“Swans on the river, moving with calm dignity, pretending they are doing something else, while all the time, like the noisy, desperately fluttering seagulls, they too search for food. They eat discreetly with beaks below water, so as not to be seen in the undignified act of feeding, which humans parade in public places without feeling any shame.” – Nanos Valaoritis, “Problems of an Empire”

Ulysses is an amazing tour de force when one considers the success which has been in the main achieved with such a difficult objective as Joyce set for himself. . . . [It] is not an easy book to read. It is brilliant and dull, intelligible and obscure by turns. In many places it seems to me to be disgusting, but although it contains . . . many words usually considered dirty, I have not found anything that I consider to be dirt for dirt’s sake. Each word of the book contributes like a bit of mosaic to the detail of the picture which Joyce is seeking to construct for his readers. If one does not wish to associate with such folk as Joyce describes, that is one’s own choice. In order to avoid indirect contact with them one may not wish to read Ulysses; that is quite understandable. But when such a real artist in words, as Joyce undoubtedly is, seeks to draw a true picture of the lower middle class in a European city, ought it to be impossible for the American public legally to see that picture?” – John M. Woolsey, United States District Judge, December 6, 1933

“There are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehended; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless.” – Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, The Prince (trans. W. K. Marriott)

“Never let any Government imagine that it can choose perfectly safe courses; rather let it expect to have to take very doubtful ones, because it is found in ordinary affairs that one never seeks to avoid one trouble without running into another; but prudence consists in knowing how to distinguish the character of troubles, and for choice to take the lesser evil.” – Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, The Prince (trans. W. K. Marriott)

“How one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil.” – Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, The Prince (trans. W. K. Marriott)

“This is old London. . . . This district is a unique hub, where major affairs are conducted and astronomical bills of sale for London’s wealthiest merchants are signed. Every single one of its buildings is a frenzy of action and work. No one steps in except to work and to earn, and no tongue wags except for profit and utility. No sun rises, and no lamp is lit except in pursuit of a living. Hearts are moved only to earn and to acquire. So you see each and every person with their eyes and mouths gaping, wide open, to devour the world and everything in it.” – Ahmad Faris Shidyaq, “Where Every Mouth Is Open to Eat the World” (trans. Rana Issa and Suneela Mubati)

“It is no crime that a person’s taste changes according to what he experiences and is exposed to. The youth for example are comforted by exaggerated prattle and obscenity. While the aged prefer speech that is free of such blemishes. Therefore we say that we cannot clearly define the limits of taste, for it is built on habit and familiarity, and those two differ. But one can approximate it when one distinguishes good habits from bad ones through a sound nature and a clear intuition.” – Ahmad Faris Shidyaq, “On Taste” (trans. Rana Issa and Suneela Mubati)

“In prison, the guards would see me late at night writing poetry. I was the only guy staying awake in the dorms. The other convicts would tell me, ‘Dude, don’t turn around, we’re gonna kill this guy tonight. If you hear some shit going down, Jimmy, just don’t turn around.’ So I’d hear some guy grunting, and then he’d be dead. They beat him for a gambling debt or something but don’t turn around. I’ll always regret that. Because in America today, the government and corporations keep telling us citizens, don’t turn around, and they go on killing the poor, the prisoners, the immigrants, don’t turn around, and they keep killing, and we never turn around and we should, we should.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62)

“It’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard in your life, to advertise a writing workshop and only get writers and poets. What’s the point in having a writing workshop? You want people to come who are not poets, who are not writers, but have kept their dream alive to be one. You know and I know you can’t honestly shape and forge a writer once that writer has already been shaped and forged. What you’re really looking for is the raw experience at the table. That’s where the great works come from. It’s where raw experience meets language . . . . That’s the kind of writing you want. There’s no critique; there’s no momentum, no character, no plot. There’s just the story, man. ‘I gotta get this thing down.’ That’s where the human journey expands and opens its wings.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62)

“My only answer to anger is to work. Work it out, not for an on-the-mat yoga solution that professes we can heal from the curse of having so much money, entitlement, privilege—this is bullshit. Practice giving it away, heal yourself that way, be lightening the load you carry. Too much money creates all kinds of shit. Yoga-birds, Jesus.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62) (emphasis in original)

“Unlasting, what could be forever? Or only what it seemed? Rock corrodes, rivers freeze, fruit rots; stabbed, blood of black and white bleeds alike; trained parrots tell more truth than most, and who is lonelier: the hawk or the worm? Every flowering heart shrivels dry and pitted as the herb from which it bloomed, and while the old man grows spinsterish, his wife assumes a mustache.” – Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms

“The brain may take advice, but not the heart, and love, having no geography, knows no boundaries: weight and sink it deep, no matter, it will rise and find the surface: and why not? any love is natural and beautiful that lies within a person’s nature; only hypocrites would hold a man responsible for what he loves, emotional illiterates and those of righteous envy, who, in their agitated concern, mistake so frequently the arrow pointing to heaven for the one that leads to hell.” – Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms

“Few of us learn that love is tenderness, and tenderness is not, as a fair proportion suspect, pity; and still fewer know that happiness in love is not the absolute focusing of all emotion in another: one has always to love a good many things which the beloved must come only to symbolize; the true beloveds of this world are in their lover’s eyes lilac opening, ship lights, school bells, a landscape, remembered conversations, friends, a child’s Sunday, lost voices, one’s favorite suit, autumn and all seasons, memory, yes, it being the earth and water of existence, memory. A nostalgic list, but then, of course, where could one find a more nostalgic subject?” – Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms

“Never surrender your sadness because that’s like a flower surrendering the rain. Be sad; it’s a power source for your humanity, for getting in touch with your gentleness, with your corazón, with your cry of grief. Sadness is with us all our lives, but that’s freedom. When you live within that room of sadness, everything seems alive, and you feel grateful for breathing, for your sweetness and the sweetness of all life.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62)

“It’s a constant battle to stay human, to remind yourself in prison that you’re a human being, not an animal as they would wish you to think and unfortunately how many grow to see themselves—it’s a spiritual and emotional cancer—all prisons are cancer wards, run by infected cancerous Lobotomites—people who have had their conscience pot-holed by survival needs—otherwise why work in such a debasing environment?—I don’t care if you’re a counselor or a priest; if you’re part of the system, you’re part of the problem. That means cons, too. . . . Prison manufactures evil and pain that continues to blossom its most toxic thorns onto families and in every sector of American society.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca (interviewed by Alan C. Fox in Rattle 62)

“Is not ambition but an endless ladder by which no height is ever climbed till the last unreachable rung is mounted? For height leads on to height, and there is no resting-place upon them, and rung doth grow upon rung, and there is no limit to the number. Doth not wealth satiate, and become nauseous, and no longer serve to satisfy or pleasure, or to buy an hour’s peace of mind? And is there any end to wisdom that we may hope to reach it? Rather, the more we learn, shall we not thereby be able only to better compass out our ignorance? Did we live ten thousand years could we hope to solve the secrets of the suns, and of the space beyond the suns, and of the Hand that hung them in the heavens? Would not our wisdom be but as a gnawing hunger calling our consciousness day by day to a knowledge of the empty craving of our souls?” – H. Rider Haggard, She

“Out of crimes come many good things, and out of good grows much evil. The cruel rage of the tyrant may prove a blessing to the thousands who come after him, and the sweetheartedness of a holy man may make a nation slaves. Man doeth this, and doeth that from the good or evil of his heart; but he knoweth not to what end his moral sense doth prompt him; for when he striketh he is blind to where the blow shall fall, nor can he count the airy threads that weave the web of circumstance. Good and evil, love and hate, night and day, sweet and bitter, man and woman, heaven above and the earth beneath—all these things are necessary, one to the other, and who knows the end of each? I tell thee that there is a hand of fate that twines them up to bear the burden of its purpose, and all things are gathered in that great rope to which all things are needful. Therefore doth it not become us to say this thing is evil and this good, or the dark is hateful and the light lovely; for to other eyes than ours the evil may be the good and the darkness more beautiful than the day, or all alike be fair.” – H. Rider Haggard, She

“Day by day we destroy that we may live, since in this world none save the strongest can endure. Those who are weak must perish; the earth is to the strong, and the fruits thereof. For every tree that grows a score shall wither, that the strong one may take their share. We run to place and power over the dead bodies of those who fail and fall; aye, we win the food we eat from out of the mouths of starving babes. It is the scheme of things.” – H. Rider Haggard, She

“Each religion claims the future for its followers; or, at least, the good thereof. The evil is for those benighted ones who will have none of it; seeing the light the true believers worship, as the fishes see the stars, but dimly. The religions come and the religions pass, and the civilisations come and pass, and naught endures but the world and human nature. Ah! if man would but see that hope is from within and not from without—that he himself must work out his own salvation! He is there, and within him is the breath of life and a knowledge of good and evil as good and evil is to him. Thereon let him build and stand erect, and not cast himself before the image of some unknown God, modelled like his poor self, but with a bigger brain to think the evil thing, and a longer arm to do it.” – H. Rider Haggard, She