“If desire is repressed, it is because every position of desire, no matter how small, is capable of calling into question the established order of a society. Not that desire is asocial, on the contrary. But it is explosive . . . no society can tolerate a position of real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy being compromised.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus (trans. Robert Hurley, et al.)

“Imagine never belonging to your own body. Your own body never belonging to you. Imagine you were programmed only to say yes when a man pulls the string. Imagine when you say no, it’s like men can’t hear it. Like you are just a doll who says yes and Momma and sleepy. Like when they lay you down, your eyes close, and you don’t remember anything that happens next. Imagine the world that tells you this is your fault.” — Shaindell Beers, “Playing Dolls” (emphases in original)

“When subjects, individuals, or groups act manifestly counter to their own class interests—when they rally to the interests and ideals of a class that their own objective situation should lead them to combat—it is not enough to say: they were fooled, the masses have been fooled. It is not an ideological problem, a problem of failing to recognize, or of bring subject to, an illusion. It is a problem of desire, and desire is part of the infrastructure. Preconscious investments are made, or should be made, according to the interests of the opposing classes. But unconscious investments are made according to positions of desire.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus (trans. Robert Hurley, et al.) (emphasis in original)

“The astonishing thing is not that some people steal or that others occasionally go out on strike, but rather that all those who are starving do not steal as a regular practice, and all those who are exploited are not continually out on strike: after centuries of exploitation, why do people still tolerate being humiliated and enslaved, to such a point, indeed, that they actually want humiliation and slavery not only for others but for themselves?” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus (trans. Robert Hurley, et al.) (emphasis in original)

“Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners – and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’ There aren’t many such people. Most of the earth’s inhabitants work to get by. They work because they have to. They didn’t pick this or that kind of job out of passion; the circumstances of their lives did the choosing for them. Loveless work, boring work, work valued only because others haven’t got even that much, however loveless and boring – this is one of the harshest human miseries.” – Wislawa Szymborska, “Nobel Lecture” (trans. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)

“I know God made the world, but I wish a priest would tell me why. Though he made it better than the priests know, he gave us leave to piss on the whole thing, and gave us two hands and a length of rope, and away with it, that’s in our remit, and then the hellish shit is over, enjoy, blessings, we’re going to hell in a handcart.” – Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz (trans. Michael Hofmann)

“Yes, women are my weakness, they are the place where I am mortal, I kiss one, think of a second and eye up a third. Oh, women are my weakness, what can I do, I can’t help it, and if one day I go broke on account of women, then I’ll write Out of Stock on the door of my heart.” – Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz (trans. Michael Hofmann)

“The world is iron, there’s nothing you can do, it rolls up to you like a steamroller, there’s nothing you can do, here it comes, there it goes, they’re sitting on the inside, it’s like a tank, a devil is driving it with horns and glowing eyes, they tear you limb from limb, they sit there with their chains and teeth and tear you into bits. And it runs on, and there’s no getting out of the way of it.” – Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz (trans. Michael Hofmann)

“I know that I have to die like everyone else, and that displeases me, and I know every human born so far has died except for those now living, and that distresses me and makes most distinctions and doctrines look false or absurd or semiabsurd, but often I yearn to die, to have it be over, and then the doctrines look all right to me.” – Harold Brodkey, “Angel”

“Whoever thinks bread and baked goods made from depleted white flour can be improved by artificial additions is mistaken, and is leading their clients astray. Nature has laws, and it punished infractions. The impaired health of almost every advanced nation may be traced to indulgence in devalued and refined foods.” – Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz (trans. Michael Hofmann)

“People are somewhat gorgeous collections of chemical fires, aren’t they? Cells and organs burn and smolder, each one, and hot electricity flows and creates storms of further currents, magnetisms and species of gravity—we are towers of kinds of fires, down to the tiniest constituents of ourselves, whatever those are, those things burn like stars in space, in helpless mimicry of the vastness out there, electrons and neutrons, planets and suns, so that we are made of universes of fires contained in skin and placed in turn within a turning and lumbering universe of fires.” – Harold Brodkey, “Angel”

“Each thing in the universe, with or without consciousness, has intent; a limitless will is a bloody tyrant-emperor: I mean, each thing tries to run everything, to have its way. Everything is imperial—without exception. Everything drags at you. This is a universe of trash tyrants. You have to sacrifice your life to prove goodness exists.” – Harold Brodkey, “The Boys on Their Bikes”

“For a woman, surely, words are the prime element of force, of being able to enforce things on others, to coerce them. The prime realistic thing, in a certain sense, for women in this world is words, words insofar as they contain law and announcements of principles, the semiminor apocalypses of Utopia, or at least of peace on earth.” – Harold Brodkey, “Ceil” (emphasis in original)

“Some people speak of the infant’s love for its mother; how clever they are to name that sleeping-and-waking, the dependencies and dreams, as love. I don’t think there is any possible single name for the life-and-death mind-and-language thing of a woman with an infant. The nature of almost any real moment makes almost all theory a sweet, maybe boyish farce far gone in willfulness. The comfort and shock of using tremendous abstract terms as truth—when how can they be true? in what way can they be true?—permits us to explain a fleshly event without having to toy with the enormous emotions of actuality.” – Harold Brodkey, “Largely an Oral History of My Mother” (emphasis in original)