Tag Archives: quotes

If by whiskey

A 1952 speech by Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, Jr., a young lawmaker from Mississippi, on the subject of whether Mississippi should continue to prohibit (which it did until 1966) or finally legalize alcoholic beverages:

My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

BBC World Book Club

The BBC World Book Club is a treasure trove of author interviews that I was exposed to by The Learned One. I listen to them over breakfast and lunch.
Here’s a quote from Richard Ford’s interview that interested me.

Being a writer is not a profession. Being a writer is a vocation. It runs on a line that is coterminous with your life. It covers your life. Your life covers it. You’re not promised that vocation to the end of your life. It can stop and your life can go on.

I hope I have the temerity, I hope I have the good sense to say to myself, “You’ve done this as well as you can do it. Go do something else while there is any time left for you.”

Any book you don’t write, that’s OK. It doesn’t get held against you.

Quote from Mike Mason

From The Mystery of Children by Mike Mason:Children and stories are inseperable because children live stories. Adults live in their heads, relentlessly analyzing. But children experience life directly. To children life is a story in which they are the main character.Adults, not content simply to be characters, want to be the author of their story. Being part of the story means surrendering control, but we like to think we can control our world, or at least a good chunk of it. At the very least we’d like to control our children!Children know (or at least better than adults) that they have little control. They know they’re not in control of their story, that they are not the author. To a greater or lesser extent, life simply unfolds for them. Only gradually do they enter into the state of self-realization wherein their actions become more conscious and deliberate.To be a little child is to believe implicitly in good and evil, in heroes and villains, in the invisible, in miracles and mystery, in princess and dragons, in true love and in happy endings. To be a child is to be caught up in pure story, embracing the events of one’s life uncritically because one trusts the Author.

Quotes from Stuff I Like: Davies Part 3

As Calvin said that mankind was divided between the Elect, chosen to be saved, and the Reprobate Remainder of mankind, so it seemed to be with knowledge; there were those who were born to it, and those who struggled to acquire it. With the Scholarly Elect one seems not so much to be teaching them as reminding them of something they already know. -The Rebel Angels, p. 46
It is easy to find eccentrics in universities if your notion of an eccentric is simply a fellow with some odd habits. But the true eccentric, the man who stands apart from the fashionable scholarship of his day and who may be the begetter of notable scholarship in the future, is a rarer bird. These are seldom the most popular figures, because they derive their energy from a source not understood by their contemporaries. But the more spectacular eccentrics, the Species Dingbaticus, as I had heard students call them, were attractive to me; I love a mounteback. -The Rebel Angels, p. 47
People are said to be drifting away from religion, but few of them drift so far that when they die there is not a call for some kind of religious ceremony. Is it because mankind is naturally religious, or simply because mankind is naturally cautions? -The Rebel Angels, p. 84
As for energy, only those who have never tried it for a week or two can suppose that the pursuit of knowledge does not demand a strength and determination, a resolve not to be beaten, that is a special kind of energy, and those who lack it or have it only in small store will never be scholars or teachers, because real teaching demands energy as well. To instruct calls for energy, and to remain almost silent, but watchful and helpful, while students instruct themselves, calls for even greater energy. To see someone fall (which will teach him not to fall again) when a word from you would keep him on his feet but ignorant of an important danger, is one of the tasks of the teacher that calls for special energy, because holding in is more demanding than crying out. -The Rebel Angels, p. 87
“Odd about skepticism, you know, Simon. I’ve known a few skeptical philosophers and with the exception of Parlabane they have all been quite ordinary people in the normal dealings of life. They pay their debts, have mortgages, educate their kids, google over their grandchildren, try to scrape together a competence precisely like the rest of the middle class. They come to terms with life. How do they square it with what they profess?”
“Horse sense, Clem, horse sense. It’s the saving of us all who live by the mind. We make a deal between what we can comprehend intellectually and what we are in the world as we encounter it. Only the geniuses and people with a kink try to escape, and even the geniuses often live by a thoroughly bourgeois morality. Why? Because it simplifies all the unessential things. One can’t always be improvising and seeing every triviality afresh. But Parlabane is a man with a kink.” -The Rebel Angels, pp. 99-100

Quotes from Stuff I Like: Davies Part 2

“Very nice, I grant you,” said Cobbler, “but I agree with your wife. The Vambrace girl has something very special. Mind you, I don’t mind ’em a bit tousled,” said he, and grinned raffishly at Miss Vyner, who was, above all things, clean and neat, though she tended to smell rather like a neglected ash-tray, because of smoking so much. “This business of good grooming can be carried too far. For real attraction, a girls’ clothes should have that lived-in look.”
“I supposed you really like them dirty,” said Miss Vyner.
“That’s it. Dirty and full of divine mystery,” said Cobbler, rolling his eyes and kissing his fingers. “Sheer connoisseurship, I confess, but I’ve always preferred a bit of ripened cheese to a scientifically packaged breakfast food.” -Leaven of Malice
“Music is like wine, Bridgetower,” he had said; “the less people know about it, the sweeter they like it.” -A Mixture of Frailties
During the first day or two she attempted to get on with War and Peace, but found it depressing, and as time wore on she suffered from that sense of unworthiness which attacks sensitive people who have been rebuffed by a classic. -A Mixture of Frailties
He was conscious also, and for the first time, of why Domdaniel was regarded as a great man in the world of music. He conducted admirably, of course, marshaling the singers and players, succoring the weak and subduing the too-strong, but all that was to be expected. It was in his capacity to demand more of his musicians than might have been thought prudent, or even possible(to insist that people excel themselves, and to help them to do it (that his greatness appeared. With a certainty that was itself modest (for there was nothing of “spurring on the ranks” about it) he took upon himself the task of making this undistinguished choir give a performance of the Passion which was worthy of a great university. It was not technically of the first order, but the spirit was right. He had been a great man to Monica, for he could open new windows for her, letting splendid light into her life; but now she saw that he could do so for all these clever people, who thought themselves lucky to be allowed to hang on the end of his stick. Without being in the least a showy or self-absorbed conductor he was an imperious, irresistible and masterful one. -A Mixture of Frailties
His reply had that clarity, objectivity and reasonableness which is possible only to advisors who have completely missed the point. -A Mixture of Frailties
Moral judgments belong to God, and it is part of God’s mercy that we do not have to undertake that heavy part of His work, even when the judgment concerns ourselves. -A Mixture of Frailties
But the character of the music emphasized the tale as allegory (humorous, poignant, humane allegory(disclosing the metamorphosis of life itself, in which man moves from confident inexperience through the bitterness of experience, toward the rueful wisdom of self-knowledge. -A Mixture of Frailties

Quotes from Stuff I Like: Davies Part 1

It seems quaint to those whose own personalities are not strongly marked and whose intellects are infrequently replenished. -Tempest-Tost
The Forresters, as they told everyone they met, had “neither chick nor child”. Their failure to have a chick never provoked surprise, but it was odd that they were childless; they had not sought that condition. -Tempest-Tost
He had allowed his daughters to use his library without restraint, and nothing is more fatal to maidenly delicacy of speech than the run of a good library. -Tempest-Tost
The thought which was uppermost in his mind, when at last Griselda stopped and turned to him, was that his mother never went to sleep until he had come home and that her displeasure and concern, issue from her rather as the haze of ectoplasm issues from a spiritualist medium, filled the house whenever he came home late. -Tempest-Tost
His key seemed to make a shattering noise in the lock. And when he entered the hall, which was in darkness, maternal solicitude and pique embraced him like the smell of cooking cabbage. -Tempest-Tost
And because he had been born to this lot, he accepted it without question; as children always do, and as some adults continue to do, he invented reasons why he should be as he was, instead of seeking for means by which he might be delivered from his fate. -Tempest-Tost
The borborygmy, or rumbling of the stomach, has not received the attention from either art or science which it deserves. It is as characteristic of each individual as the tone of the voice. It can be vehement, plaintive, ejaculatory, conversational, humorous(its variety is boundless. But there are few who are prepared to give it an understanding ear; it is dismissed too often with embarrassment or low wit. -Tempest-Tost

Quotes From Stuff I Read – Percy

This topic is usually called Quotes From Stuff I Like, but I wasn’t that crazy about this biography, hence the slight tweak in title. I’m pulling this quote out because of the seeming contrast between it and an earlier quote from Gardner I found interesting.Walker Percy: A Life, an excerpt from a letter:p. 223. Actually I do not consider myself a novelist but a moralist or a propagandist. My spiritual father is Pascal (and/or Kierkegaard). And if I also kneel before the altar of Lawrence and Joyce and Flaubert, it is not because I wish to do what they did, even if I could. What I realy want to do is to tell people what they must do and what they must believe if tghey want to live. Using every guile and low-handed trick int he book of course . . .The problem which all but throws me all the time is this: how does a Catholic fiction writer handle the Catholic Faith in his novel? I am not really writing to get your answer because I think I already know it–that you don’t worry about it–do what Augustine said: love God and do as you please. But this doesn’t help much. (Actually the only reason I can raise the question now is that I can see the glimmerings of an answer.) Dosteovsky knew he answer.But to show you that I am not imagining the problem: The Moviegoer was almost universally misunderstood. Its most enthusiastic admirers were preciesely those people who misunderstood it worst. It was received as a novel of “despair”–not a novel about despair but as a novel ending in despair. Even though I left broad hints that such was not at all the case.

Quotes From Stuff I Like – Russo

The Risk Pool, Richard RussoAs indicated in earlier reviews here and here, I’m a big fan of Russo. I read this book before I resumed my annual book list. Here’s two quotes that give you the flavor.-And so began the final stage of my boyhood in Mohawk. Adult, I would return from time to time. As a visitor, though, never again as a true resident. But then I wouldn’t be a true resident of any other place, either, joining instead the great multitude of wandering Americans, so many of whom have a Mohawk in their past, the memory of which propels us we know not precisely where, so long as it’s away. Return we do, but only to gain momentum for our next outward arc, each further than the last, until there is no elasticity left, nothing to draw us home.-“A Midwesterner,” she said. “And a midwesterner you will be until the day you die.” Actually, F. William Peterson was from Pennsylvania, but this fact did not, to her mind, invalidate my mother’s point. He was from the western half of Pennsylvania, “practically Ohio,” and you couldn’t grow up that close to Ohio without being Ohio. Ohio was that pervasive. Next to Iowa, she couldn’t think of a worse influence.

Quotes From Stuff I Like – Moore

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, Christopher MooreIn honor of Columbus Day, a quote from a Christopher. Not much I liked from this book, but this one sentence spoke to me. I’d be proud to have this sentence in any novel I wrote.p. 39. He put his big paw on my shoulder and rubbed, leaving a dusty circle of affection on my shirt.