Monday, November 12, 2007

Good Quotations

Lately I've been reading and listening to music with pen in hand and writing down good quotations for future use. I occasionally use one of these at the top of my blog. Fearing these go largely unnoticed, and not wanting to waste these pearls, I offer you some sage wisdom via fine writers in my living room:

“We could go back knowing better the things that one fought against, knowing better the kind of thing that one must build.”
--Alan Paton in ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ written in 1948

"But they go and abolish the external form of slavery and arrange so that one can no longer buy and sell slaves, and they imagine and assure themselves that slavery no longer exists, and do not see or wish to see that it does, because people still want and consider it good and right to exploit the labour of others."
--Leo Tolstoy in The Kreutzer Sonata, 1889

“Just consider…what a life-long framework for, let’s say, a spiritually rich, holistic education might look like: it might start with soil structure and why the biochemistry of organic farming sustains biodiversity, and go on to look at how biodiversity equates with an optimal balance of arable crops and animal stock, and that with animal welfare and human health; with awareness of energy alternatives that would mitigate dangers of global warming and keep the old and poor from being cold; with ecological restoration including computer modelling of new techniques and evolutionary processes; with maximizing economic linkages and multipliers at bioregional, national and global levels; with business structures that harmonise enterprise with accountability and cooperation; with an economics of ‘Fair Trade’; with ecological architecture and clean, efficient public transport systems with the spiritual ability to see anew why all life is providential; with healing skills based on advanced scientific and spiritual principles, with knowing the roots of artistic creativity and inspiration; with poetics and story, and learning how to listen to one another; with a participatory politics of empowerment; with awareness of the psychology of prejudice and the resolution of conflict; with a non-violent civic-defence strategy and taking away the causes that give rise to war; with cherishing human life from cradle to grave; with extending the erotic into all of life, including sexual love; with the kids having fun and playing in treehouses; with the discovery of beauty as the touchstone of what is good; in short, with the building of community as right relationship between soil, soul and society, powered up by the passion of the heart, steered by the reason of the head, and then applied by the skilled technique of the hand.”
--Alistair McIntosh, Soil & Soul, 2001

“The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying ‘This is mine’, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. For how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the Earth belong to us all, and the Earth itself to nobody.’”
–Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, 1754

“With poetry you can, perhaps, get by with eating less.” –Alistair McIntosh, Soil & Soul, 2001

“they’re in the business of panic and control
we’re in the business of the heart and of the soul”
-Ron Sexsmith

“Over a hundred years ago [Nova Scotia] joined the other provinces of British North America to form a nation with great hopes for the future. That future never arrived and much of its industrial wealth was sucked into the conglomerate machinery of Ontario. Later tariff walls, raised by the Canadian heartland, put an end to world traffic and forced trade to the west and not the natural north-southflow of goods.”
–R. Allen Benjamin, The Benjamins in America: A Yankee Planter in Nova Scotia

“The only thing worse than growing up, is never quite learning how.” –Joel Plaskett

“The gods you do not pay are the ones that can curse you best.” –Nelson in Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘The Poisonwood Bible’

“I don’t see why people buy assault weapons and nuclear arms for fun, a family could have a domestic incident that could get out of hand and they may use those weapons.” –Jean Chretien

“Common sense…is the witness of society’s existence.” –John Ralston Saul

“Dogs chase cars, and men chase dreams. The dog is the more practical it seems.” –Steve Forbert

“I think one of the major shortcomings of the mainstream psychological establishment is the way that they determine whether a mental issue becomes a problem on the basis of whether it interferes with your day to day functioning. This is pretty bang on, but the problem comes in when they confuse how you want to be functioning with how your society or friend or family or boss want you to function. Maybe the reason that you can’t seem to bring yourself to get up in the morning has to do with the fact that you don’t want to spend another day in your cubicle, rather than the fact that you’re clinically depressed. You may not need Zoloft but rather a drastic change of lifestyle.” –Maryse

“If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.” -Emma Goldman

“I should believe only in a god who knows how to dance…now I am nimble, now I can fly, now I see myself under myself, now a god dances within me.” –Nietszshe

“I am overwhelmed now by the awfulness of oversimplification. For I realize that not only have I been guilty of it through this long and burning day but also through most of my yet-young life and it is only now that I am doubly its victim that I begin vaguely to understand. For I had somehow thought that “going away” was but a physical thing. And that it had only to do with movement and with labels like the silly “Vancouver” that I had glibly rolled off my tongue; or with the crossing of bodies of water or with the boundaries of borders. And because my father had told me I was “free” I had foolishly felt that it was really so. Just like that. And I realize now that the older people of my past are more complicated than perhaps I had ever thought…For the man in whose glassed-in car I now sit sees only similarity. For him the people of this multi-scarred little town are reduced to but a few phrases and the act of sexual intercourse. They are only so many identical goldfish leading identical, incomprehensible lives within the glass prison of their bowl. And the people on the street view me behind my own glass in much the same way, and it is the way that I have looked at others in their “Foreign licence” cars, and it is the kind of judgement that I myself have made. And yet it seems that neither these people nor this man are in any way unkind and not to understand does not necessarily mean that one is cruel. But one should at least be honest.”
–Alistair MacLeod in ‘The Vastness of the Dark, 1971

“Ninety-five hundred years after humanity supposedly abandoned the hunting-gathering life, about three-quarters of the earth’s landmass was still occupied by hunter-gatherers who had never heard of or participated in the Agricultural Revolution.” – Daniel Quinn

“To accord [our hunter-gatherer ancestors] humanity is to deny that we – and we alone – are humanity, which is an important element of our cultural mythology.” –Daniel Quinn

“While the Agricultural Revolution began ten thousand years ago, it didn’t end then. It’s still being carried forward today as we continue to clear land for crops to grow food for ourselves.” –Daniel Quinn

“Famines occur among settled, agricultural peoples. They’re stuck in their own stricken area and can’t forage for food in their neighbours’ territories, because the food there is definitely not free for the taking.” –Daniel Quinn

“It’s the voiced belief of our culture that the world is a human possession, that it was our divinely appointed destiny to conquer and rule it, that ours is the one right way for humans to live, and that we must cling to this way of life even if it kills us. And it is the unvoiced assumption…that God is incompetent.” –Daniel Quinn

“The people of the world simply must confront the fact that the period of mass extinctions that will end with our own has already begun, and that this isn’t something we can just go on ignoring.” --Daniel Quinn

“[Hebrews] knew that God didn’t create the world for palm trees or jellyfish, he created it for humans. He doesn’t concern himself with the doings of lizards or beetles. He concerns himself with the doings of humans. He didn’t promise the dinosaurs a Messiah…And he didn’t send his only-begotten son to save the wildlife and the rain forests.” –Daniel Quinn

“In its fundamental vision, the environmentalist movement reinforces the idea that there is an “us” and an “it” – two separate things – when in fact what we have here is a single community.” –Daniel Quinn

“In terms of importance to the community as a whole, I would without hesitation rank earthworms above humans.” –Daniel Quinn

“Gorbachev didn’t create changed minds; changed minds created Gorbachev.” –Daniel Quinn

“As the Semites saw it (and it is of course their version of [Genesis] that we have) the tiller of the soil Cain was watering his fields with the blood of Able the herder. Cain the tiller of the soil has carried his knife with him to every corner of the world, watering his fields with the blood of tribal peoples wherever he found them. He arrived here in 1492 and over the next three centuries watered his fields with the blood of millions of Native Americans. Today he’s down there in Brazil, knife poised over the few remaining aboriginals in the heart of that country.”
--Daniel Quinn

“As we go about our business of running the world, we have no doubt that we’re doing as good a job as God, if not better. Obviously God put a lot of creatures in the world that are quite superfluous and even pernicious, and we’re quite at liberty to get rid of them. We know where the rivers should run, where the swamps should be drained, where the forests should be razed, where the mounts should be levelled, where the plains should be scoured, where the rain should fall. To us, it’s perfectly obvious that we have this knowledge.” –Daniel Quinn

“This is precisely how the agriculturalist operates, saying ‘If I scour this plain to plant food for myself, then this will be evil for all the creatures that inhabit the plain, but it’ll be good for me. If I raze this forest to plaint food for myself, then this will be evil for all the creatures that inhabit the forest, but it’ll be good for me.’” –Daniel Quinn

“Prohibition is the essence of our law, but the essence of tribal law is remedy. Misbehaviour isn’t outlawed in any tribe. Rather, tribal law prescribes what must happen in order to minimize the effect of misbehaviour and to produce a situation in which everyone feels that they’ve been made as whole again as it’s possible to be…One of the virtues of tribal law is that it presupposes that people are just the way we know they are: generally wise, kind, generous, and well intentioned but perfectly capable of being foolish, unruly, moody, cantankerous, selfish, greedy, violent, stupid, bad tempered, sneaky, lustful, treacherous, careless, vindictive, neglectful, petty, and all sorts of other unpleasant things. Tribal law doesn’t punish people for their shortcomings, as our law does. Rather, it makes the management of their shortcomings an easy and ordinary part of life.” –Daniel Quinn

“When the Israelites escaped from Egypt in the thirteenth century BC, they were literally a lawless horde, because they’d left the Egyptian list of prohibitions behind. They needed their own list of prohibitions, which God provided – the infamous ten. But of course ten didn’t do it. Hundreds more followed, but they didn’t do it either. No number has ever done it for us. Not a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand. Even millions don’t do it, and so every single year we pay our legislators to come up with more. But no matter how many prohibitions we come up with, they never do the trick, because no prohibited behaviour has ever been eliminated by passing a law against it. Every time someone is sent to prison or executed, this is said to be “Sending a message” to miscreants, but for some strange reason the message never arrives, year after year, generation after generation, century after century. Naturally, we consider this to be a very advanced system.” --Daniel Quinn


Good quotes, but some of your imaginary friends are so wordy.
Some of them (not the dead guys) should read some Ogden Nash for pithiness

i.e. Malt does more than Milton can
To show the ways of God to man
Ivan: in my mind there is a time for brevity, a time to hit the reader with more examples than he needs, and time for lilting flowery language. having said that, i do appreciate the pains it takes to read through long quotations, out of context, by authors who write more for content than style, on a screen at that. but, i think it's worth the effort in this case.
That's quite a collection, Benji.

“We could go back knowing better the things that one fought against, knowing better the kind of thing that one must build.”

What if what what we fight against is the tearing down of all the good things we have built?
Great quotes. I am such a quote junkie. You know how they give tips for starting articles or papers for school and they suggest quotes as a starter? I always chose quotes.
TC: that's even easier, you just rebuild what existed before. however, in the aftermath of the tragic loss of what you loved lies the opportunity to create something even better, if you are open and bold enough to dream it.
MyU: yes, when someone captures an idea or thought so perfectly it makes it easier for those of us disseminating such thoughts.
My God. I started trying to remember my favourite, but it became so very hard.
I do enjoy the one by Maryse, though, about the definition of mental illness. I may be in the business, but it is so disturbing to see the socially constructed nature of these "disorders" sometimes.

Isn't "Ismael" phenomenal?
I was in such bliss when I read that book, because it took these things I knew to be true, floating around it my name, and put a coherent and brilliant narrative to them. Methinks I need to re-read it these holidays.
Ah. Yes. Ron Sexsmith is amazing. Kudos to you for listening to him.

We're thinking that the "Moonrussia" thing will probably be a web-cartoon/animation. But I'll definitely keep people updated as we make progress.

Thanks for stopping by!

“I don’t see why people buy assault weapons and nuclear arms for fun, a family could have a domestic incident that could get out of hand and they may use those weapons.” Jean Chretien said that? I guess I should take my nuclear arms back to the store, then, just in case our family has a domestic incident that gets out of hand. :-)
Damn your naysaying, Forbert!!
PP: Quinn's latest, 'if they give you lined paper write sideways', from which come these quotations of his, he calls himself a martian anthropologist, i.e. someone looking at the collective human race from an outsiders perspective, which is probably the best way to get some perspective on this madness. i highly recommend 'story of B' which is his best effort in terms of storywriting and expands on some of the 'ishmael' themes.
Rayke: yeah, sexsmith is quite a genius. i love the moonrussia concept so definitely keep me posted and i'll check out the first issue.

Josie: I miss Chretian, he always had something interesting, and often nonsensical, to say.

Toast: do you know Forbert's work? he's a folk genius. i met him on my 30th birthday and it was so cool.

Everybody: Youtube Steve Forbert right now!
An excellent point, Benji.
Thanks TC.
These are fantastic quotes. I could have used them during the week, even if they are somewhat depressing. I felt truly awful, like I was at the end of my rope writing wise. Thought I had no more to contribute to the world--this lasted for about three days. It felt like weeks.

Man is a rope, tied between beast and over-man--a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping. What is great in a man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in a man is that he is an overture and a going under. I love those who do not know how to live, for it is they who cross over.
--Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Eric: sounds like a rough week, glad it was short at least. nice neetsh, a surprisingly hopeful perspective from him. if he's right we're in for a new kinda golden age because so few of us seem to remember how it is we're supposed to live.
Check this:

Last night, I played at a small pub in town. A random man recommended an artist to me before I went on stage, and I had forgotten his name by the time I had finished my set.

Reading through these comments for your response triggered the memory; Mr Forbert.


Now I have to check him out.
nice job, random man! when i was in BC 6 yrs back, i met an awesome folksinger, amanda birdsall (you can google her and listen to samples on her website), and introduced her to two male voices: stevie forbert and leonard cohen. to my surprise she went gaga for both and learned a bunch of their songs, sang them at open mic nights and such. as a tonedef music-lover, that's as close as I come to contributing to the world of music.
Well, it's contribution enough when it leads to results such as that, eh?

I'm expecting you to guide me forth to some Torontonian(?) Open Mic action when I arrive.

I'm back on the wagon baby, with new songs and old!

sweet! but you know i'm in halifax now right? however, i can steer you toward some people who can steer you toward open mic action. and if you come to hali, i'll take you to the economy shoe shop and gingers, best places in town for pretty much anything creative.
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