If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule--a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.
I had been practicing for the Depression a long time. I wasn't involved with loss. I didn't have money to lose, but in common with millions I did dislike hunger and cold.
Maybe the hardest thing in writing is simply to tell the truth about things as we see them.
There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension.
The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears. I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for the rejection, and with the crime guilt--and there is the story of mankind. I think that if rejection could be amputated, the human would not be what he is.
What hidden, hoarded longings there are in all of us.
He saw something that makes a man doubtful of the constancy of the realities outside himself. It was the shocking discovery that makes a man wonder if I've missed this, what else have I failed to see?
A new country seems to follow a pattern. First come the openers, strong and brave and rather childlike. They can take care of themselves in a wilderness, but they are naive and helpless against men, and perhaps that is why they went out in the first place. When the rough edges are worn off the new land, businessmen and lawyers come in to help with the development -- -to solve problems of ownership, usually by removing the temptations to themselves. And finally comes culture, which is entertainment, relaxation, transport out of the pain of living. And culture can be on any level, and is.
The Church and the whorehouse arrived in the Far West simultaneously.
Possibly the deep feeling is that if people learn to eat one another the food supply would be so generous and so available that no one would be either safe or hungry.
It gives a fella relief to tell, but it jus' spreads out his sin.
I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.
Aron's training in worldliness was gained from a young man of no experience, which gave him the ability for generalization only the inexperienced can have.
It's almost impossible to read a fine thing without wanting to do a fine thing.
I find out of long experience that I admire all nations and hate all governments.
During the years he was never sick, except of course for the chronic indigestion which was universal, and still is, with men who live alone, cook for themselves, and eat in solitude.
I wish to God I knew as much about writing as I did when I was 19. I was absolutely certain about most things then. Also, I suspect, more accurate.
Perhaps the less we have, the more we are required to brag.
Good God, what a mess of draggle-tail impulses a man is -- and a woman too, I guess.
How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him -- he has known a fear beyond every other.
They successfully combined piracy and puritanism, which aren't so unlike when you come right down to it. Both had a strong dislike for opposition and both had a roving eye for other people's property.
You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.
I eat stories like grapes.
A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.
But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units -- because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.
We have to make a mark, even if it's only a scribble.
Oh, the strawberries don't taste as they used to and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!
There is more beauty in truth, even if it is a dreadful beauty. The storytellers at the city gate twist life so that it looks sweet to the lazy and the stupid and the weak, and this only strengthens their infirmities and teaches nothing, cures nothing, nor does it let the heart soar.
After the bare requisites to living and reproducing, man wants most to leave some record of himself, a proof, perhaps, that he has really existed. He leaves his proof on wood, on stone or on the lives of other people. This deep desire exists in everyone, from the boy who writes dirty words in a public toilet to the Buddha who etches his image in the race mind. Life is so unreal. I think that we seriously doubt that we exist and go about trying to prove that we do.
For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.
These words dropped into my childish mind as if you should accidentally drop a ring into a deep well. I did not think of them much at the time, but there came a day in my life when the ring was fished up out of the well, good as new.
The doctrine of our time is that man can't get along without a whole hell of a lot of stuff. You may not be preaching it, but you're living treason.
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.
Fella says today, 'Depression is over. I seen a jackrabbit, an' they wasn't nobody after him.' An' another fella says, 'That aint the reason. Can't afford to kill jackrabbits no more. Catch 'em and milk 'em an' turn 'em loose. One you seen prob'ly gone dry.
The people in flight from the terror behind-strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever.
I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless.
And finally, in our time a beard is the one thing that a woman cannot do better than a man, or if she can her success is assured only in a circus.
The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?
Doc still loved true things but he knew that it was not a general love and it could be a very dangerous mistress.
It was strange to Old Robert that he, who knew so much more than his neighbors, who had pondered so endlessly, should be not even a good farmer. Sometimes he imagined he understood too many things ever to do anything well.
In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layer of frailty men want to be good and want be loved. Indeed most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love.
In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror.
People who try to tell you what the blitz was like in London start with fire and explosion and then almost invariably end up with some very tiny detail which crept in and set and became the symbol of the whole thing for them... "It's the glass," says one man, "the sound in the morning of the broken glass being swept up, the vicious, flat tinkle." ... An old woman was selling little miserable sprays of sweet lavender. The city was rocking under the bombs and the light of burning buildings made it like day... And in one little hole in the roar her voice got in--a squeaky voice. "Lavender!" she said. "Buy Lavender for luck."
The bombing itself grows vague and dreamlike. The little pictures remain as sharp as they were when they were new.
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book -- to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.
Fella in business got to lie an' cheat, but he calls it somepin else. That's what's important. You go steal that tire an' you're a thief, but he tried to steal your four dollars for a busted tire. They call that sound business.
Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.
I have wondered why is it that some people are less affected and torn by the verities of life and death that others.
There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you -- of kindness and consideration and respect -- not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn't know you had.
And I here make a rule-a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting-only the deeply personal and familiar.
Once California belonged to Mexico and its land to Mexicans; and a horde of tattered feverish Americans poured in. And such was their hunger for land that they took the land, stole Sutter's land, Guerrero' s land, took the grants and broke them up and growled and quarreled over them, those frantic hungry men; and they guarded with guns the land they had stolen. They put up houses and barns, they turned the earth and planted crops. And these things were possession, and possession was ownership.
The Mexicans were weak and fed. They could not resist, because they wanted nothing in the world as frantically as the Americans wanted land.
The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.
In a world that was not easy for Alice to bear or understand, flies were the final and malicious burden laid upon her.
Give a critic an inch, he'll write a play.
To a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself.
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do...Try to be better than yourself.
I do love her, and that's odd because she is everything I detest in anyone else.
Auf dem Kopf hatte er einen Strohhut mit zwei Löchern in der Krempe, die vermuten ließen, dass der Hut ehemals die Kopfbedeckung eines Pferes gewesen war.
All great and precious things are lonely.
It is not enough to say that we cannot know or judge because all the information is not in. The process of gathering knowledge does not lead to knowing. A child's world spreads only a little beyond his understanding while that of a great scientist thrusts outward immeasurably. An answer is invariably the parent of a great family of new questions. So we draw worlds and fit them like tracings against the world about us, and crumple them when we find they do not fit and draw new ones.
In my heart there may be doubt that I deserve the Nobel award over other men of letters whom I hold in respect and reverence, but there is no question of my pleasure and pride in having it for myself.
As with many people, Charles, who could not talk, wrote with fullness. He set down his loneliness and his perplexities, and he put on paper many things he did not know about himself.
To the heavens on the wings of a pig.
A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child.
There's more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.
Are cats strange animals or do they so resemble us that we find them curious as we do monkeys?
Those thoughts she had kept weak and pale and hidden in the recesses of her brain, just out of thinking vision, came out into the open, and she saw that they were not foul and loathesome like slugs, as she had always believed, but somehow light and gay and holy.
Riches seem to come to the poor in spirit, the poor in interest and joy. To put it straight -- the very rich are a poor bunch of bastards.
There are map people whose joy is to lavish more attention on the sheets of colored paper than on the colored land rolling by. I have listened to accounts by such travelers in which every road number was remembered, every mileage recalled, and every little countryside discovered. Another kind of traveler requires to know in terms of maps exactly where he is pin-pointed at every moment, as though there were some kind of safety in black and red lines, in dotted indications and squirming blue of lakes and the shadings that indicate mountains. It is not so with me. I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found, nor much identification from shapes which symbolize continents and states.
Three hours of writing require twenty hours of preparation. Luckily I have learned to dream about the work, which saves me some working time.
We don't take a trip. A trip takes us.
She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt or fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials....She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.
It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn't help it; the way was set.' But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There's no godliness there.
I like to pet nice things with my fingers.
Father and son are natural enemies and each is happier and more secure in keeping it that way.
We do know that we are cheated from birth to the overcharge on our coffins.
Maybe not having time to think is not having the wish to think.
Sometimes a sad man can talk the sadness right out through his mouth. Sometimes a killin' man can talk the murder right out of his mouth an' not to no murder. You done right. Don't you kill nobody if you can help it.
In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.
I wanta buy stuff. Stuff I don't need... Stuff settin' out there, you jus' feel like buyin' it whether you need it or not.
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.
A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policies and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
Luck or tragedy, some people get runs. Then of course there are those who divide it even, good and bad, but we never hear of them. Such a life doesn't demand attention. Only the people who get the good or bad runs.
The names of places carry a charge of the people who named them.
Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em.
Act out being alive, like a play. And after a while, a long while, it will be true.
How often one goes to sleep troubled and full of pain, not knowing what causes the travail, and in the morning a whole new direction and clearness is there, maybe the result of the black reasoning. And again there are mornings when ecstasy bubbles in the blood, and the stomach and chest are tight and electric with joy, and nothing in the thoughts to justify it or cause it.
It was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.
It is astounding to find that the belly of every black and evil thing is white as snow. And it is saddening to discover how the concealed parts of angels are leprous.
We're sorry. It's not us. It's the monster. The bank isn't a man. The bank isn't like a man.
Yes, but the bank is only made of men.
The misery stayed, not thought about but aching away, and sometimes I would have to ask myself, Why do I ache? Men can get used to anything, but it takes time.
The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it.
Men in fear and hunger destroy their stomachs in the fight to secure certain food, where men hungering for love destroy everything lovable about them.
Men in fear and hunger destroy their stomachs in the fight to secure certain food, where men hungering for love destroy everything lovable about them.... In the world ruled by tigers with ulcers, rutted by strictured bulls, scavenged by blind jackals.... What can it profit a man to gain the whole world and to come to his property with a gastric ulcer, a blown prostate, and bifocals?
A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then-the glory-so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished.
Death was a friend, and sleep was Death's brother.
The free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.
It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.
There's nothing in the world like that first taste of beer.
Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy -- that's the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it. Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.
I've lived in a good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather rather than climate.
I'm wondering whether I can explain," said Lee. "Where there is no likeness of experience it's very difficult. I understand you were not born in America."
"No, in Ireland." "And in a few years you can almost disappear; while I, who was born in Grass Valley, went to school and several years to the University of California, have no chance of mixing." "If you cut your queue, dressed and talked like other people?" "No. I tried it. To the so-called whites I was still a Chinese, but an untrustworthy one; and at the same time my Chinese friends steered clear of me. I had to give it up.
Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.
Maybe, kneeling down to atoms, they're becoming atom-sized in their souls. Maybe a specialist is only a coward, afraid to look out of his little cage. And think what any specialist misses -- the whole world over his fence.
I would like to sit still for a while but I'm restless you know and sitting still is only an ideal like celibacy and complete cleanliness.
There are places in this world where fable, myth, preconception, love, longing or prejudice step in and so distort a cool, clear appraisal that a kind of high colored magical confusion takes permanent hold...Surely Texas is such a place.
There's more beauty in the truth even if it is dreadful beauty.
Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.
I have noticed that there is no dissatisfaction like that of the rich. Feed a man, clothe him, put him in a good house, and he will die of despair.
There is a strange duality in the human which makes for an ethical paradox. We have definitions of good qualities and of bad; not changing things, but generally considered good and bad throughout the ages and throughout the species. Of the good, we think always of wisdom, tolerance, kindliness, generosity, humility; and the qualities of cruelty, greed, self-interest, graspingness, and rapacity are universally considered undesirable. And yet in our structure of society, the so-called and considered good qualities are invariable concomitants of failure, while the bad ones are the cornerstones of success…Perhaps no other animal is so torn between alternatives. Man might be described fairly adequately, if simply, as a two-legged paradox.
Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it's part of him, and it's like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn't doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he's bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn't successful he's big with his property. That is so.'
'But let a man get property he doesn't see, or can't take time to get his fingers in, or can't be there to walk on it -- why, then the property is the man. He can't do what he wants, he can't think what he wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big -- and he's the servant of his property. That is so, too.
Cyrus wanted a woman to take care of Adam. He needed someone to keep house and cook, and a servant cost money. He was a vigorous man and needed the body of a woman, and that too cost money- unless you were married to it. Within two weeks Cyrus had wooed, wedded, bedded, and impregnated her. His neighbors did not find his action hasty. It was quite normal in that day for a man to use up three or four wives in a normal lifetime. p.19.
I never fixed no car in my life 'thout cuttin' myself. Now it's done I don't have to worry no more.
When two men live together they usually maintain a kind of shabby neatness out of incipient rage at each other. Two men alone are constantly on the verge of fighting, and they know it.
If by force you make a creature live and work like a beast, you must think of him as a beast, else empathy would drive you mad. Once you have classified him in your mind, your feelings are safe. And if your heart has human vestiges of courage and anger, which in a man are virtues, then you have fear of a dangerous beast, and since your heart has intelligence and inventiveness and the ability to conceal them, you live with terror. Then you must crush his manlike tendencies and make of him the docile beast you want. And if you can teach your child from the beginning about the beast, he will not share your bewilderment.
I've always been amused by the contention that brain work is harder than manual labor. I've never known a man to leave a desk for a muck-stick if he could avoid it.
And even childhood was no good any more--not the way it was. No worry then but how to find a good stone, not round exactly but flattened and water-shaped, to use in a sling pouch cut from a discarded shoe. Where did all the good stones go, and all simplicity?
Beside them, little pot-bellied men in light suits and panama hats; clean, pink men with puzzled, worried eyes, with restless eyes. Worried because formulas do not work out; hungry for security and yet sensing its disappearance from the earth. In their lapels the insignia of lodges and service clubs, places where they can go and, by a weight of numbers of little worried men, reassure themselves that business is noble and not the curious ritualized thievery they know it is; that business men are intelligent in spite of the records of their stupidity; that they are kind and charitable in spite of the principles of sound business; that their lives are rich instead of the thin tiresome routines they know; and that a time is coming when they will not be afraid any more.
When a man comes to die,
no matter what his talents and influences and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror.
Dear Lord,' he said. 'let me be like Aron. Don't make me mean. I don't want to be. If you will let everybody like me, why, I'll give you anything in the world, and if I haven't got it, why, I'll go for to get it. I don't want to be mean. I don't want to be lonely. For Jesus' sake, Amen.
Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down.
Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper.
Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on.
We may be thankful that frightened civil authorities ... have not managed to eradicate from the country the tradition of the possession and use of firearms, that profound and almost instinctive tradition of Americans. Luckily for us, our tradition of bearing arms has not gone from the country, the tradition is so deep and so dear to us that it is one of the most treasured parts of the Bill of Rights -- the right of all Americans to bear arms, with the implication that they will know how to use them.
Lennie said quietly, "It ain't no lie. We're gonna do it. Gonna get a little place an' live on the fatta the lan'."
It is easy, out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, 'I couldn't help it; the way was set.' But think of the glory of the choice!
The bank -- the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size.
Hm-m," he said. "Lookie, Ma. I been all day an' all night hidin' alone. Guess who I been thinkin' about? Casy! He talked a lot. Used ta bother me. But now I been thinkin' what he said, an' I can remember-all of it. Says one time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul, an' he foun' he didn' have no soul that was his'n. Says he foun' he jus' got a little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain't no good, 'cause his little piece of a soul wasn't no good 'less it was with the rest, an' was whole. Funny how I remember. Didn't even think I was listenin'. But I know now a fella ain't no good alone.
It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.
We have never understood why men mount the heads of animals and hang them up to look down on their conquerers. Possibly it feels good to these men to feel superior to animals, but does it not seem that if they were sure of it they would not have to prove it? Often a man who is afraid must constantly demonstrate his courage and, in the case of the hunter, must keep a tangible record of his courage.
Prayer never brought in no side-meat. Takes a shoat to bring in pork.
All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up.
My wants are simple. I have no desire to latch onto a monster symbol of fate and power and prove my manhood in titanic piscine war. But sometimes I do like a couple of cooperative fish of frying size.
The break would never come as long as fear could turn to wrath.
And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.
It's hard to split a man down the middle and always to reach for the same half.
Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches -- nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species. -- speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1962.
You ain't worth a greased lack pin to ram you into hell.
To find where you are going, you must know where you are.
How can the poem and the stink and the grating noise -- the quality of light, the tone, the habit and the dream -- be set down alive?
First the strangers came with argument and authority and gunpowder to back up both. And in the four hundred years Kino's people had learned only one defense -- a slight slitting of the eyes and a slight tightening of the lips and a retirement. Nothing could break down this wall, and they could remain whole within the wall.
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
The warfare between the unaroused male and female is constant and ferocious. Each blames the other for his loss of soul.
And the people listened, and their faces were quiet with listening. The story tellers, gathering attention into their tales, spoke in great rhythms, spoke in great words because the tales were great, and the listeners became great through them.
There is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter.
The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage.
It was a day as different from other days as dogs are from cats and both of them from chrysanthemums or tidal waves or scarlet fever.
And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.
Sir, this is a unique dog. He does not live by tooth or fang. He respects the right of cats to be cats although he doesn't admire them. He turns his steps rather than disturb an earnest caterpillar. His greatest fear is that someone will point out a rabbit and suggest that he chase it. This is a dog of peace and tranquility.
Young Henry was conscious, this night, that he had lived for fifteen tedious years without accomplishing any single thing of importance. And had his mother known his feeling she would have said,
'He is growing.' And his father would have repeated after her, 'Yes, the boy is growing.' But neither would have understood what the other meant.
Give me a used Bible and I will, I think, be able to tell you about a man by the places that are edged with the dirt of seeking fingers.
I take a pleasure in inquiring into things. I've never been content to pass a stone without looking under it. And it is a black disappointment to me that I can never see the far side of the moon.
Some people think it's an insult to the glory of their sickness to get well.
Just set one day's work in front of the last day's work. That's the way it comes out. And that's the only way it does.
I guess this personal hide-and-seek is not unusual. And some people are 'it' all their lives -- hopelessly 'it."
Thus do the gods speak with tiny causes.
The little engine roared and then stopped. Adam sat back for a moment, limp but proud, before he got out.
The postmaster looked out between the bars of his golden grill. "I see you've got one of the damn things," he said. "Have to keep up with the times," said Adam. "I predict there'll come a time when you can't find a horse, Mr. Trask." "Maybe so." They'll change the face of the countryside. They get their clatter into everything," the postmaster went on.
I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an' that same damn thing in their heads ... every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever'body wants a little piece of lan'. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.
I've always taken my hangovers as consequence, not as a punishment.
Once I knew the City very well, spent my attic days there, while others were being a lost generation in Paris, I fledged in San Francisco, climbed its hills. slept in its parks, worked on its docks, marched and shouted in its revolts~ It had been to me in the days of my poverty and it did not resent my temporary solvency.
They're a dark people with a gift for suffering way past their deserving. It's said that without whiskey to soak and soften the world, they'd kill themselves.
There's nothing sadder to me than associations held together by nothing but the glue of postage stamps. If you can't see or hear or touch a man, it's best to let him go.
Montana seems to me to be what a small boy would think Texas is like from hearing Texans.
The bank, the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size.
She had a dour Presbyterian mind and a code of morals that pinned down and beat the brains out of nearly everything that was pleasant to do.
My town had grown and changed and my friend along with it. Now returning, as changed to my friend as my town was to me, I distorted his picture, muddied his memory. When I went away I had died, and so became fixed and unchangeable. My return caused only confusion and uneasiness.
Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power.
Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life or death of the whole world, of all living things.
I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.
Florida is a golden word...The very name Florida carried the message of warmth and ease and comfort. It was irresistible.
But it isn't hunger that drives millions of armed American Males to forests and hills every autumn, as the high incidence of heart failure among the hunters will prove. Somehow the hunting process has to do with masculinity, but I don't quite know how.
In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration.
Sure, cried the tenant men, but it's our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it's no good, it's still ours. That's what makes it ours-being born on it, working it, dying on it.
In every man this thing is hidden. It tries to get out, but a man's fears distort it. He chokes it back. What does get out is changed-blood on the hands of a statue, emotion over the story of an ancient torture-the giving or drawing of blood in copulation.
Thou mayest rule over sin,' Lee. That's it. I do not believe all men are destroyed. I can name you a dozen who were not, and they are the ones the world lives by. It is true of the spirit as it is true of battles -- only the winners are remembered.
Money's easy to make if it's money you want. But with few exceptions people don't want money. They want luxury and they want love and they want admiration.
We could live offa the fatta the lan'.
Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.
A good writer always works at the impossible.There is another kind who pulls in his horizons, drops his mind as one lowers rifle sights.
Man has become our greatest hazard, and our only hope.
This I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.
Some days are born ugly. From the very first light they are no damn good what ever the weather, and everbody knows it. No one knows what causes this, but on such a day people resist getting out of bed and set their heels against the day. When they are finally forced out by hunger or job they find that the day is just as lousy as they knew it would be.
But Kino had lost his old world and he must clamber on to a new one. For his dream of the future was real and never to be destroyed, and he said "I will go," and that made a real thing too.
It is a rule in paleontology that ornamentation and complication precede extinction. And our mutation, of which the assembly line, the collective farm, the mechanized army, and the mass production of food are evidences or even symptoms, might well correspond to the thickening armor of the great reptiles--a tendency that can end only in extinction. If this should happen to be true, nothing stemming from thought can interfere with it or bend it. Conscious thought seems to have little effect on the action or direction of our species.
I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.
And it is generally understood that a party hardly ever goes the way it is planned or intended. This last, of course, excludes, those dismal slave parties, whipped and controlled and dominated, given by an ogreish professional hostess. These are not parties at all but acts and demonstrations, about as spontaneous as peristalsis and as interesting as it's end product.
"What have I to fear but starvation?" Kino asked.
Within that frame he went a long way and burned a deep scar.
Only God sees the sparrow fall, but even God doesn't do anything about it.
Boileau said that Kings, Gods and Heroes only were fit subjects for literature. The writer can only write about what he admires. Present-day kings aren't very inspiring, the gods are on a vacation and about the only heroes left are the scientists and the poor.
They had not grown up in the paradoxes of industry. Their senses were still sharp to the ridiculousness of the industrial life.
If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.
The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness.
It is argued that because they believed thoroughly in a just, moral God they could put there faith there and let the smaller insecurities take care of themselves. But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potential moral units- because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coat-tails.
The Pacific is my home ocean; I knew it first, grew up on its shore, collected marine animals along the coast. I know its moods, its color, its nature.
And this you can know- fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.
The techniques of opening conversation are universal. I knew long ago and rediscovered that the best way to attract attention, help, and conversation is to be lost. A man who seeing his mother starving to death on a path kicks her in the stomach to clear the way, will cheerfully devote several hours of his time giving wrong directions to a total stranger who claims to be lost.
What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness? You only truly, deeply appreciate and are grateful for something when you compare and contrast it to something worse.
Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.
Tom's cowardice was as huge as his courage, as it must be in great men.
I have made up reasons, but they aren't true. I have said to myself, 'The sun is life. I give life to life'-'I make a symbol of the sun's death.' When I made these reasons I knew they weren't true.....I gave up reasons. I do this because it makes me glad. I do it because I like to.
His ear heard more than what was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.
I dislike helplessness in other people and in myself, and this is by far my greatest fear of illness.
My wife, my Mary, goes to her sleep the way you would close the door of a closet. So many times I have watched her with envy. Her lovely body squirms a moment as though she fitted herself into a cocoon. She sighs once and at the end of it her eyes close and her lips, untroubled, fall into that wise and remote smile of the Ancient Greek gods. She smiles all night in her sleep, her breath purrs in her throat, not a snore, a kitten's purr... She loves to sleep and sleep welcomes her.
I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.
Curious how a place unvisited can take such hold on the mind so that the very name sets up a ringing.
The church and the whorehouse arrived in the Far West simultaneously. And each would have been horrified to think it was a different facet of the same thing. But surely they were both intended to accomplish the same thing: the singing, the devotion, the poetry of the churches took a man out of his bleakness for a time, and so did the brothels.
Joseph saw how he could make a gesture with his arms and hands, that would sweep in and indicate and symbolize the ripe stars and the whole cup of the sky, the land, eddied with black trees, and the crested waves that were the mountains, an earth storm, frozen in the peak of its rushing, or stone breakers moving eastward with infinite slowness. Joseph wondered whether there were any words to say these things."
He said, "I like the night. It's more strong than the day.
Being at ease with himself put him at ease with the world.
One of the laws of paleontology is that an animal which must protect itself with thick armour is degenerate. It is usually a sign that the species is on the road to extinction.
Sexuality with all its attendant yearnings and pains, jealousies and taboos, is the most disturbing impulse humans have.
Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive in this particular world better than other people. In a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed. All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want. They can satisfy their appetites without calling them something else.
I am sifting my memories, the way men pan the dirt under a barroom floor for the bits of gold dust that fall between the cracks. It's small mining -- small mining. You're too young a man to be panning memories, Adam. You should be getting yourself some new ones, so that the mining will be richer when you come to age.
I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession.
Can you honestly love a dishonest thing?
I hate cameras. They are so much more sure than I am about everything.
Lennie begged, "Le's do it now. Le's get that place now." "Sure right now. I gotta. We gotta.
She sighed as she always does, a deep, gathered breath and a low release of luxury. Some people resent awakening, but not Mary. She comes to a day with the expectancy that it will be good.
The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
And their greed was for gold or God. They collected souls as they collected jewels.
Tom felt his darkness. His father was beautiful and clever, his mother was short and mathematically sure. Each of his brothers and sisters had looks or gifts or fortune. Tom loved all of them passionately, but he felt heavy and earth-bound. He climbed ecstatic mountains and floundered in the rocky darkness between the peaks. He had spurts of bravery but they were bracketed in battens of cowardice.
If you want to keep a friend, never test him.
But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There's no godliness there.
There used to be a thing or a commodity we put great store by. It was called the People. Find out where the People have gone. I don't mean the square-eyed toothpaste-and-hair-dye people or the new-car-or-bust people, or the success-and-coronary people. Maybe they never existed, but if there ever were the People, that's the commodity the Declaration was talking about, and Mr. Lincoln.
We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.
Don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens -- The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment.
Liza with her acceptance could take care of tragedy; she had no real hope this side of Heaven.
If a man ordered a beer milkshake he'd better do it in a town where he wasn't known.
I remember as a child reading or hearing the words 'The Great Divide' and being stunned by the glorious sound, a proper sound for the granite backbone of a continent. I saw in my mind escarpments rising into the clouds, a kind of natural Great Wall of China.
It has always seemed strange to me... the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.
In human affairs of danger and delicacy successful conclusion is sharply limited by hurry.
Bleedin' like a son-of-a-bitch," he said. "Well, I can stop that." He urinated on the ground, picked up a handful of the resulting mud, and plastered it over the wound.
There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.
If we could learn to like ourselves, even a little, maybe our cruelties and angers might melt away.
It's all fine to say, "Time will heal everything, this too shall pass away. People will forget"--and things like that when you are not involved, but when you are there is no passage of time, people do not forget and you are in the middle of something that does not change.
People who are most afraid of their dreams convince themselves they don't dream at all.
I know, Ma. I'm a-tryin'. But them deputies- Did you ever see a deputy that didn't have a fat ass? An' they waggle their ass an' flop their gun aroun'. Ma," he said, "if it was the law they was workin' with, why we could take it. But it ain't the law. They're a-working away at our spirits. They're a-tryin' to make us cringe an' crawl like a whipped bitch. They're tryin' to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin' a sock at a cop. They're working on our decency."
New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous.
But there is one thing about it -- once you have lived in New York and it has become your h. Longer Version:
New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous.
But there is one thing about it -- once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.
Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella.
It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy -- that's the time that seems long in memory. And this is right when you think about it. Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.
I have owed you this letter for a very long time-but my fingers have avoided the pencil as though it were an old and poisoned tool.
But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed -- because 'Thou mayest.
But Doc had one mental habit he could not get over. When anyone asked a question, Doc thought he wanted to know the answer.
In that day an educated rich man was acceptable. He might send his sons to college without comment, might wear a vest and white shirt and tie in the daytime of a weekday, might wear gloves and keep his nails clean. And since the lives and practices of rich men were mysterious, who knows what they could use or not use? But a poor man -- -- what need had he for poetry or for painting or for music not fit for singing or dancing?
And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing -- maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed -- because 'thou mayest'.
A man on a horse is spiritually, as well as physically, bigger than a man on foot.
The camera need not be a cold mechanical device. Like the pen, it is as good as the man who uses it. It can be the extension of mind and heart.
We, or at least I, can have no conception of human life and human thought in a hundred years or fifty years. Perhaps my greatest wisdom is the knowledge that I do not know. The sad ones are those who waste their energy in trying to hold it back, for thy can only feel bitterness in loss and no joy in gain.
Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.
"Oh, I guess I'm physically able to father a child. That's not what I'm thinking. I'm too closely married to a quiet reading lamp."
Then it is better, sir, to love whom one cannot have?" "Probably better," Lancelot said. "Certainly safer.
The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.
In nothing is the difference between the Americans and the Soviets so marked as in the attitude, not only toward writers, but of writers toward their system. For in the Soviet Union the writer's job is to encourage, to celebrate, to explain, and in every way to carry forward the Soviet system. Whereas in America, and in England, a good writer is the watch-dog of society. His job is to satirize its silliness, to attack its injustices, to stigmatize its faults. And this is the reason that in America neither society nor government is very fond of writers. The two are completely opposite approaches toward literature.
For it is my opinion that we enclose and celebrate the freaks of our nation and our civilization. Yellowstone National Park is no more representative of America than is Disneyland.
No -- the stars are close and dear and I have joined the brotherhood of the worlds. And everything's holy -- everything, even me.
The comfortable people in tight houses felt pity at first, and then distaste, and finally hatred for the migrant people.
The impulse of the American woman to geld her husband and castrate her sons is very strong.
I guess there are never enough books.
I think of my life as a kind of music, not always good music but still having form and melody.
The design of a book is the pattern of a reality controlled and shaped by the mind of the writer. This is completely understood about poetry or fiction, but it is too seldom realized about books of fact. And yet the impulse which drives a man to poetry will send another man into the tide pools and force him to try to report what he finds there.... It would be good to know the impulse truly, not to be confused by the 'services to science' platitudes or the other little mazes into which we entice our minds so that they will not know what we are doing.
I live alone," he said simply. "I live in the open. I hear the waves at night and see the black patterns of the pine boughs against the sky. With sound and silence and color and solitude, of course I see visions. Anyone would."
"But you don't believe in them?" Doc asked hopefully. "I don't find it a matter for belief or disbelief," the seer said. "You've seen the sun flatten and take strange shapes just before it sinks into the ocean. Do you have to tell yourself everytime that it's an illusion caused by atmospheric dust and light distorted by the sea, or do you simply enjoy the beauty of it? Don't you see visions?" "No," said Doc.
I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.... The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?
We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome.
And the women who had thought they wanted dresses never realized that what they had wanted was happiness.
The walls, where there was room, were well decorated with calendars and posters showing bright, improbable girls with pumped-up breasts and no hips -- blondes, brunettes and redheads, but always with this bust development, so that a visitor of another species might judge from the preoccupation of artist and audience that the seat of procreation lay in the mammaries. Alice Chicoy...who worked among the shining girls, was wide-hipped and sag-chested and she walked well back on her heels...She was not in the least jealous of the calendar girls and the Coca-Cola girls. She had never seen anyone like them, and she didn't think anyone ever had.
It would be good to live in a perpetual state of leave-taking, never to go nor to stay, but to remain suspended in that golden emotion of love and longing; to be loved without satiety.
They called him a comical genius and carried his stories carefully home, and they wondered at how the stories spilled out on the way, for they never sounded the same repeated in their own kitchens.
In March the soft rains continued, and each storm waited courteously until its predecessor sunk beneath the ground.
A writer of stories is a liar.
Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.
Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass. Change may be announced by a small ache, so that you think you're catching cold. Or you may feel a faint disgust for something you loved yesterday. It may even take the form of a hunger that peanuts won't satisfy. Isn't overeating said to be one of the strongest symptoms of discontent. And isn't discontent the lever of change?
Open blooms like ballet-skirted ladies.
It seems to me Montana is a great splash of grandeur. The scale is huge but not overpowering. The land is rich with grass and color, and the mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were ever put on my agenda.
I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.
One who was born by the ocean or has associated with it cannot ever be quite content away from it for very long.
So in our pride we ordered for breakfast an omelet, toast and coffee and what has just arrived is a tomato salad with onions, a dish of pickles, a big slice of watermelon and two bottles of cream soda.
She wasn't happy, but then she wasn't unhappy. She wasn't anything. But I don't believe anyone is a nothing. There has to be something inside, if only to keep the skin from collapsing. This vacant eye, listless hand, this damask cheek dusted like a doughnut with plastic powder, had to have a memory or a dream.
Look now -- in all of history men have been taught that killing of men is an evil thing not to be countenanced. Any man who kills must be destroyed because this is a great sin, maybe the worst we know. And then we take a soldier and put murder in his hands and we say to him, "use it well, use it wisely." We put no checks on him. Go out and kill as many of a certain kind or classification of your brothers as you can. And we will reward you for it because it is a violation of your early training.
No single organism could be understood without observing and comprehending the entire colony.
It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.
With knowledge there is no hope... without hope I would sit motionless, rusting like unused armor.
We will rich soon, and you who handle poverty badly will handle riches equally badly... In poverty she is envious. In riches she may be a snob. Money does not change the sickness, only the symptoms.
You can't go home again because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memory.
A man can do a lot of damage in the church. When someone comes here, he's got his guard up. But in church a man's wide open.
There's a part of you missing. Some men can't see the color green, but they may never know they can't. I think you are only a part of a human. I can't do anything about that. But I wonder whether you ever feel that something invisible is all around you. It would be horrible if you knew it was there and couldn't see it or feel it.
It's a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.
The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index.
The desert, being an unwanted place, might well be the last stand of life against unlife. For in the rich and moist and wanted areas of the world, life pyramids against itself and in its confusion has finally allied itself with the enemy non-life.
Radio and television speech becomes standardized, perhaps better English than we have ever used. Just as our bread, mixed and baked, packaged and sold without benefit of accident of human frailty, is uniformly good and uniformly tasteless, so will our speech become one speech.
In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.
There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know. Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good.
The lies we tell about our duty and our purposes, the meaningless words of science and philosophy, are walls that topple before a bewildered little ‘why.'
A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers.
A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight. A story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. Only then can he accept wonders.
If I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble.
Charley is a mind-reading dog. There have been many trips in his lifetime, and often he has to be left at home. He knows we are going long before the suitcase has come out, and he paces and worries and whines and goes into a state of mild hysteria.
While the churches, bringing the sweet smell of piety for the soul, came in prancing and farting like brewery horses in bock-beer time, the sister evangelism, with release and joy for the body, crept in.
silently and greyly, with its head bowed and its face covered.
And then we take a soldier and put murder in his hands and we say to him, "Use it well, use it wisely."
I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.
Ideas are not dangerous unless they find seeding place in some earth more profound than the mind.
Please try not to need me. That's the worst bait of all to a lonely man.
A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome.
A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling, or teaching, or ordering. Rather, he seeks to establish a relationship with meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all our live trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story, begging the listener to say, and to feel, "Yes, that's the way it is, or at least that's the way I feel it. You're not as alone as you thought." To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn't really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.
You're buying years of work, toil in the sun; you're buying a sorrow that can't talk.
'I know,' said Winter, 'but they don't know.' And he went on with a thought he had been having. 'A time-minded people,' he said, 'and the time is nearly up. They think that just because they have only one leader and one head, we are all like that. They know that ten heads lopped off will destroy them, but we are a free people; we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms.'
A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ.
Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.
Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. The shade climbed up the hills toward the top. On the sand banks the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray, sculptured stones.
The literature of science is filled with answers found when the question propounded had an entirely different direction and end.
He had an idea that even when beaten he could steal a little victory by laughing at defeat.
Syntax, my lad. It has been restored to the highest place in the republic.
For how can you remember the feel of pleasure or pain or choking emotion? You can remember only that you had them.
Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope. So that today, St. John the apostle may well be paraphrased: In the end is the Word, and the Word is Man -- and the Word is with Men.
I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion.
In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.
Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields. And to prod all these there's time, the Bastard Time.
The calm and the sorrow were so great that they bore down on his chest, and the loneliness was complete, a circle impenetrable.
And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.
All of them had a restlessness in common.
I know,' said Winter, 'but they don't know.' And he went on with a thought he had been having. 'A time-minded people,' he said, 'and the time is nearly up. They think that just because they have only one leader and one head, we are all like that. They know that ten heads lopped off will destroy them, but we are a free people; we have as many heads as we have people, and in a time of need leaders pop up among us like mushrooms.
I was mean life a wolf. Now i'm mean like a weasel. When you're huntin' somepin you're a hunter, an' you're strong. Can't nobody beat a hunter. But when you get hunted -- that's different. Somepin happens to you. You ain't strong; maybe you're fierce, but you ain't strong. I been hunted now for a long time. I ain't no hunter no more.
We're a violent people, Cal. Does it seem strange to you that I include myself? Maybe it's true, that we are all descendants of the restless, the nervous, the criminals, the arguers, and brawlers. But also the brave, and independent, and generous. If our ancestors hadn't been that, they would've stayed in their home plots in the other world and starved over the squeezed-out soil.
Coming out of sleep, I had the advantage of two worlds, the layered firmament of dream and the temporal fixtures of the mind awake. I stretched luxuriously--a good and tingling sensation. It's as though the skin has shrunk in the night and one must push it out to daytime size by bulging the muscles, and there's an a itching pleasure in it.
Samuel may have thought and played and philosophized about death, hut he did not really believe in it. His world did not have death as a member. He, and all around him, was immortal. When real death came it was an outrage, a denial of the immortality he deeply felt, and the one crack in his wall caused the whole structure to crash. I think he had always thought he could argue himself out of death. It was a personal opponent and one he could lick.
The proofs that God does not exist are very strong, but in lots of people they are not as strong as the feeling that He does.
It is the nature of a person as he she grows older to protest against change, particularly changes for the better.
In a small town where everyone knows everyone it is almost impossible to believe that one of your acquaintance could murder anyone. For that reason, if the signs are not pretty strong in a particular direction, it must be some dark stranger, some wanderer from the outside world where such things happen.
He was born in fury and he lived in lightning. Tom came headlong into life. He was a giant in joy and enthusiasms. He didn't discover the world and its people, he created them. When he read his father's books, he was the first. He lived in a world shining and fresh and as uninspected as Eden on the sixth day. His mind plunged like a colt in a happy pasture, and when later the world put up fences, he plunged against the wire, and when the final stockade surrounded him, he plunged right through it and out. And as he was capable of giant joy, so did he harbor huge sorrow.
We gather our arms full of guilt as though it were precious stuff. It must be that we want it that way.
The curious hocus-pocus of criticism I can't take seriously. It consists in squirreling up some odd phrases and then waiting for a book to come running by.
I wonder Pa went so easy. I wonder Grampa didn' kill nobody. Nobody never tol' Grampa where to put his feet. An' Ma ain't nobody you can push aroun' neither. I seen her beat the hell out of a tin peddler with a live chicken one time 'cause he give her a argument. She had the chicken in one han', an' the ax in the other, about to cut its head off. She aimed to go for that peddler with the ax, but she forgot which hand was which, an' she takes after him with the chicken. Couldn' even eat that chicken when she got done. They wasn't nothing but a pair of legs in her han'. Grampa throwed his hip outa joint laughin'.
I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one... Humans are caught--in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too--in a net of good and evil... There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well--or ill?
Tom , the third son, was most like his father. He was born in fury and he lived in lightning.Tom came headlong into life. He was a giant in joy and enthusiasms. He didn't discover the world and its people, he created them..He lived in a world shining and fresh and as uninspected as Eden on the sixth day.
Death is a personal matter, arousing sorrow, despair, fervor, or dry-hearted philosophy. Funerals, on the other hand, are social functions. Imagine going to a funeral without first polishing the automobile. Imagine standing at a graveside not dressed in your best dark suit and your best black shoes, polished delightfully. Imagine sending flowers to a funeral with no attached card to prove you had done the correct thing. In no social institution is the codified ritual of behavior more rigid than in funerals. Imagine the indignation if the minister altered his sermon or experimented with facial expression. Consider the shock if, at the funeral parlors, any chairs were used but those little folding yellow torture chairs with the hard seats. No, dying, a man may be loved, hated, mourned, missed; but once dead he becomes the chief ornament of a complicated and formal social celebration.
Yes, you should talk," he said. "Sometimes a sad man can talk the sadness right out through his mouth. Sometimes a killin' man can talk the murder right out of his mouth.
A farmer cannot think too much evil of a good farmer.
And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man.
A woman journalist in England asked me why Americans usually wrote about their childhood and a past that happened only in imagination, why they never wrote about the present. This bothered me until I realized why -- that a novelist wants to know how it comes out, that he can't be omnipotent writing a book about the present, particularly this one.
Then the hard, dry Spaniards came exploring through, greedy and realistic, and their greed was for gold or God. They collected souls as they collected jewels. They gathered mountains and valleys, rivers and whole horizons, the way a man might now gain tittle to building lots.
I am writing this from what we Americans call Yurrp. In Yurrp writers are taken as seriously as Lana Turner's legs are in America -- a ridiculous situation.
It is one of the triumphs of the human that he can know a thing and still not believe it.
It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.
It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world.
You don't even know where I'm going. I don't care. I'd like to go anywhere.
I have taken as much as six years to prepare a book for writing. There is such a delirium of effort in the production of a book; it's like childbirth. And, like childbirth, one forgets the pains immediately so that when you come to write another one you dare to take it up again. Some precious anesthesia sees you through.
A man with a beard was always a little suspect anyway. You couldn't say you wore a beard because you liked a beard. People didn't like you for telling the truth. You had to say you had a scar so you couldn't shave.
Humanity has been passing through a gray and desolate time of confusion.
The trash and litter of nature disappears into the ground with the passing of each year, but man's litter has more permanence.
Learning to read is probably the most difficult and revolutionary thing that happens to the human brain and if you don't believe that, watch an illiterate adult try to do it.
The thing that give me the mos' trouble was, it didn' make no sense. You don't look for no sense when lightnin' kills a cow, or it comes up a flood. That's jus' the way things is. But when a bunch of men take an' lock you up four years, it ought to have some meaning. Men is supposed to think things out. Here they put me in, an' keep me an feed me four years. That ought to either make me so I won't do her again or else punish me so I'll be afraid to do her again"- he paused- "but if Herb or anybody else come for me, I'd do her again. Do her before I could figure her out. Specially if I was drunk. That sort of senselessness kind a worries a man.
Why, Tom -- us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people -- we go on.' 'We take a beatin' all the time.' 'I know.' Ma chuckled. 'Maybe that makes us tough. Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good, an' they die out. But, Tom, we keep a-comin'. Don' you fret none, Tom. A different time's comin'.
Lennie rolled off the bunk and stood up, and the two of them started for the door. Just as they reached it, Curley bounced in.
"You seen a girl around here?" he demanded angrily. George said coldly, "'Bout half an hour ago maybe." "Well, what the hell was she doin'?" George stood still, watching the angry little man. He said insultingly, "She said -- she was lookin' for you." Curley seemed really to see George for the first time. His eyes flashed over George, took in his height, measured his reach, looked at his trim middle. "Well, which way'd she go?" he demanded at last. "I dunno," said George. "I didn't watch her go." Curley scowled at him, and turning, hurried out the door. George said, "Ya know, Lennie, I'm scared I'm gonna tangle with that bastard myself. I hate his guts. Jesus Christ! Come on. There won't be a damn thing left to eat.
The words are meaningless except in terms of feeling. Does anyone act as the result of thought or does feeling stimulate action and sometimes thought implement it.
In nature two things do not occur-the wheel and good taste.
Maybe -- maybe love makes you suspicious and doubting. Is it true that when you love a woman you are never sure -- never sure of her because you aren't sure of yourself?
Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.
Oh, strawberries don't taste as they used to and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!
And some men eased themselves like setting hens into the nest of death.
Man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.
The Irish do have a despairing quality of gaiety, but they have also a dour and brooding ghost that rides on their shoulders and peers in on their thoughts. Let them laugh too loudly, it sticks a long finger down their throats. They condemn themselves before they are charged, and this makes them defensive always.
He shoveled the bacon out on a plate and broke the eggs in the hot grease and they
jumped and fluttered their edges to brown lace and made clucking sounds.
The house was clean, scrubbed and immaculate, curtains washed, windows polished, but all as a man does it -- the ironed curtains did not hang quite straight and there were streaks on the windows and a square showed on the table when a book was moved.
This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning--from "I" to "we." If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we."
Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is.
It is better to sit in appreciative contemplation of a world in which beauty is eternally supported on a foundation of ugliness: cut out the support, and beauty will sink from sight.
The poison of loneliness and the gnawing envy of the unlonely had gone out of him, and his person was clean and sweet, and he knew it was. He dredged up an old hatred to test himself, and he found the hatred gone. He wanted to serve his father, to give him some great gift, to perform some huge good task in honor of his father.
You never oughta drink water when it ain't runnin'.
When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find himself a good and sufficient reason for going.
I guess this is why I hate governments, all governments. It is always the rule, the fine print, carried out by fine-print men. There's nothing to fight, no wall to hammer with frustrated fists.
A strange species we are, We can stand anything God and nature can throw at us save only plenty. If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much, and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy, sick. -- John Steinbeck to Adlai Stevenson.
Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world.
Life cannot be cut off quickly. One cannot be dead until the things he changed are dead. His effect is the only evidence of his life. While there remains even a plaintive memory, a person cannot be cut off, dead. And he thought, "It's a long slow process for a human to die. We kill a cow, and it is dead as soon as the meat is eaten, but a man's life dies as a commotion in a still pool dies, in little waves, spreading and growing back toward stillness.
And the great owners, who had become through the might of their holdings both more and less than men.
Socialism is just another form of religion, and thus delusional.
But you can't start over Only a boy can start over You and me Why, we're all that's been.
But you can't start. Only a baby can start. You and me -- why, we're all that's been. The anger of a moment, the thousand pictures, that's us. This land, this red land, is us; and the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are us. We can't start again.
In the streets of New York between seven and nine in the morning you will see the slow procession of dog and downer proceeding from street to tree to hydrant to trash basket. They are apartment dogs. They are taken out twice a day, and, while it is a cliché, it is truly amazing how owner and dog resemble each other. They grow to walk alike and have the same set of head.
So much there is to see, but our morning eyes describe a different world than do our afternoon eyes, and surely our wearied evening eyes can report only a weary evening world.
Don't you love Jesus?' Well, I thought an' I thought an' finally I says, 'No, I don't know nobody name' Jesus. I know a bunch of stories, but I only love people.
He was born in Bercy on the outskirts of Paris and trained in France, and while he knows a little Poodle-English, he responds quickly only to commands in French. Otherwise he has to translate, and that slows him down.
Kino heard the little splash of morning waves on the beach. It was very good -- Kino closed his eyes again to listen to his music.
The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit--for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.
The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit--for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.
--Steinbeck Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech.
The utter insanity of living in a place like this doesn't occur to the 9,000,000 people who inhabit New York. Except for visits I think I shall not be here any more as a resident.
It's one of the great fallacies, it seems to me, that time gives much of anything but years and sadness to man.
Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of a human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed.
Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not changed except to become more needed. The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, and their responsibilities have been decreed by our species... the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit -- for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.
The candle aimed its spark of light at heaven, like an artist who consumes himself to become divine.
Books ain't no good. A guy needs somebody -- to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody.
Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish.
A dog...is a bond between strangers.
Among men, it seems, historically at any rate, the processes of coordination and disintegration follow each other with great regularity, and the index of the coordination is the measure of the disintegration which follows. There is no mob like a group of well-drilled soldiers when they have thrown off their discipline. And there is no lostness like that which comes to a man when a perfect and certain pattern has dissolved about him. There is no hater like one who has greatly loved.
Once you have lived in New York and made it your home, no place else is good enough.
He's eating God the way a bear eats meat against the winter.
Lee's hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. "Don't you see?" he cried. "The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,' meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel--‘Thou mayest'-- that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest'--it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.' Don't you see?
You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.
Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man.
I've always tried out my material on my dogs first. Years ago, when my red setter chewed up the manuscript of 'Of Mice and Men,' I said at the time that the dog must have been an excellent literary critic.
You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.
For the world was changing, and sweetness was gone, and virtue too. Worry had crept on a corroding world, and what was lost- good manners, ease and beauty? Ladies were not ladies anymore, and you couldn't trust a gentleman's word.
Time is the only critic without ambition.
I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.
The first grave. Now we're getting someplace. Houses and children and graves, that's home, Tom. Those are the things that hold a man down.
And you know what it is? San Francisco a golden handcuff with the key thrown away.
You know what it is? San Francisco is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away.
It is a time of quiet joy, the sunny morning. When the glittery dew is on the mallow weeds, each leaf holds a jewel which is beautiful if not valuable. This is no time for hurry or for bustle. Thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning.
I always found in myself a dread of the west and a love of the east.
A man without words is a man without thought.
The direction of a big act will warp history, but probably all acts do the same in their degree, down to a stone stepped over in the path or the breath caught at sight of a pretty girl or a fingernail nicked in the garden soil.
People like you to be something, preferably what they are.
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.