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Memorable Passages

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  • “The train bore me away, through the monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, piled scrap-iron, foul canals, paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs.

    This was March, but the weather had been horribly cold and everywhere there were mounds of blackened snow. As we moved slowly through the outskirts of the town we passed row after row of little grey slum houses running at right angles to the embankment.

    At the back of one of the houses a young woman was kneeling on the stones, poking a stick up the leaden waste-pipe which ran from the sink inside and which I suppose was blocked.

    I had time to see everything about her—her sacking apron, her clumsy clogs, her arms reddened by the cold. She looked up as the train passed, and I was almost near enough to catch her eye. She had a round pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate, hopeless expression I have ever-seen.

    It struck me then that we are mistaken when we say that ‘It isn’t the same for them as it would be for us,’ and that people bred in the slums can imagine nothing but the slums. For what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal.

    She knew well enough what was happening to her—understood as well as I did how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling there in the bitter cold, on the slimy stones of a slum backyard, poking a stick up a foul drain-pipe.”

    ― George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier


    • “Well, here I am, just come home; a fellow gone to the bad; though I had the best intentions in the world at one time. Now I am melancholy mad, what with drinking and one thing and another.”

      ― Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure


      • “Momentarily drained of lust, he stares at the remembered contortions to which it has driven him. His life seems a sequence of grotesque poses assumed to no purpose, a magic dance empty of belief.

        There is no God; Janice can die:
        the two thoughts come at once, in one slow wave. He feels underwater, caught in chains of transparent slime, ghosts of the urgent ejaculations he has spat into the mild bodies of women. His fingers on his knees pick at persistent threads.”

        ― John Updike, Rabbit, Run


        • “With perverse logic he inferred that to foresee a circumstantial detail is to prevent its happening. Faithful to this feeble magic, he would invent, so that they might not happen, the most atrocious particulars.”

          ― Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones


          • “There was nothing to charm or tempt me. Everything was old, withered, grey, limp and spent, and stank of staleness and decay.

            Dear God, how was it possible? How had I, with the wings of youth and poetry, come to this? Art and travel and the glow of ideals — and now this!

            How had this paralysis of hatred against myself and everyone else, this obstruction of all feeling, this mud-hell of an empty heart and despair crept over me so softly and so slowly?”

            ― Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf


            • “I'm now making myself as scummy as I can. Why? I want to be a poet, and I'm working at turning myself into a seer.

              You won't understand any of this, and I'm almost incapable of explaining it to you.

              The idea is to reach the unknown by the derangement of all the senses. It involves enormous suffering, but one must be strong and be a born poet. It's really not my fault.”

              ― Arthur Rimbaud


              • “I walked back to the window to look down at the people who shared this city with me. The people who made every day a series of mediocrities.

                The unreformed murderers masquerading as businessmen in borrowed suits and debt-laden cars. The voluptuous bimbos floating around in an inexplicable mix of vacuity and despair.

                The crumbling face of my building looked pretty enough from across the street, but from here I could see how worn it was. I peeled off a satisfying chunk of paint, cement and matter. And I let it fall to the street below.”

                ― Nasri Atallah


                • “No parent should have to bury a child ... No mother should have to bury a son. Mothers are not meant to bury sons. It is not in the natural order of things.
                  I buried my son. In a potter's field. In a field of Blood. In empty, acrid silence. There was no funeral. There were no mourners. His friends all absent. His father dead. His sisters refusing to attend. I discovered his body alone, I dug his grave alone, I placed him in a hole, and covered him with dirt and rock alone. I was not able to finish burying him before sundown, and I'm not sure if that affected his fate ...

                  I begrudge God none of this. I do not curse him or bemoan my lot. And though my heart keeps beating only to keep breaking--I do not question why.

                  I remember the morning my son was born as if it was yesterday. The moment the midwife placed him in my arms, I was infused with a love beyond all measure and understanding. I remember holding my son, and looking over at my own mother and saying, "Now I understand why the sun comes up at day and the stars come out at night. I understand why rain falls gently. Now I understand you, Mother" ...

                  I loved my son every day of his life, and I will love him ferociously long after I've stopped breathing. I am a simple woman. I am not bright or learn-ed. I do not read. I do not write. My opinions are not solicited. My voice is not important ...

                  On the day of my son's birth I was infused with a love beyond all measure and understanding ... The world tells me that God is in Heaven and that my son is in Hell. I tell the world the one true thing I know: If my son is in Hell, then there is no Heaven--because if my son sits in Hell, there is no God.”

                  ― Stephen Adly Guirgis, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot


                  • Imagine there’s no bread
                    It’s easy if you try
                    No tacos or hot sauce,
                    Nothing cold or fried,
                    Imagine all the people living in the gulags

                    Imagine there’s no money
                    It isn’t hard to do
                    Nothing to eat or drink
                    And no bacon too
                    Imagine all the people living short life spans ooooh

                    You may say I’m a commie
                    But I’m not the only one
                    And someday you will join us
                    Or we’ll shoot you in the face

                    Imagine no possessions
                    Because all your stuff was redistributed
                    Lots of greed and hunger
                    A brotherhood of man
                    Imagine all the people sharing all your stuff, yeah

                    You may say I’m a commie
                    But I’m not the only one
                    Did you say you don’t like that?
                    Then it’s the gulag for you, son

                    The Babylon Bee
                    Can you imagine watching CNN on purpose?


                    • The Illusory Self

                      I am composed of body and soul, I seem to have mind, reason, sense, yet I find none of them my own.

                      For where was my body prior to my birth, and whither will it go when I have departed? Where are the various states produced by the life stages of an illusory self?

                      Where is the newborn babe, the child, the boy, the pubescent, the stripling, the bearded youth, the lad, the full-grown man?

                      Whence came the soul, whither will it go, how long will it be our mate? Can we tell its essential nature? When did we acquire it? Prior to our birth? But we were not then in existence. What of it after death?

                      But then we who are embodied, compounds endowed with quality, shall be no more, but shall hasten to our rebirth, to be with the unbodied, without composition and without quality.

                      But now, inasmuch as we are alive, we are the dominated rather than the rulers, known rather than knowing.

                      The soul knows us, though unknown by us, and imposes commands we are obliged to obey as servants their mistress. And when it will, it will transact its divorce in court and depart, leaving our home desolate of life. If we press it to remain, it will dissolve our relationship. So subtle is its nature that it furnishes no handle to the body.

                      ― Philo of Alexandria


                      • Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

                        Kenneth Grahame


                        • “The normal laws of development are inverted here in the Congo. The forest, not the town, offers the safest sanctuary and it is grandfathers who have been more exposed to modernity than their grandchildren. I can think of nowhere else on the planet where the same can be true.”

                          ― Tim Butcher, Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart


                          • Ventura Highway in the sunshine
                            Where the days are longer
                            The nights are stronger
                            Than moonshine
                            You’re gonna go I know

                            Can you imagine watching CNN on purpose?


                            • -America
                              Dewey Bunnell ...


                              • I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
                                It felt good to be out of the rain
                                In the desert you can remember your name
                                'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain...

                                - Dewey Bunnell