What if I plug this into that…?

“Recognizing one’s limits seems a form of fair trade: if we withdraw some of our claims on the world, surely those remaining will be met.  Yet the wish to determine the world can’t be coherently limited, for you cannot know which event will turn out to be not just another event, but one that will change your life.” – Susan Neiman, Evil in Modern Thought

You gotta scream without raising your voice

Rarely do I get personal on this website.  Maybe a little in responding to the comments (which are almost exclusively from Averil Dean), but not out here on the main floor.  The past few months have been a time of significant transition for me, which I don’t expect to mean jack to anyone else, but which I will use as an excuse to acknowledge by posting this:

E pluribus unum, people

“If Americans seriously want the United States to continue to exist in something like its current form, they had best respect the fundamental tenets of our unlikely union.  It cannot survive if we end the separation of church and state or institute the Baptist equivalent of Sharia law.  We won’t hold together if presidents appoint political ideologues to the Justice Department or the Supreme Court of the United States, or if party loyalists try to win elections by trying to stop people from voting rather than winning them over with their ideas.  The union can’t function if national coalitions continue to use House and Senate rules to prevent important issues from being debated in the open because members know their positions wouldn’t withstand public scrutiny.  Other sovereign democratic states have central governments more corrupted than our own, but most can fall back on unifying elements we lack: common ethnicity, a shared religion, or near-universal consensus on many fundamental political issues.  The United States needs its central government to function cleanly, openly, and efficiently because it’s one of the few things binding us together.” – Colin Woodard, American Nations

No, he’s not talking about Facebook

“Everywhere I see people who talk continually about themselves.  Their conversation is a mirror which always shows their own conceited faces.  They will talk to you about the tiniest events in their lives, which they expect to be magnified in your eyes by the interest that they themselves take in them.” – Montesquieu, “Letter 50,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

Hindbrain to the forefront

“Nothing is more depressing than consolations based on the necessity of evil, the uselessness of remedies, the inevitability of fate, the order of Providence, or the misery of the human condition.  It is ridiculous to try to alleviate misfortune by observing that we are born to be miserable.  It is much better to prevent the mind from indulging in such reflections, and to treat men as emotional beings, instead of treating them as rational.” – Montesquieu, “Letter 33,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

Running out of Gass

“A limp that tells the world we are compensating for an injury becomes a habit hard to break even when its cause has healed and there is no longer any ‘reason’ for it.  Except that the limp wishes to remain.  Our stutter wants to stay.  Our fall from a ladder would be forever like a cast-out angel if we didn’t fetch up in a lake of fire or at least on a floor.” — William H. Gass, “Auguste Rodin,” from A Temple of Texts

What the word means

“All of us have emotions urgently seeking release, and many of us have opinions we think would do the world some good; however, the poet must also be a maker, as the Greeks maintained, and, like the sculptor, like every other artist, should aim at adding real beings to the world, beings fully realized, not just things like tools and haberdashery that nature has neglected to provide, or memos and laws that society produces in abundance.” — William H. Gass, “Auguste Rodin,” from A Temple of Texts

Out here on the perimeter

“The world is not simply good and bad on different weekends like an inconsistent pitcher; we devour what we savor and what sustains us; out of ruins more ruins will after, in their polished towers, rise; lust is the muscle of love: its strength, its coarseness, its brutality; the heart beats and is beaten by its beating; not a shadow falls without the sun’s shine and the sun sears what it saves.  These are not the simplicities my saying has suggested.  In our civilization, the center has not held for a long time; neither the center nor the place where the center was can now be found.  We are disordered, arthritic fingers without palms.  Inside the silence of unmoving things, there are the sounds of repeated explosions.  Perhaps it is catastrophe breathing.” — William H. Gass, “Humors of Blood & Skin,” from A Temple of Texts

What writers can be like to live with

“There are those who like to sail alone around the world; they shut themselves up in towers to write or watch for fires; in huts encased in ice, they give up their lives to loneliness; who hunt for pelts in the mountains or are driven with aimless intensity from place to place like sand through a desert; fly solo, take to the woods.  Searching for a second self, they dislike distraction.  They want something to pit their strength against: angel or shade or element of nature that will assume the shape, and become the substance, of their enemy within.” — William H. Gass, “On Heroes and Tombs,” from A Temple of Texts

Tea, anyone?

“Through the tax code, there has been class warfare waged, and my class has won.  It’s been a rout.  You have seen a period where American workers generally have gone no place, and where the really super rich as a group increased their incomes five for one in this rarefied atmosphere.” — Warren Buffet, quoted in “Returns ‘Terrific’ as U.S. Workers Suffer,” Bloomberg News, 11.15.11

Happy Easter

“I must say I trust hatred more than love.  It is frequently constructive, despite the propaganda to the contrary; it is less frequently practiced by hypocrites; it is more clearly understood; it is painfully purchased and therefore often earned; and its objects sometimes even deserve their hoped-for fate.  If you love the good, you have to hate evil.  I cannot imagine a love so puerile and thin and weak-kneed it cannot rage.” — William H. Gass, “Fifty Literary Pillars,” from A Temple of Texts

But you can get it with tenure and a pension

“It may be that in a state of nature, since it is a state of war, the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, but in our present state of mediocrity, it is cowardly, shallow, tedious, banal, and uselessly drawn out.” — William H. Gass, “To a Young Friend Charged with Possession of the Classics,” from A Temple of Texts