"Irony has only emergency use. Carried over time, it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy their cage."
-- David Foster Wallace quoting Lewis Hyde, who is writing about the poet John Berryman.
"In this silence time seemed scarcely to stir, scarcely to crawl. It had to be lived through like an illness, and every night he had to invent some business or some distraction. It was easy enough to shut yourself off from the spatial universe, refuse to move about in it. But it was impossible to shut yourself off from time."
-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, In the First Circle
(the new Thomas P. Whitney translation)
I was driving up and over the Mogollon Rim in Northern Arizona, listening to "The Adventures of Augie March" on the iPod, when this passage jumped out at me:
"And this is what mere humanity always does. It's made up of these inventors or artists, millions and millions of them, each in his own way trying to recruit other people to play a supporting role and sustain him in his make-believe. The great chiefs and leaders recruit the greatest number, and that's what their power is. There's one image that gets out in front to lead the rest and can impose its claim to being genuine with more force than others, or one voice enlarged to thunder is heard above the others. Then a huge invention, which is the invention maybe of the world itself, and of nature, becomes the actual world - with cities, factories, public buildings, railroads, armies, dams, prisons, and movies - becomes the actuality. That's the struggle of humanity, to recruit others to your version of what's real. Then even the flowers and the moss on the stones become the moss and the flowers of a version."
-- Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March, Chapter XIX
"Everything was so clear that day, so unencumbered by theories and opinions, by thought, even. It just was."
-- Ken Kesey in an email sent to friends after September 11, 2001
"But surpassing all stupendous inventions, what sublimity of mind was his who dreamed of finding means to communicate his deepest thoughts to any other person, though distant by mighty intervals of place and time! Of talking with those who are in India; of speaking to those who are not yet born and will not be born for a thousand or ten thousand years; and with what facility, by the different arrangement of twenty characters upon a page!"
-- Sagredo in Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
"The movement of plants toward the light and the seeking of truth through a mathematical analysis -- are these not phenomena belonging to the same order? Are they not the last links in an almost endless chain of adaptabilities which appear everywhere in living creatures?"
-- Ivan Pavlov