Sunday, May 23, 2004


Thus he was forced to endure the importunities of the young-old man, whose drunken state obscurely urged him to pay the stranger the honor of a formal farewell. "We wish you a very pleasant sojourn," he babbled, bowing and scraping. "Pray keep us in mind. Au revoir, excusez et bon jour, votre Excellence." He drooled, he blinked, he licked the corner of his mouth, the little imperial bristled on his elderly chin. He put the tips of two fingers to his mouth and said thickly, "Give her our love, will you, the p-pretty dear..." Here his upper plate came away and fell down on the lower one... Aschenbach escaped. "Little sweety-sweety-sweetheart," he heard behind him, gurgled and stuttered, as he climbed down the rope stair into the boat.
--Thomas Mann, "Death in Venice"

I wer programmit then from how I ben when I come in to Cambry. Coming in to Cambry my head ben ful of words and rimes and all kynds of jumbl of yellerboy stoan thots. Back then I ben thinking on the Power of the 2 and the 1 and the Hy Power what ben whoosing roun the Power Ring time back way back. The 1 Big 1 and the Spirit of God. My mind ben all binsy with myndy thinking. Thinking who wer going to do what and how I myt put some thing to gether before some 1 else done it. Seed of the red and seed of the yeller and that. Hart of the wud. Now I dint want nothing of that. I dint know what the connnexion were with that face in my mynd only I knowit that face wer making me think diffrent. I wernt looking for no Hy Power no mor I dint want no Power at all. I dint want to do nothing with that yellerboy stoan n mor. Greanvine wer the name I put to that face in my mynd.

I cud feal some thing growing in me wer like a grean sea surging in me it wer saying, LOSE IT. Saying, LET GO. Saying, THE ONLYES POWER IS NO POWER.

Ther come in to my muynd then music or the idear of music I dont know what it wer if I try to hear it now I cant only I know I heard it then. It wer as much colours as it wer souns only if I try to see the colours now I cant. The souns and the colours they be come a moving and I thot I could move with it.

--Russell Hoban, "Riddley Walker"

Now, my Friend, can Prophecies, or miracles convince You, or Me, that infinite Benevolence, Wisdom and Power, created and preserves, for a time, innumerable millions to make them miserable forever; for his own Glory? Wretch! What is his Glory? Is he ambitious? does he want promotion? Is he vain? tickled with Adulation? Exulting and tryumphing in his Power and the Sweetness of his Vengence? Pardon me, my Maker, for these aweful Questions. My Answer to them is always ready: I believe no such Things. My Adoration of the Author of the Universe is too profound and too sincere. The Love of God and his Creation; delight, Joy, Tryumph, Exultation in my own existence, 'tho but an Atom, a Molecule Organique, in the Universe; are my religion. Howl, Snarl, bite, Ye Calvinistick! Ye Athanasian Divines, if You will. Ye will say, I am no Christian: I say Ye are no Christians: and there the account is ballanced. Yet I believe all the honest men among you, are Christians in My Sense of the Word.

--John Adams, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, September 14, 1813

The Ampitheatre was the best place in the world for a convention. Relatively small, it had the packed intimacy of a neighborhood fight club. The entrances to the gallery were as narrow as hallway tunnels, and the balcony seemed to hang over each speaker. The colors were black and grey and red and white and blue, bright powerful colors in support of a ruddy beef-eating sea of Democratic faces. The standards in these cramped quarters were numerous enough to look like lances. The aisles were jammed. The carpets were red. The crowd had a blood in their vote which had travelled in an unbroken line from the throng who had cheered the blood of brave Christians and ferocious lions. It could have been a great convention, stench and all -- politics in an abbatoir was as appropriate as license in a boudoir. There was bottom to this convention; some of the finest and some of the most corrupt faces in America were on the floor. Cancer jostled elbows with arcomegaly, obesity with edema, arthritis with alcholism, bad livers sent curses to bronchiacs, and quivering jowls beamed bad cess to puffed-out paunches. Cigars curved mouths which talked out of the other corner to cauliflower ears. The leprotic took care of the blind. And the deaf attached their hearing-aid to the voice-box of the dumb. The tennis-players communicated with the estate holders. The Mob talked bowling with the Union, the principals winked to the principals, the honest and the passionate went hoarse shouting through dead mikes.

--Norman Mailer, "Miami and the Siege of Chicago"

When you find a man living on the ragged edge of his consciousness, pent in to his sin and want and incompleteness, and consequently inconsolable, and then simply tell him that all is well with him, that he must stop his worry, break with his discontent, and give up his anxiety, you seem to him to come with pure absurdities. The only positive consciousness he has tells him that all is NOT well, and the better way you offer sounds simply as if you proposed to him to assert cold-blooded falsehoods. "The will to believe" cannot be stretched as far as that. We can make ourselves more faithful to a belief of which we have the rudiments, but we cannot create a belief out of whole cloth when our perception actively assures us of its opposite. The better mind proposed to us comes in that case in the form of a pure negation of the only mind we have, and we cannot actively will a pure negation.

--William James, "The Varieties of Religious Experience"

I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offenses at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, believe none of us. To a nunnery, go.

--William Shakespeare, "Hamlet"

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