"The villagers sit close together, everyone touching someone else, steeped in a contentment that seems, at this moment, perpetual. It occurs to the wr...more"The villagers sit close together, everyone touching someone else, steeped in a contentment that seems, at this moment, perpetual. It occurs to the writer that the secret way to happiness is in knowing a lot of dead people." pg 150
"Billeh's been lent a Kalashnikov, sand-blasted smooth and dull like those of the other two, each with a thirty-shot clip that may or may not be full, they refuse to say, and also Lion carries a sort of rocket, or grenade, that screws down onto the muzzle of his Kalashnikov and appears not to bear experimenting with. Lion produces from his waistband, for the writer's use, a 1917 model U.S. Army .45 caliber six-shooter, probably a Colt. It's got three forty-five automatic rounds in its cylinders, which are chambered for the long .45s, not the shorter automatic rounds. "One for each of you, if we're attacked, and one for me," the writer jokes-- they laugh like hell for twenty seconds, then shut down tight and inform him seriously that Muslims don't do suicide, it's banned by the Koran. He assures them the Bible's against it too, and everybody's comforted."pg 152
"When logic and utility fall from grace, the mystical authority of subtler concerns rises up like an intoxicating incense, and everything is done for reasons no one understands." pg 155
"Another night under a strange sky in a different realm. I listen to the reports on the shortwave of bombings, attacks, plagues, even witch-burnings (seventy elderly women burned in South Africa in the last ten months) and I feel I'm living in a world where such things are all there is... I've got a pocket New Testament, but I can't read much of it- because I'm living in the Bible's world right now, the world of cripples and monsters and desperate hope in a mad God, world of exile and impotence and the waiting, the waiting, the waiting. A world of miracles and deliverance, too. Add the invention of the Kalashnikov in 1947 into the mix, and life gets exciting." pg 157
"Some begin complaining about the Marines, and others point with pride to the water trucks and big guns stolen from the U.N., to the blown-up troop trucks upended and wheelless in the streets, and the corner, a monument now, where eighteen U.S. Rangers died fighting Somali militia. The U.N.- What did it accomplish? The tons of food and medicine, it's all forgotten. Only the police effort and the bossing stays fresh in the minds of Mogadishu. The outfit that saved, by it's own count, 150,000 here seems almost universally derided and resented." pg 161
"When the ill-timed efforts of nation-states to impose their idea of stability unbalances the tribal powers, the return to balance is violent." pg 161
"The journalist from America has decided to cling to the notion that out there, in the countryside he passed through to reach this crazy city, the people know what they're doing. Their leaders don't, and we don't. But they know. All this destruction is shaping tomorrow- a tomorrow without a lot of Idaho White Boy ideas in it." pg 169
"But the nation-state, the twentieth-century geopolitical entity held together by the government's monopoly on the use of force- it's finished. The Kalashnikov rifle and the Stinger missile, and the world-wide dissemination of these weapons during the proxy conflicts of the Cold War, have changed things as much as the invention of gunpowder did in the thirteenth century. A determined Third-World people can now hold out against the greatest powers- witness Vietnam- and even a loose coalition of determined clans or factions can drive away the strongest armies- witness Afghanistan- and now in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia it's been made plain that even factions at war with one another can, with their left hand, as it were, stalemate the U.N. in its efforts to stop the fighting among them." pg 170
"Every Christmas Lindy'd stand beside the conveyor belt under electronic monitors with the other passengers, well-dressed and col...moreA few notable quotes:
"Every Christmas Lindy'd stand beside the conveyor belt under electronic monitors with the other passengers, well-dressed and cologned. Behind her, silent and just out of sight, the odor of hunting jacket, of little-washed man, and of the wood smoke he's carried all the way from the house. She knows her father'll try to merge his rust-bitten Chevrolet Citation onto the freeway outside the airport and be forced onto the shoulder before he can snatch his little piece of road. They'll sit across the plastic table under fluorescent lights in Leesburg while he halves a Big mac with his pocketknife, rinses the blade in a cup of water, and dries it in his handkerchief." pg 14
"Shane cuts her a look with snakebit in it. When she leaves the bedroom, he tries to slam the door behind her, but flimsy like it is, it makes only a shabby smack. She finds herself on the heap of cinderblocks that is their front stoop. The block she sits on wobbles. From under the trailer, a white cat skits out, petrifies at the sight of her, then bullets around the back. It shows clear the knobs of its shoulders and hips, and Lindy recalls first moving out of here. Then most of the dogs and cats outside looked fat. Now the ones inside looked skinny." pg 17
"Her mother had lost several between Lindy and DeeDee. 'Your mother's people have always had an easy time getting pregnant, a hard time staying that way,' her father would say." pg 18
"Connie, on the other hand, is neither disfigured nor desirable. She was born, she knows, with a mild mistake for a face. Her hips and thighs have blossomed enormous, the way the other girls' will, it is true, shortly after high school, but instead of that inspiring sympathy for Connie, it just makes her more ignored. Connie a fleshy premonition no wants to acknowledge, prematurely middle-aged even by the yardstick of a place where middle age can strike in one's twenties." pg 25
"Nearly every other night when Connie wedges herself out the first-story window, suspecting nothing. Their oldest daughter, as far as they're concerned, as sexual as a potato." pg 28
"Kenny's picture sat on top of the TV for years, him startled and midgety under his hat. Army hat like a stewpot upside down on Kenny's tiny head, that big chin looping out like a gourd. Eventually the picture traveled to the bookcase and then on to the wall of the basement stairs, but by that time Mommy, too, had passed. Held on for nine months after the diagnosis and got religion near the end, but she never gave up those cigarettes. Tempered the tar with God." pg 58
"I knew that although neither one of us was happy, she'd learned not to ask her disappointment as many questions." pg 97
"Richard always called it love. Ten years of late suppers and, even on weekends, him asleep in front of the TV by eight p.m. Two hours later, he'd wake and they'd shift to the bed, the brief bucking there. Afterwards, he'd sleep again, as sudden and as deep as if he'd been cold-cocked. Richard was a good boy and a hard worker. And now he's waited two weeks, in his patient, plodding way, to be killed in a car wreck. That week's driver asleep at the wheel ten miles short of home after a day of drywalling." pg 106
"Most of this land would have been my inheritance, and I grew up hunting it, cutting wood off it, running it. I know it better than anyone still living, including the man who owns it now. Never have I seen it so tired, with the deer paths wide as cattle runs up and down the hollow sides, and acornless ground. And the deer themselves, gaunt and puny and sorrowful. Quivering under their flies." pg 113
"The moment the sun falls through, two eyes flash a flat green. Then they go out. I stare harder, but the creature's shrunk from the light. It does not sound again. Something curls inside me. The dry has drawn it into the well, and there it starves and won't ever get out. And me the last thing to see it, and I can't even tell what it is." pg 115
"As I rode along the smooth-graded gravel road, I squinted to find the good crossing place, where I'd shot a big-bodies eight-point when I was seventeen or so. But near as I could tell, the crossing ran straight through a kit log cabin. And the feel of moving among all those new vacation houses, yet not a soul around. The houses creating an expectation of presence, then their emptiness sucking that expectation inside out. So much emptier on Joby Knob now than when it was just trees." pg 115
"The bullet only has to strike the right place, no bigger than your thumb, and like a key in a lock, it shuts down everything below." pg 134(less)
"Freud tellingly depicted the strong and lingering effects of an even younger age, how the child's passionate desires, inadequate understanding,...moreQuotes
"Freud tellingly depicted the strong and lingering effects of an even younger age, how the child's passionate desires, inadequate understanding, restricted emotional environment, constricted opportunities, and limited coping devices become fixed upon his own adult emotional life and reactions and continue to affect them. This situation is (to say the least) unseemly-- would you design an intelligent species so continuingly shaped by its childhood, one whose emotions had no half-life and where statutes of limitations could be invoked only with great difficulty?"
"..when all other things are equal, the more concentrated thought goes into making something, the more it is shaped, enriched, and laden with significance. So to with living a life."
"There are very few books that set out what a mature person can believe-- someone fully grown up, I mean. Aristotle's Ethics, Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, Montaigne's Essays, and the essays of Samuel Johnson come to mind. Even with these, we do not simply accept everything that is said. The author's voice is never our own, exactly; the author's life is never our own. It would be disconcerting, anyway, to find that another person holds precisely our views, responds with our particular sensibility, and thinks exactly the same things important. Still, we can gain from these books, weighing and pondering ourselves in their light. These books-- and also some less evidently grown-up ones, Thoreau's Walden and Nietzsche's writings, for example-- invite or urge us to think along with them, branching in our own directions. We are not identical with the books we read, but neither would we be the same without them."
"They say no one is able to take seriously the possibility of his or her own death, but this does not get it exactly right. (Does everyone take seriously the possibility of his or her own life?) A person's own death does become real to him after the death of both parents. Until then, there was someone else who was "supposed to" die before him; now that no one stands between him and death, it becomes his "turn." (Is it presumed that death will honor a queue?)"
"How unwilling someone is to die should depend, I think, upon what he has left undone, and also upon his remaining capacity to do things. The more what he considered important has been done, and the less capacity that remains, the more willing he should be to face death." (...having done everything you considered important, mightn't you set yourself a new goal?)
"Under any alternative, no doubt, we would welcome an additional chance (at life)-- it would be ironic if we did get one, but, not realizing it was a second chance, squandered it just like the first."
"Nonsurvival is somber, but immortality too fits darker visions. Here is one that at present sounds like science fiction. One day, computer programs will be able to capture a person's intellectual mode, personality pattern, and character structure so that later generations can retrieve these. Thus would be realized one of immortality's two facets: continuing to exist as a coherent pattern of individual personality that another can experience. And the other facet, continuing to experience things and act, might be gained in part if the program encapsulating a person were made to govern a computer that acted in the world. Such immortality need not be wholly a blessing, however. Just as a person's ideas can be misused or vulgarized, so too could later civilizations exploit or misuse someone's individual personality, calling it up to serve projects and purposes the person never would have chosen to cooperate with when alive in the flesh."
"I understand the urge to cling to life until the very end, yet I find another course more appealing. After an ample life, a person who still possesses energy, acuity, and decisiveness might choose to seriously risk his life or lay it down for another person or for some noble and decent cause. Not that this should be done lightly or too soon, but some time before the nature end-- current health levels might suggest an age between seventy and seventy-five-- a person might direct his or her mind and energy toward helping others in a more dramatic and risky fashion than younger, more prudent folk would venture. These activities might involve great health risks in order to serve the sick, risks of physical harm in interposing oneself between oppressors and their victims-- I have in mind the kind of peaceful activities and nonviolent resistance that Gandhi and Martin Luther King engaged in, not a vigilante pursuit of wrongdoers-- or in aiding people within violence-ridden areas... such a path will not be for everyone, but some might seriously weigh spending their penultimate years in a brave and noble endeavor to benefit others, and andventure to advance the cause of truth, goodness, beauty, or holiness-- not going gentle into that good night or raging against the dying of the light but, near the end, shining their light most brightly."
"Being grown-up is a way of no longer being a child, hence a way of relating to one's parents, not just by acting as their parent but by stopping needing or expecting them to act as yours; and this includes stopping expecting the world to be a symbolic parent, too."
"The process of shaping and crafting an artistic work has, as an important part of its impulse, the reshaping and integration of parts of the self. Important and needed work on the self is modeled in the process of artistic creation, and symbolized there. (Might that work on the self also actually be andvanced through the creative work that models it?)"
"Others' explorings, respondings, and creatings enlarge us. In Chaucer's time, people did not know of Shakespeare yet were not conscious of missing anything. It is difficult now to imagine a world in which Shakespeare, Buddha, Jesus, or Einstein are absent, in which their absence goes unnoticed. What comparable voids exist now, waiting to be filled?"
"We are least separate from the world in eating. The world enters into us; it becomes us. We are constituted by portions of the world."
"Seeing everyday life as holy is in part seeing the world and its contents as infinitely receptive to our activities of exploring, responding, relating and creating, as an arena that would richly repay these activities no matter how far they are taken, whether by an individual or by all of humanity together throughout its time."
"I see people descended from a long sequence of human and animal forebears in an unnumbered train of chance events, accidental encounters, brutal takings, lucky escapes, sustained efforts, migrations, survivings of wars and disease. An intricate and improbable concatenation of events was needed to yield each of us, an immense history that gives each person the sacredness of a redwood, each child the whimsy of a secret."
"We want nothing other than to live in a spiral of activities and enhance others' doing so, deepening our own reality as we come into contact and relation with the rest, exploring the dimensions of reality, embodying them in ourselves, creating, responding to the full range of the reality we can discern with the fullest reality we possess, becoming a vehicle for truth, beauty, goodness, and holiness, adding our own characteristic bit to reality's eternal processes. And that wanting of nothing else, along with its attendant emotion, is-- by the way-- what constitutes happiness and joy."
"If we reach adulthood by becoming the parent of our parents, and we reach maturity by finding a fit substitute for parents' love, then by becoming our ideal parent ourselves finally the circle is closed and we reach completeness."(less)
"Matthew had his own theory, which he sometimes believed: that everyone had a secret, a shameful thing they had done, and th...moreNot a review, just quotes:
"Matthew had his own theory, which he sometimes believed: that everyone had a secret, a shameful thing they had done, and the reason they feared the stranger was that he made them remember that thing. He himself, for example, had done some things in college he'd rather forget. He stepped up to his car, bent over to glance through the window-- one of his ideas was that the stranger concealed himself in parked cars, which he knew how to open-- and placed his key in the door. He heard a step, a single crunch of gravel, and turned with a feeling of excitement and intense curiosity. The man in the trench coat had already raised a hand, and as the palm cracked against his cheek with a force that brought tears to his eyes, Matthew was aware of the look of stern anger in the stranger's eyes, as if he was delivering a judgment." PG 25, The Slap
"We became awared of small groups, which perhaps had always been there, with names like Daughters of Jericho and Prophets of the Heavenly Host; members of the latter proclaimed that the stranger had been sent by the Lord to warn us of his wrath unless we mended our ways. Even those of us who dismissed such ideas as ignorant or childish could not escape the thought that the stranger was punishing us, like an angry father, for something we had done, or for something we had failed to do, or for something else, which we ought to have known but did not." pg 28 The Slap(less)
word of advice: consider reading this book a single chapter a sitting... put it down, come back to it later. It may be under 300pgs but spread it over...moreword of advice: consider reading this book a single chapter a sitting... put it down, come back to it later. It may be under 300pgs but spread it over a whole season and you'll absorb more of it.
For a near 200 pages I was under its spell, but then strangely I wanted to be done with it. I grew weary and anxious from the seemingly increasing heavy leaning on the biblical. I get the desire to want to assimilate all that you're reading and learning into the task at hand, such as writing this book... but it begins to batter you with her attempt at finding-god-through-nature obsession. I was relieved to read in the afterward this: "I'm afraid I suffered youths drawback, too: a love of grand sentences, and fancied a grand sentence was not quite done until it was overdone." Still, a beautiful book, an intelligent mind at work... just don't "hit the wall" by trying to read too much to fast.(less)
"It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. Thi...moreA few quotes:
"It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. This is an impersonal, abstract selfishness, limitlessly acquisitive, but unable to look so far ahead as to preserve its own sources and supplies. The selfishness of the fossil fuel industries by nature is self-annihilating; but so, always, has been the selfishness of the agribusiness corporations. Land, as Wes Jackson has said, has thus been made as exhaustible as oil or coal." p.16
"...we are no longer talking about theoretical alternaties to corporate rule. We are talking with practical urgency about an obvious need. Now the two great aims of industrialism-- replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth into the hands of a small plutocracy-- seem close to fulfillment." p.22
"No amount of fiddling with capitalism to regulate and humanize it, no pointless rhetoric on the virtues of capitalism or socialism, no billions or trillions spent on "defense" of the "American dream," can for long disguise this failure. The evidences of it are everywhere: eroded, wasted, or degraded soils; damaged or destroyed ecosystems; extinction of species; whole landscapes defaced, gouged, flooded, or blown up; pollution of the whole atmosphere and of the water cycle; "dead zones" in the coastal waters, of mineable minerals and ores; natural health and beauty replaced by a heartless and sickening ugliness. Perhaps its greatest success is an astounding increase in the destructiveness, and therefore the profitability, of war." p. 22
"To live we depend unconditionally on our membership in the community of creatures, living and unliving, that we call the ecosphere. Every life in the terrestrial ecosphere depends unconditionally, in turn, on a thin layer of fertile topsoil that in most places is a few inches or a few feet deep and that accumulates slowly. In a climate such as ours it deepens by perhaps one inch in a thousand years. This layer of topsoil is made by the decay of rock, by sunlight and rain, and by the life and death of all the creatures, but mainly of the plants-- mainly perennial plants-- that grow from it, die into it, and by covering it year-round protect it from erosion and hold it in place." p. 72
"Too much of the talk and politics of conservation consists of slogans such as "Think globally, act locally" or even single words, such as "green" or "sustainable" or "organic," that act like slogans. Such lazy language does harm. It becomes useful, in fact, to land-abusing corporations." p. 88
"Our fundamental problem is world-destruction, caused by an irreconcilable contradiction between the natural world and the engineered world of industrialism. This conflict between nature and human interest may have begun with the first tools and weapons, but only with the triumph of industrialism has it become absolute." p. 89