“The daily routine had ceased to be a novelty. All the details of the journey and the camp had become familiar to us. We had seen life under a new aspect; the human biped had been reduced to his primitive condition. We had lived without law to protect, a roof to shelter, or garment of cloth to cover us. One of us at least had been without bread, and without salt to season his food. Our idea of what is indispensable to human existence and enjoyment had been wonderfully curtailed, and a horse, a rifle and a knife seemed to make up the whole of life’s necessaries. For these once obtained, together with the skill to use them, all else that is essential would follow in their train, and a host of luxuries besides. One other lesson our short prairies experience had taught us; that of profound contentment in the present, and utter contempt for what the future might bring forth.” – Francis Parkman, The Oregon Trail

“The western Dahcotah have no fixed habitations. Hunting and fighting, they wander incessantly, through summer and winter. Some are following the herds of buffalo over the wastes of prairie; others are traversing the Black Hills, thronging, on horseback and on foot, through the dark gulfs and sombre gorges, beneath the vast splintering precipices, and emerging at last upon the ‘Parks,’ those beautiful but most perilous hunting-grounds. The buffalo supplies them with almost all the necessities of life; with habitations, food, clothing, and fuel; with strings for their bows, with thread, cordage, and trailropes for their horses, with coverings for their saddles, with vessels to hold water, with boats to cross streams, with glue, and with the means of purchasing all that they desire from the traders. When the buffalo are extinct, they too must dwindle away.” – Francis Parkman, The Oregon Trail

“The didactic mission of preserving the past as an object for the future, narrated by the stark finality of ‘never again,’ renders the structural violence of the present illegible while monetizing the promises of witnessing, thus profiting from the illusion that it is possible to coexist with the past.” – Julia Michiko Hori, “Berthing Violent Nostalgia: Restored Slave Ports and the Royal Caribbean Historic Falmouth Cruise Terminal”

“The past is neither inert nor given. The stories we tell about what happened then, the correspondences we discern between today and times past, and the ethical and political stakes of those stories redound in the present. If slavery feels proximate rather than remote and freedom seems increasingly elusive, this has everything to do with our own dark times. If the ghost of slavery still haunts our present, it is because we are still looking for an exit from the prison.” – Saidiyah V. Hartman, Love Your Mother: A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route

“Mass production changed human life forever. For the centuries preceding we were primarily an agrarian people living in a natural world, according to our needs and the seasons. Then, literally overnight, most of us were part of some immense process, making a part of a part of something. Universal time didn’t exist until relatively recently, with the establishment of transcontinental railroads. Until then, it had been two o’clock in my village, three in yours. But we needed to agree on the time so we wouldn’t miss our trains. It also took a full generation for the factory owners to get their workers to understand that they had to show up at the same time every day, even if they had enough money for the moment and just didn’t feel like working that day. Last detail—there was, in the nineteenth century, an active campaign, I mean with posters and such, to link poverty with shame. Until then our notion of poverty was more like our notion of cancer—it simply struck some people and not others. But if we’re not ashamed of being poor, we won’t show up for work consistently. In short, it was a profound change, and it was the beginning of the world in which we live now.” – Michael Cunningham (interviewed by Sarah Anne Johnson, “Close Up: Place and Setting”)

“Tourists are people with the means and desire to seek out experiences different or absent from their daily lives. Leisure tourism is shaped around providing things that corporate work culture withholds, including such basics as sleep, sunlight, art and music, physical exercise, relief from stress, a break from surveillance and policed time, from the women’s double day and the culture of busyness, from the myriad mechanisms of social discipline that dehumanize and despiritualize metropolitan life. How to quarrel with such a list?” – Mary Louise Pratt, “Is this Gitmo, or Club Med?”

“I know man’s labor must be one of those deals figured out by Providence that saves him by preserving him, or he would be hungry, he would freeze, or his brittle neck would be broke. But what curious and strange forms he ends up surviving in, becoming them in the process.” – Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March

“The poorer people of the backcountry everywhere suffer because of the harsh and improper laws of debt. In practice, these laws have resulted in establishing a system of peonage, such as has grown up here and there in our own nation. A radical change is needed in this matter; and [Colonel Rondon] is fighting for the change. In school matters, the colonel has precisely the ideas of our wisest and most advanced men and women in the United States … [We] talked over school matters at length and were in hearty accord as to the vital educational needs of both Brazil and the United States: the need of combining industrial with purely mental training, and the need of having the widespread popular education, which is and must be supported and paid for by the government, made a purely governmental and absolutely nonsectarian function, administered by the state alone, without interference with, not furtherance of, the beliefs of any reputable church.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness (ed. Dain Borges)

“People are just sickening. Plain and simple, people are really just plain sickening. Where is the rhyme or reason to it? There is no rhyme or reason to it. You know what? Let me tell you what. I pity you if you think the day will ever come when you can count on people. You cannot count on people. You cannot expect anything from people. You know what you can expect from people? You want for me to explain to you what you can expect from people? Because the answer is nothing. That’s it, that’s right—nothing. Go ahead and expect nothing from people. All you have in this world is your own, but you cannot expect anything from them, either. Your own are the only ones you have a right to expect anything from, but do not waste your breath expecting anything from them either. Who isn’t scum? They are all scum. The whole gang of them, forget it, they’re scum. I would not give you two cents for the best of them—whoever they are.” – Gordon Lish, Zimzum

“There can be no safe place, because the world does not consist of the good, the wise, and the generous taking on the wicked, the unreasonable, and the selfish. The world consists of dense psychologies of desire, fear, and resentment in a state of constant explosion. The world is not safe, because people are dangerous. Not only crooks and loonies but all people. A mother can be dangerous.” – Ethan Mordden, Medium Cool

“Perhaps a revolution can overthrow autocratic despotism and profiteering or power-grabbing oppression, but it can never truly reform a manner of thinking; instead, new prejudices, just like the old ones they replace, will serve as a leash for the great unthinking mass.” – Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” (trans. Ted Humphrey)

“The Chicago accent was most widespread during the city’s industrial heyday. Blue-collar work and strong regional speech are closely connected: if you graduated from high school in the 1960s, you didn’t need to go to college, or even leave your neighborhood, to get a good job, and once you got that job, you didn’t have to talk to anyone outside your house, your factory, your tavern, or your parish. A regular Joe accent was a sign of masculinity and local cred, bonding forces important for the teamwork of industrial labor. A 1970s study of steelworker families on Chicago’s East Side by linguist Robin Herndobler found that women were less likely than their husbands to say ‘dese, dem, and dose,’ because they dealt with doctors, teachers, and other professionals. After the mills closed, kids went to college, where they learned not to say ’dat,’ and took office jobs requiring interaction with people outside the neighborhood.” – Edward McClelland, How to Speak Midwestern

“Nobody knows what should be done, in spite of all the talk. The young ones get mad because they’ve no money to spend. Their whole life depends on spending money, and now they’ve got none to spend. That’s our civilisation and our education: bring up the masses to depend entirely on spending money, and then the money gives out.” – D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“When a democracy sends riot police to beat old ladies over the head with batons and stop them from voting, something has gone badly wrong. . . . A well-run democracy must abide by the rule of law. That is what protects democratic liberties, not least the freedom of minorities to express discontent. . . . Democracy rests on the consent of the governed.” – “How to Save Spain,” The Economist, October 7th, 2017