Thursday, May 21, 2015

Object II

"A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object. But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object."
--Albert Camus

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


"All executive power--from the reign of ancient kings to the rule of modern dictators--has the outward appearance of efficiency."
--William O. Douglas, Concurring Opinion, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


"We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic. The founding fathers hated two things, one was monarchy and the other was democracy, they gave us a constitution that saw to it we will have neither. I don't know how wise they were."
--Gore Vidal, "Gore Vidal and the Mind of the Terrorist", interview by Ramona Koval, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio National (November 2001)

Monday, May 18, 2015


One of the main purposes of laws in a democratic society is to put burdens upon intelligence and reduce it to impotence. Ostensibly, their aim is to penalize anti-social acts; actually their aim is to penalize heretical opinions. At least ninety-five Americans out of every 100 believe that this process is honest and even laudable; it is practically impossible to convince them that there is anything evil in it. In other words, they cannot grasp the concept of liberty. Always they condition it with the doctrine that the state, i.e., the majority, has a sort of right of eminent domain in acts, and even in ideas — that it is perfectly free, whenever it is so disposed, to forbid a man to say what he honestly believes. Whenever his notions show signs of becoming "dangerous," ie, of being heard and attended to, it exercises that prerogative. And the overwhelming majority of citizens believe in supporting it in the outrage. Including especially the Liberals, who pretend--and often quite honestly believe--that they are hot for liberty. They never really are. Deep down in their hearts they know, as good democrats, that liberty would be fatal to democracy--that a government based upon shifting and irrational opinion must keep it within bounds or run a constant risk of disaster. They themselves, as a practical matter, advocate only certain narrow kinds of liberty--liberty, that is, for the persons they happen to favor. The rights of other persons do not seem to interest them. If a law were passed tomorrow taking away the property of a large group of presumably well-to-do persons--say, bondholders of the railroads-- without compensation and without even colorable reason, they would not oppose it; they would be in favor of it. The liberty to have and hold property is not one they recognize. They believe only in the liberty to envy, hate and loot the man who has it.

--H.L. Mencken, "Liberty and Democracy" in the Baltimore Evening Sun (13 April 1925), also in A Second Mencken Chrestomathy : New Selections from the Writings of America's Legendary Editor, Critic, and Wit (1994) edited by Terry Teachout, p. 35

Saturday, May 16, 2015


I say farewell to the blazing, blackening place where I was
Here is my breast! Aim your gun at it, brother, shoot!
I offer my body, the body our mother bore and nurtured.
Destroy it if you will,
Destroy it in the name of your dream,
That dream in whose name you kill...

Destroy me if you will
And build from my carrion whatever it is you are dreaming of.

Who will be left to celebrate a victory made of blood and fire?

--Thich Nhat Hanh, "Our Green Garden"


One day when the Sultan was in his palace at Damascus a beautiful youth who was his favourite rushed into his presence, crying out in great agitation that he must fly at once to Baghdad, and imploring leave to borrow his Majesty's swiftest horse.

The Sultan asked why he was in such haste to go to Baghdad.

"Because," the youth answered, "as I passed through the garden of the Palace just now, Death was standing there, and when he saw me he stretched out his arms as if to threaten me, and I must lose no time in escaping from him."

The young man was given leave to take the Sultan's horse and fly; and when he was gone the Sultan went down indignantly into the garden, and found Death still there." How dare you make threatening gestures at my favourite?" he cried; but Death, astonished, answered: "I assure your Majesty I did not threaten him. I only threw up my arms in surprise at seeing him here, because I have a tryst with him tonight in Baghdad."

--Edith Wharton, "A Backward Glance"

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sheep III

"Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you."
--Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) 

Thursday, May 14, 2015


"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."
--Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
American author, poet, philosopher, polymath, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and transcendentalist
Source: Walden (1854)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


"At the moment you are prophesying in the desert, the fine pollen of an oak is falling to the ground and, in a century, will grow up into a forest."
--Jean Paul Richter

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reality IV

"Reality can destroy the dream; why shouldn't the dream destroy reality?"
--George Moore

Monday, May 11, 2015


"In this Revolution no plans have been written for retreat."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, May 09, 2015


"Counting The Small-Boned Bodies"
by Robert Bly

Let’s count the bodies over again.

If we could only make the bodies smaller,
The size of skulls,
We could make a whole plain white with
skulls in the moonlight!

If we could only make the bodies smaller,
Maybe we could get
A whole year’s kill in front of us on a desk!

If we could only make the bodies smaller,
We could fit
A body into a finger-ring, for a keepsake forever.


"The world is a thing of utter inordinate complexity and richness and strangeness that is absolutely awesome. I mean the idea that such complexity can arise not only out of such simplicity, but probably absolutely out of nothing, is the most fabulous extraordinary idea. And once you get some kind of inkling of how that might have happened, it's just wonderful. And...the opportunity to spend 70 or 80 years of your life in such a universe is time well spent as far as I am concerned."

--Douglas Adams, response to the question "What is it about science that really gets your blood running?", as quoted in Richard Dawkins in his eulogy for Adams (September 17, 2001)

Friday, May 08, 2015


"If government half a century ago had provided us with all our dinners and breakfasts, it would be the practice of our orators today to assume the impossibility of our providing for ourselves."
--Auberon Herbert (1838-1906) English author
Source: "State Education: A Help or Hindrance", Fornightly Review, July 1880; reproduced in The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State, and Other Essays by Auberon Herbert (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1978), p. 77

Thursday, May 07, 2015


"Where rights secured by the Federal Constitution are involved, there can be no rule-making or legislation which would abrogate them."
--Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966)

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Wise III

"No society wants you to become wise: it is against the investment of all societies. If people are wise they cannot be exploited. If they are intelligent they cannot be subjugated, they cannot be forced into a mechanical life, to live like robots. They will assert themselves - they will assert their individuality. They will have the fragrance of rebellion around them; they will want to live in freedom.,,In fact, a wise man is afire, alive, aflame. He would like rather to die than to be enslaved."

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


"Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view."
--William F. Buckley, Jr.

Monday, May 04, 2015


"I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: "The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair." In these words he epitomized the history of the human race."
--Bertrand Russell, "Education and the Social Order"

Sunday, May 03, 2015


"Sometimes, to uncover that which is hidden, we must first be made to look."
--The Outer Limits, episode "A Special Edition"

Friday, May 01, 2015


"Science is the art of creating suitable illusions which the fool believes or argues against, but the wise man enjoys for their beauty or their ingenuity, without being blind to the fact that they are human veils and curtains concealing the abysmal darkness of the unknowable."
--Carl Jung


"The real threat of crime is what it does to ourselves and our communities. No nation hiding behind locked doors is free, for it is imprisoned by its own fears. No nation whose citizens fear to walk their own streets is healthy, for in isolation lies the poisoning of public participation. A nation which surrenders to crime- whether by indifference or by heavy-handed repression- is a society which resigned itself to failure. Yet, disturbingly, many Americans seem to regard crime as a pervasive enemy that cannot be defeated."
--Robert F. Kennedy

Thursday, April 30, 2015


"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ...we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."
--Franz Kafka, Letter to Oskar Pollak (January 27, 1904)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. Knowing that I was in the profession, he asked me to tell him how he should set to work to realize his ambition. I did my best to explain. 'The first thing,' I said, 'is to buy quite a lot of paper, a bottle of ink, and a pen. After that you merely have to write.'
--Aldous Huxley, "Sermons in Cats"

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


"When a President is both wrong and unpopular, to refuse to oppose him is both a moral abdication and a political stupidity,"
--Allard Lowenstein

Monday, April 27, 2015



Kilroy, mustered out at last, stepped
down from his long vigil on the walls
above the whole damned world's

and wept.  Old Adam Kilroy, the first man
anywhere, hero to us all and saint
to combat soldiers, has packed it in,
refusing to negate his magnificent
career in defense of the last state
by serving in Viet Nam.

--John Haag

Saturday, April 25, 2015


"When forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law, peace is considered already broken."
--Che Guevara

Friday, April 24, 2015

Only II

"Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they're only animals."
--Theodor W. Adorno, attributed, "The Apocalyptic Animal of Late Capitalism"


"It doesn't matter what I say as long as I sound different from other politicians."
--Jerry Brown, Current Occupant of the California Governor's Office

Thursday, April 23, 2015


"To the gross senses the chair seems solid and substantial. But the gross senses and be refined by means of instruments. Closer observations are made, as the result of which we are forced to conclude that the chair is “really” a swarm of electric charges whizzing about in empty space. … While the substantial chair is an abstraction easily made from the from the memories of innumerable sensations of sight and touch, the electric charge chair is a difficult and far-fetched abstraction from certain visual sensations so excessively rare (they can only come to us in the course of elaborate experiments) that not one man in a million has ever been in the position to make it for himself. The overwhelming majority of us accept the electric-charge chair on authority, as good Catholics accept transubstantiation."
--Aldous Huxley

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt."
--Samuel Adams, Essay in the Public Advertiser, 1749

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


"The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning. This is a truth nearly all great minds have taken as their starting point. It is not this discovery that is interesting, but the consequences and rules of action drawn from it."

--Albert Camus, review of Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, published in the newspaper Alger Républicain (October 20, 1938), p. 5;
also quoted in Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd (2002) by Avi Sagi, p. 43.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Standing III

"Standing armies consist of professional soldiers who owe their livelihood and income to the government. Unlike civilians who render periodic service in local militia, professional soldiers do not own property and therefore do not have any source of income other than the government’s military paymaster. Thus, they are more likely to serve the government’s interests, regardless of whether its leaders are dishonest and corrupt or not. In fact, standing armies may even promote rapacious foreign or domestic policies if such policies enrich the army. In contrast, arms bearing, property owning citizen militiamen have a stake in the health of the republic as a whole and can be trusted to act in the republic’s best interests, whether those interests call for action in support of or against the political leadership of the nation."
--Anthony J. Dennis
Officer and lawyer for Aetna Life and Casualty Company, author, B.A. cum laude from Tufts University; J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law
Source: Article: Clearing the Smoke from the right to Bear Arms and the Second Amendment, 29 AKRON L. REV. 57, 76-77 (Fall 1995).

Saturday, April 18, 2015


"Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence. We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge."
--Robert F. Kennedy

Friday, April 17, 2015

Working II

"Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that's the end of the constitution as a working machine.
--Gore Vidal, "America First? America Last? America at Last?," Lowell Lecture, Harvard University (April 20, 1992)

Greatness II

"You gave him an opportunity of showing greatness of character and he did not seize it. He will never forgive you for that."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, April 16, 2015


"The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power, and if I didn't betray it I'd be ashamed of myself."
--Noam Chomsky