“The truth is that sexuality is everywhere: the way a bureaucrat fondles his records, a judge administers justice, a businessman causes money to circulate; the way the bourgeoisie fucks the proletariat; and so on. And there is no need to resort to metaphors, any more than for the libido to go by way of metamorphoses. Hitler got the fascists sexually aroused. Flags, nations, armies, banks get a lot of people aroused.” – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus (trans. Robert Hurley, et al.)

“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 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)

“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)

“An examination of arrest records throughout the West during the heyday of the gunman furnishes some surprising statistics. Murder placed far down the list in crime. The most persistent offenses were drunkenness, assault, larceny, thievery, vagrancy, gambling, burglary and carrying concealed weapons. Adultery, fornication, bigamy and seduction cases sometimes jammed the court dockets. Prostitutes usually paid a fine of $10 a month which amounted to virtual licensing. These fees were often the largest source of municipal income.” – 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”

“American culture is notorious for its indifference to the past. It suffers from the provincialism of the contemporary, veering wildly from fashion to fashion, each touted by the media and then quickly dismissed. But the past is the substance out of which the present has been formed, and to let it slip away from us is to acquiesce in the thinness that characterizes so much of our culture. Serious education must assume, in part, an adversarial stance toward the very society that sustains it—a democratic society makes the wager that it’s worth supporting a culture of criticism. But if that criticism loses touch with the heritage of the past, it becomes weightless, a mere compendium of momentary complaints.” – Irving Howe, “The Value of the Canon”

“There is reason for the taboo in primitive life, but not in our life, not in civilized communities. The taboo then is dangerous and unhealthy. You see, civilized peoples don’t live according to moral codes or principles of any kind. We speak about them, we pay lip service to them, but nobody believes in them. Nobody practices these rules, they have no place in our lives. Taboos after all are only hangovers, the product of diseased minds, you might say, of fearsome people who hadn’t the courage to live and who under the guise of morality and religion have imposed these things upon us. I see the world, the civilized world, as largely irreligious. The religion in force among civilized people is always false and hypocritical, the very opposite of what the initiators of any religion really meant.” – Henry Miller (interviewed by George Wickes in The Paris Review)

“The idealists in politics lack a sense of reality. And a politician must be a realist above all. These people with ideals and principles, they’re all at sea, in my opinion. One has to be a lowbrow, a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of an idea, whether a good one or a bad one.” – Henry Miller (interviewed by George Wickes 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)

“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”

“Within these days past, I have marched by 18 or 20 Negroes that lay dead by the way-side, putrifying with the small pox. How such a thing came about, appears to be thus: The Negroes here being much disaffected (arising from their harsh treatment), flock’d in great numbers to [British General Lord] Cornwallis, as soon as he came into these parts. The artful general takes a number of them (several hundreds), innoculates them, & just as they all are growing sick, he sends them out into the country where our troops had to pass & repass. These poor creatures, having no care taken of them, many crawl’d into the bushes about & died, where they lay infecting the air around with intolerable stench & great danger. This is a piece of Cornwallisean cruelty. He is not backward to own that he has inoculated 4 or 500 in order to spread smallpox thro’ the country, & sent them out for that purpose.” – Josiah Atkins, “Diary, June 24th, 1781,” (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel; emphases in original)

“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)

“It is a maxim with some great military judges, that with sensible officers soldiers can hardly be too stupid; and on this principle it is thought that the Russians would make the best troops in the world, if they were under other officers than their own. . . . I frequently hear it objected to the scheme of embodying negroes that they are too stupid to make soldiers. This is so far from appearing to me a valid objection that I think their want of cultivation (for their natural faculties are probably as good as ours) joined to that habit of subordination which they acquire from a life of servitude, will make them sooner become soldiers than our White inhabitants. Let officers be men of sense and sentiment, and the nearer the soldiers approach to machines perhaps the better.” – Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, March 14th, 1779 (from The American Revolution: Writings from the War on Independence, ed. John Rhodehamel)