“You remember those birds that were getting sucked into the jet engines? Sometimes I lie in bed at three or four in the morning and I imagine myself flying miles above the earth, very cold, and one of those black secret spy planes is up there with the huge round engines with the spinning blades in it, the blades that look like the underside of mushrooms? The black plane’s going very fast and I’m going very fast in the opposite direction and we intersect, and I fly right through one of those jet engines, and I exit as this long fog of blood. I’m miles long, and, because it’s so cold, I’m crystalline. Very long arms, you’ll be pleased to hear. And then I recondense in bed, sshhp, as my short warm self. It must have something to do with my estrogen level. But that’s what telephone travel would be like out there, I think. What am I saying, that’s what it is like.” (Nicholson Baker, from Vox)
The great French revolutionary hero Danton, who will lose his head during the ‘Terror,’ is making a rueful remark. ‘… But Robespierre and the people,’ he observes, ‘are virtuous.’ Danton is on a London stage, not really Danton at all but an actor speaking lines of Georg Büchner in English translation; and the time is not then, but now. I don’t know if the thought originated in French, German, or English, but I do know that it seems astonishingly bleak – because what it means, obviously, is that the people are like Robespierre. Danton may be the hero of the revolution, but he also likes wine, fine clothes, whores; weaknesses which (the audience instantly sees) will enable Robespierre, a good actor in a green coat, to cut him down. When Danton is sent to visit the widow, old Madame Guillotine with her basket of heads, we know it isn’t really on account of any real or trumped-up political crimes. He gets the chop (miraculously staged) because he is too fond of pleasure. Epicureanism is subversive. The people are like Robespierre. They distrust fun. (Salman Rushdie, from Shame)
“Girls are like slugs – they probably serve some purpose, but it’s hard to imagine what.” (Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes fame)
While we wait for chocolate malteds I notice a high-schooler sitting at the counter exchanging looks with the girl next to him. She’s gorgeous, and I’m not the only other one who notices it. The girl behind the counter waiting on them is also watching with an anger she thinks no one else sees. Some kind of triangle. We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people’s lives. (Robert M. Pirsig, from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Society had tamed the erratic fellow by co-opting him into the mainstream. For its largest threats, society reserves success. (Richard Powers, from Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance)
“Concentration-camp existence … taught us that the whole world is really like a concentration camp,” wrote Tadeusz Borowski. “The weak work for the strong, and if they have no strength or will to work – then let them steal, or let them die. … There is no crime that a man will not commit in order to save himself. And, having saved himself, he will commit crimes for increasingly trivial reasons; he will commit them first out of duty, then from habit, and finally – for pleasure. … The world is ruled by neither justice nor morality; crime is not punished nor virtue rewarded, one is forgotten as quickly as the other. The world is ruled by power …” (Otto Friedrich, from The End of the World)
You can just forward my mail to me in Hell, okay?
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