceptions of it appeared to be shaping their fates. Louie and Phil's hope displaced their fear and inspired them to work toward their survival, and each success renewed their physical and emotional vigor. Mac's resignation seemed to paralyze him and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped. Though he did the least, as the days passed, it was he who faded the most. Louie and Phil's optimism, and Mac's hopelessness, were becoming self-fulfilling.
Laura Hillenbrand (Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption)
Emotional detachment from the plight of others — easily achieved by simply looking the other way — always favoured the perpetrators rather than the victims who were reduced to being inconsequential nonentities; were persecuted and denied legal and human rights; were starving, sick, and dying; were victims of Apartheid policies with racial segregations inclusive of political and economic discrimination; were harassed, internally displaced, or forcibly deported; were imprisoned, tortured, or simply “disappeared”; were enslaved, exploited, or trafficked; and were ultimately the victims of mindless massacres that defied the comprehension of anyone even remotely humane.
William Hanna (THE GRIM REAPER)
Laziness has become the chief characteristic of journalism, displacing incompetence.
Kingsley Amis
The very condition of Woman is so subject to Hazard, so complex, and so grievous, that to place her at one moment is but to displace her at the next.
Djuna Barnes
Beauty without grace is like a fish far displaced from the water and looking at this kind of beauty is like watching that fish die right there on the cement in front of you.
C. JoyBell C.
Everything suddenly seems displaced, subtle gradations erase borders, but it’s more forceful than that.
Bret Easton Ellis (Glamorama)
Whenever I'm asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. To be able to recognize a freak, you have to have some conception of the whole man, and in the South the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological. That is a large statement, and it is dangerous to make it, for almost anything you say about Southern belief can be denied in the next breath with equal propriety. But approaching the subject from the standpoint of the writer, I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner, who isn't convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God. Ghosts can be very fierce and instructive. They cast strange shadows, particularly in our literature. In any case, it is when the freak can be sensed as a figure for our essential displacement that he attains some depth in literature.
Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose (FSG Classics))
Forgetting takes space./Forgotten matters displace/as much anything else as/anything else. We must/skirt unlabeled crates/as thought it made sense/and take them when we go/to other states.
Kay Ryan
Muses are fickle, and many a writer, peering into the voice, has escaped paralysis by ascribing the creative responsibility to a talisman: a lucky charm, a brand of paper, but most often a writing instrument. Am I writing well? Thank my pen. Am I writing badly? Don't blame me blame my pen. By such displacements does the fearful imagination defend itself.
Anne Fadiman (Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader)
To walk is to lack a place. It is the indefinite process of being absent and in search of a proper. The moving about that the city mutliplies and concentrates makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place -- an experience that is, to be sure, broken up into countless tiny deportations (displacements and walks), compensated for by the relationships and intersections of these exoduses that intertwine and create an urban fabric, and placed under the sign of what ought to be, ultimately, the place but is only a name, the City...a universe of rented spaces haunted by a nowhere or by dreamed-of places.
Michel de Certeau (The Practice of Everyday Life)
When I opened the door to her I felt like a child who believes itself lost on a swarming street and suddenly sees that all-solving outline, that indispensable displacement of air.
Martin Amis (House of Meetings)
Many besides Angel have learnt that the magnitude of lives is not as to their external displacements but as to their subjective experiences.
Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D’Urbervilles)
Yes, we have different viewpoints represented among us," she continued. "Yes, we have a displacer in our number, and a half giant, and a seedman who publicly disgraced us." "She's talking about you," Drake muttered to Nollin, loud enough to draw a laugh. "No, Drake, I'm talking about you," Farfalee corrected.
Brandon Mull (Seeds of Rebellion (Beyonders, #2))
Swimming might be the closest to flying a human being can get. There is something about your body displacing water in order to propel through space that makes you feel Godtouched. That makes me understand evolution, that we really must have crawled up from the sea.
Elizabeth Acevedo (Clap When You Land)
The full moon, well risen in a cloudless eastern sky, covered the high solitude with its light. We are not conscious of daylight as that which displaces darkness. Daylight, even when the sun is clear of clouds, seems to us simply the natural condition of the earth and air. When we think of the downs, we think of the downs in daylight, as with think of a rabbit with its fur on. Stubbs may have envisaged the skeleton inside the horse, but most of us do not: and we do not usually envisage the downs without daylight, even though the light is not a part of the down itself as the hide is part of the horse itself. We take daylight for granted. But moonlight is another matter. It is inconstant. The full moon wanes and returns again. Clouds may obscure it to an extent to which they cannot obscure daylight. Water is necessary to us, but a waterfall is not. Where it is to be found it is something extra, a beautiful ornament. We need daylight and to that extent it us utilitarian, but moonlight we do not need. When it comes, it serves no necessity. It transforms. It falls upon the banks and the grass, separating one long blade from another; turning a drift of brown, frosted leaves from a single heap to innumerable flashing fragments; or glimmering lengthways along wet twigs as though light itself were ductile. Its long beams pour, white and sharp, between the trunks of trees, their clarity fading as they recede into the powdery, misty distance of beech woods at night. In moonlight, two acres of coarse bent grass, undulant and ankle deep, tumbled and rough as a horse's mane, appear like a bay of waves, all shadowy troughs and hollows. The growth is so thick and matted that event the wind does not move it, but it is the moonlight that seems to confer stillness upon it. We do not take moonlight for granted. It is like snow, or like the dew on a July morning. It does not reveal but changes what it covers. And its low intensity---so much lower than that of daylight---makes us conscious that it is something added to the down, to give it, for only a little time, a singular and marvelous quality that we should admire while we can, for soon it will be gone again.
Richard Adams (Watership Down (Watership Down, #1))
Denying or repressing strong emotions doesn't eliminate them. Instead, they get displaced or stored up.
Susan Forward (Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them: When Loving Hurts and You Don't Know Why)
I no longer wanted to feel displaced.
Leigh Fallon (Carrier of the Mark (Carrier, #1))
Everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens. Each story on televised news is “breaking” until it is displaced by the next one. So we are hit by wave upon wave but never see the ocean. The
Timothy Snyder (On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century)
...the danger that American society as a whole will over-esteem intellect or assign it such a transcendent value as to displace other legitimate values is one that hardly troubles us.
Richard Hofstadter
Running is many things to me: survival, calmness, euphoria, solitude. It is proof of my corporeal existence, my ability to control my movement through space if not time, and the obedience, however temporary, of my body to my will. As I run I displace air, and things come and go around me, and the path moves like a filmstrip beneath my feet.
Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler's Wife)
No settled family or community has ever called its home place an “environment.” None has ever called its feeling for its home place “biocentric” or “anthropocentric.” None has ever thought of its connection to its home place as “ecological,” deep or shallow. The concepts and insights of the ecologists are of great usefulness in our predicament, and we can hardly escape the need to speak of “ecology” and “ecosystems.” But the terms themselves are culturally sterile. They come from the juiceless, abstract intellectuality of the universities which was invented to disconnect, displace, and disembody the mind. The real names of the environment are the names of rivers and river valleys; creeks, ridges, and mountains; towns and cities; lakes, woodlands, lanes roads, creatures, and people. And the real name of our connection to this everywhere different and differently named earth is “work.” We are connected by work even to the places where we don’t work, for all places are connected; it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from our ruin of another. The name of our proper connection to the earth is “good work,” for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing. Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sort of religious humility, for not everything is known. Good work can be defined only in particularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers on the earth. The name of our present society’s connection to the earth is “bad work” – work that is only generally and crudely defined, that enacts a dependence that is ill understood, that enacts no affection and gives no honor. Every one of us is to some extent guilty of this bad work. This guilt does not mean that we must indulge in a lot of breast-beating and confession; it means only that there is much good work to be done by every one of us and that we must begin to do it.
Wendell Berry
Dru Anderson: Thanks. Graves: No problem. First one’s free. Look, you really can’t go home? What happened. Dru Anderson: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Graves: Try me. Dru Anderson: I just can’t go home, not until tomorrow. Graves:Do you need a place to sleep? Dru Anderson: I’ll find somewhere. Graves: I know a place. Dru Anderson: Why is it there’s always a guy who thinks he can get something out of the new girl? Every goddamn town, it’s the same thing. Some guy thinks he’s God’s gift to the displaced. Graves: I just asked if you wanted a place to sleep, Jesus. Dru Anderson: Sorry. Graves: No problem. So, I’ll take you someplace you can sleep tonight. Someplace safe. Okay? Dru Anderson: How much? Graves: I keep telling you, first one’s free. You want to play some air hockey? Good way to get your mind off stuff. Dru Anderson: Sure. Graves: Cool. You finished? Dru Anderson: Yeah, I guess. Graves? Graves: Huh? Dru Anderson: Thanks. Nice gloves. Graves: Hey, you know. Chicks dig guys in gloves.
Lilith Saintcrow (Strange Angels (Strange Angels, #1))
In reading, friendship is restored immediately to its original purity. With books there is no forced sociability. If we pass the evening with those friends—books—it’s because we really want to. When we leave them, we do so with regret and, when we have left them, there are none of those thoughts that spoil friendship: “What did they think of us?”—“Did we make a mistake and say something tactless?”—“Did they like us?”—nor is there the anxiety of being forgotten because of displacement by someone else. All such agitating thoughts expire as we enter the pure and calm friendship of reading.
Marcel Proust
You need a story to displace a story. Metaphors and stories are far more potent (alas) than ideas; they are also easier to remember and more fun to read. If I have to go after what I call the narrative disciplines, my best tool is a narrative. Ideas come and go, stories stay.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable)
How strange was the relation between parents and children! When they were small the parents doted on them, passed through agonies of apprehension at each childish ailment, and the children clung to their parents with love and adoration; a few years passed, the children grew up, and persons not of their kin were more important to their happiness than father or mother. Indifference displaced the blind and instinctive love of the past. Their meetings were a source of boredom and irritation. Distracted once at the thought of a month's separation they were able now to look forward with equanimity to being parted for years.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil)
Artists hide their identities in the brushstrokes of their paintings, the verses in their cantos, and the sentences in their novels. The true face of an artist is never on his face and this is what he prefers. Others misunderstand this displaced melancholy with an absence of melancholy.
Bruce Crown (How Dim the Promised Land)
Very well then! I'll write, write write. He let the words soak into his mind and displace all else. A man had a choice, after all. He devoted his life to his work or to his wife and children and home. It could not be combined; not in this day and age. In this insane world where God was second to income and goodness to wealth.
Richard Matheson (Collected Stories, Vol. 1)
And of course these days I feel like there is a nation of us - displaced southerners and children of the working class. We listen to Steve Earle, Mary J. Blige, and k.d. lang. We devour paperback novels and tell evil mean stories, value stubbornness above patience and a sense of humor more than a college education. We claim our heritage with a full appreciation of how often it has been disdained. And let me promise you, you do not want to make us angry.
Dorothy Allison (Trash)
The personal, as everyone’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, take it personally. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here – it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft-. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide from under it with a wink and a grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it personal. Do as much damage as you can. Get your message across. That way, you stand a better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous marks the difference - the only difference in their eyes - between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life and that it’s nothing personal. Well, fuck them. Make it personal. Quellcrist Falconer Things I Should Have Learned by Now, Volume II
Richard K. Morgan
The only philosophy that can be practiced responsibly in the face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. Knowledge has no light but that shed on the world by redemption: all else is reconstruction, mere technique. Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, that reveal its fissures and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will one day appear in the Messianic light.
Theodor W. Adorno
It is hard to make the boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of the men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them.
George Yeoman Pocock
In short, the Enlightenment privatized marriage, taking it out of the public sphere, and redefined its purpose as individual gratification, not any 'broader good' such as reflecting God's nature, producing character, or raising children. Slowly but surely, this newer understanding of the meaning of marriage has displaced the older ones in Western culture.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
Displaced Person’s Song If you see a train this evening, Far away, against the sky, Lie down in your woolen blanket, Sleep and let the train go by. Trains have called us, every midnight, From a thousand miles away, Trains that pass through empty cities, Trains that have no place to stay. No one drives the locomotive, No one tends the staring light, Trains have never needed riders, Trains belong to bitter night. Railway stations stand deserted, Rights-of-way lie clear and cold, What we left them, trains inherit, Trains go on, and we grow old. Let them cry like cheated lovers, Let their cries find only wind, Trains are meant for night and ruin, And we are meant for song and sin.
Thomas Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow)
But artists aren’t the only marginalized folks controlling real estate. Think about the colonizing role that wealthy white gay men have played in communities of color; they’re often the first group to gentrify poor and working-class neighborhoods. Harlem is a good example. Gays have moved in and driven up rents, as have renegade young white students, who want to be cool and hip. This is colonization, post-colonial-style. After all, the people who are “sent back” to recover the territory are always those who don’t mind associating with the colored people! And it’s a double bind, because some of these people could be allies. Some gay white men are proactive about racism, even while being entrepreneurial. But in the end, they take spaces, redo them, sell them for a certain amount of money, while the people who have been there are displaced. And in some cases, the people of color who are there are perceived as enemies by white newcomers.
bell hooks (Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism)
When you’re talking about the culture, maybe there is something that just permeates sort of thing, you know you pass it on or take it in, without ever being aware of it. - Ivan Pavelić, Croatia
Peter Brune (Suffering, Redemption and Triumph: The first wave of post-war Australian immigrants 1945-66)
Being from the Future meant very little when my education on the past was so limited
Kiku Hughes (Displacement)
In a brief moment of lucidity, I was sure that we'd all gone crazy. But then that moment of lucidity was displaced by a supersecond of superlucidity (if I can put it that way), in which I realized that this scene was the logical outcome of our ridiculous lives. It wasn't a punishment but a new wrinkle. It gave us a glimpse of ourselves in our common humanity. It wasn't proof of our idle guilt but a sign of our miraculous and pointless innocence. But that's not it. That's not it. We were still and they were in motion and the sand on the beach was moving, not because of the wind but because of what they were doing and what we were doing, which was nothing, which was watching, and all of that together was the wrinkle, the moment of superlucidity. Then, nothing.
Roberto Bolaño (The Savage Detectives)
and because what we learn in the dark remains all our lives, a noise like the sea, displacing the day's pale knowledge, you'll come to yourself in a glimmer of rainfall or frost, the burnt smell of autumn, a meeting of parallel lines, and know you were someone else for the longest time, pretending you knew where you were, like a diffident tourist, lost on the one main square, and afraid to enquire.
John Burnside (Selected Poems (Cape Poetry))
I tried to put the displacement between parenthesis, to put a last period in a long sentence of the sadness of history, personal and public history. But I see nothing except commas. I want to sew the times together. I want to attach one moment to another, to attach childhood to age, to attach the present to the absent and all the presents to all absences, to attach exiles to the homeland and to attach what I have imagined to what I see now.
مريد البرغوثي (I Saw Ramallah)
We are, when we love, in an abnormal state, capable of giving at once to the most apparently simple accident, an accident which may at any moment occur, a seriousness which in itself it would not entail. What makes us so happy is the presence in our hearts of an unstable element which we contrive perpetually to maintain and of which we cease almost to be aware so long as it is not displaced. In reality, there is in love a permanent strain of suffering which happiness neutralises, make potential only, postpones, but which may at any moment become, what it would long since have been had we not obtained what we wanted, excruciating.
Marcel Proust (Within a Budding Grove, Part 2)
Greek customs such as wine drinking were regarded as worthy of imitation by other cultures. So the ships that carried Greek wine were carrying Greek civilization, distributing it around the Mediterranean and beyond, one amphora at a time. Wine displaced beer to become the most civilized and sophisticated of drinks—a status it has maintained ever since, thanks to its association with the intellectual achievements of Ancient Greece.
Tom Standage (A History of the World in 6 Glasses)
No other technique for the conduct of life attaches the individual so firmly to reality as laying emphasis on work; for his work at least gives him a secure place in a portion of reality, in the human community. The possibility it offers of displacing a large amount of libidinal components, whether narcissistic, aggressive or even erotic, on to professional work and on to the human relations connected with it lends it a value by no means second to what it enjoys as something indispensible to the preservation and justification of existence in society. Professional activity is a source of special satisfaction if it is a freely chosen one — if, that is to say, by means of sublimation, it makes possible the use of existing inclinations, of persisting or constitutionally reinforced instinctual impulses. And yet, as a path to happiness, work is not highly prized by men. They do not strive after it as they do after other possibilities of satisfaction. The great majority of people only work under the stress of necessity, and this natural human aversion to work raises most difficult social problems.
Sigmund Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents)
And I realized that sure Indians were drunk and sad and displaced and crazy and mean but dang we knew how to laugh. When it comes to death, we know that laughter and tears are pretty much the same thing. And so, laughing and crying, we said good-bye to my grandmother. And when we said good-bye to one grandmother, we said good-bye to all of them. Each funeral was a funeral for all of us. We lived and died together. All of us laughed when they lowered my grandmother into the ground. And all of us laughed when they covered her with dirt. And all of us laughed as we walked and drove and rode our way back to our lonely, lonely houses.
Sherman Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian)
Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read since I first [met you]. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since,—on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation, I associate you only with the good; and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may.
Charles Dickens (Great Expectations)
The personal, as every one’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here—it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide out from under with a wink and a grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it PERSONAL. Do as much damage as you can. GET YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS. That way you stand a far better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous marks the difference, the ONLY difference in their eyes, between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life and that IT’S NOTHING PERSONAL. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.   QUELLCRIST FALCONER Things I Should Have Learnt by Now Volume II
Richard K. Morgan (Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1))
I think sometimes a community's experience is so traumatic, it stays rooted in us even generations later. And the later generations continue to rediscover that experience, since it's still shaping us in ways we might not realize. Like losing the ability to speak Japanese, losing connection to Japanese culture, they're all lasting impacts of the camps that travel down the generations.
Kiku Hughes (Displacement)
We were all trapped in stories, she said, just as he used to say, his wavy hair, his naughty smile, his beautiful mind, each of us the prisoner of our own solipsistic narrative, each family the captive of the family story, each community locked within its own tale of itself, each people the victims of their own versions of history, and there were parts of the world where the narratives collided and went to war, where there were two or more incompatible stories fighting for space on, to speak, the same page. She came from one such place, his place, from which he had been forever displaced, they exiled his body but his spirit, never. And maybe now every place was becoming that place, maybe Lebanon was everywhere and nowhere, so that we were all exiles, even if our hair wasn't so wavy, our smiles not so naughty, our minds less beautiful, even the name Lebanon wasn't necessary, the name of every place or any place would do just as well, maybe that's why she felt nameless, unnamed, unnameable, Lebanonymous.
Salman Rushdie (Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights)
mingling with the remains of the plane, equally fragmented, equally absurd, there floated the debris of the soul, broken memories, sloughed-off selves, severed mother tongues, violated privacies, untranslatable jokes, extinguished futures, lost loves, the forgotten meaning of hollow, booming words, land, belonging, home.
Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses)
We must try, all of us, a lot of the time, our best, and we must keep trying. We do not understand anything but we should try our best to understand each other. We should swim and walk in parks, thinking. We should watch movies and think about what might happen. We should buy food and think about where it comes from, and we should listen to music and wonder what it means. We should have conversations, real and imaginary, with translators handy so that everybody might understand everything we say. We may feel native to where we are, or feel displaced, or both, the way someone going on a journey is also a stranger in town, but nevertheless we should keep reading. We must read mysterious literature, and be as bewildered by it as we are by the world, and we should write down our ideas, turning our stories, as if by magic, into literature.
Lemony Snicket (Poison for Breakfast)
Readers and writers should not deceive themselves that literature changes the world. Literature changes the world of readers and writers, but literature does not change the world until people get out of their chairs, go out in the world, and do something to transform the conditions of which the literature speaks.
Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives)
As for me, I feel myself living and thinking in a room where everything is the creation and the language of lives profoundly different from mine, of a taste opposite to mine, where I find nothing of my conscious thought, where my imagination is excited by feeling itself plunged into the depths of the non-ego; I feel happy only when setting foot—on the Avenue de la Gare, on the Port, or on the Place de l'Eglise—in one of those provincial hotels with cold, long corridors where the wind from outside contends successfully with the efforts of the heating system, where the detailed geographic map of the district is still the sole ornament on the walls, where each noise helps only to make the silence appear by displacing it, where the rooms keep a musty perfume which the open air comes to wash, but does not eliminate, and which the nostrils inhale a hundred times in order to bring it to the imagination, which is enchanted with it, which has it pose like a model to try to recreate it with all the thoughts and remembrances that it contains...
Marcel Proust
Opening is an essential feature of univocity. The nomadic distributions or crowned anarchies in the univocal stand opposed to the sedentary distribution of analogy. Only there does the cry resound: ‘Everything is equal!’ and ‘Everything returns!’. However, this ‘Everything is equal!’ and ‘Everything returns!’ can be said only at the point in which the extremity of difference is reached. A single and same voice for the whole thousand-voiced multiple, a single and same Ocean for all the drops, a single clamour of Being for all beings: on the condition that each being, each drop, and each voice has reached the state of excess – in other words, the difference which displaces and disguises them and, in turning upon the mobile cusp, causes them to return.
Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition)
It [Communism] is not new. It is, in fact, man's second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: "Ye shall be as gods." It is the great alternative faith of mankind. Like all great faiths, its force derives from a simple vision. Other ages have had great visions. They have always been different versions of the same vision: the vision of God and man's relationship to God. The Communist vision is the vision of Man without God. It is the vision of man's mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world. It is the vision of man's liberated mind, by the sole force of its rational intelligence, redirecting man's destiny and reorganizing man's life and the world. It is the vision of man, once more the central figure of the Creation, not because God made man in his image, but because man's mind makes him the most intelligent of the animals. Copernicus and his successors displaced man as the central fact of the universe by proving that the earth was not the central star of the universe. Communism restores man to his sovereignty by the simple method of denying God.
Whittaker Chambers (Witness)
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look at thousands of working people displaced from their jobs with reduced incomes as a result of automation while the profits of the employers remain intact, and say: “This is not just.” It will look across the oceans and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing to prevent us from paying adequate wages to schoolteachers, social workers and other servants of the public to insure that we have the best available personnel in these positions which are charged with the responsibility of guiding our future generations. There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American citizen whether he be a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid or day laborer. There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum—and livable—income for every American family. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from remolding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy Book 2))
The central question is not: what is force and what is freedom? That is a good question, but in the realm of human cruelty - the realm of history - it is utterly abstract. The central question is: why is force never acknowledged as such when used against the racially or sexually despised? Nazi terror used against the Jews is not in dispute. Still, there is an almost universal - and intrinsically anti-Semitic - conviction that the Jews went voluntarily to the ovens. Rational discourse on how the Jews were terrorized does not displace or transform this irrational conviction. And similarly, no matter what force is used against women as a class or as individuals, the universal conviction is that women want (either seek out or assent to) whatever happens to them, however awful, dangerous, destructive, painful, or humiliating. A statement is made about the nature of the Jew, the nature of the woman. The nature of each and both is to be a victim. A metaphysical victim is never forced, only actualized.
Andrea Dworkin
Politicians in our times feed their clichés to television, where even those who wish to disagree repeat them. Television purports to challenge political language by conveying images, but the succession from one frame to another can hinder a sense of resolution. Everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens. Each story on televised news is ”breaking” until it is displaced by the next one. So we are hit by wave upon wave but never see the ocean. The effort to define the shape and significance of events requires words and concepts that elude us when we are entranced by visual stimuli. Watching televised news is sometimes little more than looking at someone who is also looking at a picture. We take this collective trance to be normal. We have slowly fallen into it. More than half a century ago, the classic novels of totalitarianism warned of the domination of screens, the suppression of books, the narrowing of vocabularies, and the associated difficulties of thought. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953, firemen find and burn books while most citizens watch interactive television. In George Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949, books are banned and television is two-way, allowing the government to observe citizens at all times. In 1984, the language of visual media is highly constrained, to starve the public of the concepts needed to think about the present, remember the past, and consider the future. One of the regime’s projects is to limit the language further by eliminating ever more words with each edition of the official dictionary. Staring at screens is perhaps unavoidable, but the two-dimensional world makes little sense unless we can draw upon a mental armory that we have developed somewhere else. When we repeat the same words and phrases that appear in the daily media, we accept the absence of a larger framework. To have such a framework requires more concepts, and having more concepts requires reading. So get the screens out of your room and surround yourself with books. The characters in Orwell’s and Bradbury’s books could not do this—but we still can.
Timothy Snyder (On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century)
Suppose we were planning to impose a dictatorial regime upon the American people—the following preparations would be essential: 1. Concentrate the populace in megalopolitan masses so that they can be kept under close surveillance and where, in case of trouble, they can be bombed, burned, gassed or machine-gunned with a minimum of expense and waste. 2. Mechanize agriculture to the highest degree of refinement, thus forcing most of the scattered farm and ranching population into the cities. Such a policy is desirable because farmers, woodsmen, cowboys, Indians, fishermen and other relatively self-sufficient types are difficult to manage unless displaced from their natural environment. 3. Restrict the possession of firearms to the police and the regular military organizations. 4. Encourage or at least fail to discourage population growth. Large masses of people are more easily manipulated and dominated than scattered individuals. 5. Continue military conscription. Nothing excels military training for creating in young men an attitude of prompt, cheerful obedience to officially constituted authority. 6. Divert attention from deep conflicts within the society by engaging in foreign wars; make support of these wars a test of loyalty, thereby exposing and isolating potential opposition to the new order. 7. Overlay the nation with a finely reticulated network of communications, airlines and interstate autobahns. 8. Raze the wilderness. Dam the rivers, flood the canyons, drain the swamps, log the forests, strip-mine the hills, bulldoze the mountains, irrigate the deserts and improve the national parks into national parking lots. Idle speculations, feeble and hopeless protest. It was all foreseen nearly half a century ago by the most cold-eyed and clear-eyed of our national poets, on California’s shore, at the end of the open road. Shine, perishing republic.
Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire)
They worked hard all their lives, what they basically did was, they built a little Ukraine, a little society for themselves here in Brisbane. They did this in all the cities … not a ghetto, it wasn’t inward looking to that extent, but it was inward looking in the sense that it was a place to go—somewhere where you could identify; where you could be understood; go about remembering and preserving your roots. - Walter Sucharsky, 2nd Generation Australian
Peter Brune (Suffering, Redemption and Triumph: The first wave of post-war Australian immigrants 1945-66)
For the decline of capitalism to continue, that is to say, no revolutionary alternative is required, and certainly no masterplan of a better society displacing capitalism. Contemporary capitalism is vanishing on its own, collapsing from internal contradictions, and not least as a result of having vanquished its enemies - who, as noted, have often rescued capitalism from itself by forcing it to assume a new form. What comes after capitalism in its final crisis, now underway, is, I suggest, not socialism or some other defined social order, but a lasting interregnum - no new world system equilibrium a la Wallerstein, but a prolonged period of social entropy or disorder (and precisely for this reason a period of uncertainy and indeterminacy). It is an interesting problem for sociological theory whether and how a society can turn for a significant length of time into less than a society, a post-social society as it were, or a society lite, until it may or may not recover and again to become a society in the full meaning of the term.
Wolfgang Streeck (How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System)
As observers of totalitarianism such as Victor Klemperer noticed, truth dies in four modes, all of which we have just witnessed. The first mode is the open hostility to verifiable reality, which takes the form of presenting inventions and lies as if they were facts. The president does this at a high rate and at a fast pace. One attempt during the 2016 campaign to track his utterances found that 78 percent of his factual claims were false. This proportion is so high that it makes the correct assertions seem like unintended oversights on the path toward total fiction. Demeaning the world as it is begins the creation of a fictional counterworld. The second mode is shamanistic incantation. As Klemperer noted, the fascist style depends upon “endless repetition,” designed to make the fictional plausible and the criminal desirable. The systematic use of nicknames such as “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary” displaced certain character traits that might more appropriately have been affixed to the president himself. Yet through blunt repetition over Twitter, our president managed the transformation of individuals into stereotypes that people then spoke aloud. At rallies, the repeated chants of “Build that wall” and “Lock her up” did not describe anything that the president had specific plans to do, but their very grandiosity established a connection between him and his audience. The next mode is magical thinking, or the open embrace of contradiction. The president’s campaign involved the promises of cutting taxes for everyone, eliminating the national debt, and increasing spending on both social policy and national defense. These promises mutually contradict. It is as if a farmer said he were taking an egg from the henhouse, boiling it whole and serving it to his wife, and also poaching it and serving it to his children, and then returning it to the hen unbroken, and then watching as the chick hatches. Accepting untruth of this radical kind requires a blatant abandonment of reason. Klemperer’s descriptions of losing friends in Germany in 1933 over the issue of magical thinking ring eerily true today. One of his former students implored him to “abandon yourself to your feelings, and you must always focus on the Führer’s greatness, rather than on the discomfort you are feeling at present.” Twelve years later, after all the atrocities, and at the end of a war that Germany had clearly lost, an amputated soldier told Klemperer that Hitler “has never lied yet. I believe in Hitler.” The final mode is misplaced faith. It involves the sort of self-deifying claims the president made when he said that “I alone can solve it” or “I am your voice.” When faith descends from heaven to earth in this way, no room remains for the small truths of our individual discernment and experience. What terrified Klemperer was the way that this transition seemed permanent. Once truth had become oracular rather than factual, evidence was irrelevant. At the end of the war a worker told Klemperer that “understanding is useless, you have to have faith. I believe in the Führer.
Timothy Snyder (On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century)
Democracy is cancerous, and bureaus are its cancer. A bureau takes root anywhere in the state, turns malignant like the Narcotic Bureau, and grows and grows, always reproducing more of its own kind, until it chokes the host if not controlled or excised. Bureaus cannot live without a host, being true parasitic organisms. (A cooperative on the other hand can live without the state. That is the road to follow. The building up of independent units to meet needs of the people who participate in the functioning of the unit. A bureau operates on opposite principles of inventing needs to justify its existence.) Bureaucracy is wrong as a cancer, a turning away from the human evolutionary direction of infinite potentials and differentiation and independent spontaneous action to the complete parasitism of a virus. (It is thought that the virus is a degeneration from more complex life-form. It may at one time have been capable of independent life. Now has fallen to the borderline between living and dead matter. It can exhibit living qualities only in a host, by using the life of another — the renunciation of life itself, a falling towards inorganic, inflexible machine, towards dead matter.) Bureaus die when the structure of the state collapse. They are as helpless and unfit for independent existence as a displaced tapeworm, or a virus that has killed the host.
William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch)
The main substantive achievement of neoliberalization, however, has been to redistribute, rather than to generate, wealth and income. …[T]his was achieved under the rubric of ‘accumulation by dispossession’. By this I mean the continuation and proliferation of accumulation practices which Marx had treated of as ‘primitive’ or ‘original’ during the rise of capitalism. These include the commodification and privatization of land and the forceful expulsion of peasant populations (compare the cases, described above, of Mexico and of China, where 70 million peasants are thought to have been displaced in recent times); conversion of various forms of property rights (common, collective, state, etc.) into exclusive private property rights (most spectacularly represented by China); suppression of rights to the commons; commodification of labour power and the suppression of alternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption; colonial, neocolonial, and imperial processes of appropriation of assets (including natural resources); monetization of exchange and taxation, particularly of land; the slave trade (which continues particularly in the sex industry); and usury, the national debt and, most devastating of all, the use of the credit system as a radical means of accumulation by dispossession.
David Harvey (A Brief History of Neoliberalism)
In Sri Lanka, when two strangers meet, they ask a series of questions that reveal family, ancestral village, and blood ties until they arrive at a common friend or relative. Then they say, "Those are our people, so you are our people." It's a small place. Everyone knows everyone. "But in America, there are no such namings; it is possible to slip and slide here. It is possible to get lost in the nameless multitudes. There are no ropes binding one, holding one to the earth. Unbound by place or name, one is aware that it is possible to drift out into the atmosphere and beyond that, into the solitary darkness where there is no oxygen.
Nayomi Munaweera (What Lies Between Us)
The rain set early in tonight, The sullen wind was soon awake, It tore the elm-tops down for spite, And did its worst to vex the lake: I listened with heart fit to break. When glided in Porphyria; straight She shut the cold out and the storm, And kneeled and made the cheerless grate Blaze up, and all the cottage warm; Which done, she rose, and from her form Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl, And laid her soiled gloves by, untied Her hat and let the damp hair fall, And, last, she sat down by my side And called me. When no voice replied, She put my arm about her waist, And made her smooth white shoulder bare, And all her yellow hair displaced, And, stooping, made my cheek lie there, And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair, Murmuring how she loved me — she Too weak, for all her heart's endeavor, To set its struggling passion free From pride, and vainer ties dissever, And give herself to me forever. But passion sometimes would prevail, Nor could tonight's gay feast restrain A sudden thought of one so pale For love of her, and all in vain: So, she was come through wind and rain. Be sure I looked up at her eyes Happy and proud; at last l knew Porphyria worshiped me: surprise Made my heart swell, and still it grew While I debated what to do. That moment she was mine, mine, fair, Perfectly pure and good: I found A thing to do, and all her hair In one long yellow string l wound Three times her little throat around, And strangled her. No pain felt she; I am quite sure she felt no pain. As a shut bud that holds a bee, I warily oped her lids: again Laughed the blue eyes without a stain. And l untightened next the tress About her neck; her cheek once more Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss: I propped her head up as before, Only, this time my shoulder bore Her head, which droops upon it still: The smiling rosy little head, So glad it has its utmost will, That all it scorned at once is fled, And I, its love, am gained instead! Porphyria's love: she guessed not how Her darling one wish would be heard. And thus we sit together now, And all night long we have not stirred, And yet God has not said aword!
Robert Browning (Robert Browning's Poetry)
Even as I wrote my note to Fern, for instance, expressing sentiments and regrets that were real, a part of me was noticing what a fine and sincere note it was, and anticipating the effect on Fern of this or that heartfelt phrase, while yet another part was observing the whole scene of a man in a dress shirt and no tie sitting at his breakfast nook writing a heartfelt note on his last afternoon alive, the blondwood table's surface trembling with sunlight and the man's hand steady and face both haunted by regret and ennobled by resolve, this part of me sort of hovering above and just to the left of myself, evaluating the scene, and thinking what a fine and genuine-seeming performance in a drama it would make if only we all had not already been subject to countless scenes just like it in dramas ever since we first saw a movie or read a book, which somehow entailed that real scenes like the one of my suicide note were now compelling and genuine only to their participants, and to anyone else would come off as banal and even somewhat cheesy or maudlin, which is somewhat paradoxical when you consider – as I did, setting there at the breakfast nook – that the reason scenes like this will seem stale or manipulative to an audience is that we’ve already seen so many of them in dramas, and yet the reason we’ve seen so many of them in dramas is that the scenes really are dramatic and compelling and let people communicate very deep, complicated emotional realities that are almost impossible to articulate in any other way, and at the same time still another facet or part of me realizing that from this perspective my own basic problem was that at an early age I’d somehow chosen to cast my lot with my life’s drama’s supposed audience instead of with the drama itself, and that I even now was watching and gauging my supposed performance’s quality and probable effects, and thus was in the final analysis the very same manipulative fraud writing the note to Fern that I had been throughout the life that had brought me to this climactic scene of writing and signing it and addressing the envelope and affixing postage and putting the envelope in my shirt pocket (totally conscious of the resonance of its resting there, next to my heart, in the scene), planning to drop it in a mailbox on the way out to Lily Cache Rd. and the bridge abutment into which I planned to drive my car at speeds sufficient to displace the whole front end and impale me on the steering wheel and instantly kill me. Self-loathing is not the same thing as being into pain or a lingering death, if I was going to do it I wanted it instant’ (175-176)
David Foster Wallace (Oblivion: Stories)
Epicurus founded a school of philosophy which placed great emphasis on the importance of pleasure. "Pleasure is the beginning and the goal of a happy life," he asserted, confirming what many had long thought, but philosophers had rarely accepted. Vulgar opinion at once imagined that the pleasure Epicurus had in mind involved a lot of money, sex, drink and debauchery (associations that survive in our use of the word 'Epicurean'). But true Epicureanism was more subtle. Epicurus led a very simple life, because after rational analysis, he had come to some striking conclusions about what actually made life pleasurable - and fortunately for those lacking a large income, it seemed that the essential ingredients of pleasure, however elusive, were not very expensive. The first ingredient was friendship. 'Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one's entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship,' he wrote. So he bought a house near Athens where he lived in the company of congenial souls. The desire for riches should perhaps not always be understood as a simple hunger for a luxurious life, a more important motive might be the wish to be appreciated and treated nicely. We may seek a fortune for no greater reason than to secure the respect and attention of people who would otherwise look straight through us. Epicurus, discerning our underlying need, recognised that a handful of true friends could deliver the love and respect that even a fortune may not. Epicurus and his friends located a second secret of happiness: freedom. In order not to have to work for people they didn't like and answer to potentially humiliating whims, they removed themselves from employment in the commercial world of Athens ('We must free ourselves from the prison of everyday affairs and politics'), and began what could best have been described as a commune, accepting a simpler way of life in exchange for independence. They would have less money, but would never again have to follow the commands of odious superiors. The third ingredient of happiness was, in Epicurus's view, to lead an examined life. Epicurus was concerned that he and his friends learn to analyse their anxieties about money, illness, death and the supernatural. There are few better remedies for anxiety than thought. In writing a problem down or airing it in conversation we let its essential aspects emerge. And by knowing its character, we remove, if not the problem itself, then its secondary, aggravating characteristics: confusion, displacement, surprise. Wealth is of course unlikely ever to make anyone miserable. But the crux of Epicurus's argument is that if we have money without friends, freedom and an analysed life, we will never be truly happy. And if we have them, but are missing the fortune, we will never be unhappy.
Alain de Botton
Let us fool ourselves no longer. At the very moment Western nations, threw off the ancient regime of absolute government, operating under a once-divine king, they were restoring this same system in a far more effective form in their technology, reintroducing coercions of a military character no less strict in the organization of a factory than in that of the new drilled, uniformed, and regimented army. During the transitional stages of the last two centuries, the ultimate tendency of this system might b e in doubt, for in many areas there were strong democratic reactions; but with the knitting together of a scientific ideology, itself liberated from theological restrictions or humanistic purposes, authoritarian technics found an instrument at hand that h as now given it absolute command of physical energies of cosmic dimensions. The inventors of nuclear bombs, space rockets, and computers are the pyramid builders of our own age: psychologically inflated by a similar myth of unqualified power, boasting through their science of their increasing omnipotence, if not omniscience, moved by obsessions and compulsions no less irrational than those of earlier absolute systems: particularly the notion that the system itself must be expanded, at whatever eventual co st to life. Through mechanization, automation, cybernetic direction, this authoritarian technics has at last successfully overcome its most serious weakness: its original dependence upon resistant, sometimes actively disobedient servomechanisms, still human enough to harbor purposes that do not always coincide with those of the system. Like the earliest form of authoritarian technics, this new technology is marvellously dynamic and productive: its power in every form tends to increase without limits, in quantities that defy assimilation and defeat control, whether we are thinking of the output of scientific knowledge or of industrial assembly lines. To maximize energy, speed, or automation, without reference to the complex conditions that sustain organic life, have become ends in themselves. As with the earliest forms of authoritarian technics, the weight of effort, if one is to judge by national budgets, is toward absolute instruments of destruction, designed for absolutely irrational purposes whose chief by-product would be the mutilation or extermination of the human race. Even Ashurbanipal and Genghis Khan performed their gory operations under normal human limits. The center of authority in this new system is no longer a visible personality, an all-powerful king: even in totalitarian dictatorships the center now lies in the system itself, invisible but omnipresent: all its human components, even the technical and managerial elite, even the sacred priesthood of science, who alone have access to the secret knowledge by means of which total control is now swiftly being effected, are themselves trapped by the very perfection of the organization they have invented. Like the Pharoahs of the Pyramid Age, these servants of the system identify its goods with their own kind of well-being: as with the divine king, their praise of the system is an act of self-worship; and again like the king, they are in the grip of an irrational compulsion to extend their means of control and expand the scope of their authority. In this new systems-centered collective, this Pentagon of power, there is no visible presence who issues commands: unlike job's God, the new deities cannot be confronted, still less defied. Under the pretext of saving labor, the ultimate end of this technics is to displace life, or rather, to transfer the attributes of life to the machine and the mechanical collective, allowing only so much of the organism to remain as may be controlled and manipulated.
Lewis Mumford
He cannot do anything deliberate now. The strain of his whole weight on his outstretched arms hurts too much. The pain fills him up, displaces thought, as much for him as it has for everyone else who has ever been stuck to one of these horrible contrivances, or for anyone else who dies in pain from any of the world’s grim arsenal of possibilities. And yet he goes on taking in. It is not what he does, it is what he is. He is all open door: to sorrow, suffering, guilt, despair, horror, everything that cannot be escaped, and he does not even try to escape it, he turns to meet it, and claims it all as his own. This is mine now, he is saying; and he embraces it with all that is left in him, each dark act, each dripping memory, as if it were something precious, as if it were itself the loved child tottering homeward on the road. But there is so much of it. So many injured children; so many locked rooms; so much lonely anger; so many bombs in public places; so much vicious zeal; so many bored teenagers at roadblocks; so many drunk girls at parties someone thought they could have a little fun with; so many jokes that go too far; so much ruining greed; so much sick ingenuity; so much burned skin. The world he claims, claims him. It burns and stings, it splinters and gouges, it locks him round and drags him down… All day long, the next day, the city is quiet. The air above the city lacks the usual thousand little trails of smoke from cookfires. Hymns rise from the temple. Families are indoors. The soldiers are back in barracks. The Chief Priest grows hoarse with singing. The governor plays chess with his secretary and dictates letters. The free bread the temple distributed to the poor has gone stale by midday, but tastes all right dipped in water or broth. Death has interrupted life only as much as it ever does. We die one at a time and disappear, but the life of the living continues. The earth turns. The sun makes its way towards the western horizon no slower or faster than it usually does. Early Sunday morning, one of the friends comes back with rags and a jug of water and a box of the grave spices that are supposed to cut down on the smell. She’s braced for the task. But when she comes to the grave she finds that the linen’s been thrown into the corner and the body is gone. Evidently anonymous burial isn’t quite anonymous enough, after all. She sits outside in the sun. The insects have woken up, here at the edge of the desert, and a bee is nosing about in a lily like silk thinly tucked over itself, but much more perishable. It won’t last long. She takes no notice of the feet that appear at the edge of her vision. That’s enough now, she thinks. That’s more than enough. Don’t be afraid, says Yeshua. Far more can be mended than you know. She is weeping. The executee helps her to stand up.
Francis Spufford (Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense)
There is a dark side to religious devotion that is too often ignored or denied. As a means of motivating people to be cruel or inhumane -- as a means of inciting evil, to borrow the vocabulary of the devout -- there may be no more potent force than religion. When the subject of religiously inspired bloodshed comes up, many Americans immediately think of Islamic fundamentalism, which is to be expected in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. But men have been committing heinous acts in the name of God ever since mankind began believing in deities, and extremists exist within all religions. Muhammad is not the only prophet whose words have been used to sanction barbarism; history has not lacked for Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and even Buddhists who have been motivated by scripture to butcher innocents. Plenty of these religious extremists have been homegrown, corn-fed Americans. Faith-based violence was present long before Osama bin Laden, and it ill be with us long after his demise. Religious zealots like bin Laden, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Shoko Asahara, and Dan Lafferty are common to every age, just as zealots of other stripes are. In any human endeavor, some fraction of its practitioners will be motivated to pursue that activity with such concentrated focus and unalloyed passion that it will consume them utterly. One has to look no further than individuals who feel compelled to devote their lives to becoming concert pianists, say, or climbing Mount Everest. For some, the province of the extreme holds an allure that's irresistible. And a certain percentage of such fanatics will inevitably fixate on the matters of the spirit. The zealot may be outwardly motivated by the anticipation of a great reward at the other end -- wealth, fame, eternal salvation -- but the real recompense is probably the obsession itself. This is no less true for the religious fanatic than for the fanatical pianist or fanatical mountain climber. As a result of his (or her) infatuation, existence overflows with purpose. Ambiguity vanishes from the fanatic's worldview; a narcissistic sense of self-assurance displaces all doubt. A delicious rage quickens his pulse, fueled by the sins and shortcomings of lesser mortals, who are soiling the world wherever he looks. His perspective narrows until the last remnants of proportion are shed from his life. Through immoderation, he experiences something akin to rapture. Although the far territory of the extreme can exert an intoxicating pull on susceptible individuals of all bents, extremism seems to be especially prevalent among those inclined by temperament or upbringing toward religious pursuits. Faith is the very antithesis of reason, injudiciousness a crucial component of spiritual devotion. And when religious fanaticism supplants ratiocination, all bets are suddenly off. Anything can happen. Absolutely anything. Common sense is no match for the voice of God...
Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith)
How do people get to this clandestine Archipelago? Hour by hour planes fly there, ships steer their course there, and trains thunder off to it--but all with nary a mark on them to tell of their destination. And at ticket windows or at travel bureaus for Soviet or foreign tourists the employees would be astounded if you were to ask for a ticket to go there. They know nothing and they've never heard of the Archipelago as a whole or any one of its innumerable islands. Those who go to the Archipelago to administer it get there via the training schools of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Those who go there to be guards are conscripted via the military conscription centers. And those who, like you and me, dear reader, go there to die, must get there solely and compulsorily via arrest. Arrest! Need it be said that it is a breaking point in your life, a bolt of lightning which has scored a direct hit on you? That it is an unassimilable spiritual earthquake not every person can cope with, as a result of which people often slip into insanity? The Universe has as many different centers as there are living beings in it. Each of us is a center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: "You are under arrest." If you are arrested, can anything else remain unshattered by this cataclysm? But the darkened mind is incapable of embracing these dis­placements in our universe, and both the most sophisticated and the veriest simpleton among us, drawing on all life's experience, can gasp out only: "Me? What for?" And this is a question which, though repeated millions and millions of times before, has yet to receive an answer. Arrest is an instantaneous, shattering thrust, expulsion, somer­sault from one state into another. We have been happily borne—or perhaps have unhappily dragged our weary way—down the long and crooked streets of our lives, past all kinds of walls and fences made of rotting wood, rammed earth, brick, concrete, iron railings. We have never given a thought to what lies behind them. We have never tried to pene­trate them with our vision or our understanding. But there is where the Gulag country begins, right next to us, two yards away from us. In addition, we have failed to notice an enormous num­ber of closely fitted, well-disguised doors and gates in these fences. All those gates were prepared for us, every last one! And all of a sudden the fateful gate swings quickly open, and four white male hands, unaccustomed to physical labor but none­theless strong and tenacious, grab us by the leg, arm, collar, cap, ear, and drag us in like a sack, and the gate behind us, the gate to our past life, is slammed shut once and for all. That's all there is to it! You are arrested! And you'll find nothing better to respond with than a lamblike bleat: "Me? What for?" That's what arrest is: it's a blinding flash and a blow which shifts the present instantly into the past and the impossible into omnipotent actuality. That's all. And neither for the first hour nor for the first day will you be able to grasp anything else.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII)
There's folly in her stride that's the rumor justified by lies I've seen her up close beneath the sheets and sometime during the summer she was mine for a few sweet months in the fall and parts of December ((( To get to the heart of this unsolvable equation, one must first become familiar with the physical, emotional, and immaterial makeup as to what constitutes both war and peace. ))) I found her looking through a window the same window I'd been looking through She smiled and her eyes never faltered this folly was a crime ((( The very essence of war is destructive, though throughout the years utilized as a means of creating peace, such an equation might seem paradoxical to the untrained eye. Some might say using evil to defeat evil is counterproductive, and gives more meaning to the word “futile”. Others, like Edmund Burke, would argue that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.” ))) She had an identity I could identify with something my fingertips could caress in the night ((( There is such a limitless landscape within the mind, no two minds are alike. And this is why as a race we will forever be at war with each other. What constitutes peace is in the mind of the beholder. ))) Have you heard the argument? This displacement of men and women and women and men the minds we all have the beliefs we all share Slipping inside of us thoughts and religions and bodies all bare ((( “Without darkness, there can be no light,” he once said. To demonstrate this theory, during one of his seminars he held a piece of white chalk and drew a line down the center of a blackboard. Explaining that without the blackness of the board, the white line would be invisible. ))) When she left she kissed with eyes open I knew this because I'd done the same Sometimes we saw eye to eye like that Very briefly, she considered an apotheosis a synthesis a rendering of her folly into solidarity ((( To believe that a world-wide lay down of arms is possible, however, is the delusion of the pacifist; the dream of the optimist; and the joke of the realist. Diplomacy only goes so far, and in spite of our efforts to fight with words- there are times when drawing swords of a very different nature are surely called for. ))) Experiencing the subsequent sunrise inhaling and drinking breaking mirrors and regurgitating just to start again all in all I was just another gash in the bark ((( Plato once said: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Perhaps the death of us all is called for in this time of emotional desperation. War is a product of the mind; only with the death of such will come the end of the bloodshed. Though this may be a fairly realistic view of such an issue, perhaps there is an optimistic outlook on the horizon. Not every sword is double edged, but every coin is double sided. ))) Leaving town and throwing shit out the window drinking boroughs and borrowing spare change I glimpsed the rear view mirror stole a glimpse really I've believed in looking back for a while it helps to have one last view a reminder in case one ever decides to rebel in the event the self regresses and makes the declaration of devastation once more ((( Thus, if we wish to eliminate the threat of war today- complete human annihilation may be called for. )))
Dave Matthes (Wanderlust and the Whiskey Bottle Parallel: Poems and Stories)
You big ugly. You too empty. You desert with your nothing nothing nothing. You scorched suntanned. Old too quickly. Acres of suburbs watching the telly. You bore me. Freckle silly children. You nothing much. With your big sea. Beach beach beach. I’ve seen enough already. You dumb dirty city with bar stools. You’re ugly. You silly shopping town. You copy. You too far everywhere. You laugh at me. When I came this woman gave me a box of biscuits. You try to be friendly but you’re not very friendly. You never ask me to your house. You insult me. You don’t know how to be with me. Road road tree tree. I came from crowded and many. I came from rich. You have nothing to offer. You’re poor and spread thin. You big. So what. I’m small. It’s what’s in. You silent on Sunday. Nobody on your streets. You dead at night. You go to sleep too early. You don’t excite me. You scare me with your hopeless. Asleep when you walk. Too hot to think. You big awful. You don’t match me. You burnt out. You too big sky. You make me a dot in the nowhere. You laugh with your big healthy. You want everyone to be the same. You’re dumb. You do like anybody else. You engaged Doreen. You big cow. You average average. Cold day at school playing around at lunchtime. Running around for nothing. You never accept me. For your own. You always ask me where I’m from. You always ask me. You tell me I look strange. Different. You don’t adopt me. You laugh at the way I speak. You think you’re better than me. You don’t like me. You don’t have any interest in another country. Idiot centre of your own self. You think the rest of the world walks around without shoes or electric light. You don’t go anywhere. You stay at home. You like one another. You go crazy on Saturday night. You get drunk. You don’t like me and you don’t like women. You put your arm around men in bars. You’re rough. I can’t speak to you. You burly burly. You’re just silly to me. You big man. Poor with all your money. You ugly furniture. You ugly house. You relaxed in your summer stupor. All year. Never fully awake. Dull at school. Wait for other people to tell you what to do. Follow the leader. Can’t imagine. Workhorse. Thick legs. You go to work in the morning. You shiver on a tram.
Ania Walwicz