Indeed, the Republican Right, while it worries plausibly about the loss of traditional values in an era of peace, is an example of the deformities it decries, since historically prosperous societies which perceive no outside threat have been the only ones that have the luxury to preoccupy themselves with discussions about such things as sexual values. The problem, though, is that we have no such luxury. The peace we think we have is only an interregnum before another cycle of conflict. The narcissistic isolationism of the congressional Republicans – who call for enforcing democracy abroad while denying the State Department the tools it requires for our own security interests and who refuse to pay our U.N. dues – comes at a time when the world vaguely resembles what it was before the outbreak of World War I. (Robert Kaplan, from The Coming Anarchy)
“You can’t be a pure nation anymore, like the French and Germans used to be. At the stage of technology we have reached, nations work only if they float in the larger world. And what you have in this part of the world are fossilized nations, dead societies that have yet to revive. There are a group of young reformers in our parliament, educated in the West. But Georgians only want heroes. These reformers have never killed, they don’t drink two liters of wine every evening, they don’t fight, they have no mustaches or daggers, so they can’t be heroes!” (Robert Kaplan, from Eastward to Tartary)
“What of the success of the Expulsion?” Carranque asked. The driver was momentarily silenced.
“Success for the Catholics?” I ventured.
“Certainly not, Señora.” Now it was Carranque who laughed. “The Expulsion of the Jews was an unmitigated disaster for the Catholics. For a brief time, Their Catholic Majesties feasted on the properties and treasures left behind by the running Jews. But after a very short while they awoke to the truth that their best and their brightest had fled. Gone were their merchants, their statesmen, their doctors, their artisans and their artists, their poets, their musicians, their singers, and their leatherworkers. Without its Jews, Spain dried up into the shriveled olive it is today.”
“So the success?”
“Was the success of the Jews — the Jews who fled to Morocco, to Italy, to Greece, to Turkey, to the Netherlands. They spread their art and learning across the Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibraltar and northward into Europe. They made a virtue of exile, found their greatest reward in exile, found their humanity, their lost identity, in exile.” (Jonathan Levi, from A Guide For The Perplexed)
“People who claim that they’re evil are usually no worse than the rest of us.” He sighed. “It’s people who claim that they’re good, or anyway better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.” (Gregory Maguire, from Wicked)
“How do you feel, Yossarian?”
“Fine. No, I’m very frightened.”
“That’s good,” said Major Danby. “It proves you’re still alive.” (Joseph Heller, from Catch-22)
In which Bill writes a sonnet
and gets a bee in his bonnet.
Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 194: Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time #4
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time (volume 3 of the series-of-mini-series) #4, which was published by Red 5 Comics and is cover dated August 2009. Enjoy!
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“The question is can you cure the disease before it kills you? Once you set out consciously to cure the disease, as I did even before I knew the word cancer, you run the risk of catching it. Comprende? Whatever you set your mind to, your personal total obsession, this is what kills you. Poetry kills you if you’re a poet, and so on. People choose their death whether they know it or not.” (Don DeLillo, from Libra)
It is demonstrably plain that, were the whole matter of victualling the world on a non-national footing taken right out of the hands of the strutting male and handed over to a dozen sensible women who do not want to have their children killed, politics, which are nothing but a glorified form of housekeeping, would long since have been deflated to the problem of running a canteen. (William Gerhardie, from God’s Fifth Column)
“No, she’s sincere enough – ain’t we all – but like the rest of us she doesn’t want to pay too high a price for it.” (George MacDonald Fraser, from Mr. American)
“There were little white puffs of clouds all across it, like a cat stepped in milk and then walked across the blue. I thought it was so beautiful I told Dmetro about it. He just stared at me. ‘I ain’t looked at the sky in ten years,’ he said.” (W. P. Kinsella, from The Iowa Baseball Confederacy)
“Truth, Vinicius, dwells somewhere so high that the gods themselves cannot see it from the top of Olympus. To you, carissime, your Olympus seems higher still, and, standing there, you call to me, ‘Come, you will see such sights as you have not seen yet!’ I might. But I answer, ‘I do not have feet for the journey.’ And if you read this letter to the end, you will acknowledge, I think, that I am right.” (Henryk Sienkiewicz, from Quo Vadis)
Every man always has handy a dozen glib reasons why he is right not to sacrifice himself. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, from The Gulag Archipelago)
My granddaughter Andrea wrote a composition for school in which she said that she liked her “grandmother’s imagination.” I asked her what she was referring to, and without hesitation she replied, “You remember things that never happened.” Don’t we all do that? (Isabel Allende, from My Invented Country)