Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quotes IX

"Who are we, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopaedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly reshuffled and reordered in every conceivable way." ―Italo Calvino

* * *

"It would have been better if Plato had decided, as Aristotle was to decide, that there was nothing much to be done with people like Thrasymachus and Callicles, and that the problem was how to avoid having children who would be like Thrasymachus and Callicles. By insisting that he could reeducate people who had matured without acquiring appropriate moral sentiments by invoking a higher power than sentiment, the power of reason, Plato got moral philosophy off on the wrong foot. He led moral philosophers to concentrate on the rather rare figure of the psychopath, the person who has no concern for any human being other than himself. Moral philosophy has systematically neglected the much more common case: the person whose treatment of a rather narrow range of [human beings] is morally impeccable, but who remains indifferent to those outside of this range, the ones he or she thinks of as pseudohumans." ―Richard Rorty

"A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." ―Einstein

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." ―Greek proverb

"Those who live to the future must always appear selfish to those who live to the present." ―Emerson

"The captain who unloads waste in the high seas has never seen, or rather has never let, the countless smiles of the gods emerge; that would be too demanding, or even creative. Shitting on the world, has he ever seen its beauty before? Did he ever see his own beauty? And so, he who dirties space with billboards full of sentences and images hides the view of the surrounding landscape, kills perception, and skewers it by this theft. First the landscape then the world." –Michel Serres

"When there is a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual and make it resident in a certain type of life only, the spiritual is apt gradually to be lost." —Flannery O'Connor

"First comes eating and then comes morality." –Brecht

* * *

"He was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them." —Joseph Heller

"One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence." ―Charles A. Beard

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." ―Thomas Jefferson

"I think that we should accept this Constitution for all of its errors and omissions, because it will give us, for a course of years good government (which we need right now), and then in due course as it would, it may be a blessing to the people if well administered—and I believe this is likely to be well administered. And then, only end due to the corruption of the people in despotism, which will be the only form of government suitable for them." ―Benjamin Franklin (quoted by Gore Vidal)

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the [banks and corporations] discover that they can [bribe] themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, [they] always [pay] for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years." ―Tocqueville (altered)

* * *

"Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy." ―Khalil Gibran

"The thief who is in prison is not necessarily more dishonest than his fellows at large, but mostly one who, through ignorance or stupidity steals in a way that is not customary. He snatches a loaf from the baker’s counter and is promptly run into jail. Another man snatches bread from the table of hundreds of widows and orphans and similar credulous souls who do not know the ways of company promoters; and, as likely as not, he is run into Parliament." ―G. B. Shaw

"I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of 'Admin.' The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid 'dens of crime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ―C.S. Lewis

"He doesn't know how I just get on with it, he says. He's always marveled at it: my ability to launch myself into administration, to get to work early, to sit at my desk and begin. It's incredible, W. says, though it also indicates there's something very wrong with me. There's something wrong with my soul, he says." ―Lars Iyer

"In the past the man has been first, in the future the system must be first." ―Frederick Winslow Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management (1911)

* * *

"There is nothing more curious or delicate than a relationship between people who know each other only by sight, who encounter and observe each other daily—nay, hourly—yet are constrained by convention or perhaps caprice to keep up the pretense of being strangers, indifferent, avoiding a nod or a word. There is a feeling of malaise and overwrought curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally stifled need for mutual knowledge and communication, and above all a sort of strained esteem. For a man loves and respects his fellow man only insofar as he is unable to assess him, and longing is a product of insufficient knowledge." ―Thomas Mann

"We have to live two lives, one turned to the world and to the horror of the world, and the other turned to our friends." ―Lars Iyer

"One writes neither for the true proletarian, occupied elsewhere, and very well occupied, nor for the true bourgeois starved of goods, and who have not the ears. One writes for the disadjusted, neither proletarian nor bourgeois; that is to say, for one’s friends, and less for the friends one has than for the innumerable unknown people who have the same life as us, who roughly and crudely understand the same things, are able to accept or must refuse the same, and who are in the same state of powerlessness and official silence." ―Dionys Mascolo

"Now that the context of reading is again shifting, from the private page to the communal screen, authors will adapt once more. They will increasingly tailor their work to a milieu that the essayist Caleb Crain describes as "groupiness," where people read mainly "for the sake of a feeling of belonging" rather than for a personal enlightenment or amusement. As social concerns override literary ones, writers seem fated to eschew virtuosity and experimentation in favor of a bland but immediately accessible style. Writing will become a means for recording chatter." ―Nicholas Carr

"I'll tell you an anecdote this woman told me once. She said that she had been quarreling with her mother for years, they didn't get along. Finally, after a long phone conversation, they decided to try to get together again and renew their mother-daughter relation. So she travels 1000 miles to her mother's home. And they're sitting down, and they're about to start having their heart-to-heart talk when the mother says, 'Oh, wait a minute, there's a TV show I have to watch.' It's like, Hollywood Squares. And the daughter's stunned! And the mother goes and turns on the TV and starts to watch the show. And she says, 'Mom! I came 1000 miles to reconcile with you! And now you're sitting and watching Hollywood Squares?' And she says, 'You don't understand. The only people I have in my life, the only people I know in my life are the people I work with. And they all watch this program. And if I come to work on Monday morning and I haven't seen this program, I have nothing to talk to my friends about.' That was the basis of her human relations. So the daughter just wept. There was nothing to do about that. And that to me was a very, very telling anecdote. I felt the whole of American society in that one anecdote." —Hakim Bey

* * *

"The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist." ―Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy (1847)

"The galleys make the galley-slave." ―Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862)

* * *

"What makes older films different from today's films is really about values and the messages that they send. Even if you compare good films made 20 years ago with the films of today you can see how different they are. What's worrisome is the change of values. There are no messages in today's films besides narratives about quick roads to success. Characters don't have to work very hard to be successful. Like in Legally Blonde—the actress makes a speech, everyone applauds. New films are all about clapping. Older films are more humane. The whole world is being affected by Hollywood. New national cinemas always want to imitate it—take Thailand and Korea. The feel like if they make something uniquely their own it won't make money. This has become a very deep-seated belief. I attend conferences and talk about these issues and people look at me like I'm from outer space. I really feel that you need to make things that are personal, local and unique." —Tsai Ming-liang

"You don't have to be a genius to figure out what the deal is in Hollywood. Hollywood is a factory town. It always was a factory town. And you know the idea of a director who makes the kind of films I wanted to make, they just don’t make them.
     You're not going to make pasta fragole in fucking Dublin, you know what I mean. You’re not going to make Mexican food in Istanbul. It doesn't work that way. In Hollywood they make a certain kind of film a certain kind of way and the director is the last person or the last thing they want." ―Abel Ferrara

"Hollywood is like being nowhere and talking to nobody about nothing." ―Antonioni

"And if you love watching movies don't put up with films that don't make you feel anything real. Boo and hiss—get up and walk out—write letters—complain. And recommend to friends movies that made you feel something true. Ignore that big publicity machine out there—spreading what are basically lies about what it means to be alive, all this fueled by your ticket money—and through the advertising costs that are a huge percentage of everything you purchase. Movies were once made by people who loved the process—it was personal to them—men and women who loved the pure experience of making and watching movies." —Tom Noonan

"My hunch is that pop culture began to stagnate the moment Americans started to love the past more than they did the future." ―Graydon Carter

"Of course, what I think is boring, must not be the same as what other people think is, since I could never stand to watch all the most popular action shows on TV, because they’re essentially the same plots and the same shots and the same cuts over and over again. Apparently, most people love watching the same basic thing, as long as the details are different. But I'm just the opposite: if I'm going to sit and watch the same thing I saw the night before, I don't want it to be essentially the same—I want it to be exactly the same. Because the more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel." —Andy Warhol

"To do the same thing over and over again is not only boredom: it is to be controlled by rather than to control what you do." –Heraclitus (attributed)

* * *

"Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact." ―William S. Burroughs

"Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." ―Percy Shelley

"There can be only one permanent revolution—a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself." —Tolstoy

"The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." ―Einstein

"Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do." ―Bertrand Russell

"If you want to realize yourselves... all your pet illusions must be unmasked." —Mina Loy

"Gaining wisdom is less about finding a truth and more about losing an illusion." —Ludwig Börne

"One is never deceived, one deceives oneself." —Goethe

"Every revolution was first a thought in one man's mind, and when the same thought occurs to another man, it is the key to that era." —Emerson

"Sometimes the difference between individual and organized indignation is the difference between criminal and political action." ―Ralph Ellison

"The great end of life is not knowledge, but action." —Thomas H. Huxley

* * *

"From the point of sensuous experience, seen from the streets and markets and the haunts of pleasure and gain, the estimate of age is low, melancholy, and skeptical. Frankly face the facts, and see the result. Tobacco, coffee, alcohol, hashish, prussic acid, strychnine, are weak dilutions: the surest poison is time. This cup, which Nature puts to our lips, has a wonderful virtue, surpassing that of any other draught. It opens the senses, adds power, fills us with exalted dreams, which we call hope, love, ambition, science: especially, it creates a craving for larger draughts of itself. But they who take the larger draughts are drunk with it, lose their stature, strength, beauty, and senses, and end in folly and delirium. We postpone our literary work until we have more ripeness and skill to write, and we one day discover that our literary talent was a youthful effervescence which we have now lost." –Emerson

"It is easy, retrospectively, to endow one's youth with a false precocity or a false innocence; to tamper with the dates marking one's stature on the edge of the door." ―Evelyn Waugh

* * *

"What we don't understand we don't possess." ―Goethe

"But if ever this infirmity of philosophers is to be suspected on any occasion, it is in their reasonings concerning human life, and the methods of attaining happiness. In that case they are led astray, not only by the narrowness of their understandings, but by that also of their passions. Almost every one has a predominant inclination, to which his other desires and affections submit, and which governs him, though perhaps with some intervals, through the whole course of his life. It is difficult for him to apprehend, that any thing which appears totally indifferent to him can ever give enjoyment to any person, or can possess charms which altogether escape his observation. His own pursuits are always, in his account, the most engaging, the objects of his passion the most valuable, and the road which he pursues the only one that leads to happiness." ―Hume

"We are accustomed to see men deride what they do not understand, and snarl at the good and beautiful because it lies beyond their sympathies." ―Goethe

"Mediocre minds usually dismiss anything which reaches beyond their own understanding." ―La Rochefoucald

"To understand via the heart is not to understand." ―Montaigne

"Everyone hears only what he understands." ―Goethe

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." ―Einstein

* * *

"Why, of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." —Hermann Göring, before being sentenced to death at Nuremberg

"All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage—torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side... The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." —Orwell

"There is a road to freedom. Its milestones are Obedience, Endeavor, Honesty, Order, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Truthfulness, Sacrifice, and love of the Fatherland." ―Adolf Hitler

* * *

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting." —e.e. cummings

"In the final analysis, we count for something only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embrace that, life is wasted." —Jung

* * *

"Submission is identified not with cowardice but with virtue, rebellion not with heroism but with evil. To the Roman slave-owners, Spartacus was not a hero and the obedient slaves were not cowards; Spartacus was a villain and the obedient slaves were virtuous. The obedient slaves believed this also. The obedient always think of themselves as virtuous rather than cowardly." —Robert Anton Wilson

"Live with your head in the lions mouth." ―Ralph Ellison

1 comment:

Tyler said...

RE: "Writing will become a means for recording chatter."

" 'What should I eat' said Sam. 'I have two choices. Cereal or peanut butter bagel.'

'Cereal,' said Luis.

'I wanted the bagel. I'm eating the bagel, I don’t know why I asked.' "

―Gmail chat between two characters in Tao Lin's Shoplifting from American Apparel