"To revolt or to adapt oneself; there is no other choice in life." —Gustave Le Bon
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." —George Bernard Shaw
"There is a lie to being alive, against which we are born to protest." —Artaud
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"If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings." —David Foster Wallace, 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address
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"Industrial man—a sentient reciprocating engine having a fluctuating output, coupled to an iron wheel revolving with uniform velocity. And then we wonder why this should be the golden age of revolution and mental derangement." —Aldous Huxley, Time Must Have a Stop, 1944
"But men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon ploughed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in the old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool's life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before." —Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854
"There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die." —Charles Bukowski, The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship, 1991/93
"Many peoples' tombstones should read 'Died at 30, buried at 60.'" —Nicholas Murray Butler
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"The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don't have to waste your time voting." —Charles Bukowski
"All governments, the worst on earth and the most tyrannical on earth, are free governments to that portion of the people who voluntarily support them." —Lysander Spooner, An Essay on the Trial by Jury, 1852
Five from de Tocqueville:
"As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?"
"In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own."
"In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them."
"I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all."
"There is hardly a pioneer's hut which does not contain a few odd volumes of Shakespeare. I remember reading the feudal drama of Henry V for the first time in a log cabin."
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"According to Proust, one proof that we are reading a major new writer is that his writing immediately strikes us as ugly. Only minor writers write beautifully, since they simply reflect back to us our preconceived notion of what beauty is; we have no problem understanding what they are up to, since we have seen it many times before. When a writer is truly original, his failure to be conventionally beautiful makes us see him, initially, as shapeless, awkward, or perverse. Only once we have learned how to read him do we realize that this ugliness is really a new, totally unexpected kind of beauty and that what seemed wrong in his writing is exactly what makes him great." —Adam Kirsch on Bolaño's 2666
Foucault on Derrida: He writes so obscurely you can't tell what he's saying, that's the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, "You didn't understand me; you're an idiot." That's the terrorism part.
"Don't worry about other people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." —Howard Aiken, computing pioneer
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"In an interview with Michèle Manceaux à propos the Black Panthers, Genet said: "The non-violent stance of the Whites belongs to a moral dilettantism. Nothing else." —William Haver, On Several Really Smart Things About Violence in Jean Genet's Work. (If this remark is applied more broadly to, say, modern day globalization protesters, we (more or less) arrive at a Derrick Jensen maxim.)
"A very popular error - having the courage of one's convictions: Rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack upon one's convictions." —Nietzsche
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from Harold Pinter's 2005 Nobel Prize acceptance speech: "In 1958 I wrote the following: 'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.' I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?"
Bresson: "I don't think so much of what I do when I work, but I try to feel something, to see without explaining, to catch it as near as I can – that’s all... Thinking is a terrible enemy. You should try to work not with your intelligence, but with your senses and your heart. With your intuition."
Rossellini’s refusal to give dates or explain who people are has annoyed some audiences. “It’s up to the spectators to do that,” he retorted. “It’s as though we had a plate of good pasta in front of us. You want to wait and swallow it only after I’ve digested it. Disgusting.”
"Art is not a means to an end; it contains its own ends. It is one of the principal means, in our view, by which human beings gain their bearings in the world. It has an objective, truthful content. Profound artistic images reflect the world, in their own manner, just as accurately as scientific axioms. Art grasps the world in the form of images. The present-day postmodernist or left academic dismisses this objective, 'universal' element in favor of a cheap, flabby relativism." —David Walsh, A Conversation at the Swans Café
"And it is to be noted that it is the fact that Art is this intense form of Individualism that makes the public try to exercise over it an authority that is as immoral as it is ridiculous, and as corrupting as it is contemptible. It is not quite their fault. The public have always, and in every age, been badly brought up. They are continually asking Art to be popular, to please their want of taste, to flatter their absurd vanity, to tell them what they have been told before, to show them what they ought to be tired of seeing, to amuse them when they feel heavy after eating too much, and to distract their thoughts when they are wearied of their own stupidity. Now Art should never try to be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic." —Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism
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"In this material world run on injustice and terror, where "popular" is confused with "industrial," any cultural expression that does not hurl an angry cry or wail a song of mad love (often one and the same) merely collaborates in the regulation and preservation of this world." -Nicole Brenez, Abel Ferrara