Everyone Is Out For Themselves Quotes

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It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1))
Here's what's not beautiful about it: from here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You can see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those culs-de-sac, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.
John Green (Paper Towns)
There comes a time when we realize that our parents cannot save themselves or save us, that everyone who wades through time eventually gets dragged out to sea by the undertow- that, in short, we are all going.
John Green (Looking for Alaska)
Everyone goes through a period of Traviamento - when we take, say, a different turn in life, the other via. Dante himself did. Some recover, some pretend to recover, some never come back, some chicken out before even starting, and some, for fear of taking any turns, find themselves leading the wrong life all life long.
André Aciman (Call Me by Your Name)
Kenji snorts.“That’s because you’re not fragile,” Kenji says. “If anything, everyone needs to protect themselves from you. You’re like a freaking beast,” he says. Then adds, “I mean, you know—like, a cute beast. A little beast that tears shit up and breaks the earth and sucks the life out of people.
Tahereh Mafi (Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3))
We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so...
Michael Cunningham (The Hours)
who knows if the moon's a balloon,coming out of a keen city in the sky--filled with pretty people? ( and if you and I should get into it,if they should take me and take you into their balloon, why then we'd go up higher with all the pretty people than houses and steeples and clouds: go sailing away and away sailing into a keen city which nobody's ever visited,where always it's Spring)and everyone's in love and flowers pick themselves
E.E. Cummings (Collected Poems)
Nobody deserves anything,” Evelyn says. “It's simply a matter of who's willing to go and take it for themselves. And you, Monique, are a person who has proven to be willing to go out there and take what you want. So be honest about that. No one is just a victim or a victor. Everyone is somewhere in between. People who go around casting themselves as one or the other are not only kidding themselves, but they're also painfully unoriginal.
Taylor Jenkins Reid (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo)
The moon will never lie to anyone. Be like the moon. No one hates the moon or wants to kill it. The moon does not take antidepressants and never gets sent to prison. The moon never shot a guy in the face and ran away. The moon has been around a long time and has never tried to rip anyone off. The moon does not care who you want to touch or what color you are. The moon treats everyone the same. The moon never tries to get in on the guest list or use your name to impress others. Be like the moon. When others insult or belittle in an attempt to elevate themselves, the moon sits passively and watches, never lowering itself to anything that weak. The moon is beautiful and bright. It needs no makeup to look beautiful. The moon never shoves clouds out of its way so it can be seen. The moon needs not fame or money to be powerful. The moon never asks you to go to war to defend it. Be like the moon.
Henry Rollins (Solipsist)
I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written that the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!
Charlie Chaplin
Everyone is trying to impress everyone else. Trying to make themselves out to be smarter or more confident than they actually are.
Marissa Meyer (Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3))
Chronicler shook his head and Bast gave a frustrated sigh. "How about plays? Have you seen The Ghost and the Goosegirl or The Ha'penny King?" Chronicler frowned. "Is that the one where the king sells his crown to an orphan boy?" Bast nodded. "And the boy becomes a better king than the original. The goosegirl dresses like a countess and everyone is stunned by her grace and charm." He hesitated, struggling to find the words he wanted. "You see, there's a fundamental connection between seeming and being. Every Fae child knows this, but you mortals never seem to see. We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be." Chronicler relaxed a bit, sensing familiar ground. "That's basic psychology. You dress a beggar in fine clothes, people treat him like a noble, and he lives up to their expectations." "That's only the smallest piece of it," Bast said. "The truth is deeper than that. It's..." Bast floundered for a moment. "It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story." Frowning, Chronicler opened his mouth, but Bast held up a hand to stop him. "No, listen. I've got it now. You meet a girl: shy, unassuming. If you tell her she's beautiful, she'll think you're sweet, but she won't believe you. She knows that beauty lies in your beholding." Bast gave a grudging shrug. "And sometimes that's enough." His eyes brightened. "But there's a better way. You show her she is beautiful. You make mirrors of your eyes, prayers of your hands against her body. It is hard, very hard, but when she truly believes you..." Bast gestured excitedly. "Suddenly the story she tells herself in her own head changes. She transforms. She isn't seen as beautiful. She is beautiful, seen." "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Chronicler snapped. "You're just spouting nonsense now." "I'm spouting too much sense for you to understand," Bast said testily. "But you're close enough to see my point.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1))
Distributed responsibility is the problem. One person gives the order, another carries it out. One can say they didn’t pull the trigger, the other that they were just doing what they were told, and everyone lets themselves off the hook.
James S.A. Corey (Tiamat's Wrath (The Expanse, #8))
Right now I feel guilty to be alive. Why? Because I’m wasting it. I’ve been given this life and all I do is mope it away. What’s worse is, I am totally aware of how ridiculous I am. It would be a lot easier if I believed I was the center of the universe, because then I wouldn’t know any better NOT to make a big deal out of everything. I know how small my problems are, yet that doesn’t stop me from obsessing about them. I have to stop doing this. How do other people get happy? I look at people laughing and smiling and enjoying themselves and try to get inside their heads. How do Bridget, Manda, and Sara do it? Or Pepe? Or EVERYONE but me? Why does everything I see bother me? Why can’t I just get over these daily wrongdoings? Why can’t I just move on and make the best of what I’ve got? I wish I knew.
Megan McCafferty (Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling, #1))
We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep - it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.
Michael Cunningham (The Hours)
Well, I'll take these pages and move on. Things are happening elsewhere. Things are always happening. It seems wherever I go there is drama. People are like lice - they get under your skin and bury themselves there. You scratch and scratch until the blood comes, but you can't get permanently deloused. Everywhere I go people are making a mess of their lives. Everyone has his private tragedy. It's in the blood now - misfortune, ennui, grief, suicide. The atmosphere is saturated with disaster, frustration, futility. Scratch and scratch, until there's no skin left. However, the effect upon me is exhilarating. Instead of being discouraged or depressed, I enjoy it. I am crying for more and more disasters, for bigger calamities, grander failures. I want the whole world to be out of whack, I want every one to scratch himself to death.
Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer (Tropic, #1))
Most people, the minute they meet you, were sizing you up for some competition for resources. It was as if everyone lived in fear of a shipwreck, where only so many people would fit on the lifeboat, and they were constantly trying to stake out their property and identify dispensable people – people they could get rid of.... Everyone is trying to reassure themselves: I'm not going to get kicked off the boat, they are. They're always separating people into two groups, allies and dispensable people... The number of people who want to understand what you're like instead of trying to figure out whether you get to stay on the boat - it's really limited.
Elif Batuman (The Idiot)
There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief - WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us. For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea - we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation. Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order. Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to. You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills. Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left. Trust is maintained when values and beliefs are actively managed. If companies do not actively work to keep clarity, discipline and consistency in balance, then trust starts to break down. All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.
Simon Sinek (Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action)
A philosopher thinks out loud to make things better for everyone else. Fanatics make themselves louder because they think they are better than everyone else.
Corey Taylor (Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good)
Keefe leaned his head against her shoulder and Sophie counted his breaths, considering what a strange thing grief turned out to be. Grady and Edaline closed themselves off. Fitz pushed everyone away. She couldn't figure out how Keefe was handling it all yet. But she was glad he wanted her to stay.
Shannon Messenger (Neverseen (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #4))
Yes, movies! Look at them — All of those glamorous people — having adventures — hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up! You know what happens? People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them! Yes, until there's a war. That's when adventure becomes available to the masses! Everyone's dish, not only Gable's! Then the people in the dark room come out of the dark room to have some adventures themselves — Goody, goody! — It's our turn now, to go to the south Sea Island — to make a safari — to be exotic, far-off! — But I'm not patient. I don't want to wait till then. I'm tired of the movies and I am about to move!
Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie)
The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds - the cemeteries - and they're a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here. Going by, you try to be as quiet as possible, better to let them sleep. Greek, Roman, sepulchres- palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay - ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who've died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn't pass away so quickly here. You could be dead for a long time. The ghosts race towards the light, you can almost hear the heavy breathing spirits, all determined to get somewhere. New Orleans, unlike a lot of those places you go back to and that don't have the magic anymore, still has got it. Night can swallow you up, yet none of it touches you. Around any corner, there's a promise of something daring and ideal and things are just getting going. There's something obscenely joyful behind every door, either that or somebody crying with their head in their hands. A lazy rhythm looms in the dreamy air and the atmosphere pulsates with bygone duels, past-life romance, comrades requesting comrades to aid them in some way. You can't see it, but you know it's here. Somebody is always sinking. Everyone seems to be from some very old Southern families. Either that or a foreigner. I like the way it is. There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. There's a thousand different angles at any moment. At any time you could run into a ritual honoring some vaguely known queen. Bluebloods, titled persons like crazy drunks, lean weakly against the walls and drag themselves through the gutter. Even they seem to have insights you might want to listen to. No action seems inappropriate here. The city is one very long poem. Gardens full of pansies, pink petunias, opiates. Flower-bedecked shrines, white myrtles, bougainvillea and purple oleander stimulate your senses, make you feel cool and clear inside. Everything in New Orleans is a good idea. Bijou temple-type cottages and lyric cathedrals side by side. Houses and mansions, structures of wild grace. Italianate, Gothic, Romanesque, Greek Revival standing in a long line in the rain. Roman Catholic art. Sweeping front porches, turrets, cast-iron balconies, colonnades- 30-foot columns, gloriously beautiful- double pitched roofs, all the architecture of the whole wide world and it doesn't move. All that and a town square where public executions took place. In New Orleans you could almost see other dimensions. There's only one day at a time here, then it's tonight and then tomorrow will be today again. Chronic melancholia hanging from the trees. You never get tired of it. After a while you start to feel like a ghost from one of the tombs, like you're in a wax museum below crimson clouds. Spirit empire. Wealthy empire. One of Napoleon's generals, Lallemaud, was said to have come here to check it out, looking for a place for his commander to seek refuge after Waterloo. He scouted around and left, said that here the devil is damned, just like everybody else, only worse. The devil comes here and sighs. New Orleans. Exquisite, old-fashioned. A great place to live vicariously. Nothing makes any difference and you never feel hurt, a great place to really hit on things. Somebody puts something in front of you here and you might as well drink it. Great place to be intimate or do nothing. A place to come and hope you'll get smart - to feed pigeons looking for handouts
Bob Dylan (Chronicles: Volume One)
Everyone found a justification for themselves, an explanation. I experimented on myself. And basically I found out that the frightening things in life happen quietly and naturally. Zoya
Svetlana Alexievich (Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster)
I mean it. I can't go alone. And I really can't go with Levana." "Well, there are about 200,000 single girls in this city who would fall over themselves to have the privilege." A hush passed between them... "Cinder." She couldn't help it. She looked at him... "200,000 single girls," he said. "Why not you?" Cyborg. Lunar. Mechanic. She was the last thing he wanted. She opened her lips, and the elevator stopped. "I'm sorry. But trust me---you don't want to go with me." The doors opened and the tension released her. She rushed out of the elevator, head down, trying to look at the small group of people waiting for the elevator. "Come to the ball with me." She froze. Everyone in the hallway froze. Cinder turned back. Kai was still standing in elevator B one hand propping open the door. Her nerves frazzled, and all the emotions of the past hour were converging into a single sickening feeling---exasperation. The hall was filled with doctors, nurses, androids, officials, technicians, and they all fell into an awkward hush and stared at the prince and the girl in the baggy cargo pants he was flirting with. Flirting. Squaring her shoulders, she retreated back into the elevator and pushed him inside, not even caring that it was her metal hand. "Hold the elevator," he said to the android as the doors shut behind him. He smiled. "That got your attention.
Marissa Meyer
We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds & expectations, to burst open & give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so.
Michael Cunningham (The Hours)
People don’t keep journals for themselves. They keep them for other people, like a secret they don’t want to tell but they want everyone to know.
Marilyn Manson (The Long Hard Road Out of Hell)
Maybe I should have come alone. You could go wait by the boat.” He stiffened. “Absolutely not. You have no idea what might be waiting for you. The Shu may have already gotten to your friends.” Nina did not want to think about that. “Then you need to calm down and try to look friendly.” Matthias shook out his arms and relaxed his features. “Friendly, not sleepy. Just … pretend everyone you meet is a kitten you’re trying not to scare.” Matthias looked positively affronted. “Animals love me.” “Fine. Pretend they’re toddlers. Shy toddlers who will wet themselves if you’re not nice.” “Very well, I’ll try.
Leigh Bardugo (Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2))
You don't notice the dead leaving when they really choose to leave you. You're not meant to. At most you feel them as a whisper or the wave of a whisper undulating down. I would compare it to a woman in the back of a lecture hall or theater whom no one notices until she slips out.Then only those near the door themselves, like Grandma Lynn, notice; to the rest it is like an unexplained breeze in a closed room. Grandma Lynn died several years later, but I have yet to see her here. I imagine her tying it on in her heaven, drinking mint juleps with Tennessee Williams and Dean Martin. She'll be here in her own sweet time, I'm sure. If I'm to be honest with you, I still sneak away to watch my family sometimes. I can't help it, and sometimes they still think of me. They can't help it.... It was a suprise to everyone when Lindsey found out she was pregnant...My father dreamed that one day he might teach another child to love ships in bottles. He knew there would be both sadness and joy in it; that it would always hold an echo of me. I would like to tell you that it is beautiful here, that I am, and you will one day be, forever safe. But this heaven is not about safety just as, in its graciousness, it isn't about gritty reality. We have fun. We do things that leave humans stumped and grateful, like Buckley's garden coming up one year, all of its crazy jumble of plants blooming all at once. I did that for my mother who, having stayed, found herself facing the yard again. Marvel was what she did at all the flowers and herbs and budding weeds. Marveling was what she mostly did after she came back- at the twists life took. And my parents gave my leftover possessions to the Goodwill, along with Grandma Lynn's things. They kept sharing when they felt me. Being together, thinking and talking about the dead, became a perfectly normal part of their life. And I listened to my brother, Buckley, as he beat the drums. Ray became Dr. Singh... And he had more and more moments that he chose not to disbelieve. Even if surrounding him were the serious surgeons and scientists who ruled over a world of black and white, he maintained this possibility: that the ushering strangers that sometimes appeared to the dying were not the results of strokes, that he had called Ruth by my name, and that he had, indeed, made love to me. If he ever doubted, he called Ruth. Ruth, who graduated from a closet to a closet-sized studio on the Lower East Side. Ruth, who was still trying to find a way to write down whom she saw and what she had experienced. Ruth, who wanted everyone to believe what she knew: that the dead truly talk to us, that in the air between the living, spirits bob and weave and laugh with us. They are the oxygen we breathe. Now I am in the place I call this wide wide Heaven because it includes all my simplest desires but also the most humble and grand. The word my grandfather uses is comfort. So there are cakes and pillows and colors galore, but underneath this more obvious patchwork quilt are places like a quiet room where you can go and hold someone's hand and not have to say anything. Give no story. Make no claim. Where you can live at the edge of your skin for as long as you wish. This wide wide Heaven is about flathead nails and the soft down of new leaves, wide roller coaster rides and escaped marbles that fall then hang then take you somewhere you could never have imagined in your small-heaven dreams.
Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones)
Part of one's despair, of course, is that the world cares nothing for the little shocks endured by the sensitive stickler. While we look in horror at a badly punctuated sign, the world carries on around us, blind to our plight. We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else -- yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to "get a life" by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves. Naturally we become timid about making our insights known, in such inhospitable conditions. Being burned as a witch is not safely enough off the agenda.
Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation)
You see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a paper town. I mean look at it Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people too.
John Green (Paper Towns)
It’s loneliness. Even though I’m surrounded by loved ones who care about me and want only the best, it’s possible they try to help only because they feel the same thing—loneliness—and why, in a gesture of solidarity, you’ll find the phrase “I am useful, even if alone” carved in stone. Though the brain says all is well, the soul is lost, confused, doesn’t know why life is being unfair to it. But we still wake up in the morning and take care of our children, our husband, our lover, our boss, our employees, our students, those dozens of people who make an ordinary day come to life. And we often have a smile on our face and a word of encouragement, because no one can explain their loneliness to others, especially when we are always in good company. But this loneliness exists and eats away at the best parts of us because we must use all our energy to appear happy, even though we will never be able to deceive ourselves. But we insist, every morning, on showing only the rose that blooms, and keep the thorny stem that hurts us and makes us bleed hidden within. Even knowing that everyone, at some point, has felt completely and utterly alone, it is humiliating to say, “I’m lonely, I need company. I need to kill this monster that everyone thinks is as imaginary as a fairy-tale dragon, but isn’t.” But it isn’t. I wait for a pure and virtuous knight, in all his glory, to come defeat it and push it into the abyss for good, but that knight never comes. Yet we cannot lose hope. We start doing things we don’t usually do, daring to go beyond what is fair and necessary. The thorns inside us will grow larger and more overwhelming, yet we cannot give up halfway. Everyone is looking to see the final outcome, as though life were a huge game of chess. We pretend it doesn’t matter whether we win or lose, the important thing is to compete. We root for our true feelings to stay opaque and hidden, but then … … instead of looking for companionship, we isolate ourselves even more in order to lick our wounds in silence. Or we go out for dinner or lunch with people who have nothing to do with our lives and spend the whole time talking about things that are of no importance. We even manage to distract ourselves for a while with drink and celebration, but the dragon lives on until the people who are close to us see that something is wrong and begin to blame themselves for not making us happy. They ask what the problem is. We say that everything is fine, but it’s not … Everything is awful. Please, leave me alone, because I have no more tears to cry or heart left to suffer. All I have is insomnia, emptiness, and apathy, and, if you just ask yourselves, you’re feeling the same thing. But they insist that this is just a rough patch or depression because they are afraid to use the real and damning word: loneliness. Meanwhile, we continue to relentlessly pursue the only thing that would make us happy: the knight in shining armor who will slay the dragon, pick the rose, and clip the thorns. Many claim that life is unfair. Others are happy because they believe that this is exactly what we deserve: loneliness, unhappiness. Because we have everything and they don’t. But one day those who are blind begin to see. Those who are sad are comforted. Those who suffer are saved. The knight arrives to rescue us, and life is vindicated once again. Still, you have to lie and cheat, because this time the circumstances are different. Who hasn’t felt the urge to drop everything and go in search of their dream? A dream is always risky, for there is a price to pay. That price is death by stoning in some countries, and in others it could be social ostracism or indifference. But there is always a price to pay. You keep lying and people pretend they still believe, but secretly they are jealous, make comments behind your back, say you’re the very worst, most threatening thing there is. You are not an adulterous man, tolerated and often even admired, but an adulterous woman, one who is ...
Paulo Coelho (Adultery)
Don't do this to yourself," he said. "It's a cycle, Kate. We fight for the Pack, they fight for us. We bleed, they bleed. Sometimes people die. Everyone who came with me came of their own free will. The knew where we were going. They all knew there was a good chance that not everybody would make it out. This isn't the first fight or the last. People will sacrifice themselves for us again, and we'll do the same. I don't know how bad the future will be, but I promise you, we'll deal with it. You and I. Together.
Ilona Andrews (Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7))
It occurs to me," said Hodge, "that the dilemmas of power are always the same." Clary glanced at him sideways. "What do you mean?" She sat on the window seat in the library, Hodge in his chair with Hugo on the armrest. The remains of breakfast—sticky jam, toast crumbs, and smears of butter—clung to a stack of plates on the low table that no one had seemed inclined to clear away. After breakfast they had scattered to prepare themselves, and Clary had been the first one back. This was hardly surprising, considering that all she had to do was pull on jeans and a shirt and run a brush through her hair, while everyone else had to arm themselves heavily. Having lost Jace's dagger in the hotel, the only remotely supernatural object she had on her was the witchlight stone in her pocket. "I was thinking of your Simon," Hodge said, "and of Alec and Jace, among others." She glanced out the window. It was raining, thick fat drops spattering against the panes. The sky was an impenetrable gray. "What do they have to do with each other?" "Where there is feeling that is not requited," said Hodge, "there is an imbalance of power. It is an imbalance that is easy to exploit, but it is not a wise course. Where there is love, there is often also hate. They can exist side by side." "Simon doesn't hate me." "He might grow to, over time, if he felt you were using him.
Cassandra Clare (City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1))
What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don't know and I'm afraid. I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited. Yet I am not a cretin: lame, blind and stupid. I am not a veteran, passing my legless, armless days in a wheelchair. I am not that mongoloidish old man shuffling out of the gates of the mental hospital. I have much to live for, yet unaccountably I am sick and sad. Perhaps you could trace my feeling back to my distaste at having to choose between alternatives. Perhaps that's why I want to be everyone - so no one can blame me for being I. So I won't have to take the responsibility for my own character development and philosophy. People are happy - - - if that means being content with your lot: feeling comfortable as the complacent round peg struggling in a round hole, with no awkward or painful edges - no space to wonder or question in. I am not content, because my lot is limiting, as are all others. People specialize; people become devoted to an idea; people "find themselves." But the very content that comes from finding yourself is overshadowed by the knowledge that by doing so you are admitting you are not only a grotesque, but a special kind of grotesque.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
The Frays had never been a religiously observant family, but Clary loved Fifth Avenue at Christmas time. The air smelled like sweet roasted chestnuts, and the window displays sparkled with silver and blue, green and red. This year there were fat round crystal snowflakes attached to each lamppost, sending back the winter sunlight in shafts of gold. Not to mention the huge tree at Rockefeller Center. It threw its shadow across them as she and Simon draped themselves over the gate at the side of the skating rink, watching tourists fall down as they tried to navigate the ice. Clary had a hot chocolate wrapped in her hands, the warmth spreading through her body. She felt almost normal—this, coming to Fifth to see the window displays and the tree, had been a winter tradition for her and Simon for as long as she could remember. “Feels like old times, doesn’t it?” he said, echoing her thoughts as he propped his chin on his folded arms. She chanced a sideways look at him. He was wearing a black topcoat and scarf that emphasized the winter pallor of his skin. His eyes were shadowed, indicating that he hadn’t fed on blood recently. He looked like what he was—a hungry, tired vampire. Well, she thought. Almost like old times. “More people to buy presents for,” she said. “Plus, the always traumatic what-to-buy-someone-for-the-first-Christmas-after-you’ve-started-dating question.” “What to get the Shadowhunter who has everything,” Simon said with a grin. “Jace mostly likes weapons,” Clary sighed. “He likes books, but they have a huge library at the Institute. He likes classical music …” She brightened. Simon was a musician; even though his band was terrible, and was always changing their name—currently they were Lethal Soufflé—he did have training. “What would you give someone who likes to play the piano?” “A piano.” “Simon.” “A really huge metronome that could also double as a weapon?” Clary sighed, exasperated. “Sheet music. Rachmaninoff is tough stuff, but he likes a challenge.” “Now you’re talking. I’m going to see if there’s a music store around here.” Clary, done with her hot chocolate, tossed the cup into a nearby trash can and pulled her phone out. “What about you? What are you giving Isabelle?” “I have absolutely no idea,” Simon said. They had started heading toward the avenue, where a steady stream of pedestrians gawking at the windows clogged the streets. “Oh, come on. Isabelle’s easy.” “That’s my girlfriend you’re talking about.” Simon’s brows drew together. “I think. I’m not sure. We haven’t discussed it. The relationship, I mean.” “You really have to DTR, Simon.” “What?” “Define the relationship. What it is, where it’s going. Are you boyfriend and girlfriend, just having fun, ‘it’s complicated,’ or what? When’s she going to tell her parents? Are you allowed to see other people?” Simon blanched. “What? Seriously?” “Seriously. In the meantime—perfume!” Clary grabbed Simon by the back of his coat and hauled him into a cosmetics store that had once been a bank. It was massive on the inside, with rows of gleaming bottles everywhere. “And something unusual,” she said, heading for the fragrance area. “Isabelle isn’t going to want to smell like everyone else. She’s going to want to smell like figs, or vetiver, or—” “Figs? Figs have a smell?” Simon looked horrified; Clary was about to laugh at him when her phone buzzed. It was her mother. where are you? It’s an emergency.
Cassandra Clare (City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6))
Does everyone just believe what he wants to?" "As long as possible. Sometimes longer." "What about you?" "You mean, am I human? Certainly. I don't believe I'm really old. I believe I'm quite attractive. I believe you seek out my company because you think I'm charming - even when you insist on turning the conversation to physics.
Isaac Asimov (The Gods Themselves)
If, by the virtue of charity or the circumstance of desperation, you ever chance to spend a little time around a Substance-recovery halfway facility like Enfield MA’s state-funded Ennet House, you will acquire many exotic new facts… That certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do. That sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused. That purposeful sleep-deprivation can also be an abusable escape. That you do not have to like a person in order to learn from him/her/it. That loneliness is not a function of solitude. That logical validity is not a guarantee of truth. That it takes effort to pay attention to any one stimulus for more than a few seconds. That boring activities become, perversely, much less boring if you concentrate intently on them. That if enough people in a silent room are drinking coffee it is possible to make out the sound of steam coming off the coffee. That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt. That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness. That it is possible to fall asleep during an anxiety attack. That concentrating intently on anything is very hard work. That 99% of compulsive thinkers’ thinking is about themselves; that 99% of this self-directed thinking consists of imagining and then getting ready for things that are going to happen to them; and then, weirdly, that if they stop to think about it, that 100% of the things they spend 99% of their time and energy imagining and trying to prepare for all the contingencies and consequences of are never good. In short that 99% of the head’s thinking activity consists of trying to scare the everliving shit out of itself. That it is possible to make rather tasty poached eggs in a microwave oven. That some people’s moms never taught them to cover up or turn away when they sneeze. That the people to be the most frightened of are the people who are the most frightened. That it takes great personal courage to let yourself appear weak. That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable. That other people can often see things about you that you yourself cannot see, even if those people are stupid. That having a lot of money does not immunize people from suffering or fear. That trying to dance sober is a whole different kettle of fish. That different people have radically different ideas of basic personal hygiene. That, perversely, it is often more fun to want something than to have it. That if you do something nice for somebody in secret, anonymously, without letting the person you did it for know it was you or anybody else know what it was you did or in any way or form trying to get credit for it, it’s almost its own form of intoxicating buzz. That anonymous generosity, too, can be abused. That it is permissible to want. That everybody is identical in their unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else. That this isn’t necessarily perverse. That there might not be angels, but there are people who might as well be angels.
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest)
There is no quarrel between science and spirituality. I often hear people of science trying to use it to prove the nonexistence of the spiritual, but I simply can't see a chasm in between the two. What is spiritual produces what is scientific and when science is used to disprove the spiritual, it's always done with the intent to do so; a personal contempt. As a result, scientists today only prove their inferiority to the great founding fathers of the sciences who were practitioners of alchemy. Today's science is washed-out and scrubbed-down and robbed of everything mystical and spiritual, a knowledge born of contempt and discontent. Or perhaps, there are a few who wish to keep those secrets to themselves and serve everyone else up with a tasteless version of science and the idiots of today blindly follow their equally blind leaders.
C. JoyBell C.
It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1))
It's been three years since I graduated, and everyone's still waiting for me to do something spectacular," the stone prince said, lengthening his stride. "The rest of my classmates are already making names for themselves. George started killing dragons right away, and Art went straight home and pulled some sort of magic sword out of a rock. Even the ones nobody expected to amount to much have done something. All Jack wanted to do was go back to his mother's farm and raise beans, and he ended up stealing a magic harp and killing a giant and all sorts of things. I'm the only one who hasn't succeeded.
Patricia C. Wrede
It’s … difficult to explain. It’s … it’s like … I think it’s as though everyone has a small place inside themselves, maybe, a private bit that they keep to themselves. It’s like a little fortress, where the most private part of you lives—maybe it’s your soul, maybe just that bit that makes you yourself and not anyone else.” His tongue probed his swollen lip unconsciously as he thought. “You don’t show that bit of yourself to anyone, usually, unless sometimes to someone that ye love greatly.” The hand relaxed, curling around my knee. Jamie’s eyes were closed again, lids sealed against the light. “Now, it’s like … like my own fortress has been blown up with gunpowder—there’s nothing left of it but ashes and a smoking rooftree, and the little naked thing that lived there once is out in the open, squeaking and whimpering in fear, tryin’ to hide itself under a blade of grass or a bit o’ leaf, but … but not … makin’ m-much of a job of it.” His voice broke, and he turned his head so that his face was hidden in my skirt.
Diana Gabaldon (Outlander (Outlander, #1))
There are parallel universes in which different events have happened to the same people. An alternate choice has been made, or an accident has turned out differently. Everyone has duplicates of themselves in these other worlds. Different selves with different lives, different luck. Variations.
E. Lockhart
Are you going to try it with me? Or do you only take pleasure in attacking those who cannot defend themselves?" Damen heard the hardness in his own voice. He held his ground. Around them, the tower room was empty. He had sent everyone else out. "I remember the last time you were like this. You blundered so badly you gave your uncle the excuse he needed to have you stripped of your lands.
C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince: Volume Two (Captive Prince, #2))
Everyone should forgive themselves, Vick.” He gave her wrist another squeeze then let her go, looking out towards the lake again. “After all… no one else will.
Joe Abercrombie (The Trouble with Peace (The Age of Madness, #2))
But he had never seen Myrna in practice...never that close up. He had been impressed and a little frightened by the contrast between seeing ballet on stange, where everyone seemed to either glide or mince effortlessly on the tips of their pointes. and seeing it from less than five feet away, with harsh daylight pouring in the floor-to-ceiling windows and no music- only the choreographer rythmically clapping his hands and yelling harsh criticisms. No praise, only criticisms. Their faces ran with sweat. Their leotards were wet with sweat. The room, as large and airy as it way, stank of sweat. Sleek muscles trembled and fluttered on the nervous edge of exhaustion. Corded tendons stood out like insulated cables. Throbbing veins popped out on foreheads and necks. Except for the choreographer's clapping and angry, hectoring shouts, the only sounds were the thrup-thud of ballet dancers on pointe moving across the floor and harsh, agonized panting for breath. Jack had suddenly realized that these dancers were not just earning a living, they were killing themselves. Most of all he remembered their expressions- all that exhausted concentration, all that pain... but transcending the pain, or at least creeping around its edges, he had seen joy. Joy was unmistakably what that look was, and it scared Jack because it had seemed inexplicable.
Stephen King (The Talisman)
It is beyond a doubt that everyone should have time for some special delight, if only five minutes each day to seek out a lovely flower or cloud or star, or learn a verse to brighten another’s dull task. What is the use of such terrible diligence as many tire themselves out with, if they always postpone their exchanges of smiles with Beauty and Joy to cling to irksome duties and relations?
Helen Keller (The Open Door)
There’s all this pressure in our society to be beautiful, to be strong, to be sexy. So we spend our time and money on trying to become these things. We put on the high heels, the suits, the makeup, the mask. Then, we feel more awkward than confident, so we drink away our anxieties. That doesn’t make us look any sexier – it just makes us stop caring about how we look. Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is sexy. Everyone is strong. It’s lunacy. We’re all running around trying to become something that we already are. You know what’s really sexy? A person who’s 100% comfortable with themselves. And you know what’s really funny? It is just as time consuming and difficult to learn to accept yourself as it is to pretend to be someone else. The only difference is – with self acceptance, one day, it’s not hard anymore. One day, you feel like your sexiest, strongest self just rolling out of bed in the morning. You’re either going to spend the little time you have in your life on trying to know yourself or trying to hide yourself. The choice is yours. You can’t do both. And you know what’s really amazing about choosing self-love? You’ll be setting an example for all the people around you and all the kids of the coming generation. You’ll be part of a revolution to take back the precious moments of our lives out of the hands of shame-inducing advertisers and back into the hands and hearts of real people like you, like me, like all of us. I know you’ve dreamt about changing the world. So this is your chance. Learn to love yourself, accept yourself, and unleash your strongest, sexiest self. It’s in there. You just have to believe it.
Vironika Tugaleva
As regards structure, comedy has come a long way since Shakespeare, who in his festive conclusions could pair off any old shit and any old fudge-brained slag (see Claudio and Hero in Much Ado) and get away with it. But the final kiss no longer symbolizes anything and well-oiled nuptials have ceased to be a plausible image of desire. That kiss is now the beginning of the comic action, not the end that promises another beginning from which the audience is prepared to exclude itself. All right? We have got into the habit of going further and further beyond the happy-ever-more promise: relationships in decay, aftermaths, but with everyone being told a thing or two about themselves, busy learning from their mistakes. So, in the following phase, with the obstructive elements out of the way (DeForest, Gloria) and the consummation in sight, the comic action would have been due to end, happily. But who is going to believe that any more?
Martin Amis (The Rachel Papers)
Everyone has it in them to express themselves that fundamental thing that they know they are inside. That rather beautiful afraid person. Which might get translated into aggression, or silence, or shyness, or all kinds of other things. But inside we know that we are huggable and lovable, and we want to love and be loved. That person is yearning for fulfillment. To be the person they know they can be and that’s a constant journey; that’s a process. It’s not acquiring about this thing and then that thing, getting to this place, learning this technique, and finding out how this works. It’s about the fact that other people are always more interesting than oneself. Let’s forget what successful people have in common, if there’s a thing unsuccessful people have in common it’s that they talk about themselves all the time.
Stephen Fry
You will not remember much from school. School is designed to teach you how to respond and listen to authority figures in the event of an emergency. Like if there's a bomb in a mall or a fire in an office. It can, apparently, take you more than a decade to learn this. These are not the best days of your life. They are still ahead of you. You will fall in love and have your heart broken in many different, new and interesting ways in college or university (if you go) and you will actually learn things, as at this point, people will believe you have a good chance of obeying authority and surviving, in the event of an emergency. If, in your chosen career path, there are award shows that give out more than ten awards in one night or you have to pay someone to actually take the award home to put on your mantlepiece, then those awards are more than likely designed to make young people in their 20's work very late, for free, for other people. Those people will do their best to convince you that they have value. They don't. Only the things you do have real, lasting value, not the things you get for the things you do. You will, at some point, realise that no trophy loves you as much as you love it, that it cannot pay your bills (even if it increases your salary slightly) and that it won't hold your hand tightly as you say your last words on your deathbed. Only people who love you can do that. If you make art to feel better, make sure it eventually makes you feel better. If it doesn't, stop making it. You will love someone differently, as time passes. If you always expect to feel the same kind of love you felt when you first met someone, you will always be looking for new people to love. Love doesn't fade. It just changes as it grows. It would be boring if it didn't. There is no truly "right" way of writing, painting, being or thinking, only things which have happened before. People who tell you differently are assholes, petrified of change, who should be violently ignored. No philosophy, mantra or piece of advice will hold true for every conceivable situation. "The early bird catches the worm" does not apply to minefields. Perfection only exists in poetry and movies, everyone fights occasionally and no sane person is ever completely sure of anything. Nothing is wrong with any of this. Wisdom does not come from age, wisdom comes from doing things. Be very, very careful of people who call themselves wise, artists, poets or gurus. If you eat well, exercise often and drink enough water, you have a good chance of living a long and happy life. The only time you can really be happy, is right now. There is no other moment that exists that is more important than this one. Do not sacrifice this moment in the hopes of a better one. It is easy to remember all these things when they are being said, it is much harder to remember them when you are stuck in traffic or lying in bed worrying about the next day. If you want to move people, simply tell them the truth. Today, it is rarer than it's ever been. (People will write things like this on posters (some of the words will be bigger than others) or speak them softly over music as art (pause for effect). The reason this happens is because as a society, we need to self-medicate against apathy and the slow, gradual death that can happen to anyone, should they confuse life with actually living.)
pleasefindthis
I believe the most difficult situation to be in, is one of mind-game-playing. Interestingly enough, it can be observed that it’s those from the most prosperous countries that tend to play the most mind-games with other people. They even write things about it. Why is it very difficult to be honest and transparent about what one thinks and feels? Why must one resort to manipulations and mind-mockery and mimicry? It is such a sad situation or state for any person to be in. Living in cubicle within cubicle within cubicle of themselves. Victims and perpetrators of mind games, interestingly, are the most paranoid about it happening to them— because they do it, they think everyone else does it too. Or because it’s been done to them, they think everyone will do it to them. Why cannot people say what they think, think what they say, say what they mean and mean what they say? The world would be happier if we were all just living out in a big plain in Africa! Roaming with animals, walking barefoot, being simple, transparent, real...
C. JoyBell C.
According to one influential wing of modern secular society there are few more disreputable fates than to end up being 'like everyone else' for 'everyone else' is a category that comprises the mediocre and the conformist, the boring and the suburban. The goal of all right-thinking people should be to mark themselves off from the crowd and 'stand out' in whatever way their talents allow.
Alain de Botton (Status Anxiety)
[T]he enduring problem for liberals, as for everyone else, is not whether history will judge them wise or foolish regarding the war on terrorism; it is, rather, the way that the past decade has splintered them away from other Americans. This fracture comes with a steep price: in today's toxic atmosphere, liberals are no less cynical, shortsighted, and parochial than anyone else, and they understand their fellow-Americans just as badly as they themselves are understood. When liberals look at red-state voters, they see either a mob of pious know-nothings or the insensible victims of militarism and class warfare. Yet.... [such people] defy fixed categories, which means that they have to be figured out the hard way--on their own terms.
George Packer
Keefe leaned his head against her shoulder and Sophie counted his breaths, considering what a strange thing grief turned out to be. Grady and Edaline closed themselves off. Fitz pushed everyone away. She couldn’t figure out how Keefe was handling it all yet. But she was glad he wanted her to stay. Their
Shannon Messenger (Neverseen (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #4))
Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far. The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them. I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children’s books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I’ve seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy. It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn’t hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you. Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant. We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. [from, Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming]
Neil Gaiman
People are like lice - they get under your skin and bury themselves there. You scratch and scratch until the blood comes out, but you can’t permanently get deloused. Everywhere I go, people are making a mess of their lives. Everyone has his private tragedy. It’s in the blood now - misfortune, ennui, grief, suicide. The atmosphere is saturated with disaster, frustration, futility. Scratch and scratch - until there is no skin left. However, the effect upon me is exhilarating. Instead of being discouraged or depressed, I enjoy it. I am crying for more and more disasters, for bigger calamaties, for grader failures. I want the whole world to be out of wack, I want everyone to scratch himself to death.
Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer (Tropic, #1))
It seems like such a waste of time to expend all that energy trying to convince the world you're better than everyone else. I can't understand it.” ''Of course you can't. You like nothing better than to point out all your character flaws to everyone who'll listen." She must have found his exasperation amusing because she smiled. “They'll discover those flaws for themselves if they're around me long enough. I just save them the effort.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Kiss an Angel)
You don’t get over losing someone you love in six months or two years or twenty, but you do have to find a way to carry on living without feeling as if everything that comes afterward is second best. Some people walk up mountains, others throw themselves out of planes. Everyone has to find their own way back, and if they’re lucky they’ll have people who love them to hold their hand.
Josie Silver (The Two Lives of Lydia Bird)
But, stop and think. What does the word ‘witch’ truly mean?” “Why—” said Tom, and was stymied. “Wits,” said Moundshroud. “Intelligence. That’s all it means. Knowledge. So any man, or woman, with half a brain and with inclinations toward learning had his wits about him, eh? And so, anyone too smart, who didn’t watch out, was called—” “A witch!” said everyone. “And some of the smart ones, the ones with wits, pretended at magic, or dreamed themselves with ghosts and dead shufflers and ambling mummies. And if enemies dropped dead by coincidence, they took credit for it. They liked to believe they had power, but they had none, boys, none, sad and sorry, ’tis true. But
Ray Bradbury (The Halloween Tree)
There are two kinds of Communists: the arrogant ones, who enter the fray hoping to make men out of the people and bring progress to the nation; and the innocent ones, who get involved because they believe in equality and justice. The arrogant ones are obsessed with power; they presume to think for everyone; only bad can come of them. But the innocents? The only harm they do is to themselves. But that's all they ever wanted in the first place. They feel so guilty about the suffering of the poor, and are so keen to share it, that they make their lives miserable on purpose.
Orhan Pamuk (Snow)
everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1))
It had seemed so foreign to me - the idea that you could move forward without a painful airing of grievances on both sides. But maybe - maybe it wasn't necessary to pick apart pain. Maybe some things just weren't worth fighting about. Some friends weren't friends anymore, but family - and there were different rules for family. It didn't make sense to sit down with family and detail all the reasons they'd upset you - for many reasons, not least among them the fact that they could whip out a checklist of your transgressions themselves. And after you'd both picked apart the carcasses, why would you want to be friends again? Maybe the important thing was to recognize that everyone felt wronged and slighted - but the point worth concentrating on was that everyone loved each other. If we worked from that premise, we should be fine. Or anyway, I hoped we would.
Megan Crane (Frenemies)
Specific parts of you personality may be angry and are usually easily evoked. because these parts are dissociated, anger remains an emotion that is not integrated for you as a whole person. Even though individuals with dissociative disorder are responsible for their behavior, just like everyone else, regardless of which part may be acting, they may feel little control of these raging parts of themselves. Some dissociative parts may avoid or even be phobic of anger. They may influence you as a whole person to avoid conflict with others at any cost or to avoid setting healthy boundaries out of fear of someone else’s anger; or they may urge you to withdraw from others almost completely.
Suzette Boon (Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists)
With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright,’ did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected and tortured after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves again. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? Me?
Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)
You did say," Rusty pointed out with a virtuous air, "that you wanted me to teach everyone how to defend themselves." "Is that what you were doing?" Jared asked, swiping at his bloody mouth. "Teaching?" "You have to use a firm hand," Rusty said earnestly. "That's how you learn. I'm very dedicated to my craft. And I was not planning on the lesson getting so out of hand. That was your fault. You have absolutely no concept of any sort of fighting technique. You kept trying to bash me with stuff. This is why I never go for blonds. They are all vicious creatures." "I do have a fighting technique," Jared informed him. "It is a little-known discipline known as 'winning'.
Sarah Rees Brennan (Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2))
One of the most important steps in therapy is helping people take responsibility for their current predicaments, because once they realize that they can (and must) construct their own lives, they’re free to generate change. Often, though, people carry around the belief that the majority of their problems are circumstantial or situational—which is to say, external. And if the problems are caused by everyone and everything else, by stuff out there, why should they bother to change themselves? Even if they decide to do things differently, won’t the rest of the world still be the same? It’s a reasonable argument. But that’s not how life generally works. Remember Sartre’s famous line “Hell is other people”? It’s true—the world is filled with difficult people (or, as John would have it, “idiots”). I’ll bet you could name five truly difficult people off the top of your head right now—some you assiduously avoid, others you would assiduously avoid if they didn’t share your last name. But sometimes—more often than we tend to realize—those difficult people are us. That’s right—sometimes hell is us. Sometimes we are the cause of our difficulties. And if we can step out of our own way, something astonishing happens.
Lori Gottlieb (Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed)
What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don't know and I'm afraid. I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited. Yet I am not a cretin: lame, blind and stupid. I am not a veteran, passing my legless, armless days in a wheelchair. I am not that mongoloidish old man shuffling out of the gates of the mental hospital. I have much to live for, yet unaccountably I am sick and sad. Perhaps you could trace my feeling back to my distaste at having to choose between alternatives. Perhaps that's why I want to be everyone - so no one can blame me for being I. So I won't have to take the responsibility for my own character development and philosophy. People are happy - - - if that means being content with your lot: feeling comfortable as the complacent round peg struggling in a round hole, with no awkward or painful edges - no space to wonder or question in. I am not content, because my lot is limiting, as are all others. People specialize; people become devoted to an idea; people "find themselves.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
Give yourself to me, Gemma, and you will never be alone again. You'll be worshiped. Adored. Loved. But you must give yourself to me- a willing sacrifice.' Tears slip down my face. 'Yes,' I murmur. Gemma, don't listen,' Circe says hoarsely, and for a moment, I don't see Eugenia; I see only the tree, the blood pumping beneath its pale skin, the bodies of the dead hanging from it like chimes. I gasp, and Eugenia is before me again. 'Yes, this is what you want, Gemma. Try as you might, you cannot kill this part of yourself. The solitude of the self taht waits just under the stairs of your soul. Always there, no matter how much you've tried to get rid of it. I understand. I do. Stay with me and never be lonely again.' Don't listen... to that... bitch,' Circe croaks, and the vines tighten around her neck. No, you're wrong,' I say to Eugenia as if coming out of a long sleep. 'You couldn't kill this part of yourself. And you couldn't accept it, either.' I'm sure I don't know what you mean.' she says, sounding uncertain for the first time. That's why they were able to take you. They found your fear.' And what, pray, was it?' Your pride. You couldn't believe you might have some of the same qualities as the creatures themselves.' I am not like them. I am their hope. I sustain them.' No. You tell yourself that. That's why CIrce told me to search my dark corners. So I wouldn't be caught off guard.' Circe laughts, a splintered cackle that finds a way under my skin. And what about you, Gemma?' Eugenia purrs. 'Have you "searched" yourself, as you say?' I've done things I'm not proud of. I've made mistakes,' I say, my voice growing stronger, my fingers feeling for the dagger again. 'But I've done good, too.' And yet, you're alone. All that trying and still you stand apart, watching from the other side of the grass. Afraid to have what you truly want because what if it's not enough after all? What if you get it and you still feel alone and apart? So much better to wrap yourself in the longing. The yearning. The restlessness. Poor Gemma. She doesn't quite fit, does she? Poor Gemma- all alone. It's as if she's delivered a blow to my heart. My hand falters. 'I-I...' Gemma, you're not alone,' Circe gasps, and my hand touches metal. No. I'm not. I'm like everyone else in this stupid, bloody, amazing world. I'm flawed. Impossibly so. But hopeful. I'm still me.' I've got it now. Sure and strong in my grip. 'I see through you. I see the truth.
Libba Bray (The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, #3))
The day I became a writer it wasn't the day a whore paid me in sex in exchange for one of my books which happened often and more and more as time went on it wasn't the first time someone actually paid for one of my books which happens less and less as time goes on It was the day I realized that everything is created by man God, Satan, Judas, phobias, excrement, even death even women everything is created by man So I said to myself shit, let me make something let me tape together some words and sentences and prose and predicates and the residual shit that sticks to my ass after I wipe and compose a new kind of thing But then I realized that others had discovered this for themselves as well And suddenly the world became a jungle Where everyone eats each other alive And shits out the same shit
Dave Matthes (Wanderlust and the Whiskey Bottle Parallel: Poems and Stories)
She’s so, everybody’s so stupid, you know? Christian too, Todd, whoever says stupid things, you’re from different worlds, like you dropped here in a spaceship.” I had to say something. “Yeah,” I said. “So—?” “So they can fuck themselves,” you said. “I don’t care, you know?” I felt a smile on my face, tears too. “Because Min, I know, OK? I’m stupid I know, about faggy movies, sorry, fuck, I’m stupid about that too. No offense. Ha! But I want to do it, Min. Any party you want, anything, not go to bonfires. Whatever you want to do, for the eighty-ninth birthday, even though I can’t remember the name.” “Lottie Carson.” I stepped close to you, but you held your hands out, you weren’t done. “And they’ll say things, right? I know they will, of course they will. Your friends are, probably, too, right?” “Yes,” I said. I felt furious, or furiously something, pacing with you and waiting to fall into your moving arms. “Yes,” you said, with a huge grin. “Let’s stay together, I want to be with you. Let’s. Yes?” “Yes.” “Because I don’t care, virginity, different, arty, weird parties with bad cake, that igloo. Just together, Min.” “Yes.” “Like everyone is telling us not to be.” “Yes!” “Because Min, listen, I love you.” I gaped. “Don’t, you don’t have to—I know it’s crazy, Joan says I’ve really lost it, but—” “I love you too,” I said.
Daniel Handler (Why We Broke Up)
i have this productivity anxiety that everyone else is working harder than me and i’m going to be left behind cause i’m not working fast enough long enough and i’m wasting my time i don’t sit down to have breakfast i take it to go i call my mother when i’m free—otherwise it takes too long to have a conversation i put off everything that won’t bring me closer to my dreams as if the things i’m putting off are not the dream themselves isn’t the dream that i have a mother to call and a table to eat breakfast at instead i’m lost in the sick need to optimize every hour of my day so i’m improving in some way making money in some way advancing my career in some way because that’s what it takes to be successful right i excavate my life package it up sell it to the world [...] capitalism got inside my head and made me think my only value is how much i produce for people to consume capitalism got inside my head and made me think i am of worth as long as i am working i learned impatience from it i learned self-doubt from it learned to plant seeds in the ground and expect flowers the next day but magic doesn’t work like that magic doesn’t happen cause i’ve figured out how to pack more work in a day magic moves by the laws of nature and nature has its own clock magic happens when we play when we escape daydream and imagine that’s where everything with the power to fulfill us is waiting on its knees for us - productivity anxiety
Rupi Kaur (Home Body)
Human beings tend to react better to good-looking people. It’s called the halo effect—someone’s attractive, so you trust them more. It’s natural, which makes it a hard habit to break, but once you start dealing with magical creatures you’d better learn to break it, and fast, because some of the most vicious things out there can make themselves look like absolute angels. Like unicorns. Don’t get me started on unicorns. For some reason everyone has this idealised image of them as beautiful innocent snowflakes. Beautiful, yes. Innocent, no. After you’ve had one of the little bastards try and kebab you, you wise up quick.
Benedict Jacka (Fated (Alex Verus, #1))
Everyone was in a hurry. Everyone was out for themselves. No one gave a shit about anyone else. Long ago, kindness, courtesy, and civility had taken a hike.
Kristen Ashley (Hold On (The 'Burg, #6))
The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because perhaps then they will learn from them. Perhaps then they will not isolate them. Marginalize them. Erase them. Perhaps they will even come to recognize themselves in them. Perhaps they will even learn to love them.
Shonda Rhimes (Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)
If anyone attempted to rule the world by the gospel and to abolish all temporal law and sword on the plea that all are baptized and Christian, and that, according to the gospel, there shall be among them no law or sword - or need for either - pray tell me, friend, what would he be doing? He would be loosing the ropes and chains of the savage wild beasts and letting them bite and mangle everyone, meanwhile insisting that they were harmless, tame, and gentle creatures; but I would have the proof in my wounds. Just so would the wicked under the name of Christian abuse evangelical freedom, carry on their rascality, and insist that they were Christians subject neither to law nor sword, as some are already raving and ranting. To such a one we must say: Certainly it is true that Christians, so far as they themselves are concerned, are subject neither to law nor sword, and have need of neither. But take heed and first fill the world with real Christians before you attempt to rule it in a Christian and evangelical manner. This you will never accomplish; for the world and the masses are and always will be unchristian, even if they are all baptized and Christian in name. Christians are few and far between (as the saying is). Therefore, it is out of the question that there should be a common Christian government over the whole world, or indeed over a single country or any considerable body of people, for the wicked always outnumber the good. Hence, a man who would venture to govern an entire country or the world with the gospel would be like a shepherd who should put together in one fold wolves, lions, eagles, and sheep, and let them mingle freely with one another, saying, “Help yourselves, and be good and peaceful toward one another. The fold is open, there is plenty of food. You need have no fear of dogs and clubs.” The sheep would doubtless keep the peace and allow themselves to be fed and governed peacefully, but they would not live long, nor would one beast survive another. For this reason one must carefully distinguish between these two governments. Both must be permitted to remain; the one to produce righteousness, the other to bring about external peace and prevent evil deeds. Neither one is sufficient in the world without the other. No one can become righteous in the sight of God by means of the temporal government, without Christ's spiritual government. Christ's government does not extend over all men; rather, Christians are always a minority in the midst of non-Christians. Now where temporal government or law alone prevails, there sheer hypocrisy is inevitable, even though the commandments be God's very own. For without the Holy Spirit in the heart no one becomes truly righteous, no matter how fine the works he does. On the other hand, where the spiritual government alone prevails over land and people, there wickedness is given free rein and the door is open for all manner of rascality, for the world as a whole cannot receive or comprehend it.
Martin Luther (Luther and Calvin on Secular Authority (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought))
What? It’s ridiculous. Control your emotions. Can you imagine if criminals went around saying they fell into hatred or jealousy and that’s why they killed four people or robbed the bank? We act like love is this uncontrollable thing. But when it comes to anger and all of that ugly stuff, we’re expected to control it. We’re supposed to handle those emotions without hurting anyone. But throw out the word ‘love’ and everyone thinks all of the rules should go right out the window and who can help it if someone gets hurt? It’s absurd and it’s degrading, honestly, that we expect people to control themselves except for when it comes to wanting to sleep with someone.
Audrey Bell (Love Show)
She was an original ... She was an eccentric. She'd come alive like a fire, telling funny stories and entertaining everyone, then she'd suddenly run out of fuel, make her excuses and leave. You always knew when she'd had enough. Those that didn't would find themselves talk to the walls.
Santa Montefiore (The French Gardener)
As you know, there are several classes of truth. There are the truths that pour out on confessional blogs and YouTube channels. There are the supposed truths exposed in gossip magazines and on reality television, which everyone knows are just lies in truth clothing. Then there are the truths that show themselves only under ideal circumstances: like when you are talking deep into the night with a friend and you tell each other things you would never say if your defenses weren't broken down by salty snacks, sugary beverages, darkness, and a flood of words. There are the truths found in books or films when some writer puts exactly the right words together and it's like their pen turned sword and pierced you right through the heart. Truths like those are rare and getting rarer.
Susan Juby (The Truth Commission)
Funny how things work themselves out. Things happen that split up family and friends, then things happen that bring them back together. Everyone is in your life for a reason. My hope is for all the reasons to be good. Those who love you never lose touch, are always consistent, and unquestionable.
April Mae Monterrosa
I feel strange suddenly, the old itch of fear that I am a feral girl in a domesticated world, watched by everyone with pity and concern. There are men like Monty, with perverse desires, but they find each other and carve out small corners of the world, and likely women too who find themselves only drawn to the fairer sex. And then there’s me, an island all my own. An island that sometimes feels like a whole continent to rule, and sometimes a cramped spit of land that sailors are marooned upon and left to die.
Mackenzi Lee (The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings, #2))
There comes a time when we realize that our parents cannot save themselves or save us, that everyone who wades through time eventually gets dragged out to sea by the undertow-that, in short, we are all going
John Green (Looking for Alaska)
Funny how new facts pop up and make you doubt that there’s any goodness in life. Everyone pretends to be normal and be your friend, but underneath, everyone is living some other life you don’t know about, and if only we had a camera on us at all times, we could go and watch each other’s tapes and find out what each of us was really like. But then you’d have to watch girls go poo and boys trying to go down on themselves.
James Franco (Palo Alto)
Well, that's what everyone wants, isn't it? Even these people who go out and have their noses shaved down to pencil erasers, and who get implants, and fillers, and who Botox their faces into immobility, they're all in search of the miracle that's going to make them feel like..." She searched for the word. "Like themselves.
Beth Harbison (Hope in a Jar)
The danger is everywhere. It’s everyone. It’s the parts we keep hidden, and the darkness inside, fighting to get out. The only thing I did was take people down with me. They tied themselves to my anchor, and we fell.
Megan Miranda (The Safest Lies)
I think . . . I think, Calder, that we have to figure out how to forgive, not for the people who wronged us, but for us. We can't keep bitterness attached to our hearts because eventually, it might become part of us—so deeply ingrained we can't work it back out. I think we have to focus on the beauty we've been given in this life, and make that the thing that defines us. Because people defined by bitterness end up destroying themselves from the inside out, and eventually they destroy everyone who tries to love them, too. That's not going to be us.
Mia Sheridan (Finding Eden)
but within the next ten years Rossum’s Universal Robots will produce so much wheat, so much cloth, so much everything that things will no longer have any value. Everyone will be able to take as much as he needs. There’ll be no more poverty. Yes, people will be out of work, but by then there’ll be no work left to be done. Everything will be done by living machines. People will do only what they enjoy. They will live only to perfect themselves.
Karel Čapek (R.U.R.)
Have you ever wondered What happens to all the poems people write? The poems they never let anyone else read? Perhaps they are Too private and personal Perhaps they are just not good enough. Perhaps the prospect of such a heartfelt expression being seen as clumsy shallow silly pretentious saccharine unoriginal sentimental trite boring overwrought obscure stupid pointless or simply embarrassing is enough to give any aspiring poet good reason to hide their work from public view. forever. Naturally many poems are IMMEDIATELY DESTROYED. Burnt shredded flushed away Occasionally they are folded Into little squares And wedged under the corner of An unstable piece of furniture (So actually quite useful) Others are hidden behind a loose brick or drainpipe or sealed into the back of an old alarm clock or put between the pages of AN OBSCURE BOOK that is unlikely to ever be opened. someone might find them one day, BUT PROBABLY NOT The truth is that unread poetry Will almost always be just that. DOOMED to join a vast invisible river of waste that flows out of suburbia. well Almost always. On rare occasions, Some especially insistent pieces of writing will escape into a backyard or a laneway be blown along a roadside embankment and finally come to rest in a shopping center parking lot as so many things do It is here that something quite Remarkable takes place two or more pieces of poetry drift toward each other through a strange force of attraction unknown to science and ever so slowly cling together to form a tiny, shapeless ball. Left undisturbed, this ball gradually becomes larger and rounder as other free verses confessions secrets stray musings wishes and unsent love letters attach themselves one by one. Such a ball creeps through the streets Like a tumbleweed for months even years If it comes out only at night it has a good Chance of surviving traffic and children and through a slow rolling motion AVOIDS SNAILS (its number one predator) At a certain size, it instinctively shelters from bad weather, unnoticed but otherwise roams the streets searching for scraps of forgotten thought and feeling. Given time and luck the poetry ball becomes large HUGE ENORMOUS: A vast accumulation of papery bits That ultimately takes to the air, levitating by The sheer force of so much unspoken emotion. It floats gently above suburban rooftops when everybody is asleep inspiring lonely dogs to bark in the middle of the night. Sadly a big ball of paper no matter how large and buoyant, is still a fragile thing. Sooner or LATER it will be surprised by a sudden gust of wind Beaten by driving rain and REDUCED in a matter of minutes to a billion soggy shreds. One morning everyone will wake up to find a pulpy mess covering front lawns clogging up gutters and plastering car windscreens. Traffic will be delayed children delighted adults baffled unable to figure out where it all came from Stranger still Will be the Discovery that Every lump of Wet paper Contains various faded words pressed into accidental verse. Barely visible but undeniably present To each reader they will whisper something different something joyful something sad truthful absurd hilarious profound and perfect No one will be able to explain the Strange feeling of weightlessness or the private smile that remains Long after the street sweepers have come and gone.
Shaun Tan (Tales from Outer Suburbia)
Long enshrined traditions around communion aside, there are always folks who fancy themselves bouncers to the heavenly banquet, charged with keeping the wrong people away from the table and out of the church. Evangelicalism in particular has seen a resurgence in border patrol Christianity in recent years, as alliances and coalitions formed around shared theological distinctives elevate secondary issues to primary ones and declare anyone who fails to conform to their strict set of beliefs and behaviors unfit for Christian fellowship. Committed to purifying the church of every errant thought, difference of opinion, or variation in practice, these self-appointed gatekeepers tie up heavy loads of legalistic rules and place them on weary people’s shoulders. They strain out the gnats in everyone else’s theology while swallowing their own camel-sized inconsistencies. They slam the door of the kingdom in people’s faces and tell them to come back when they are sober, back on their feet, Republican, Reformed, doubtless, submissive, straight.
Rachel Held Evans (Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church)
They're just words, he told himself, they don't matter. But he knew that wasn't completely true. The words themselves were only part of the problem; the worst part was what the words conveyed. They told everyone that Michael was someone who should be singled out because he was...sick and repulsive. He had heard those words all his life, but each time was like the first, a jagged knife cutting through innocence. He simply didn't know how much longer he could take it.
Michael Griffo (Unnatural (Archangel Academy, #1))
As I turned my head and looked out the window, I saw that everything around me was glowing from within. The sunlight on the trees, the swaying of the leaves in the wind, the slight rattle of the panes of glass in the old window frame, were too beautiful for words. I was enthralled at how miraculous everything was. Absolutely everything was beautiful. . . . I saw clearly that everyone is made of light—that we are like forms of light—but that a crust has formed over it. The crust is black and rubbery like tar and has obscured the inner light that is everyone’s real, inner self. Some blotches of tar are very thick; other areas are thinner and more transparent. Those who have worked on themselves for longer have less tar and they radiate more of their inner light. Because of their personal history, others are covered with more tar and need a great deal of work to get free of it. . . If we observe ourselves truthfully and non-judgmentally, seeing the mechanisms of our personality in action, we can wake up, and our lives can be a miraculous unfolding of beauty and joy.
Don Richard Riso (The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types)
To all who walk the dark path, and to those who walk in the sunshine but hold out a hand in the darkness to travel beside us: Brighter days are coming. Clearer sight will arrive. And you will arrive too. No, it might not be forever. The bright moments might be for a few days at a time, but hold on for those days. Those days are worth the dark. In the dark you find yourself, all bones and exhaustion and helplessness. In the dark you find your basest self. In the dark you find the bottom of watery trenches the rest of the world only sees the surface of. You will see things that no normal person will ever see. Terrible things. Mysterious things. Things that try to burrow into your mind like a bad seed. Things that whisper dark and horrid secrets that you want to forget. Things that scream lies. Things that want you dead. Things that will stop at nothing to pull you down further and kill you in the most terrible way of all … by your own trembling hand. These things are fearsome monsters … the kind you always knew would sink in their needle-sharp teeth and pull you under the bed if you left a dangling limb out. You know they aren’t real, but when you’re in that black, watery hole with them they are the realest thing there is. And they want us dead. And sometimes they succeed. But not always. And not with you. You are alive. You have fought and battled them. You are scarred and worn and sometimes exhausted and were perhaps even close to giving up, but you did not. You have won many battles. There are no medals given out for these fights, but you wear your armor and your scars like an invisible skin, and each time you learn a little more. You learn how to fight. You learn which weapons work. You learn who your allies are. You learn that those monsters are exquisite liars who will stop at nothing to get you to surrender. Sometimes you fight valiantly with fists and words and fury. Sometimes you fight by pulling yourself into a tiny ball, blotting out the monsters along with the rest of the world. Sometimes you fight by giving up and turning it over to someone else who can fight for you. Sometimes you just fall deeper. And in the deepest, night-blind fathoms you’re certain that you’re alone. You aren’t. I’m there with you. And I’m not alone. Some of the best people are here too … feeling blindly. Waiting. Crying. Surviving. Painfully stretching their souls so that they can learn to breathe underwater … so that they can do what the monsters say is impossible. So that they can live. And so that they can find their way back to the surface with the knowledge of things that go bump in the night. So that they can dry themselves in the warm light that shines so brightly and easily for those above the surface. So that they can walk with others in the sunlight but with different eyes … eyes that still see the people underwater, allowing them to reach out into the darkness to pull up fellow fighters, or to simply hold their cold hands and sit beside the water to wait patiently for them to come up for air. Ground zero is where the normal people live their lives, but not us. We live in the negatives so often that we begin to understand that life when the sun shines should be lived full throttle, soaring. The invisible tether that binds the normal people on their steady course doesn’t hold us in the same way. Sometimes we walk in sunlight with everyone else. Sometimes we live underwater and fight and grow. And sometimes …  … sometimes we fly.
Jenny Lawson (Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things)
There’s a fundamental connection between seeming and being. We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be... It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story... No, listen. I’ve got it now. You meet a girl: shy, unassuming. If you tell her she’s beautiful, she’ll think you’re sweet, but she won’t believe you. She knows that beauty lies in your beholding. And sometimes that’s enough. But there’s a better way. You show her she is beautiful. You make mirrors of your eyes, prayers of your hands against her body. It is hard, very hard, but when she truly believes you, the story she tells herself in her own head changes. She transforms. She isn’t seen as beautiful. She is beautiful, seen.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1))
Justice is often born in the quiet and ordinary moments long before it's seen by anyone else. Sometimes it's as simple and as difficult as listening, as learning, as laying down our excuses or justifications or disguises, as forgiveness, as choosing the hard daily work of restoration, as staying resolutely alive when everyone else is numbing themselves against it.
Sarah Bessey (Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith)
Bast said. “The truth is deeper than that. It’s...” Bast floundered for a moment. “It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1))
Jack fell to his knees on the bench,his eyes rolling back in ecstasy as he clutched both hands to his heart. "Oh, heavens above,to have seen such beauty with my own eyes! It's more than I ever hoped for. But how can I live now, knowing that you're not mine? Please." He crawled forward to the edge of the bench. "Marry me. Nay,marriage will cost us precious moments together. Let us make sweet, passionate love right here.Let me bear your children." A primal growl signaled Miss Lynn getting over her shock at being thus addressed. She lunged forward; Jack deftly rolled off the bench, jumping up out of her reach. "Goodness, I didn't expect you to be quite this enthusiastic about my advances. If I don't play hard to get, how will I ever know whether or not you respect me?" Another growl,this one sounding like "you!" Or prehaps "eew!" because that's certainly how I felt about the whole exchange. Everyone stopped laughing and watched, wide-eyed with horror, unsure whether to stay or distance themselves from the inevitable outcome, which would quite possibly involve jack's dismemberment. I didn't know who to root for.
Kiersten White (Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2))
The choir and congregation are singing I Vow to Thee My Country. Never has he heard the hymn sung with such heartfelt pathos. It is as if everyone is trying to sing themselves into being. It is the war that makes everyone sing out their hearts like this. The hymn expresses some imperative deep down in the blood. Like running fingers over the edge of things in pitch darkness.
Glenn Haybittle (The Way Back to Florence)
The girl clones at Singer Grove were just like the ones in Texas; they knocked themselves out to be like everyone else and then bragged about how they were different. All their differences put into a pot and boiled down wouldn't spice baby food. By trying to brag about how different they were, they just really showed how alike they were, because all their differences were alike.
E.L. Konigsburg (Up from Jericho Tel)
Water everywhere, falling in thundering cataracts, singular drops, and draping sheets. Kellhus paused next to one of the shining braziers, peered beneath the bronze visage that loomed orange and scowling over his father, watched him lean back into absolute shadow. “You came to the world,” unseen lips said, “and you saw that Men were like children.” Lines of radiance danced across the intervening waters. “It is their nature to believe as their fathers believed,” the darkness continued. “To desire as they desired … Men are like wax poured into moulds: their souls are cast by their circumstances. Why are no Fanim children born to Inrithi parents? Why are no Inrithi children born to Fanim parents? Because these truths are made, cast by the particularities of circumstance. Rear an infant among Fanim and he will become Fanim. Rear him among Inrithi and he will become Inrithi … “Split him in two, and he would murder himself.” Without warning, the face re-emerged, water-garbled, white save the black sockets beneath his brow. The action seemed random, as though his father merely changed posture to relieve some vagrant ache, but it was not. Everything, Kellhus knew, had been premeditated. For all the changes wrought by thirty years in the Wilderness, his father remained Dûnyain … Which meant that Kellhus stood on conditioned ground. “But as obvious as this is,” the blurred face continued, “it escapes them. Because they cannot see what comes before them, they assume nothing comes before them. Nothing. They are numb to the hammers of circumstance, blind to their conditioning. What is branded into them, they think freely chosen. So they thoughtlessly cleave to their intuitions, and curse those who dare question. They make ignorance their foundation. They confuse their narrow conditioning for absolute truth.” He raised a cloth, pressed it into the pits of his eyes. When he withdrew it, two rose-coloured stains marked the pale fabric. The face slipped back into the impenetrable black. “And yet part of them fears. For even unbelievers share the depth of their conviction. Everywhere, all about them, they see examples of their own self-deception … ‘Me!’ everyone cries. ‘I am chosen!’ How could they not fear when they so resemble children stamping their feet in the dust? So they encircle themselves with yea-sayers, and look to the horizon for confirmation, for some higher sign that they are as central to the world as they are to themselves.” He waved his hand out, brought his palm to his bare breast. “And they pay with the coin of their devotion.
R. Scott Bakker (The Thousandfold Thought (The Prince of Nothing, #3))
With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally 'bright,' did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn't it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind. Who knows who might be the target of a well-read man? Me? I won't stomach them for a minute. And so when houses were finally fireproofed completely, all over the world [...] there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes. They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior: official censors, judges and executors.
Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)
Put simply, because many professionals are almost always successful at what they do, they rarely experience failure. And because they have rarely failed, they have never learned how to learn from failure. … [T]hey become defensive, screen out criticism, and put the “blame” on anyone and everyone but themselves. In short, their ability to learn shuts down precisely at the moment they need it the most.
Laszlo Bock (Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead)
You've never been the safe, nice girl next door, despite everything you do to be that person. That's why you joined the I.S., and even there you didn't fit in, because, knowing it or not, you were a possible threat to everyone around you. People sense it on some level. I see it all the time. The dangerous are attracted by the lure of an equal, and the weak are afraid. Then they avoid you, or go out of their way to make your life miserable so you'll leave and they can continue deluding themselves that they're safe. (...) You got off on the risk.
Kim Harrison (A Fistful of Charms (The Hollows, #4))
As they walked, Tehol spoke. ‘…the assumption is the foundation stone of Letherii society, perhaps all societies the world over. The notion of inequity, my friends. For from inequity derives the concept of value, whether measured by money or the countless other means of gauging human worth. Simply put, there resides in all of us the unchallenged belief that the poor and the starving are in some way deserving of their fate. In other words, there will always be poor people. A truism to grant structure to the continual task of comparison, the establishment through observation of not our mutual similarities, but our essential differences. ‘I know what you’re thinking, to which I have no choice but to challenge you both. Like this. Imagine walking down this street, doling out coins by the thousands. Until everyone here is in possession of vast wealth. A solution? No, you say, because among these suddenly rich folk there will be perhaps a majority who will prove wasteful, profligate and foolish, and before long they will be poor once again. Besides, if wealth were distributed in such a fashion, the coins themselves would lose all value—they would cease being useful. And without such utility, the entire social structure we love so dearly would collapse. ‘Ah, but to that I say, so what? There are other ways of measuring self-worth. To which you both heatedly reply: with no value applicable to labour, all sense of worth vanishes! And in answer to that I simply smile and shake my head. Labour and its product become the negotiable commodities. But wait, you object, then value sneaks in after all! Because a man who makes bricks cannot be equated with, say, a man who paints portraits. Material is inherently value-laden, on the basis of our need to assert comparison—but ah, was I not challenging the very assumption that one must proceed with such intricate structures of value? ‘And so you ask, what’s your point, Tehol? To which I reply with a shrug. Did I say my discourse was a valuable means of using this time? I did not. No, you assumed it was. Thus proving my point!’ ‘I’m sorry, master,’ Bugg said, ‘but what was that point again?’ ‘I forget. But we’ve arrived. Behold, gentlemen, the poor.
Steven Erikson (Midnight Tides (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #5))
Dear my strong girls, you will all go through that phase of life making a mistake of helping a toxic girl whose friendship with you turns into her self-interest. This kind of girls is a real burden towards the empowerment of other females as they can never get past their own insecurity and grow out of high-school-like drama. Despite how advanced we are in educating modern women, this type will still go through life living in identity crisis, endlessly looking for providers of any kind at the end of the day. They can never stand up for others or things that matter because they can't stand up for themselves. They care what everyone thinks only doing things to impress men, friends, strangers, everyone in society except themselves, while at the same time can't stand seeing other women with purpose get what those women want in life. But let me tell you, this is nothing new, let them compete and compare with you as much as they wish, be it your career, love or spirit. You know who you are and you will know who your true girls are by weeding out girls that break our girlie code of honor, but do me a favor by losing this type of people for good. Remind yourself to never waste time with a person who likes to betray others' trust, never. Disloyalty is a trait that can't be cured. Bless yourself that you see a person's true colors sooner than later. With love, your mama. XOXO
Shannon L. Alder
Each religion makes scores of purportedly factual assertions about everything from the creation of the universe to the afterlife. But on what grounds can believers presume to know that these assertions are true? The reasons they give are various, but the ultimate justification for most religious people’s beliefs is a simple one: we believe what we believe because our holy scriptures say so. But how, then, do we know that our holy scriptures are factually accurate? Because the scriptures themselves say so. Theologians specialize in weaving elaborate webs of verbiage to avoid saying anything quite so bluntly, but this gem of circular reasoning really is the epistemological bottom line on which all 'faith' is grounded. In the words of Pope John Paul II: 'By the authority of his absolute transcendence, God who makes himself known is also the source of the credibility of what he reveals.' It goes without saying that this begs the question of whether the texts at issue really were authored or inspired by God, and on what grounds one knows this. 'Faith' is not in fact a rejection of reason, but simply a lazy acceptance of bad reasons. 'Faith' is the pseudo-justification that some people trot out when they want to make claims without the necessary evidence. But of course we never apply these lax standards of evidence to the claims made in the other fellow’s holy scriptures: when it comes to religions other than one’s own, religious people are as rational as everyone else. Only our own religion, whatever it may be, seems to merit some special dispensation from the general standards of evidence. And here, it seems to me, is the crux of the conflict between religion and science. Not the religious rejection of specific scientific theories (be it heliocentrism in the 17th century or evolutionary biology today); over time most religions do find some way to make peace with well-established science. Rather, the scientific worldview and the religious worldview come into conflict over a far more fundamental question: namely, what constitutes evidence. Science relies on publicly reproducible sense experience (that is, experiments and observations) combined with rational reflection on those empirical observations. Religious people acknowledge the validity of that method, but then claim to be in the possession of additional methods for obtaining reliable knowledge of factual matters — methods that go beyond the mere assessment of empirical evidence — such as intuition, revelation, or the reliance on sacred texts. But the trouble is this: What good reason do we have to believe that such methods work, in the sense of steering us systematically (even if not invariably) towards true beliefs rather than towards false ones? At least in the domains where we have been able to test these methods — astronomy, geology and history, for instance — they have not proven terribly reliable. Why should we expect them to work any better when we apply them to problems that are even more difficult, such as the fundamental nature of the universe? Last but not least, these non-empirical methods suffer from an insuperable logical problem: What should we do when different people’s intuitions or revelations conflict? How can we know which of the many purportedly sacred texts — whose assertions frequently contradict one another — are in fact sacred?
Alan Sokal
Welcome back, Ben,” Erica said. I started in surprise before realizing the voice was coming from inside my head. Alexander had slipped a two-way radio into my ear. There were lots of people out and about. The enemy had taken my cell phone, but I put my hand to my ear and pretended to be talking on one anyhow. No one gave me a second glance. Virtually everyone else was on a cell phone themselves. “Can you hear me?” I asked. “Loud and clear,” Erica replied. “Where are you?” “Still on campus, looking into things. But I need you to tail someone for me.” “Chip?” “No. I think he’s clean.” “What? But—” “I’ll explain later. Right now I need you to go after Tina. She’s the mole . . . and she’s on the move.
Stuart Gibbs (Spy School)
We all need that someone in our life who's going to motivate us and not stress us, and then we need to treat him the same way we want to be treaded, and no lies, we say what we mean and mean what we say. and always try to build together not destroy each other, if the outcome isn't what you expected, at least you can say you tried., but also remember that pressure makes diamonds people. not everything will be easy between you and me and him and her and them. its all give and take.. reward and sacrifice. try to love those who love you, not just the ones who are easiest to love, try to help those who need you, may you will need the help someday. try to forgive those who hurt you, may you hurted someone once upon a time and try to forget those who leave you, may god knew that they aren't good for you. one of my main goals on the planet is to encourage people to empower themselves like what im trying now, i try to makes you positive, to make a positive change in your life, it will never happen unless me or you or him or her make it happen. they said "be the change you want to see in the world" im like that and i would like everyone to be like me.
Marouane LAASSAFAR
Everyone has it within their heart to be vegan, but each time they eat anything from an animal they deny that this is so, they deny that they have enough love in their hearts to show these animals mercy and free them from our tyranny. This is a blatant lie that they keep telling themselves, time and time again. They would rather argue that they don't care about animals and find excuses to justify and continue harming them, than acknowledge any 'sissy' ability they might have to feel compassion for them. What they don't understand is, that they hurt themselves by not acknowledging this latent ability within their hearts though, and with this they deny themselves love too, for what is given out always comes back multifold.
Mango Wodzak
And everyone drank too much coffee too, at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons. They drank it when they came in every morning to get going, and then again in the afternoon to keep going. They ran on caffeine fumes all day and never fucking got anywhere. Then they went home spent and empty and crashed in front of the TV every night and slept away the few hours they had for themselves. All these motherfuckers are always talking about the best ways to manage your time. The fact is any time spent at work not sleeping in the bathroom is wasted time, and it’s hard to sleep when you’re pumped full of caffeine. Everyone’s awake for the wrong part of their lives. And by the weekend they’re too exhausted from all the frantic, useless activity to even care, and it’s only fucking two days off anyway. Nobody has the time or the energy to do what they really want, or to even figure out what that is.
Paul Neilan (Apathy and Other Small Victories)
It was not only for Americans that he was concerned, or primarily the older generation of any land. The thought that disturbed him the most, and that made the prospect of war much more fearful than it would otherwise have been, was the specter of the death of the children of this country and all the world—the young people who had no role, who had no say, who knew nothing even of the confrontation, but whose lives would be snuffed out like everyone else’s. They would never have a chance to make a decision, to vote in an election, to run for office, to lead a revolution, to determine their own destinies. Our generation had. But the great tragedy was that, if we erred, we erred not only for ourselves, our futures, our hopes, and our country, but for the lives, futures, hopes, and countries of those who had never been given an opportunity to play a role, to vote aye or nay, to make themselves felt.
Robert F. Kennedy (Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis)
In time, when we became adults, we might look back on this pain and loneliness as a funny thing, perfectly ordinary, but—but how were we expected to get by, to get through this interminable period of time until that point when we were adults? There was no one to teach us how. Was there nothing to do but leave us alone, like we had the measles? But people died from the measles, or went blind. You couldn't just leave them alone. Some of us, in our daily depressions and rages, were apt to stray, to become corrupted, irreparably so, and then our lives would be forever in disorder. There were even some who would resolve to kill themselves. And when that happened, everyone would say, Oh, if only she had lived a little longer she would have known, if she were a little more grown up she would have figured it out. How saddened they would all be. But if those people were to think about it from our perspective, and see how we had tried to endure despite how terribly painful it all was, and how we had even tried to listen carefully, as hard as we could, to what the world might have to say, they would see that, in the end, the same bland lessons were always being repeated over and over, you know, well, merely to appease us.
Osamu Dazai (Schoolgirl)
Don’t strive to be a well-rounded leader. Instead, discover your zone and stay there. Then delegate everything else. Admitting a weakness is a sign of strength. Acknowledging weakness doesn’t make a leader less effective. Everybody in your organization benefits when you delegate responsibilities that fall outside your core competency. Thoughtful delegation will allow someone else in your organization to shine. Your weakness is someone’s opportunity. Leadership is not always about getting things done “right.” Leadership is about getting things done through other people. The people who follow us are exactly where we have led them. If there is no one to whom we can delegate, it is our own fault. As a leader, gifted by God to do a few things well, it is not right for you to attempt to do everything. Upgrade your performance by playing to your strengths and delegating your weaknesses. There are many things I can do, but I have to narrow it down to the one thing I must do. The secret of concentration is elimination. Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing. My competence in these areas defines my success as a pastor. A sixty-hour workweek will not compensate for a poorly delivered sermon. People don’t show up on Sunday morning because I am a good pastor (leader, shepherd, counselor). In my world, it is my communication skills that make the difference. So that is where I focus my time. To develop a competent team, help the leaders in your organization discover their leadership competencies and delegate accordingly. Once you step outside your zone, don’t attempt to lead. Follow. The less you do, the more you will accomplish. Only those leaders who act boldly in times of crisis and change are willingly followed. Accepting the status quo is the equivalent of accepting a death sentence. Where there’s no progress, there’s no growth. If there’s no growth, there’s no life. Environments void of change are eventually void of life. So leaders find themselves in the precarious and often career-jeopardizing position of being the one to draw attention to the need for change. Consequently, courage is a nonnegotiable quality for the next generation leader. The leader is the one who has the courage to act on what he sees. A leader is someone who has the courage to say publicly what everybody else is whispering privately. It is not his insight that sets the leader apart from the crowd. It is his courage to act on what he sees, to speak up when everyone else is silent. Next generation leaders are those who would rather challenge what needs to change and pay the price than remain silent and die on the inside. The first person to step out in a new direction is viewed as the leader. And being the first to step out requires courage. In this way, courage establishes leadership. Leadership requires the courage to walk in the dark. The darkness is the uncertainty that always accompanies change. The mystery of whether or not a new enterprise will pan out. The reservation everyone initially feels when a new idea is introduced. The risk of being wrong. Many who lack the courage to forge ahead alone yearn for someone to take the first step, to go first, to show the way. It could be argued that the dark provides the optimal context for leadership. After all, if the pathway to the future were well lit, it would be crowded. Fear has kept many would-be leaders on the sidelines, while good opportunities paraded by. They didn’t lack insight. They lacked courage. Leaders are not always the first to see the need for change, but they are the first to act. Leadership is about moving boldly into the future in spite of uncertainty and risk. You can’t lead without taking risk. You won’t take risk without courage. Courage is essential to leadership.
Andy Stanley (Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future)
When Vivian describes how it felt to be at the mercy of strangers, Molly nods. She knows full well what it’s like to tamp down your natural inclinations, to force a smile when you feel numb. After a while you don’t know what your own needs are anymore. You’re grateful for the slightest hint of kindness, and then, as you get older, suspicious. Why would anyone do anything for you without expecting something in return? And anyway—most of the time they don’t. More often than not, you see the worst of people. You learn that most adults lie. That most people only look out for themselves. That you are only as interesting as you are useful to someone. And so your personality is shaped. You know too much, and this knowledge makes you wary. You grow fearful and mistrustful. The expression of emotion does not come naturally, so you learn to fake it. To pretend. To display an empathy you don’t actually feel. And so it is that you learn how to pass, if you’re lucky, to look like everyone else, even though you’re broken inside.
Christina Baker Kline (Orphan Train)
Today everyone on our side knows that criminality is not the result of the Algerian's congenital nature nor the configuration of his nervous system. The war in Algeria and wars of national liberation bring out the true protagonists. We have demonstrated that in the colonial situation the colonized are confronted with themselves. They tend to use each other as a screen. Each prevents his neighbor from seeing the national enemy. And when exhausted after a sixteen-hour day of hard work the colonized subject collapses on his mat and a child on the other side of the canvas partition cries and prevents him from sleeping, it just so happens it's a little Algerian. When he goes to beg for a little semolina or a little oil from the shopkeeper to whom he already owes several hundred francs and his request is turned down, he is overwhelmed by an intense hatred and desire to kill—and the shopkeeper happens to be an Algerian. When, after weeks of keeping a low profile, he finds himself cornered one day by the kaid demanding "his taxes," he is not even allowed the opportunity to direct his hatred against the European administrator; before him stands the kaid who excites his hatred—and he happens to be an Algerian.
Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth)
The emperor has no clothes, and sooner or later everyone is going to see what’s staring them right in the face. When that happens, perhaps, there will be a major shift; a mass exodus away from the complexity and futility of all spiritual teachings. An exodus not outward toward Japan or India or Tibet, but inward, toward the self; toward self-reliance, toward self-determination, toward a common sense approach to figuring out just what the hell’s going on around here. A wiping of the slate. A fresh start. Sincere, intelligent people dispensing with the past and beginning anew. Beginning by asking themselves, “Okay, where are we? What do we know for sure? What do we know that’s true?” A spiritual revolution.
Jed McKenna (Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing)
Just about everyone I've ever interviewed has told me that by doing something or other--recovering from cancer, climbing a mountain, playing the part of a serial killer in a movie--they have learned something about themselves. And I always nod and smile thoughtfully, when really I want to pin them down: What did you learn from the cancer, actually? That you don't like being sick? That you don't want to die? That wigs make your scalp itch? Come on, be specific. I suspect it's something they tell themselves in order to turn the experience into something that might appear valuable, rather than a complete and utter waste of time. In the last few months, I have been to prison, lost every last molecule of self-respect, become estranged from my children, and thought very seriously about killing myself. I mean, that little lot has got to be the psychological equivalent of cancer, right? And it's certainly a bigger deal than acting in a bloody film. So how come I've learned absolutley bugger all? What was I supposed to learn? I've found out that prison and poverty aren't really me. But, you know, I could have had a wild stab in the dark about both of those things beforehand. Call me literal-minded, but I suspect people might learn more about themselves if they didn't get cancer. They'd have more time, and a lot more energy.
Nick Hornby (A Long Way Down)
For individuals to feel justified in doing horrible things to other people, they must feel an unwavering certainty in their own righteousness, in their own beliefs and deservedness. Racists do racist things because they’re certain about their genetic superiority. Religious fanatics blow themselves up and murder dozens of people because they’re certain of their place in heaven as martyrs. Men rape and abuse women out of their certainty that they’re entitled to women’s bodies. Evil people never believe that they are evil; rather, they believe that everyone else is evil. In
Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life)
We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult.
Michael Cunningham (The Hours)
The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research “childhood.” There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises “adolescence.” The feeling haunts people all their lives. Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again. Two difficulties with this latter scheme at once present themselves. First of all, we have only ever glimpsed, as if through half-closed lids, the picture on the lid of the jigsaw puzzle box. Second, no matter how diligent we have been about picking up pieces along the way, we will never have anywhere near enough of them to finish the job. The most we can hope to accomplish with our handful of salvaged bits—the bittersweet harvest of observation and experience—is to build a little world of our own. A scale model of that mysterious original, unbroken, half—remembered. Of course the worlds we build out of our store of fragments can be only approximations, partial and inaccurate. As representations of the vanished whole that haunts us, they must be accounted failures. And yet in that very failure, in their gaps and inaccuracies, they may yet be faithful maps, accurate scale models, of this beautiful and broken world. We call these scale models “works of art.
Michael Chabon (The Wes Anderson Collection)
Then the voice - which identified itself as the prince of this world, the only being who really knows what happens on Earth - began to show him the people around him on the beach. The wonderful father who was busy packing things up and helping his children put on some warm clothes and who would love to have an affair with his secretary, but was terrified on his wife's response. His wife who would like to work and have her independence, but who was terrified of her husband's response. The children who behave themselves because they were terrified of being punished. The girl who was reading a book all on her own beneath the sunshade, pretending she didn't care, but inside was terrified of spending the rest of her life alone. The boy running around with a tennis racuqet , terrified of having to live up to his parents' expectations. The waiter serving tropical drinks to the rich customers and terrified that he could be sacket at any moment. The young girl who wanted to be a dance, but who was studying law instead because she was terrified of what the neighbours might say. The old man who didn't smoke or drink and said he felt much better for it, when in truth it was the terror of death what whispered in his ears like the wind. The married couple who ran by, splashing through the surf, with a smile on their face but with a terror in their hearts telling them that they would soon be old, boring and useless. The man with the suntan who swept up in his launch in front of everybody and waved and smiled, but was terrified because he could lose all his money from one moment to the next. The hotel owner, watching the whole idyllic scene from his office, trying to keep everyone happy and cheerful, urging his accountants to ever greater vigilance, and terrified because he knew that however honest he was government officials would still find mistakes in his accounts if they wanted to. There was terror in each and every one of the people on that beautiful beach and on that breathtakingly beautiful evening. Terror of being alone, terror of the darkness filling their imaginations with devils, terror of doing anything not in the manuals of good behaviour, terror of God's punishing any mistake, terror of trying and failing, terror of succeeding and having to live with the envy of other people, terror of loving and being rejected, terror of asking for a rise in salary, of accepting an invitation, of going somewhere new, of not being able to speak a foreign language, of not making the right impression, of growing old, of dying, of being pointed out because of one's defects, of not being pointed out because of one's merits, of not being noticed either for one's defects of one's merits.
Paulo Coelho (The Devil and Miss Prym)
All men speak in bitter disapproval of the Devil, but they do it reverently, not flippantly; but Father Adolf's way was very different; he called him by every name he could lay his tongue to, and it made everyone shudder that heard him; and often he would even speak of him scornfully and scoffingly; then the people crossed themselves and went quickly out of his presence, fearing that something fearful might happen.
Mark Twain (The Mysterious Stranger)
Jesus is, and always has been, a person we can expect to be doing things we don't expect him to do, in the places where we don't think he'd be, with the people we didn't think he'd be with. His enemies were those who dedicated themselves to obeying every rule in the Bible. His best friends were sex workers, social misfits, and everyone else the religious leaders had declared were "out." I believe our spiritual journey gets much richer the moment we accept this, and accept that Jesus seems to have not just opted out of our boundary systems entirely, but is actually busy walking behind us and erasing the lines we've drawn.
Benjamin L. Corey (Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith)
Authentic relationships always require vulnerability and always the type of vulnerability that at times may feel deeply uncomfortable. Being known and seeking to know others truly. There's a cost in that but that is why there's a value. Authentic relating is the ability to be with other people and not use a mask to protect yourself. It requires a great deal of courage to be able to present one's weakness and one's strengths without diminishing either one for fear of judgement. Although authentic relating is generally associated with intimate relationships of best friends, family and lovers, authentic relating can also be done with people we only meet once or twice. It is about us being true to ourselves ... through the attitude of our heart, our words and our actions. Authentic relating requires people who are brutally honest with themselves and each other. It requires a huge amount of self-awareness, laying down of pride and stripping bare. It also requires a good level of self-esteem, to feel confident to be vulnerable. What does authentic relating mean for you?
Sarah Abell (Inside Out: How to Have Authentic Relationships with Everyone in Your Life.)
A few months ago on a school morning, as I attempted to etch a straight midline part on the back of my wiggling daughter's soon-to-be-ponytailed blond head, I reminded her that it was chilly outside and she needed to grab a sweater. "No, mama." "Excuse me?" "No, I don't want to wear that sweater, it makes me look fat." "What?!" My comb clattered to the bathroom floor. "Fat?! What do you know about fat? You're 5 years old! You are definitely not fat. God made you just right. Now get your sweater." She scampered off, and I wearily leaned against the counter and let out a long, sad sigh. It has begun. I thought I had a few more years before my twin daughters picked up the modern day f-word. I have admittedly had my own seasons of unwarranted, psychotic Slim-Fasting and have looked erroneously to the scale to give me a measurement of myself. But these departures from my character were in my 20s, before the balancing hand of motherhood met the grounding grip of running. Once I learned what it meant to push myself, I lost all taste for depriving myself. I want to grow into more of a woman, not find ways to whittle myself down to less. The way I see it, the only way to run counter to our toxic image-centric society is to literally run by example. I can't tell my daughters that beauty is an incidental side effect of living your passion rather than an adherence to socially prescribed standards. I can't tell my son how to recognize and appreciate this kind of beauty in a woman. I have to show them, over and over again, mile after mile, until they feel the power of their own legs beneath them and catch the rhythm of their own strides. Which is why my parents wake my kids early on race-day mornings. It matters to me that my children see me out there, slogging through difficult miles. I want my girls to grow up recognizing the beauty of strength, the exuberance of endurance, and the core confidence residing in a well-tended body and spirit. I want them to be more interested in what they are doing than how they look doing it. I want them to enjoy food that is delicious, feed their bodies with wisdom and intent, and give themselves the freedom to indulge. I want them to compete in healthy ways that honor the cultivation of skill, the expenditure of effort, and the courage of the attempt. Grace and Bella, will you have any idea how lovely you are when you try? Recently we ran the Chuy's Hot to Trot Kids K together as a family in Austin, and I ran the 5-K immediately afterward. Post?race, my kids asked me where my medal was. I explained that not everyone gets a medal, so they must have run really well (all kids got a medal, shhh!). As I picked up Grace, she said, "You are so sweaty Mommy, all wet." Luke smiled and said, "Mommy's sweaty 'cause she's fast. And she looks pretty. All clean." My PRs will never garner attention or generate awards. But when I run, I am 100 percent me--my strengths and weaknesses play out like a cracked-open diary, my emotions often as raw as the chafing from my jog bra. In my ultimate moments of vulnerability, I am twice the woman I was when I thought I was meant to look pretty on the sidelines. Sweaty and smiling, breathless and beautiful: Running helps us all shine. A lesson worth passing along.
Kristin Armstrong
I wonder how many people I know are out there, battling demons and leviathans alone on this cold night. How many people I know who tell me they are fine, and know how to expertly hide the cry for help behind their eyes. How many are just a helping hand away from a moment that could better their entire life. And how many will never ask, instead ball up these terrible things inside themselves thinking they are all alone in their fight. It is a sobering thought: Everyone we love and know and hate are all suffering in some great or small way. This is why we must be swift with our kindness. make greater efforts at compassion when we ask someone if they are okay.
Nikita Gill
Many peoples practiced agriculture, but they were never obsessed by the delusion that what they were doing was *right*, that everyone in the entire world had to practice agriculture, that every last square yard of the planet had to be devoted to it... If they got tired of being agriculturalists, if they found they didn't like where it was leading them in their particular adaptation, they were *able* to give it up. They didn't say to themselves, 'Well, we've got to keep going at this even if it kills us, because its the *right* way to live.' For example, there was once a people who constructed a vast network of irrigation canals in order to farm the deserts of what is now southeastern Arizona. They maintained these canals for three thousand years and built a fairly advanced civilization, but in the end they were free to say, 'This is a toilsome and unsatisfying way to live, so to hell with it.' They simply walked away from the whole thing and put it so totally out of mind that we don't even know what they called themselves. The only name we have for them is the one the Pima Indians gave them: Hohokam--those who vanished. But it's not going to be this easy for the Takers. It's going to be hard as hell for them to give it up, because what they're doing is *right*... Giving it up would mean that all along they'd been *wrong*. It would mean they'd *never* known how to rule the world. It would mean relinquishing their pretensions to godhood.... It would mean spitting out the fruit of that tree and giving the rule of the world back to the gods.
Daniel Quinn (Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Ishmael, #1))
I wish you could simply extirpate violence and war from the world, abolish all the armed forces, and destroy all the bombs. But this is probably not very realistic. Ultimately, everyone has to start with themselves. Many want to be active somewhere else, at best in a country where they don't currently live. But what's the point, if there's no peace in your own life? So be at peace with yourself. And how? Through peaceful dealings with others. Start by ensuring peace at home before you go out into the world. Or work for peace in both spheres. You can't be working for a peace camp in the Middle East during the day and then in the evening have a quarrel with your family over the phone.
Jón Gnarr (Gnarr: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World)
We shouldn't let our envy of distinguished masters of the arts distract us from the wonder of how each of us gets new ideas. Perhaps we hold on to our superstitions about creativity in order to make our own deficiencies seem more excusable. For when we tell ourselves that masterful abilities are simply unexplainable, we're also comforting ourselves by saying that those superheroes come endowed with all the qualities we don't possess. Our failures are therefore no fault of our own, nor are those heroes' virtues to their credit, either. If it isn't learned, it isn't earned. When we actually meet the heroes whom our culture views as great, we don't find any singular propensities––only combinations of ingredients quite common in themselves. Most of these heroes are intensely motivated, but so are many other people. They're usually very proficient in some field--but in itself we simply call this craftmanship or expertise. They often have enough self-confidence to stand up to the scorn of peers--but in itself, we might just call that stubbornness. They surely think of things in some novel ways, but so does everyone from time to time. And as for what we call "intelligence", my view is that each person who can speak coherently already has the better part of what our heroes have. Then what makes genius appear to stand apart, if we each have most of what it takes? I suspect that genius needs one thing more: in order to accumulate outstanding qualities, one needs unusually effective ways to learn. It's not enough to learn a lot; one also has to manage what one learns. Those masters have, beneath the surface of their mastery, some special knacks of "higher-order" expertise, which help them organize and apply the things they learn. It is those hidden tricks of mental management that produce the systems that create those works of genius. Why do certain people learn so many more and better skills? These all-important differences could begin with early accidents. One child works out clever ways to arrange some blocks in rows and stacks; a second child plays at rearranging how it thinks. Everyone can praise the first child's castles and towers, but no one can see what the second child has done, and one may even get the false impression of a lack of industry. But if the second child persists in seeking better ways to learn, this can lead to silent growth in which some better ways to learn may lead to better ways to learn to learn. Then, later, we'll observe an awesome, qualitative change, with no apparent cause--and give to it some empty name like talent, aptitude, or gift.
Marvin Minsky (The Society of Mind)
I have a friend [whose] mom is very, very Christian and crazy religious…She’s like that for all the wrong reasons and isn’t actually true to her word. She doesn’t practice what she preaches. The things she does preach, she contradicts them all the time. She can be really hypocritical. It went out to her and anybody else like that…A lot of our fans are having issues with loving themselves and coming to terms with their sexuality…A lot of those kids have a really tough home life where their families are exactly like the people I’m talking about in ‘Holy.’ They’ve really latched onto that one because that’s the life they have to deal with and the people they’ve had to deal with. I think everyone knows people like that
Lynn Gunn
Davenport stood in the middle of it with her arms out from her sides, her fingers spread as the creek churned around her. She was crying now, long sobs that made her whole body shake. I had always thought the world was good, that everyone could find the beauty in themselves. Everyone could honor, and forgive, and live a full and gorgeous life, even when the hands they'd been dealt weren't easy. But what Davenport had been born into had taken so much from her, leaving her with just the wickedest and the worst. Her father had given her life, and then taken every scrap of joy or freedom, and even now that he was dead, all he had left her with was a deep, abiding hatred for what she was. Her power was tremendous, working through her, but it had gone to rot, and without someone to help her and to love her, she did not know how to take it back. "Yes," I said to the fiend, water spilling out of my mouth. "Yes - whatever she needs. Give her whatever she needs.
Brenna Yovanoff (Fiendish)
This, not incidentally, is another perfect setting for deindividuation: on one side, the functionary behind a wall of security glass following a script laid out with the intention that it should be applied no matter what the specific human story may be, told to remain emotionally disinvested as far as possible so as to avoid preferential treatment of one person over another - and needing to follow that advice to avoid being swamped by empathy for fellow human beings in distress. The functionary becomes a mixture of Zimbardo's prison guards and the experimenter himself, under siege from without while at the same time following an inflexible rubric set down by those higher up the hierarchical chain, people whose job description makes them responsible, but who in turn see themselves as serving the general public as a non-specific entity and believe or have been told that only strict adherence to a system can produce impartial fairness. Fairness is supposed to be vested in the code: no human can or should make the system fairer by exercising judgement. In other words, the whole thing creates a collective responsibility culminating in a blameless loop. Everyone assumes that it's not their place to take direct personal responsibility for what happens; that level of vested individual power is part of the previous almost feudal version of responsibility. The deindividuation is actually to a certain extent the desired outcome, though its negative consequences are not.
Nick Harkaway (The Blind Giant)
Someties it is hard to criticize, one wants only to chronicle. The good and mediocre books come in from week to week, and I put them aside and read them and think of what to say; but the "worthless" books come in day after day, like the cries and truck sounds from the street, and there is nothing that anyone could think of that is good enough for them. In the bad type of thin pamphlets, in hand-set lines on imported paper, people's hard lives and hopeless ambitions have expressed themselves more directly and heartbreakingly than they have ever expressed in any work of art:. it is as if the writers had sent you their ripped-out arms and legs, with "This is a poem" scrawled on them in lipstick. After a while one is embarrassed not so much for them as for poetry, which is for these poor poets one more of the openings against which everyone in the end beats his brains out; and one finds it unbearable that poetry should be so hard to write - a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey in which there is for most of the players no tail, no donkey, not even a booby prize. If there were only some mechanism (like Seurat's proposed system of painting, or the projected Universal Algebra that Gödel believes Leibnitz to have perfected and mislaid) for reasonably and systematically converting into poetry what we see and feel and are! When one reads the verse of people who cannot write poems - people who sometimes have more intelligence, sensibility, and moral discrimination than most of the poets - it is hard not to regard the Muse as a sort of fairy godmother who says to the poet, after her colleagues have showered on him the most disconcerting and ambiguous gifts, "Well, never mind. You're still the only one that can write poetry.
Randall Jarrell (Kipling, Auden and Company)
Rosie and Mary had taken only a 10 percentage of this privilege - they were three minutes late leaving their room and took the second bus that went past rather than the first just so they could feel themselves standing at a bus stop in Manhattan, New York, surrounded by people who were short, dark and voluble rather than tall, blond and silent. The fatal part was the bus they got on. They, of course stood, because they had been taught to do so, out of respect to everyone else in the whole world - they were from the Midwest and deference was their habit and their training. ......."Did you see that?" "What?" replied Mary "That woman." "God, she was rude," said Mary. And from that statement Rosalind knew that Mary would live the rest of her life in the Midwest, which she did.
Jane Smiley
At one level, the Opposition's most urgent job, between now and the next election, is to publicise the government's mistakes. Randolph Churchill once declared that oppositions should oppose everything, propose nothing and turf the government out. He was right in this fundamental respect: the opposition's job is to get elected. Intelligent oppositions have no unnecessary enemies. They make the government rather than themselves the issue by ensuring that everyone harmed by government decisions well and truly knows about it.
Tony Abbott
Society gives the image of sexual violators as weird, ugly, anti-social, alcoholics. Society gives the impression that violators kidnap children are out of their homes and take them to some wooded area and abandon them after the violation. Society gives the impression that everyone hates people who violate children. If all of these myths were true, healing would not be as challenging as it is. Half of our healing is about the actual abuse. The other half is about how survivors fit into society in the face of the myths that people hold in order to make themselves feel safe. The truth is that 80% of childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members. Yet we rarely hear the word “incest”. The word is too ugly and the truth is too scary. Think about what would happen if we ran a campaign to end incest instead of childhood sexual abuse. The number one place that children should know they are safe is in their homes. As it stands, as long as violators keep sexual abuse within the family, the chances of repercussion by anyone is pretty low. Wives won’t leave violating husbands, mothers won’t kick their violating children out of the home, and violating grandparents still get invited to holiday dinners. It is time to start cleaning house. If we stop incest first, then we will strengthen our cause against all sexual abuse.
Rosenna Bakari
It was partly the war, the revolution did the rest. The war was an artificial break in life-- as if life could be put off for a time-- what nonsense! The revolution broke out willy-nilly like a sigh suppressed too long. Everyone was revived, reborn, changed, transformed. You might say that everyone has been through two revolutions-- his own, personal revolution as well as the general one. It seems to me that socialism is the sea, and all these separate streams, these private, individual revolutions, are flowing into it-- the sea of life, the sea of spontaneity. I said life, but I mean life as you see it in a great picture, transformed by genius, creatively enriched. Only now people have decided to experience it not in books and pictures, but in themselves, not as an abstraction but in practice.
Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago)
Reading God's Word and receiving the knowledge of Jesus Christ renews the believer's mind and transforms it to His mind. The minds of immature believers will be focused on selfish ambitions, but as they open themselves up to read the Word concerning Jesus, they enter into fellowship with Him and their thinking begins to change--to be renewed. As a result of such a renewing of the mind, they spontaneously start to look out for the interest of others and to genuinely and unselfishly care for others; they do not consider themselves better than everyone else.
Henry Hon (ONE: Unfolding God's Eternal Purpose from House to House)
He would talk, and I would talk, and he would talk, and each of our words sounded out the deepest secret depths inside us. There are some forms of love that words can do no justice to. There are some scars that can't be seen. Perfection is in itself an imperfection. He had flaws. He was sick. He needed help. Is not everyone sick, at one time or another? That was part of his beauty, his sickness. If he had not been sick, he would not have been beautiful, in the way that consumptives are, burning themselves up in brilliant flashes of light . . . I don't expect you to be able to understand. Love is strong enough to resurrect the dead. I don't like the word scar, because it implies intent and blame. A soul as powerful as his had to burn. I have never known a love like this. You don't know. I would have done anything at all for him. You don't know. It feels so goddamn good to be needed, to have someone tell you that he has a gaping hole in him whose shape is made to fit you . . . I saw that he was burning a piece of art on me, a signature on my psyche because it filled the hole in his own, and he wanted to make me his.
Dexter Palmer (The Dream of Perpetual Motion)
Guts,” never much of a word outside the hunting season, was a favorite noun in literary prose. People were said to have or to lack them, to perceive beauty and make moral distinctions in no other place. “Gut-busting” and “gut-wrenching” were accolades. “Nerve-shattering,” “eye-popping,” “bone-crunching”—the responsive critic was a crushed, impaled, electrocuted man. “Searing” was lukewarm. Anything merely spraining or tooth-extracting would have been only a minor masterpiece. “Literally,” in every single case, meant figuratively; that is, not literally. This film will literally grab you by the throat. This book will literally knock you out of your chair… Sometimes the assault mode took the form of peremptory orders. See it. Read it. Go at once…Many sentences carried with them their own congratulations, Suffice it to say…or, The only word for it is…Whether it really sufficed to say, or whether there was, in fact, another word, the sentence, bowing and applauding to itself, ignored…There existed also an economical device, the inverted-comma sneer—the “plot,” or his “work,” or even “brave.” A word in quotation marks carried a somehow unarguable derision, like “so-called” or “alleged…” “He has suffered enough” meant if we investigate this matter any further, it will turn out our friends are in it, too… Murders, generally, were called brutal and senseless slayings, to distinguish them from all other murders; nouns thus became glued to adjectives, in series, which gave an appearance of shoring them up… Intelligent people, caught at anything, denied it. Faced with evidence of having denied it falsely, people said they had not done it and had not lied about it, and didn’t remember it, but if they had done it or lied about it, they would have done it and misspoken themselves about it in an interest so much higher as to alter the nature of doing and lying altogether. It was in the interest of absolutely nobody to get to the bottom of anything whatever. People were no longer “caught” in the old sense on which most people could agree. Induction, detection, the very thrillers everyone was reading were obsolete. The jig was never up. In every city, at the same time, therapists earned their living by saying, “You’re being too hard on yourself.
Renata Adler (Speedboat)
My views in my early 20’s and kept me separate from those around me. Those views were all about making myself feel significant by bringing other people down. I thought having special problems made me special. Problems don’t make people special. Solving them does. My views created an Us-vs-Them perspective of the world. Solving my problem required finding more Us people and to avoid Them. I wanted a special club of Us people. The problem was that all the Us people I found thought that their problems were more unique than the other Us people. We never bonded. We were still separating ourselves by one-upping each other about the uniqueness of our problems. The upside to Us-Vs-Them is that we feel special being Us. Unfortunately feeling special doesn’t outweigh the significant downside. There will always be more Them than Us There has to be. Otherwise, the exclusively club of Us wouldn’t be exclusive. So to maintain the exclusivity, we make more rules in our head to keep others out. We become more dependent on less people and are devastated when those people don’t reciprocate by valuing our friendship with the same mindfulness. Finding more people to connect with seems beyond our control because we automatically put everyone in the Them column and wait for people to work their way into the Us column. The problem is no one wants to have to prove themselves in order to become friends. We end up waiting and waiting.
Corin
...in the running of cities, virtually nothing is done by anyone that is conducive to political health, nor is there a single ally with whom one might go to the aid of justice and still remain alive; it would be a case of a solitary human among wild animals, neither wanting to join in their depredations nor able to stand alone against their collective savagery, dead before he'd done any good to his city or friends and useless both to himself and everybody else. Once a person has made all these calculations, he keeps his peace and minds his own business, like someone withdrawing from the prevailing wind into the shelter of a wall in a storm of dust or rain, and as he sees everyone else filling themselves full of lawlessness he is content if he himself can somehow live out life here untainted by injustice and impious actions, and leave it with fine hopes and in a spirit of kindness and good will.
Plato (The Republic)
If, by the virtue of charity or the funded Ennet House, you will acquire many exotic new facts. You will find out that once MA’s Department of Social Services has taken a mother’s children away for any period of time, they can always take them away again, D.S.S ., like at will, empowered by nothing more than a certain signature-stamped form. I.e. once deemed Unfit— no matter why or when, or what’s transpired in the meantime— there’s nothing a mother can do.(...)That a little-mentioned paradox of Substance addiction is: that once you are sufficiently enslaved by a Substance to need to quit the Substance in order to save your life, the enslaving Substance has become so deeply important to you that you will all but lose your mind when it is taken away from you. Or that sometime after your Substance of choice has just been taken away from you in order to save your life, as you hunker down for required A.M. and P.M. prayers , you will find yourself beginning to pray to be allowed literally to lose your mind, to be able to wrap your mind in an old newspaper or something and leave it in an alley to shift for itself, without you.(...)That certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do. Then that most nonaddicted adult civilians have already absorbed and accepted this fact, often rather early on.(...)That evil people never believe they are evil, but rather that everyone else is evil. That it is possible to learn valuable things from a stupid person. That it takes effort to pay attention to any one stimulus for more than a few seconds.(...)That it is statistically easier for low-IQ people to kick an addiction than it is for high-IQ people.(...)That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.(...)That most Substance -addicted people are also addicted to thinking, meaning they have a compulsive and unhealthy relationship with their own thinking. That the cute Boston AA term for addictive -type thinking is: Analysis-Paralysis. That 99% of compulsive thinkers’ thinking is about themselves; that 99% of this self-directed thinking consists of imagining and then getting ready for things that are going to happen to them; and then, weirdly, that if they stop to think about it, that 100% of the things they spend 99% of their time and energy imagining and trying to prepare for all the contingencies and consequences of are never good.(...)That other people can often see things about you that you yourself cannot see, even if those people are stupid.(...)That certain sincerely devout and spiritually advanced people believe that the God of their understanding helps them find parking places and gives them advice on Mass. Lottery numbers.
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest)
Do not keep talking to the Devil’s Advocate Guy or Gal aka DAG. I’m not against playing Devil’s Advocate, because a lot can be gleaned from it. However, when it comes to topics such as homophobia, sexism and racism, a particular kind of DAG tends to rear its ugly head. This person isn’t interested in having a fruitful discussion that will enrich everyone involved, nor do they have any intention to have an open and frank discussion about a difficult subject. This person is simply a shit-starter. Someone who is bored and wants to derail a conversation or has some inner rage that they are dying to unleash. During my days of blogging about race, I have encountered this person often. They start out as seemingly run-of-the-mill people, perhaps sharing slightly bias statistics but asking enough questions to seem like they are open to ideas. Eventually though, DAG will lose their cool, and reveal themselves for who they are.
Phoebe Robinson (You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain)
The planet was filling up with good-looking young worldlings built entirely of opposites, canceling themselves out and- speaking as a bloke- leaving nothing you'd honestly want to go for a drink with. This new species of guys paired city shoes with backwoods beards. They played in bands but they worked in offices. They hated the rich but they bought lottery tickets, they laughed at comedies about the shittiness of lives that were based quite pointedly on their own, and worst of all they were so endlessly bloody gossipy. Every single thing they did, from unboxing a phone through to sleeping with his athlese, they had this compulsion to stick it online and see what everyone else thought. Their lives were a howling vacuum that sucked in attention. He didn't see how Zoe could ever find love with this new breed of men with cyclonic souls that sucked like Dysons and never needed their bag changed in order to keep on and on sucking.
Chris Cleave (Gold)
And then there was the sad sign that a young woman working at a Tim Hortons in Lethbridge, Alberta, taped to the drive-through window in 2007. It read, “No Drunk Natives.” Accusations of racism erupted, Tim Hortons assured everyone that their coffee shops were not centres for bigotry, but what was most interesting was the public response. For as many people who called in to radio shows or wrote letters to the Lethbridge Herald to voice their outrage over the sign, there were almost as many who expressed their support for the sentiment. The young woman who posted the sign said it had just been a joke. Now, I’ll be the first to say that drunks are a problem. But I lived in Lethbridge for ten years, and I can tell you with as much neutrality as I can muster that there were many more White drunks stumbling out of the bars on Friday and Saturday nights than there were Native drunks. It’s just that in North America, White drunks tend to be invisible, whereas people of colour who drink to excess are not. Actually, White drunks are not just invisible, they can also be amusing. Remember how much fun it was to watch Dean Martin, Red Skelton, W. C. Fields, John Wayne, John Barrymore, Ernie Kovacs, James Stewart, and Marilyn Monroe play drunks on the screen and sometimes in real life? Or Jodie Marsh, Paris Hilton, Cheryl Tweedy, Britney Spears, and the late Anna Nicole Smith, just to mention a few from my daughter’s generation. And let’s not forget some of our politicians and persons of power who control the fates of nations: Winston Churchill, John A. Macdonald, Boris Yeltsin, George Bush, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Hard drinkers, every one. The somewhat uncomfortable point I’m making is that we don’t seem to mind our White drunks. They’re no big deal so long as they’re not driving. But if they are driving drunk, as have Canada’s coffee king Tim Horton, the ex-premier of Alberta Ralph Klein, actors Kiefer Sutherland and Mel Gibson, Super Bowl star Lawyer Milloy, or the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mark Bell, we just hope that they don’t hurt themselves. Or others. More to the point, they get to make their mistakes as individuals and not as representatives of an entire race.
Thomas King (The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America)
Though gay men have begun to understand it is something in themselves these upright men so fear, too many of us have internalized their self-hatred as shame. That the flesh and the spirit are one in love is none of the business of the celibate men of God, especially those who believe they rule the province of love. But the mission of the homophobe is more pernicious even than his morality. He wants every one of us to be all alone, never to find the beloved friend. A man ought to be free to find his reason. Not that freedom alone will serve it up: it requires the gods’ own fury of luck to get two people to meet. But when it finally happens, two men in love can’t rejoice out loud—joy of the very thing everyone burns for—without bracing for the rant of prophets, the schoolyard bully, and Rome’s “intrinsic evil.” I try to remember that we fight as a ragged people to outlast the calamity so that others can sleep as safe as my friend and I, like a raft in the tempest.
Paul Monette (Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir)
Jesus Christ is not a cosmic errand boy. I mean no disrespect or irreverence in so saying, but I do intend to convey the idea that while he loves us deeply and dearly, Christ the Lord is not perched on the edge of heaven, anxiously anticipating our next wish. When we speak of God being good to us, we generally mean that he is kind to us. In the words of the inimitable C. S. Lewis, "What would really satisfy us would be a god who said of anything we happened to like doing, 'What does it matter so long as they are contented?' We want, in fact, not so much a father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven--a senile benevolence who as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves,' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all.'" You know and I know that our Lord is much, much more than that. One writer observed: "When we so emphasize Christ's benefits that he becomes nothing more than what his significance is 'for me' we are in danger. . . . Evangelism that says 'come on, it's good for you'; discipleship that concentrates on the benefits package; sermons that 'use' Jesus as the means to a better life or marriage or job or attitude--these all turn Jesus into an expression of that nice god who always meets my spiritual needs. And this is why I am increasingly hesitant to speak of Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. As Ken Woodward put it in a 1994 essay, 'Now I think we all need to be converted--over and over again, but having a personal Savior has always struck me as, well, elitist, like having a personal tailor. I'm satisfied to have the same Lord and Savior as everyone else.' Jesus is not a personal Savior who only seeks to meet my needs. He is the risen, crucified Lord of all creation who seeks to guide me back into the truth." . . . His infinity does not preclude either his immediacy or his intimacy. One man stated that "I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone." . . . Christ is not "my buddy." There is a natural tendency, and it is a dangerous one, to seek to bring Jesus down to our level in an effort to draw closer to him. This is a problem among people both in and outside the LDS faith. Of course we should seek with all our hearts to draw near to him. Of course we should strive to set aside all barriers that would prevent us from closer fellowship with him. And of course we should pray and labor and serve in an effort to close the gap between what we are and what we should be. But drawing close to the Lord is serious business; we nudge our way into intimacy at the peril of our souls. . . . Another gospel irony is that the way to get close to the Lord is not by attempting in any way to shrink the distance between us, to emphasize more of his humanity than his divinity, or to speak to him or of him in casual, colloquial language. . . . Those who have come to know the Lord best--the prophets or covenant spokesmen--are also those who speak of him in reverent tones, who, like Isaiah, find themselves crying out, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5). Coming into the presence of the Almighty is no light thing; we feel to respond soberly to God's command to Moses: "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained, "Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.
Robert L. Millet
Bucket had started his criminal career in Braas, not far from when Allan and his new friends now found themselves. There he had gotten together with some like-minded peers and started the motorcycle club called The Violence. Bucket was the leader; he decided which newsstand was to be robbed of cigarettes next. He was the one who has chosen the name- The Violence, in English, not swedish. And he was the one who unfortunately asked his girlfriend Isabella to sew the name of the motorcycle club onto ten newly stolen leather jackets. Isabella had never really learned to spell properly at school, not in Swedish, and certainly not in English. The result was that Isabella sewed The Violins on the jackets instead. As the rest of the club members had had similar academic success, nobody in the group noticed the mistake. So everyone was very surprised when one day a letter arrived for The Violins in Braas from the people in charge of the concert hall in Vaxjo. The letter suggested that, since the club obviously concerned itself with classical music, they might like to put in am appearance at a concert with the city’s prestigious chamber orchestra, Musica Viate. Bucket felt provoked; somebody was clearly making fun of him. One night he skipped the newsstand, and instead went into Vaxjo to throw a brick through the glass door of the concert hall. This was intended to teach the people responsible lesson in respect. It all went well, except that Bucket’s leather glove happened to follow the stone into the lobby. Since the alarm went off immediately, Bucket felt it would be unwise to try to retrieve the personal item in question. Losing the glove was not good. Bucket had traveled to Vaxjo by motorbike and one hand was extremely cold all the way home to Braas that night. Even worse was the fact that Bucket’s luckless girlfriend had written Bucket’s name and adress inside the glove, in case he lost it." For more quotes from the novel visit my blog: frommybooks.wordpress.com
Jonas Jonasson (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (The Hundred-Year-Old Man, #1))
Myrna was part of a ballet troupe and Jack had seen her and the other dancers perform—his mother often made him go with her and it was mostly boring stuff, like church or Sunrise Semester on TV. But he had never seen Myrna in practice . . . never that close up. He had been impressed and a little frightened by the contrast between seeing ballet on stage, where everyone seemed to either glide or mince effortlessly on the tips of their pointes, and seeing it from less than five feet away, with harsh daylight pouring in the floor-to-ceiling windows and no music—only the choreographer rhythmically clapping his hands and yelling harsh criticisms. No praise; only criticisms. Their faces ran with sweat. Their leotards were wet with sweat. The room, as large and airy as it was, stank of sweat. Sleek muscles trembled and fluttered on the nervous edge of exhaustion. Corded tendons stood out like insulated cables. Throbbing veins popped out on foreheads and necks. Except for the choreographer’s clapping and angry, hectoring shouts, the only sounds were the thrup-thud of ballet dancers on pointe moving across the floor and harsh, agonized panting for breath. Jack had suddenly realized that these dancers were not just earning a living; they were killing themselves. Most of all he remembered their expressions—all that exhausted concentration, all that pain . . . but transcending the pain, or at least creeping around its edges, he had seen joy. Joy was unmistakably what that look was, and it had scared Jack because it had seemed inexplicable. What kind of person could get off by subjecting himself or herself to such steady, throbbing, excruciating pain?
Stephen King (The Talisman)
The controlled-experiment people felt that public LSD orgies would lead to disaster for their own research. There was little optimism about what might happen when the Angels—worshiping violence, rape and swastikas—found themselves in a crowd of intellectual hipsters, Marxist radicals and pacifist peace marchers. It was a nervous thing to consider even if everybody could be expected to keep a straight head … but of course that was out of the question. With everyone drunk, stoned and loaded, there was nobody capable of taking objective notes, no guides to soothe the flip-outs, no rational spectator to put out fires or hid the butcher knives … no control at all.
Hunter S. Thompson (Hell's Angels)
What more easily explained and natural? With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright,’ did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?
Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)
Everyone knows that children and teens want to blend in and follow the crowd. And from whom do they learn this lesson? Adults, of course. Let's face it: Americans follow the herd. If you want to be successful, we are told in myriad ways, conformity is the way to go. Look at corporate America, with its "team player" ethic and all the strict rules delineating what you can and cannot wear on Casual Fridays. Consider the cycles of women's fashion, which dictate when square-toed, chunky-heeled shoes are out and when pointy-toed, ankle-straining stilettos are in. And what about best-seller lists and electoral horse-race polls and movie box-office postings? Everyone wants to know what everyone else is reading and seeing and thinking--so that they can go out and read and see and think the very same things themselves. If adults possess this tendency to efface themselves in this way, teenagers have it magnified to the thousandth degree. But studying and following the fashions of the times are not enough; teens also feel a need to be associated with fashionable people--the popular people. Their goal is to crack the glass ceiling that separates mere mortals from the "in" crowd. If they are unsuccessful, and most are, they console themselves with a clique of their own. Even an unpopular clique is, the thinking goes, is better than no clique at all.
Leora Tanenbaum (Slut!: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation)
HISTORY AND THE TRIPLET OF OPACITY History is opaque. You see what comes out, not the script that produces events, the generator of history. There is a fundamental incompleteness in your grasp of such events, since you do not see what's inside the box, how the mechanisms work. What I call the generator of historical events is different from the events themselves, much as the minds of the gods cannot be read just by witnessing their deeds. You are very likely to be fooled about their intentions. This disconnect is similar to the difference between the food you see on the table at the restaurant and the process you can observe in the kitchen. (The last time I brunched at a certain Chinese restaurant on Canal Street in downtown Manhattan, I saw a rat coming out of the kitchen.) The human mind suffers from three ailments as it comes into contact with history, what I call the triplet of opacity. They are: a. the illusion of understanding, or how everyone thinks he knows what is going on in a world that is more complicated (or random) than they realize; b. the retrospective distortion, or how we can assess matters only after the fact, as if they were in a rearview mirror (history seems clearer and more organized in history books than in empirical reality); and c. the overvaluation of factual information and the handicap of authoritative and learned people, particularly when they create categories—when they "Platonify.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The collapse of the politics of inevitability ushers in another experience of time: the politics of eternity. Whereas inevitability promises a better future for everyone, eternity places one nation at the center of a cyclical story of victimhood. Time is no longer a line into the future, but a circle that endlessly returns the same threats from the past. Within inevitability, no one is responsible because we all know that the details will sort themselves out for the better; within eternity, no one is responsible because we all know that the enemy is coming no matter what we do. Eternity politicians spread the conviction that government cannot aid society as a whole, but can only guard against threats. Progress gives way to doom.
Timothy Snyder (The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America)
This summer, a lot of what I was teaching was against Bloom’s Anxiety of Influence, very broadly speaking, this anxiety of sounding too much like another poet, especially a firmly established poet, for fear of not sounding original. I kept telling my students, “Why wouldn’t you want to be influence by these poets! Why wouldn’t you want to sound like Keats or Robert Hayden?” Pound and Eliot were influenced by Browning, and they influenced one another. James Wright—when he came on the scene, many of us were consciously imitating him, trying to do do what he so gloriously did.... I tell them not to worry about influence or imitation as long as you’re emulating the best work, the work you love. How much imitation is too much? You’ll know it when you see it. . . .And that’s just a huge problem in general, especially in America. We’re individuals. we’re the one, not the many. We want to stand out from the crowd. Everyone is trying to differentiate themselves. The fact is we are one big organism. We belong together. We are a tribe. Not one of us can do something that doesn’t affect the other, past or present.
Tony Leuzzi (Passwords Primeval: 20 American Poets in their Own Words)
The Party's all-around intrusion into people's lives was the very point of the process known as 'thought reform." Mao wanted not only external discipline, but the total subjection of all thoughts, large or small. Every week a meeting for 'thought examination' was held for those 'in the revolution." Everyone had both to criticize themselves for incorrect thoughts and be subjected to the criticism of others.The meetings tended to be dominated by self-righteous and petty-minded people, who used them to vent their envy and frustration; people of peasant origin used them to attack those from 'bourgeois' backgrounds. The idea was that people should be reformed to be more like peasants, because the Communist revolution was in essence a peasant revolution. This process appealed to the guilt feelings of the educated; they had been living better than the peasants, and self-criticism tapped into this.Meetings were an important means of Communist control. They left people no free time, and eliminated the private sphere. The pettiness which dominated them was justified on the grounds that prying into personal details was a way of ensuring thorough soul-cleansing. In fact, pettiness was a fundamental characteristic of a revolution in which intrusiveness and ignorance were celebrated, and envy was incorporated into the system of control. My mother's cell grilled her week after week, month after month, forcing her to produce endless self-criticisms.She had to consent to this agonizing process. Life for a revolutionary was meaningless if they were rejected by the Party. It was like excommunication for a Catholic. Besides, it was standard procedure. My father had gone through it and had accepted it as part of 'joining the revolution." In fact, he was still going through it. The Party had never hidden the fact that it was a painful process. He told my mother her anguish was normal.At the end of all this, my mother's two comrades voted against full Party membership for her. She fell into a deep depression. She had been devoted to the revolution, and could not accept the idea that it did not want her; it was particularly galling to think she might not get in for completely petty and irrelevant reasons, decided by two people whose way of thinking seemed light years away from what she had conceived the Party's ideology to be. She was being kept out of a progressive organization by backward people, and yet the revolution seemed to be telling her that it was she who was in the wrong. At the back of her mind was another, more practical point which she did not even spell out to herself: it was vital to get into the Party, because if she failed she would be stigmatized and ostracized.
Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)
Do you ever think what might've happened if they weren't so damn impatient? If Romeo had stopped for a second and gotten a doctor, or waited for Juliet to wake up? Not jumped to conclusions and gone and poisoned himself thinking she was dead when she was just sleeping? I've seen that movie so many times, and every damn time, it's like screaming at the girl in the horror movie. Don't go in the basement. The killer's down there. With Romeo and Juliet, I yell, 'Don't jump to conclusions.' But do those fools ever listen to me? I always imagine what might've happened if they'd waited. Juliet would've woken up. They'd already be married. They might've moved away, far away from the Montagues and the Capulets, gotten themselves a cute castle of their own. Decorated it up nice. Maybe it would've been like The Winter's Tale. By thinking Hermione was dead, Leontes had time to stop acting like a fool and then later he was so happy to find out she was alive. Maybe the Montagues and the Capulets would find out later that their beloved kids weren't dead, and wasn't it stupid to feud, and everyone would be happy. Maybe it would've turned the whole tragedy into a comedy.
Gayle Forman (Just One Day (Just One Day, #1))
She could smell the wrongness in the air and it made her wolf nervous. It felt like something was watching them, as if the wrongness had an intelligence— and it didn't help to remember that at least one of the people they were hunting could hide from their senses. Anna fought the urge to turn around, to take Charles's hand or slide under his arm and let his presence drive away the wrongness. Once, she would have, but now she had the uneasy feeling that he might back away as he almost had when she sat on his lap in the boat, before Brother Wolf had taken over. Maybe he was just tired of her. She had been telling everyone that there was something wrong with him...but Bran knew his son and thought the problem was her. Bran was smart and perceptive; she ought to have considered that he was right. Charles was old. He'd seen and experienced so much—next to him she was just a child. His wolf had chosen her without consulting Charles at all. Maybe he'd have preferred someone who knew more. Someone beautiful and clever who... "Anna?" said Charles. "What's wrong? Are you crying?" He moved in front of her and stopped, forcing her to stop walking, too. She opened her mouth and his fingers touched her wet cheeks. "Anna," he said, his body going still. "Call on your wolf." "You should have someone stronger," she told him miserably. "Someone who could help you when you need it, instead of getting sent home because I can't endure what you have to do. If I weren't Omega, if I were dominant like Sage, I could have helped you." "There is no one stronger," Charles told her. "It's the taint from the black magic. Call your wolf." "You don't want me anymore," she whispered. And once the words were out she knew they were true. He would say the things that he thought she wanted to hear because he was a kind man. But they would be lies. The truth was in the way he closed down the bond between them so she wouldn't hear things that would hurt her. Charles was a dominant wolf and dominant wolves were driven to protect those weaker than themselves. And he saw her as so much weaker. "I love you," he told her. "Now, call your wolf." She ignored his order—he knew better than to give her orders. He said he loved her; it sounded like the truth. But he was old and clever and Anna knew that, when push came to shove, he could lie and make anyone believe it. Knew it because he lied to her now—and it sounded like the truth. "I'm sorry," she told him. "I'll go away—" And suddenly her back was against a tree and his face was a hairsbreadth from hers. His long hot body was pressed against her from her knees to her chest—he'd have to bend to do that. He was a lot taller than her, though she wasn't short. Anna shuddered as the warmth of his body started to penetrate the cold that had swallowed hers. Charles waited like a hunter, waited for her to wiggle and see that she was truly trapped. Waited while she caught her breathe. Waited until she looked into his eyes. Then he snarled at her. "You are not leaving me." It was an order, and she didn't have to follow anyone's orders. That was part of being Omega instead of a regular werewolf—who might have had a snowball's chance in hell of being a proper mate. "You need someone stronger," Anna told him again. "So you wouldn't have to hide when you're hurt. So you could trust your mate to take care of herself and help, damn it, instead of having to protect me from whatever you are hiding." She hated crying. Tears were weaknesses that could be exploited and they never solves a damn thing. Sobs gathered in her chest like a rushing tide and she needed to get away from him before she broke. Instead of fighting his grip, she tried to slide out of it. "I need to go," she said to his chest. "I need—" His mouth closed over hers, hot and hungry, warming her mouth as his body warmed her body. "Me," Charles said, his voice dark and gravelly as if it had traveled up from the bottom of the earth,...
Patricia Briggs (Fair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3; Mercy Thompson World - Complete #9))
Hampden College, as a body, was always strangely prone to hysteria. Whether from isolation, malice, or simple boredom, people there were far more credulous and excitable than educated people are generally believed to be, and this hermetic, overheated atmosphere made it a thriving black petrie dish of melodrama and distortion. I remember well, for instance, the blind animal terror which ensued when some townie set off the civil defense sirens as a joke. Someone said it was a nuclear attack; TV and radio reception, never good there in the mountains, happened to be particularly bad that night, and in the ensuing stampede for the telephones the switchboard shorted out, plunging the school into a violent and almost unimaginable panic. Cars collided in the parking lot. People sceamed, wept, gave away t heir possessions, huddled in small groups for comfort and warmth. Some hippies barricaded themselves in the Science Building, in the lone bomb shelter, and refused to let anyone in who didn't know the world to "Sugar Magnolia." Factions formed, leaders rose from the chaos. Though the world, in fact, was not destroyed, everyone had a marvelous time and people spoke fondly of the event for years afterward.
Donna Tartt (The Secret History)
The war was an insanity he had never understood, and no one in Phoenix had been able to explain it to him. At least, no one had been able to give him a reason why people who had excellent reasons to suppose they would destroy themselves if they did a certain thing chose to do that thing anyway. He thought he understood anger, hatred, humiliation, even the desire to kill a man. He had felt all those things. But to kill everyone … almost to kill the Earth … There were times when he wondered if somehow the Oankali had not caused the war for their own purposes. How could sane people like the ones he had left behind in Phoenix do such a thing—or, how could they let insane people gain control of devices that could do so much harm? If you knew a man was out of his mind, you restrained him. You didn’t give him power.
Octavia E. Butler (Lilith's Brood (Xenogenesis, #1-3))
Standing here, as immune to the cold as a marble statue, gazing towards Charlotte Street, towards a foreshortened jumble of façades, scaffolding and pitched roofs, Henry thinks the city is a success, a brilliant invention, a biological masterpiece--millions teeming around the accumulated and layered achievements of the centuries, as though around a coral reef, sleeping, working, entertaining themselves, harmonious for the most part, nearly everyone wanting it to work. And the Perownes own corner, a triumph of congruent proportion; the perfect square laid out by Robert Adam enclosing a perfect circle of garden--an eighteenth century dream bathed and embraced by modernity, by street light from above, and from below by fibre-optic cables, and cool fresh water coursing down pipes, and sewage borne away in an instant of forgetting.
Ian McEwan (Saturday)
The “German problem” after 1970 became how to keep up with the Germans in terms of efficiency and productivity. One way, as above, was to serially devalue, but that was beginning to hurt. The other way was to tie your currency to the deutsche mark and thereby make your price and inflation rate the same as the Germans, which it turned out would also hurt, but in a different way. The problem with keeping up with the Germans is that German industrial exports have the lowest price elasticities in the world. In plain English, Germany makes really great stuff that everyone wants and will pay more for in comparison to all the alternatives. So when you tie your currency to the deutsche mark, you are making a one-way bet that your industry can be as competitive as the Germans in terms of quality and price. That would be difficult enough if the deutsche mark hadn’t been undervalued for most of the postwar period and both German labor costs and inflation rates were lower than average, but unfortunately for everyone else, they were. That gave the German economy the advantage in producing less-than-great stuff too, thereby undercutting competitors in products lower down, as well as higher up the value-added chain. Add to this contemporary German wages, which have seen real declines over the 2000s, and you have an economy that is extremely hard to keep up with. On the other side of this one-way bet were the financial markets. They looked at less dynamic economies, such as the United Kingdom and Italy, that were tying themselves to the deutsche mark and saw a way to make money. The only way to maintain a currency peg is to either defend it with foreign exchange reserves or deflate your wages and prices to accommodate it. To defend a peg you need lots of foreign currency so that when your currency loses value (as it will if you are trying to keep up with the Germans), you can sell your foreign currency reserves and buy back your own currency to maintain the desired rate. But if the markets can figure out how much foreign currency you have in reserve, they can bet against you, force a devaluation of your currency, and pocket the difference between the peg and the new market value in a short sale. George Soros (and a lot of other hedge funds) famously did this to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992, blowing the United Kingdom and Italy out of the system. Soros could do this because he knew that there was no way the United Kingdom or Italy could be as competitive as Germany without serious price deflation to increase cost competitiveness, and that there would be only so much deflation and unemployment these countries could take before they either ran out of foreign exchange reserves or lost the next election. Indeed, the European Exchange Rate Mechanism was sometimes referred to as the European “Eternal Recession Mechanism,” such was its deflationary impact. In short, attempts to maintain an anti-inflationary currency peg fail because they are not credible on the following point: you cannot run a gold standard (where the only way to adjust is through internal deflation) in a democracy.
Mark Blyth (Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea)
A woman from the Hunan Province told it to me,” said Charon. “Once upon a time a stranger came to a remote village with an elephant. Everyone got excited, including three blind men who didn’t know what an elephant was. They decided to find out for themselves. “The first man approached the elephant near its head. He reached his hand out and felt the leathery ear. The second man approached from behind and brushed the elephant’s bristly tail. The third came at it from the side and stroked its wide midsection. “ ‘What a strange creature an elephant is,’ the first man said. ‘So flat and thin, like wash hung from the line.’ “ ‘What are you talking about?’ said the second man. ‘That animal was hairy and coarse, like the bristles on a stiff broom.’ “ ‘You are both wrong!’ said the third. ‘The beast was as broad and sturdy as a wall.’ They three men argued and argued, but they never could come to an agreement.” Charon
William Ritter (Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby, #3))
Ugh. Would that Christmas could just be, without presents. It is just so stupid, everyone exhausting themselves, miserably haemorrhaging money on pointless items nobody wants: no longer tokens of love but angst-ridden solutions to problems. [...] What is the point of entire nation rushing round for six weeks in a bad mood preparing for utterly pointless Taste-of-Others exam which entire nation then fails and gets stuck with hideous unwanted merchandise as fallout? If gifts and cards were completely eradicated, then Christmas as pagan-style twinkly festival to distract from lengthy winter gloom would be lovely. But if government, religious bodies, parents, tradition, etc. insist on Christmas Gift Tax to ruin everything why not make it that everyone must go out and spend £500 on themselves then distribute the items among their relatives and friends to wrap up and give to them instead of this psychic-failure torment?
Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones, #1))
However, when those inside the bureaucracy work primarily to protect themselves, progress slows and the entire organization becomes more susceptible to external threats and pressures. Only when the Circle of Safety surrounds everyone in the organization, and not just a few people or a department or two, are the benefits fully realized. Weak leaders are the ones who only extend the benefits of the Circle of Safety to their fellow senior executives and a chosen few others. They look out for each other, but they do not offer the same considerations to those outside their “inner circle.” Without the protection of our leaders, everyone outside the inner circle is forced to work alone or in small tribes to protect and advance their own interests. And in so doing, silos form, politics entrench, mistakes are covered up instead of exposed, the spread of information slows and unease soon replaces any sense of cooperation and security.
Simon Sinek (Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't)
It is like this: Some people care deeply but they don't know how to say it; then some people say words to make it seem like they care deeply, but in reality they don't. Some people care deeply only in the moment, like seeds which last in the soil for three days until dying out; and others can't see the moments, but their roots do run deep. Some people can imitate what it looks like to care deeply and they can fabricate that for a while though they never did feel anything on the inside of them; while others are incapable of showing outwardly how they feel on the inside, it is a monster they struggle with, their feelings so strong they cannot even let those beasts out of their cages, they fear their own creatures! Some people care deeply here, and over there, and all over the place, you never really know where they belong because they seem to belong to everyone and to everything; while others don't care about anybody but you can see where they belong, who they belong to, there is always this one person or those two people and small places. Some people belong to themselves only and if you want to be a part of their lives, you'll have to become a part of them and after you do, they will never leave you because you are inside of their bones now; while others don't even know who they are or where they're going and if you belong to someone like that, you could be here today and gone tomorrow! Some people don't care and don't act like they care and we don't believe them until they make us believe them; while others care and they act like they care and we don't believe them until it's too late. We are often wounded and torn, because we never know which kind of a person they are until we are either wounded and torn, or until we have found a home. It's either or, always either or, and neither of these outcomes are easy ones because either one will change your life.
C. JoyBell C.
They wanted you to grow up into some helpless combination of old person and infant. They wanted you to have a house and a family and a refrigerator and a TV, and not know how any of it worked. They wanted you to spend your life working on something that was never concrete, never anything you could see or hold in your hands, and if you didn't do that they wanted to put you in jail. Cutting down forests, poisoning the earth - it was a country driven by stupid, blind impulse. It was a country where nobody knew where their food came from or where their garbage went, they just flushed the bowl, kept eating it and throwing it away, building bombs and computers, cars and TVs, sending people off to Vietnam so they could set it on fire. It was a country that had turned against everyone he knew, cast them out like garbage, and all they could do was smile to themselves at all they'd learned and wait patiently for the fires to start here at home.
Zachary Lazar (Sway)
Many men find themselves unable to cope with even minor frustration. They get angry over trivial things, such as a broken pencil lead or an overcooked hamburger. Their anger erupts and gets out of control. They feel as though they are constantly under attack, that everyone is out to get them, and that nobody understands or cares about them. They may even get superstitious and believe that fate has it in for them, or that God has turned against them. This feeling of having no control leads to a state of continual frustration and anger. This tendency to react with instant anger can be called rage. Rage is anger that never completely goes away. Unlike regular anger, it is not a response to a specific event; rather, it is a response set, or tendency. In other words, it is an automatic way of reacting to the world without much thought. When you react to more and more situations with anger, it becomes your habitual response. You may often find yourself furiously yelling or seething inside without even knowing what it was that made you so angry. Rage sees personal attack in every disagreement. Rage causes you to feel threatened when there is no threat. And rage causes you to viciously counter-attack even a minor threat. Rage is like a wounded animal. It attacks anything that moves. And as with a wounded animal, the attacks do nothing to ease the pain. Rage depersonalizes individual people and events into a faceless, nameless "them".
Thomas J. Harbin (Beyond Anger: A Guide for Men: How to Free Yourself from the Grip of Anger and Get More Out of Life)
I’m tired of these sophistries. I’m tired of these right-wing fuckers. They wouldn’t lift a finger themselves. They work contentedly in offices and banks. Yet now they sit pontificating in parliament, in papers, impugning our motives, questioning our judgements. And why? Because they themselves need to feel better by putting down everyone whose work is so much harder than theirs. You only have to say the words ‘social worker’…’probation officer’ … ‘counsellor’ … for everyone in this country to sneer. Do you know what social workers do? Every day? They try and clear out society’s drains. They clear out the rubbish. They do what no one else is doing, what no one else is willing to do. And for that, oh Christ, do we thank them? No, we take our own rotten consciences, wipe them all over the social worker’s face, and say ‘if…’ FUCK! ‘if I did the job, then of course if I did it…oh no, excuse me, I wouldn’t do it like that…’ Well I say: ‘OK, then, fucking do it, journalist. Politician, talk to the addicts. Hold families together. Stop the kids from stealing in the streets. Deal with couples who beat each other up. You fucking try it, why not? Since you’re so full of advice. Sure, come and join us. This work is one big casino. By all means. Anyone can play. But there’s only one rule. You can’t play for nothing. You have to buy some chips to sit at the table. And if you won’t pay with your own time…with your own effort…then I’m sorry. Fuck off!
David Hare (Skylight)
Socrates tried to soothe us, true enough. He said there were only two possibilities. Either the soul is immortal or, after death, things would be again as blank as they were before we were born. This is not absolutely comforting either. Anyway it was natural that theology and philosophy should take the deepest interest in this. They owe it to us not to be boring themselves. On this obligation they don’t always make good. However, Kierkegaard was not a bore. I planned to examine his contribution in my master essay. In his view the primacy of the ethical over the esthetic mode was necessary to restore the balance. But enough of that. In myself I could observe the following sources of tedium: 1) The lack of a personal connection with the external world. Earlier I noted that when I was riding through France in a train last spring I looked out of the window and thought that the veil of Maya was wearing thin. And why was this? I wasn’t seeing what was there but only what everyone sees under a common directive. By this is implied that our worldview has used up nature. The rule of this view is that I, a subject, see the phenomena, the world of objects. They, however, are not necessarily in themselves objects as modern rationality defines objects. For in spirit, says Steiner, a man can step out of himself and let things speak to him about themselves, to speak about what has meaning not for him alone but also for them. Thus the sun the moon the stars will speak to nonastronomers in spite of their ignorance of science. In fact it’s high time that this happened. Ignorance of science should not keep one imprisoned in the lowest and weariest sector of being, prohibited from entering into independent relations with the creation as a whole. The educated speak of the disenchanted (a boring) world. But it is not the world, it is my own head that is disenchanted. The world cannot be disenchanted. 2) For me the self-conscious ego is the seat of boredom. This increasing, swelling, domineering, painful self-consciousness is the only rival of the political and social powers that run my life (business, technological-bureaucratic powers, the state). You have a great organized movement of life, and you have the single self, independently conscious, proud of its detachment and its absolute immunity, its stability and its power to remain unaffected by anything whatsoever — by the sufferings of others or by society or by politics or by external chaos. In a way it doesn’t give a damn. It is asked to give a damn, and we often urge it to give a damn but the curse of noncaring lies upon this painfully free consciousness. It is free from attachment to beliefs and to other souls. Cosmologies, ethical systems? It can run through them by the dozens. For to be fully conscious of oneself as an individual is also to be separated from all else. This is Hamlet’s kingdom of infinite space in a nutshell, of “words, words, words,” of “Denmark’s a prison.
Saul Bellow (Humboldt's Gift)
Some secret of nurture withered a generation or two before I arrived, if it had ever existed before among the poor, marginalized people on the edges of Europe from whom I descend. Both my parents grew up with a deep sense of poverty that was mostly emotional but that they imagined as material long after they clambered into the middle class, and so they were more like a pair of rivalrous older siblings than parents who see their children as extensions of themselves and their hopes. They were stuck in separateness. I didn't realize anything was odd until I was already on my own and found out that not everyone's parents cut them off financially as soon as the law allowed. I tried to leave home unsuccessfully at fourteen and fifteen and sixteen and did so successfully at seventeen, heading off to another country, as far away as I could go, and once I got there I realized I was more on my own than I had anticipated: I was henceforth entirely repsonsible for myself and thus began a few years of poverty.
Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby)
Yeah, let’s get John here. That way we can stall for a while longer. We can keep on doing nothing for just a little while longer.” Albert said, “Take it easy, Howard.” “Take it easy?” Howard jumped to his feet. “Yeah? Where were you last night, Albert? Huh? Because I didn’t see you out there on the street listening to kids screaming, seeing kids running around hurt and scared and choking, and Edilio and Orc struggling, and Dekka hacking up her lungs and Jack crying and… “You know who couldn’t even take it?” Howard raged. “You know who couldn’t even take what was happening? Orc. Orc, who’s not scared of anything. Orc, who everyone thinks is some kind of monster. He couldn’t take it. He couldn’t…but he did. And where were you, Albert? Counting your money? How about you, Astrid? Praying to Jesus?” Astrid’s throat tightened. She couldn’t breathe. For a moment panic threatened to overwhelm her. She wanted to run from the room, run away and never look back. Edilio got to his feet and put an arm around Howard. Howard allowed it, and then he did something Astrid never thought she would see. Howard buried his face in Edilio’s shoulder and cried, racking sobs. “We’re falling apart,” Astrid whispered for herself alone. But there was no easy escape. Everything Howard had said was true. She could see the truth reflected in Albert’s stunned expression. The two of them, the smart ones, the clever ones, the great defenders of truth and fairness and justice, had done nothing while others had worked themselves to exhaustion.
Michael Grant (Lies (Gone, #3))
I feel that quarantine has brought me closer to other people, to everyone. Like, we are all finally on the same page now. I have spent my life attending to, and cultivating, my inner world. Moving outwards from what is within my heart and within the deepest recesses of my mind. "From-in-to-out" has always been my mode of living. I have always looked at everyone else and thought that they fill their hearts and their minds with static noise, so much noise. They feel things, but then they can just go and drown all of that in work immersion; they have pressing issues on their minds, but they can just go and drown the sounds of their own thoughts in a one-night-stand; they have wounds on their spirits, but they can evade feeling those wounds and healing them, by blowing themselves into larger-than-life projections in the workplace, at school, on social media. So much noise, just so much noise. I feel as though, all my life, I have been screaming at the world, begging people to go inward, to face their angels and their demons, to know themselves. Now in quarantine, I think everyone is forced to do exactly that. The world is forced into a quietness that should of happened long ago, every day, all the time. A quietness of retreating into the knowledge of, and the acquaintance with, the mind, the heart. I feel that now, at long last, everybody else is on the same page as myself. Being alone in quarantine is not mentally or emotionally or spiritually difficult for me. This is because I know the person I am with, I know me. And I like her.
C. JoyBell C.
To the Druids, a man was not separate from the universe or born into it from elsewhere. He was, like the trees and their leaves and blooms, part of nature. As a flower breaks out from a twig, so does man appear in the world from the womb of the universal mother. Man is an embodiment and emanation of nature. Consequently, a man who felt himself apart from nature was considered unsane. This was the law of the Druids and of Shaman everywhere. Perverted men were sacrificed to save the tribe from calamity. Trees are capable of producing sour and rotten fruit and, likewise, civilizations produce sour and rotten men and women who constitute a hazard to themselves and everyone around them. Thus rites of initiation were instigated to make sure the impure had no chance of attaining positions of power. The removal of these strict telestic rites gave mentally and morally toxic men access to the thrones of the world. Once in command, such types were wont to promote others of their kind and conspire against the morally and spiritually superior men they despise.
Michael Tsarion (The Irish Origins of Civilization, Volume One)
I still found codependents hostile, controlling, manipulative, indirect, and all the things I had found them before. I still saw all the peculiar twists of personality I previously saw. But, I saw deeper. I saw people who were hostile; they had felt so much hurt that hostility was their only defense against being crushed again. They were that angry because anyone who had tolerated what they had would be that angry. They were controlling because everything around and inside them was out of control. Always, the dam of their lives and the lives of those around them threatened to burst and spew harmful consequences on everyone. And nobody but them seemed to notice or care. I saw people who manipulated because manipulation appeared to be the only way to get anything done. I worked with people who were indirect because the systems they lived in seemed incapable of tolerating honesty. I worked with people who thought they were going crazy because they had believed so many lies they didn’t know what reality was. I saw people who had gotten so absorbed in other people’s problems they didn’t have time to identify or solve their own. These were people who had cared so deeply, and often destructively, about other people that they had forgotten how to care about themselves. The codependents felt responsible for so much because the people around them felt responsible for so little; they were just taking up the slack. I saw hurting, confused people who needed comfort, understanding, and information. I saw victims of alcoholism who didn’t drink but were nonetheless victimized by alcohol. I saw victims struggling desperately to gain some kind of power over their perpetrators.
Melody Beattie (Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself)
Most of the crime-ridden minority neighborhoods in New York City, especially areas like East New York, where many of the characters in Eric Garner’s story grew up, had been artificially created by a series of criminal real estate scams. One of the most infamous had involved a company called the Eastern Service Corporation, which in the sixties ran a huge predatory lending operation all over the city, but particularly in Brooklyn. Scam artists like ESC would first clear white residents out of certain neighborhoods with scare campaigns. They’d slip leaflets through mail slots warning of an incoming black plague, with messages like, “Don’t wait until it’s too late!” Investors would then come in and buy their houses at depressed rates. Once this “blockbusting” technique cleared the properties, a company like ESC would bring in a new set of homeowners, often minorities, and often with bad credit and shaky job profiles. They bribed officials in the FHA to approve mortgages for anyone and everyone. Appraisals would be inflated. Loans would be approved for repairs, but repairs would never be done. The typical target homeowner in the con was a black family moving to New York to escape racism in the South. The family would be shown a house in a place like East New York that in reality was only worth about $15,000. But the appraisal would be faked and a loan would be approved for $17,000. The family would move in and instantly find themselves in a house worth $2,000 less than its purchase price, and maybe with faulty toilets, lighting, heat, and (ironically) broken windows besides. Meanwhile, the government-backed loan created by a lender like Eastern Service by then had been sold off to some sucker on the secondary market: a savings bank, a pension fund, or perhaps to Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage corporation. Before long, the family would default and be foreclosed upon. Investors would swoop in and buy the property at a distressed price one more time. Next, the one-family home would be converted into a three- or four-family rental property, which would of course quickly fall into even greater disrepair. This process created ghettos almost instantly. Racial blockbusting is how East New York went from 90 percent white in 1960 to 80 percent black and Hispanic in 1966.
Matt Taibbi (I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street)
If the body is no longer a site of otherness but of identification, then we have urgently to become reconciled with it, repair it, perfect it, turn it into an ideal object. Everyone treats their bodies the way men treat women in projective identification: they invest them as a fetish, making an autistic cult of them, subjecting them to a quasi-incestuous manipulation. And it is the body's resemblance to its model which becomes a source of eroticism and 'white' seduction -- in the sense that it effects a kind of white magic of identity, as opposed to the black magic of otherness. This is how it is with body-building: you get into your body as you would into a suit of nerve and muscle. The body is not muscular, but muscled. It is the same with the brain and with social relations or exchanges: body-building, brainstorming, word-processing. Madonna is the ideal specimen of this, our muscled Immaculate Conception, our muscular angel who delivers us from the weaknesses of the body (pity the poor shade of Marilyn!). The sheath of muscles is the equivalent of character armour. In the past, women merely wrapped themselves in their image and their finery -- Freud speaks of those people who live with a kind of inner mirror, in a fleshly, happy self-reference. That narcissistic ideal is past and gone; body-building has wiped it out and replaced it with a gymnastic Ego-Ideal -- cold, hard, stressed, artificial self-reference. The construction of a double, of a physical and mental identity shell. Thus, in `body simulation', where you can animate your body remotely at any moment, the phantasy of being present in more than one body becomes an operational reality. An extension of the human being. And not a metaphorical or poetic extension, as in Pessoa's heteronyms, but quite simply a technical one.
Jean Baudrillard (The Perfect Crime)
More often, people were irritated with freedom. “I buy three newspapers and each one of them has its own version of the truth. Where’s the real truth? You used to be able to get up in the morning, read Pravda, and know all you needed to know, understand everything you needed to understand.” People were slow to come out from under the narcosis of old ideas. If I brought up repentance, the response would be, “What do I have to repent for?” Everyone thought of themselves as a victim, never a willing accomplice. One person would say, “I did time, too”; another, “I fought in the war”; a third, “I built my city up from the ruins, hauling bricks day and night.” Freedom had materialized out of thin air: Everyone was intoxicated by it, but no one had really been prepared. Where was this freedom? Only around kitchen tables, where out of habit people continued to badmouth the government. They reviled Yeltsin and Gorbachev: Yeltsin for changing Russia, and Gorbachev for changing everything. The entire twentieth century. Now we would live no worse than anyone else. We’d be just like everyone else. We thought that this time, we’d finally get it right. Russia was changing and hating itself for changing. “The immobile Mongol,” Marx wrote of Russia.
Svetlana Alexievich (Secondhand Time: An Oral History of the Fall of the Soviet Union)
As they talked, West reflected privately that he knew exactly why people confided in Tom Severin, who never muddled an issue with moralizing or judgements, and never tried to change your opinions or talk you out of wanting something. Severin was never shocked by anything. And although he could be frequently disloyal or dishonorable, he was never dishonest. "I'll tell you what your problem is," Severin eventually said. "It's feelings." West paused with a crystal glass of brandy close to his lips. "Do you mean that unlike you, I have them?" "I have feelings too, but I never let them turn into obstacles. If I were in your situation, for example, I would marry the woman I wanted and not worry about what was best for her. And if the children you raise turn out badly, that's their business, isn't it? They'll decide for themselves whether or not they want to be good. Personally, I've always seen more advantage in being bad. Everyone knows the meek won't really inherit the earth. That's why I don't hire meek people." "I hope you're never going to be a father," West said sincerely. "Oh, I will," Severin said. "I have to leave my fortune to someone, after all. I'd rather it be my own offspring- it's the next best thing to leaving it to myself.
Lisa Kleypas (Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels, #5))
In the last week of April 2004, a handful of the Abu Ghraib photographs were broadcast on 60 minutes and published in The New Yorker, and within a couple of days they had been rebroadcast and republished pretty much everywhere on earth. Overnight, the human pyramid, the hooded man on the box, the young woman soldier with a prisoner on a leash, and the corpse packed in ice had become the defining images of the Iraq war...Never before had such primal dungeon scenes been so baldly captured on camera...But above all, it was the posing soldiers, mugging for their buddies' cameras while dominating the prisoners in trophy stances, that gave the photographs the sense of unruly and unmediated reality. The staging was part of the reality they documented. And the grins, the thumbs-up, the arms crossed over puffed-out chests—all this unseemly swagger and self-regard was the height of amateurism. These soldier-photographers stood, at once, inside and outside the events they recorded, watching themselves take part in the spectacle, and their decision not to conceal but to reveal what they were doing indicated that they were not just amateur photographers, but amateur torturers. So the amateurism was not merely a formal dimension of the Abu Ghraib pictures. It was part of their content, part of what we saw in them, and it corresponded to an aspect of the Iraq War that troubled and baffled nearly everyone: the reckless and slapdash ineptitude with which it had been prosecuted. It was an amateur-run war, a murky and incoherent war. It was not clear why it was waged; too many reasons were given, none had held up, and the stories we invented to explain it to ourselves hardly seemed to matter, since once it was started the war had become its own engine—not a means to an end but an end in itself. What had been billed as a war of ideas and ideals had been exposed as a war of poses and posturing.
Philip Gourevitch (Standard Operating Procedure)
I numbed myself with food and booze trying to control my anger. When I quit, I learned that my anger never meant that there was something wrong with me. It meant that there was something wrong. Out there. Something I might have the power to change. I stopped being a quiet peacekeeper and started being a loud peacemaker. My anger was good. I had been deceived. The only thing that was ever wrong with me was my belief that there was something wrong with me. I quit spending my life trying to control myself and began to trust myself. We only control what we don’t trust. We can either control our selves or love our selves, but we can’t do both. Love is the opposite of control. Love demands trust. I love myself now. Self-love means that I have a relationship with myself built on trust and loyalty. I trust myself to have my own back, so my allegiance is to the voice within. I’ll abandon everyone else’s expectations of me before I’ll abandon myself. I’ll disappoint everyone else before I’ll disappoint myself. I’ll forsake all others before I’ll forsake myself. Me and myself: We are till death do us part. What the world needs is more women who have quit fearing themselves and started trusting themselves. What the world needs is masses of women who are entirely out of control.
Glennon Doyle (Untamed)
Do you know what kind of a world we live in? We live in a world where, if a man came up with a sure cure for cancer, and if that man were found to be married to his sister, his neighbors would righteously burn down his house and all his notes. If a man built the most beautiful tower in the country, and that man later begins to believe that Satan should be worshipped, they’ll blow up his tower. I know a great and moving book written by a woman who later went quite crazy and wrote crazy books, and nobody will read her great one any more. I can name three kinds of mental therapy that could have changed the face of the earth, and in each case the men who found it went on to insane Institutes and so-called religions and made fools of themselves—dangerous fools at that—and now no one will look at their really great early discoveries. Great politicians have been prevented from being great statesmen because they were divorced. And I wasn’t going to have the Mensch machine stolen or buried or laughed at and forgotten just because I had long hair and played the lute. You know, it’s easy to have long hair and play the lute and be kind to people when everyone else around you is doing it. It’s a much harder thing to be the one who does it first, because then you have to pay a price, you get jeered at and they throw stones and shut you out.
Theodore Sturgeon (The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume XI: The Nail and the Oracle)
What, may I ask, does your one truck contain if not gowns?” Inspiration struck, and Elizabeth smiled radiantly. “Something of great value. Priceless value,” she confided. All faces at the table watched her with alert fascination-particularly the greedy Sir Francis. “Well, don’t keep us in suspense, love. What’s in it?” “The mortal remains of Saint Jacob.” Lady Eloise and Lady Mortand screamed in unison, Sir William choked on his wine, and Sir Francis gaped at her in horror, but Elizabeth wasn’t quite finished. She saved the coup de grace until the meal was over. As soon as everyone arose she insisted they sit back down so a proper prayer of gratitude could be said. Raising her hands heavenward, Elizabeth turned a simple grace into a stinging tirade against the sins of lust and promiscuity that rose to crescendo as she called down the vengeance of doomsday on all transgressors and culminated in a terrifyingly lurid description of the terrors that awaited all who strayed down the path of lechery-terrors that combined dragon lore with mythology, a smattering of religion, and a liberal dash of her own vivid imagination. When it was done Elizabeth dropped her eyes, praying in earnest that tonight would loose her from her predicament. There was no more she could do; she’d played out her hand with all her might; she’d given it her all. It was enough. After supper Sir Francis escorted her to her chamber and, with a poor attempt at regret, announced that he greatly feared they wouldn’t suit. Not at all. Elizabeth and Berta departed at dawn the following morning, an hour before Sir Francis’s servants stirred themselves. Clad in a dressing robe, Sir Francis watched from his bedchamber window as Elizabeth’s coachman helped her into her conveyance. He was about to turn away when a sudden gust of wind caught Elizabeth’s black gown, exposing a long and exceptionally shapely leg to Sir Francis’s riveted gaze. He was still staring at the coach as it circled the drive; through its open window he saw Elizabeth laugh and reach up, unpinning her hair. Clouds of golden tresses whipped about the open window, obscuring her face, and Sir Francis thoughtfully wet his lips.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
The responsibility/fault fallacy allows people to pass off the responsibility for solving their problems to others. This ability to alleviate responsibility through blame gives people a temporary high and a feeling of moral righteousness. Unfortunately, one side effect of the Internet and social media is that it’s become easier than ever to push responsibility—for even the tiniest of infractions—onto some other group or person. In fact, this kind of public blame/shame game has become popular; in certain crowds it’s even seen as “cool.” The public sharing of “injustices” garners far more attention and emotional outpouring than most other events on social media, rewarding people who are able to perpetually feel victimized with ever-growing amounts of attention and sympathy. “Victimhood chic” is in style on both the right and the left today, among both the rich and the poor. In fact, this may be the first time in human history that every single demographic group has felt unfairly victimized simultaneously. And they’re all riding the highs of the moral indignation that comes along with it. Right now, anyone who is offended about anything—whether it’s the fact that a book about racism was assigned in a university class, or that Christmas trees were banned at the local mall, or the fact that taxes were raised half a percent on investment funds—feels as though they’re being oppressed in some way and therefore deserve to be outraged and to have a certain amount of attention. The current media environment both encourages and perpetuates these reactions because, after all, it’s good for business. The writer and media commentator Ryan Holiday refers to this as “outrage porn”: rather than report on real stories and real issues, the media find it much easier (and more profitable) to find something mildly offensive, broadcast it to a wide audience, generate outrage, and then broadcast that outrage back across the population in a way that outrages yet another part of the population. This triggers a kind of echo of bullshit pinging back and forth between two imaginary sides, meanwhile distracting everyone from real societal problems. It’s no wonder we’re more politically polarized than ever before. The biggest problem with victimhood chic is that it sucks attention away from actual victims. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. The more people there are who proclaim themselves victims over tiny infractions, the harder it becomes to see who the real victims actually are. People get addicted to feeling offended all the time because it gives them a high; being self-righteous and morally superior feels good. As political cartoonist Tim Kreider put it in a New York Times op-ed: “Outrage is like a lot of other things that feel good but over time devour us from the inside out. And it’s even more insidious than most vices because we don’t even consciously acknowledge that it’s a pleasure.” But
Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life)
Be big enough to offer the truth to people and if it short circuits them I think that's tragic. I think that's sad but, I will not strike no unholy bargains to self erase. I wont do it. I don't care how many people fucked up their lives. I don't care how many bad choices people have made. I don't care how much pettiness they've consumed and spat out. I don't care how much viciousness , rage, abuse, spanking they've dealt out. I am gonna tell the truth as I see it and I'm going to be who I fucking am and if that causes the world to shift in it's orbit and half the evil people get thrown off the planet and up into space well, you shouldn't of been standing in evil to begin with because, there is gravity in goodness. So, sorry; I have to be who I am. Everyone ells is taken. There is no other place I can go than in my own head. I can't jump from skull to skull until I find one that suits bad people around me better. I don't have that choice. So, be your fucking self. Speak your truth and if there are people around you who tempt you with nonexistence , blast through that and give them the full glory of who you are. Do not withhold yourself from the world. Do not piss on the incandescent gift of your existence. Don't drown yourself in the petty fog and dustiness of other peoples ancient superstitions, beliefs, aggressions, culture, and crap. No, be a flare. We're all born self expressive. We are all born perfectly comfortable with being incredibly inconvenient to our parents. We shit, piss, wake up at night, throw up on their shoulders, scream, and cry. We are in our essence, in our humanity, perfectly comfortable with inconveniencing others. That's how we are born. That's how we grow. That's how we develop. Well, I choose to retain the ability to inconvenience the irrational. You know I had a cancer in me last year and I'm very glad that the surgeons knife and the related medicines that I took proved extremely inconvenient to my cancer and I bet you my cancer was like "Aw shit. I hate this stuff man." Good. I'm only alive because medicine and surgery was highly inconvenient to the cancer within me. That's the only reason I'm alive. So, be who you are. If that's inconvenient to other people that's their goddamn business, not yours. Do not kill yourself because other people are dead. Do not follow people into the grave. Do not atomize yourself because, others have shredded themselves into dust for the sake of their fears and their desire to conform with the history of the dead.
Stefan Molyneux
What is a “pyramid?” I grew up in real estate my entire life. My father built one of the largest real estate brokerage companies on the East Coast in the 1970s, before selling it to Merrill Lynch. When my brother and I graduated from college, we both joined him in building a new real estate company. I went into sales and into opening a few offices, while my older brother went into management of the company. In sales, I was able to create a six-figure income. I worked 60+ hours a week in such pursuit. My brother worked hard too, but not in the same fashion. He focused on opening offices and recruiting others to become agents to sell houses for him. My brother never listed and sold a single house in his career, yet he out-earned me 10-to-1. He made millions because he earned a cut of every commission from all the houses his 1,000+ agents sold. He worked smarter, while I worked harder. I guess he was at the top of the “pyramid.” Is this legal? Should he be allowed to earn more than any of the agents who worked so hard selling homes? I imagine everyone will agree that being a real estate broker is totally legal. Those who are smart, willing to take the financial risk of overhead, and up for the challenge of recruiting good agents, are the ones who get to live a life benefitting from leveraged Income. So how is Network Marketing any different? I submit to you that I found it to be a step better. One day, a friend shared with me how he was earning the same income I was, but that he was doing so from home without the overhead, employees, insurance, stress, and being subject to market conditions. He was doing so in a network marketing business. At first I refuted him by denouncements that he was in a pyramid scheme. He asked me to explain why. I shared that he was earning money off the backs of others he recruited into his downline, not from his own efforts. He replied, “Do you mean like your family earns money off the backs of the real estate agents in your company?” I froze, and anyone who knows me knows how quick-witted I normally am. Then he said, “Who is working smarter, you or your dad and brother?” Now I was mad. Not at him, but at myself. That was my light bulb moment. I had been closed-minded and it was costing me. That was the birth of my enlightenment, and I began to enter and study this network marketing profession. Let me explain why I found it to be a step better. My research led me to learn why this business model made so much sense for a company that wanted a cost-effective way to bring a product to market. Instead of spending millions in traditional media ad buys, which has a declining effectiveness, companies are opting to employ the network marketing model. In doing so, the company only incurs marketing cost if and when a sale is made. They get an army of word-of-mouth salespeople using the most effective way of influencing buying decisions, who only get paid for performance. No salaries, only commissions. But what is also employed is a high sense of motivation, wherein these salespeople can be building a business of their own and not just be salespeople. If they choose to recruit others and teach them how to sell the product or service, they can earn override income just like the broker in a real estate company does. So now they see life through a different lens, as a business owner waking up each day excited about the future they are building for themselves. They are not salespeople; they are business owners.
Brian Carruthers (Building an Empire:The Most Complete Blueprint to Building a Massive Network Marketing Business)
Almost everyone in Chinatown looks more like me than any of the kids at my high school ever did. It feels like a dream. I’ve never been around so many Asian people before. I’ve always felt out of place, but I’ve never realized quite how much until this exact moment, when I feel completely in place. They have eyes like mine and hair like mine and legs like mine. When they smile their skin creases the way mine does, and their hair mostly falls flat and straight the way mine does. They’re like me. It feels so comfortable and good I could almost cry. And they’re so beautiful. Like, Rei beautiful. They know how to do their hair and makeup and dress themselves because they’ve probably been taught by parents who understand they shouldn’t just copy whatever the white celebrities and models are doing. Because they have different faces and body types and colors. It’s like painting—you don’t just use any color you feel like; you pick the color that fits the subject the best. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to learn the lesson I’ve needed since childhood. I don’t have to be white to be beautiful, just like I don’t have to be Asian to be beautiful. Because beauty doesn’t come in one mold. It doesn’t make it okay that people are jerks about race. But it does make me feel like I’m not alone. It makes me feel like less of a weirdo. It makes me feel like Mom was wrong. When I look around at the people in Chinatown, I don’t feel like I’m desperate for their acceptance. I feel at ease. I think I know why Shoji accepted our Japanese side a long time ago. I think he realized there was another world out there—a world Mom wasn’t a part of. I think he knew that, somehow, finding our heritage was like finding a safe place from her.
Akemi Dawn Bowman (Starfish)
A True Account Of Talking To The Sun On Fire Island" The Sun woke me this morning loud and clear, saying "Hey! I've been trying to wake you up for fifteen minutes. Don't be so rude, you are only the second poet I've ever chosen to speak to personally so why aren't you more attentive? If I could burn you through the window I would to wake you up. I can't hang around here all day." "Sorry, Sun, I stayed up late last night talking to Hal." "When I woke up Mayakovsky he was a lot more prompt" the Sun said petulantly. "Most people are up already waiting to see if I'm going to put in an appearance." I tried to apologize "I missed you yesterday." "That's better" he said. "I didn't know you'd come out." "You may be wondering why I've come so close?" "Yes" I said beginning to feel hot wondering if maybe he wasn't burning me anyway. "Frankly I wanted to tell you I like your poetry. I see a lot on my rounds and you're okay. You may not be the greatest thing on earth, but you're different. Now, I've heard some say you're crazy, they being excessively calm themselves to my mind, and other crazy poets think that you're a boring reactionary. Not me. Just keep on like I do and pay no attention. You'll find that people always will complain about the atmosphere, either too hot or too cold too bright or too dark, days too short or too long. If you don't appear at all one day they think you're lazy or dead. Just keep right on, I like it. And don't worry about your lineage poetic or natural. The Sun shines on the jungle, you know, on the tundra the sea, the ghetto. Wherever you were I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting for you to get to work. And now that you are making your own days, so to speak, even if no one reads you but me you won't be depressed. Not everyone can look up, even at me. It hurts their eyes." "Oh Sun, I'm so grateful to you!" "Thanks and remember I'm watching. It's easier for me to speak to you out here. I don't have to slide down between buildings to get your ear. I know you love Manhattan, but you ought to look up more often. And always embrace things, people earth sky stars, as I do, freely and with the appropriate sense of space. That is your inclination, known in the heavens and you should follow it to hell, if necessary, which I doubt. Maybe we'll speak again in Africa, of which I too am specially fond. Go back to sleep now Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem in that brain of yours as my farewell." "Sun, don't go!" I was awake at last. "No, go I must, they're calling me." "Who are they?" Rising he said "Some day you'll know. They're calling to you too." Darkly he rose, and then I slept.
Frank O'Hara
Sheepwalking I define “sheepwalking” as the outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them a brain-dead job and enough fear to keep them in line. You’ve probably encountered someone who is sheepwalking. The TSA “screener” who forces a mom to drink from a bottle of breast milk because any other action is not in the manual. A “customer service” rep who will happily reread a company policy six or seven times but never stop to actually consider what the policy means. A marketing executive who buys millions of dollars’ worth of TV time even though she knows it’s not working—she does it because her boss told her to. It’s ironic but not surprising that in our age of increased reliance on new ideas, rapid change, and innovation, sheepwalking is actually on the rise. That’s because we can no longer rely on machines to do the brain-dead stuff. We’ve mechanized what we could mechanize. What’s left is to cost-reduce the manual labor that must be done by a human. So we write manuals and race to the bottom in our search for the cheapest possible labor. And it’s not surprising that when we go to hire that labor, we search for people who have already been trained to be sheepish. Training a student to be sheepish is a lot easier than the alternative. Teaching to the test, ensuring compliant behavior, and using fear as a motivator are the easiest and fastest ways to get a kid through school. So why does it surprise us that we graduate so many sheep? And graduate school? Since the stakes are higher (opportunity cost, tuition, and the job market), students fall back on what they’ve been taught. To be sheep. Well-educated, of course, but compliant nonetheless. And many organizations go out of their way to hire people that color inside the lines, that demonstrate consistency and compliance. And then they give these people jobs where they are managed via fear. Which leads to sheepwalking. (“I might get fired!”) The fault doesn’t lie with the employee, at least not at first. And of course, the pain is often shouldered by both the employee and the customer. Is it less efficient to pursue the alternative? What happens when you build an organization like W. L. Gore and Associates (makers of Gore-Tex) or the Acumen Fund? At first, it seems crazy. There’s too much overhead, there are too many cats to herd, there is too little predictability, and there is way too much noise. Then, over and over, we see something happen. When you hire amazing people and give them freedom, they do amazing stuff. And the sheepwalkers and their bosses just watch and shake their heads, certain that this is just an exception, and that it is way too risky for their industry or their customer base. I was at a Google conference last month, and I spent some time in a room filled with (pretty newly minted) Google sales reps. I talked to a few of them for a while about the state of the industry. And it broke my heart to discover that they were sheepwalking. Just like the receptionist at a company I visited a week later. She acknowledged that the front office is very slow, and that she just sits there, reading romance novels and waiting. And she’s been doing it for two years. Just like the MBA student I met yesterday who is taking a job at a major packaged-goods company…because they offered her a great salary and promised her a well-known brand. She’s going to stay “for just ten years, then have a baby and leave and start my own gig.…” She’ll get really good at running coupons in the Sunday paper, but not particularly good at solving new problems. What a waste. Step one is to give the problem a name. Done. Step two is for anyone who sees themselves in this mirror to realize that you can always stop. You can always claim the career you deserve merely by refusing to walk down the same path as everyone else just because everyone else is already doing it.
Seth Godin (Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck?: And Other Provocations, 2006-2012)
There was a shamefulness about the experience of Herbert's execution I couldn't shake. Everyone I saw at the prison seemed surrounded by a cloud of regret and remorse. The prison officials had pumped themselves up to carry out the execution with determination and resolve, but even they revealed extreme discomfort and some measure of shame. Maybe I was imagining it but it seemed that everyone recognized what was taking place was wrong. Abstractions about capital punishment were one thing, but the details of systematically killing someone who is not a threat are completely different. I couldn't stop thinking about it on the trip home. I thought about Herbert, about how desperately he wanted the American flag he earned through his military service in Vietnam. I thought about his family and about the victim's family and the tragedy the crime created for them. I thought about the visitation officer, the Department of Corrections officials, the men who were paid to shave Herbert's body so that he could be killed more efficiently. I thought about the officers who had strapped him into the chair. I kept thinking that no one could actually believe this was a good thing to do or even a necessary thing to do. The next day there were articles in the press about the execution. Some state officials expressed happiness and excitement that an execution had taken place, but I knew that none of them had actually dealt with the details of killing Herbert. In debates about the death penalty, I had started arguing that we would never think it was humane to pay someone to rape people convicted of rape or assault and abuse someone guilty of assault or abuse. Yet we were comfortable killing people who kill, in part because we think we can do it in a matter that doesn't implicate our own humanity, the way that raping or abusing someone would. I couldn't stop thinking that we don't spend much time contemplating the details of what killing someone actually involves.
Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption)
Beside him Mr. Harris folded his morning newspaper and held it out to Claude. "Seen this yet?" "No." "Don't read it," Mr. Harris said, folding the paper once more and sliding it under his rear. "It will only upset you, son." "It's a wicked paper... " Claude agreed, but Mr. Harris was overspeaking him. "It's the big black words that do it. The little grey ones don't matter very much, they're just fill-ins they take everyday from the wires. They concentrate their poison in the big black words, where it will radiate. Of course if you read the little stories too you've got sure proof that every word they wrote above, themselves, was a fat black lie, but by then you've absorbed a thousand greyer ones, and where and how to check on those? This way the mind deteriorates. The best way you can save yourself is not to read it, son." "No, I... " "That's right, if you're not careful," Mr. Harris went on, blue-eyed, red-faced, "you find yourself pretty soon hating everyone but God, the Babe, and a few dead senators. That's no fun. Men aren't so bad as that." "No." "That's right, you begin to worry about anyone who opens his mouth except to say ho it looks like rain, let's bowl. Otherwise you wonder what the hell he's trying to prove, or undermine. If he asks what time it is, you wonder what terrible thing is scheduled to happen, where it will happen, when. You can't even stand to be asked how you feel today - he's probably looking at the bumps on you, they may have grown more noticeable overnight. Soon you feel you should apologize for standing there where he can watch you dying in front of him, he'd rather for you to carry your head around in a little plaid bag, like your bowling ball. There's no joy in that. Men aren't so very bad." Mr. Harris paused to remove his Panama hat. Water seeped from his knobby forehead, which he mopped with a damp handkerchief. "I've offended you, son," he said. "Not at all, I entirely agree with you." Mr. Harris replaced his hat, folded his handkerchief. "I shouldn't shoot off this way," he said. "I read too much." "No, no. You're right...
Douglas Woolf (Wall to Wall)
What do we mean by the lived truth of creation? We have to mean the world as it appears to men in a condition of relative unrepression; that is, as it would appear to creatures who assessed their true puniness in the face of the overwhelmingness and majesty of the universe, of the unspeakable miracle of even the single created object; as it probably appeared to the earliest men on the planet and to those extrasensitive types who have filled the roles of shaman, prophet, saint, poet, and artist. What is unique about their perception of reality is that it is alive to the panic inherent in creation: Sylvia Plath somewhere named God "King Panic." And Panic is fittingly King of the Grotesque. What are we to make of a creation in which the routine activity is for organisms to be tearing others apart with teeth of all types-biting, grinding flesh, plant stalks, bones between molars, pushing the pulp greedily down the gullet with delight, incorporating its essence into one's own organization, and then excreting with foul stench and gasses the residue. Everyone reaching out to incorporate others who are edible to him. The mosquitoes bloating themselves on blood, the maggots, the killerbees attacking with a fury and demonism, sharks continuing to tear and swallow while their own innards are being torn out-not to mention the daily dismemberment and slaughter in "natural" accidents of all types: the earthquake buries alive 70 thousand bodies in Peru, automobiles make a pyramid heap of over 50 thousand a year in the U.S. alone, a tidal wave washes over a quarter of a million in the Indian Ocean. Creation is a nightmare spectacular taking place on a planet that has been soaked for hundreds of millions of years in the blood of all its creatures. The soberest conclusion that we could make about what has actually been taking place on the planet for about three billion years is that it is being turned into a vast pit of fertilizer. But the sun distracts our attention, always baking the blood dry, making things grow over it, and with its warmth giving the hope that comes with the organism's comfort and expansiveness. "Questo sol m'arde, e questo m'innamore," as Michelangelo put it.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
The Arab world has done nothing to help the Palestinian refugees they created when they attacked Israel in 1948. It’s called the ‘Palestinian refugee problem.’ This is one of the best tricks that the Arabs have played on the world, and they have used it to their great advantage when fighting Israel in the forum of public opinion. This lie was pulled off masterfully, and everyone has been falling for it ever since. First you tell people to leave their homes and villages because you are going to come in and kick out the Jews the day after the UN grants Israel its nationhood. You fail in your military objective, the Jews are still alive and have more land now than before, and you have thousands of upset, displaced refugees living in your country because they believed in you. So you and the UN build refugee camps that are designed to last only five years and crowd the people in, instead of integrating them into your society and giving them citizenship. After a few years of overcrowding and deteriorating living conditions, you get the media to visit and publish a lot of pictures of these poor people living in the hopeless, wretched squalor you have left them in. In 1967 you get all your cronies together with their guns and tanks and planes and start beating the war drums. Again the same old story: you really are going to kill all the Jews this time or drive them into the sea, and everyone will be able to go back home, take over what the Jews have developed, and live in a Jew-free Middle East. Again you fail and now there are even more refugees living in your countries, and Israel is even larger, with Jerusalem as its capital. Time for more pictures of more camps and suffering children. What is to be done about these poor refugees (that not even the Arabs want)? Then start Middle Eastern student organizations on U.S. college campuses and find some young, idealistic American college kids who have no idea of what has been described here so far, and have them take up the cause. Now enter some power-hungry type like Yasser Arafat who begins to blackmail you and your Arab friends, who created the mess, for guns and bombs and money to fight the Israelis. Then Arafat creates hell for the world starting in the 1970s with his terrorism, and the “Palestinian refugee problem” becomes a worldwide issue and galvanizes all your citizens and the world against Israel. Along come the suicide bombers, so to keep the pot boiling you finance the show by paying every bomber’s family twenty-five thousand dollars. This encourages more crazies to go blow themselves up, killing civilians and children riding buses to school. Saudi Arabia held telethons to raise thousands of dollars to the families of suicide bombers. What a perfect way to turn years of military failure into a public-opinion-campaign success. The perpetuation of lies and uncritical thinking, combined with repetitious anti-Jewish and anti-American diatribes, has produced a generation of Arab youth incapable of thinking in a civilized manner. This government-nurtured rage toward the West and the infidels continues today, perpetuating their economic failure and deflecting frustration away from the dictators and regimes that oppress them. This refusal by the Arab regimes to take an honest look at themselves has created a culture of scapegoating that blames western civilization for misery and failure in every aspect of Arab life. So far it seems that Arab leaders don’t mind their people lagging behind, save for King Abdullah’s recent evidence of concern. (The depth of his sincerity remains to be seen.)
Brigitte Gabriel (Because They Hate)
As you are all aware, in the course of life we experience many kinds of pain. Pains of the body and pains of the heart. I know i have experienced pain in many different forms, and I'm sure you have too. In most cases, though, im sure you've found it very difficult to convey the truth of that pain to another person: to explain it in words. People say that only they themselves can understand the pain they are feeling. But is it true? I for one do not believe that it is. If, before our eyes, we see someone who is truly suffering , we do sometimes feel his suffering and pain as our own. This is the power of empathy. Am I making myself clear?'' He broke off and looked around the room once again. ''The reason that people sing songs for other people is because they want to have the power to arouse empathy, to break free of the narrow shell of the self and share their pain and joy with others. This is not an easy thing to do, of course. And so tonight, as kind of experiment, I want you to experience a simpler, more physical kind of empathy. Lights please.'' Everyone in the place was hushed now, all eyes fixed on stage. Amid the silence, the man stared off into space, as if to insert a pause or to reach a state of mental concentration. Then, without a word, he held his hand over the lighted candle. Little by little, he brought the palm closer and closer to the flame. Someone in the audience made a sound like a sigh or a moan. You could see the tip of the flame burning the man's palm. You could almost hear the sizzle of the flesh. A woman let out a hard little scream. Everyone else just watched in frozen horror. The man endured the pain, his face distorted in agony. What the hell was this? Why did he have to do such a stupid, senseless thing? I felt my mouth going dry. After five or six seconds of this, he slowly removed his hand from the flame and set the dish with the candle in it on the floor. Then he clasped his hands together, the right and left palms pressed against each other. ''As you have seen tonight, ladies and gentleman, pain can actually burn a person's flesh,'' said the man. His voice sounded exactly as it had earlier: quiet, steady, cool. No trace of suffering remained on his face. Indeed, it had been replaced by a faint smile. ''And the pain that must have been there, you have been able to feel as if it were your own. That is the power of empathy.
Haruki Murakami
Qualities such as honesty, determination, and a cheerful acceptance of stress, which can all be identified through probing questionnaires and interviews, may be more important to the company in the long run than one's college grade-point average or years of "related experience." Every business is only as good as the people it brings into the organization. The corporate trainer should feel his job is the most important in the company, because it is. Exalt seniority-publicly, shamelessly, and with enough fanfare to raise goosebumps on the flesh of the most cynical spectator. And, after the ceremony, there should be some sort of permanent display so that employees passing by are continuously reminded of their own achievements and the achievements of others. The manager must freely share his expertise-not only about company procedures and products and services but also with regard to the supervisory skills he has worked so hard to acquire. If his attitude is, "Let them go out and get their own MBAs," the personnel under his authority will never have the full benefit of his experience. Without it, they will perform at a lower standard than is possible, jeopardizing the manager's own success. Should a CEO proclaim that there is no higher calling than being an employee of his organization? Perhaps not-for fear of being misunderstood-but it's certainly all right to think it. In fact, a CEO who does not feel this way should look for another company to manage-one that actually does contribute toward a better life for all. Every corporate leader should communicate to his workforce that its efforts are important and that employees should be very proud of what they do-for the company, for themselves, and, literally, for the world. If any employee is embarrassed to tell his friends what he does for a living, there has been a failure of leadership at his workplace. Loyalty is not demanded; it is created. Why can't a CEO put out his own suggested reading list to reinforce the corporate vision and core values? An attractive display at every employee lounge of books to be freely borrowed, or purchased, will generate interest and participation. Of course, the program has to be purely voluntary, but many employees will wish to be conversant with the material others are talking about. The books will be another point of contact between individuals, who might find themselves conversing on topics other than the weekend football games. By simply distributing the list and displaying the books prominently, the CEO will set into motion a chain of events that can greatly benefit the workplace. For a very cost-effective investment, management will have yet another way to strengthen the corporate message. The very existence of many companies hangs not on the decisions of their visionary CEOs and energetic managers but on the behavior of its receptionists, retail clerks, delivery drivers, and service personnel. The manager must put himself and his people through progressively challenging courage-building experiences. He must make these a mandatory group experience, and he must lead the way. People who have confronted the fear of public speaking, and have learned to master it, find that their new confidence manifests itself in every other facet of the professional and personal lives. Managers who hold weekly meetings in which everyone takes on progressively more difficult speaking or presentation assignments will see personalities revolutionized before their eyes. Command from a forward position, which means from the thick of it. No soldier will ever be inspired to advance into a hail of bullets by orders phoned in on the radio from the safety of a remote command post; he is inspired to follow the officer in front of him. It is much more effective to get your personnel to follow you than to push them forward from behind a desk. The more important the mission, the more important it is to be at the front.
Dan Carrison (Semper Fi: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way)
Porridge is our soup, our grits, our sustenance, so it's pretty much the go-to for breakfast. For the first time, I ate with a bunch of other Taiwanese-Chinese kids my age who knew what the hell they were doing. Even at Chinese school, there were always kids that brought hamburgers, shunned chopsticks, or didn't get down with the funky shit. They were like faux-bootleg-Canal Street Chinamen. That was one of the things that really annoyed me about growing up Chinese in the States. Even if you wanted to roll with Chinese/Taiwanese kids, there were barely any around and the ones that were around had lost their culture and identity. They barely spoke Chinese, resented Chinese food, and if we got picked on by white people on the basketball court, everyone just looked out for themselves. It wasn't that I wanted people to carry around little red books to affirm their "Chinese-ness," but I just wanted to know there were other people that wanted this community to live on in America. There was on kid who wouldn't eat the thousand-year-old eggs at breakfast and all the other kids started roasting him. "If you don't get down with the nasty shit, you're not Chinese!" I was down with the mob, but something left me unsettled. One thing ABCs love to do is compete on "Chinese-ness," i.e., who will eat the most chicken feet, pig intestines, and have the highest SAT scores. I scored high in chick feet, sneaker game, and pirated good, but relatively low on the SAT. I had made National Guild Honorable Mention for piano when I was around twelve and promptly quit. My parents had me play tennis and take karate, but ironically, I quit tennis two tournaments short of being ranked in the state of Florida and left karate after getting my brown belt. The family never understood it, but I knew what I was doing. I didn't want to play their stupid Asian Olympics, but I wanted to prove to myself that if I did want to be the stereotypical Chinaman they wanted, I could. (189) I had become so obsessed with not being a stereotype that half of who I was had gone dormant. But it was also a positive. Instead of following the path most Asian kids do, I struck out on my own. There's nature, there's nurture, and as Harry Potter teaches us, there's who YOU want to be. (198) Everyone was in-between. The relief of the airport and the opportunity to reflect on my trip helped me realize that I didn't want to blame anyone anymore, Not my parents, not white people, not America. Did I still think there was a lot wrong with the aforementioned? Hell, yeah, but unless I was going to do something about it, I couldn't say shit. So I drank my Apple Sidra and shut the fuck up. (199)
Eddie Huang (Fresh Off the Boat)
A Favorite start to a book [sorry it's long!]: "In yesterday’s Sunday Times, a report from Francistown in Botswana. Sometime last week, in the middle of the night, a car, a white American model, drove up to a house in a residential area. Men wearing balaclavas jumped out, kicked down the front door, and began shooting. When they had done with shooting they set fire to the house and drove off. From the embers the neighbors dragged seven charred bodies: two men, three women, two children. Th killers appeared to be black, but one of the neighbors heard them speaking Afrikaans among themselves. And was convinced they were whites in blackface. The dead were South Africans, refugees who had moved into the house mere weeks ago. Approached for comment, the SA Minister of Foreign Affairs, through a spokesman, calls the report ‘unverified’. Inquiries will be undertaken, he says, to determine whether the deceased were indeed SA citizens. As for the military, an unnamed source denies that the SA Defence Force had anything to do with the matter. The killings are probably an internal ANC matter, he suggests, reflecting ‘ongoing tensions between factions. So they come out, week after week, these tales from the borderlands, murders followed by bland denials. He reads the reports and feels soiled. So this is what he has come back to! Yet where in the world can one hide where one will not feel soiled? Would he feel any cleaner in the snows of Sweden, reading at a distance about his people and their latest pranks? How to escape the filth: not a new question. An old rat-question that will not let go, that leaves its nasty, suppurating wound. Agenbite of inwit. ‘I see the Defense Force is up to its old tricks again,’ he remarks to his father. ‘In Botswana this time.’ But his father is too wary to rise to the bait. When his father picks up the newspaper, he cares to skip straight to the sports pages, missing out the politics—the politics and the killings. His father has nothing but disdain for the continent to the north of them. Buffoons is the word he uses to dismiss the leaders of African states: petty tyrants who can barely spell their own names, chauffeured from one banquet to another in their Rolls-Royces, wearing Ruritanian uniforms festooned with medals they have awarded themselves. Africa: a place of starving masses with homicidal buffoons lording over them. ‘They broke into a house in Francistown and killed everyone,’ he presses on nonetheless. ‘Executed them .Including the children. Look. Read the report. It’s on the front page.’ His father shrugs. His father can find no form of words spacious enough to cover his distaste for, on one hand, thugs who slaughter defenceless women and children and, on the other, terrorists who wage war from havens across the border. He resolves the problem by immersing himself in the cricket scores. As a response to moral dilemma it is feeble; yet is his own response—fits of anger and despair—any better?" Summertime, Coetzee
J.M. Coetzee
If, by the virtue of charity or the circumstance of desperation, you ever chance to spend a little time around a Substance-recovery halfway facility like Enfield MA’s state-funded Ennet House, you will acquire many exotic new facts…That certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do. That sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused. That purposeful sleep-deprivation can also be an abusable escape. That you do not have to like a person in order to learn from him/her/it. That loneliness is not a function of solitude. That logical validity is not a guarantee of truth. That it takes effort to pay attention to any one stimulus for more than a few seconds. That boring activities become, perversely, much less boring if you concentrate intently on them. That if enough people in a silent room are drinking coffee it is possible to make out the sound of steam coming off the coffee. That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt. That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness. That it is possible to fall asleep during an anxiety attack. That concentrating intently on anything is very hard work. That 99% of compulsive thinkers’ thinking is about themselves; that 99% of this self-directed thinking consists of imagining and then getting ready for things that are going to happen to them; and then, weirdly, that if they stop to think about it, that 100% of the things they spend 99% of their time and energy imagining and trying to prepare for all the contingencies and consequences of are never good. In short that 99% of the head’s thinking activity consists of trying to scare the everliving shit out of itself. That it is possible to make rather tasty poached eggs in a microwave oven. That some people’s moms never taught them to cover up or turn away when they sneeze. That the people to be the most frightened of are the people who are the most frightened. That it takes great personal courage to let yourself appear weak. That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable. That other people can often see things about you that you yourself cannot see, even if those people are stupid. That having a lot of money does not immunize people from suffering or fear. That trying to dance sober is a whole different kettle of fish. That different people have radically different ideas of basic personal hygiene. That, perversely, it is often more fun to want something than to have it. That if you do something nice for somebody in secret, anonymously, without letting the person you did it for know it was you or anybody else know what it was you did or in any way or form trying to get credit for it, it’s almost its own form of intoxicating buzz. That anonymous generosity, too, can be abused. That it is permissible to want. That everybody is identical in their unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else. That this isn’t necessarily perverse. That there might not be angels, but there are people who might as well be angels.
David Foster Wallace
Elizabeth glanced up as Ian handed her a glass of champagne. “Thank you,” she said, smiling up at him and gesturing to Duncan, the duke, and Jake, who were now convulsed with loud hilarity. “They certainly seem to be enjoying themselves,” she remarked. Ian absently glanced the group of laughing men, then back at her. “You’re breathtaking when you smile.” Elizabeth heard the huskiness in his voice and saw the almost slumberous look in his eyes, and she was wondering about its cause when he said softly, “Shall we retire?” That suggestion caused Elizabeth to assume his expression must be due to weariness. She, herself, was more than ready to seek the peace of her own chamber, but since she’d never been to a wedding reception before, she assumed that the protocol must be the same as at any other gala affair-which meant the host and hostess could not withdraw until the last of the guests had either left or retired. Tonight, every one of the guest chambers would be in use, and tomorrow a large wedding breakfast was planned, followed by a hunt. “I’m not sleepy-just a little fatigued from so much smiling,” she told him, pausing to bestow another smile on a guest who caught her eye and waved. Turning her face up to Ian, she offered graciously, “It’s been a long day. If you wish to retire, I’m sure everyone will understand.” “I’m sure they will,” he said dryly, and Elizabeth noted with puzzlement that his eyes were suddenly gleaming. “I’ll stay down here and stand in for you,” she volunteered. The gleam in his eyes brightened yet more. “You don’t think that my retiring alone will look a little odd?” Elizabeth knew it might seem impolite, if not precisely odd, but then inspiration struck, and she said reassuringly, “Leave everything to me. I’ll make your excuses if anyone asks.” His lips twitched. “Just out of curiosity-what excuse will you make for me?” “I’ll say you’re not feeling well. It can’t be anything too dire though, or we’ll be caught out in the fib when you appear looking fit for breakfast and the hunt in the morning.” She hesitated, thinking, and then said decisively, “I’ll say you have the headache.” His eyes widened with laughter. “It’s kind of you to volunteer to dissemble for me, my lady, but that particular untruth would have me on the dueling field for the next month, trying to defend against the aspersions it would cause to be cast upon my…ah…manly character.” “Why? Don’t gentlemen get headaches?” “Not,” he said with a roguish grin, “on their wedding night.” “I can’t see why.” “Can you not?” “No. And,” she added with an irate whisper, “I don’t see why everyone is staying down here this late. I’ve never been to a wedding reception, but it does seem as if they ought to be beginning to seek their beds.” “Elizabeth,” he said, trying not to laugh. “At a wedding reception, the guests cannot leave until the bride and groom retire. If you look over there, you’ll notice my great-aunts are already nodding in their chairs.” “Oh!” she exclaimed, instantly contrite. “I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” “Because,” he said, taking her elbow and beginning to guide her from the ballroom, “I wanted you to enjoy every minute of our ball, even if we had to prop the guests up on the shrubbery.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost…. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. ….. Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!
Charlie Chaplin (The Great Dictator: Il grande dittatore di Charlie Chaplin)
Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight 1 You scream, waking from a nightmare. When I sleepwalk into your room, and pick you up, and hold you up in the moonlight, you cling to me hard, as if clinging could save us. I think you think I will never die, I think I exude to you the permanence of smoke or stars, even as my broken arms heal themselves around you. 2 I have heard you tell the sun, don't go down, I have stood by as you told the flower, don't grow old, don't die. Little Maud, I would blow the flame out of your silver cup, I would suck the rot from your fingernail, I would brush your sprouting hair of the dying light, I would scrape the rust off your ivory bones, I would help death escape through the little ribs of your body, I would alchemize the ashes of your cradle back into wood, I would let nothing of you go, ever, until washerwomen feel the clothes fall asleep in their hands, and hens scratch their spell across hatchet blades, and rats walk away from the culture of the plague, and iron twists weapons toward truth north, and grease refuse to slide in the machinery of progress, and men feel as free on earth as fleas on the bodies of men, and the widow still whispers to the presence no longer beside her in the dark. And yet perhaps this is the reason you cry, this the nightmare you wake screaming from: being forever in the pre-trembling of a house that falls. 3 In a restaurant once, everyone quietly eating, you clambered up on my lap: to all the mouthfuls rising toward all the mouths, at the top of your voice you cried your one word, caca! caca! caca! and each spoonful stopped, a moment, in midair, in its withering steam. Yes, you cling because I, like you, only sooner than you, will go down the path of vanished alphabets, the roadlessness to the other side of the darkness, your arms like the shoes left behind, like the adjectives in the halting speech of old folk, which once could call up the lost nouns. 4 And you yourself, some impossible Tuesday in the year Two Thousand and Nine, will walk out among the black stones of the field, in the rain, and the stones saying over their one word, ci-gît, ci-gît, ci-gît, and the raindrops hitting you on the fontanel over and over, and you standing there unable to let them in. 5 If one day it happens you find yourself with someone you love in a café at one end of the Pont Mirabeau, at the zinc bar where wine takes the shapes of upward opening glasses, and if you commit then, as we did, the error of thinking, one day all this will only be memory, learn to reach deeper into the sorrows to come—to touch the almost imaginary bones under the face, to hear under the laughter the wind crying across the black stones. Kiss the mouth that tells you, here, here is the world. This mouth. This laughter. These temple bones. The still undanced cadence of vanishing. 6 In the light the moon sends back, I can see in your eyes the hand that waved once in my father's eyes, a tiny kite wobbling far up in the twilight of his last look: and the angel of all mortal things lets go the string. 7 Back you go, into your crib. The last blackbird lights up his gold wings: farewell. Your eyes close inside your head, in sleep. Already in your dreams the hours begin to sing. Little sleep's-head sprouting hair in the moonlight, when I come back we will go out together, we will walk out together among the ten thousand things, each scratched in time with such knowledge, the wages of dying is love.
Galway Kinnell