Thomas Hardy: The Poetry of Motion

hardyThe poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, first enlarging the consciousness with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are horizontal and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars.

–Thomas Hardy, from Far From the Madding Crowd

Wendell Berry: We Need Something New

230ea-wendellberrybyguymendesThe aim and result of war necessarily is not peace but victory, and any victory won by violence necessarily justifies the violence that won it and leads to further violence. If we are serious about innovation, must we not conclude that we need something new to replace our perpetual “war to end war”?

–Wendell Berry, from “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”

Twain: Silly Man

 

Twain1909The average man is what his environment and his superstitions have made him; and their function is to make him an ass. He can’t add up three or four new circumstances together and perceive what they mean; it is beyond him. He is not capable of observing for himself. He has to get everything at second hand. If what are miscalled the lower animals were as silly as man is, they would all perish from the earth in a year.

 –Mark Twain, from “The Appetite Cure”

Paulo Freire: Enemies Who Must Be Watched

(Image credit: Slobodan Dimitrov)
The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own “effort,” with their “courage to take risks.” If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the “generous gestures” of the dominant class. Precisely because they are “ungrateful” and “envious,” the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched.


–Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Karl Marx: Nothing to Expect but a Hiding

He, who before was the money owner, now strides in front as capitalist; the possessor of labour power follows as his labourer. The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but–a hiding.

                      –Karl Marx, from Capital

Chomsky: Power Used Wisely

(Image Credit: Duncan Rawlinson)

It is only in folk tales, children’s stories, and the journals of intellectual opinion that power is used wisely and well to destroy evil. The real world teaches very different lessons, and it takes willful and dedicated ignorance to fail to perceive them.

–Noam Chomsky, from a talk given at Tufts University in 2001