"And how many of us are there in this country? Maybe ten thousand. Maybe twenty thousand. Maybe a lot more. I been to a lot of places but I never met but a few of us. But say a man does know. He sees the world as it is and he looks back thousands of years to see how it all come about. He watched the slow agglutination of capital and power and he sees its pinnacle today. He sees America as a crazy house. He sees how men have to rob their brothers in order to live. He sees children starving and women working sixty hours a week to get to eat. He sees a whole damn army of unemployed and billions of dollars and thousands of miles of land wasted. He sees war coming. He sees how when people suffer just so much they get mean and ugly and something dies in them. But the main thing he sees is that the whole system of the world is built on a lie. And although it's as plain as the shining sun — the don't-knows have lived with that lie so long they just can't see it." —Jake Blount via Carson McCullers (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Part II, Chapter IV)
"I'm through with the Movement. I saw men didn't want to be saved from themselves, for that would mean they'd have to give up greed, and they'll never pay that price for liberty. So I said to the world, God bless all here, and may the best man win and die of gluttony! And I took a seat in the grandstand of philosophical detachment to fall asleep observing the cannibals do their death dance." —Larry Slade via Eugene O'Neill (The Iceman Cometh, Act I)
"But there's this. You see, we just can’t settle down after knowing, but we got to act. And some of us go nuts. There’s too much to do and you don’t know where to start. It makes you crazy. Even me — I've done things that when I look back at them they don't seem rational. Once I started an organization myself. I picked out twenty lintheads and talked to them until I thought they knew. Our motto was one word: Action. Huh! We meant to start riots — stir up all the big trouble we could. Our ultimate goal was freedom — but a real freedom, a great freedom made possible only by the sense of justice of the human soul. Our motto, "Action," signified the razing of capitalism. In the constitution (drawn up by myself) certain statutes dealt with the swapping of our motto from "Action" to "Freedom" as soon as our work was through. [...] Then when the constitution was all written down and the first followers well organized — then I went out on a hitchhiking tour to organize component units of the society. Within three months I came back, and what do you reckon I found? What was the first heroic action? Had their righteous fury overcome planned action so that they had gone ahead without me? Was it destruction, murder, revolution? [...] My friend, they had stole the fifty-seven dollars and thirty seven cents from the treasury to buy uniform caps and free Saturday suppers. I caught them sitting around the conference table, rolling the bones, their caps on their heads, and a ham and a gallon of gin in easy reach." —Jake Blount (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Part II, Chapter IV)
"Since he had been at Lynn's he had often gone there and sat in front of the groups from the Parthenon; and, not deliberately thinking, had allowed their divine masses to rest his troubled soul. But this afternoon they had nothing to say to him, and after a few minutes, impatiently, he wandered out of the room. There were too many people, provincials with foolish faces, foreigners poring over guide-books; their hideousness besmirched the everlasting masterpieces, their restlessness troubled the god's immortal repose. He went into another room and here there was hardly anyone. Philip sat down wearily. His nerves were on edge. He could not get the people out of his mind. Sometimes at Lynn's they affected him in the same way, and he looked at them file past him with horror; they were so ugly and there was such meanness in their faces, it was terrifying; their features were distorted with paltry desires, and you felt they were strange to any ideas of beauty. They had furtive eyes and weak chins. There was no wickedness in them, but only pettiness and vulgarity. Their humour was a low facetiousness. Sometimes he found himself looking at them to see what animal they resembled (he tried not to, for it quickly became an obsession,) and he saw in them all the sheep or the horse or the fox or the goat. Human beings filled him with disgust." —Philip Carey via Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage, Chapter LXXXVIII)
"You asked me why I quit the Movement. I had a lot of good reasons. One was myself, and another was my comrades, and the last was the breed of swine called men in general. For myself, I was forced to admit, at the end of thirty years' devotion to the Cause, that I was never made for it. I was born condemned to be one of those who has to see all sides of a question. When you're damned like that, the questions multiply for you until in the end it's all question and no answer. As history proves, to be a worldly success at anything, especially revolution, you have to wear blinders like a horse and see only straight in front of you. You have to see, too, that this is all black, and that is all white. As for my comrades in the Great Cause, I felt as Horace Walpole did about England, that he could love it if it weren't for the people in it. The material the ideal free society must be constructed from is men themselves and you can't build a marble temple out of a mixture of mud and manure. When man's soul isn't a sow's ear, it will be time enough to dream of silk purses." —Larry Slade (The Iceman Cometh, Act I)
"Philip had cultivated a certain disdain for idealism. He had always had a passion for life, and the idealism he had come across seemed to him for the most part a cowardly shrinking from it. The idealist withdrew himself, because he could not suffer the jostling of the human crowd; ; he was vain, and since his fellows would not take him at his own estimate, consoled himself with despising his fellows." —Philip Carey (Of Human Bondage, Chapter LXXXVIII)
"'The things they have done to us! The truths they have turned into lies. The ideals they have fouled and made vile. Take Jesus. He was one of us. He knew. When He said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God — he damn well meant just what he said. But look what the Church has done to Jesus during the last two thousand years. What they have made of him. How they have turned every word he spoke for their own vile ends. Jesus would be framed and in jail if he were living today. Jesus would be one who really knows. Me and Jesus would sit across the table and I would look at him and he would look at me and we would both know that the other knew. Me and Jesus and Karl Marx could all sit at a table and —
‘And look what has happened to our freedom. The men who fought the American Revolution were no more like these D.A.R. dames than I'm a pot-bellied, perfumed Pekingese dog. They meant what they said about freedom. They fought a real revolution. They fought so that this could be a country where every man would be free and equal. Huh! And that meant every man was equal in the sight of Nature — with an equal chance. This didn't mean that twenty per cent of the people were free to rob the other eighty percent of the means to live. This didn't mean for one rich man to sweat the piss out of ten thousand poor men so that he can get richer. This didn't mean the tyrants were free to get this country in such a fix that millions of people are ready to do anything — cheat, lie, or whack off their right arm — just to work for three squares and a flop. They have made the word freedom a blasphemy. You hear me? They have made the word freedom stink like a skunk to all who know.'" —Jake Blount (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Part II, Chapter IV)
"Perhaps his taciturnity hid a contempt for the human race which had abandoned the great dreams of his youth and now wallowed in sluggish ease; of perhaps those thirty years of revolution had taught him that men are unfit for liberty, and he thought that he had spent his life in the pursuit of that which was not worth the finding. Or maybe he was tired out and waited only with indifference for the release of death." —Philip Carey (Of Human Bondage, Chapter XXV)
"...I've nothing left to give, and I want to be left alone, and I'll thank you to keep your life to yourself. I feel you're looking for some answer to something. I have no answer to give anyone, not even myself. Unless you can call what Heine wrote inn his poem to morphine an answer. (He quotes a translation of the closing couplet sardonically)
—Larry Slade (The Iceman Cometh, Act I)
"[Jake] knew and could not get the don't-knows to see. It was like trying to fight darkness or heat or a stink in the air." —Carson McCullers (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Part II, Chapter XII)
"All we want is to pass out in peace, bejees! (A chorus of dull, resentful protest from all the group. They mumble, like sleepers who curse a person who keeps awakening them, "What's it to us? We want to pass out in peace!") —Harry Hope (The Iceman Cometh, Act IV)
JIM: Did something fall off it? I think—
JIM: I hope it wasn't the little glass horse with the horn!
LAURA: Yes. [She stoops to pick it up.]
JIM: Aw, aw, aw. Is it broken?
LAURA: Now it is just like all the other horses.
JIM: It's lost its—
—Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie