A new world is being born, a new type of man is in the bud. The great mass of men, destined now to suffer more cruelly perhaps than man has ever suffered before, have become paralyzed with fear, have withdrawn into their own shell-shocked souls. We neither hear, see nor feel, except in relation to the daily needs of the body. The body, which was once a temple, has become a living tomb.
Monster, robot, slave, accursed one – it makes little difference which term one uses to convey the picture of our dehumanized condition. Never was mankind as a whole in a more ignoble condition than ours. We are all bound to one another in a disgraceful master-slave relationship; we are all caught in the same vicious circle of judge and be judged; we aim to destroy one another if we cannot have our way. Instead of respect, toleration, kindness and consideration, to say nothing of love, we view one another with fear, suspicion and rivalry.*
(From Henry Miller’s On Writing)
Alberto Moravia writes in The Voyeur:
What matters most to writers is not the things he writes, but how he writes them. Whether he has experienced them or not is not important.
What was it you said about me? I remember that. I’m not that smart. I’m not. But I’m not that stupid. And I don’t forget.We weren’t a loving family. We did what we were supposed to do. We’re not like that anymore. I try to care, as complicated (selfish) as I know I am. I want to do what is right.I want to understand. And yet not like that. Not in the deep dark waters. Not in the room of death. How are you? How am I? I am dying. I know that. I accept that. As much as I accept anything else. As much as I accept this li(f)e.
Logger Mike’s Credo:
Look well of today – for it is the life of life. In its brief course lie all the variations and realities of your life – the bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty. For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow a vision. For time is but a scene in the eternal drama. So look well of today and let that be your resolution as you awake each morning and salute the new dawn.
(*From Muriel Wylie Blanchet’s The Curve of Time)
George Bancroft’s advice for historians is simple: Present your subject in his own terms, judge him in yours.
William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury is more exhausting than a 7-hour hike in the rain and wind of the Scottish Highlands, even with his moments of clarity, akin to coming out of the clouds at the highest ridge:
As I descended the light dwindled slowly, yet at the same time without altering its quality, as if I and not the light were changing, decreasing…He grasped at the hatchet, feeling no shock but knowing that he was falling, thinking So this is how it’ll end, and he believed that he was about to die and when something crashed against the back of his head he thought, How did he hit me there? Only maybe he hit me a long time ago, he thought. And I just now felt it, and he thought, Hurry. Hurry. Get it over with, and then a furious desire not to die seized him and he struggled, hearing the old man wailing and cursing in his cracked voice.
According to Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, there is a Japanese story, Insects of Various Kinds, in which a spider is trapped between the sliding panes of a window and lies there inert, apparently lifeless, for many months and then, when a maid moves the window to clean, comes to life and is gone.