Praise the ammunition and pass the lord

“Preparations for war, which are recommended by the most misleading of adages as the best way of ensuring peace, on the contrary create first of all the belief in each of the adversaries that the other desires a rupture, a belief which brings the rupture about, and then, when it has occurred, the further belief in each of the two that it is the other that has sought it. Even if the threat was not sincere, its success encourages a repetition. But the exact point up to which a bluff may succeed is difficult to determine; if one party goes too far, the other, which has yielded hitherto, advances in its turn; the first party, no longer capable of changing its methods, accustomed to the idea that to seem not to fear a rupture is the best way of avoiding one…, and moreover driven by pride to prefer death to surrender, perseveres in its threat until the moment when neither can draw back. The bluff may also be blended with sincerity, may alternate with it, and what was yesterday a game may become reality tomorrow. Finally it may also happen that one of the adversaries is really determined upon war.” – Marcel Proust, The Captive (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

Filling the gone god hole

“The event that Nietzsche called ‘the death of God’ — less metaphorically, the collapse of Christian faith as a living factor in the lives and psyches of most people in Europe and the European diaspora — left an immense void in our collective life, and a great many people went looking for some secular equivalent of religion in order to fill that void. Over the last century or so, faith in progress has become the most popular replacement for religion, and believers in progress cling to it as unquestioningly as believers in other religions cling to the dogmas of their faiths.” – John Michael Greer (interview with Jessa Crispin in Bookslut)

Who could you be now?

“It is as difficult to present a fixed image of a character as of societies and passions. For a character alters no less than they do, and if one tries to take a snapshot of what is relatively immutable in it, one finds it presenting a succession of different aspects (implying that it is incapable of keeping still but keeps moving) to the disconcerted lens.” – Marcel Proust, The Captive (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

Nursing the wound

“The disgraced ambassador, the under-secretary placed suddenly on the retired list, the man about town who finds himself cold-shouldered, the lover who has been shown the door, examine, sometimes for months on end, the event that has shattered their hopes; they turn it over and over like a projectile fired at them they know not from whence or by whom, almost as though it were a meteorite. They long to know the constituent elements of this strange missile which has burst upon them, to learn what animosities may be detected therein. Chemists have at least the means of analysis; sick men suffering from a disease the origin of which they do not know can send for the doctor; criminal mysteries are more or less unravelled by the examining magistrate. But for the disconcerting actions of our fellow-men we rarely discover the motives.” – Marcel Proust, The Captive (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

The Reverend Dr. King

“An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

The Reverend Dr. King

“How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

The Reverend Dr. King

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

Sing it!

“I wondered whether music might not be the unique example of what might have been—if the invention of language, and the formation of words, the analysis of ideas had not intervened—the means of communications between souls. It is like a possibility that has come to nothing; humanity has developed along other lines, those of spoken and written language.” – Marcel Proust, The Captive (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

Gardening on the page

“The first task—and thrill—for the writer is to surprise himself with his own imagination, and relay that surprise to the reader. Whether that’s done on the syntactic level or by having the protagonist forget to wipe his feet is up to the writer and the story he’s conjuring out of nothing. What’s important is that the story is revealed organically and with originality.” – Terese Svoboda, “To Plot or Not”

It’s out there somewhere, keep looking

“Everything is arranged in this life as though we entered it carrying a burden of obligations contracted in some former life; there is no reason inherent in the conditions of life on this earth that can make us consider ourselves obliged to do good, to be kind and thoughtful, even to be polite, nor for an atheist artist to consider himself obliged to begin over again a score of times a piece of work the admiration aroused by which will matter little to his worm-eaten body…. All these obligations, which have no sanction in our present life, seem to belong to a different world, a world based on kindness, scrupulousness, self-sacrifice, a world entirely different from this one and which we leave in order to be born on this earth, before perhaps returning there to live once again beneath the sway of those unknown laws which we obeyed because we bore their precepts in our hearts, not knowing whose hand had traced them there.” – Marcel Proust, The Captive (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

Cheaper by the dozen

“What is more usual than a lie, whether it is a question of masking the daily weaknesses of the constitution which we wish to be thought strong, of concealing a vice, or of going off, without offending other people, to do the thing that we prefer? It is the most necessary means of self-preservation, and the one that is most widely used.” – Marcel Proust, The Captive (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

If you believe in magic

“Most people in the industrial world believe in progress the way that peasants in the Middle Ages believed in the wonder-working bones of the local saint. It’s an unquestioned truism in contemporary culture that newer technologies are by definition better than older ones, that old beliefs are disproved by the mere passage of time, and that the future ahead of us will inevitably be like the present, but even more so. For all practical purposes, belief in progress is the established religion of the modern world, with its own mythology — think of all the stories you got in school about brilliant thinkers single-handedly overturning the superstitious nonsense of the past — and its own lab-coated priesthood. Most people these days literally can’t think outside the box of progress. That’s why the only alternative to the endless continuation of business as usual that has any kind of public presence these days is apocalypse — some sudden catastrophe gaudy enough to overwhelm the otherwise unstoppable force of progress. The faith in apocalypse is simply the flipside of the faith in progress — instead of a bigger, better, brighter future, we get a bigger, better, brighter cataclysm. Suggest that the future ahead of us might not be either of those hackneyed stereotypes, and you can count on hearing the echoing bang of minds slamming shut.” – John Michael Greer (interview with Jessa Crispin in Bookslut)

Running in every family

“Humanity is a very old institution. Heredity and cross-breeding have given insuperable strength to bad habits, faulty reflexes. One person sneezes and gasps because he is passing a rosebush, another breaks out in a rash at the smell of wet paint; others get violent stomach-aches if they have to set out on a journey, and grandchildren of thieves who are themselves rich and generous cannot resist the temptation to rob you of fifty francs.”  – Marcel Proust, The Captive (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

I’ll wrassle ya fer it

“Masculinity is, as a word, make-shift, and as a practical concept, uselessly broad, and wide open to opportunism and disingenuity. May infants make a claim to masculinity? Probably not, but everybody else can. Confidence and strength, both of mind and body, a willingness to pay a great price in defense of something nominally outside the realm of masculinity (e.g., a woman or child), a desire for hard-won power and glory, an appetite for raw life, a respect for law and order and genuine authority but a nearly unthinking willingness to destroy persons and institutions when necessary: men may have described and proscribed all that as essential to masculinity, but in practice all that it apparently means is that physicality—a larger frame, bigger muscles, and a hairy body—makes all the difference in the cultivation of psychological, emotional, mental states and conditions that favor, enhance, unleash, condone, sanction, and enjoy violence. Righteous, necessary violence, to be sure, but violence all the same. Masculinity—righteous, necessary violence—equals heroism, then? The bloody kind? The fierce kind? The blackly melancholy kind? The laconic kind? Certainly not the kind who ‘fought but stayed at home.’ It’s interesting to note that Orpheus, who went to Hell to rescue Eurydice, who harrowed, conquered, tamed Hell, may be considered a kind of apotheosis of the masculine, not for his bravery or skill, but because he was an idiot who could not do the one little last thing that would ensure victory over death and a life of happiness. Masculinity equals not merely heroism, but anti-heroism as well. It’s even possible that anti-heroism suits masculinity better than the strait-jacket of simple-minded and stiff-gestured heroism.” – Gary Amdahl, “Two Considerations of Masculinity”

Does it hurt yet?

“It is often simply from lack of creative imagination that we do not go far enough in suffering. And the most terrible reality brings us, at the same time as suffering, the joy of a great discovery, because it merely gives a new and clear form to what we have long been ruminating without suspecting it.” – Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

Not now that we know of those who shall here remain nameless (but they leave tracks as they pass)

“Just as we do not possess that sense of direction with which certain birds are endowed, so we lack the sense of our own visibility as we lack that of distances, imagining as quite close to us the interested attention of people who on the contrary never give us a thought, and not suspecting that we are at the same moment the sole preoccupation of others.” – Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

Topsy and the turvies

“The rule among the human race—a rule that naturally admits of exceptions—is that the reputedly hard are the weak whom nobody wanted, and that the strong, caring little whether they are wanted or not, have alone that gentleness which the vulgar herd mistakes for weakness.” – Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)

Hold it right there

“It’s impossible to escape yourself in writing a book; all the darkness or the beauty or fineness inside you will find its way out. Even a writer who’s willing to be inauthentic will be revealed, because the work will feel inauthentic to the reader.” – Averil Dean (interview with Erika Marks at On Writing, Publishing and Other Delicacies)

Morph was my name

“We passionately long for there to be another life in which we shall be similar to what we are here below. But we do not pause to reflect that, even without waiting for that other life, in this life, after a few years, we are unfaithful to what we once were, to what we wished to remain immortally. Even without supposing that death is to alter us more completely than the changes that occur in the course of our lives, if in that other life we were to encounter the self that we have been, we should turn away from ourselves as from those people with whom we were once on friendly terms but whom we have not seen for years.” – Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah (trans. Moncrieff and Kilmartin)