Quotes & Questions
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"Remember, when we talk about the survival of the fittest, it's all about context. Sure, the lion is the undisputed king of the jungle, but airdrop him into Antarctica, and he's just a penguin's bitch."

- Dennis Miller

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: Gyminy · 2/14/12 8:50 PM)

"Confusing monogamy with morality has done more to detroy the conscience of the human race than any other error." -- George Bernard Shaw

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"Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate." -- Chuang Tzu

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Gyminy · 2/6/12 3:30 PM)

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Wiesel

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 1 (Last: Gyminy · 2/4/12 9:33 PM)

"God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things." -- Pablo Picasso

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Gyminy · 1/30/12 3:28 PM)

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." -- Maya Angelou

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"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are." -- St. Augustine

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Five Bucks a Buffalo · 1/16/12 4:12 PM)

"It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy."
~Lucille Ball


I love this quote. It distills happiness down to the basics. I think it's easy to run after happiness without really thinking about what makes one happy (as opposed to the things that merely gratify or satiate on a temporary basis).


So... what makes me happy? I think I'm going to give that some more thought, because I think Lucille was right on the money about this one.


What makes you happy?

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: Gyminy · 1/16/12 4:43 PM)

Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.

Richard L Evans

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 1 (Last: Lori · 12/2/11 9:16 AM)

"If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution"

Emma Goldman (1869-1940)

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Gyminy · 11/22/11 11:57 AM)
"She wasn't where she had been. She wasn't where she was going…but she was on her way. And on her way she enjoyed food that wasn't fast, friendships that held, hearts glowing, hearts breaking, smiles that caught tears, paths trudged and alleys skipped. And on her way she no longer looked for the answers, but held close the two things she knew for sure. One, if a day carried strength in the morning, peace in the evening, and a little joy in between, it was a good one…and two, you can live completely without complete understanding."
~ Jodi Hills
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Lori · 11/17/11 9:16 AM)

History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction.


- Calvin & Hobbes

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 1 (Last: AnJuli · 11/2/11 6:39 AM)

Source: babiesornot@blogspot.com


Amy's a good friend and has been an inspiration and support through some of my rough times - and has always accepted me, which is the most wonderful gift anyone can ever give me. She wrote this for the NPR series This I Believe:


There are moments in life when, out of the blue, all the clues line up. The pretty veils of illusion part, and suddenly you can see all the way to the very bottom of the deep dark truth. Your stomach drops to your knees. Your heart leaps into your throat. And there it is. You know it. You’re about to lose your job. Your best friend has been lying to you. Someone you love is dead, which means — not as obviously as you might think — they’re never coming back. Your husband is having an affair. You don’t have to wait for the doctor to tell you. You already know. It’s cancer.
I have had many such moments. All of the above, in fact, and more. Sometimes I fell apart. Sometimes I talked myself out of it, trying valiantly to think positive, to not jump to conclusions, to trust.
Ultimately, there’s no way around the truth. And avoiding it is exhausting, if not life-threatening.

So I believe in falling apart.

I believe in the fabulous life-expanding power of falling all the way to the bottom of the well. I believe in tears and the teeth-chattering knee-knocking nervous sweat of facing your worst fears made manifest. If I can manage it, I play the sympathy card, gather all the support around me that I can, and just plain face it.

As awful as it feels in the moment, I love it when the map I’ve plotted for my life gets ripped out from under me. It’s like waking up from a dream, a dream where I’ve limited my life’s possibilities to those that don’t scare me.

If I can face an unimaginable surprise divorce and find pleasure in being alone, even for five minutes, then I can also experience the wild joy of a new relationship, a much better relationship than I ever thought possible. If I can face a cancer diagnosis and the — cancer or not —inevitability of death, then I can risk a slew of personal and professional rejections, and maybe a few heretofore unimagined successes.

I think of circus fleas, confined to a test-tube laid on its side. After banging into the low, invisible ceiling of the tube, these natural high-jumpers give up jumping altogether. Even when freed they don’t dare jump. They’ve been conditioned to accept a limited life.

Whether we realize it or not, our lives are not taking place in a test tube. Disaster can come along at any moment and smack you right in the face. If it does, please accept my sincere condolences. And my advice:

Let yourself feel it. You are not safe, nor are you limited.
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 0

"Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, a loss of a job... And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another - that is surely the basic instinct.... Crying out: High Tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is."


Barbara Kingsolver, from High Tide in Tucson.

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: Monsoon · 8/8/11 3:27 PM)

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.

- John Steinbeck

There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness. 

~Josh Billings
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Gyminy · 6/17/11 8:19 PM)

"Life consists of what a man is thinking of all day."


Ralph Waldo Emerson

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: LittleOddMe · 5/27/11 5:30 AM)

"Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it."

- Brecht

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: LittleOddMe · 5/6/11 2:19 PM)

I am going to cut and paste the whole article here, just in case the link goes missing later. A wonderful article by Arthur Phillips called In Defense of Irrelevance:


My older son is lately being asked by his sixth-grade English teacher (in increasingly suspicious tones to match the rebellious doubtfulness of his resistant replies), "What do you think the writer is trying to say in this story?" I have done my child no favors, I suppose, by telling him, since he was three years old, that this question is inane and should be ignored.

"What is the lesson of this story?" my younger son is asked by his second-grade teacher in turn, and it's all I can do not to storm into his class like a parent with strong views about the Pledge of Allegiance or Huck Finn and demand she stop indoctrinating my child with dangerous nonsense.

I know. I know it's not bad to teach kids to read closely, to pay attention to words, and I know this fossil of a question is a tried and true method to inspire readerly concentration. Still, it seems like we pass this idea of the writer-as-fancy-messenger from generation to generation without thinking about its misleading, reductionist, exclusionary, fun-smashing, possibility-laming natureit seems like we pass this idea of the writer-as-fancy-messenger from generation to generation without thinking about its misleading, reductionist, exclusionary, fun-smashing, possibility-laming nature. Some writers — at least some of them — are not trying to say anything. They have said it, and it takes as long as a poem, story, or novel to "say it." The thing they are saying is a poem, story, or novel. They are definitively not trying to say something pithy that can be recited by a second-grader, sixth-grader, or reviewer in a daily newspaper.

If that student or critic says of a novelist, "He is trying to say that war is bad," then they are expressing something exactly wrong (even if war happens to be bad, even if the novelist in question happens to feel that war is bad, even if lots of the characters in the book are maimed in war and feel bad about it and say that war is bad). They have been taught exactly the wrong lesson, and I'm afraid it started back in second grade. Our little minds are awfully susceptible at that age, and perhaps we should also be throwing in a counter-agent like, "What is the character saying that you agree with? Disagree with?"

For once we think we know what a writer is "really saying" — some hidden but discoverable message, lesson, or autobiography — then there is no limit to how much we can get wrong: anti-Stratfordianism (the idea that the works of William Shakespeare were written by someone of another name) exists, in part, because readers think they can tell what the writer of the plays actually believed and actually experienced, even if the same play contains multitudes of contradictory opinions and mutually exclusive experiences.

I have done this long enough that I can make a general assertion (i.e., one that is wrong at least some of the time): literary artists view their job, most of the time, as a matter of synthesis: combining what they feel with what they do not feel, what they believe with what they know others believe, what they fear with what they are proud not to fear, what they desire with what they no longer desire or never did.

I defy you to read a well-written, non-didactic novel by a writer who is alive today — who is available to answer questions about what she has lived, felt, thought, known, imagined, fantasized, feared — and then point to the part of the novel that is undoubtedly autobiographical, and get it right with any percentage beyond chance, and then prove it by comparing your conclusions with undoubtedly true statements by the novelist. In rare cases, maybe. Most of the time, no chance.

Now do it with a book by a dead writer. Now do it with a book written centuries ago, by someone about whom we know only cursory facts. Now do it without knowing much about their friends or family or, more importantly, the people they only saw occasionally or from a distance and then turned into characters or pieces of blended characters. This is simply a fact. Most of the time you do not know what the writer has lived; you do not know what he believed; you do not know. And so the question "What is he trying to say?" can only be answered by a projection of your own mind: he is trying to say whatever it is that I think he is trying to say.

There is such thing as didactic literature, of course; I can't deny it. I even love some of it. But that hardly means that all literature is didactic. Animal Farm is certainly saying something beyond the story of a pig or two, but that doesn't mean Lolita is saying anything beyond the story of Humbert and Lo. ( Molestation is bad? I think we could have expressed that in some other form than Lolita, whereas the magic and wealth of Lolita cannot be expressed in any other form than itself.Molestation is bad? I think we could have expressed that in some other form than Lolita, whereas the magic and wealth of Lolita cannot be expressed in any other form than itself.)

It's been called "art for art's sake," of course, often by people who were in fact practicing it for something else's sake...

In fact, in the literature I most cherish, the antithesis of any easily stated thesis is present in the same work. Which means that none of those ideas is really what the author is "trying to say." If "molestation is bad" is present in Lolita, so is the thoroughly unpleasant notion that "molestation can contain elements of love." Well, which one of those did Nabokov truly "believe"? Which one is he trying to "say"? Honestly, the only way to answer those questions is to project our own hopes or doubts back on to him. This is because he likely believed one of them or both of them, but had no interest in trying to say either.

But the payoff, the beauty of reading non-didactic literature, and reading it non-didactically (reading it without asking what the author is saying), is that you can nevertheless extract something from your reading, something that feels not like a lesson or a moral, but like a communication devised — in great detail and astonishing specificity — just for you. As if the author has intended to say something to you about your very specific thoughts, life, actions, aspirations. When the writer lets the moral go, gives up on relevance or applicability — stops trying to say something easy or hard or true or distillable about life, the country, capitalism, health care, molestation, war, etc. — then, magically, a spontaneous moral education is possible, brought out of the reader by a unique reaction between text and that one unique reader, a magic from which the imaginary notion of a "writer," a writer trying to "say" something, is totally removed, and totally unnecessary.

In Nabokov's Butterfly, the lovely memoir by rare book dealer Rick Gekoski, we are reminded that the novel A Confederacy of Dunces was rejected by countless publishers, including Robert Gottlieb at Simon & Schuster, for, essentially, not saying anything. Before rejecting it definitively, Gottlieb wrote John Kennedy Toole, the author, and explained: "There must be a point to everything you have in the book, a real point, not just amusingness that's forced to figure itself out." Right. No school teacher could have said it better, or worse. Gottlieb was well-trained and spotted a book that couldn't possibly have a great impact on millions of readers, because he could see that the author wasn't saying anything, or not enough of something.


Lesson learned!

Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: LittleOddMe · 4/28/11 4:32 PM)
Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States.  Ask any Indian. 

~Robert Orben
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 4 (Last: Bek · 4/9/11 2:30 PM)
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