Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

  • ALL THIS HAPPENED, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true.
  • I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety and time. When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have to do would be to report what I had seen. And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpiece or at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big.
  • “No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?” “I say, ‘Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead?’” What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.s51
  • “The irony is so great. A whole city gets burned down, and thousands and thousands of people are killed. And then this one American foot soldier is arrested in the ruins for taking a teapot. And he’s given a regular trial, and then he’s shot by a firing squad.”
  • The nicest veterans in Schenectady, I thought, the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.
  • We saw waterfalls, too, streams jumping off cliffs into the valley of the Delaware. There were lots of things to stop and see—and then it was time to go, always time to go
  • We went to the New York World’s Fair, saw what the past had been like, according to the Ford Motor Car Company and Walt Disney, saw what the future would be like, according to General Motors.
  • And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.
  • I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.
  • No art is possible without a dance with death, he wrote.
  • Roland Weary and the scouts were safe in a ditch, and Weary growled at Billy, “Get out of the road, you dumb motherfucker.” The last word was still a novelty in the speech of white people in . It was fresh and astonishing to Billy, who had never fucked anybody—and it did its job. It woke him up and got him off the road.
  • Billy wanted to quit. He was cold, hungry, embarrassed, incompetent. He could scarcely distinguish between sleep and wakefulness now, on the third day, found no important differences, either, between walking and standing still.
  • A blood gutter, Billy learned, was the shallow groove in the side of the blade of a sword or bayonet
  • Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
  • She swallowed hard, shed some tears. Then she gathered energy from all over her ruined body, even from her toes and fingertips. At last she had accumulated enough to whisper this complete sentence: “How did I get so old?”
  • He told Billy to encourage people to call him Billy—because it would stick in their memories. It would also make him seem slightly magical, since there weren’t any other grown Billys around. It also compelled people to think of him as a friend right away.
  • One scout hung his head, let spit fall from his lips. The other did the same. They studied the infinitesimal effects of spit on snow and history. They were small, graceful people. They had been behind German lines before many times—living like woods creatures, living from moment to moment in useful terror, thinking brainlessly with their spinal cords.
  • The soldiers’ blue eyes were filled with a bleary civilian curiosity as to why one American would try to murder another one so far from home, and why the victim should laugh
  • He tore open Weary’s overcoat and blouse. Brass buttons flew like popcorn
  • The fuel was furniture. There were about twenty other Americans in there, sitting on the floor with their backs to the wall, staring into the flames—thinking whatever there was to think, which was zero. Nobody talked. Nobody had any good war stories to tell.
  • The view was still blocked by a venetian blind, which he hoisted clatteringly. Bright sunlight came crashing in
  • The date on the license plate was , which would make Billy Pilgrim forty-four years old. He asked himself this: “Where have all the years gone?”
  • Billy’s smile as he came out of the shrubbery was at least as peculiar as Mona Lisa’s, for he was simultaneously on foot in Germany in and riding his Cadillac in .
  • Another cripple was ringing a doorbell across the street. He was on crutches. He had only one leg. He was so jammed between his crutches that his shoulders hid his ears.
  • American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.
  • When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.
  • It was a flying saucer from Tralfamadore, navigating in both space and time, therefore seeming to Billy Pilgrim to have come from nowhere all at once.
  • Down snaked a ladder that was outlined in pretty lights like a Ferris wheel.
  • Billy licked his lips, thought a while, inquired at last: “Why me?” “That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is.
  • Derby had pulled political wires to get into the army at his age. The subject he had taught in Indianapolis was Contemporary Problems in Western Civilization
  • An unseen hand turned a master valve. Out of the showerheads gushed scalding rain. The rain was a blowtorch that did not warm. It jazzed and jangled Billy’s skin without thawing the ice in the marrow of his long bones.s53
  • BILLY PILGRIM says that the Universe does not look like a lot of bright little dots to the creatures from Tralfamadore. The creatures can see where each star has been and where it is going, so that the heavens are filled with rarefied, luminous spaghetti. And Tralfamadorians don’t see human beings as two-legged creatures, either. They see them as great millepedes—”with babies’ legs at one end and old people’s legs at the other,” says Billy Pilgrim.
  • There isn’t any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.”
  • A guard knocked on a door. The door was flung open from inside. Light leaped out through the door, escaped from prison at ,000 miles per second
  • They had not seen a woman or a child for four years or more. They hadn’t seen any birds, either. Not even sparrows would come into the camp.
  • The British had no way of knowing it, but the candles and the soap were made from the fat of rendered Jews and Gypsies and fairies and communists, and other enemies of the State. So it goes.
  • There were twenty-nine other patients assigned to the ward, but they were all outdoors now, enjoying the day. They were free to come and go as they pleased, to go home, even, if they like—and so was Billy Pilgrim. They had come here voluntarily, alarmed by the outside world.
  • Those beloved, frumpish books gave off a smell that permeated the ward
  • Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasn’t science fiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov, by Feodor Dostoevsky. “But that isn’t enough any more,” said Rosewater.
  • The book was Maniacs in the Fourth Dimension, by Kilgore Trout. It was about people whose mental diseases couldn’t be treated because the causes of the diseases were all in the fourth dimension, and three-dimensional Earthling doctors couldn’t see those causes at all, or even imagine them.
  • Billy got that diamond in the war.” “That’s the attractive thing about war,” said Rosewater. “Absolutely everybody gets a little something.”
  • There was a picture of one cowboy killing another one pasted to the television tube. So it goes.
  • There were five sexes on Tralfamadore, each of them performing a step necessary in the creation of a new individual. They looked identical to Billy—because their sex differences were all in the fourth dimension.
  • The guide invited the crowd to imagine that they were looking across a desert at a mountain range on a day that was twinkling bright and clear. They could look at a peak or a bird or a cloud, at a stone right in front of them, or even down into a canyon behind them. But among them was this poor Earthling, and his head was encased in a steel sphere which he could never take off. There was only one eyehole through which he could look, and welded to that eyehole were six feet of pipe. This was only the beginning of Billy’s miseries in the metaphor. He was also strapped to a steel lattice which was bolted to a flatcar on rails, and there was no way he could turn his head or touch the pipe. The far end of the pipe rested on a bi-pod which was also bolted to the flatcar. All Billy could see was the little dot at the end of the pipe. He didn’t know he was on a flatcar, didn’t even know there was anything peculiar about his situation. The flatcar sometimes crept, sometimes went extremely fast, often stopped—went uphill, downhill, around curves, along straightways. Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, “That’s life.”
  • The coaches stunk of coal smoke and rationed tobacco and rationed booze and the farts of people eating wartime food
  • Real night came to the zoo for only one Earthling hour out of every sixty-two.
  • He was told not to find out what the lumps were. He was advised to be content with knowing that they could work miracles for him, provided he did not insist on learning their nature. That was all right with Billy Pilgrim. He was grateful. He was glad.
  • Lazzaro said that he could have anybody in the world killed for a thousand dollars plus traveling expenses. He had a list in his head, he said.s52
  • The skyline was intricate and voluptuous and enchanted and absurd
  • The Americans were taken to the fifth building inside the gate. It was a one-story cement-block cube with sliding doors in front and back. It had been built as a shelter for pigs about to be butchered
  • Their address was this: “Schlachthof-fünf.” Schlachthof meant slaughterhouse. Fun/was good old five.
  • There was a barbershop quartet on board. They were optometrists, too. They called themselves “The Febs,” which was an acronym for “Four-eyed Bastards.”
  • Billy thought the golliwog had something to do with World War Two, and he whispered to him his address: “Schlachthof-fünf.”
  • The city was blacked out because bombers might come, so Billy didn’t get to see Dresden do one of the most cheerful things a city is capable of doing when the sun goes down, which is to wink its lights on one by one.
  • Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills for leaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human beings who killed each other around the roots and made very good fertilizer. So it goes.
  • Trout was concerned, because, if the boy really quit, Trout would have to deliver the boy’s route himself, until he could find another sucker. “What are you?” Trout asked the boy scornfully. “Some kind of gutless wonder?” This, too, was the title of a book by Trout, The Gutless Wonder. It was about a robot who had bad breath, who became popular after his halitosis was cured.
  • Somewhere a big dog barked
  • When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighbourhood was dead
  • He told Montana about the four guards who, in their astonishment and grief, resembled a barbershop quartet
  • Absolutely everybody in the city was supposed to be dead, regardless of what they were, and that anybody that moved in it represented a flaw in the design. There were to be no moon men at all.
  • They made Billy get out of the wagon and come look at the horses. When Billy saw the condition of his means of transportation, he burst into tears. He hadn’t cried about anything else in the war.
  • If what Billy Pilgrim learned from the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all live forever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still—if I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m grateful that so many of those moments are nice.
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Boy by Roald Dahl

Amidst reading books on tragic everyday day themes, it’s healthy to spare a few moments to read a light hearted classic from childhood and what better way to cure nostalgia and a longing for beauty than to delve in some good old Roald Dahl (the editions illustrated by Quentin Blake only!)

This autobiography is nothing short of magical and as appealing to my twenty-four year old sensibilities as it was to me eleven years ago. Dahl takes us to Norway’s fjord, then traverses to England and lastly, albeit briefly, to Africa. We stop by at his house, are introduced to his vast family and with them we take vacations off to Norway on the family boat.

Later we are tormented by the English masters at one of many Dahl’s institutions, the swish of a cane on our beloved writers’ buttocks as a child were painful to read and so was the account on bullying by Boazers. 6122792

The old photographs accompanying the text add a touch of familiarity to the book. I found myself constantly zooming in on them, trying to identify Roald Dahl in a group of students, or deciphering his letters to Mama.

It was a quick and much cherished stroll down memory lane with Mr. Dahl at my side.

  • If my grandfather had been alive today he would have been one hundred and sixty-four years old. My father would have been one hundred and twenty-one. Both my father and my grandfather were late starters so far as children were concerned.
  • I was in the La Rochelle house a couple of years ago and it really is something. The furniture alone should be in a museum.
  • Being a fellow who knew a good thing when he saw one, he proposed to her within a week and married her soon after that.
  • His theory was that if the eye of a pregnant woman was constantly observing the beauty of nature, this beauty would somehow become transmitted to the mind of the unborn baby within her womb and that baby would grow up to be a lover of beautiful things
  • All grown-ups appear as giants to small children
  • The boat weaves in and out between countless tiny islands, some with small brightly painted wooden houses on them, but many with not a house or a tree on the bare rocks. These
  • An English school in those days was purely a money-making business owned and operated by the Headmaster. It suited him, therefore, to give the boys as little food as possible himself and to encourage the parents in various cunning ways to feed their offspring by parcel-post from home.
  • Nobody had to take a driving-test. You were your own judge of competence, and as soon as you felt you were ready to go, off you jolly well went.
  • The parting in his hair was a white line straight down the middle of the scalp, so straight it could only have been made with a ruler. On either side of the parting you could see the comb tracks running back through the greasy orange hair like little tramlines.
  • Captain Hardcastle was never still. His orange head twitched and jerked perpetually from side to side in the most alarming fashion, and each twitch was accompanied by a little grunt that came out of the nostrils
  • It is worth reminding the reader once again of my age. I was not a self-possessed lad of fourteen. Nor was I twelve or even ten years old. I was nine and a half, and at that age one is ill equipped to tackle a grown-up man with flaming orange hair and a violent temper. One can do little else but stutter.
  • I must have read the entire works of Dickens sitting on that Boazer’s bog during my first winter at Repton.
  • Nowadays you can go anywhere in the world in a few hours and nothing is fabulous any more. But it was a very different matter in 1934
  • A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.

 

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

  • Some of my books should be awarded their own frequent-flier miles, they’ve traveled so much
  • We didn’t read only “great books,” we read casually and promiscuously and whimsically
  • As we talked more about , we soon found ourselves discussing the book’s epigraph, which is, in fact, a speech from a play by W. Somerset Maugham, a writer on whose stories we would both later jointly binge. Maugham’s parable is a retelling of a classic Iraqi tale. The speaker is Death: There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.
  • You can only do what you can, and what doesn’t get done, just doesn’t get done.” Mom was forever giving me advice that she would never herself take.
  • Everything would be all right, everything would be possible, anything could be salvaged or averted, as long as we all kept running around.
  • Mom also liked that the literary allusions were foreign to her; neither she nor I had read or often even heard of most of the writers Bolaño referenced or lampooned. The experience appealed to her curiosity—the way you can be fascinated by a story that you overhear, on a train or in a coffee shop, about people you don’t know, when the storyteller is highly animated, full of passion and wit.13414676
  • When we disagreed about a book she loved, Mom would just furrow her brow. It wasn’t that she didn’t think you had a right to your opinion—of course you did. It was just that she felt you were missing the main point—you were focused on one thing when you should have been focused on another. It was as if you were critiquing a restaurant based on the decor, while she was talking about the food.
  • We found ourselves discussing the three kinds of fateful choices that exist in the two books: the ones characters make knowing that they can never be undone; the ones they make thinking they can but learn they can’t; and the ones they make thinking they can’t and only later come to understand, when it’s too late, when “nothing can be undone,” that they could have.
  • When you couldn’t decide between two things, she suggested you choose the one that allowed you to change course if necessary. Not the road less traveled but the road with the exit ramp. I think that’s why we had all moved, at different times in our lives, to various foreign lands without giving much thought to it. If you stayed at home, you might not get the opportunity to go to that place again. But if you went, you could always come back.
  • One of the many things I love about bound books is their sheer physicality. Electronic books live out of sight and out of mind. But printed books have body, presence. Sure, sometimes they’ll elude you by hiding in improbable places: in a box full of old picture frames, say, or in the laundry basket, wrapped in a sweatshirt. But at other times they’ll confront you, and you’ll literally stumble over some tomes you hadn’t thought about in weeks or years. I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me. They may make me feel, but I can’t feel them. They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight. They can get in your head but can’t whack you upside it.
  • For me, there’s something about planes that isolates and intensifies sadness, the way a looking glass can magnify the sun until it grows unbearably hot and burns
  • In the summer, Mom and I had read slender books. Now we were reading one long book after another. Maybe that was a way of expressing hopefulness—you had to have a lot of time left if you were going to start reading Bolaño, or Thomas, or Halberstam. Even the Hosseini had heft.
  • I often forget that other people’s stories aren’t simply introductions to my own more engaging, more dramatic, more relevant, and better-told tales, but rather ends in themselves, tales I can learn from or repeat or dissect or savor
  • He was the smartest and best-read person any of us had ever known, but he wore his learning so lightly and had such curiosity about other people that he had the ability to make everyone around him feel smart and well-read
  • thought of water torture (wrongly called Chinese water torture), the medieval torment in which you are supposedly driven mad waiting for the next drop of water to plunk on your forehead
  • Soon it was time to leave chemo. It was then that I witnessed the peculiar dance that takes place at the elevator bank. When an elevator arrives, age may still go before beauty, but illness goes before health, chairs before canes, canes before the caneless, the wobbly before the surefooted. After you, my dear Alphonse. No, after you. No wonder it took so long to get an elevator.
  • There was one sure way to avoid being assigned an impromptu chore in our house—be it taking out the trash or cleaning your room—and that was to have your face buried in a book. Like churches during the Middle Ages, books conferred instant sanctuary. Once you entered one, you couldn’t be disturbed. They didn’t give you immunity from prosecution if you’d done something wrong—just a temporary reprieve. But we quickly learned you had to both look and be completely engrossed—just flipping pages didn’t count
  • Mom was always a little amazed at parents who thought their kids should be reading more but who never read themselves
  • Dad worked. Mom worked. Several decades before today’s crop of wildly scheduled children, we were left pretty much to our own devices, mildly supervised by a succession of exchange students and recent graduates
  • Mom never referred to herself as a working mother. She was a mother. And she worked. “People don’t talk about working fathers,” she once said to me.
  • Mom also had a slightly socialist streak when it came to our possessions—again, mandatory sharing. My father was given to more Stalinist purges, in which any toy not properly stored was immediately put out with the trash
  • The jacket, if it had ever had one, was long gone. The book was stained and foxed, and its olive linen boards had turned sickly institutional beige.
  • Some authors fill every inch of the canvas—everything is described and detailed; anything not mentioned doesn’t exist. Like a real-estate-listing writer, if something is worth saying, certain authors say it. (If a real estate listing doesn’t say “sunny,” you can bet the apartment is stygian dark; if it doesn’t say it has an elevator, it’s a walk-up; and if it doesn’t say “dry,” well then, a river runs through it
  • Just imagine that you are awakened tonight by someone in your family who says to you, ‘Put the things you treasure most in one small bag that you can carry. And be ready in a few minutes. We have to leave our home and we will have to make it to the nearest border.’ What mountains would you need to cross? How would you feel? How would you manage? Especially if across the border was a land where they didn’t speak your language, where they didn’t want you, where there was no work, and where you were confined to camps for months or years.
  • There’s something extraordinary about the first city you love
  • Also, how could anyone who loves books not love a book that is itself so in love with books?
  • and the year in England when Nina drank so much Ribena blackberry currant syrup that we dubbed her Nina Ribena
  • I was learning that when you’re with someone who is dying, you may need to celebrate the past, live the present, and mourn the future all at the same time.
  • Accidental: superstitiously, I almost always feel the need to buy any book that I knock over. And
  • I was reminded of visiting Disneyland, The Happiest Place on Earth, and seeing some families ready to tear one another’s eyes out—the kids sobbing inconsolably from greed and exhaustion and the stress of it all, the parents looking daggers at each other, the older children rolling their eyes or clearly stoned out of their minds. Every now and then you even heard someone say a variation of the following: “We traveled all this way and paid all this money, and you are going to have fun, do you hear me? You will have fun right now, damnit, or I’ll pack up the whole family and drive us home this instant, and we’ll never come back again.”
  • Okay, so I’d suggested a book that might have been a bit dark. This was not even a particularly big offense in the pantheon of book club crimes, where the worst sin one could commit was not to read the book in question—or, even worse, to lie about having read the book when, in fact, you’d simply seen the movie, a lie usually uncovered when you used the actor’s name by accident. (“I love the part when Daniel Day-Lewis …”)
  • In 1993 Judy was in southern Sudan, helping a community that desperately needed food. An airdrop was planned, and the planes were supposed to come in from one direction. They came in from another. A two-hundred-pound sack of food that was dropped from the sky missed its target and landed on Judy’s leg, crushing it in ten places. Miraculously, a doctor doing relief work was right there: Judy was bleeding so much that at one point she had no pulse. First, Judy’s lower leg was amputated in Africa. Then, at the Mayo Clinic, most of the upper leg had to be amputated too. But Judy survived and continued to work with refugees. “Fortunately, the leg knocked off was my polio leg,” Judy would tell a Chicago Tribune reporter. “I’ve always been lucky.” All of them Mom considered brave
  • Mom would often talk about a refugee boy she’d met in a hospital in Afghanistan. He was the victim of a land mine and had lost a leg. She said to him that she brought greetings to him from schoolchildren in New York. “Tell them not to worry about me,” this little boy told her from his hospital bed. “I still have one leg.”
  • When you’re sick, just about the last place you want to be is in a hospital
  • But modern life itself is an interruption machine: phone calls, emails, texts, news, television, and our own restless minds. The greatest gift you can give anyone is your undivided attention—yet I’d been constantly dividing mine. No one was getting it, not even me.
  • Every time I put the book down to go grab some mocha, or check my email, or make a call, I returned to find Mom rereading it, sneakily wolfing down passages as though I’d left behind a bag of cookies, not a book, and she was scooping up crumbs behind my back
  • one based on getting people to stop using feelings as an excuse for their actions
  • Just by giving friendship and love, you keep the people around you from giving up—and each expression of friendship or love may be the one that makes all the difference.
  • Then she added, “I’m glad to know that the mouth sores won’t be bad. I didn’t like them at all.” She said this as though mouth sores were a matter of taste, something some people actually enjoyed.
  • You can’t know if you want to meet someone until you’ve met them, until you’ve started to talk and, most important, asked them questions. I’ve met the most wonderful people that way. And
  • “Of all the places I’ve been, the place I most want to go back to is Pakistan,” Mom said. “But I don’t think that’s in the cards. Nancy and my other friends there say it’s even more dangerous now than Afghanistan. But obviously I’m not worried about getting killed.” Mom smiled.
  • But I don’t entirely approve of people who get advanced degrees and then decide to stay at home. I think if society gives you the gift of one of those educations and you take a spot in a very competitive institution, then you should do something with that education to help others.
  • I think I got used to being tired all the time. If I’d waited until I was well rested to read, I never would have read anything
  • Too many people use the excuse that they don’t think they can do enough, so they decide they don’t have to do anything.
  • It’s incredibly grand, built at a time when banks were temples to money and no expense was spared in creating spaces that would awe visitors and give them confidence in the abilities of the owners to take their money and make vast sums for their customers.
  • We redecorated all sorts of literary apartments and fit our lives into and around them. Never movie apartments or TV apartments—those spaces were too literal, too fleshed out, with no room for the imagination
  • Whenever anyone doing humanitarian or refugee work or the hard task of journalism in troubled areas was killed or injured, Mom felt it pushed the balance toward chaos.
  • We’re all in the end-of-our-life book club, whether we acknowledge it or not; each book we read may well be the last, each conversation the final one.
  • The port, implanted in her chest for her chemo treatments, was now protruding from her skin, a foreign object that no longer served any purpose, like a gas pipe that jutted into an apartment now heated by steam and electricity.
  • I, on the other hand, continue to waste a significant portion of my life watching reality television, learning about the lives of dubious celebrities, and consuming cultural garbage with the feigned irony and faux populism that’s a hallmark of my generation and the ones that immediately follow
  • New York is a place that inspires hypocrisy. When I’m walking, I curse the cabs that race through yellow lights, but I tip generously when I’m late and my driver does just that
  • Then she whispered something to me, with a conspiratorial smile: “A friend left me a plant—to help me have an appetite. I made it into a tea just like she said. But I didn’t like it, so I’m not doing that again.” It took me a minute to figure out that Mom was talking about marijuana
  • There is no place more perfectly lonely than an airport at night when you fear someone you love is dying and you’re rushing to see that person.
  • One of the phrases she kept uttering was “It is what it is.” But everyone, including David and Nancy, had one more good conversation with her.
  • It was an extraordinary sight—a stranger tending to our mother with infinite care
  • I also noted a special pile of books. They were to be the next ones for our book club. They were in their own small stack, separate from the others.
  • If you aren’t ten minutes early, you’re late
  • Mary Anne saw the worst and believed the best.
  • Mom taught me that you can make a difference in the world and that books really do matter: they’re how we know what we need to do in life, and how we tell others

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

My Review

Much of the dialogue is veiled in philosophy, nothing is ever said directly. The internal monologue seemed incessantly tedious. Conversations are held between characters and even though I’ve just read the first Dune novel, this one seems to ostracise the reader from the Arrakis world, their thoughts and motives. The theme of an ecological novel which was ever present in Dune is sorely missing from Dune Messiah which in turn renders this novel more plot-based than character or theme based. Paul’s thoughts are deeply interwoven with mystery and philosophy which is at times hard to get through. Alia’s character seems more dominant in this novel yet the dominance is eclipsed by brevity of her appearances. Lady Jessica is completely missing which begs the question: how can an important character such as the Reverend Mother be completely dispensed off with? Overall a huge disappointment following the brilliance that was Dune.

  • Here was another ingredient of ideal history: a material whose psychic chemistry unraveled Time. Without melange, the Sisterhood’s Reverend Mothers could not perform their feats of observation and human control. Without melange, the Guild’s Steersmen could not navigate across space. Without melange, billions upon billions of Imperial citizens would die of addictive withdrawal. Without melange, Paul-Muad’dib could not prophesy
  • Reason is the first victim of strong emotion
  • A creature who has spent his life creating one particular representation of his selfdom will die rather than become the antithesis of that representation,dune-messiah
  • They’re trained to believe, not to know. Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous.”
  • And Paul heard himself say in the vision: “It was mostly sweet … but you were the sweetest of all … ”
  • An object seen from a distance betrays only its principle,” Scytale said, revealing that he wished to discuss the Emperor’s fortress Keep. “That which is dark and evil may be seen for evil at any distance,” Farok said, advising delay.
  • But revenue information must be kept secret, Scytale thought. More than one government has fallen because people discovered the real extent of official wealth.
  • Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It is when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague ritual.
  • Korba raised outstretched arms for the benediction and a trick of the afternoon sun cast a red halo onto the window behind him. For a moment, Stilgar saw the Court Qizara as a figure crucified on a fiery wheel
  • How can my brother give you explicit information about the limits of something which has no limits? The boundaries escape the intellect.”
  • Stilgar aimed only at victory, not at discovering truth. Peace, justice and a sound coinage—these anchored Stilgar’s universe. He wanted something visible and real—a signature on a treaty.
  • “There are limits to power, as those who put their hopes in a constitution always discover,” Paul said.
  • “Constitutions become the ultimate tyranny,” Paul said. “They’re organized power on such a scale as to be overwhelming. The constitution is social power mobilized and it has no conscience. It can crush the highest and the lowest, removing all dignity and individuality. It has an unstable balance point and no limitations
  • He felt suddenly fearful that in reaching for any new thing he might let fall what was most precious, that even the slightest noise from him might send the universe crashing back, receding until he never could recapture any piece of it.
  • Everywhere there is peace, Paul thought. Everywhere … except in the heart of Muad’dib.
  • Truth suffers from too much analysis. —Ancient Fremen Saying
  • Wild Fremen said it well: “Four things cannot be hidden—love, smoke, a pillar of fire and a man striding across the open bled.”
  • It is said one can always tell an aristocrat: he reveals only those of his vices which will make him popular.
  • Power tends to isolate those who hold too much of it. Eventually, they lose touch with reality … and fall.
  • “What religion and self-interest cannot hide, governments can,” Edric said.
  • “What manner of weapon is religion when it becomes the government?”
  • I told him that to endure oneself may be the hardest task in the universe
  • You might start the long march toward that throne as a human of dignity, but you ended the march as a gnat
  • This setting was an atavism, subtly contrived, effective. He hated his own hand in it.
  • “I’m riddled with conundrums,” Bijaz said, “but not all of them stupid. To be gone, Usul, is to be a bygone. Yes? Let us let bygones be bygones. Dhuri speaks truth, and I’ve the talent for hearing that, too.”
  • There exists a limit to the force even the most powerful may apply without destroying themselves. Judging this limit is the true artistry of government.

Dune by Frank Herbert

  • A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct
  • one does not obtain food-safety-freedom by instinct alone … animal consciousness a (1)does not extend beyond the given moment nor into the idea that its victims may become extinct
  • There must be terrible purpose in it … the pain and fear had been terrible. He understood terrible purposes. They drove against all odds. They were their own necessity
  • To set you free.” “Free?” “Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.” “ ‘Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind,’ ” Paul quoted.
  • His voice came out tenor with a sweet, musical quality. (Emphasis on voice, tone as seen previously with Jessica, Paul and the old woman. The author stress on the tenor of voices to set the mood, introduce a character, their personality. Seems a bit odd in context but hopefully the implications of the descriptions will be seen later on)
  • Sardaukar (Sardaukar: Sarkar+Sardar?)
  • In politics, the tripod is the most unstable of all structures.
  • “The willow submits to the wind and prospers until one day it is many willows — a wall against the wind. This is the willow’s purpose.”
  • That people could want so for water they had to recycle their body moisture struck him with a feeling of desolation. “Water’s precious there,” he said.
  • “As the Duke’s son you’ll never want for it, but you’ll see the pressures of thirst all around you.”
  • “Grave this on your memory, lad: A world is supported by four things … ” She held up four big-knuckled fingers. “… the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave”
  • She asked me to tell her what it is to rule,” Paul said. “And I said that one commands. And she said I had some unlearning to do.”
  • She said the mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.
  • chiefly noted as betrayer of Duke Leto Atreides (Author has already informed the reader on Yeuh’s character, that he betrayed Leto, instead of the reader finding out for himself through the course of the story.)
  • What I do is done to be certain my Wanna no longer can be hurt by the Harkonnen beasts (is this the reason for Yueh’s betrayal?)
  • “How could you win the loyalty of such men?” “There are proven ways: play on the certain knowledge of their superiority, the mystique of secret covenant, the esprit of shared suffering. It can be done. It has been done on many worlds in many times. (The S.S. Nazi and Hitler connection.)
  • We know the Harkonnen policy with planetary populations — spend as little as possible to maintain them
  • You must teach me someday how you do that,” he said, “the way you thrust your worries aside and turn to practical matters. It must be a Bene Gesserit thing.” “It’s a female thing,” she
  • “The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.
  • “My Lady, when one has lived with prophecy for so long, the moment of revelation is a shock.”
  • What delicious abandon in the sleep of a child
  • But never twice the same,” he said. “It’s like life—it presents a different face each time you take it. Some hold that the spice produces a learned-flavor reaction. The body, learning a thing is good for it, interprets the flavor as pleasurable—slightly euphoric. And, like life, never to be truly synthesized.” (Properties of the spice)a (2)
  • She sighed. “ … motivating people, forcing them to your will, gives you a cynical attitude toward humanity. It degrades everything it touches. If I made him do … this, then it would not be his doing.”
  • Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test that it’s a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.
  • Please permit the room to convey a lesson we learned from the same teachers: the proximity of a desirable thing tempts one to overindulgence. On that path lies danger.
  • “Of course, my Lord. You asked what they were shouting, though. It was ‘Mahdi!’ They directed the term at the young master. When they—” “At Paul?” “Yes, my Lord. They’ve a legend here, a prophecy, that a leader will come to them, child of a Bene Gesserit, to lead them to true freedom. It follows the familiar messiah pattern.”
  • On that first day when Muad’Dib rode through the streets of Arrakeen with his family, some of the people along the way recalled the legends and the prophecy and they ventured to shout: “Mahdi!” But their shout was more a question than a statement, for as yet they could only hope he was the one foretold as the Lisan al-Gaib, the Voice from the Outer World. Their attention was focused, too, on the mother, because they had heard she was a Bene Gesserit and it was obvious to them that she was like the other Lisan al-Gaib.
  • Straight overhead, the stars were a sequin shawl flung over blue-black. Low on the southern horizon, the night’s second moon peered through a thin dust haze—an unbelieving moon that looked at him with a cynical light.
  • “We cannot kill off large segments of our population with poison—and we cannot be attacked this way, either. Arrakis makes us moral and ethical.” (The Duke is in a constant battle of right and wrong. There is a thin line between the two, the line being Arrakis)
  • But the young body carried a sense of command, a poised assurance, as though he saw and knew things all around him that were not visible to others
  • And Kynes rubbed his cheek, thinking of the legend: “He shall know your ways as though born to them.”
  • The Lisan al-Gaib shall see through all subterfuge.
  • Without turning, Kynes said; “When God hath ordained a creature to die in a particular place. He causeth that creature’s wants to direct him to that place.”
  • Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man. —from “Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

  • There’s deception in his words, Jessica thought. Why is he lying? Paul wondered. (Paul and Jessica, mother and son seem to be on equal level of consciousness, detecting deception in others instantaneously. Where one’s thoughts end, the other’s begins.)
  • They were cheap masks locked on festering thoughts—voices gabbling to drown out the loud silence in every breast.
  • Growth is limited by that necessity which is present in the least amount. And, naturally, the least favorable condition controls the growth rate.
  • to see certainty of truth when the stress is great
  • There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.
  • “I never could bring myself to trust a traitor,” the Baron said. “Not even a traitor I created.”
  • And she knew where she had seen such a look before: pictured in records of disasters—on the faces of children who experienced starvation or terrible injury. The eyes were like pits, mouth a straight line, cheeks indrawn. It’s the look of terrible awareness, she thought, of someone forced to the knowledge of his own mortality.
  • Paul heard his mother’s grief and felt the emptiness within himself. I have no grief, he thought. Why? Why? He felt the inability to grieve as a terrible flaw.
  • There was time to probe and test and taste, but no time to shape.
  • “The spice,” he said, “It’s in everything here—the air, the soil, the food. The geriatric spice. It’s like the Truthsayer drug. It’s a poison!”
  • We carry our past with us. And, mother mine, there’s a thing you don’t know and should—we are Harkonnensa (3)
  • The daughter the Bene Gesserit wanted—it wasn’t to end the old Atreides-Harkonnen feud, but to fix some genetic factor in their lines. What? She groped for an answer.
  • But I’m not what they expected, and I’ve arrived before my time
  • “They’ll call me … Muad’Dib, ‘The One Who Points the Way.’ Yes … that’s what they’ll call me.”
  • “I heard the storm begin,” Jessica said. The undemanding emptiness of her words helped restore some of his calm
  • My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality. “Something cannot emerge from nothing,” he said. This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable “the truth” can be. —from “Conversations with Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

  • “Any man who retreats into a cave which has only one opening deserves to die,” the Fremen said.
  • “Paradise were sure for a man who died in the service of Lisan al-Gaib,” the Fremen said. “If it is the Lisan al-Gaib you serve, as you have said it, why raise mourning cries? The memory of one who died in this fashion will live as long as the memory of man endures.”
  • Muad’Dib could indeed, see the Future, but you must understand the limits of this power. Think of sight. You have eyes, yet cannot see without light
  • He tells us “The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.”
  • An ozone smell permeated the place. (Frank Herbert is evoking the auditory, olfactory and visual senses. His world-building is strongly supported by these fractions of rich descriptions of the terrain.)
  • Paul remained standing for another eyeblink. A faint anomaly in the room’s air currents told him there was a secret exit to their right behind the filing cabinets
  • It was as though he had seen himself from a distance go out of sight down into a valley. Of the countless paths up out of that valley, some might carry a Paul Atreides back into sight, but many would not.
  • “Better a dry morsel and quietness therewith than a house full of sacrifice and strife.”
  • Fortune passes everywhere,” Halleck said. “Everywhere,” Tuek said. “A time of upset is a rare opportunity for our business. (Commentary on world wars which have always been proven profitable for some enterprises especially those involved with weaponry and training.)
  • We came from Caladan—a paradise world for our form of fife. There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or a paradise of the mind—we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life—we went soft, we lost our edge.
  • “Move slowly and the day of your revenge will come,” Tuek said. “Speed is a device of Shaitan. Cool your sorrow—we’ve the diversions for it; three things there are that ease the heart—water, green grass, and the beauty of woman
  • Subtlety and self-control were, after all, the most deadly threats to us all.
  • This Fremen religious adaptation, then, is the source of what we now recognize as “The Pillars of the Universe,” whose Qizara Tafwid are among us all with signs and proofs and prophecy. They bring us the Arrakeen mystical fusion whose profound beauty is typified by the stirring music built on the old forms, but stamped with the new awakening.
  • The real wealth of a planet is in its landscape, how we take part in that basic source of civilization—agriculture.
  • “Men and their works have been a disease on the surface of their planets before now,” his father said
  • “Religion and law among our masses must be one and the same,” his father said. “An act of disobedience must be a sin and require religious penalties. This will have the dual benefit of bringing both greater obedience and greater bravery. We must depend not so much on the bravery of individuals, you see, as upon the bravery of a whole population.”
  • “If you are the Bene Gesserit of the legend whose son will lead us to paradise … ” He shrugged. Jessica sighed, thinking: So our Missionaria Protectiva even planted religious safety valves all through this hell hole. Ah, well … it’ll help, and that’s what it was meant to do.
  • How much is actual prediction of the “waveform” (as Muad’Dib referred to his vision-image) and how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What of the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy
  • “Well, now, to answer your question, my young wali, I am one who does not pay the fai, the water tribute, to the Harkonnens. That is why I might welcome a fugitive.”
  • this was the language of Ilm and Fiqh
  • She must’ve been good, that Bene Gesserit of the Missionaria Protectiva. These Fremen are beautifully prepared to believe in us.
  • Paul started to speak, hesitated, remembering his mother’s teaching: “Beginnings are such delicate times. ”
  • The Fremen were supreme in that quality the ancients called “spannungsbogen”—which is the self-imposed delay between desire for a thing and the act of reaching out to grasp that thing. —from “The Wisdom of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

  • “We change it … slowly but with certainty … to make it fit for human life. Our generation will not see it, nor our children nor our children’s children nor the grandchildren of their children … but it will come.” He stared with veiled eyes out over the basin. “Open water and tall green plants and people walking freely without stillsuits.” So that’s the dream of this Liet-Kynes, she thought. And she said: “Bribes are dangerous; they have a way of growing larger and larger.”
  • There came over her then a longing for a rainbow in this place that would never see rain. I must suppress such longings, she thought. They’re a weakness. I no longer can afford weaknesses.
  • A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people. He maintains the level of individuals. Too few individuals, and a people reverts to a mob
  • He wants a sign from me, but he’ll not tip fate by telling me the sign.
  • Awareness flowed into that timeless stratum where he could view time, sensing the available paths, the winds of the future … the winds of the past: the one-eyed vision of the past, the one-eyed vision of the present and the one-eyed vision of the future—all combined in a trinocular vision that permitted him to see time-become-space.
  • A kind of Heisenberg indeterminacy intervened: the expenditure of energy that revealed what he saw, changed what he saw.
  • And what he saw was a time nexus within this cave, a boiling of possibilities focused here, wherein the most minute action—the wink of an eye, a careless word, a misplaced grain of sand—moved a gigantic lever across the known universe. He saw violence with the outcome subject to so many variables that his slightest movement created vast shiftings in the pattern.
  • Paul swallowed. He felt that he played a part already played over countless times in his mind … yet … there were differences. He could see himself perched on a dizzying summit, having experienced much and possessed of a profound store of knowledge, but all around him was abyss. And again he remembered the vision of fanatic legions following the green and black banner of the Atreides, pillaging and burning across the universe in the name of their prophet Muad’Dib. That must not happen, he told himself.
  • There was no past occupying the future in his mind … except … except … he could still sense the green and black Atreides banner waving … somewhere ahead … still see the jihad’s bloody swords and fanatic legions. It will not be, he told himself. I cannot let it be.
  • Memory of Duncan Idaho’s voice flowed through Paul’s awareness: “When your opponent fears you, then’s the moment when you give the fear its own rein, give it the time to work on him. Let it become terror. The terrified man fights himself. Eventually, he attacks in desperation. That is the most dangerous moment, but the terrified man can be trusted usually to make a fatal mistake. You are being trained here to detect these mistakes and use them. ”
  • “I will tell you a thing about your new name,” Stilgar said. “The choice pleases us. Muad’Dib is wise in the ways of the desert. Muad’Dib creates his own water. Muad’Dib hides from the sun and travels in the cool night. Muad’Dib is fruitful and multiplies over the land. Muad’Dib we call ‘instructor-of-boys.’ That is a powerful base on which to build your life, Paul-Muad’Dib, who is Usul among us. We welcome you.”
  • The meeting between ignorance and knowledge, between brutality and culture—it begins in the dignity with which we treat our dead.a (4)
  • He felt a new sense of wonder at the limits of his gift. It was as though he rode within the wave of time, sometimes in its trough, sometimes on a crest—and all around him the other waves lifted and fell, revealing and then hiding what they bore on their surface.
  • He realized suddenly that it was one thing to see the past occupying the present, but the true test of prescience was to see the past in the future.
  • Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.
  • The Padishah Emperor turned against House Atreides because the Duke’s Warmasters Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho had trained a fighting force — a small fighting force — to within a hair as good as the Sardaukar. Some of them were even better. And the Duke was in a position to enlarge his force, to make it every bit as strong as the Emperor’s.
  • But it’s well known that repression makes a religion flourish.
  • “The Fremen have a simple, practical religion,” he said. “Nothing about religion is simple,” she warned. But Paul, seeing the clouded future that still hung over them, found himself swayed by anger. He could only say: “Religion unifies our forces. It’s our mystique.” “You deliberately cultivate this air, this bravura,” she charged. “You never cease indoctrinating.” “Thus you yourself taught me,” he said.
  • In the landscape of a myth he could not orient himself and say: “I am I because I am here.”
  • She had quoted a Bene Gesserit proverb to him: “When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement become headlong — faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”
  • You cannot avoid the interplay of politics within an orthodox religion. This power struggle permeates the training, educating and disciplining of the orthodox community. Because of this pressure, the leaders of such a community inevitably must face that ultimate internal question: to succumb to complete opportunism as the price of maintaining their rule, or risk sacrificing themselves for the sake of the orthodox ethic. —from “Muad’Dib: The Religious Issues” by the Princess Irulan

  • What can his desert woman do for a Duke except serve him coffee? she asked herself. She brings him no power, no family. Paul has only one major chance — to ally himself with a powerful Great House, perhaps even with the Imperial family. There are marriageable princesses, after all, and every one of them Bene Gesserit trained. Jessica imagined herself leaving the rigors of Arrakis for the life of power and security she could know as mother of a royal consort. She glanced at the thick hangings that obscured the rock of this cavern cell, thinking of how she had come here — riding amidst a host of worms, the palanquins and pack platforms piled high with necessities for the coming campaign. As long as Chani lives, Paul will not see his duty, Jessica thought. She has given him a son and that is enough. (Jessica’s shocking change of attitude towards her sons security in the Imperium, and his beloved Chani who now seems more of an obstacle in Paul’s confirming to his duties. Will she now become the betrayer she was thought of as by Hawat and Gurney?)
  • We must not lose that man, Jessica thought. Paul’s plan must work. Anything else would be highest tragedy.
  • Jessica translated it to herself: “Long live the fighters of Muad’Dib!” The scene she and Paul and Stilgar had cooked up between them had worked as they’d planned.
  • Paul said: “There is in each of us an ancient force that takes and an ancient force that gives. A man finds little difficulty facing that place within himself where the taking force dwells, but it’s almost impossible for him to see into the giving force without changing into something other than man. For a woman, the situation is reversed.”
  • “He who can destroy a thing has the real control of it,” Paul said. “We can destroy the spice.”
  • The language of the Great Convention is clear enough: ‘Use of atomics against humans shall be cause for planetary obliteration.’ We’re going to blast the Shield Wall, not humans.
  • They’d never known anything but victory which, Paul realized, could be a weakness in itself. He put that thought aside for later consideration in his own training program
  • “Stop playing the fool,” Paul barked. “The Guild is like a village beside a river. They need the water, but can only dip out what they require. They cannot dam the river and control it, because that focuses attention on what they take, it brings down eventual destruction. The spice flow, that’s their river, and I have built a dam. But my dam is such that you cannot destroy it without destroying the river.”
  • Did the legend not say: “And his word shall carry death eternal to those who stand against righteousness.”
  • He had thought to oppose the jihad within himself, but the jihad would be. His legions would rage out from Arrakis even without him. They needed only the legend he already had become
  • We Fremen have a saying: ‘God created Arrakis to train the faithful.’ One cannot go against the word of God.”
  • Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans in the finite space of a planetary ecosystem as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive. —Pardot Kynes, First Planetologist of Arrakis

  • Life — all life — is in the service of life
  • Ingsley’s comment is perhaps the only one possible: “Those were times of deep paradox.”5
  • The Bene Gesserit, who privately denied they were a religious order, but who operated behind an almost impenetrable screen of ritual mysticism, and whose training, whose symbolism, organization, and internal teaching methods were almost wholly religious;
  • “We are here to remove a primary weapon from the hands of disputant religions. That weapon — the claim to possession of the one and only revelation.”
  • Historians estimate the riots took eighty million lives. That works out to about six thousand for each world then in the Landsraad League. Considering the unrest of the time, this may not be an excessive estimate, although any pretense to real accuracy in the figure must be just that — pretense. Communication between worlds was at one of its lowest ebbs.
  • Riots and comedy are but symptoms of the times, profoundly revealing. They betray the psychological tone, the deep uncertainties … and the striving for something better, plus the fear that nothing would come of it all.
  • All men seek to be enlightened. Religion is but the most ancient and honorable way in which men have striven to make sense out of God’s universe. Scientists seek the lawfulness of events. It is the task of Religion to fit man into this lawfulness
  • All men must see that the teaching of religion by rules and rote is largely a hoax. The proper teaching is recognized with ease
  • You can know it without fail because it awakens within you that sensation which tells you this is something you’ve always known.”
  • Religion must remain an outlet for people who say to themselves, ‘I am not the kind of person I want to be.’ It must never sink into an assemblage of the self-satisfied.”
  • Mysticism isn’t difficult when you survive each second by surmounting open hostility
  • When religion and politics ride the same cart, when that cart is driven by a living holy man (baraka), nothing can stand in their path.”