Thursday, February 22, 2024

Quote of the Day (Leo Tolstoy, on Transitions and Reflections)

"At moments of departure and a change of life, people capable of reflecting on their actions usually get into a serious state of mind. At these moments they usually take stock of the past and make plans for the future." ― Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), War and Peace (1869)

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Quote of the Day (Jack London, on a Man Freezing in the Subzero Yukon)

“Already all feeling had gone from his feet. To build the fire he had been forced to remove his mittens, and the fingers had quickly become numb. His pace of four miles an hour had kept his heart pushing the blood to all parts of his body. But the instant he stopped, the action of the heart slowed down. He now received the full force of the cold. The blood of his body drew back from it. The blood was alive, like the dog. Like the dog, it wanted to hide and seek cover, away from the fearful cold. As long as he walked four miles an hour, the blood rose to the surface. But now it sank down into the lowest depths of his body. His feet and hands were the first to feel its absence. His wet feet froze first. His bare fingers were numb, although they had not yet begun to freeze. Nose and face were already freezing, while the skin of all his body became cold as it lost its blood.” —American fiction writer Jack London (1876-1916), “To Build a Fire” (1908)

The illustration accompanying this post, created by American artist Frank E. Schoonover (1877–1972), appeared in black and white with “To Build a Fire” in the August 1908 issue of Century Magazine.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

TV Quote of the Day (‘All in the Family,’ on ‘A Station Wagon Filled With Nuns')

[Involved in a minor, non-injury traffic accident, Archie, seized with visions of a sizable settlement, suddenly develops an aching back. Then, with the opposing attorneys in the case in his living room, matters take an unexpected turn.]

Clarence V. Marshall [played by Richard Stahl]: “Now, according to our witnesses...”

Solomon Rabinowitz [played by Salem Ludwig]: “Witnesses? You said nothing to me about witnesses, Mr. Bunker.”

Archie Bunker [played by Carroll O’Connor]: “Oh, the kids, the kids, y'know.”

Rabinowitz: “Oh, yes, the little children in the playground. Hardly admissible.”

Marshall: “Yes, but I'm referring to a station wagon filled with nuns.”

Rabinowitz: “Your witnesses?”

Marshall: “A station wagon filled with nuns.”

[Archie’s face collapses.]

Marshall: “Now, according to them, you were coming out of the parking lot when it happened. Now, do you recall in what direction you were traveling?”

Rabinowitz: “His vehicle was headed north, I believe.”

Marshall: “Yes, but he was traveling south.”

Archie: “Well, I was backing up. Now, what difference could that make?”

Marshall [smiling]: “Well, if you were backing up, you were going the wrong way in a one-way alley.”

Archie [looking helplessly up at Rabinowitz]: “Well, I must have been going forward.”

Marshall: “Not according to our witnesses.”

Rabinowitz [dourly]: “A station wagon filled with nuns.”

Marshall [reading from statement]: “Yes, Sister Maria Yolanda, Sister Catherine, Sister Jeremy, Sister Rosemary, Sister…”

Archie: “All right, all right, all right! Everybody knows they go around in a mob.” [Looks to door, where Rabinowitz is getting his coat.] “Hey, Mr. Rabinowitz, where you goin’? Hey, don’t leave, Mr. Rabinowitz. Listen, don’t be a-scared of this guy. I mean, alongside of you, he’s like a green kid. I mean, you’re a mensch! Get after him!”

Rabinowitz: “There’s an old, old rule of law, Mr. Bunker. They say it dates back before the turn of the century: In a court of law, you can’t beat a station wagon filled with nuns.”All in the Family, Season 1, Episode 3, “Archie’s Aching Back,” original air date Jan 26, 1971, teleplay by Norman Lear, Stanley Ralph Ross, and Johnny Speight, directed by John Rich 

Quote of the Day (Christopher Lasch, on Education, Persuasion and Democracy)

“If we insist on argument as the essence of education, we will defend democracy not as the most efficient but as the most educational form of government, one that extends the circle of debate as widely as possible and thus forces all citizens to articulate their views, to put their views at risk, and to cultivate the virtues of eloquence, clarity of thought and expression, and sound judgment.”— American historian and social critic Christopher Lasch (1932-1994), The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (1994)

Monday, February 19, 2024

Quote of the Day (Abraham Lincoln, on ‘Faith in the People’)

“I have faith in the people. They will not consent to disunion. The danger is, that they are misled. Let them know the truth and the country is safe.” —President Abraham Lincoln, to the Boston (MA) Journal, July 1864, quoted in “President Lincoln Had a Presentiment of Death,” Sandusky (OH) Register, Apr. 29, 1865

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Spiritual Quote of the Day (Harvey Cox, on the 'Religion of the Market' and Nature)

“I am beginning to think that for all the religions of the world, however they may differ from one another, the religion of The Market has become the most formidable rival, the more so because it is rarely recognized as a religion. The traditional religions and the religion of the global market ... hold radically different views of nature. In Christianity and Judaism, for example, ‘the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and all that dwell therein.’ The Creator appoints human beings as stewards and gardeners but, as it were, retains title to the earth. Other faiths have similar ideas. In The Market religion, however, human beings, more particularly those with money, own anything they buy and—within certain limits—can dispose of anything they choose. Other contradictions can be seen in ideas about the human body, the nature of human community, and the purpose of life. The older religions encourage archaic attachments to particular places. But in The Market’s eyes all places are interchangeable. The Market prefers a homogenized world culture with as few inconvenient particularities as possible.” —American theologian Harvey Cox, "The Market as God," Atlantic Monthly, March 1999, reprinted in Best Spiritual Writing 2000, edited by Philip Zaleski (2000)

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Quote of the Day (Diablo Cody, on Winter in Minnesota)

“Here in the woebegone upper country, Jack Frost is a liberal, rangy sadist with ice crystals in his soul patch. Winter is the stuff of legend: stillborn, snow-choked, still as the ice floes on the ten thousand–odd lakes. The old mill cities are populated by generations of Scandinavian and German Lutherans, rugged souls hewn of blonde wood, good sense and Christlove. The prevailing gestalt is one of wry survivalist humor and thermal underwear with the pins still in the folds. Everyone's favorite supper is a gluey carbohydrate-rich concoction known simply as ‘hotdish’ and served in a community Pyrex. Minnesota is like a church basement with a leaky popcorn ceiling and a bingo caller who's afraid to amp things up past a whisper.”—Oscar-winning screenwriter, playwright and memoirist Diablo Cody, Candy Girl (2005)

As I look out my window this morning, snow has fallen overnight for the second time in less than a week. But it’s not much and may well melt by day’s end. It’s a far cry from the “woebegone upper country” conjured up by Diablo Cody—for which I am deeply grateful.