Always look on the bright side of life

“The human mind is always poring upon the gloomy side of Fortune, and while it inhabits this lump of Clay, will always be in an uneasy and fluctuating State, produced by a thousand Incidents in common Life, which are deemed misfortunes, while the mind is taken off from the nobler pursuit of matters in Futurity. The sufferings of the Body naturally gain the Attention of the Mind, and this Attention is more or less strong, in greater or lesser souls, altho’ I believe that Ambition & a high Opinion of Fame, makes many People endure hardships and pains with that fortitude we after times Observe them to do. On the other hand, a despicable opinion of the enjoyments of this Life, by a continued series of Misfortunes, and a long acquaintance with Grief, induces others to bear afflictions with becoming serenity and Calmness. It is not in the power of Philosophy, however, to convince a man he may be happy and Contented if he will, with a Hungry Belly. Give me Food, Cloaths, Wife & Children, kind Heaven! and I’ll be as contented as my Nature will permit me to be.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 15, 1777, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (emphasis in original)

Go hungry and see how good everything tastes

“Mankind are never truly thankfull for the Benefits of life, until they have experienc’d the want of them. The Man who has seen misery knows best how to enjoy good. He who is always at ease & has enough of the Blessings of common life is an Impotent Judge of the feelings of the unfortunate.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 15, 1777

When the war was young

“I am Sick—discontented—and out of humour. Poor food—hard lodging—Cold Weather—fatigue—Nasty Cloaths—nasty Cookery—Vomit half my time—smoak’d out of my senses—the Devil’s in’t—I can’t Endure it—Why are we sent here to starve and Freeze—What sweet Felicities have I left at home; A charming Wife—pretty Children—Good Beds—good food—good Cookery—all agreeable—all harmonious. Here all Confusion—smoke & Cold—hunger & filthyness—A pox on my bad luck. There comes a bowl of beef soup—full of burnt leaves and dirt, sickish enough to make a Hector spue—away with it Boys—I’ll live like the Chameleon upon Air.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 14, 1777

So high, you can’t get over it

“I really am of opinion that there is few of the young fellows of the modern age exempt from vanity, more especially those who are bless’d with exterior graces. If they have a fine pair of eyes they are ever rolling them about a fine set of teeth, mind they are great laughers, a genteel person, for ever changing their attitudes to shew them to advantage, oh vanity! vanity! how boundless is thy sway!” – Sarah Wister, Journal, December 12th, 1777 (spelling, usage, and punctuation in original)

some people think

“some people my dear think that there’s no difference between good nature and good humour. but according to my opinion they differ widely good nature consists in a naturally amiable and even disposition free from all peevishness and fretting, it is accompany’d by a natural gracefulness a manner of doing and saying everything agreably, in short it steals the senses and captivates the heart. good humour. consists in being pleas’d and who wou’d thank a person for being chearful if they had nothing to make them other ways, good humour is a very agreable companion for an afternoon but give me good nature for life.” – Sarah Wister, Journal, November 1st, 1777 (spelling, usage, and punctuation in original)

How to make a democrat

“The essence of democracy resides in its attitude towards law as a product of the collective will, and not as something emanating from a transcendent will or from the authority established by divine right. It is therefore the essence of democracy to replace the unilateral respect of authority by the mutual respect of autonomous wills. So that the problem is to know what will best prepare the child for its future task of citizenship. Is it the habit of external discipline gained under the influence of unilateral respect and of adult constraint, or is it the habit of internal discipline, of mutual respect and of ‘self-government’? It may be, of course, that only those who have gone through the external discipline imposed by a master will be capable later on of any inner discipline. This is the commonly accepted view, but it requires to be verified. The proof, however, would not be an easy one to establish, for considering the large number of people who reject all discipline as soon as they have escaped from school and home ties, or who for the rest of their lives are capable only of external discipline and legal morality, it may very well be that it is in spite of adult authority, or in spite of certain kinds of adult authority, that the best of our young people sooner or later adopt a disciplined way of living.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

How special, you’re a writer

“Writing isn’t a precious thing and I’m not in eternal search of keeping what I do holy or built up out of shimmering gems. I don’t eat my lunch off a gold plated lunch truck. The great American novel doesn’t know it’s the great American novel until it’s been out almost a hundred years and the woman or man who wrote it is dead. Who cares about the great American novel while we’re in the golden age of TV? Art isn’t something you should protect from yourself. Just run towards it full sprint and embrace how ridiculous your ideas are, how unguarded, how close to something a child might think up, lying on their back in a field overgrown with weeds. The sights and sounds of the rotating world revealing itself to you, or not. Take a sip of black gas station quality coffee, take a bite of fish sandwich, write down the adventures of the day. Every day adds up. Every lunch break is something more than a lunch break.” – Bud Smith, Work

Daddy sky-god boss man

“Social constraint—and by this we mean any social relation into which there enters an element of authority and which is not, like cooperation, the result of an interchange between equal individuals—has on the individual results that are analogous to those exercised by adult constraint on the mind of the child. The two phenomena, moreover, are really one and the same thing, and the adult who is under the dominion of unilateral respect for the ‘Elders’ and for tradition is really behaving like a child. It may even be maintained that the realism of primitive conceptions of crime and punishment is, in certain respects, an infantile reaction. To primitive man, the moral and the physical universe are one and the same thing, and a rule is both a law of nature and a principle of conduct. For this reason, crime threatens the very existence of the universe and must be mystically set at naught by a suitable expiation. But this idea of a law that is both physical and moral is the very core of the child’s conception of the world; for under the effect of adult constraint the child cannot conceive the laws of the physical universe except in the guise of a certain obedience rendered by things to rules. As to ideas of punishment and expiation, how could they have become so widespread in the adult community if men had not all first been children, and if the child had not been from the very beginning of his mental development respectful towards the decisions of the adult who reprimands him and punishes him? Under the effects of social differentiation and cooperation, on the contrary, the individual is less and less dominated by the cult of the past and by the forced conformity which accompanies it. He then becomes really adult, and the infantile traits that mark the conformist spirit make place for the features that are the outcome of cooperation. Thus autonomy of conscience takes the place of heteronomy.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

Someone will have to pay

“Every society consists primarily in a collection of beliefs and feelings forming a whole which must be defended. The kernel of these beliefs is the feeling of the sacred, the source of all morality and religion. Whatever offends against these powerful and well-defined feelings is crime, and all crime is sacrilege. A crime that breaks down the social bond takes on, by the mere fact of doing so, a mystical significance. It is a source of impurity and contamination, and its repercussions, visible and invisible, are incalculable. It must therefore be suppressed, its disastrous consequences must be suppressed, and things must be put right. Punishment is the mystical procedure that will effect this restitution. Consequently it matters very little on whom the punishments fall. The great thing is that they should be inflicted and that they should be proportionate to the crime. Thus there is an ‘institution of responsibility’. Moreover, it is easy to understand how the choice of the responsible subject comes to be made. The process takes place in virtue of a mechanism of transference which obeys the usual laws of psychological transference. First, there is an affective transference: the emotions aroused by the crime are carried over to everything that touches it from near or far. Then there is a judgment: the community decides that a given individual is responsible, and this judgment is dominated by relations of contiguity and resemblance. It follows, naturally, that the culprit himself, when he can be found, is held to represent the maximum of relationship with the crime. But failing this, anything that touches the crime must be punished. Thus responsibility descends from outside upon the culprit or any of his substitutes, and transforms them into scapegoats or instruments of social purification.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

The shining

“It happened late Friday night. That morning no one suspected anything. I sent my son to school, my husband went to the barber’s. I was preparing lunch when my husband came back. ‘There’s some sort of fire at the atomic station. They’re saying we are not to turn off the radio.’ This wasn’t any ordinary fire, it was some kind of shining. It was pretty. I’d never seen anything like it in the movies. That evening everyone spilled out onto their balconies, and those who didn’t have balconies went to friends’ houses. We were on the ninth floor, we had a great view. People brought their kids out, picked them up, said: ‘Look! Remember!’ And these were people who worked at the reactor—engineers, laborers, physics instructors. They stood in the black dust, talking, breathing, wondering at it. People came from all around in their cars and on their bikes to have a look. We didn’t know that death could be so beautiful.” – Nadezhda Petrovna Vygovskaya (from Voices from Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich, trans. Keith Gessen)

Say we’ll meet again

“We have everything here—graves. Graves everywhere. The dump trucks are working, and the bulldozers. The houses are falling. The grave diggers are toiling away. They buried the school, the headquarters, the baths. It’s the same world, but the people are different. One thing I don’t know is, do people have souls? What kind? And how do they all fit in the next world? My grandpa died for two days. I was hiding behind the stove and waiting: How’s it going to fly out of his body? I went to milk the cow—I came back in, called him, he was lying there with his eyes open. His soul fled already. Or did nothing happen? And then how will we meet?” – “Settlers’ Chorus: Those Who Returned” (from Voices from Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich, trans. Keith Gessen)

It’s logical

“Just as in logic, we can see a sort of reaction of the form of the proposition upon its content when the principle of contradiction leads to a simplification and purification of the initial definitions, so in ethics, reciprocity implies a purification of the deeper trend of conduct, guiding it by gradual stages to universality itself. Without leaving the sphere of reciprocity, generosity the characteristic of our third stage allies itself to justice pure and simple, and between the more refined forms of justice, such as equity and love properly so called, there is no longer any real conflict.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

Reciprocity failure is another matter entirely

“Like all spiritual realities which are the result, not of external constraint but of autonomous development, reciprocity has two aspects: reciprocity as a fact, and reciprocity as an ideal, as something which ought to be. The child begins by simply practising reciprocity, in itself not so easy a thing as one might think. Then, once he has grown accustomed to this form of equilibrium in his actions, his behaviour is altered from within, its form reacting, as it were, upon its content. What is regarded as just is no longer merely reciprocal action, but primarily behaviour that admits of indefinitely sustained reciprocity. The motto ‘Do as you would be done by’, thus comes to replace the conception of crude equality.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)