“Special trains were outfitted whereby buffalo might be shot from the coach windows and even from the cow-catcher. One particular expedition had sixteen wagons packed with baggage, supplies and liquid refreshments. The campgrounds were easily identifiable for years by the number of empty liquor bottles scattered around.” – Leon Metz, The Shooters

“If we look at the great works of literature and thought through the centuries until about the mid-eighteenth century, we have to recognize that indeed they have been overwhelmingly the achievements of men. The circumstances in which these achievements occurred may be excoriated. The achievements remain precious.” – Irving Howe, “The Value of the Canon”

“Writing is considered a profession, and I don’t think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don’t think an artist can ever be happy.” – Georges Simenon (interviewed by Carvel Collins in The Paris Review)

“We have more moral, political, and historical wisdom than we know how to reduce into practice; we have more scientific and economical knowledge than can be accommodated to the just distribution of the produce which it multiplies. The poetry in these systems of thought is concealed by the accumulation of facts and calculating processes. There is no want of knowledge respecting what is wisest and best in morals, government, and political economy, or at least, what is wiser and better than what men now practise and endure. But we let ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’, like the poor cat in the adage. We want the creative faculty to imagine that which we know; we want the generous impulse to act that which we imagine; we want the poetry of life; our calculations have outrun conception; we have eaten more than we can digest.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry” (emphases in original)

“A deep and affirming consciousness of death indicates a deep and affirming consciousness of life. In the shift from community to consumption, we became what we owned, and so alone with all our purchases, we became frightened and death became a hysterical obsession. Disconnected from nature and the human community, the isolated ego became terrified of its aloneness and sought a denial of death in massive collectivization in monstrous institutions. In gigantic and impersonal hospitals, the isolated ego looked to technology to deliver it from pain and death; and in the usual twist of opposites in life, the ego’s very fear of pain and death put it in the hands of techniques of impersonal medical engineering, for which it paid dearly.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“Some men in these parts, they tell me, own 30,000 acres of land for their patrimony, & many have two or 300 Negroes to work on it as slaves. Alas! That persons who pretend to stand for the rights of mankind for the liberties of society, can delight in oppression, & that even of the worst kind! These poor creatures are enslav’d: not only so, but likewise deprived of that which nature affords even to the beasts. Many are almost without provision, having very little for support of nature; & many are as naked as they came into the world. What pray is this but the strikingly inconsistent character pointed out by the apostle, While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption!” – Josiah Atkins, “Diary, June 6th, 1781,” (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel; emphases in original)

“The contempt we have been taught to entertain for the blacks, makes us fancy many things that are founded neither in reason nor experience . . . the dictates of humanity and true policy equally interest me in favour of this unfortunate class of men.” – Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, March 14th, 1779 (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel)

“What the media have done is to create a new electronic peasantry. The experiment with democratization through mass education has failed, and the message of civilization, in achieving its widest audience, has moved toward entropy.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“The Negro’s and Negro Women are unhumanly treated, are two-thirds naked, and are very disgusting to the Eye and another Sense, Tho I begin to be more habituated to the Sight, yet I cannot be to the great Cruelty made Use of to the poor ignorant Wretches. Indeed the Title of the Overseer is a sufficient Explanation of the Whole. He is stiled a Negro Driver. These circumstances of Cruelty to these People render the persons who exercise it disagreable, nay odious to me. When a Set of People can sit down enjoying all the Luxuries of Life without feeling the least Sensation or Compunction for the sufferings of those poor Wretches whose Lives are render’d Miserable and Constitutions destroyed for those Purposes, I must conclude them Obdurate, Selfish, and Unfeeling to the greatest Degree imaginable. At what an Expence of Life and Happiness do we eat Rice and Sugar! One thing more I must add, that their Diet is almost entirely on Rice and sweet Potatoes as they are allowed Meat but once a Year.” – Stephen De Lancey to Cornelia Barclay De Lancey, Savannah, Georgia, January 14th, 1779 (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel)

“What we call art compared with the formative activity of production in general is mysterious in several respects, inasmuch as the work is not real in the same way as what it represents. On the contrary, the work functions as an imitation and thus raises a host of extremely subtle philosophical problems, including above all the problem of the ontological status of appearance. What is the significance of the fact that nothing ‘real’ is produced here? The work has no real ‘use’ as such, but finds its characteristic fulfillment when our gaze dwells upon the appearance itself.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“You can imagine that if our civilization were to be wiped out, no scholar a thousand years from now would be willing to accept the fact that pieces of things as different as Volkwagens, Cadillacs, and buses all represented, not isolated cultures, but parts of one industrial civilization that covered the face of the earth. They would split it all up in tiny pieces and talk about how the Volkswagen I people conquered the Ford II people until both were replaced by an empire which moved people in large vehicles. Other scholars would argue that no one could possibly have crossed the great ocean, and that the Ford and Volkswagen cultures had nothing to do with one another but were separate and independent inventions.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“Imagine a vehicle as large as a planet that began a voyage an aeon ago. After generations of voyaging, the mechanics lose all sense of who they are and where they are going. They begin to grow unhappy with their condition and say that the notion that they are on a journey in an enormous vehicle is a myth put forth by the ruling class to disguise its oppression of the mechanical class. There is a revolution and the captain is killed. Elated by their triumph, the mechanics proclaim the dictatorship of the proletariat and destroy the captain’s log, which contains, they claim, nothing but the lies of the old ruling class.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“Imagine insects with a life span of two weeks, and then imagine further that they are trying to build up a science about the nature of time and history. Clearly, they cannot build a model on the basis of a few days in summer. So let us endow them with a language and a culture through which they can pass on their knowledge to future generations. Summer passes, then autumn; finally it is winter. The winter insects are a whole new breed, and they perfect a new and revolutionary science on the basis of the ‘hard facts’ of their perceptions of snow. As for the myths and legends of summer: certainly the intelligent insects are not going to believe the superstitions of their primitive ancestors.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

“When the factories began to replace cottage industries, the parents became collectivized in the new institution, and so it was thought only natural that the children should be too. But the younger members of the human species did not take to industrialization so readily; the factory literally became a Procrustean bed, and as the children began to lose eye and limb from their encounter with the machines, it became obvious that they did not fit in the new institution of the factory. And so a new institution was created, the public school, and the collectivization of the parents was matched in the collectivization of the children.” – William Irwin Thompson, Passages About Earth

What’s love got to do with it

“I went on through the post town of Sekimoto, where the citizens in their rows of houses offer lodgings and wait upon the traveler as their master for a night, while the girls singing in the windows entice him in to treat him as a husband. How sad, to pin such vows of eternal love on a night’s transient dream, a long life’s faithful bond on the desires of a passing traveler. Though so different from all the rich trappings of bridal jade-green curtains and scarlet boudoir, life together in a humble hut with rustic brushwood door is the same, for both are no more than brief pleasures of a passing lifetime.” – Anonymous Monk, “Journey Along the Sea Road” (trans. Meredith McKinney)

Matters of equity

“Seamen are a class of persons remarkable for their rashness, thoughtlessness, and improvidence. They are generally necessitous, ignorant of the nature and extent of their own rights and privileges, and for the most part incapable of duly appreciating their value. They combine, in a singular manner, the apparent anomalies of gallantry, extravagance, profusion in expenditure, indifference to the future, credulity, which is easily won, and confidence, which is readily surprised. Hence it is, that bargains between them and ship-owners, the latter being persons of great intelligence and shrewdness in business, are deemed open to much observation and scrutiny; for they involve great inequality of knowledge, of forecast, of power, and of condition. Courts of Admiralty on this account are accustomed to consider seamen as peculiarly entitled to their protection; so that they have been, by a somewhat bold figure, often said to be favorites of Courts of Admiralty. In a just sense they are so, so far as the maintenance of their rights, and the protection of their interests against the effects of the superior skill and shrewdness of masters and owners of ships are concerned.” – Justice Joseph Story, Brown v. Lull

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

A gift for the city

“In making itself the Trojan Horse of worldwide domination, desire has emptied itself of everything that smacked of domesticity, cosiness, privacy. The precondition of totalitarian reconfiguration of what is desirable has been its autonomy from every real object and all particular content. In learning to train itself on essences, desire has become, despite itself, an absolute desire, a desire for the absolute that nothing earthly can quench. This unquenchability is the central lever of consumption, and of its subversion.” – Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl

The skinny on the skinny

“Anorexia expresses in women the same aporia that is manifest in men in the form of the pursuit of power: the will to mastery. It is only that, because of the greater severity of the culture’s patriarchal codification upon women, the anorexic brings the will to mastery to bear upon her body, for she cannot bring it to bear on the rest of the world.” – Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl

You say you want something revolting

“Revolution does not mean red flags and street fighting, it means a fundamental shift of power. Whether it happen with or without bloodshed is largely an accident of time and place. Nor does it mean the dictatorship of a single class.” – George Orwell, “The Lion and the Unicorn”

Girls just want to have fun

“It is through the Young-Girl that capitalism has managed to extend its hegemony to the totality of social life. She is the most obstinate pawn of market domination in a war whose objective remains the total control of daily life and ‘productive’ time. It is precisely because she represents the total acculturation of the self, because she defines herself in terms fixed by extraneous judgment, that the Young-Girl constitutes the most advanced carrier of the ethos and the abstract behavioral norms of the Spectacle.” – Tiqqun, Preliminary Materials For a Theory of the Young-Girl