Friday, February 14

Friday, May 18

Someday, somewhere - anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.
Pablo Neruda 

“There’s this weird quality of being suspicious and cynical about everything and simultaneously, unwittingly, being utterly open and receptive and gullible that was part of youth, or at least part of my youth.”
—Emily Gould, And the Heart Says…Whatever

I would say to young people a number of things, and I have only one minute. I would say let them remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power, and that we do, everyone, our share to redeem the world, in spite of all absurdities, and all the frustrations, and all the disappointment. And above all, remember that the meaning of life is to live life as if it were a work of art.
You’re not a machine. When you’re young, start working on this great work of art called your own existence. One, remember the importance of self-discipline. Second, study the great sources of wisdom, don’t read the best-sellers. And, third, remember that life is a celebration, or can be a celebration. There’s much of entertainment in our life. And entertainment is destroying much of our initiative and weakens our imagination. What’s really important is life as a celebration.
In a very deep sense I would say that the addiction from which so many people suffer, is due to the fact that man cannot live such a shallow life, stale; he needs exultation, he needs moments of celebration.
One of the most important things is to teach man how to celebrate life.

— Abraham Joshua Heschel 

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours’ - Stephen Roberts
The elusive nature of love… it can be such a fleeting thing. You see it there and it’s just fluttering and it’s gone. - Mick Jagger

Confound you handsome young fellows! You think of having it all your own way in the world. You don’t understand women. They don’t admire you half so much as you admire yourselves.
— George Eliot, Middlemarch

If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don’t want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it, too. 
— The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

"This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall…this is how magic is hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering that it’s a feather bed…there’s no other way to do it…"

 ~Terence McKenna 

“A man can know his father, or his son, and there might still be nothing between them but loyalty and love and mutual incomprehension.”
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

You're the best I can do; but I'm sorry, you are just not good enough. 

I was six when I saw everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all that,” Teddy said. “It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was only a very tiny child then, and she drank her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.
— J.D. Salinger - Nine Stories

The essence of the suicides consisted not of sadness or mystery but simple selfishness. The girls took into their own hands decisions better left to God. They became too powerful to live among us, too self-concerned, too visionary, too blind. 
— The Virgin Suicides

“We are the product of 4.5 billion years of fortuitous, slow biological evolution. There is no reason to think that the evolutionary process has stopped. Man is a transitional animal. He is not the climax of creation.”
Carl Sagan

When you make the finding yourself - even if you’re the last person on Earth to see the light - you’ll never forget it. - Carl Sagan

Friday, April 27

"He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it." 
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

To imagine that a person who intrigues us has access to a way of life unknown and all the more attractive for its mystery, to believe that we will begin to live only through the love of that person—what else is this but the birth of great passion?
Marcel Proust, from the mistranslation of Y.K. Karaosmanoglu

"To say that religion is useful is not at all to say that it is true. We as scientists are in the truth business, we are not in the useful delusion business. I could invent a religion right now that I guarantee you would be more useful than any religion on offer and if we could spread it to billions we would live in a better world and this religion would be transparently false to everyone in this room, it would be a lie. Here’s the religion: Help people to the best of your ability, don’t lie, cheat or steal—and here’s where it gets novel—raise your children to value science and mathematics and excel in these areas as best as they can and if you don’t do this you will be tortured after death by a seventeen-headed demon named Phyllis. If we could spread this all over the world—if we could replace Islam with this faith—we would live in a better world, absolutely. Does that lend the slightest credence to the idea that this demon named Phyllis exists? No."
— Sam Harris - on arguments for the utility of religion as a means to limit open criticism of religious claims

"Her new book was on the phenomenon of word casings, a term she’d invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of these empty words—’friend’ and ‘real’ and ‘story’ and ‘change’—words that had been shucked of their meanings and reduced to husks. Some, like ‘identity,’ ‘search,’ and ‘cloud,’ had clearly been drained of life by their Web usage. With others, the reasons were more complex; how had ‘American’ become an ironic term? How had ‘democracy’ come to be used in an arch, mocking way?"
— Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad

This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
—Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Who knows what we are, what we feel? who knows even at the moment of intimacy, this is knowledge? aren’t things spoilt then, by saying them?
Virginia Woolf 

I wonder if any of them can tell from just looking at me that all I am is the sum total of my pain, a raw woundedness so extreme that it might be terminal. It might be terminal velocity, the speed of the sound of a girl falling down to a place from where she can’t be retrieved. What if I am stuck down here for good? 
— Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation 

You’re not a kid anymore. You have the right to choose your own life. You can start again. If you want a cat, all you have to do is choose a life in which you can have a cat. It’s simple. It’s your right. 

For I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me. With every acquaintance I make, the population of phantoms resembling me increases. Somewhere they live, somewhere they multiply. I alone do not exist."
- Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye

Why do anything— why wash my hair, why read Moby Dick, why fall in love, why sit through six hours of Nicholas Nickleby, why care about American intervention in Central America, why spend time trying to get into the right schools, why dance to the music when all of us are just slouching toward the same inevitable conclusion? The shortness of life, I keep saying, makes everything seem pointless when I think about the longness of death 
— Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation  

“Among our egocentric sad-sacks, despair is as addictive as heroin and more popular than sex, for the single reason that when one is unhappy one gets to pay a lot of attention to oneself. Misery becomes a kind of emotional masturbation.”
— Tom Robbins, Wild Ducks Flying Backward

You don’t meet a lot of people that you really like. I don’t anyway. 
— Nick Cave 

These things, she felt, were not to be passed around like disingenuous party favors. She kept an honor code with her journals and her poems. ‘Inside, inside,’ she would whisper quietly to herself when she felt the urge to tell… 
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

Monday, April 16

We may never know what drove a U.S. Army staff sergeant to head out into the Afghan night and allegedly murder at least 16 civilians in their homes, among them nine children and three women. The massacre near Belambai, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, has shocked the world and intensified the calls for an end to the longest war in U.S. history. The attack has been called tragic, which it surely is. But when Afghans attack U.S. forces, they are called “terrorists.” That is, perhaps, the inconsistency at the core of U.S. policy, that democracy can be delivered through the barrel of a gun, that terrorism can be fought by terrorizing a nation.
— Amy Goodman

I do believe we are made with particular inclinations, particular gifts. I hardly think we chose these things, but we are not limited to them at all. It is both mysterious and genetic. I think freedom is a bluff. Especially in this country, we pride ourselves on the independence of the mind. But we are so narrow and mechanized. We spend our lives conditioned by society, working in cubicles, zombies at the computer, shopping in strip malls, franchise clothing stores, Starbucks coffee. I’m talking about myself here. We’ve lost our inheritance. We’re so uncreative. We’re Night of the Living Dead. All I’m asking is that we put off all this crappy fashion and get going on what we were made to do. Wake up, you zombies! Do you really want to contribute to the decline of civilization!?"
— Sufjan Stevens
"You have to take responsibility, you reap what you sew, and you have to clean up after yourself. I’m sick of people always trying to blame movies, bands, songs, or talk shows, for whatever, teen suicides, drug overdoses, everything else. If someone’s stupid enough to kill themselves over a song, then that’s exactly what they deserve. They weren’t contributing anything to society. It’s one less fucking idiot in the world. There’s too many people, if more people killed themselves over music, it wouldn’t disappoint me, it would disappoint me in that it’s said that people are that stupid." — Marilyn Manson

Nothing has ever been said about God that hasn’t already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.

— Thomas Merton

Money is a human creation. It is nothing but a number. Most of it is simply accounting entries in computer files. It has no existence, reality, or value outside the human mind. It is extraordinary that we, a supposedly intelligent species that prides itself on creating a great civilization based on popular democratic self-rule, allow money, a system of accounting entries, to rule our lives. Has it ever struck you how absurd it is that as a society we have so much work that needs doing and at the same time, so many unemployed people who would love to be doing productive work? How absurd, that two of our defining problems are homeless people and vacant houses? We are told there is no money to put the unemployed people to work meeting unmet needs and to put the homeless into the empty houses. What a powerful demonstration of system failure.
David Korten

How much of my brain is wilfully my own? How much is not a rubber stamp of what I have read and heard and lived? Sure, I make a sort of synthesis of what I come across, but that is all that differentiates me from another person?"
— Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 

Set your life on fire. 
Seek those who 
fan your flames.

All I ever really wanna know is how other people are making it through life. Where do they put their body hour by hour and how do they cope inside of it?

— Miranda July - “It Chooses You” 

Happiness doesn’t lie in conspicuous consumption and the relentless amassing of useless crap. Happiness lies in the person sitting beside you and your ability to talk to them. Happiness is clear-headed human interaction and empathy. Happiness is home. And home is not a house-home is a mythological conceit. It is a state of mind. A place of communion and unconditional love. It is where, when you cross its threshold, you finally feel at peace.
— Dennis Lehane

And yet, even as he thought of all these things, he noticed, somehow that the sky was a lovely shade of blue and that one cloud had the shape of a sailing ship. The tips of the trees held pale, young buds and the leaves were a rich deep green. Outside the window, there was so much to see, and hear, and touch - walks to take, hills to climb, caterpillars to watch as they strolled through the garden. There were voices to hear and conversations to listen to in wonder, and the special smell of each day. And, in the very room in which he sat, there were books that could take you anywhere, and things to invent, and make, and build, and break, and all the puzzle and excitement of everything he didn’t know - music to play, songs to sing, and worlds to imagine and then someday make real. His thoughts darted eagerly about as everything looked new - and worth trying.
— The Phantom Tollbooth

Oh I know we’re not saints or virgins or lunatics; we know all the lust and lavatory jokes, and most of the dirty people; we can catch buses and count our change and cross the roads and talk real sentences. But our innocence goes awfully deep, and our discreditable secret is that we don’t know anything at all, and our horrid inner secret is that we don’t care that we don’t."
— Dylan Thomas

"Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you’re in trouble, because that reason can be taken from you."
— Deepak Chopra 

Run my dear, from anything that may not strengthen your precious budding wings. Run like hell my dear, from anyone likely to put a sharp knife Into the sacred, tender vision of your beautiful heart.

— Hafiz

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” Which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers’ hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.

“Will I be wanted? Worthy? Pretty?” But puberty left me this funhouse mirror dryad: teeth set at science fiction angles, crooked nose, face donkey-long and pox-marked where the hormones went finger-painting. My poor mother.

“How could this happen? You’ll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist. You sucked your thumb. That’s why your teeth look like that! You were hit in the face with a Frisbee when you were 6. Otherwise your nose would have been just fine!

“Don’t worry. We’ll get it fixed!” She would say, grasping my face, twisting it this way and that, as if it were a cabbage she might buy.

But this is not about her. Not her fault. She, too, was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable facade. By 16, I was pickled with ointments, medications, peroxides. Teeth corralled into steel prongs. Laying in a hospital bed, face packed with gauze, cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved.

Belly gorged on 2 pints of my blood I had swallowed under anesthesia, and every convulsive twist of my gut like my body screaming at me from the inside out, “What did you let them do to you!”

All the while this never-ending chorus droning on and on, like the IV needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood. “Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Like my mother, unwrapping the gift wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter her $10,000 bought her? Pretty? Pretty.”

And now, I have not seen my own face for 10 years. I have not seen my own face in 10 years, but this is not about me.

This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.

About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.

This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-stayed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.

“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty’."

-Katie Makkai

Nobody’s going to save you. No one’s going to cut you down, cut the thorns thick around you. No one’s going to storm the castle walls nor kiss awake your birth, climb down your hair, nor mount you onto the white steed. There is no one who will feed the yearning. Face it. You will have to do it yourself.
— Gloria AnzaldĂșa

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue…Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.
— Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

You would think that doing what enthuses and excites us would be the easiest thing in the world, but the economic and societal model - the Machine - that we’ve all been born into makes it feel incredibly difficult to do so sometimes. Or at least we perceive it to be so.
The Machine has somehow duped us all into believing that life isn’t a precious gift afterall, and that it’s actually normal behaviour to spend 29% of our awakened lives (that’s if you call mindlessly-doing-what-the-Machines-tells-us-to-do as being ‘awake’) doing work we don’t even enjoy - or often agree with - to earn the money we then use to buy the meaningless crap we never used to need, and the ‘services’ that we used to do for ourselves or each other out of love and a sense of community.
— Mark Boyle 

"Our culture pushes drama and narcissism but in situations you fall back to what you know is true in life. Each of us is a gift, and if that’s true, if one of us is challenged, desperate, or hurt we have to show up for each other; that’s the greatest challenge of our times. The challenges of our time are not economical, they’re not global, and they’re not environmental; the challenge of our time is what we’re going to do with one another. Yes, it’s going to be what we choose to do with our lives because we have the power to shift, we have the power to create, and yes we have the power to destroy."

— Brendon Burchard