Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts, perhaps the fear of a loss of power.
The impulse of the American woman to geld her husband and castrate her sons is very strong.
The new American finds his challenge and his love in the traffic-choked streets, skies nested in smog, choking with the acids of industry, the screech of rubber and houses leashed in against one another while the town lets wither a time and die.
How can we live without our lives? How will we know its us without our past?
The techniques of opening conversation are universal. I knew long ago and rediscovered that the best way to attract attention, help, and conversation is to be lost. A man who seeing his mother starving to death on a path kicks her in the stomach to clear the way, will cheerfully devote several hours of his time giving wrong directions to a total stranger who claims to be lost.
Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother’s cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better.
The comfortable people in tight houses felt pity at first, and then distaste, and finally hatred for the migrant people.
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. In other words, I don’t improve, in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable.
Topics: Travel, Tourism
The film of evening light made the red earth lucent, so that its dimensions were deepened, so that a stone, a post, a building, had greater depth, and more solidity than in any daytime light; and these objects were curiously more individual- a post was more essentially a post, set off from the earth it stood in and the field of corn it stood out against. All plants were individuals, not the mass of crop; and the ragged willow tree was itself, standing free of all other willow trees. The earth contributed a light to the evening. The front of the gray, paintless house, facing the west, was luminous as the moon is. The gray dusty truck, in the yard before the door, stood out magically in this light, in the overdrawn perspective of a stereopticon.
I know now why confusion in government is not only tolerated but encouraged. I have learned. A confused people can make no clear demands.
A book is like a man—clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun.
Topics: Books, Reading
The trash and litter of nature disappears into the ground with the passing of each year, but man’s litter has more permanence.
I have lost all sense of home, having moved about so much. It means to me now—only that place where the books are kept.
The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
Once I traveled about in an old bakery wagon, double-doored rattler with a mattress on the floor, I stopped where people stopped or gathered, I listened and looked and felt, and in the process had a picture of my country the accuracy of which was impaired only by my own shortcomings.
The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.
I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit …
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in all the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success.
Topics: Success & Failure
To finish is a sadness to a writer – a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.
Topics: Authors & Writing
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Robert A. Heinlein American Science Fiction Writer
- Saul Bellow Canadian-born American Novelist
- William Faulkner American Novelist
- Pearl S. Buck American Novelist
- Willa Cather American Novelist
- Joyce Carol Oates American Novelist
- Bernard Malamud American Novelist
- John D. MacDonald American Novelist
- F. Scott Fitzgerald American Novelist
- Ken Kesey American Novelist