“There is nothing to which the hearts of men and women cannot be driven by love.” – Virgil, Aeneid (trans. Humphries)
“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
I gotta get rant-a-rific here for a few. I just got off the phone with a major American airline which I won’t embarrass by naming outright, but if you like, you could say its name rhymes with benighted. I was on the phone with them for a fucking hour trying to correct, or verify the correction of, a $75 mistake they made. And when I say I was on the phone for an hour, that means I was on hold for most of that time, listening to an endless loop of Rhapsody in Blue, except for the two times early on when the menu selections I made failed because those parts of this Dinosaur Corp.’s phone system no longer work, and the few minutes toward the end of this when I finally got to speak to a person (who was actually in the United States, which pleases me, atavistic chauvinist that I sometimes am (an effect of growing older, methinks)).
A fucking hour. It’s like I was dealing with an obscure bureau in some third-world country, address 1984 Kafka Avenue in Downtown Chaotica. An hour! A major airline! Now, I’m an old but I’m not ancient. I’m well over a decade away from retirement, should I in fact be able to retire. I well remember a time when in this country–in this country, boys and girls–that simply never would have happened. Americans had more pride than to pretend to run a business where people were kept waiting on the phone for an hour. I like to think we still do, but here I am dancing the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to a tune I don’t recall having any part in calling, and it’s a whistling past the graveyard for anyone to think it doesn’t matter that major businesses are run that way. Look around. See all the crumbling? Yeah, we sure as shittin’ all do. Anyone care to dance?
And at the end of it all, the poor soul who tried to help me, bless her heart, couldn’t provide any sort of verification that the problem had actually been solved, even though she said she’s pretty sure it was. But that’s not acceptable. It’s not acceptable to run a business like that, or a government like that, or a school like that, where there’s no one on duty, no one who can assist, no one who knows what’s going on, no one to take responsibility, no one who is willing and able to get to the bottom of things, no one to step up and say, We can fix this–we are better than this. It’s time to clear away the rot.
“Everything is on such a clear financial basis in France. It is the simplest country to live in. No one makes things complicated by becoming your friend for any obscure reason. If you want people to like you you have only to spend a little money.” – Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
“The difference between constructing a short story and constructing a novel is like the difference between building a rowboat and building a yacht: They both have to float, but one is bigger and grander and meant to carry more people farther. Just as the yacht is not simply a bigger rowboat, the novel is not a bigger short story; knowledge of one doesn’t necessarily translate into knowledge of the other.” – John Stazinski, “A Novel Approach”
“May the corn-stalks grow as long as my stretches, and may the will of the Holder of the Roads of Life shelter me from dangers as he sheltered his children in the days of the ancients.” – “The Maiden the Sun Made Love to, and Her Boys,” Zuñi Folk Tales, Frank Cushing
“Perhaps had men been more grateful and wiser, the Sun-father had smiled and dropped everywhere the treasures we long for, and not hidden them deep in the earth and buried them in the shores of the sea. And perhaps, moreover, all men would have smiled upon one another and never enlarged their voices nor strengthened their arms in anger toward one another.” – “The Maiden the Sun Made Love to, and Her Boys,” Zuñi Folk Tales, Frank Cushing
“Is it not well that even for a little time the light of life shine—though it shine through fear and sadness—than be cut off altogether? For who knows where the trails tend that lead through the darkness of the night of death?” – “Atahsaia, the Cannibal Demon,” Zuñi Folk Tales, Frank Cushing
“There are two kinds of laugh with women. One of them is a very good sort of thing, and makes young men feel happy and conceited. The other kind is somewhat heartier, and makes young men feel depressed and very humble.” – “How the Corn-Pests Were Ensnared,” Zuñi Folk Tales, Frank Cushing
“A color-coded map of American personal indebtedness could be laid on top of the Centers for Disease Control’s color-coded map that illustrates the fantastic rise in rates of obesity across the United States since 1985 without disturbing the general pattern. The boom in trading activity in individual stock portfolios; the spread of legalized gambling; the rise of drug and alcohol addiction; it is all of a piece. Everywhere you turn you see Americans sacrifice their long-term interests for a short-term reward.” – Michael Lewis, Boomerang
“It isn’t a problem with government; it’s a problem with the entire society. It’s what happened on Wall Street in the run-up to the subprime crisis. It’s a problem of people taking what they can, just because they can, without regard to the larger social consequences. It’s not just a coincidence that the debts of cities and states spun out of control at the same time as the debts of individual Americans. Alone in a dark room with a pile of money, Americans knew exactly what they wanted to do, from the top of the society to the bottom. They’d been conditioned to grab as much as they could, without thinking about the long-term consequences.” – Michael Lewis, Boomerang
“Once—as was the case with many, if not all, of the animals—the Rattlesnakes were a people, and a splendid people too. Therefore we kill them not needlessly, nor waste the lives even of the other animals without cause.” – “How the Rattlesnakes Came To Be What They Are,” Zuñi Folk Tales, Frank Cushing
“When you borrow a lot of money to create a false prosperity, you import the future into the present. It isn’t the actual future so much as some grotesque silicone version of it. Leverage buys you a glimpse of a prosperity you haven’t really earned.” — Michael Lewis, Boomerang