“History, by definition, is a civilized, literate record of events; it is a conscious self-image of a society projected by an elite. In a sense, history is the self-image of a culture, the ego of a culture. History is controlled through education and tradition, and is monitored, if not manipulated, by elitist institutions, whether these are temples, academies, or universities. History is the story told by the elite in power and is a way of articulating human time so that it reinforces the institutional power of the elite.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up; that an adult is not a dead child, but a child who survived. I believe that all the best faculties of a mature human being exist in the child, and that if these faculties are encouraged in youth they will act well and wisely in the adult, but if they are repressed and denied in the child they will stunt and cripple the adult personality. And finally, I believe that one of the most deeply human, and humane, of these faculties is the power of imagination: so that it is our pleasant duty, as librarians, or teachers, or parents, or writers, or simply as grownups, to encourage that faculty of imagination in our children, to encourage it to grow freely, to flourish like the green bay tree, by giving it the best, absolutely the best and purest, nourishment that it can absorb. And never, under any circumstances, to squelch it, or sneer at it, or imply that it is childish, or unmanly, or untrue.” – Ursula Le Guin, “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?”

“Trees die, and from their wood human beings build homes and furniture, statues and Stradivariuses. If humans died in a healthy culture, they would not lock out the earth in metal coffins and carve their names on stone monuments, but would instead place the naked body in the earth and plant a tree above the silent heart.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“I write because it sustains me in a way that nothing else can. I write because it’s integral to my being present and conscientious in this life. I write because I have something to say and the written word is the medium with which I best express myself. I write because I love it. I write because I’d be a grouchy, depressed wreck of a person if I didn’t. “ – Michelle Ross, Fiction Editor, Atticus Review

“Bad stories often are raw biography. Literary art consists in transforming one kind of reality, that of physical experience, into another kind of reality, that of literary experience. Imagining, the process of transforming, is illuminated dimly, if at all, only by the magic of criticism. Writers are often complex people and fascinating subjects for psychological analysis, but a writer is a person to whom writing happens.” – Karl Kroeber, “Sisters and Science Fiction”

“The culture of fossil fuels literally feeds off the past, of the world of the dinosaurs, but the culture of solar energy feeds off light, and so the shift from the subterranean world of coal mine and oil well to the open horizons of wind and sun is really a shift in archetypes which will have profound repercussions in the collective unconscious.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“A deep and affirming consciousness of death indicates a deep and affirming consciousness of life. In the shift from community to consumption, we became what we owned, and so alone with all our purchases, we became frightened and death became a hysterical obsession. Disconnected from nature and the human community, the isolated ego became terrified of its aloneness and sought a denial of death in massive collectivization in monstrous institutions. In gigantic and impersonal hospitals, the isolated ego looked to technology to deliver it from pain and death; and in the usual twist of opposites in life, the ego’s very fear of pain and death put it in the hands of techniques of impersonal medical engineering, for which it paid dearly.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“Within these days past, I have marched by 18 or 20 Negroes that lay dead by the way-side, putrifying with the small pox. How such a thing came about, appears to be thus: The Negroes here being much disaffected (arising from their harsh treatment), flock’d in great numbers to [British General Lord] Cornwallis, as soon as he came into these parts. The artful general takes a number of them (several hundreds), innoculates them, & just as they all are growing sick, he sends them out into the country where our troops had to pass & repass. These poor creatures, having no care taken of them, many crawl’d into the bushes about & died, where they lay infecting the air around with intolerable stench & great danger. This is a piece of Cornwallisean cruelty. He is not backward to own that he has inoculated 4 or 500 in order to spread smallpox thro’ the country, & sent them out for that purpose.” – Josiah Atkins, “Diary, June 24th, 1781,” (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel; emphases in original)

“Some men in these parts, they tell me, own 30,000 acres of land for their patrimony, & many have two or 300 Negroes to work on it as slaves. Alas! That persons who pretend to stand for the rights of mankind for the liberties of society, can delight in oppression, & that even of the worst kind! These poor creatures are enslav’d: not only so, but likewise deprived of that which nature affords even to the beasts. Many are almost without provision, having very little for support of nature; & many are as naked as they came into the world. What pray is this but the strikingly inconsistent character pointed out by the apostle, While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption!” – Josiah Atkins, “Diary, June 6th, 1781,” (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel; emphases in original)

“The task involved in bringing together the petrified remnants of yesterday and the life of today provides a vivid illustration of what tradition always means: not just the careful preservation of monuments, but the constant interaction between our aims in the present and the past to which we still belong.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“The question posed by contemporary art imposes from the outset the task of bringing together what threatens to fall apart into two antagonistic poles: on the one hand, the art that appears historical, and on the other, the art that seems progressive. The appearance of art as something historical can be described as the delusion of a culture that holds that only what is already familiar to us from our cultural tradition is significant. The appearance of art as something progressive, on the other hand, is sustained by the delusion of the critique of ideology. It claims that history should now begin anew, since we are already thoroughly familiar with the tradition in which we stand and can safely leave it behind. But the riddle that the problem of art sets us is precisely that of the contemporaneity of past and present. There is no question here of anticipation or of degeneration. On the contrary, we have to ask ourselves what it is that maintains the continuity of art and in what sense art represents an overcoming of time.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“All artistic creation challenges each of us to listen to the language in which the work of art speaks and to make it our own. It remains true in every case that a shared or potentially shared achievement is at issue. This is true irrespective of whether the formation of a work of art is supported in advance by a shared view of the world that can be taken for granted, or whether we must first learn to ‘read’ the script and language of the one who speaks in the creation before us.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“The symbolic representation accomplished in art does not have to depend directly on what is already given. On the contrary, it is characteristic of art that what is represented, whether it is rich or poor in connotations or has none whatsoever, calls us to dwell upon it and give our assent in an act of recognition.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“The contempt we have been taught to entertain for the blacks, makes us fancy many things that are founded neither in reason nor experience . . . the dictates of humanity and true policy equally interest me in favour of this unfortunate class of men.” – Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, March 14th, 1779 (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel)

“It is a maxim with some great military judges, that with sensible officers soldiers can hardly be too stupid; and on this principle it is thought that the Russians would make the best troops in the world, if they were under other officers than their own. . . . I frequently hear it objected to the scheme of embodying negroes that they are too stupid to make soldiers. This is so far from appearing to me a valid objection that I think their want of cultivation (for their natural faculties are probably as good as ours) joined to that habit of subordination which they acquire from a life of servitude, will make them sooner become soldiers than our White inhabitants. Let officers be men of sense and sentiment, and the nearer the soldiers approach to machines perhaps the better.” – Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, March 14th, 1779 (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel)

“What the media have done is to create a new electronic peasantry. The experiment with democratization through mass education has failed, and the message of civilization, in achieving its widest audience, has moved toward entropy.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“The Negro’s and Negro Women are unhumanly treated, are two-thirds naked, and are very disgusting to the Eye and another Sense, Tho I begin to be more habituated to the Sight, yet I cannot be to the great Cruelty made Use of to the poor ignorant Wretches. Indeed the Title of the Overseer is a sufficient Explanation of the Whole. He is stiled a Negro Driver. These circumstances of Cruelty to these People render the persons who exercise it disagreable, nay odious to me. When a Set of People can sit down enjoying all the Luxuries of Life without feeling the least Sensation or Compunction for the sufferings of those poor Wretches whose Lives are render’d Miserable and Constitutions destroyed for those Purposes, I must conclude them Obdurate, Selfish, and Unfeeling to the greatest Degree imaginable. At what an Expence of Life and Happiness do we eat Rice and Sugar! One thing more I must add, that their Diet is almost entirely on Rice and sweet Potatoes as they are allowed Meat but once a Year.” – Stephen De Lancey to Cornelia Barclay De Lancey, Savannah, Georgia, January 14th, 1779 (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel)

“What we call art compared with the formative activity of production in general is mysterious in several respects, inasmuch as the work is not real in the same way as what it represents. On the contrary, the work functions as an imitation and thus raises a host of extremely subtle philosophical problems, including above all the problem of the ontological status of appearance. What is the significance of the fact that nothing ‘real’ is produced here? The work has no real ‘use’ as such, but finds its characteristic fulfillment when our gaze dwells upon the appearance itself.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“There can be no love in one who does not love himself, and one can only love himself if he has the compassion that grows out of the terrifying confrontation with one’s own self. To look into one’s own shadow is to learn compassion for the shadow of others, and if one has no compassion for himself, then he can have no compassion for others. If you hate yourself with a fierce loathing, you may try to run from your own shadow in a campaign to do good, not for love, but to rescue your ego and convince yourself that you are not evil.” – William Irwin Thompson, Evil and World Order

“The past is never simply what it is. Subjects have the capacity to create a different past by changing the present. . . . When we change what counts as valuable in the past, we engage in a retroactive causality that moves in the opposite direction of traditional causality. We retroactively transform the significance of what’s already happened and thereby effectively change what has happened. The subject is capable of a constant revision of the past. Retroactive causality has its basis in the insubstantiality of the past, but it doesn’t license the subject to change the past in an arbitrary fashion. Instead, the subject must come to see itself as a break in the continuum of history, an interruption capable of acting in a way that has no license from the past, and then it must act. The subject’s free act is what institutes the retroactive change in the past” – Todd McGowan, “We Are the Change that We Seek”

“Without absolute knowing, subjects are unable to act freely because they posit an authoritative substance that ultimately functions as a barrier to the act. The belief in substance limits what one conceives of as possible. For instance, the subject that believes in the substantiality of God can’t act in a way free of God or the subject that believes in the substantiality of the atom can’t act in a way that would challenge the existence of atoms. Whatever entity has the status of ‘substance’ for the subject impedes the subject’s ability to act freely.” – Todd McGowan, “We Are the Change that We Seek”