“… it is the rays of understanding that you have shone into my brain and the languages that you have implanted in my memory and which now grow there, putting out further branches of language in their turn. … Having you close to me for as long as possible, hearing your eloquent voice as it enlightens my mind, re-tempering my soul, making my whole being capable of great and awe-inspiring deeds if ever I should be free, filling my mind and soul so thoroughly that the despair to which I was ready to give way when I met you can no longer find any place in them – this is my fortune. It is not a chimera. I truly owe it to you, and all the sovereigns on earth, were they all Cesare Borgias, could not succeed in taking it away from me.”
“I used to think she was quite intelligent, in my stupidity. The reason I did was because she knew quite a lot about the theater and plays and literature and all that stuff. If somebody knows quite a lot about those things, it takes you quite a while to find out whether they’re really stupid or not. It took me years to find it out, in old Sally’s case. I think I’d have found it out a lot sooner if we hadn’t necked so damn much. My big trouble is, I always sort of think whoever I’m necking is a pretty intelligent person. It hasn’t got a goddam thing to do with it, but I keep thinking it anyway.”
By Barack Obama
” All of this pulled me in different directions. It was as if, because of the very strangeness of my heritage and the worlds I straddled, I was from everywhere and nowhere at once, a combination of ill-fitting parts, like a platypus or some imaginary beast, confined to a fragile habitat, unsure of where I belonged. And I sensed, without fully understanding why or how, that unless I could stitch my life together and situate myself along some firm axis, I might end up in some basic way living my life alone.
“I’d anticipated this. “If I win, hon,” I said, “it will draw national attention. I’ll be the only African American in the Senate. With a higher profile, I can write another book, and it’ll sell a lot of copies, and that will cover the added expenses.”
Michelle let out a sharp laugh. I’d made some money on my first book, but nothing close to what it would take to pay for the expenses I was now talking about incurring. As my wife saw it—as most people would see it, I imagine—an unwritten book was hardly a financial plan.
“In other words,” she said, “you’ve got some magic beans in your pocket. That’s what you’re telling me. You have some magic beans, and you’re going to plant them, and overnight a huge beanstalk is going to grow high into the sky, and you’ll climb up the beanstalk, kill the giant who lives in the clouds, and then bring home a goose that lays golden eggs. Is that it?”
“Something like that,” I said.”
“Then I told myself that it was still the weekend and I needed a martini. That was another lesson the presidency was teaching me: Sometimes it didn’t matter how good your process was. Sometimes you were just screwed, and the best you could do was have a stiff drink—and light up a cigarette.”
“For eight years the walk down the West Colonnade framed my day—a minute-long, open-air commute from home to office and back again.”
Excerpt from Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning By Cathy Park Hong
“It may be odd that I also felt a “shock of recognition” when I first saw Pryor. But watching Pryor reminded me of an emotional condition that is specific to Koreans: han, a combination of bitterness, wistfulness, shame, melancholy, and vengefulness, accumulated from years of brutal colonialism, war, and U.S.-supported dictatorships that have never been politically redressed. Han is so ongoing that it can even be passed down: to be Korean is to feel han.
Pryor’s rage and despair waver in and out of his concatenation of impressions. When he says, “I’m glad I’m black and I’m not white, cause you guys have to go to the moon,” Pryor’s melancholy lingers long after I’m done laughing, a melancholy that enables him to see the world as clearly as he does. Henri Bergson writes that humor is godless and entirely human since humor runs counter to the sublime: instead of transcending, you are made acutely aware of the skin in which you exist. In other words, Pryor is also “continually filling some other body,” but unlike Keats’s poet, who is without identity, Pryor is always channeling other characters “while black.””
By Peter Lynch with John Rothchild
“When Magellan was launched, I was a student at Boston College, caddying golf games on weekends. This was during the great fund boom, when everybody wanted to buy funds. The fund mania even reached my own mother, a widow of limited resources. A schoolteacher who was moonlighting as a part-time fund salesman convinced her to buy Fidelity Capital. She liked the fact that “a Chinese guy” was running it, because she believed in the brilliant Oriental mind. The Chinese guy was Gerry Tsai; he, along with Ned Johnson at Fidelity Trend, were fund managers sui generis in that era.
My mother never would have known that a Chinese guy was running the Fidelity Capital Fund if the salesman hadn’t told her. A flotilla of fund floggers traveled the countryside, many of them part-timers, making house calls along with the vacuum cleaner, insurance, burial plot, and encyclopedia salesmen. My mother agreed to a plan in which she would invest $200 a month, forever, to secure us a prosperous future. This was money she did not have, but Fidelity Capital outperformed the S&P, as it tripled in the 1950s and doubled again during the first six years of the 1960s.”
By Peter Lynch with John Rothchild
“In the first stage of an upward market—one that has been down awhile and that nobody expects to rise again—people aren’t talking about stocks. In fact, if they lumber up to ask me what I do for a living, and I answer, “I manage an equity mutual fund,” they nod politely and wander away. If they don’t wander away, then they quickly change the subject to the Celtics game, the upcoming elections, or the weather. Soon they are talking to a nearby dentist about plaque. When ten people would rather talk to a dentist about plaque than to the manager of an equity mutual fund about stocks, it’s likely that the market is about to turn up.
In stage two, after I’ve confessed what I do for a living, the new acquaintances linger a bit longer—perhaps long enough to tell me how risky the stock market is—before they move over to talk to the dentist. The cocktail party talk is still more about plaque than about stocks. The market’s up 15 percent from stage one, but few are paying attention.
In stage three, with the market up 30 percent from stage one, a crowd of interested parties ignores the dentist and circles around me all evening. A succession of enthusiastic individuals takes me aside to ask what stocks they should buy. Even the dentist is asking me what stocks he should buy. Everybody at the party has put money into one issue or another, and they’re all discussing what’s happened.
In stage four, once again they’re crowded around me—but this time it’s to tell me what stocks I should buy. Even the dentist has three or four tips, and in the next few days I look up his recommendations in the newspaper and they’ve all gone up. When the neighbors tell me what to buy and then I wish I had taken their advice, it’s a sure sign that the market has reached a top and is due for a tumble.”
Taken from The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
“I would just like to study. I mean ranging study, because I have a wide-open mind. I’m interested in almost any subject you can mention. I know this is the reason I have come to really like, as individuals, some of the hosts of radio or television panel programs I have been on, and to respect their minds—because even if they have been almost steadily in disagreement with me on the race issue, they still kept their minds open and objective about the truths of things happening in this world. Irv Kupcinet in Chicago, and Barry Farber, Barry Gray and Mike Wallace in New York—people like them. They also let me see that they respected my mind—in a way I know they never realized. The way I knew was that often they would invite my opinion on subjects off the race issue. Sometimes, after the programs, we would sit around and talk about all kinds of things, current events and other things, for an hour or more. You see, most whites, even when they credit a Negro with some intelligence, will still feel that all he can talk about is the race issue; most whites never feel that Negroes can contribute anything to other areas of thought, and ideas. You just notice how rarely you will ever hear whites asking any Negroes what they think about the problem of world health, or the space race to land men on the moon.”
Travel tip from the beginning of chapter 19 from E. M. Forster’s Howards End:
“If one wanted to show a foreigner England, perhaps the wisest course would be to take him to the final section of the Purbeck Hills, and stand him on their summit, a few miles to the east of Corfe. Then system after system of our island would roll together under his feet. Beneath him is the valley of the Frome, and all the wild lands that come tossing down from Dorchester, black and gold, to mirror their gorse in the expanses of Poole. The valley of the Stour is beyond, unaccountable stream, dirty at Blandford, pure at Wimborne—the Stour, sliding out of fat fields, to marry the Avon beneath the tower of Christchurch. The valley of the Avon—invisible, but far to the north the trained eye may see Clearbury Ring that guards it, and the imagination may leap beyond that on to Salisbury Plain itself, and beyond the Plain to all the glorious downs of Central England. Nor is Suburbia absent. Bournemouth’s ignoble coast cowers to the right, heralding the pine-trees that mean, for all their beauty, red houses and the Stock Exchange, and extend to the gates of London itself. So tremendous is the City’s trail! But the cliffs of Freshwater it shall never touch, and the island will guard the Island’s purity till the end of time. Seen from the west, the Wight is beautiful beyond all laws of beauty. It is as if a fragment of England floated forward to greet the foreigner—chalk of our chalk, turf of our turf, epitome of what will follow. And behind the fragment lies Southampton, hostess to the nations, and Portsmouth, a latent fire, and all around it, with double and treble collision of tides, swirls the sea. How many villages appear in this view! How many castles! How many churches, vanished or triumphant! How many ships, railways, and roads! What incredible variety of men working beneath that lucent sky to what final end! The reason fails, like a wave on the Swanage beach; the imagination swells, spreads, and deepens, until it becomes geographic and encircles England.”
Excerpt from The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien:
“True war stories do not generalize. They do not indulge in abstraction or analysis.
For example: War is hell. As a moral declaration the old truism seems perfectly true, and yet because it abstracts, because it generalizes, I can’t believe it with my stomach. Nothing turns inside.
It comes down to gut instinct. A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe.
To generalize about war is like generalizing about peace. Almost everything is true. Almost nothing is true. At its core, perhaps, war is just another name for death, and yet any soldier will tell you, if he tells the truth, that proximity to death brings with it a corresponding proximity to life. After a fire-fight, there is always the immense pleasure of aliveness. The trees are alive. The grass, the soil—everything. All around you things are purely living, and you among them, and the aliveness makes you tremble. You feel an intense, out-of-the-skin awareness of your living self—your truest self, the human being you want to be and then become by the force of wanting it. In the midst of evil you want to be a good man. You want decency. You want justice and courtesy and human concord, things you never knew you wanted. There is a kind of largeness to it, a kind of godliness. Though it’s odd, you’re never more alive than when you’re almost dead. You recognize what’s valuable. Freshly, as if for the first time, you love what’s best in yourself and in the world, all that might be lost. … you find yourself studying the fine colors on the river, you feel wonder and awe at the setting of the sun, and you are filled with a hard, aching love for how the world could be and always should be, but now is not.”
Spoken by Ames from the novel Sister Carrie:
” “Well,” he said, as one pleased with a puzzle, “the expression in your face is one that comes out in different things. You get the same thing in a pathetic song, or any picture which moves you deeply. It’s a thing the world likes to see, because it’s a natural expression of its longing.”
Carrie gazed without exactly getting the import of what he meant.
“The world is always struggling to express itself,” he went on. “Most people are not capable of voicing their feelings. They depend upon others. That is what genius is for. One man expresses their desires for them in music; another one in poetry; another one in a play. Sometimes nature does it in a face—it makes the face representative of all desire. That’s what has happened in your case.””