“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)

“All high poetry is infinite; it is as the first acorn, which contained all oaks potentially. Veil after veil may be undrawn, and the inmost naked beauty of the meaning never exposed. A great poem is a fountain forever overflowing with the waters of wisdom and delight; and after one person and one age has exhausted all its divine effluence which their peculiar relations enable them to share, another and yet another succeeds, and new relations are ever developed, the source of an unforeseen and an unconceived delight.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry”

“Implacable hate, patient cunning, and a sleepless refinement of device to inflict the extremist anguish on an enemy, these things are evil; and, although venial in a slave, are not to be forgiven in a tyrant; although redeemed by much that ennobles his defeat in one subdued, are marked by all that dishonors his conquest in the victor.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry”

“The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination; and poetry administers to the effect by acting upon the cause.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry”

“History, by definition, is a civilized, literate record of events; it is a conscious self-image of a society projected by an elite. In a sense, history is the self-image of a culture, the ego of a culture. History is controlled through education and tradition, and is monitored, if not manipulated, by elitist institutions, whether these are temples, academies, or universities. History is the story told by the elite in power and is a way of articulating human time so that it reinforces the institutional power of the elite.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up; that an adult is not a dead child, but a child who survived. I believe that all the best faculties of a mature human being exist in the child, and that if these faculties are encouraged in youth they will act well and wisely in the adult, but if they are repressed and denied in the child they will stunt and cripple the adult personality. And finally, I believe that one of the most deeply human, and humane, of these faculties is the power of imagination: so that it is our pleasant duty, as librarians, or teachers, or parents, or writers, or simply as grownups, to encourage that faculty of imagination in our children, to encourage it to grow freely, to flourish like the green bay tree, by giving it the best, absolutely the best and purest, nourishment that it can absorb. And never, under any circumstances, to squelch it, or sneer at it, or imply that it is childish, or unmanly, or untrue.” – Ursula Le Guin, “Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?”

“Trees die, and from their wood human beings build homes and furniture, statues and Stradivariuses. If humans died in a healthy culture, they would not lock out the earth in metal coffins and carve their names on stone monuments, but would instead place the naked body in the earth and plant a tree above the silent heart.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“I write because it sustains me in a way that nothing else can. I write because it’s integral to my being present and conscientious in this life. I write because I have something to say and the written word is the medium with which I best express myself. I write because I love it. I write because I’d be a grouchy, depressed wreck of a person if I didn’t. “ – Michelle Ross, Fiction Editor, Atticus Review

“Bad stories often are raw biography. Literary art consists in transforming one kind of reality, that of physical experience, into another kind of reality, that of literary experience. Imagining, the process of transforming, is illuminated dimly, if at all, only by the magic of criticism. Writers are often complex people and fascinating subjects for psychological analysis, but a writer is a person to whom writing happens.” – Karl Kroeber, “Sisters and Science Fiction”

“The culture of fossil fuels literally feeds off the past, of the world of the dinosaurs, but the culture of solar energy feeds off light, and so the shift from the subterranean world of coal mine and oil well to the open horizons of wind and sun is really a shift in archetypes which will have profound repercussions in the collective unconscious.” – William Irwin Thompson, Darkness and Scattered Light

“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

“The task involved in bringing together the petrified remnants of yesterday and the life of today provides a vivid illustration of what tradition always means: not just the careful preservation of monuments, but the constant interaction between our aims in the present and the past to which we still belong.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“The question posed by contemporary art imposes from the outset the task of bringing together what threatens to fall apart into two antagonistic poles: on the one hand, the art that appears historical, and on the other, the art that seems progressive. The appearance of art as something historical can be described as the delusion of a culture that holds that only what is already familiar to us from our cultural tradition is significant. The appearance of art as something progressive, on the other hand, is sustained by the delusion of the critique of ideology. It claims that history should now begin anew, since we are already thoroughly familiar with the tradition in which we stand and can safely leave it behind. But the riddle that the problem of art sets us is precisely that of the contemporaneity of past and present. There is no question here of anticipation or of degeneration. On the contrary, we have to ask ourselves what it is that maintains the continuity of art and in what sense art represents an overcoming of time.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“All artistic creation challenges each of us to listen to the language in which the work of art speaks and to make it our own. It remains true in every case that a shared or potentially shared achievement is at issue. This is true irrespective of whether the formation of a work of art is supported in advance by a shared view of the world that can be taken for granted, or whether we must first learn to ‘read’ the script and language of the one who speaks in the creation before us.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“The symbolic representation accomplished in art does not have to depend directly on what is already given. On the contrary, it is characteristic of art that what is represented, whether it is rich or poor in connotations or has none whatsoever, calls us to dwell upon it and give our assent in an act of recognition.” – Hans-Georg Gadamer, “The Relevance of the Beautiful”

“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

“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”

“There can be no love in one who does not love himself, and one can only love himself if he has the compassion that grows out of the terrifying confrontation with one’s own self. To look into one’s own shadow is to learn compassion for the shadow of others, and if one has no compassion for himself, then he can have no compassion for others. If you hate yourself with a fierce loathing, you may try to run from your own shadow in a campaign to do good, not for love, but to rescue your ego and convince yourself that you are not evil.” – William Irwin Thompson, Evil and World Order