Don’t worry

Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.

Charles Schulz

Life

Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

Voltaire

Go Away

Please kindly go away, I’m introverting. 

Beth Buelow

Plan A

If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters — 204 if you’re in Japan.

Claire Cook

Introversion

Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured… Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.

Susan Cain

You cannot be lonely

You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.

Wayne Dyer

Spend time alone

I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.

Oscar Wilde

Thinking

Thinking is the great enemy of perfection. The habit of profound reflection, I am compelled to say, is the most pernicious of all the habits formed by civilized man.

Constantine the Great

(PG comment: Don’t necessarily dismiss this. Constantine was a Roman emperor and you are not nor are you likely to be.)

Never believe

Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

Otto von Bismarck

The degree of one’s emotions

The degree of one’s emotions varies inversely with one’s knowledge of the facts – the less you know the hotter you get.

Bertrand Russell

There must be something in books

There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

There are plagues

There are plagues, and there are victims, and it’s the duty of good men not to join forces with the plagues.

Albert Camus

Once ‘free’ in the streets

Once ‘free’ in the streets, what then? Fear and panic could destroy the city as much as plague itself. Many of the doctors fled, along with the rich and powerful; quacks preyed on the poor with their neverfail miracle drugs. Churches and conventicles and synagogues were empty. Neighbours informed against each other. People lied to each other – and to themselves. (It’s just a headache. Just a little bruise. I’ll feel better if I go for a walk.) Worse – there were stories of infected people deliberately concealing their telltale ‘tokens’ and going out into the streets trying to infect others.

Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year

It was impossible

It was impossible to make any impression upon the middling people and the working labouring poor. Their fears were predominant over all their passions, and they threw away their money in a most distracted manner upon those whimsies.

Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year

To be passive

To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself. And to trust that there is enough, that you are enough.

Edith Eva Eger

Pinball in the Brain

Some days (or weeks, or months) my mind feels like a pinball machine. I can almost hear the bells and clatter and feel the vibration. I love to play pinball, but having thoughts and ideas and “things I need to do” bouncing off the inside of my skull and off of each other is confusing, to say the least.

Dana Sanford

Copyright Law

Copyright law has got to give up its obsession with ‘the copy.’ The law should not regulate ‘copies’ or ‘modern reproductions’ on their own. It should instead regulate uses–like public distributions of copies of copyrighted work–that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.

Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy

PG Note: This is Professor Lessig’s opinion. He is a respected law school professor, but he is stating a public policy argument, not a legal opinion.

Deep Gratitude

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

Albert Schweitzer

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

From Harper’s Magazine:

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.

This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.

Link to the rest at Harper’s Magazine

Do not give up your moral and political autonomy

Above all, do not give up your moral and political autonomy by accepting in somebody else’s terms the illiberal practicality of the bureaucratic ethos or the liberal practicality of the moral scatter. Know that many personal troubles cannot be solved merely as troubles, but must be understood in terms of public issues and in terms of the problems of history making.

C. Wright Mills

A good forecaster

A good forecaster is not smarter than everyone else, he merely has his ignorance better organised.

Anonymous

An unsophisticated forecaster

An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts – for support rather than for illumination.

Andrew Lang

In Greek tragedy

In Greek tragedy, they fall from great heights. In noir, they fall from the curb.

Dennis Lehane

Old Man

Shouldering the duffel bag with the Marine Corps bulldog, Old Man knocked Jan’s photo off the bed table. He turned to stone staring down at the photo. His face then splintered into hurt. Tears seeped into his eyes. He grappled for the nearest bedpost and slumped forward on extended arms. His shoulders jerked and head sagged a little while his heart broke. Old Man cried the mute cry of men of his generation.

Ed Lynskey, The Blue Cheer

Those who have knowledge

Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.

Lao Tzu

The Private Detective

The private detective of fiction is a fantastic creation who acts and speaks like a real man. He can be completely realistic in every sense but one, that one sense being that in life as we know it such a man would not be a private detective.

Raymond Chandler

If you leave me here

“If you leave me here,” the guy on the floor said, “he’ll kill me tomorrow morning.”

Parker looked at him.

“So you’ve still got tonight,” he said.

Richard Stark, Dirty Money

In short

In short, everything about his life was different for him at the bottom of that well.
— Raymond Carver

The Unicorn

The saintly hermit, midway through his prayers
stopped suddenly, and raised his eyes to witness
the unbelievable: for there before him stood
the legendary creature, startling white, that
had approached, soundlessly, pleading with his eyes.

The legs, so delicately shaped, balanced a
body wrought of finest ivory. And as
he moved, his coat shone like reflected moonlight.
High on his forehead rose the magic horn, the sign
of his uniqueness: a tower held upright
by his alert, yet gentle, timid gait.

The mouth of softest tints of rose and grey, when
opened slightly, revealed his gleaming teeth,
whiter than snow. The nostrils quivered faintly:
he sought to quench his thirst, to rest and find repose.
His eyes looked far beyond the saint’s enclosure,
reflecting vistas and events long vanished,
and closed the circle of this ancient mystic legend.

Rainer Maria Rilke

In the end, I am quite normal

In the end, I am quite normal. I don’t have odd habits. I don’t dramatize. Above all, I do not romanticize the act of writing. I don’t talk about the anguish I suffer in creating. I do not have a fear of the blank page, writer’s block, all those things that we hear about writers. I don’t have any of those problems, but I do have problems just like any other person doing any other type of work. Sometimes things do not come out as I want them to, or they don’t come out at all. When things do not come out as well as I would have liked, I have to resign myself to accepting them as they are.

José Saramago

I am

I am a cigarette with a body attached to it.
— Raymond Carver

Most of the machinery of modern language

Most of the machinery of modern language is labour-saving machinery; and it saves mental labour very much more than it ought. Scientific phrases are used like scientific wheels and piston-rods to make swifter and smoother yet the path of the comfortable. Long words go rattling by us like long railway trains. We know they are carrying thousands who are too tired or too indolent to walk and think for themselves. It is a good exercise to try for once in a way to express any opinion one holds in words of one syllable. If you say “The social utility of the indeterminate sentence is recognized by all criminologists as a part of our sociological evolution towards a more humane and scientific view of punishment,” you can go on talking like that for hours with hardly a movement of the gray matter inside your skull. But if you begin “I wish Jones to go to gaol and Brown to say when Jones shall come out,” you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think. The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard. There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word “damn” than in the word “degeneration.”

G.K. Chesterton

Fiction is lies

Fiction is lies; we’re writing about people who never existed and events that never happened when we write fiction, whether its science fiction or fantasy or western mystery stories or so-called literary stories. All those things are essentially untrue. But it has to have a truth at the core of it.

George R. R. Martin

The righting of historic wrongs

The righting of historic wrongs has chimed with something fundamental in me since I was a young reader. I love the forensic skills, the psychological insights, and the sheer bloody-mindedness of various detectives – professional or accidental – inching toward the truth of a long-buried secret.

Fiona Barton

The greatest threat to freedom

The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.

Wole Soyinka (the first African writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature)

War

War does not determine who is right. It only determines who is left.

“The Daily Starbeams” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, August 1831

(Also attributed to a bunch of other people, but PG wanted to plug Saskatoon)

If we’re lucky

If we’re lucky, writer and reader alike, we’ll finish the last line or two of a short story and then just sit for a minute, quietly. Ideally, we’ll ponder what we’ve just written or read; maybe our hearts or intellects will have been moved off the peg just a little from where they were before. Our body temperature will have gone up, or down, by a degree. Then, breathing evenly and steadily once more, we’ll collect ourselves, writers and readers alike, get up, “created of warm blood and nerves” as a Chekhov character puts it, and go on to the next thing: Life. Always life.
— Raymond Carver

There was a time when I thought I loved my first wife

There was a time when I thought I loved my first wife more than life itself. But now I hate her guts. I do. How do you explain that? What happened to that love? What happened to it, is what I’d like to know. I wish someone could tell me.
— Raymond Carver

Dreams

Dreams, you know, are what you wake up from.
— Raymond Carver

It’s possible

It’s possible, in a poem or short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring—with immense, even startling power.”
— Raymond Carver

I could hear my heart beating

I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.
— Raymond Carver

As long-time visitors to TPV know, from time to time, PG goes on a quote binge with quotes from a single author.

Most of his prior binges have been with Raymond Chandler quotes, but he recently discovered another Raymond.

Carter, Raymond Carter, has a unique voice that isn’t Chandler, but carries some of the cynical and exhausted tones that PG enjoys from many of Raymond Chandler quotes.

For the record, PG isn’t cynical and exhausted himself (although he does look forward to the end of this year’s interminable and noirish-Covid presidential election season), but he enjoys a little noir now and then.

Do not expect

Do not expect more from the truth than it actually contains.

Russian Proverb