Empire State Building Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Empire State Building. Here they are! All 100 of them:

For several years, I had been bored. Not a whining, restless child's boredom (although I was not above that) but a dense, blanketing malaise. It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script. It's a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters. And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don't have genuine souls. It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I'm not a real person and neither is anyone else. I would have done anything to feel real again.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
And this is the east shore?" Sadie asked. "You said something about that in London--my grandparents living on the east shore." Amos smiled. "Yes. Very good, Sadie. In ancient times, the east bank of the Nile was always the side of the living, the side where the sun rises. The dead were buried west of the river. It was considered bad luck, even dangerous, to live there. The tradition is still strong among... our people." Our people?" I asked, but Sadie muscled in with another question. So you can't live in Manhattan?" she asked. Amos's brow furrowed as he looked across at the Empire State Building. "Manhattan has other problems. Other gods. It's best we stay separate.
Rick Riordan (The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, #1))
So you can't live in Manhattan?' she asked. Amos's brow furrowed as he looked across at the Empire State Building. 'Manhattan has other problems. Other gods. It's best we stay separate.
Rick Riordan
Nerd boy? Where he? (Biff) 'Okay... sad that they couldn’t even form a complete sentence. See what happens when you abuse steroids? Dudes should have read the warning label. First the penis shrinks, then the sentence structure deteriorates. Next thing you know, you’re climbing to the top of the Empire State Building, swatting at planes with your over-sized fists.' (Nick)
Sherrilyn Kenyon (Infinity (Chronicles of Nick, #1))
I thought to myself that there are surely a lot of big things in America. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are big. The Mississippi River and the Grand Canyon are big. The skies over the prairie are big. But there is nothing bigger than a man’s opinion of himself.
Amor Towles (The Lincoln Highway)
I’m not complaining about Romance Being Dead - I’ve just described a happy marriage as based on talking about plants and a canceled Ray Romano show and drinking milkshakes: not exactly rose petals and gazing into each other’s eyes at the top of the Empire State Building or whatever. I’m pretty sure my parents have gazed into each other’s eyes maybe once, and that was so my mom could put eyedrops in my dad’s eyes.
Mindy Kaling (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns))
You can see the most beautiful things from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I read somewhere that people on the street are supposed to look like ants, but that's not true. They look like little people. And the cars look like little cars. And even the buildings look little. It's like New York is a miniature replica of New York, which is nice, because you can see what it's really like, instead of how it feels when you're in the middle of it.
Jonathan Safran Foer
There's a weird fact that if you dropped a penny off the Empire State Building in New York City, you'd kill someone. I feel really bad, 'cause I dropped a nickel off it once.
Taylor Hanson
Yes, he chuckles. "Im a couple years older than her." "Mommy is thirty", Josie informed him. "She's really, really old." "Are you older than the Empire State Building?" Maddie asks with awe in her little voice and I cover my mouth so I don't laugh out loud.
Kristen Proby (Safe with Me (With Me in Seattle, #5))
You can build the Empire State Building. Train the Prussian army. Elevate the hierarchy of a totalitarian state higher than the throne of the Most High. But there are still people whose moral superiority defeats your own.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The First Circle)
i get a little romantic about the old Empire State. Just looking at it makes me want to play some Frank Sinatra tunes and sway a little. I have a crush on a building. I'd been in there several times but never to work. I always knew there were offices in there but the face never penetrated, really. You don't work in the Empire State Building. You propose in the Empire State Building. You sneak a flask up there and raise a toast to the whole city of New York.
Maureen Johnson (13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope, #1))
Jess thought for a moment. 'You know those films where people fight up the top of the Empire State Building or up a mountain or whatever? And there's always that bit when the baddie slips off and the hero tries to save him, but, like, the sleeve of this jacket tears off and goes over and you hear him all the way down. Aaaaaaaaagh. That's what I want to do.' 'You want to watch me plunge to my doom.' 'I'd like to know that I've made the effort. I want to show people the torn sleeve.
Nick Hornby (A Long Way Down)
The consolidation of the states into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it.
Robert E. Lee
...you could just tell that if Rosie couldn't romance her way to the top of the Empire State Building, she was prepared to climb it like King Kong.
Amor Towles (Rules of Civility)
I didn’t like the idea of sudden thunderstorms so close to the Empire State Building – entrance to Mount Olympus, home of Zeus, aka Big Daddy Lightning Bolt.
Rick Riordan (The Tower of Nero (The Trials of Apollo, #5))
I cannot believe her when she says I am beautiful. She cannot want me, not the way I want her. My want is an Empire State Building I monster-climb with her clutched in my fist. They make old, flickering horror movies about the way I look at her mouth.
Clementine von Radics (Mouthful of Forevers)
From the ruins, lonely and inexplicable as the sphinx, rose the Empire State Building. And just as it had been tradition of mine to climb to the Plaza roof to take leave of the beautiful city extending as far as the eyes could see, so now I went to the roof of that last and most magnificent of towers. Then I understood. Everything was explained. I had discovered the crowning error of the city. Its Pandora's box. Full of vaunting pride, the New Yorker had climbed here, and seen with dismay what he had never suspected. That the city was not the endless sucession of canyons that he had supposed, but that it had limits, fading out into the country on all sides into an expanse of green and blue. That alone was limitless. And with the awful realization that New York was a city after all and not a universe, the whole shining ediface that he had reared in his mind came crashing down. That was the gift of Alfred Smith to the citizens of New York.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (My Lost City: Personal Essays 1920-40 (Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald))
I don’t think he’ll go that far.’ Carter rose to his feet and scanned the horizon. ‘Our headquarters are in Brooklyn. And I’m guessing Manhattan is like Greek god central? A long time ago, our Uncle Amos hinted at that.’ ‘Well, yeah,’ I said. ‘Mount Olympus hovers over the Empire State Building, so –’ ‘Mount Olympus –’ Sadie blinked – ‘hovers over the … Of course it does. Why not?
Rick Riordan (The Crown of Ptolemy (Demigods & Magicians, #3))
New York is nearly a grave. The Empire State Building is its gravestone.
Walter Tevis (Mockingbird)
The little planes no longer circled the Empire State Building, but it was still a view that practically conjugated hope: I have hoped; I am hoping; I will hope.
Amor Towles (Rules of Civility)
You ever hear that old joke about the guy who jumped off the Empire State Building?" D.W. asked her. "Yeah. All the way down, you could hear him say, ‘So far, so good. So far, so good. So far, so good.’ That is George’s life story in a nutshell.
Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1))
The swim of things. I go on an airplane. I walk under the Empire State Building. I take the bus, and the subway, and am surrounded by strangers the whole time. I certainly have room in my life for caution, but I have no room in my life for paralyzing fear. There's always a risk. There always has been. But I'd rather live my life than die of negations.
David Levithan (Love Is the Higher Law)
The Empire State, a lonely dinosaur, rose sadly at midtown, highest tower, tallest mountain, longest road, King Kong's eyrie, meant to moor airships, alas.
Vincent Scully
Because of the power shortage and lack of replacement parts there was only one elevator running in the Empire State Building, and this one went only as high as the twenty-fifth floor. After that you walked.
Harry Harrison (Make Room! Make Room!)
But sometimes, I feel like something's missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. That little something extra. Excitement. A challenge. An adventure. Maybe I should bungee jump off of the empire state building or run naked in central park. Nah, that would just be plain crazy, and I'd get arrested. That wouldn't end up well. Unless there was a hot guy dressed in a uniform fingerprinting me. Then it might just be worth it.
Beth Michele (Love Love)
There are pictures of Kim and Mia from high school and one of the two of them posing on top of the Empire State Building—a jolting reminder that their relationship wasn’t truncated, they have a history of which I know nothing.
Gayle Forman (Where She Went (If I Stay, #2))
My hole is warm and full of light. Yes, full of light. I doubt if there is a brighter spot in all New York than this hole of mine, and I do not exclude Broadway. Or the Empire State Building on a photographer's dream night. But that is taking advantage of you. Those two spots are among the darkest of our whole civilization...which might sound like a hoax, or a contradiction, but that (by contradiction, I mean) is how the world moves: Not like an arrow, but a boomerang.
Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man)
The intense…annoying attraction to the boss is not so enjoyable. Not when he sets my skin on fire with only a side glance from his impenetrable, secretive, blue eyes. It takes all my strength not to scale him like the empire state building and sit on his face for a month.
V. Theia (Manhattan Target (From Manhattan #6))
We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Looking for a supernova, therefore, was a little like standing on the observation platform of the Empire State Building with a telescope and searching windows around Manhattan in the hope of finding, let us say, someone lighting a twenty-first birthday cake.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
A few moments later, the dude was deader than a dogshit-covered Chicken McNugget that’d been set on fire before getting tossed off the top of the goddamn Empire State Building.
Douglas Hackle (The Hottest Gay Man Ever Killed in a Shark Attack)
It was a funny thing, he thought, that when you live all your life in a place, you almost never do the things that tourists go there to do—like walk on the beach or go swimming in the ocean. He couldn’t remember the last time he went swimming. He wasn’t even sure he still owned a bathing suit. It was like something he had heard about New York—that half the people who live in the city never go to the top of the Empire State Building or visit the Statue of Liberty.
Peter Benchley
As the British Empire fell, the Afrikaner rose up to claim South Africa as his rightful inheritance. To maintain power in the face of the country’s rising and restless black majority, the government realized they needed a newer and more robust set of tools. They set up a formal commission to go out and study institutionalized racism all over the world. They went to Australia. They went to the Netherlands. They went to America. They saw what worked, what didn’t. Then they came back and published a report, and the government used that knowledge to build the most advanced system of racial oppression known to man. Apartheid was a police state, a system of surveillance and laws designed to keep black people under total control. A full compendium of those laws would run more than three thousand pages and weigh approximately ten pounds, but the general thrust of it should be easy enough for any American to understand. In America you had the forced removal of the native onto reservations coupled with slavery followed by segregation. Imagine all three of those things happening to the same group of people at the same time. That was apartheid.
Trevor Noah (Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood)
See what happens when you abuse steroids? Dudes should have read the warning label. First the penis shrinks, then the sentence structure deteriorates. Next thing you know, you're climbing to the top of the Empire State Building, swatting at planes with your oversized fists. Granted you'd be there with a seriously attractive blonde, so even being a monster freak had some perks.... Infinity, Chronicles of Nick
Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are big. The Mississippi River and the Grand Canyon are big. The skies over the prairie are big. But there is nothing bigger than a man’s opinion of himself.
Amor Towles (The Lincoln Highway)
I sketched North America onto my crude and now crowded map, and Hao was astounded to learn that it was not a piece of Europe, as he had always assumed.
Howard W. French (China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa)
It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative...we were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or a TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crispier, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
How did Homo sapiens manage to cross this critical threshold, eventually founding cities comprising tens of thousands of inhabitants and empires ruling hundreds of millions? The secret was probably the appearance of fiction. Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths. Any large-scale human cooperation – whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe – is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination. Churches are rooted in common religious myths. Two Catholics who have never met can nevertheless go together on crusade or pool funds to build a hospital because they both believe that God was incarnated in human flesh and allowed Himself to be crucified to redeem our sins. States are rooted in common national myths. Two Serbs who have never met might risk their lives to save one another because both believe in the existence of the Serbian nation, the Serbian homeland and the Serbian flag. Judicial systems are rooted in common legal myths. Two lawyers who have never met can nevertheless combine efforts to defend a complete stranger because they both believe in the existence of laws, justice, human rights – and the money paid out in fees.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Women can stand on the Empire State Building and scream to the heavens that they are equal to men and liberated, but until they have the same anatomy, it's a lie. It's more of a man's world today than ever. Men can eat their cake in unlimited bakeries.
Maureen Dowd (Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide)
But Empire building also bears the seeds of its own destruction. The closer a state comes to the ultimate goal of world domination and one-world government, the less reason is there to maintain its internal liberalism and do instead what all states are inclined to do anyway, i.e., to crack down and increase their exploitation of whatever productive people are still left. Consequently, with no additional tributaries available and domestic productivity stagnating or falling, the Empire’s internal policies of bread and circuses can no longer be maintained. Economic crisis hits, and an impending economic meltdown will stimulate decentralizing tendencies, separatist and secessionist movements, and lead to the break-up of Empire. We have seen this happen with Great Britain, and we are seeing it now, with the US and its Empire apparently on its last leg.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe
We can very easily see how parents in other cultures simply repeat cultural norms to their children as if those cultural norms were objective truth. Japanese parents teach their children obedience and filial piety; Catholic parents teach their children to drink the blood of their god; Muslim parents teach their children that a man who married a six-year-old girl – and consummated that marriage when she was nine – is the paragon of moral virtue; Western parents teach their children that democracy is the highest ideal; North Korean parents teach their children that the dictator who rules their lives is a sort of secular deity who loves them. The list goes on and on. Virtually every parent in the world believes that she is teaching her child the truth, when she is merely inflicting what may be politely called cultural mythologies on her child. We lie to our children, all the while telling them that lying is wrong. We command our children to think for themselves, all the while repeating the most prejudicial absurdities as if they were objective facts. We tell our children to be good, but we have no idea what goodness really is. We tell our children that conformity is wrong (“If everyone jumped off the Empire State building, would you jump too?”) but at the same time we are complete slaves to the historical inertia of prior prejudices.
Stefan Molyneux (On Truth: The Tyranny of Illusion)
In 1568 the Dutch, who were mainly Protestant, revolted against their Catholic Spanish overlord. At first the rebels seemed to play the role of Don Quixote, courageously tilting at invincible windmills. Yet within eighty years the Dutch had not only secured their independence from Spain, but had managed to replace the Spaniards and their Portuguese allies as masters of the ocean highways, build a global Dutch empire, and become the richest state in Europe. The secret of Dutch success was credit. The Dutch burghers, who had little taste for combat on land, hired mercenary armies to fight the Spanish for them. The Dutch themselves meanwhile
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
As Emmett walked out the door and climbed into his bright yellow car, I thought to myself that there are surely a lot of big things in America. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are big. The Mississippi River and the Grand Canyon are big. The skies over the praries are big. But there is nothing bigger than a man's opinion of himself.
Amor Towles (The Lincoln Highway)
The Empire State Building is a lady. She’s like the queen in chess, the most powerful piece. She’s like America.
A.D. Aliwat (In Limbo)
From the book he carefully tears out several maps, and in this light Afghanistan’s mountains and hills and restlessly branching corridors of rock appear as though the pages are crumpled up, and there is a momentary wish in him to smooth them down. Laser-guided bombs are falling onto the pages in his hands, missiles summoned from the Arabian Sea, from American warships that are as long as the Empire State Building is tall.
Nadeem Aslam (The Blind Man's Garden)
Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
I’m pretty sure I could tumble down all the stairs in the Empire State Building, naked, with a greased-up pepper grinder in each hand, and a box of candles around my neck, and still end up in the lobby with an empty rectum.
David Sedaris (Themes and Variations)
In The Enemy Within, Bobby Kennedy asserted that after the trial, Joe Louis, who was out of work and deeply in debt at the time, was immediately given a well-paying job with a record company that got a $2 million Teamsters pension fund loan. Joe Louis then married the female black lawyer from California whom he had met at the trial. When Bobby Kennedy’s right-hand and chief investigator, the future author Walter Sheridan, tried to interview Joe Louis for the McClellan Committee about the record company job, the ex-champ refused to cooperate and said about Bobby Kennedy: “Tell him to go take a jump off the Empire State Building.” Still, Bobby Kennedy expected to have the last laugh by the end of 1957. Hoffa
Charles Brandt ("I Heard You Paint Houses", Updated Edition: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa)
Many of us vote under the assumption that if only the right man/woman/party/ideology could get seated in the White House, the Court House, or the School House then the Kingdom of God would come. That is an illusion. We do not look for the church to assist in or endorse the building of a made-in-America utopia which is only a Babylon with red, white, and blue curtains. We look for a city whose builder and maker is God. To him, and only him, we must pledge our primary allegiance.
Ronnie McBrayer (The Jesus Tribe: Following Christ in the Land of the Empire)
And so it went, in industry after industry—shrewd, efficient businessmen building empires, choking out competition, maintaining high prices, keeping wages low, using government subsidies. These industries were the first beneficiaries of the “welfare state.
Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States)
I first became aware of death when my father held me up to see the view from the top of the Empire State Building. I thought that if he moved me just one foot over, I would die. But I trusted him to hold me tight. I wouldn’t fall over, and he would place me down safely.
Chrissi Sepe (Bliss, Bliss, Bliss)
Our world is so complex that we take for granted engineering processes that would dwarf any of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World; we ride railroad tracks that do not follow faithfully the curvature of the earth, for the train would jump the tracks if they were level. We pass skyscrapers whose stress and strain are figured to the millionth of an inch, yet take for granted that the Empire State Building actually sways constantly many feet. If we are religiously inclined, we take going to the church of our choice for granted; if we are non believers, we give no second thought to the fact that we do not have to attend religious services if we do not choose. Yet the very privilege of non-belief represents the victory of philosophy; otherwise the non-churchgoer would still face the lions or the stake.
Kahlil Gibran (Mirrors of the Soul)
It is a degree of slenderness way beyond the capacity of our imaginations, but you can get some idea of the proportions if you bear in mind that one atom is to the width of a millimetre line as the thickness of a sheet of paper is to the height of the Empire State Building.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
Where am I going to grow a garden in a penthouse?” “Next time I visit I’ll fix you up a spot in one of the corners. You won’t even know it’s there until its time to harvest.” “Wonderful.” But then it occurred to her. “Jenny, next time you visit?” “What? What is it?” Jennifer asked. Christine half stuttered. “You have never been to my penthouse.” “Really?” Jennifer thought back when something came to mind. “Well, what was that great big building we went to the last time we visited? You know, we went all the way to the top.” “That was the Empire State building.” “No fooling? Huh, what do you know? Well you should move in there, it was beautiful as I recall.” “You can’t move into the Empire State building.” “Oh, that’s right,” Jennifer soon realized, “those mean terrorists tore it down. My, that was just awful.
Carroll Bryant (Children of the Flower Power)
I know, in any case, that the most crucial time in my own development came when I was forced to recognize that I was a kind of a bastard of the West; when I followed the line of my past, I did not find myself in Europe but in Africa. And this meant that in some subtle way, in a really profound way, I brought to Shakespeare, Bach, Rembrandt, to the stones of Paris, to the cathedral at Chartres, and to the Empire State Building, a special attitude. These were not really my creations, they did not contain my history; I might search in them in vain forever for any reflection of myself.
James Baldwin (Notes of a Native Son)
My first trip to New York City, when I was seven, was a whirlwind of Macy's, the Empire State building, and club sandwiches at a diner. On a whim, my parents took us there for the day, and my strongest memory is a revolving doors. It seemed to me than that to enter anywhere in Manhattan, you had to step into one and spin.
Ann Hood (Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York)
My first trip to New York City, when I was seven, was a world wind of Macy's, the Empire State building, and club sandwiches at a diner. On a whim, my parents took us there for the day, and my strongest memory is a revolving doors. It seemed to me than that to enter anywhere in Manhattan, you had to step into one and spin.
Ann Hood (Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York)
But it turned out that this “unlearning” was not as complete as the scientists first thought. When they severed the neural connections between the rats’ cortex and amygdala, the rats became afraid of the sound again. This was because the fear conditioning had been suppressed by the activity of the cortex, but was still present in the amygdala. In humans with unwarranted fears, like batophobia, or fear of heights, the same thing happens. Repeated trips to the top of the Empire State Building seem to extinguish the fear, but it may come roaring back during times of stress—when the cortex has other things to do than soothe an excitable amygdala.
Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking)
Morgan then formed the U.S. Steel Corporation, combining Carnegie’s corporation with others. He sold stocks and bonds for $1,300,000,000 (about 400 million more than the combined worth of the companies) and took a fee of 150 million for arranging the consolidation. How could dividends be paid to all those stockholders and bondholders? By making sure Congress passed tariffs keeping out foreign steel; by closing off competition and maintaining the price at $28 a ton; and by working 200,000 men twelve hours a day for wages that barely kept their families alive. And so it went, in industry after industry—shrewd, efficient businessmen building empires, choking out competition, maintaining high prices, keeping wages low, using government subsidies. These industries were the first beneficiaries of the “welfare state.
Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present)
As Emmett walked out the door and climbed into his bright yellow car, I thought to myself that there are surely a lot of big things in America. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are big. The Mississippi River and the Grand Canyon are big. The skies over the prairie are big. But there is nothing bigger than a man’s opinion of himself.
Amor Towles (The Lincoln Highway)
Suicide attempts at the Empire State Building are rare, but the same unfortunately cannot be said about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the most popular such site in the United States. (The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in China is widely regarded as the world’s most popular suicide bridge, and the Golden Gate Bridge is number two.) We don’t know, officially, how many people have taken their lives there because when the number hit 997, authorities stopped counting to avoid giving anyone the incentive of being jumper number 1,000. Whatever the number is, it could have been much higher. In 1994, California Highway Patrol Sergeant Kevin Briggs was assigned to patrol the bridge. Since then, he’s managed to talk an estimated 200 people out of jumping.
Dan Lewis (Now I Know More: The Revealing Stories Behind Even More of the World's Most Interesting Facts (Now I Know Series))
For this village, even were it incomparably more remote and incredibly more primitive, is the West, the West onto which I have been so strangely grafted. These people cannot be, from the point of view of power, strangers anywhere in the world; they have made the modern world, in effect, even if they do not know it. The most illiterate among them is related, in a way that I am not, to Dante, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Aeschylus, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Racine; the cathedral at Chartres says something to them which it cannot say to me, as indeed would New York’s Empire State Building, should anyone here ever see it. Out of their hymns and dances come Beethoven and Bach. Go back a few centuries and they are in their full glory—but I am in Africa, watching the conquerors arrive.
James Baldwin (Notes of a Native Son)
Help you?” he said without looking up. I glanced at Meg, silently double-checking that we were in the right building. She nodded. “We’re here to surrender,” I told the guard. Surely this would make him look up. But no. He could not have acted less interested in us. I was reminded of the guest entrance to Mount Olympus, through the lobby of the Empire State Building. Normally, I never went that way, but I knew Zeus hired the most unimpressible, disinterested beings he could find to guard the desk as a way to discourage visitors. I wondered if Nero had intentionally done the same thing here. “I’m Apollo,” I continued. “And this is Meg. I believe we’re expected? As in…hard deadline at sunset or the city burns?” The guard took a deep breath, as if it pained him to move. Keeping one finger in his novel, he picked up a pen and slapped it on the counter next to the sign-in book. “Names. IDs.” “You need our IDs to take us prisoner?” I asked. The guard turned the page in his book and kept reading. With a sigh, I pulled out my New York State junior driver’s license. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that I’d have to show it one last time, just to complete my humiliation. I slid it across the counter. Then I signed the logbook for both of us. Name(s): Lester (Apollo) and Meg. Here to see: Nero. Business: Surrender. Time in: 7:16 p.m. Time out: Probably never. Since Meg was a minor, I didn’t expect her to have an ID, but she removed her gold scimitar rings and placed them next to my license. I stifled the urge to shout, Are you insane? But Meg gave them up as if she’d done this a million times before. The guard took the rings and examined them without comment. He held up my license and compared it to my face. His eyes were the color of decade-old ice cubes. He seemed to decide that, tragically, I looked as bad in real life as I did in my license photo. He handed it back, along with Meg’s rings. “Elevator nine to your right,” he announced. I almost thanked him. Then I thought better of it.
Rick Riordan (The Tower of Nero (The Trials of Apollo, #5))
Following this formula, John Jacob Astor, who arrived in America the classic penniless immigrant in 1792, rose to become the “landlord of New York” and the richest man in America by the time he died in 1848.
John Tauranac (The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark)
I looked up at the ivory towers above us all. Nowhere else equals the feral design of this city. Tall skyscrapers that act as gorges hollowing out between flat cement dancing into narrow alleyways like bottomless pits. Building walls rusted the color of blood. Sometimes when you look down the horizon from afar the city looks wider than it is, like a thin field of magical lights gleaming with the hopes of children and idealists; a light on at midnight in one of the penthouses or the changing hues of the Empire State Building. Most of the time though, the city is covered with a layer of honking cars and greed, sirens and the war cry of solicitors, all full of brambles and impenetrable conscience; garbage, steaming manholes, and heat waves twirling smog and pollution through your lungs like mirages as you walk breathlessly through a boiling desert.
Bruce Crown (How Dim the Promised Land)
I have something to show you." He sank down next to me and handed me a sketchbook. I opened it. And saw the mermaid. She was drawn in colored ink, exquisitely detailed; each scale had a little picture in it: a pyramid, a rocket, a peacock, a lamp. Her torso was patterened red, like a tattoo, like coral. She had a thin strand of seaweed around her neck, with a starfish holding on to the center. Her hair was a tumble of loose black curls. She had my face. I turned the page.And another and another. There she was fighting a creature that was half human, half octopus. Exploring a cave. Riding a shark. Laughing and petting a stingray that rested on her lap. "I'm calling her Cora Lia for the moment," Alex told me. "I thought about Corella, but it sounded like cheap dishware." "She's...amazing." "She's fierce. Fighting the Evil Sea-Dragon King and his minions." I traced the red tattoo on her chest. "This is beautiful." Alex reached into my sweater, pulled the loose neck of the T-shirt away from my shoulder. I didn't stop him. "It looks like coral to me." He touched me, then,the pad of his thumb tracing the outline of the scar. It felt strange, partly because of the difference in the tissue, but more because in the last few years, the only hands that had touched me there were mine. I set the book aside carefully. "Guess I don't see what you do." "That's too bad, because I see you perfectly." I curved myself into him. "Maybe you're exactly what I need." "Like there's any doubt?" He buried his face in my neck.I didn't stop him. "So." "So?" "We'll kill a few hours, watch the sunrise, have pancakes, and you'll drive home." "What?" I felt him smile against my skin. "I got you swimming with sharks. Next on the Conquer Your Fears list is driving a stick shift.Right?" "One thing at a time," I said. Then, "Oh. Do that again." In another story, the intrepid heroine would have gone running out and splashed in the surf, hypothermia be damned. She would have driven the Mustang home, booked a haircut, taken up stand-up comedy, and danced on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. But this was me, and I was moving at my own pace. Truth: My story started a hundred years ago. There's time.
Melissa Jensen (The Fine Art of Truth or Dare)
Abbot Miron had sat sewing a patch on his trousers as we talked. He raised his intense luminous eyes to Gaston and said, “Years ago I had a postcard from my brother in New York, who had been to the top of the Empire State Building. He didn’t investigate the foundations first, Pastor Gaston. The fact that it had been there forty years is proof that the foundations are good. The same with the Church, which has rested two thousand years on the truth.
Richard Wurmbrand (In God's Underground)
The structure of a jazz performance is, like that of the New York skyline, a tension of cross-purposes. In jazz at its characteristic best, each player seems to be—and has the sense of being—on his own. Each goes his own way, inventing rhythmic and melodic patterns which, superficially, seem to have as little relevance to one another as the United Nations building does to the Empire State. And yet the outcome is a dazzlingly precise creative unity.
John A. Kouwenhoven
It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Every Halloween the Empire State Building is lit orange in celebration. On that night, the night of the falling, the skyscraper’s lights blended almost seamlessly into the red-brown glow of the evening sky. The cloud cover was so low that the lights of Times Square could be seen from just about anywhere in the city; all of Manhattan was captured within its glow. And there was a feeling within it all. It was as if a higher power had been watching New York that evening, waiting, preparing for something important to happen.
Ryan Tim Morris (The Falling)
Wanting to disappear, I found myself living in New York City alone for months, in a four-story NoHo apartment that Cher used to live in. It had tall ceilings, a terrace with a view of the Empire State Building, and a working fireplace much fancier than the one that had been in the living room of our house in Kentwood. It would have been a dream apartment to use as a home base to explore the city, but I hardly ever left the place. One of the only times I did, a man behind me on an elevator said something that made me laugh; I turned around and it was Robin Williams.
Britney Spears (The Woman in Me)
It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Those same three factors applied to human beings. Like bees, our ancestors were (1) territorial creatures with a fondness for defensible nests (such as caves) who (2) gave birth to needy offspring that required enormous amounts of care, which had to be given while (3) the group was under threat from neighboring groups. For hundreds of thousands of years, therefore, conditions were in place that pulled for the evolution of ultrasociality, and as a result, we are the only ultrasocial primate. The human lineage may have started off acting very much like chimps,48 but by the time our ancestors started walking out of Africa, they had become at least a little bit like bees. And much later, when some groups began planting crops and orchards, and then building granaries, storage sheds, fenced pastures, and permanent homes, they had an even steadier food supply that had to be defended even more vigorously. Like bees, humans began building ever more elaborate nests, and in just a few thousand years, a new kind of vehicle appeared on Earth—the city-state, able to raise walls and armies.49 City-states and, later, empires spread rapidly across Eurasia, North Africa, and Mesoamerica, changing many of the Earth’s ecosystems and allowing the total tonnage of human beings to shoot up from insignificance at the start of the Holocene (around twelve thousand years ago) to world domination today.50 As the colonial insects did to the other insects, we have pushed all other mammals to the margins, to extinction, or to servitude. The analogy to bees is not shallow or loose. Despite their many differences, human civilizations and beehives are both products of major transitions in evolutionary history. They are motorboats.
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)
After a week's worth of failed fairy tales—stories that made my eyelids flutter open and not shut—my father tried telling me stories that belonged only to him. Thomas told me of an island off the coast of a different world. On this island, there stood a city whose buildings were made of glass. He told me that at the heart of this city was a forest with trees, ponds and a lake, swans and horses, and even a small castle. He told me that the streets of the city were filled with bright yellow cars that you hopped in and out of at will and that would take you wherever you wanted to go. In this city, there were sidewalks overflowing with people from the whole world over who wanted so much to be there. He told me of its neighborhoods, with names like Greenwich Village and Harlem and Chinatown. At the nucleus of these stories was my father, and spinning around him was the city of New York. Long before I would see them in photographs or in real life, my father had given me the white crown lights of the Chrysler Building and the shining needle of the Empire State.
Monique Truong (Bitter in the Mouth)
We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. I
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Conditions for statehood would be achieved when the settlers outnumbered the Indigenous population, which in the cases of both the Mexican cession area and the Louisiana Purchase territory required decimation or forced removal of Indigenous populations. In this US system, unique among colonial powers, land became the most important exchange commodity for the accumulation of capital and building of the national treasury. To understand the genocidal policy of the US government, the centrality of land sales in building the economic base of the US wealth and power must be seen. Apologists for US expansionism see the 1787 ordinance not as a reflection of colonialism, but rather as a means of “reconciling the problem of liberty with the problem of empire,” in historian Howard Lamar’s words.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (ReVisioning American History, #3))
At first the rebels seemed to play the role of Don Quixote, courageously tilting at invincible windmills. Yet within eighty years the Dutch had not only secured their independence from Spain, but had managed to replace the Spaniards and their Portuguese allies as masters of the ocean highways, build a global Dutch empire, and become the richest state in Europe. The secret of Dutch success was credit. The
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
American diplomats had been slow to understand the scope of the change being driven by Chinese migration to Africa. The phenomenon had been flagged in State Department cables as early as 2005, with diplomats identifying the budding, large-scale movement of people from China to Africa as part of a campaign to expand Beijing’s political influence and simultaneously advance China’s business interests and overall clout. These early, classified warnings also spoke of the spread, via emigration, of Chinese organized crime, particularly in smuggling and human trafficking. For the most part, however, it seemed that American diplomats were still in search of the right voice, the right message. All too often, Washington struck a paternalistic tone that came across as: Listen up children, you must be careful about these tricky Chinese.
Howard W. French (China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa)
A supernova occurs when a giant star, one much bigger than our own Sun, collapses and then spectacularly explodes, releasing in an instant the energy of a hundred billion suns, burning for a time more brightly than all the stars in its galaxy. “It’s like a trillion hydrogen bombs going off at once, supernovae are extremely rare. A star can burn for billions of years, but it dies just once and quickly, and only a few dying stars explode. Most expire quietly, like a camp fire at dawn. In a typical galaxy, consisting of a hundred billion stars, a supernova will occur on average once every two or three hundred years. Looking for a supernova, therefore, was a little like standing on the observation platform of the Empire State Building with a telescope and searching windows around Manhattan in the hope of finding, let us say, someone lighting a twenty-first birthday cake.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
And that's just the Sapiens mind. Fifty thousand years ago we shared this planet with our Neanderthal cousins. They didn't launch spaceships, build pyramids or establish empires. They obviously had very different mental abilities and lacked many of our talents. Nevertheless, they had bigger brains than us Sapiens. What exactly did they do with all those neurons? We have absolutely no idea. But they might well have had many mental states that no Sapiens has ever experienced.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
Are you chuckling yet? Because then along came you. A big, broad meat eater with brash blond hair and ruddy skin that burns at the beach. A bundle of appetites. A full, boisterous guffaw; a man who tells knock know jokes. Hot dogs - not even East 86th Street bratwurst but mealy, greasy big guts that terrifying pink. Baseball. Gimme caps. Puns and blockbuster movies, raw tap water and six-packs. A fearless, trusting consumer who only reads labels to make sure there are plenty of additives. A fan of the open road with a passion for his pickup who thinks bicycles are for nerds. Fucks hard and talks dirty; a private though unapologetic taste for porn. Mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction; a subscription to National Geographic. Barbecues on the Fourth of July and intentions, in the fullness of time, to take up golf. Delights in crappy snack foods of ever description: Burgles. Curlies. Cheesies. Squigglies - you're laughing - but I don't eat them - anything that looks less like food than packing material and at least six degrees of separation from the farm. Bruce Springsteen, the early albums, cranked up high with the truck window down and your hair flying. Sings along, off-key - how is it possible that I should be endeared by such a tin ear?Beach Boys. Elvis - never lose your roots, did you, loved plain old rock and roll. Bombast. Though not impossibly stodgy; I remember, you took a shine to Pearl Jam, which was exactly when Kevin went off them...(sorry). It just had to be noisy; you hadn't any time for my Elgar, my Leo Kottke, though you made an exception for Aaron Copeland. You wiped your eyes brusquely at Tanglewood, as if to clear gnats, hoping I didn't notice that "Quiet City" made you cry. And ordinary, obvious pleasure: the Bronx Zoo and the botanical gardens, the Coney Island roller coaster, the Staten Island ferry, the Empire State Building. You were the only New Yorker I'd ever met who'd actually taken the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. You dragged me along once, and we were the only tourists on the boat who spoke English. Representational art - Edward Hopper. And my lord, Franklin, a Republican. A belief in a strong defense but otherwise small government and low taxes. Physically, too, you were such a surprise - yourself a strong defense. There were times you were worried that I thought you too heavy, I made so much of your size, though you weighed in a t a pretty standard 165, 170, always battling those five pounds' worth of cheddar widgets that would settle over your belt. But to me you were enormous. So sturdy and solid, so wide, so thick, none of that delicate wristy business of my imaginings. Built like an oak tree, against which I could pitch my pillow and read; mornings, I could curl into the crook of your branches. How luck we are, when we've spared what we think we want! How weary I might have grown of all those silly pots and fussy diets, and how I detest the whine of sitar music!
Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. (…) I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. (…) If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script. It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless automat of characters. And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls. It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I’m not a real person and neither is anyone else.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Past successes may be inspirational and encouraging, but they are not by themselves reliable indicators of or guides to future success. The most efficacious changes in any system are informed not by successes but by failures. The surest way for the designer of any system to achieve success is to recognize and correct the flaws of predecessor systems, whether they be in building codes or in banking policies or in bridges.25 The history of civilization itself has been one of rises and falls, of successes and failures. Some of these have been of empires, dynasties, families; others have been of nations, states, and cities. Common to all of them has been the human element, embodied in the ruler and the ruled alike. Given that the ultimate unit of civilization is the individual, we need look no further than within ourselves to gain insight into the world and its ways, including the failure of its institutions and its systems. And, just as those institutions and systems are made up of individual people and things, so ultimately must we look to ourselves and to how we interact with the world, both given and made, whenever something goes wrong.
Henry Petroski (To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure)
Some of these Marines learned what they know on Guadalcanal, a basically useless island in the Southwest Pacific where the Empire of Nippon and the United States of America are disputing—with rifles—each other’s right to build a military airbase. Early returns suggest that the Nipponese Army, during its extended tour of East Asia, has lost its edge. It would appear that raping the entire female population of Nanjing, and bayoneting helpless Filipino villagers, does not translate into actual military competence. The Nipponese Army is still trying to work out some way to kill, say, a hundred American Marines without losing, say, five hundred of its own soldiers.
Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon)
There are thousands in every country boasting of a popular representation who do not even faintly agree with any of the existing political parties. These people are to all practical purposes deprived of any participation in government. Whereas almost everybody was excluded in the times of absolute monarchies from having a share in the government, the Parliamentarian Monarchies and Republics invited eagerly everybody to take a hand in the shaping of the political destiny of his country. Yet the effort contributed by the individual in America or in prewar France will only be, respectively, one seventy millionth or one twelve millionth of the sum total of the popular “decision.” If one would compare the total of all possible votes in the United States with the height of the Empire State building in New York, the individual vote would be in proportion roughly 5 μ, i.e., the five-thousandth part of an inch; thus the importance of the individual is practically nil. He is only important as an atom in a mass. And Modern Constitutionalism prided itself that it attaches importance to the individual who in his turn embraced Parliamentarianism to be important. This farce becomes more apparent when we remember with what pitying contempt the citizens of “great democracies” looked down at the “subjects” of European monarchies as mere chattel, forgetful of their submicroscopic importance in their own political system.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (Menace of the Herd or Procrustes at Large)
The United States must play a counterrevolutionary containment role in order to protect our national interests?' This is true only if we equate "our national interests" with the investment interests of high finance. U.S. interventionism has been very effective in building neo-imperialism, keeping the land, labor, natural resources, and markets of Third World countries available at bargain prices to multinational corporations. But these corporate interests do not represent the interests of the U.S. people. The public pays for the huge military budgets and endures the export of its jobs to foreign labor markets, the inflow of thousands of impoverished immigrants who compete for scarce employment and housing, and various other costs of empire.
Michael Parenti (Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism)
We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing is, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script. It's a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless automat of characters. And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don't have genuine souls. It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I'm not a real person and neither is anyone else.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Apart from a few explanations that are not the subject of this essay, the strange and terrifying growth of the modern State can be considered as the logical conclusion of inordinate technical and philosophical ambitions, foreign to the true spirit of rebellion, but which nevertheless gave birth to the revolutionary spirit of our time. The prophetic dream of Marx and the over-inspired predictions of Hegel or of Nietzsche ended by conjuring up, after the city of God had been razed to the ground, a rational or irrational State, which in both cases, however, was founded on terror. In actual fact, the Fascist revolutions of the twentieth century do not merit the title of revolution. They lacked the ambition of universality. Mussolini and Hitler, of course, tried to build an empire, and the National Socialist ideologists were bent, explicitly, on world domination. But the difference between them and the classic revolutionary movement is that, of the nihilist inheritance, they chose to deify the irrational, and the irrational alone, instead of deifying reason. In this way they renounced their claim to universality. And yet Mussolini makes use of Hegel, and Hitler of Nietzsche; and both illustrate, historically, some of the prophecies of German ideology. In this respect they belong to the history of rebellion and of nihilism. They were the first to construct a State on the concept that everything is meaningless and that history is only written in terms of the hazards of force. The consequences were not long in appearing.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
One can hardly fault China for seizing on a great bargain, but for Zambia, the auctioning off of its most lucrative economic resources at fire-sale prices constituted another big stroke of bad national luck. Copper prices were still depressed and the government’s state of near bankruptcy at the time meant that Zambia had little negotiating power. Edith Nawakwi, who was the Zambian finance minister at the time of the sale, said that the country was pressured by its more traditional partners to accept this pittance. “We were told by advisers, who included the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, that … for the next twenty years, Zambian copper would not make a profit. [Conversely, if we privatized] we would be able to access debt relief, and this was a huge carrot in front of us—like waving medicine in front of a dying woman. We had no option [but to go ahead].” The
Howard W. French (China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa)
Éramos la primera generación de seres humanos que jamás podría ver nada por primera vez. Contemplamos las maravillas del mundo con ojos mortecinos, de vuelta de todo. Mona Lisa, las pirámides, el Empire State Building. El ataque de un animal selvático, el colapso de antiquísimos glaciares, las erupciones volcánicas. No consigo recordar ni una sola cosa asombrosa que haya visto en persona que no me recordase de inmediato a una película o a un programa de televisión. A un puto anuncio. ¿Conocen el espantoso sonsonete del indiferente?: Ya lo he viiistooo. Bien, pues yo lo he visto literalmente todo. Y lo peor, lo que de verdad provoca que me entren ganas de saltarme la tapa de los sesos, es que la experiencia de segunda mano siempre es mejor. La imagen es más nítida, la visión más intensa, el ángulo de la cámara y la banda sonora manipulan mis emociones de un modo que ha dejado de estar al alcance de la realidad. No estoy seguro de que, llegados a este punto, sigamos siendo realmente humanos, al menos aquellos de nosotros que somos como la mayoría de nosotros: los que crecimos con la televisión y el cine y ahora internet. Si alguien nos traiciona, sabemos qué palabras decir; cuando muere un ser amado, sabemos qué palabras decir; si queremos hacernos el machote o el listillo o el loco, sabemos qué palabras decir. Todos seguimos el mismo guión manoseado. Es una era muy difícil en la que ser persona. Simplemente una persona real, auténtica, en vez de una colección de rasgos seleccionados a partir de una interminable galería de personajes. Y si todos interpretamos un papel, es imposible que exista nada semejante a un compañero del alma, porque lo que tenemos no son almas de verdad. Había llegado hasta tal extremo que ya nada parecía tener importancia, porque yo no era una persona real y tampoco nadie más lo era. Habría hecho cualquier cosa por volver a sentirme real.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
In the empires of the Middle East, China, India, and Europe, which are economically dependent on agriculture, a small elite, comprising not more than 2 percent of the population, which the help of a small band of retainers, systematically robbed the masses of the produce they had grown in order to support their aristocratic lifestyle. Yet, social historians argue, without this iniquitous arrangement, human beings would probably never have the leisure to develop the civilized arts and sciences that made progress possible. All premodern civilizations adopted this oppressive implications for religion, which permeated all human activities, including state building and government. Indeed, we shall see that premodern politics was inseparable from religion. And if a ruling elite adopted an ethical tradition, such as Buddishm, Christianity, or Islam, the aristocratic clergy usually adapted their ideology so that it could support the structural violence of the state.
Karen Armstrong (Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence)
Netanyahu then explained to me why the stakes were so high. The Iranian leaders, he said, “want to concentrate on completing their nuclear program because once they have that, then they could threaten the West in ways that are unimaginable today. They could take over the Persian Gulf on all its sides and take control of the oil reserves of the world. They could topple Saudi Arabia and Jordan in short order and, of course, Iraq. All your internal debates in America on [the future of] Iraq would be irrelevant because nuclear-armed Iran would subordinate Iraq in two seconds. Then they would threaten to create a second Holocaust in Israel and proceed on their idea of building a global empire, producing twenty-five atomic bombs a year—250 bombs in a decade—with missiles that they are already working on [and that they want to develop] to reach the eastern seaboard of the United States. Everything else pales in comparison to this development. This has to be stopped, for the sake of the world, not only for the sake of Israel.
Joel C. Rosenberg (Israel at War : Inside the Nuclear Showdown with Iran)
This pageantry involved the British not merely exalting the principle of hierarchy in ensuring reverence for their own queen, but extending it to India, honouring ‘native princes’, ennobling others and promoting the invention of ersatz aristocratic tradition so as to legitimize their rule. Thus the British created a court culture that the princes had to follow, and a hierarchy that sought to show the Crown as successors of the Mughal emperor. The elaborately-graded gun salutes, from nine guns to nineteen (and in only five cases, twenty-one)6, depending on the importance, and cooperativeness, of the ruler in question; the regulation of who was and was not a ‘Highness’, and of what kind (the Nizam of Hyderabad went from being His Highness to His Exalted Highness during World War I, mainly because of his vast donation of money to the war effort); the careful lexicon whereby the ‘native chiefs’ (not ‘kings’), came from ‘ruling’, not ‘royal’, families, and their territories were ‘princely states’ not ‘kingdoms’—all these were part of an elaborate system of monarchical illusion-building.
Shashi Tharoor (Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India)
The book received a wider review in the business press than in academic journals. A few weeks after the U.S. publication I was invited to address the annual meeting of Drexel-Burnham to outline how the new Treasury bill standard of world finance had replaced the gold exchange standard. Herman Kahn was the meeting’s other invited speaker. When I had finished, he got up and said, “You’ve shown how the United States has run rings around Britain and every other empire-building nation in history. We’ve pulled off the greatest rip-off ever achieved.” He hired me on the spot to join him as the Hudson Institute’s economist. I was happy enough to leave my professorship in international economics at the New School for Social Research. My professional background had been on Wall Street as balance-of-payments economist for the Chase Manhattan Bank and Arthur Andersen. My research along these lines was too political to fit comfortably into the academic economics curriculum, but at the Hudson Institute I set to work tracing how America was turning its payments deficit into an unprecedented element of strength rather than weakness.
Michael Hudson (Super Imperialism: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance)
He had been a timid child in New York City, cut off from schoolboy society by illness, wealth, and private tutors. Inspired by a leonine father, he had labored with weights to build up his strength. Simultaneously, he had built up his courage “by sheer dint of practicing fearlessness.” With every ounce of new muscle, with every point scored over pugilistic, romantic, and political rivals, his personal impetus (likened by many observers to that of a steam train) had accelerated. Experiences had flashed by him in such number that he was obviously destined to travel a larger landscape of life than were his fellows. He had been a published author at eighteen, a husband at twenty-two, an acclaimed historian and New York State Assemblyman at twenty-three, a father and a widower at twenty-five, a ranchman at twenty-six, a candidate for Mayor of New York at twenty-seven, a husband again at twenty-eight, a Civil Service Commissioner of the United States at thirty. By then he was producing book after book, and child after child, and cultivating every scientist, politician, artist, and intellectual of repute in Washington. His career had gathered further speed: Police Commissioner of New York City at thirty-six, Assistant Secretary of the Navy at thirty-eight, Colonel of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, the “Rough Riders,” at thirty-nine. At last, in Cuba, had come the consummating “crowded hour.” A rush, a roar, the sting of his own blood, a surge toward the sky, a smoking pistol in his hand, a soldier in light blue doubling up “neatly as a jackrabbit” … When the smoke cleared, he had found himself atop Kettle Hill on the Heights of San Juan, with a vanquished empire at his feet.
Edmund Morris (Theodore Rex)
Sociological research has shown that the maximum 'natural' size of a group bonded by gossip is about 150 individuals. Most people can neither intimately know, nor gossip effectively about, more than 150 human beings...How did Homo sapiens manage to cross this critical threshold, eventually founding cities comprising tens of thousands of inhabitants and empires ruling hundreds of millions? The secret was probably the appearance of fiction. Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths. Any large-scale human cooperation – whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe – is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination. Churches are rooted in common religious myths. Two Catholics who have never met can nevertheless go together on crusade or pool funds to build a hospital because they both believe that God was incarnated in human flesh and allowed Himself to be crucified to redeem our sins. States are rooted in common national myths. Two Serbs who have never met might risk their lives to save one another because both believe in the existence of the Serbian nation, the Serbian homeland and the Serbian flag. Judicial systems are rooted in common legal myths. Two lawyers who have never met can nevertheless combine efforts to defend a complete stranger because they both believe in the existence of laws, justice, human rights – and the money paid out in fees. Yet none of these things exists outside the stories that people invent and tell one another. There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, and no justice outside the common imagination of human beings.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
This is an empirical claim: Look closely enough at your own mind in the present moment, and you will discover that the self is an illusion. The problem with a claim of this kind, however, is that one can’t borrow another person’s contemplative tools to test it. To see how the feeling of “I” is a product of thought—indeed, to even appreciate how distracted by thought you tend to be in the first place—you have to build your own contemplative tools. Unfortunately, this leads many people to dismiss the project out of hand: They look inside, notice nothing of interest, and conclude that introspection is a dead end. But just imagine where astronomy would be if, centuries after Galileo, a person were still obliged to build his own telescope before he could even judge whether astronomy was a legitimate field of inquiry. It wouldn’t make the sky any less worthy of investigation, but astronomy’s development as a science would become immensely more difficult. A few pharmacological shortcuts exist—and I discuss some of them in a later chapter—but generally speaking, we must build our own telescopes to judge the empirical claims of contemplatives. Judging their metaphysical claims is another matter; many of them can be dismissed as bad science or bad philosophy after merely thinking about them. But to determine whether certain experiences are possible—and if possible, desirable—and to see how these states of mind relate to the conventional sense of self, we have to be able to use our attention in the requisite ways. Primarily, that means learning to recognize thoughts as thoughts—as transient appearances in consciousness—and to no longer be distracted by them, if only for short periods of time. This may sound simple enough, but actually accomplishing it can take a lot of work. Unfortunately, it is not work that the Western intellectual tradition knows much about. LOST
Sam Harris (Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion)
And by the end of March one of them had already begun his journey. Twenty-two years old, an A.B. and LL.B. of Harvard, Francis Parkman was back from a winter trip to scenes in Pennsylvania and Ohio that would figure in his book and now he started with his cousin, Quincy Adams Shaw, for St. Louis. He was prepared to find it quite as alien to Beacon Hill as the Dakota lands beyond it, whither he was going. He was already an author (a poet and romancer), had already designed the great edifice his books were to build, and already suffered from the mysterious, composite illness that was to make his life a long torture. He hoped, in fact, that a summer on the prairies might relieve or even cure the malady that had impaired his eyes and, he feared, his heart and brain as well. He had done his best to cure it by systematic exercise, hard living in the White Mountains, and a regimen self-imposed in the code of his Puritan ancestors which would excuse no weakness. But more specifically Parkman was going west to study the Indians. He intended to write the history of the conflict between imperial Britain and imperial France, which was in great part a story of Indians. The Conspiracy of Pontiac had already taken shape in his mind; beyond it stretched out the aisles and transepts of what remains the most considerable achievement by an American historian. So he needed to see some uncorrupted Indians in their native state. It was Parkman’s fortune to witness and take part in one of the greatest national experiences, at the moment and site of its occurrence. It is our misfortune that he did not understand the smallest part of it. No other historian, not even Xenophon, has ever had so magnificent an opportunity: Parkman did not even know that it was there, and if his trip to the prairies produced one of the exuberant masterpieces of American literature, it ought instead to have produced a key work of American history. But the other half of his inheritance forbade. It was the Puritan virtues that held him to the ideal of labor and achievement and kept him faithful to his goal in spite of suffering all but unparalleled in literary history. And likewise it was the narrowness, prejudice, and mere snobbery of the Brahmins that insulated him from the coarse, crude folk who were the movement he traveled with, turned him shuddering away from them to rejoice in the ineffabilities of Beacon Hill, and denied our culture a study of the American empire at the moment of its birth. Much may rightly be regretted, therefore. But set it down also that, though the Brahmin was indifferent to Manifest Destiny, the Puritan took with him a quiet valor which has not been outmatched among literary folk or in the history of the West.
Bernard DeVoto (The Year of Decision 1846)
There is a discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and starvation. Governments repress their people; and millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich; and wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere. "These are differing evils, but they are common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility toward the sufferings of our fellows. "But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can. "Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men. And surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again. "Our answer is to rely on youth - not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. They cannot be moved by those who cling to a present that is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger that come with even the most peaceful progress. It is a revolutionary world we live in; and this generation at home and around the world, has had thrust upon it a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived. "Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the thirty-two-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. "These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. "Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.
RFK
I am speaking of the evenings when the sun sets early, of the fathers under the streetlamps in the back streets returning home carrying plastic bags. Of the old Bosphorus ferries moored to deserted stations in the middle of winter, where sleepy sailors scrub the decks, pail in hand and one eye on the black-and-white television in the distance; of the old booksellers who lurch from one ϧnancial crisis to the next and then wait shivering all day for a customer to appear; of the barbers who complain that men don’t shave as much after an economic crisis; of the children who play ball between the cars on cobblestoned streets; of the covered women who stand at remote bus stops clutching plastic shopping bags and speak to no one as they wait for the bus that never arrives; of the empty boathouses of the old Bosphorus villas; of the teahouses packed to the rafters with unemployed men; of the patient pimps striding up and down the city’s greatest square on summer evenings in search of one last drunken tourist; of the broken seesaws in empty parks; of ship horns booming through the fog; of the wooden buildings whose every board creaked even when they were pashas’ mansions, all the more now that they have become municipal headquarters; of the women peeking through their curtains as they wait for husbands who never manage to come home in the evening; of the old men selling thin religious treatises, prayer beads, and pilgrimage oils in the courtyards of mosques; of the tens of thousands of identical apartment house entrances, their facades discolored by dirt, rust, soot, and dust; of the crowds rushing to catch ferries on winter evenings; of the city walls, ruins since the end of the Byzantine Empire; of the markets that empty in the evenings; of the dervish lodges, the tekkes, that have crumbled; of the seagulls perched on rusty barges caked with moss and mussels, unϩinching under the pelting rain; of the tiny ribbons of smoke rising from the single chimney of a hundred-yearold mansion on the coldest day of the year; of the crowds of men ϧshing from the sides of the Galata Bridge; of the cold reading rooms of libraries; of the street photographers; of the smell of exhaled breath in the movie theaters, once glittering aϱairs with gilded ceilings, now porn cinemas frequented by shamefaced men; of the avenues where you never see a woman alone after sunset; of the crowds gathering around the doors of the state-controlled brothels on one of those hot blustery days when the wind is coming from the south; of the young girls who queue at the doors of establishments selling cut-rate meat; of the holy messages spelled out in lights between the minarets of mosques on holidays that are missing letters where the bulbs have burned out; of the walls covered with frayed and blackened posters; of the tired old dolmuşes, ϧfties Chevrolets that would be museum pieces in any western city but serve here as shared taxis, huϫng and puϫng up the city’s narrow alleys and dirty thoroughfares; of the buses packed with passengers; of the mosques whose lead plates and rain gutters are forever being stolen; of the city cemeteries, which seem like gateways to a second world, and of their cypress trees; of the dim lights that you see of an evening on the boats crossing from Kadıköy to Karaköy; of the little children in the streets who try to sell the same packet of tissues to every passerby; of the clock towers no one ever notices; of the history books in which children read about the victories of the Ottoman Empire and of the beatings these same children receive at home; of the days when everyone has to stay home so the electoral roll can be compiled or the census can be taken; of the days when a sudden curfew is announced to facilitate the search for terrorists and everyone sits at home fearfully awaiting “the oϫcials”; CONTINUED IN SECOND PART OF THE QUOTE
Orhan Pamuk (Istanbul: Memories and the City)