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The following are quotes from some works I read in 2021 or 2022. During those many months, I had chosen to branch out from my usual kinds of readings to include several works I had been wanting to read or, in a few cases, re-read. I hope I have captured in these quotes a glimpse into a significant theme in their respective works. For one purpose or another, I recommend these texts.  

Nov/Dec 2022
Death Count (Pt. One)

Death is the only really serious preoccupation in life. Isn’t it worth while, therefore, to study the different ways in which the soul can take leave of the body, and how, according to their character, their temperament and even the customs of their country, different individuals undergo this passage from being to nothingness?

-Edmond Dantès (the Count) in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, translated and abridged by Lowell Bair, Bantam Books: 2003.

Quote of the Month: Quote

September/October 2022
Living Under a Pronoun

Roy Baty...has an aggressive, assertive air of ersatz authority. Given to mystical preoccupations, this android proposed the group escape attempt, underwriting it ideologically with a pretentious fiction as to the sacredness of so-called android “life.” In addition, this android stole, and experimented with, various mind-fusing drugs, claiming when caught that it hoped to promote in androids a group experience similar to that of Mercerism, which it pointed out remains unavailable to androids.

-Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (cf. Roy Batty in Blade Runner)

Quote of the Month: Quote

August 2022

Lady Macbeth's Slumbery Agitation

DOCTOR: Foul whisperings are abroad. Unnatural deeds

Do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds

To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets;

More needs she the divine than the physician.

God, God forgive us all! Look after her;

Remove from her the means of all annoyance,

And still keep eyes upon her. So, good-night:

My mind she has mated, and amaz'd sight.

I think, but dare not speak.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act V Scene 1 

Quote of the Month: Quote

July 2022

Words from the Controller

Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can’t. And, of course, whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered. Still, in spite of everything, unrestricted scientific research was still permitted. People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years’ War. That made them change their tune all right. What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled—after the Nine Years’ War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for.

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World 

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June 2022
Words of a Contemplative

And these words: You will not be overcome, were said very insistently and strongly, for certainty and strength against every tribulation which may come. [Jesus] did not say: You will not be troubled, you will not be belaboured, you will not be disquieted; but he said: You will not be overcome. God wants us to pay attention to these words, and always be strong and faithful in trust, in well-being and in woe, for he loves us and delights in us, and so he wishes us to love him and delight in him and trust greatly in him, and all will be well.

And soon all was hidden, and I saw no more after this.

Julian of Norwich, Showings, Paulist Press, 315

Quote of the Month: Quote

May 2022

Wolfgang "Lover-of-God" Mozart

I tell you I want to write a finale lasting half an hour! A quartet becoming a quintet becoming a sextet becoming a septet. On and on, wider and wider—all sounds multiplying and rising together—and then together making a sound entirely new. . .. I bet you that’s how God hears the world! Millions of sounds ascending at once and mixing in His ear to become an unending music, unimaginable to us. [To SALIERI] That’s our job! That’s our job, we composers: to combine the inner minds of him and him, and her and her—the thoughts of chambermaids and Court Composers—and turn the audience into God.

[Pause. SALIERI stares at him, fascinated. Embarrassed, MOZART sounds a fart noise and giggles.]

I’m sorry. I talk nonsense all day. It’s incurable—ask Stanzerl.

from the playscript Amadeus by Peter Shaffer (2001)

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April 2022

A Plan to Escape Servitude

The waiting became a kind of ghost attaching itself within each of their lives, as if a man now cast two shadows and one somehow fell into his body instead of away. The outer man had to perform as ever—do his work, eat, sleep, carry on barracks gabble—while inside, this sudden new shadow-creature, the one in wait, bided the next six weeks and six days wholly in thought of the immense voyage ahead.

Ivan Doig, The Sea Runners 

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March 2022
Bilbo Baggins' Return from Adventure

Indeed Bilbo found he had lost...his reputation. It is true that for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk as ever passed that way; but he was no longer quite respectable. He was in fact held by all the hobbits of the neighborhood to be 'queer'--except by his nephews and nieces on the Took side, but even they were not encouraged in their friendship by their elders.
I am sorry to say he didn't mind. He was quite content; and the sound of the kettle on his hearth was ever after more musical than it had been even in the quiet days before the Unexpected Party.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

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February 2022

Godric's Ascetic Warfare

They do not guess that in my mind I’m never still. Seven times seven are the seas I’ve sailed in less time than it takes to tell. I can draw my breath on Dover Road and puff it out again in Rome. And oh the thoughts that come to roost in this old skull!

When I’m awake, I’m master of them well enough. Let some woman that I lay with once come chirping lechery in my memory’s ear, I’ve but to clap my hands and she will usually fly away. Or let some ancient grievance croak, some long forgotten hunger whet his beak for more, some foolish pride start preening in the sun, and I’ve such arms as these old pot-lids that I wear for vest, or icy Wear, or holy prayer, to fend them off. But hermits sleep like other men, alas, and in the dark all men go mad.

Frederick Buechner, Godric 

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January 2022

"What are you in for?" said Winston.

"Thoughtcrime!" said Parsons, almost blubbering. The tone of his voice implied at once a complete admission of his guilt and a sort of incredulous horror that such a word could be applied to himself. He paused opposite Winston and began eagerly appealing to him. "You don't think they'll shoot me, do you old chap? They don't shoot you if you haven't actually done anything--only thoughts, which you can't help? ...A chap like me could make himself pretty useful in a labor camp."

George Orwell, 1984

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December 2021

I have set freedom before my eyes; and I am striving for that reward. And what is freedom, you ask? It means not being a slave to any circumstance, to any constraint, to any chance; it means compelling Fortune to enter the lists on equal terms. And on the day when I know that I have the upper hand, her power will be naught. When I have death in my own control, shall I take orders from her?

Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

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November 2021
A Hand on Deck

With a temperament neither loquacious nor taciturn he found very little occasion to talk. There were matters of duty, of course—directions, orders, and so on; but the past being to his mind done with, and the future not there yet, the more general actualities of the day required no comment—because facts can speak for themselves with overwhelming precision.

Joseph Conrad, "Typhoon"

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