Norman Maclean (American Writer, 1902-1990)

In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.

Norman Maclean, "A River Runs Through It And Other Stories", The University of Chicago Press, U.S.A, 1976, p. 1

Sunrise is the time to feel that you will be able to find out how to help somebody close to you who you think needs help even if he doesn't think so. At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.

Norman Maclean, "A River Runs Through It And Other Stories", The University of Chicago Press, U.S.A, 1976, p. 28

We sat on the bank and river went by. As always, it was making sounds to itself, and now it made sounds to us. It would be hard to find three men sitting side by side who knew better what a river was saying.

On the Big Blackfoot River above the mouth of Belmont Creek the banks are fringed by large Ponderosa pines. In the slanting sun of late afternoon the shadows of great branches reached from across the river, and the trees took the river in their arms. The shadows continued up the bank, until they included us.

A river, though, has so many things to say that it is hard to know what it says to each of us. As we were packing our tackle and fish in the car, Paul repeated, "Just give me three more years." At the time, I was surprised at the repetition, but later I realized that the river somewhere, sometime, must have told me, too, that he would receive no such gift. For, when the police sergeant early next May wakened me before daybreak, I rose and asked no questions. Together we drove across the Continental Divide and down the length of the Big Blackfoot River over forest floors yellow and sometimes white with glacier lilies to tell my father and mother that my brother had been beaten to death by the butt of a revolver and his body dumped in an alley.

My mother turned and went to her bedroom where, in a house full of men and rods and rifles, she had faced most of her great problems alone. She was never to ask me a question about the man she loved most and understood least. Perhaps she knew enough to know that for her it was enough to have loved him. He was probably the only man in the world who had held her in his arms and leaned back and laughed.

When I finished talking to my father, he asked, "Is there anything else you can tell me?"

Finally, I said, "Nearly all the bones in his hand were broken."

He almost reached the door and then turned back for reassurance. "Are you sure that the bones in his hand were broken?" he asked. I repeated, "Nearly all the bones in his hand were broken." "In which hand?" he asked. "In his right hand," I answered.

After my brother's death, my father never walked very well again. He had to struggle to lift his feet, and, when he did get them up, they came down slightly out of control. From time to time Paul's right hand had to be reaffirmed; then my father would shuffle away again. He could not shuffle in a straight line from trying to lift his feet. Like many Scottish ministers before him, he had to derive what comfort he could from the faith that his son had died fighting.

For some time, though, he struggled for more to hold on to. "Are you sure you have told me everything you know about his death?" he asked. I said "Everything." "It's not much, is it?" "No" I replied, "but you can love completely without complete understanding." "That I have known and preached," my father said.

Once my father came back with another question. "Do you think I could have helped him?" he asked. Even if I might have thought longer, I would have made the same answer. "Do you think I could have helped him?" I answered. We stood waiting in deference to each other. How can a question be answered that asks a lifetime of questions?

Norman Maclean, "A River Runs Through It And Other Stories", The University of Chicago Press, U.S.A, 1976, p. 101-103


Paul Theroux (American Travel Writer and Novelist, 1941-...)

Ever since childhood, when I lived within earshot of the Boston and Maine, I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it.

Paul Theroux, "The Great Railway Bazaar, By Train Through Asia", Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1979, P.11

We went on eating and drinking. If there had been a dining car we would have had a simple meal and left it at that. Because there was no dining car we ate all the way to Milan, the fear of hunger producing a hunger of its own. Monique said we were like Belgians, who ate constantly.

Paul Theroux, "The Great Railway Bazaar, By Train Through Asia", Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1979, P.31

Istanbul begins as train passes the city wall at the Golden Gate, the Arch of Triumph of Theodosius-built in 380 but not appreciably more decrepit than the strings of Turkidh laundry that flap at its base. Here, for no apparent reason, the train picked up speed and rushed east along Istanbul's snout, past the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Sarayi, and then circled to the Golden Horn. Sirkeci Station is nothing compared to its sister station, Haydarpasa, just across the Bosphorus, but it's nearness to the busy Eminonu Square and one of the prettiest mosques in the city, Yeni Valide Camii, not to mention the Galata Bridge ( which accommodates a whole community of hawkers, fish stalls, shops, restaurants, and pickpockets disguised as peddlers and touts), gives to one's arrival in Istanbul by the Direct-Orient Express the combined shock and exhilaration of being pitched headfirst into a bazaar.

Paul Theroux, "The Great Railway Bazaar, By Train Through Asia", Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1979, P.45

Yashar's own characteristics were even stranger. A Kurd, he is devoted to Turkey and will not hear of secession; he is an ardent supporter of both the Soviet government and Solzenitsyin, which is something like rooting for the devil as well as Daniel Webster; he is a Muslim Marxist, his wife is a Jew, and the only foreign country he likes better than Russia is Israel, 'my garden'. With the physique of a bull and the gentleness of a child, he maintaines in the same breath that Yoknapatawpha Country has an eternal glory and that the Kremlin's commissars are visionary archangels. His convictions defy reason, and at times they are as weirdly unexpected as the blond hair and freckles you see in Asia Minor. But Yashar's complexity is the Turkish character on a large scale.

I told Molesworth this at our farewell lunch. He was skeptical. 'I'm sure he is a marvelous chap,' he said. But you want to be careful with the Turks. They were neutral during the war, you know, and if they'd had any backbone at all they would have been on our side.'

Paul Theroux, "The Great Railway Bazaar, By Train Through Asia", Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1979, P.56

The Siberian part of Nakhodka in December gives the impression of being on the very edge of the world, in an atmosphere that does not quite support life. The slender trees are leafless; the ground is packed hard, and no grass grows on it; the streets have no traffic, the sidewalks no people. There are lights burning, but they are like lighthouse beacons positioned to warn people who stray near Nakhodka that it is a place of danger and there is only emptiness beyond it. The subzero weather makes it odorless and not a single sound wrinkles it's silence. It is the sort of place that gives rise to the notion that the earth is flat.

Paul Theroux, "The Great Railway Bazaar, By Train Through Asia", Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1979, P.343

(...) Siberia was wood and snow-even the railway buildings matched the forest: throughout Chitinskaya the stations were wooden structures made of many carefully slanted bare planks plastered with frost. 

Paul Theroux, "The Great Railway Bazaar, By Train Through Asia", Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1979, P.362


Ford Madox Ford (British Writer, Novelist, 1873-1939)

I suppose I should really like to be a polygamist; with Nancy, and with Leonora, and with Maisie Maidan and possibly even with Florence. I am no doubt like every other man; only, probably because of my Armerican origin I am fainter. At the same time I am able to assure you that I am a strictly respectable person. I have never done anything that the most anxious mother of a daughter or the most careful dean of a cathedral would object to. I have only followed, faintly, and in my unconscious desires, Edward Ashburnham. Well, it is all over. Not one of us has got what he really wanted. Leonora wanted Edward, and she has got Rodney Bayham, a pleasant enough sort of sheep. Florence wanted Branshaw, and it is I who have bought it from Leonora. I didn't really want it; what I wanted mostly was to cease being a nurse-attendant. Well, I am a nurse-attendant. Edward wanted Nancy Rufford and I have got her. Only she is mad. It is a queer and fantastic world. Why can't people have what they want? The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has the wrong thing. Perhaps you can make head or tail of it; it is beyond me.

Is there any terrestrial paradise where, amidst the whispering of the olive-leaves, people can be with whom they like and have what they like and take their ease in shadows and in coolness? Or are all men's lives like the lives of us good people-like the lives of the Ashburnhams, of the Dowells, of the Ruffords-broken, tumultuous, agonised, and unromantic lives, periods punctuated by screams, by imbecilities, by deaths, by agonies? Who the devil knows?

Ford Madox Ford, "The Good Soldier", Oxford University Press, Great Britain, 1999, p. 272-273

Edward was the normal man, but there was too much of the sentimentalist about him and society does not need too many sentimentalists. Nancy was a splendid creature but she had about her a touch of madness. Society does not need individuals with touch of madness about them. So Edward and Nancy found themselves steam-rolled out and Leonora survives, the perfectly normal type, married to a man who is rather like a rabbit. For Rodney Bayham is rather like a rabbit and I hear that Leonora is expected to have a baby in three months' time.

Ford Madox Ford, "The Good Soldier", Oxford University Press, Great Britain, 1999, p. 274

Mind, I am not preaching anything contrary to accepted morality. I am not advocating free love in this or any other case. Society must go on, I suppose, and society can only exist if the normal, if the virtuous, and the slightly-deceitful flourish, and if the passionate, the headstrong, and the too-truthful are condemned to suicide and to madness. But I guess that I myself, in my fainter way, come into the category of the passionate, of the headstrong, and the too-truthful. For I can't conceal from myself the fact that I loved Edward Ashburnham-and that I love him because he was just myself. If I had had the courage and the virlity and possibly also the physique of Edward Ashburnham I should, I fancy, have done much what he did. He seems to me like a large elder brother who took me out on several excursions and did many dashing things whilst I just watched him robbing the orchards, from a distance. And, you see, I am just as much of a sentimentalist as he was...

Yes, society must go on; it must breed, like rabbits. That is what we are here for. But, then I don't like society-much.

Ford Madox Ford, "The Good Soldier", Oxford University Press, Great Britain, 1999, p. 291


Kurt Vonnegut (American Novelist, 1922-2007)

From there he traveled in time to 1965. He was 45 years old, and he was visiting his decrepit mother at Pine Knoll, an old people’s home he had put her in only a month before. She had caught pneumonia, and wasn’t expected to live. She did live, though, for years after that.

Her voice was nearly gone, so, in order to hear her, Bily had to put his ear right next to her papery lips. She evidently had something very important to say.

‘How …?’ she began, and she stopped. She was too tired. She hoped that she wouldn’t have to say the rest of sentence, that Billy would finish it for her.

But Billy had no idea what was on her mind. ‘How what, Mother?’ he prompted.

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?’

Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse 5", p. 32

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 Dostoyevsky. “But that isn’t enough anymore’ said Rosewater.

Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse 5", p. 73


Charles Bukowski (American Novelist, 1920 – 1994)

Dee Dee knew something about life. Dee Dee knew that what happened to one happened to most of us. Our lives were not so different –even though we liked to think so.

Charles Bukowski, "Women", p. 53

Pain is strange. A cat killing a bird, a car accident, a fire … Pain arrives, BANG, and there it is, it sits on you. It’s real. And to anybody watching, you look foolish. Like you’ve suddenly become an idiot. There’s no cure for it unless you know somebody who understands how you feel, and knows how to help.

Charles Bukowski, "Women", p. 53

That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.

Charles Bukowski, "Women", p. 171

‘Who was your favorite author?’



‘John F-a-n-t-e. Ask the Dust, Wait Until Spring, Bandini’

‘Where can we find his books?’

‘I found them in the main library, downtown Fifth and Olive, isn’t it?’

‘Why did you like him?’

‘Total emotion. A very brave man.’

‘Who else?’



‘They sipped out his guts and he laughed, and he made them laugh too. A very brave man.’

‘Do you believe in bravery?’

‘I like to see anywhere, in animals, birds, reptiles, humans.’


‘Why? It makes me feel good. It’s a matter of style in the face of no chance at all.’




‘Too grim. Too serious. A good writer, fine sentences. But for him, life was always total war. He never let go, he never danced.’

They folded up their notebooks and vanished. Too bad. I had meant to tell them that my real influences were Gable, Cagney, Bogart and Errol Flyn.’

 Charles Bukowski, "Women", p. 200-201

I thought about breakups, how difficult they were, but then usually it was only after you broke up with one woman that you met another. I had to taste women in order to really know them, to get inside of them. I could invent men in my mind because I was one, but women, for me were almost impossible to fictionalize without first knowing them. So I explored them at best I could and found human beings inside. The writing would be forgotten. The writing would become much less than the episode itself until the episode ended. The writing was only the residue. A man didn’t have to have a woman in order to feel as real as he could feel, but it was good if he knew a few. Then when the affair went wrong he’d feel what it was like to be truly lonely and crazed, and thus know what he must face, finally, when his own end came.

Charles Bukowski, "Women", p. 227

They wouldn’t fire me. Even the salesmen liked me. They were robbing the boss out the back door but I didn’t say anything. That was their little game. It didn’t interest me. I wasn’t much of a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.

Charles Bukowski, "Post Office", p. 63

‘The ocean’ I said ‘look at it out there, battering, crawling up and down. And underneath all that, the fish, the poor fish fighting each other, eating each other. We’re like those fish, only we’re up here. One bad move and you’re finished. It’s nice to be a champion. It’s nice to know your moves.’

Charles Bukowski, "Post Office", p. 140


Saul Bellow (American Novelist, 1915 – 2005)

Boredom is strength, Bolingbroke. The bored man gets his way sooner than the next guy. When you’re bored you’re respected.

Saul Bellow, "The Adventures of Augie March", p. 425

What I guess about you is that you have a nobility syndrome. You can’t adjust to the reality situation. I can see it all over you. You want there should be Man, with capital M, with great stature. As we’ve been pals since boyhood, I know you and what you think. Remember how you used to come to the house every day? But I know what you want. O paidea! O King David! O Plutarch and Seneca! O chivalry, o Abbot Sugar! O Strozzi Palace, o Weimar! O Don Giovanni, o lineaments of gratified desire! O godlike man! Tell me, pal, am I getting warm or not?

Saul Bellow, “The Adventures of Augie March”, Everyman’s Library, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1995, p. 500

Look at me, going everywhere! Why, I am a sort of Colombus of those near-at-hand and believe you can come to them in this immediate terra incognita that spreads out in every gaze. I may well be flop at this line of endeavour. Colombus too thought he was a flop, probably, when they sent him back in chains, which didn’t prove there was no America.

Saul Bellow, “The Adventures of Augie March”, Everyman’s Library, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1995, p. 616

Man is a creature who has something to say about everything under the sun.

Saul Bellow, "Ravelstein", p. 94

Associate with the noblest people you can find; read the best books; live with the mighty; but learn to be happy alone.

Saul Bellow, "Ravelstein", p. 161

Why shouldn’t a man want a beautiful wife? If he is going to renounce all others, he might as well get a beauty.

Saul Bellow, “More Die of Heartbreak”, Penguin Books, England, 1988, p. 254


Patricia Highsmith (American Novelist, 1921 – 1995)

The only thing that makes one feel happy and alive is trying for something that one cannot get.

Patricia Highsmith, “Beautiful Shadow-Life of Patricia Highsmith”, Andrew Wilson, Bloomsbury, New York, 2003, p. 409


Salman Rushdie (Indian-British Novelist & Essayist, 1947 - )

There is still plenty worth telling.

Salman Rushdie, “Midnight’s Children”, p. 346

Family, an overrated idea.

Salman Rushdie, “Midnight’s Children”, p. 396


V. S. Naipaul (Trinidad born British Writer, 1932 - )

Literature is the sum of its discoveries. What is derivative can be impressive and intelligent. It can give pleasure and it will have its season, short or long. But we will always want to go back to the originators. What matters in the end in literature, what is always there, is the truly good. And –though played-out forms can throw up miraculous sports like The Importance of Being Earnest or Decline and Fall- what is good is always what is new, in both form and content. What is good forgets whatever models it might have had, and is unexpected; we have to catch it on the wing. Writing of this quality cannot be taught in a writing course.

V. S. Naipaul, “Reading & Writing-A Personal Account”, New York Review of Books, New York, 2000, p. 61-62


Elfriede Jelinek (Austrian Playwright and Novelist, 1946 - )

(...) Klemmer says hello to a female acquaintance, kissing her hand -a deliberately playful gesture. Then he laughs with a second girl about some nonsense or other.

Erika feels the spiritual vacuum emanating from such girls. A man soon gets bored with them. A pretty face is used up very quickly.

Elfriede Jelinek, “The Piano Teacher”, Serpent's Tail, London, 1999, p. 159-160


 E. M. Forster (English Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayists & Librettist, 1879 – 1970)

But she did not take the disappointment as seriously as Miss Quested, for the reason that she was forty years older, and had learned that life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate. Adventures do occur, but not punctually.

E. M. Forster, “A Passage to India”, Penguin Books, England, 1979, p. 18

Thomas Wolfe (American Novelist, 1900 – 1938)

Whenever spirit had withered, it hadn’t withered because of food and plumbing.

Thomas Wolfe, “Look Homeward, Angle”, p. 121


 Louis-Ferdinand Celine (French Writer & Doctor, 1894 – 1961)
Men are the thing to be afraid of, always, men and nothing else.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 10

When, grown older, we look back on the selfishness of the people who’ve been mixed up with our lives, we see it undeniably for what it was, as hard as steel or platinum and a lot more durable than time itself.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 181

Beauty is like drink or comfort, once you get used to it, you stop paying attention.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 196
Life, the true mistress of all real men- would have tricked me as it tricks everyone else.

 Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 194

Maybe that’s what we look for all our lives, the worst possible grief, to make us truly ourselves before we die.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 203

Yes, my young friend, I was in Venice once as a young man… Oh yes! You can starve there just as well as anywhere else… But you can breath a sumptuous aroma of death that’s not easy to forget…

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 246

I’d pretty well come to the point, the age, you might say, when a man knows what he is losing with every hour that passes. But he hasn’t yet built up the wisdom to pull up sharp on the road of time, and anyway, even if you did stop you wouldn’t know what to do without the frenzy for going forward that has possessed you and won your admiration ever since you were young. Even now you’re not as pleased with your youth as used to be, but you don’t yet dare admit in public that youth may be nothing more than a hurry to grow old.

In the whole of your absurd past you discover so much that’s absurd, so much deceit and credulity, that it might be a good idea to stop being young this minute, to wait for you to break away from you and pass you by, to watch it going away, receding in the distance, to see all it’s vanity, run your hand through the empty space it has left behind, take a last look at it, and then start moving, make sure your youth has really gone, and then calmly, all by yourself, cross the other side of time to see what people and things really look like.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 247-248

A time comes when you’re all alone, when you’ve come to the end of everything that can happen to you. It’s the end of the world. Even grief, your own grief, doesn’t answer you anymore, and you have to retrace your steps, to go back among people, it makes no difference who. You’re not choosy at times like that, because even to weep you have to go back where anything starts all over, back among people.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 283

We can’t get together while we’re alive. There are too many colours to distract us and too many people moving around us. We can only get together in silence, when it’s too late, like the dead.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 301

Love thwarted by poverty and distance is a sailor’s love; no two ways, it’s irrefutable and sure fire. In the first place, when you’re unable to meet too often, you can’t fight, which is that much gained. Since life consists of madness spiked with lies, the farther you are from each other the more lies you can put into it and the happier you’ll be. That’s only natural and normal. Truth is inedible.

Louis-Ferdinand Celine, “Journey to the End of the Night”, A New Directions Book, Eighteenth Printing, New York, 1983, p. 315


Henry Miller (American Writer & Painter, 1891 – 1980)

There were times when reading Cendrars –and this is something which happens to me rarely- that I put the book down in order to wring my hands with joy or despair, with anguish or with desperation. Cendrars has stopped me in my tracks again and again, just as implacably, as a gunman pressing a rod against one’s spine. Oh, yes, I am often carried away by exaltation in reading a man’s work. But I am alluding now to something other than exaltation. I am talking of a sensation in which all one’s emotions are blended and confused. I am talking of knockout blows. Cendrars has knocked me cold. Not once, but a number of times. And I am not exactly a ham, when it comes to taking it on the chin! Yes, mon cher Cendrars, you not only stopped me, you stopped the clock. It has taken me days, weeks, sometimes months, to recover from these bouts with you. Even years later, i can put my hand to the spot where I caught the blow and feel the old smart. You battered and bruised me; you left me scarred, dazed, punch-drunk. The curious thing is that the better I know you –through your books- the more susceptible I become. It is as if you had put the Indian sign on me. I come forward with chin outstretched- “to take it”. I am your meat, as I have so often said. And it is because I believe I am not unique in this, because I wish others to enjoy this uncommon experience, that I continue to put in my little word for you whenever, wherever I can.

Henry Miller, “The Books In My Life”, New Directions Books, New York, 1969, p. 63

As I pick up Giono’s last book –Les Ames Fortes- to scan once again the complete list of his published works, I am reminded of the visit I made to his home during his absence. Entering the house I was instantly aware of the profusion of books and records. The place seemed to be overflowing with spiritual provender. In a bookcase, high up near the ceiling, were the books he had written. Even then, eleven years ago, an outstanding number for a man of his age. I look again, now, at the list as it is given opposite the title page of his last work, published by Gallimard. How many i have still to read! And how eloquent are the titles alone! Solitude de la Pitie, Le Poids du Ciel, Naissance de l’Odysee, Le Serpent d’Etoiles, Les Vraies Richesses, Fragments d’un Delluge, Fragments d’un Paradis, Presentation de Pan... A secret understanding links me to these unknown works. Often, at night, when I go into the garden for a quite smoke, when I look up at Orion and the other constellations, all so intimate a part of Giono’s world, I wonder about the contents of these books I have not read, which I promise myself I will read in moments of utter peace and serenity, for to “crowd them in” would be an injustice to Giono. I imagine him also walking about in his garden, stealing a look at the stars, mediating on the work in hand, bracing himself for renewed conflicts with editors, critics and public. In such moments it does not seem to me that he is far away, in a country called France. He is in Manosque, and between Manosque and Big Sur there is an affinity which abolishes time and space. He is in that garden where the spirit of his mother still reigns, not far from the manger in which he was born and where his father who taught him so much worked at the bench as a cobbler. His garden has a wall around it; here there is none. That is one of the difference between the Old World and the New. But there is no wall between Giono’s spirit and my own. That is what draws me to him –the openness of his spirit. One feels it the moment one open his books. One tumbles in drugged, intoxicated, rapt.

Giono gives us the world he lives in, a world of dream, passion and reality. It is French, yes but that would hardly suffice to describe it. It is of a certain region of France, yes, but that does not define it. It is distinctly Jean Giono’s world and none other. If you are a kindred spirit you recognize it immediately, no matter where you were born or raised, what customs you have adopted, what tradition you follow. A man does not have to be Chinese, nor even a poet, to recognize immediately such spirit as Lao-tse and Li Po. In Giono’s work what every sensitive, full-blooded individual ought to be able to recognize at once is “the song of the world”. For me this song, of which each new book gives endless refrains and variations, is far more precious, far more stirring, far more poetic, than the “Song of Songs”. It is intimate, personal, cosmic, untrammelled –and ceaseless. It contains the notes of the lark, the nightingale, the thrush,; it contains the whir of the planets and the almost inaudible wheeling of the constellations; it contain the sobs, cries, shrieks and wails of wounded mortal souls as well as the laughter and ululations of the blessed; it contains the seraphic music of the angelic hosts and the howls of the damned. In addition to this pandemic music Giono gives the whole gamut of colour, taste, smell and feel. The most inanimate objects yield their mysterious vibrations. The philosophy behind this symphonic production has no name; it is function is to liberate, to keep open all the sluices of the soul, to encourage speculation, adventure and passionate worship.

“Be what thou art, only be it to the utmost!” That is what it whispers.

Is this French?

Henry Miller, “The Books In My Life”, New Directions Books, New York, 1969, p. 119-120


Samuel Beckett (Irish Writer-Dramatist-Poet, 1906-1989)

Pozzo: I need a running start. (Having come to the end of the rope, i.e off stage, he stops, turns and cries.) Stand back! (Vladimir and Estragon stand back, look towards Pozzo. Crack of whip.) On! On!

Estragon: On!

Vladimir: On!

Lucky moves off.

Pozzo: Faster! (He appears, crosses the stage preceded by Lucky. Vladimir and Estragon wave their hats. Exit Lucky.) On! On! (On the point of disappearing in his turn he stops and turns. The rope tautens. Noise of Lucky falling off.) Stool! (Vladimir fetches stool and gives it to Pozzo who throws it to Lucky.) Adieu!

Vladimir/Estragon: (waving). Adieu! Adieu!

 Pozzo: Up! Pig! (Noise of Lucky getting up.) On! (Exit Pozzo.) Faster! On! Adieu! Pig! Yip! Adieu!

Long silence

Vladimir: That passed the time.

Estragon: It would have passed in any case.

Samuel Beckett, "Waiting for Godot", Grove Press, Inc. Third Printing, 1978, p.32i


Jorge Luis Borges (Aregentine Writer, Essayist and Poet, 1899-1986)

There is nothing very remarkable about being immortal; with the exception of mankind, all creatures are immortal, for they know nothing of death.

Jorge Luis Borges, "The Aleph and Other Stories", Translated by Andrew Hurley, Penguin Classics, New York, 2004, p. 13.

There is no more complex pleasure than thought, and it was thought that we delivered ourselves over.

Jorge Luis Borges, "The Aleph and Other Stories", Translated by Andrew Hurley, Penguin Classics, New York, 2004, p. 15.

Poor Damian! Death carried him off at twenty in a war he knew nothing of and in a home made sort of battle -yet though it took him a very long time to do so, he did at last achieve his heart's desire, and there is perhaps no greater happiness than that.

Jorge Luis Borges, "The Aleph and Other Stories", Translated by Andrew Hurley, Penguin Classics, New York, 2004, p. 61.


Paul Theroux (American Writer)

Ever since childhood, when I lived within earshot of the Boston and Maine, I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it. Those whistles sing bewitchment: railways are irresistible bazaars, snaking along perfectly level no matter what the lanscape, improving your mood with speed, and never upsetting your drink.

Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar By Train Through Asia, Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1979, p.11


Robert D. Kaplan (American Traveler, Writer)

To prepare for my journey up the Nile I read a lot. The more I read about a place and about issues that effect it, the more I feel I am traveling alone. In an age of mass tourism, adventure becomes increasingly an inner matter, where reading can transport you to places that others only a few feet away will never see.

Robert D. Kaplan, "The Ends Of The Earth", Random House, New York, 1996, p.95-96

I stood on a promontory, "Seraglio Point," the eastern extremity of the Balkan Peninsula and the former headquarters of the Ottoman sultan. On the opposite shore commenced the Asian plateau. The mood on this charged spot, as always, is one of sanctuary. The seagulls flutter, the weeds grow between the flagstones, the wind blows in from three converging bodies of water: the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus Straits, and the Sea of Marmara. Here in T. S. Eliot's words, is "the still point of turning world."

Robert D. Kaplan, "The Ends Of The Earth", Random House, New York, 1996, p.129-130 

Khomeini's HOSSEINIEH, with its machine-made carpets and soccer stadium lights, represented the new blue-collar Persia, as opposed to the romantic Persia of Hafiz's tomb. But the people waiting in line to touch Hafiz's grave were both poor and rich. Hafiz has clearly survived the Islamic Revolution. But would Khomeini survive the reemergence of historic Persia?

Robert D. Kaplan, "The Ends Of The Earth", Random House, New York, 1996, p. 236 

I stopped in Gilgit because of a brave and crazy Englishman, one who had trekked from here to Chinese Turkestan, sleeping with neither tent nor fire in below-zero snows, and who had saved himself from starvation by eating a yak raw. Yet, over the earth's most difficult terrain, he nevertheless managed thirty miles a day on foot. George J. Whitaker Hayward, an Irish-born loner and Indian Army veteran, with no close friends or family, certainly had a death wish. "I shall wander about the wilds of Central Asia possessed of an insane desire to try the effects of cold steel across my throat," he had confided in a letter. A photograph taken in 1870, just attached to his waist, a spear in one hand and a shield in the other. His eyes are dead-set; his mouth clenched in grim determination.

In early summer, 1870, he and five native servants left Gilgit and disappeared into the mountains en route to the Pamirs, which Hayward hoped to map and explore for the sake of Great Britain's imperial interests. On July 17, he set up camp in Darkot, about eighty miles northwest of Gilgit, on a hillside nine thousand feet above sea level. A bearer informed Hayward that a local tribal chief was out to do him harm. Hayward stayed awake the entire night, writing in his journal with one hand, a pistol in the other, and loaded firearms on a nearby table. Dawn came. Thinking himself out of danger, Hayward dozed off to sleep. That's when the tribal raiding party rushed in. Hayward had only one request of the execution squad: that he be allowed to walk to the edge of the cliff to watch the sun rise. The request was granted. He was thirty years old at the time of his murder. No clear motive for the deed was ever established.

An old man, squatting in the gloom of a dry-goods stall, wearing a soiled shalwar khameez, had the key to the graveyard. He led me across a noisy street and unlocked the gate. Once inside, I no longer noticed the racket of Suzuki motorbikes and heard only birds chirping. In the midst of a grassy patch, shaded from the glaring sun by the trees, was an old, worn rock, at the foot of which an inscription was chiseled:

"Erected to the memory of G. W. Hayward, Gold Medalist of the Royal Geographical Society of London, who was cruelly murdered at Darkot July 18, 1870 on his journey to explore the Pamir Steppe. This monument is erected to a gallant officer and accomplished traveller..."

Robert D. Kaplan, "The Ends Of The Earth", Random House, New York, 1996, p. 321-322

I thought of Keat's famous letter to his brothers, in which he praised the quality of "Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason..." Keats wrote that what marks a "Man of Achievement" is his ability to be "content with half-knowledge," for "with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration." I knew that I could never meet Keat's standard, even as I knew that all my "answers" might eventually be proven wrong. I took solace, once again, in Francis Bacon, who praised error, because only from wronge answers can the Truth emerge.

Robert D. Kaplan, "The Ends Of The Earth", Random House, New York, 1996, p. 324

Mr. Rangaswami, in his seventies, had worked as an accountant and as a manager of a factory in Madras before he discovered his true vocation in Rishi Valley, where he took up bird-watching and became the "honorary chief warden" of the nature reserve. Eccentric he may be, but Mr. Rangaswami is not a super-romantic. Nor is he independently wealthy. He is part of a movement that believes ecological renewal is essential to cultural renewal.

The story begins in 1895 in the village of Madanapalle, a few miles from Rishi Valley, with the birth of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti, who died in 1986, was a modern philosopher-not a guru or a yogi. He created no hierarchies and collected no money. He discouraged disciples. "If you are very clear, if you are inwardly a light unto yourself, you will never follow anyone," he told admirers. Aldous Huxley, hearing Krishnamurti speak, said it was "amongst the most impressive things I have listen to-it was like listening to the discourse of the Budha." Krishnamurti's beliefs are hard to pin down. He eschewed utopianism, and scoffed at a return to pastoral beatitude. He felt that such attitudes can be sustained only by closing one's eyes to the reality of "cruelty, competition, or pain that is so much a part of life on Earth." He was a skeptic who acknowledged a banal truth: "The Earth is ours, yours and mine, and we have to live on it together; we have to cherish it and grow things on it's soil."


In the early 1930's, Krishnamurti and his friends established an elite boarding school on a completely barren patch of pebbled eart covering 240 acres, near his birthplace at the foot of Rishni Konda, an ancient rock where, two thousand years ago, rishis, or monks, went to do penance. This went against the prevailing Indian trend of locating boarding schools in picturesque hill stations. Because the Rishi Valley school attracted the sons and daughters of wealthy Brahmin families from throughout the linguistically diverse subcontinent, instruction was in English. Though this was not unique, the schools approach to education, and its evolving relationship with surrounding villages, certainly was.

India education has often been criticized for being "rootless" and "abstract," for producing brainy prodigies disconnected from their own environment, exactly what one expect to emerge from a caste system. Indians, thus, despite great achievements in the theoretical sciences, have often lacked a similarly strong engineering tradition. The Rishi Valley school sought to fill this gap by making environmental conservation a basic part of the curriculum and by forcing these wealthy students to work with their hands alongside local villagers. "Culture is renewed when people from the city, with intellectual resources, settle in the villages," explained Geetha Iyer, a teacher at Rishi Valley. That, of course, is the lesson that the shah of Iran and other third world despots never learned: that the village, not the city, is the key to modernity; that a nation cannot be modern while its villages are still medieval.

Robert D. Kaplan, "The Ends Of The Earth", Random House, New York, 1996, p. 356-357

When I entered my air-conditioned, metered taxi outside the TDRI office, it occured to me that the rapid economic development in the Far East was, like Lee Kuan Yew himself, partly the outcome of a cultural pattern that could probably spread to adjacent countries like Laos and Vietnam, but was less likely to be exportable to India, Central Asia, the Near East, and Africa. Wealth, ultimately, cannot be donated or transferred as part of an aid budget, or even discovered under the earth like oil. To be sustainable, wealth has to be self-created.

Robert D. Kaplan, "The Ends Of The Earth", Random House, New York, 1996, p. 379


Kenan Trebincevic (Bosnian Physical Therapist, Writer, 1980-...)

I was born the year Tito died, in the city of Brcko. At 7, I pledged in front of my class and my favorite teacher, Milutin, to spread the unity that Tito had fought for. Five years later, in the first month of warfare, I bumped into Milutin, now in uniform. "Hey, teacher," I called. He knocked the grocery bag out of my hand, saying "Balije don't need bread." ("Balije" was a slur for Bosniak.) Holding me by my hair, he rested his rifle against my head. "It's jammed," he complained. As I ran away, I caught him waving a three-finger salute, a gesture of Serbian nationalism based on the Orthodox sign of the cross.

That year, I became a pariah. My karate teammates demanded that I return the He-Man trading cards we'd collected. My best friends stopped picking me for soccer games. I'd watch them play from behind the shades of my window, which were closed to protect us from bullets. My mother, Adisa (now deceased), had loved to listen to pop-rock while trimming her plants. But without sunlight and with nothing but patriotic songs on the radio, the flowers died one by one.

Kenan Trebincevic, "Marshal Tito In Queens", The New York Times, May 3, 2012


Will Rogers (American Cowboy, Vaudeville Performer, Humorist, Actor, Social Commentator, 1879-1935)

Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead.

Quoted in Will Durant, "On The Meaning Of Life", Ed. by John Little, Promethean Press, USA, 2005, p.56


Will Durant (American Writer, Historian, Philosopher, 1885-1981)

Do not be so ungrateful about love. To ignore its psychological development is as unrealistic as to forget its physiological bases. Yes, at bottom it is a matter of hydraulic pressure and chemical irritation; but at the top of it becomes, occasionally, a ballade of devotion and chivalry -no longer mutual itching, but mutual consideration. I have not in mind here merely romantic love - that idealization of the object which comes with frustrated desire, and is now disappearing because desire is not so frustrated as before; I refer to the attachment of mates or friends who have gone hand in hand through much hell, some purgatory, and a little heaven, and have been soldered into unity by being burned together in the flame of life. I know that such mates or comrades quarrel regularly, and get upon each other's nerves; but there is ample recompense for that in the unconcious consiousness that someone is interested in you, depends upon you, and is waiting to meet you at the station. Solitude is worse than war.Li your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead.

Will Durant, "On The Meaning Of Life", Ed. by John Little, Promethean Press, USA, 2005, p.105


Aaron Lansky (American Writer, 1902-1990)

These were people who "got" Yiddish, who understood in their bones what we were trying to do. Others took a bit more persuading. I once paid a cold call on a Florida businessman who promptly informed me that he wasn't going to give me a penny. "This isn't the time to save Jewish books," he insisted. "Whatever money I have I send to Israel for guns and bombs. Let's take care of survival first. Then we can worry about books."

I responded by telling him a story I'd read about a prominent physicist who testified before Congress in support of a new particle accelerator . A sympathetic senator asked about its defense application. "It has nothing to do directly with defending our country,' the scientist replied, "except to make it worth defending."

The donor was amused but unmoved. But I didn't give up. When I returned home I sent him a note quoting a passage from a two-thousand-year-old Hebrew text called The Ethics of the Fathers: "Im eyn kemekh eyn toyre," the rabbis taught, "Where there is no bread there is no learning.' But then they continued, "Im eyn toyre, eyn kemekh." Where there is no learning, there is no bread." His response came by return mail: "You win. I surrender. My check for $500 is enclosed."

Aaron Lansky, "Outwitting History, How A Young Man Rescued A Million Books and Saved A Vanishing Civilisation", Souvenir Press, New York, 2004, p. 266


Derek Wallcott (American Poet & Playwright, 1930-)

Style sits easily on good poets, even in conversation. In intimacy, their perceptions go by so rapidly that a few drinks with them are worth a book on poetics.

'Derek Wallcott on Robert Lowell', in "The Company They Kept-Writers On Unforgettable Friendships", Ed by Robert B. Silvers & Barbara Epstein, New York Review Books, New York, 2006, p. 119


S. J. Perelman (American Humorist, Author & Screenwriter, 1904-1979)

Where I'm living there's an affable Chinese to whom I take the laundry; a discount store for drugs; and a bakery with seeds in the rye. What more do I need?

'Prudence Crowther on S. J. Perelman', in "The Company They Kept-Writers On Unforgettable Friendships", Ed by Robert B. Silvers & Barbara Epstein, New York Review Books, New York, 2006, p. 172


Michael Ignatieff (Canadian Author, Academic & Politician, 1947-)

As a writer, he was a magician of the word; as a man, he lived with a verve that left his friends breathless. He traveled light, and there was nothing -except friendship- he wasn't prepared to leave behind.

'Michael Ignatieff on Bruce Chatwin', in "The Company They Kept-Writers On Unforgettable Friendships", Ed by Robert B. Silvers & Barbara Epstein, New York Review Books, New York, 2006, p. 191


George S. Kaufman (American Playwright, Teater Director & Producer, Humorist, Drama Critic, 1889-1961)

Sample everything in life. Except incest and folk-dancing. (To his young daughter Ann)

Cited in 'More Sex, Anyone?' by Dick Cavett, The New York Times, October 11, 2013

Roger Cohen (British born American Journalist and Author, 1955-....)

Be free. Belong. Do not forget. Link the chains that made you.

Roger Cohen, 'The Quest To Belong', The New York Times, November 28, 2013


Charles M. Blow (American Journalist, 1970-....)

Any of us in the country who were born poor, or minority, or female, or otherwise different — particularly in terms of gender or sexual identity — know better.

Misogyny and sexism, racism, income inequality, patriarchy, and homophobia and heteronormative ideals course through the culture like a pathogen in the blood, infecting the whole of the being beneath the surface.

So it is to the people with challenges that I would like to speak today. I know your pains and your struggles. I share them. It is incredibly dispiriting when people are dismissive of the barriers we must overcome simply to make it to equal footing. I know. It is infuriating when people offer insanely naïve solutions to our suffering: “Stop whining and being a victim!” I know.

But I also would like to share with you the way I’ve learned to deal with it, hoping that maybe it will offer you some encouragement.

I decided long ago to achieve as an act of defiance — to define my own destiny and refuse to have it defined for me. I fully understand that trying hard doesn’t always guarantee success. Success is often a fluky thing, dependent as much on luck and favor as on hard work. But while hard work may not guarantee success, not working hard almost always guarantees failure.

I frame the argument to myself this way: If you know that you are under assault, recognize it, and defend yourself.

Trying hard and working hard is its own reward. It feeds the soul. It affirms your will and your power. And it radiates from you, lighting the way for all those who see you.

When I am asked to give speeches, I often include this analogy:

For some folks, life is a hill. You can either climb or stay at the bottom.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it is so. Some folks are born halfway up the hill and others on the top. The rest of us are not. Life doles out favors in differing measures, often as a result of historical injustice and systematic bias. That’s a hurtful fact, one that must be changed. We should all work toward that change.

In the meantime, until that change is real, what to do if life gives you the hill?

You can curse it. You can work hard to erode it. You can try to find a way around it. Those are all understandable endeavors. Staying at the bottom is not.

You may be born at the bottom, but the bottom was not born in you. You have it within you to be better than you were, to make more of your life than was given to you by life.

This is not to say that we can always correct life’s inequities, but simply that we honor ourselves in the trying.

History is cluttered with instances of the downtrodden lifting themselves up. The spirit and endurance that it requires is not a historical artifact but a living thing that abides in each of us, part of the bloodline, written in the tracks of tears and the sweat of toil.

If life for you is a hill, be a world-class climber.

Charles M. Blow, 'For Some Folks, Life Is A Hill', The New York Times, November 30, 2013


Roger Cohen (British born American Journalist and Author, 1955-....)

This was a happiness whose other name was home.

Roger Cohen, 'In Search of Home', The New York Times, April 3, 2014


John F. McBride (An American, ....-....)

But some just have to settle for places in the heart.

John F. McBride, from a comment to the article above, The New York Times, April 3, 2014


Menachem Begin (Israel's Prime Minister between the years 1977-1983, (1913-1992)

Against the eyes of every son of the nation appear and reappear the carriages of death. ... The Black Nights when the sound of an infernal screeching of wheels and the sighs of the condemned press in from afar and interrupt one’s slumber; to remind one of what happened to mother, father, brothers, to a son, a daughter, a People. In these inescapable moments every Jew in the country feels unwell because he is well. He asks himself: Is there not something treasonous in his existence.

Cited in article titled "An Old Man In Prague" by Roger Cohen, The New York Times, October 30, 2014


William Saroyan (Armenian Writer, 1908-1981)

I am an estranged man, said the liar: estranged from myself, from my family, my fellow man, my country, my world, my time, and my culture. I am not estranged from God, although I am a disbeliever in everything about God excepting God indefinable, inaccessible, inside all and careless of all.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 1

I took to writing at an early age to escape from meaningless, uselessness, unimportance, insignificance, poverty, enslavement, ill health, despair, madness, and all manner of other unattractive, natural, and inevitable things.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, pp. 2-3

I have thought about death all of my life, most likely because my father died before I was three. I didn't like that. As the years go by I continue to dislike it, even though I am now fifteen years older than my father was when he died. He died in San Jose, California, in 1911, far from his birthplace, Bitlis, in Armenia. He was thirty-seven years old.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 4

Two of the boys of the seven who slept in the room where I slept cried in the dark every night. I listened to them, and wished them healing. I knew it was worse for them. It had to be. In the daylight they tried to pretend they hadn't cried. Of the five who never cried a few teased them, but not me, I fought the ones who teased them. The two who cried had nobody. That's the way I figured it. They might actually have had a mother somewhere or a father or a brother or a sister, but I figured they had nobody. They were entirely alone. They were so alone they couldn't wait for lights out to let themselves go. It happens to kids in big families, even. Surrounded by love even, some kids are entirely alone, and it hurts, it makes them cry in the dark, God love and protect them.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 40

In Moscow I was at the home of a composer of music who sat at the piano and played a little piece he had just put together out of an old song of the Armenians. It was good thing to hear, a mixture of sorrow and anger, and push in the direction of love.


The minute the composer stopped playing I said, "Play it again."

Now, at that time there were thirty-three of us in the study of the composer, and for some reason everybody was confused by my request. The composer, on the other hand, immediately began to play the whole thing over again, and this time, if anything, played it better than the first time, and there I was, fifty-two years old right down to the last minute.

After the party, on my way to the hotel where I was stopping, I noticed that the time was half past two in the morning. I walked through Red Square and across the bridge, because I had taken the same walk in 1935 when I had been twenty-seven years old. I like walking across a bridge and looking down at a river. I walked until daybreak and tried to think why I had been crying lately.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 12

Somebody somewhere had a phonograph, and he put on a record that wasn't American, it was Armenian. It was different. Even so, wasn't it mine even more than any other song I had ever heard or had ever whistled? Wasn't it more deeply mine? It seemed to be. Well, walk, walk, walk, wounded homeless, unkillable homeless, well, walk, walk, walk, walk.

"What is this?"

"This is us", somebody said. "This is ours, this is one of our songs, this is from our country."

I whistled it all the time.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 104

Would I make it, or was I dreaming? Was I being a fool? Why was it in fact necessary to insist I was somebody and that I had something to do? Something other than find a job, earn wages, take a wife, bring up a family? Nobody else in my world was going to so much trouble about the matter. Why was I? All of my friends were quite willing to mosey along with themselves and the world in a manner so ordinary and so undemanding as to seem to me entirely meaningless. I couldn't understand it. Why weren't they restless? Why were they satisfied simply to be there and let it go at that? Was it possible that they were actually wise and I foolish? We were all over twenty now. Everybody I had known from the age of eight was anywhere from twenty to thirty, and everybody was perfectly at home where he was, so why wasn't I, too?

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 114

For me, though, the greatest meal in the whole world for a summer night was cold grapes, flat bread, bell peppers, green onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cold water.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 132

But the fact is I couldn't be at peace with the world, or with myself. never with the world, and only now and then with myself.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 151

It was a hell of a house, and we were there for a good three or four years. Just half a block down San Benito was the edge of the playground at Emerson School where I learned to read and write. It was a world. It was a time. It was rough, it was tough, it was murder, it was great, it was magnificent, and the people there, speaking that strange language, the people were us. We lived and we died, and it is all gone now, and if you wanted to, you could say it was never anything. I don't want to.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 161

The great man is great in that he is never unlike others, never needs to be recognized, and is actually great in another dimension entirely, and to another order of vision.

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, p. 167

One day there was a crying boy on the porch of a house not far from the orphanage . I saw him up there on my way home from Sequoia School. He was three or four, and I knew something of the worst kind was making him cry. I stood across the street, and looked and listened. Soon the front door opened and four men brought out a casket, to put in the wagon at the curb, thereby driving the boy berserk with disbelief. He didn't want them to go away with whoever was in the casket, most likely his mother or his father, but they went away just the same. They left him on the porch, with a woman who tried unsuccessfully to stop him. Well, I could tell her.

"You can stop his crying only by bringing back to life whoever died, but you can't do that, can you? Nobody can do it, but by God maybe I can do it. Anybody can do something that's possible to do. Well, when you have somebody who's crying like this boy, let's get along and do something impossible, and stop his crying. Let's find out how to do that."

There are few things that stay, to which a man returns again and again, and the crying boy on the porch is one of these things for me. I have never stopped thinking about his grief. Now, a little girl wouldn't have cried that way. She would not have been that unreasonable. Girls get such things straight quicker than men do. Every little girl is simultaneously mad (in a way that is entirely delightful), and entirely sensible, swift in understanding, and practical: so somebody's dead, so on the business of living, then. What good are tears?

I was on the boy's side, though, knowing he was mistaken, entirely at fault, and his behavior out of order.

If grief could speak, the burden of his message was thundering and simple: "I know my mother is dead, I know my father is dead, I know the dead always stay dead, but I refuse to believe this, I refuse to accept it, you have no right to ask me to believe it just because everybody else has always believed it. I demand the return of my mother, my father. When you meet this demand you need hear me no longer."

William Saroyan, "Here Comes There Goes You Know Who", Barricade Books, New York, 1961, pp. 192-193

Mrs. Macauley began to speak, but she did not turn to him. "You will find out," she said. "No one can tell you. Each man finds out in his own way. If it's sad, nobly or foolishly, the man himself will make it so. If it's richly sad and full of beauty, it's the man himself so, and not the things around him. And so it is, if it's bad, or ugly, or pathetic-it is always the man itself, and each man is the world. Each man is the whole world, to make over as he will and to fill with a human race he can love, if it is love he has, or a race he must hate, if it is hate he has. The world waits to be made over by each man who inhabits it, and it is made over every morning like a bed or a household where the same people live-always the same, but always changing too." 

"Why did I cry on the way home last night?" he said. "I never felt the way I fekt then. I don't understand it. And after I stopped crying why couln't I talk? Why was there nothing for me to say-to you or to myself?"

From the porch Mrs. Macauley spoke very clearly so that he heard every word unmistakably. "It was pity that made you cry," she said. "Pity, not for this person or that person who is suffering, but for all things-for the very nature of things. Unless a man has pity he is inhuman and not yet truely a man, for out of pity comes the balm which heals. Only good men weep. If a man has not wept at the world's pain he is less than the dirt he walks upon because the dirt will nourish seed, root, stalk, leaf and flower, but the spirit of a man without pity is barren and will bring forth nothing-or only pride which must finally do murder of one sort or another-murder of good things, or murder even of human lives."

William Saroyan, "The Human Comedy", Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, USA, 1989, pp. 158-159

"Sure," Homer said, "but he likes Marcus especially, and I know why, too, because Marcus is still a child, even if he is in the Army. I guess a child looks for a child in everyone else he meets. And if he finds a child in somebody grown up, I guess he likes that person more than the others. I wish I could begin to be grown up the way Ulysses is a child. I guess I admire him more than anybody else in the world outside of our family. 

William Saroyan, "The Human Comedy", Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, USA, 1989, p. 163

(...) "I feel a lot better when I'm drunk," the old telegraph operator said. Then he brought the bottle out and took a good long drink. "I'm not going to tell you never to take a drink," he said. "I'm not going to say, as so many old fools do-Learn a lesson from me. Look what drink did to me-that would be a lot of nonsense. You're getting around now, seeing a lot of things you never saw before. Well, let me tell you something. Anything that concerns people-be very careful about it. If you see something you're sure is wrong, don't be sure. If it's people, be very careful. Now, you will forgive me, but I must tell you, because you're a man I respect, so I don't mind trying to tell you that it's not right, it,s foolish to criticize the way any people happen to be. I haven't the slightest idea who you are-where you're from-how you came about-what made you the way you are-but I feel pleased about these things and I'm grateful. As a man get closer to the end of his time he feels more and more grateful for the good people who're going to go on when he's gone. I might not be telling you this if I weren't drunk, so that alone is a good example of why it's wrong to have ideas about people who do things that everyone likes to feel aren't right. It's very important for me to tell you these things and for you to know them. Therefore, it is a good thing that I am drunk and that I am telling you. Can you understand what I'm saying?"

William Saroyan, "The Human Comedy", Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, USA, 1989, pp. 204-205

From Reno to Salt Lake City all you get to see from a bus or any other kind of conveyance is desert, and in August all you feel is dry heat. Desert is sand spread out evenly in every direction, different kinds of cactus, and the sun. Sometimes the sand looks white, sometimes brown, and around sundown the color of the sand changes from white or brown to yellow, and then black. Then it is night, and that is when the desert is best of all. When the desert and night join one another you get what amounts to silence.

This is a thing you remember and remember.

William Saroyan, "My Name Is Aram", Illustrated by Don Freeman, Harcourt Brace and Company, Second Printing, USA, 1940, p. 211

We were in Fresno, but we were nowhere, too. How could we really be in a place until death caught up with one of us, and we had buried him and knew he was there?

William Saroyan, "Madness In The Family", A New Directions Book, USA, 1988, p. 3

(...) You don't have to get there, to Damascus, or anywhere else. All you've got to do is want to get there. And try. That's enough to carry you all the way through. 

William Saroyan, "Madness In The Family", A New Directions Book, USA, 1988, p. 23

Cowards are nice, they're interesting, they are gentle, they wouldn't think of shooting down people in a parade from a tower. They want to live, so they can see their kids. They're very brave.

William Saroyan, "Madness In The Family", A New Directions Book, USA, 1988, p. 73

Well, anyway, what I was going to say is twenty is the greatest time in any man's life. i hope it's being great for you.

William Saroyan, "Madness In The Family", A New Directions Book, USA, 1988, p. 97

An excellent principle, especially for a married man. Remember that, when you become a married man. I'm sure it's the fever that made me imagine you are only eight or nine. It does that, you know, especially the terrible fever that comes into a man the minute he settles down in his own house with his own wife, a total stranger. Well, since she's going to be in the house for a long time to come he wants her to stop being a stranger as quickly as possible, and so of course he spends a lot of time with her, and that is when the fever starts. No matter how much time he spends with her, the woman simply doesn't stop being a stranger. And so the fever doesn't stop, either. The whole purpose of the marriage is to found a family of course-anything else would be unthinkable-and so of course the children begin to arrive, but even after four of them, even after five, even after six, even after seven, which as you know is the number of the children in my family, have arrived, the woman continues to be a stranger to the man, although to the children she is not stranger. How could she be, since, whoever she is, she is their mother? It's simply impossible for him to understand the woman, and that is the thing I want to speak to you about. The reason the man can't understand the woman is that when he should have been most intelligent he was most stupid-when he first met her. Had he been intelligent he would have known that this was not the woman for him to marry, but because he had been stupid he had instantly believed that this was the only woman in the world to be his wife and the mother of his children. He went mad, in short. Bear that in mind when the time comes as of course it will before you know it. The English language has an expression our language doesn't have-something about falling in love. There is an element of falling in whatever it is they are talking about, but the fact is that what the expression really means is that a man has gone mad or has become seriously ill. In the founding of a family falling in love, as it's called, can only lead to a lifetime of sorrowful mistakes, and so this condition, this madness, this illness, you must try to avoid.

William Saroyan, "Madness In The Family", A New Directions Book, USA, 1988, pp. 117-118


Russel Shorto (American Author, Historian, Journalist, 1959-....)

In founding New Amsterdam in the 1620's, the Dutch planted the seeds for the city's remarkable flowering. Specifically, the Dutch brought two concepts that became part of New York's foundation: tolerance of religious differences and an entrepreneurial, free trading culture.

Russel Shorto, "The Source of New York's Greatness", The New York Times, September 7, 2014


William Logan (American Poet, Critic, Scholar, 1950-....)

(...) My ideal elementary-school curriculum would instead require all children to learn: (1) the time tables up to, say, 25; (2) a foreign language, preferably obscure; (3) the geography of a foreign land, like New Jersey; (4) how to use basic hand tools and cook cassoulet; (5) how to raise a bird or lizard (if the child is vegetarian, then a potato); (6) poems by heart, say one per week; (7) how to find the way home from a town at least 10 miles away; (8) singing; (9) somersaults.


Poetry will never have the audience of "Games of Thrones"-that is what television can do. Poetry is what language alone can do.

William Logan, "Poetry: Who Needs It?", The New York Times, June 14, 2014


Mehmed Uzun (Kurdish Writer, Novelist) (1953-2007)

Kurtlerin uzerinde yasadigi topraklar cok dilli, cok kulturlu, cok dinlidir. Yine bana gore, bu mozaik inanilmaz bir zenginlik, bir guzellik ve renkliliktir. Ruh ve vicdanin huzuru, uygar ve demokratik iliskinin teminati, akil ve mantigin dinamosu ve toplumsal ile kulturel gelismenin temelidir.

In Zarathustra Gabar Ciyan, "Mehmed Uzun Anlatiyor-Cocuklugu, Cok Kulturlulugu, Aska bakisi, Eserleri", Do Yayinlar, Istanbul, 2015, p.12

Dunyada zorla insanlari yerinden, yurdundan ve koklerinden etmek kadar tehlikeli, kotu ve vicdansizca yapilmis bir sey yoktur.

In Zarathustra Gabar Ciyan, "Mehmed Uzun Anlatiyor-Cocuklugu, Cok Kulturlulugu, Aska bakisi, Eserleri", Do Yayinlar, Istanbul, 2015, p.15

Bu ara, bir roman calismasi ile ilgili, 1915'lerdeki kirim, katliam ve gocleri anlatan belge ve kitaplari gozden geciriyordum. Bugunlerde Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti'nin sefleri Talat ve Cemal Pasalarla, cemiyetin kurucularindan Dr. Resid Bey'in anilarini okudum. 1915'te Amed'de valilik yapan ve yorede "Ermeni tehcirini" yoneten Dr. Resid Bey, tum yumusak ve ince sozcuklerine ragmen, "Teskilat-i Mahsusa" isimli canilerden olusmus eskiya cetelerini nasil kurduklarini ve onlar araciligiyla Ermenileri nasil tehcir ettiklerini anlatmaktadir.

Bu Ermeni tehciri, buyuk bir insanlik dramidir, hala da insanligin vicdanini sizlatan, kanayan bir yaradir. Tum insanligin utanc duymasi gereken buyuk bir ayiptir. Daha sonra Hitler ve Nazilerin buyuk Musevi katliamina ornek teskil eden bu Ermeni tehcirini ve benzerini kim savunabilir?

Kurt bolgelerinden dunyanin cesitli yerlerine dogru durmadan suren akin, bu tur goclerdir ve hic bir bicimde savunulamaz. Insanlar ya zorla ya da kendiliginden, ama buyuk bir can korkusuyla, huzun ve kederle yerlerini, yurtlarini, baba ve ata ocaklarini terketmektedirler.

In Zarathustra Gabar Ciyan, "Mehmed Uzun Anlatiyor-Cocuklugu, Cok Kulturlulugu, Aska bakisi, Eserleri", Do Yayinlar, Istanbul, 2015, p.16

Ask tumuyle insani olan bir cilginliktir. Tum tehlikelere ragmen aydinin ulkesine, halkina, diline, kultur ve edebiyatina sevdasi, tumuyle insanligin hizmetinde olan bir cilginliktir. Cilginlik ise, buyuk islere baslayabilmenin, basarmanin atardamaridir.

In Zarathustra Gabar Ciyan, "Mehmed Uzun Anlatiyor-Cocuklugu, Cok Kulturlulugu, Aska bakisi, Eserleri", Do Yayinlar, Istanbul, 2015, p.22


Andrew Solomon (American Writer, 1963-....)

Despite every advancement, language remains the defining nexus of our humanity; it is where our knowledge and hope lie. It is the precondition of human tenderness, mightier than the sword but also infinitely more subtle and ultimately more urgent. Remember that writing things down makes them real; that it is nearly impossible to hate anyone whose story you know; and, most of all, that even in our post-postmodern era, writing has a moral purpose. With twenty-six shapes arranged in varying patterns, we can tell every story known to mankind, and make up all the new ones—indeed, we can do so in most of the world’s known tongues. If you can give language to experiences previously starved for it, you can make the world a better place.

Andrew Solomun, "The Middle of Things: Advice for Young  Writers", The New Yorker, March 11, 2015


Mark Lilla (American Political Scientist, Historian of Ideas, Journalist, and Professor of Humanities at Columbia University, 1956-....)

For all Houellebecq’s knowingness about contemporary culture—the way we love, the way we work, the way we die—the focus in his novels is always on the historical longue durée. He appears genuinely to believe that France has, regrettably and irretrievably, lost its sense of self, but not because of immigration or the European Union or globalization. Those are just symptoms of a crisis that was set off two centuries ago when Europeans made a wager on history: that the more they extended human freedom, the happier they would be. For him, that wager has been lost. And so the continent is adrift and susceptible to a much older temptation, to submit to those claiming to speak for God. Who remains as remote and as silent as ever.

Mark Lilla, "Slouching Toward Mecca", The New York Review of Books, April 2, 2015


David L. Ulin (American Journalist, Book Critic, 19-....)

Why, after all, do writers write? What is the impulse, the insistence on story, on seeing and representing the world? It has little to do with technology although everything to do with narrative, which is a purpose that, on the surface, technology also seems to share. The difference is that the writer creates narrative with intention, whereas technology merely gathers, or processes, information, leaving interpretation, analysis, up to us.

“Walk down any stretch of street,” McCarthy writes, “and you’re being filmed by three cameras at once — and the phone you carry in your pocket is pinpointing and logging your location at each given moment. Every website that you visit, each keystroke and click-through are archived: even if you’ve hit delete or empty trash it’s still there, lodged within some data fold or enclave, some occluded-yet-retrievable avenue of circuitry.”

All this is true, and yet, so what? I’m reminded of Wittgenstein, who once declared, “If all possible scientific questions are answered, our problem is still not touched at all.” Something similar might be said about the ubiquity of data: It doesn’t address the problem of humanity at the core.

This is what literature does, what narrative offers, a way to consider the essential human dilemmas, the ones that never change. It’s why a book such as, say, “The Confessions of St. Augustine” (or, for that matter, “Ulysses”) continues to resonate — not because what it describes is so different from our experience of living, but because it is essentially the same.

David L. Ulin, "The Death of Writing? Not Again", Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2015


Barton Goldsmith (American Psychotherapist, Writer, 19-....)
People are not disposable. If you have ever had the experience of cutting someone out of your life, only to feel great loss later on, you know what I mean. Family is everything, and for those who don't have one, friends become that family.

Having people in your life makes you feel stronger and validated. If you push them away, you feel a loss as soon as your anger goes. It is much easier to hold on to positive feelings about the people in your life than to harbor negative ones. Walking around with anger and hurt in your heart does not make your life a better place to be.

So try some conversation before you say goodbye or stop texting. When you are upset, you may not realize the importance of old friends and loved ones, but in time, you always do.

Barton Goldsmith, "People Are Not Disposable", Gulf Times, June 28, 2015


Sophie Tucker (American Singer, Comedian, Actress, 1887-1966)

From birth to age 18, a girl needs good parents. From 18 to 35, she needs good looks. From 35 to 55, she needs a good personality. From 55 on, she needs good cash.

Cited in Gina Barreca, "Picking A Woman Who's Right On The Money", Gulf Times, June 29, 2015


A.C.Grayling (British Philosopher, 1949-...)

A civilized society is one which never ceases having a discussion with itself about what human life should best be.

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, p. vii

In introducing this collection's predecessor I commented on Socrates' celebrated view that the best life is the considered life. He meant that an unprincipled, feckless life is so much at the mercy of chance, and so dependent on the choices made by others, that it is of little real value to the person living it. He further meant that a thoughtful life is shaped by aims and strengthened by integrity, so that, to the fullest extend possible for creatures caught in the webs of society and history, it is lived with purpose.

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, p. xiv

There is no greater social evil than religion. It is the cancer in the body of humanity. Human credulity and superstition, and the need for comforting fables, will never be extirpated, so religion will always exist, at least among the uneducated. The only way to manage the dangers it presents is to confine it entirely to the private sphere, and for the public domain to be blind to it in all but one respect: that by law no one's private beliefs should be allowed to cause a nuisance or an injury to anyone else. For whenever and wherever religion manifests itself in the public arena as an organized phenomenon, it is the most Satanic of all things.

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, pp. 34-35

(...) And thought is the greatest luxury of all. It fills immensity, as Blake said, and as Emerson said, it sets you free.

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, p. 38

It is a common place that the degradation of life in the camps turned people into animals. Victims themselves said so. Tadeusz Borowski, who survived Auschwitz only to kill himself in 1951, said that war utterly abolishes notions of humanity; 'there is no crime a man will not commit to save himself'. In the same vein Levi wrote that the struggle to survive in the camps was 'without respite, because everyone was desperately and ferociously alone... It was necessary to throttle all dignity and kill all conscience, to climb down into the as a beast against other beasts... it was a war of everyone against everyone else.' 

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, p. 64

The past might live in the present, in the sense that old things might still be used and enjoyed; but as soon as they become mummies or museum items, they are merely baggage. 

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, p. 77

(...) anyone who makes us think does us a service.

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, p. 210

Among the striking ideas that everywhere blossom in Bloom is his view that Shakespeare's imaginative resources 'transcend those of Yahweh, Jesus and Allah', and provide a grander alternative vision of human nature. He is right. He says that genuinely intelligent people do not think ideologically; right again. He argues that literature is a form of the good; right yet again.

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, p. 212

Isaiah Berlin said that the philosopher working in his study today can change the course of history within fifty years. 

A.C.Grayling, "Life, Sex and Ideas, The Good Life Without God", Oxford University Press, USA, 2003, p. 229

Sir Alec Guinness(English Actor, 1914–2000) 

It seemed to me that the Bible, or at any rate the Old Testament, on which they were all so keen, was an unreliable history of a bronz-age tribe who had an unhealthy passion for collecting the foreskins of Philistines. A year or two of necessary, though intermittent, hypocrisy lay ahead of me. Certain incidents or sayings in the New Testament would pluck me back, from time to time, to something approaching belief; and I retained a constant interest in religious matters while being ignorant of any theology, but for the most part gave in to adolescent cynicism, which was self-encouraged by reading the witty works of Dean Inge. (Why on earth was he labelled 'The Gloomy Dean'?) clergymen were either funny curates who couldn't find their galoshes, or rather sinister missionaries back from the African bush, with unappealing lantern-slides of themselves-in solar topees-sitting smugly on folding chairs, surrounded by poor, squatting, hideous, heathen folk.

Alec Guinness, "Blessings In Disguise", G.K.Hall & Co, Boston, Massachusetts, 1986, pp. 38-39

(...) Miss Dorothy Hawksley, Sydney's faithful and almost daily companion, whose portrait drawings were of exquisite delicacy, was in the room when Sydney recounted this and said, in her shy way, 'I came in here one day and saw a small man, dressed as an airman, looking out of the window. His back was turned to me. I wondered why Sydney should be talking to such a very undistinguished little man. I was stupefied; I don't think I have ever encountered such a strong personality. I didn't know who he was, of course, until introduced. He rather gave me the creeps. But Sydney was fond of him. 'Weren't you Sydney?'
'Fond of whom?'
'Lawrence of Arabia.'
'M-m-n. Perhaps. But he was such a terrible fibber.'
Sydney gave me a coarse, striped robe which he had brought from a Bedouin when he and Wilfred Scawen Blunt had been wrecked off the coast of Sinai in 1900. He used it as a dressing-gown later in life, lent it to Lawrence who in turn handed it on to G.B.S. Eventually it found its way back to Sydney, and shortly after it came in to my possession. I handed it over to Clouds Hill, T.E.'s hideaway cottage in Dorset, as a memento. Off all the people who were T.E.'s friends whom I questioned about his personality, only Sydney and Sir Basil Liddel Hart seemed to me to have a straight, appreciative but unemotional view of him. Many, including Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and David Garnett were, I guessed, jealous of Lawrence's friendship, each thinking himself the one, true and intimate friend. They seemed like schoolboys who had a slight crush on the captain of the cricket team. The most useful picture of him I formed came from the custodian of Clouds Hill who, looking from the window of his own cottage one evening, said, 'I can see him right now as he was thirty years ago, walking like a duck, toes turned out, his arms stiff at his side, straight down the middle of the road in the dusk of a summer night. I always used to watch him. Of course I was just a kid. But he was my hero.' When I mentioned this to Sydney he smiled rather sourly and said, 'I expect he knew he was being watched and hero-worshiped.'

Alec Guinness, "Blessings In Disguise", G.K.Hall & Co, Boston, Massachusetts, 1986, pp. 168-169

Since her [Edith Evans] death I have thought about her more often than most of the great dead. Not always, perhaps, with total love; but always with profound regard, personal gratitude, and gratitude that my footpath should have zigzagged her broad highway.

Alec Guinness, "Blessings In Disguise", G.K.Hall & Co, Boston, Massachusetts, 1986, pp. 288-289

At the risk of pretension I have to say that, for me, the great adventure could be yet to come, had I only the courage and strength of will to embark on it: a spiritual journey, all foibles, sillines and ill-will mastered and thrown overboard and a genuine attempt made at achieving total simplicity. A day-dream only, I fear. I lack sufficient humility and it is so warm and cosy on shore. The seas look wide and dark; storms quickly arise, great waves can mount threateningly; and there are probably monsters in the deep. To leave friends behind must be sad and bitter, even when we know so many who have gone triumphantly before us, but we remain in touch, I believe, in some mysterious way. Of one thing I can boast; I am unaware of ever having lost a friend.

Alec Guinness, "Blessings In Disguise", G.K.Hall & Co, Boston, Massachusetts, 1986, pp. 383-384

Mehmed Uzun (Kurdish Writer, Novelist, 1953-2007)

(...) Kurtcenin en eski lehcesi olan ve Zerdust'un diline en yakin lehce oldugu soylenen Zazaca, koyun konusulan diliydi.

Mehmed Uzun, "Zincirlenmis Zamanlar, Zincirlenmis Sozcukler", Gendas, 4.Baski, Istanbul, 2002, p.50

Burada, bu yuzyilda tumuyle karanlik olan Kurt evreninde, isinlariyla Kurtlere bir umut, bir sevgi, bir insani duygu veren uc yidizdan soz etmem gerekiyor. Hawar-Riya Teze-Gelawej. Uc derginin ismi bunlar. Iilki Suriye'de 1932'de yayinlanmaya basladi ve dil, kultur, edebiyata iliskin bir devletin yapmasi gereken isleri yapti. Ikinci yildiz ise 1920'lerin sonunda Kafkaslarda, Erivan'da dogdu ve bitkin Kurt ruhuna bir sicaklik verdi. Ucuncusu ise Irak Kurdistaninda, dil, edebiyat ve kultur icin bir "coban yildizi" olarak parladi. Bu uc derginin cevresinde, bizim, yeni kusak yazar ve aydinlarinin ortaya cikmasini saglayan uc onemli ekol olustu. Abartmiyorum; eger bunlar olmasaydi, bizim bugun Kurtce yazmamiz, Kurtce modern bir edebiyat yaratabilmemiz mumkun olmayacakti.

Mehmed Uzun, "Zincirlenmis Zamanlar, Zincirlenmis Sozcukler", Gendas, 4.Baski, Istanbul, 2002, P.122

(...) Kurtlere ait saygin ve kaliteli bir edebi yasam hem sayilamayacak kadar cok olan onyargilari kiracaktir, hem de hep bir asagilamayi da iceren acima duygusunu asarak Kurtleri komsulari ve dunyayla esit insanlar haline getirecektir. Bu konuda adim atmasi gereken de herkesten once Kurtlerdir. Kurtlerin ihtiyaci olan, onlara iliskin bir acima duygusu degil, onlara ait yaratici, kalici eserlerdir. Eser yaratilmadan ne eserin tartisilmasi mumkundur ne de bir sayginlik yaratmasi.

Mehmed Uzun, "Zincirlenmis Zamanlar, Zincirlenmis Sozcukler", Gendas, 4.Baski, Istanbul, 2002, P.124


Fernando Pessoa (Portuguese Poet, Writer, Literary Critic, Translator, Publisher and Philosopher, 1888-1935)

Freedom would mean rest, artistic achievement, the intellectual fulfillment of my being.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.1

Some, the prophets and saints who walk this vacuous world, are exploited by God himself.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.2

Ah, now I understand! Senor Vasques is Life; Life, monotonous and necessary, commanding and unknowable. This banal man represents the banality of life. On the surface he is everything to me, just as, on the surface, Life is everything to me.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.5

Only one thing surprises me more than the stupidity with which most men live their lives and that is the intelligence inherent in that stupidity.

To all appearances, the monotony of ordinary lives is horrific. I'm having lunch in this ordinary restaurant and I look over at the cook behind the counter and at the old waiter right next to me, serving me as he has served others here for, I believe, the past thirty years. What are these men's lives like? For forty years the cook has spent nearly all of every day in a kitchen; he has a few breaks; he sleeps relatively little; sometimes he goes back to his village whence he returns unhesitatingly and without regret; he slowly accumulates his slowly earned money, which he does not propose spending; he would fall ill if he had to abandon (for ever) his kitchen for the land he bought in Galicia; he's lived in Lisbon for forty years and he's never ever been to the Rotunda*, or to the theatre, and only once to the Coliseu (whose clowns still inhabit the inner interstices of his life). He got married, how or why I don't know, has four sons and one daughter and, as he leans out over the counter towards my table, his smile conveys a great, solemn, contented happiness. He isn't pretending, nor does he have any reason to. If he seems happy it's because he really is.

And what about the old waiter who serves me and who, for what must be the millionth time in his career, has just placed a coffee on the table before me? His life is the same as the cook's, the only difference being the four or five yards that separate the kitchen where one works from the restaurant dining room where the other works. Apart from minor differences like having two rather than five children, paying more frequent visits to Galicia, and knowing Lisbon better than the cook (as well as Oporto where he lived for four years), he is equally contented.

I look again, with real terror, at the panorama of those lives and, just as I'm about to feel horror, sorrow and revulsion for them, discover that the people who feel no horror or sorrow or revulsion are the very people who have the most right to, the people living those lives. That is the central error of the literary imagination: the idea that other people are like us and must therefore feel like us. Fortunately for humanity, each man is only himself and only the genius is given the ability to be others as well.

*The Rotunda was the name given by lisboetas (natives of Lisbon) to the Praca Marques de Pombal.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, pp.18-19

(...) Dawn in the countryside just exist; dawn in the city overflows with promise. One makes you live, the other makes you think. And, along with all the other great unfortunates, I've always believed it better to think than to live.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.32

Everything that was ours, simply because it was once ours, even those things we merely chanced to live with or see on a daily basis, becomes part of us. It was not the office boy who left today for some place in Galicia unknown to me, it was a part, vital because both visual and human, of the very substance of my life. Today I am diminished, no longer quite the same. The office boy left today,

Everything that happens in the world we live in, happen in us. Anything that ceases to exist in the world we see around us, ceases to exist in us. Everything that was, assuming we noticed it when it was there, is torn from us when it leaves. The office boy left today.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.34

One can see only what one has already seen.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.45

Some people have one great dream in life which they fail to fulfil. Others have no dream at all and fail to fulfil even that.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.79

I no longer know when or where it was, plants trees and quite comfort in in my heart, for a moment indisputably that of a child. I walk down a street. I'm overcome, quite unexpectedly, by the smell of the wooden crates being made by the box maker: ah Cesario, you appear before me and at last I am happy because, through memory, I have returned to the one truth that is literature.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.105

If I dream of being famous I feel all the indifference that comes with glory, the loss of privacy and anonymity that makes it so painful to us.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.109

And the sands cover everything in my life, my prose, my eternity.

I carry with me, like a victory flag, the knowledge of my defeat.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.120

If one day I were to achieve a power of expression so great as to concentrate all art in me, I would write an apotheosis of sleep. I know of no greater pleasure in the whole of life than that of sleep. 

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.121

I think what creates in me the deep sense I have of living out of step with others is the fact that most people think with their feelings whereas I feel with my thoughts.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.148

To see clearly into ourselves and into how others see us! To see this truth face to face! Thence comes the final cry of Christ on the cross when he saw, face to face, his truth: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.154

Living is in itself dying because every new day we enjoy is another day of our lives lost.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.182

The superiority of the dreamer lies in the fact that dreaming is much more practical than living, and in the fact that the dreamer derives a greater and more multifarious pleasure from life than the man of action. To put it more succinctly, it's the dreamer who is the true man of action. 

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.188

For me life is an inn where I must stay until the carriage from the abyss calls to collect me. I don't know where that carriage will take me because I know nothing. I could consider this inn to be a prison since I'm compelled to stay here; I could consider it a kind of club, because I meet other people here. However, unlike others, I am neither impatient nor sociable. I leave those who shut themselves in their rooms and wait, lying limply on their beds unable to sleep; I leave those who chatter in the living room, from where the cosy sound of music and voices reaches me. I sit at the door and fill my eyes and ears with the colours and sounds of the landscape and slowly, just for myself, I sing vague songs that I compose while I wait.

Night will fall on all of us and the carriage will arrive. I enjoy the breeze given to me and the soul given to me to enjoy it and I ask no more questions, look no further. If what I leave written in the visitor's book is one day read by others and entertains them on their journey, that's fine. If no one reads it or is entertained by it, that's fine too.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.209

Some of us stagnated in the foolish conquest of the everyday, contemptible, vulgar beings scrabbling for our daily bread and wanting to get it without working for it, without feeling the effort involved, without the nobility of achievement.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.210

We never love anyone. We love only our idea of what someone is like. We love an idea of our own; in short, it is ourselves that we love.

This is true of every kind of love. In sexual love we seek our own pleasure through the intermediary of another's body. In non-sexual love, we seek our own pleasure through the intermediary of an idea we have. The onanist may be an abject creature but in truth he is the logical expression of the lover. He is the only one who neither disguises nor deludes himself

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.218

There is no happiness without knowledge. But the knowledge of happiness brings unhappiness, because to know one is happy to know that one is passing through happiness and is, therefore, soon obliged to leave it behind. In happiness as in everything, knowledge kills. Not to know, however, is not to exist.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.219

Nothing more... A little sun, a light breeze, a few trees framing the distance, the desire to be happy, our pain to feel the passing of the days, the knowledge that is never quite complete and the truth always just on the point of being revealed... Nothing more, nothing more... No, nothing more...

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.220

I have no political or social sense. In a way, though, I do have a highly developed patriotic sense. My fatherland is the Portuguese language. 

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.233

To write is to forget. Literature is the pleasantest way of ignoring life. Music lulls us, the visual arts enliven us, the performing arts (such as dance and drama) entertain us. The first, therefore, removes itself from life in order to make of it a dream; the others, however, do not, some because they use visual and, therefore, vital formulae and others because they live from human life itself.

This is not the case with literature. literature simulates life. A novel is a history of what never was and a play is a novel without narrative. A poem is the expression of ideas or feelings in a language no one uses since no one speaks in verse.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.257

To posses something is to lose it. To feel something without possessing it is to keep it, because in that way one extracts its essence.

Fernando Pessoa, "The Book of Disquiet", Serpent's Tail, Five Star Edition, Great Britain, 2002, P.259


Kennedy Odede (Nijerian Community Organizer, 19..-...)

For every bad person I encountered who hurt me and caused me suffering and pain, I also met a lot of good people. For the priest that abused me, I met a man of God who saved my life on the day I stole a mango and was almost beaten to death (he paid back the mango’s price and more).

My mom taught me that while there is a God, that one God might be very busy, so we have to rely on the people we encounter in our life who become what she called ‘small gods.’

Cited in "The Things They Carry", by David Brooks, The New York Times, November 10, 2015

Ece Temelkuran (Turkish Journalist & Author, 1973-...)

Aret, bir Ermeni olmasina ragmen Ermenistan'a disardan bakabiliyor Istanbul'dan geldigi icin. Bazen tuhaf da buluyor kendini: "Turkiye'de Ermeniler karakolun yanindan bile gecmezler, urkerler.Ama buraya ilk geldigimde baktim kavga ediyorlar, dayilaniyorlar. Egemen bir ulke sonucta, normal, her sey oluyor.

Ama ilk bagiran Ermeni'yi gordugumde, 'Vay be! Bu ne bicim Ermeni!' demistim dogrusu. Bir de dikkat ettiniz mi, cafe'lerde kucuk odaciklar vardir."

Evet, neden?

"Sanirim Sovyet doneminden kalma bir gizlilik ihtiyaci. Bu masada konusulan oteki masada duyulsun istemiyorlar."

Aret'in uzun suredir burda olmasina ragmen hala tuhaf buldugu, mizahini yaptigi seyler var:

"Adam Tokat'tan, Sivas'tan bahsediyor. Sanirsin ki Paris'i anlatiyor. Tokat oyle degil iste, bilmiyor."

Ece Temekuran, "Agri'nin Derinligi", Everest Yayinlari, Cep Boyu 3. Basim, Mart 2012, p.68

"Biliyorsunuz, Ermenilerin yuzyillar suren devlet olamama sorunu vardi. Ve dilimizi korumamiz gerekti yuzyillar boyunca. Bir de biliyorsunuz, asimilasyon meselesi. Bizi asimilasyona karsi kilise ve tiyatro korudu."

"Devlet olmayan halklarin hepsi icin boyledir bu. Tiyatro dili ve kimligi korur. Devlet olmus haklar bunu anlayamazlar. Felsefi bir kategori olarak tiyatro, kendi zamaninin kahramanini yaratir, insanlar onun etrafinda birlesirler. O kahraman katarsisi yaratarak halki icin o doneme ait sorularin cevaplarini bulur.

{Armen Elbakyan}

Ece Temekuran, "Agri'nin Derinligi", Everest Yayinlari, Cep Boyu 3. Basim, Mart 2012, pp.89-90
"Ataturk, Turkiye'nin en buyuk sansidir. Ama Turkiye'de elestirilemez. Fransa'da De Gaulle'cuyum ama De Gaulle'u elestirebiliyorum. Ataturk ve Ataturk'ten sonrakiler tarihi yeniden yazdirdilar. Modern Turkiye belli bir ideolojinin uzerinde duruyor. Ben gencken Turkiye'nin en buyuk sorununun dinler arasindaki ayrim oldugunu dusunurdum. Ama sonra anladim ki bu kurucu ideolojiden kaynaklanan asiri milliyetcilik daha buyuk bir sorun. Su anda da Turkiye hem asiri dincilik hem de asiri milliyetcilik tehlikesini beraber yasiyor."


Benim not almami beklerken duruyor. Guluyor kendi kendine. Birden bambaska bir sey soyluyor:

"Vatandas, Turkce konus!"

Neden bahsettigini bilip bilmedigimi anlamak icin yuzumun ifadesini izliyor. Biliyorum. 40'li yillardaki milliyetci slogani kitaplarda gordugumu hatirliyorum. Anladigimi sessizligin icinde anliyor herhalde ve soyle diyor:

"Mama' demek bile yasakti..."

Uzun bir es veriyoruz. Birden yuzu ciddilesiyor, dalip gittigi kendi hayatindan cikip tekrar politikaci olarak konusuyor: "Bizim sloganimiz sudur: 'Unutmak ihanettir!"

Tekrar ediyor:


{Varujan Srabyan}

Ece Temekuran, "Agri'nin Derinligi", Everest Yayinlari, Cep Boyu 3. Basim, Mart 2012, pp.180-181

Hikayeler cigliklardan daha gucludur. Hikayeler, gurultulerden daha uzun surer.

Ece Temekuran, "Agri'nin Derinligi", Everest Yayinlari, Cep Boyu 3. Basim, Mart 2012, p.281

"1915 yilinda babam Hrant 5, halam Repekah 15, amcam Hovannes 17 yasindaymis. Amcam o gunlerde kadin kiyafeti giyip Marsilya'ya kacmis. Halamin sonradan kocasi olan Sarkis Agopyan'i Edincik'ten diger Ermeni erkeklerle birlikte 'Askere aliyoruz' diye toplayip sehrin disina cikarmislar. Hepsine hendek kazdirip sonra hendegin icine doldurup oldurmusler. Sira Sarkis'e gelince tufek tutukluk yapmis, Sarkis de kendini olmus gibi hendege atmis. Uc gun uc gece o mezarda yatmis. Sonra halamla birlikte Bulgaristan'a kactilar. Babam bes yasinda tehcir kafilesine alinmis. Babama o gunleri sordugumda sadece soyle derdi: 'Tanri yok. Eger Tanri olsaydi o gunler yasanmazdi.' konusmak istemezdi."

{Apo Torosyan}

Ece Temekuran, "Agri'nin Derinligi", Everest Yayinlari, Cep Boyu 3. Basim, Mart 2012, p.307

1915'ten sonra Anadolu'dan ayrilan Beatrice, her yil, dogdugu sehir olan Sivas'i ziyaret ediyormus. Ihtiyar Beatrice bir yaz Sivas'i ziyaret ettigi sirada gozlerini son kez yummus. Onun koyunden bir ihtiyar nereden bulduysa Hrant'i bulup haber vermis, Istanbul'da akrabasi varsa haber versin diye. Hrant "Ne yapalim?" diye sormus telefondaki yasli adama. Su cevabi almis:

"Birak oglum, kadincagiz burada gomulsun. Su catlagini bulmus."

Hrant bu hikayenin sonunda, "Ermenilerin topraklarimizda gozu var," korkusuyla yasayan milliyetcileri kastederek, ellerini havaya kaldirarak haykirmisti:

"Evet bu ulkenin topraginda gozumuz var. Ama alip goturmek icin degil, ta dibine gomulmek icin!"

Ece Temekuran, "Agri'nin Derinligi", Everest Yayinlari, Cep Boyu 3. Basim, Mart 2012, p.330

Yaklasik yarim saattir son derece duygusuz meselelerden bahsettigimiz konusmanin burasinda Papazian "Bir puro icebilir miyim?" diye soruyor birden, sanki anlattiklarindan yoruluyor. Birden Turkce bir sarki soylemeye basliyor:

"Nane suyu nane seker/Benim canim seni ceker/Her guzelin var bir huyu/Hey aman Acem guzeli"

Oylece bakiyorum. Bunu yasiyorlar. Turkiye'den gelenle cok sert meselelerden bahsederken, 'eski kardesligi' hatirlamak ya da hatirlatmak icin, bunu yaptiklarinin cok farkinda olmadan belki, bir isaret fisegi gibi kullaniyorlar Turkceyi. Papazian purosundan dertli dertli bir nefes cekiyor ve aciyla gulumseyerek soyluyor:

"Buyukaanemin bana soyledigi ninniydi bu. Hic cikmiyor aklimdan."

1929 dogumlu Tatul'un yuzu birden degisiyor. Amerikan aksaniyla rakamlardan, paradan ve lobi faaliyetlerinden soz eden adam gidiyor, kendi hikayesini anlatmak isteyen kirilgan sesli bir cocuk-ihtiyar geliyor yerine. Kahire'de dogdugunu anlatiyor purosunu Anadolulu bir erkek gibi icine ceke ceke icerken. Annesinin "asil" memleketinin Van oldugunu, babasinin Bartin'da dogdugunu, Kirim'a giden gemilerde tayfalik yaptigini, buyukbabasinin Trabzonlu oldugunu... Cocukluguna gidiyor agir agir:

"Soykirimi ben ne anamdan duydum ne babamdan. Ama sizde ne varsa sizinle birlikte yuruyor. Sarkilarin, cumlelerin arasinda duyuyorsunuz olanlari. Hayatiniz boyunca da tasiyorsunuz o gunlerde ogrendiklerinizi. Sonra bir gun..."

Duruyor, purosunu dislerinin arasina sikistirip raflardan bir dosya aliyor. Dosyalarin icinden bir siir cikarip masanin uzerine birakiyor:

"Bu siiri dedem icin yazdim."

Okuyorum. Siir soyle bitiyor:

"Izin ver sana Hovseph diyeyim/Ne de olsa artik ben senden buyugum/Ve benim aklimda sen/Hep genc babasi olarak kalacaksin annemin/Anneannemin seven kocasi/Hovseph.../Benim yuzu ve basi olmayan sessiz ceddim/Her zaman bir es ve baba/Her zaman dilsiz ve kor hatirasi bir dedenin."

Ben okumayi bitirirken Tatul acikliyor:

"Dedemin yuzu... Bende bir saplanti haline geldi yillarca. Nasildi acaba? Olduruldugunde 25 yasindaymis. Yillardir onu dusunuyorum, yuzunu."

"Yorulmadiniz mi?" diye soruyorum. "Duygusal olarak cok yorucu bir sey" diyor ve devam ediyor:

"Diger ulkelerin soykirimi tanimasi beni ilgilendirmiyor cok. Bunu anlatmak zor. Turkiye'nin bunu tanimasi bir varolus nedeni gibi benim icin. Bu kadar yil yasadiktan sonra su noktaya geldim. insanlar icin ozgurlukten daha onemli bir sey var. O da adalet."

"Ama Turkiye taniyinca varolus nedeniniz de elinizden alinmis olacak o zaman" diyorum. Tatul, "biz evsisiz," diyor, "bunu anlamalisiniz." Gozleri doluyor:

"Size kucuk, aptal bir sarki soyledim biraz once . Kucuk, aptal bir sarki! Ama o benim cocuklugum. Ben Turkceyi unuttum, unutuyorum artik."

Sessizce agliyor. Biraz sakinlesince devam ediyor. "Ermenistan'dakiler anlamaz bunu. Hrant da evinde konusuyordu. Ama bizim icin farkli. Biz yok olmak tehdidiyle yasiyoruz."

[Tatul Sonentz Papazian, Editor of Hai Sird magazine]

Ece Temekuran, "Agri'nin Derinligi", Everest Yayinlari, Cep Boyu 3. Basim, Mart 2012, pp.344-347


Ernest Hemingway (American Novelist, Short Story Writer, and Journalist. 1899 – 1961)

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. 

Ernest Hemingway, The Nobel Prize Speech, October 1954


Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu (Turkish Diplomat, Writer, and Journalist. 1889 – 1974)

(...) Milli Mucade devrinde, bugunku rahat ve modern baskentimizin adina bircok kimseler En Kara derdi ve ilk adimimizi attigimiz dakikadan itibaren Istanbul'un hasreti yuregimizi daglamaga baslardi. Ankara'nin hukumet merkezi olma kanununu Buyuk Millet Meclisi azasinin yuzde yetmisi adeta kerahatle kabul etmisti. Ondan sonra da yillarca kume halinde, yigin halinde izin isteyip kacisan mebuslarin ardi arkasi kesilmemisti.

Yahya kemal, ilk defa milletvekili olarak Ankara'ya geldigi gun, oturdugu hanin penceresinden havada ucusan leyleklere melul melul bakarak: "Hey mubarek kuslar," dermis; "biz buraya milletin emriyle gelmis bulunuyoruz. Ya siz ne halt ettiniz de dunyanin nice guzelim yerleri dururken su colun ustune usustunuz?". 

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu, "Zoraki Diplomat", Iletisim Yayinlari, 6.Baski, Istanbul, 2010, p.235

(...) Evet, ufak tefek adet ve mizac baskaliklarini bir yana birakacak olursak bir Isvicrelide goze carpan "farik karakter" ancak su uc kelime ile hulasa olunabilir; sadelik, dogruluk, caliskanlik. 

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu, "Zoraki Diplomat", Iletisim Yayinlari, 6.Baski, Istanbul, 2010, p.238

Nitekim ben asil Isvicre'yi, asil Isvicreliyi orada {Bern} tanidim. Tarihinin bir alay serefli hatiralari icinde "milli gurur nedir? Gosteris ve satafat nedir? Israf ve sefahat nedir?" hic bilmeksizin Avrupa'nin en eski, en zengin aileleri, en yuksek devlet adamlari, en seckin aydinlari ile yari esnafca, yari koylumsu bir omur suren bu sehir halki bana, ayni zamanda, gercek demokrasinin ne oldugunu, ne kadar guzel, ne kadar asil bir nizam oldugunu ogretmistir. Adlari ortacag tarihinin buyuk hadiselerine karismis nice zadegan kisiler tanidim ki, kiymetlerine deger bicilmez esyalarla doseli, tablolar, biblolar ve minyaturlerle suslu ecdat konaklarinda, sanki bu mal ve mulkun sahipleri kendileri degilmis, sanki bu evler birer muze imis de onlarin muhafazasina, bakimina tayin edilmis kucuk memurlarmis gibi yasarlar. Vekil ve vukelasinin, "President de la Confederation" -yani cumhurreisi dahil olmak uzere- butun hukumet erkaninin da boylesine birer kucuk memurdan farki yoktur. Yaz kis, sabahin yedisinde, en genisi bes alti odali evlerinden cikip evrak cantalari koltuklarinin altinda vazifeleri basina giderler. Ne resmi, ne hususi otomobilleri olmadigi icin bu erkenden vazife basina gidisleri -hele kis mevsimlerinde- hayli zahmetlidir. Bunlari, umumi nakil vasitasi duraklarinda; kah kar, kah yagmur serpintileri ile islanarak tramvay veya otobus beklerken gordugum cok olmustur. Birkac defa, bizim tarafta oturan iki nazirla aksam vakitlerinde bu tramvaylara birlikte bindigimi hatirlarim. Isten donus saati oldugu icin tika basa dolmus arabada yer bulup oturmak epeyce guctur. Ama, Isvicreli nazir sikisik bir vaziyette ayakta durmakta hic beis gormez. Zaten gorse de ona kim yer verir? Yolcular arasindan kimsecikler donup yuzune bakmaz bile. Tramvayin sahanliginda bir isci ile bir magaza ciraginin arasinda saga sola yalpa vurarak yol almak onun icin belki de bir "halka karismak" zevkidir.

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu, "Zoraki Diplomat", Iletisim Yayinlari, 6.Baski, Istanbul, 2010, pp.239-240

Calismak... Her Isvicreli icin yemek icmek gibi, nefes almak gibi tabii ve bunyevi bir vazifedir. Ondokuz, yirmi yasina varmis bir oglan veya bir kiz ne kadar refahli bir aileye mensup olursa olsun mutlaka kendine bir is bulmak arzusundadir ve hicbirinin gozunde isin iyisi kotusu, hafifi agiri munakasa mevzuu teskil etmez.  

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu, "Zoraki Diplomat", Iletisim Yayinlari, 6.Baski, Istanbul, 2010, p.243

Bu hayal ikliminde, eski minyaturlerin badem gozlu dilberleri de eksik degildir. Koyu lacivert pariltili siyah saclarini dalga dalga omuzlari ustune salivererek etrafinizda "hiraman" olmaktadirlar. Tipki Ferhat ve Sirin devrindeki gibi ask ve sevdanin emrinden baska bir seye boyun egmezler. Ne paranin, ne susun, ne de dunya gosterislerinden herhangi birinin esiridirler. Tanidiklari tek kanun gonul kanunudur. Ram olduklari erkek bunlara otur der, otururlar; kalk der kalkarlar. Agizlarindan "beli' sozunden baska bir cevap cikmaz. Sokakta yururlerken cadir denilen adi basmadan ortulerini oyle bir acip kapayislari vardir ki, kadin isvesinin ve yosmaliginin ne oldugunu insan ancak o zaman anlar.

Nasil olmus da Pierre Loti, Azadiye'sini bunlar arasindan secmemis? Zira, Sarkli kadinin en halis, en katiksiz ornekleri asil bunlardir. Iran'a gelip gittikten sonra Avrupa'nin butun kizlari bana birer genc erkek gibi gorunur olmuslardi. Bakislarini o kadar sert, yuruyuslerini o kadar dik ve sozlerini o kadar kati bulmaga baslamisimdir.

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu, "Zoraki Diplomat", Iletisim Yayinlari, 6.Baski, Istanbul, 2010, pp.313-314


Roger Cohen (American Jounalist, Author, 1955 – ...)

I wandered into the Silver House Trading Co. and found Hafiz Nassar watching CNN with his wife. He managed a tired, amiable smile. Turned out he was a Palestinian who had left a village near Jerusalem more than four decades ago, tried New York and found it too noisy, moved on to Denver, before coming out to New Mexico to sell Lebanese and Turkish rugs. “You know, I just stopped here,” he said. “You have to stop somewhere.”


I had been reading D. H. Lawrence, who lived in New Mexico in the early 1920s. He wrote: “That’s why most people have come to America and still do come. To get away from everything they are and have been.” 


In Albert Camus’s “The Plague,” the doctor at the center of the novel, Bernard Rieux, concludes that the only way to save people is through decency. Asked what that is, he responds, “In general, I can’t say, but in my case I know that it consists of doing my job.”

Roger Cohen, "America's Bountiful Churn", The New York Times, December 31, 2015

Life, among other things, is accumulation — of objects, papers, photographs, paintings, tax returns, love letters and assorted things in the backs of drawers, the bottoms of closets and the recesses of cellars. Stuff gathers. It piles up through the acquisitive instinct, nostalgia and inertia. Some of it may be useful, a lot of it not.

Possessions can be uplifting if they are beautiful or merely comforting, signposts to a life, recalling the places they were acquired and with whom. On the other hand, they can feel imprisoning. Who has not had the urge just to be rid of everything and roam free? Humanity may broadly be divided into hoarders and disposers. They tend to have disagreements, especially when bound in a couple.

Roger Cohen, "The Mao of My Life", The New York Times, March 10, 2016

Michael Scammell (English Author, Biographer and Translator of Slavic Literature.1935- ...)

When Darkness at Noon appeared in 1940, it illuminated realities that were little known (and sometimes denied) in the West: show trials, confessions, prison conditions, totalitarian psychology, and human oppression. After the Soviet Union became the West’s ally during World War II, the book’s topicality faded, only to reassert itself with the start of the cold war. Moreover, when the cold war ended, Darkness at Noon did not fade away as many cold war books, movies, and other cultural artifacts did. Like Animal Farm, 1984, and a few other novels from that time, Darkness at Noon had staying power, for Rubashov’s story, like all good stories, transcends time and place. The book has little in the way of conventional plot, but it powerfully illuminates the human condition, men’s moral choices, the attractions and dangers of idealism, the corrosive effects of political corruption, and the fatal consequences of psychological and ideological fanaticism.

Michael Scammell, "The Different 'Darkness at Noon", The New York Review of Books, April 7, 2016 Issue

Delmer Berg (American soldier, farmer, activist.1916-2016)

It bothers me a little that at 99 you’re going to die any minute, because I have a lot of other things I want to do.

Cited in Sam Roberts, "Last of Americal Volunteers in Spanish Civil War, Dies at 100", The New York Times, March 2, 2016

Robert B. Silvers (American editor, Editor The New York Review of Books, 1929-2017)

I admire great writers, people with mervelous and beautiful minds, and always hope they will do something special and revealing.

Cited in Daniel Mendelsohn, "Robert B. Silvers (1929-2017", The New York Review of Books, March 27, 2017

Sasha Abramsky (British Journalist, Writer1972-....)

"Whatsoever moved Saint Jerome to call the journeys of the Israelites in the wilderness, mansions," wrote the metaphysical poet John Donne in his eerie sermon, "Death's Duel," written shortly before his death in 1631, "the word...signifies but a journey, but a peregrination." For Chimen, too, his mansion of ideas, his House of Books, was more a journey, a never-ending voyage of discovery, than a physical abode.

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, p.10

Children take the environments they are familiar with for granted. And so it was that for many, many years I simply assumed that all old people lived in book-houses, every wall lined with musty old tomes containing the secrets of history, politics, philosophy, religion, art. I assumed that it was entirely normalto spend one's time arguing the merits of various obscure Socialist doctrines in between the matzo ball soup and the roast duck. I concluded-wrongly I subsequently learned-that most children had Spinoza and Marx, Rosa Luxemburg and Hegel quoted to them as morality tales by theirs grand fathers. nearing forty as I write this, I can still recall Chimen's fabulous Eastern European accent, his wagging finger, his earnest expression as he urged moderation on me, commanded me, "Meester Sasha," to read Spinoza-the brilliant autodidact from Amsterdam who had been excommunicated by the Jewish community, who had spent much of his life underappreciated, and who for decades had ground glass lenses to make a living-and to learn the fine arts of intellectual subtlety.

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, pp.36-37

Halfway up that wall, opposite the fireplace, on a little shelf barely six inches high were the Everyman political classics, my favorite collection in the house. In that collection were many of the great political thinkers of the past two and half millenia, from Plato and Aristotle to Roger Bacon, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes, from the utopian Thomas More to the theorist of the unification of Italy Giuseppe Manzini. Included somewhat surprisingly, in that collection was Marco Polo; he was not a great political thinker, but he was an adventurer-and his travels had, I am sure, intrigued my globe-trotting grand father. There was something Lilliputian about these books, yet in their conception there was also something wonderfully egalitarian. They were cheaply produced hardbacks, each with its own distinctively colored cover with a canvaslike texture, many of them dating to the Great Depression years when high-quality paper was in short supply; they were books meant to be carried in sports-jacket pockets, to be removed easily and read on the Underground while standing jammed up against other commuters in the rush hour. They were books produced for every man, at a moment when it was quietly assumed that people in England of all classes and all walks of life were interested in bettering themselves intellectually. Each volume carried the motto "Everyman, I will go with thee and be thy guide, in thy most need to go by thy side."  

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, pp.168-169

(...) My grandfather, never otherwise at a loss for words, was frequently tongue-tied when it came to discussing the Holocaust. All the tools of the historian's trade, the understanding of Marxist dialectic, the belief that history moved in a generally progressive arc, fell mute before such organized psychopathy. When Chimen watched documentaries on, say, the Warsaw ghetto, I would turn to him and see him silently sobbing. 

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, p.182

When I was a teenager, involved in the pacifist antinuclear movement and other left-wing activism in London, Chimen-still in full flight from his Communist past, still mortified by the nonsense that he had written as a young man-would lecture on my youthful follies. It used to infuriate me. His fury, I thought, reflected a lack of passion, a calcification of his political nerve ends. Today, as I sit at my computer, a middle-aged man trying to put together the pieces of my grandparents' lives into a coherent narrative, I think I understand why he became so suspicious of what he saw as the naive idealism of youth. Wanting to change the world for the better, caring passionately about the human condition, Chimen, Mimi, and so many of those they loved and respected had spent years defending a brutal and totalitarian system. It was, I believe, Chimen's most humbling realization. 

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, pp.201-202

Bit by bit, at first subconsciously, later quite explicitly, the ground was being laid for a new political perspective, for a new, less utopian understanding of the human condition. Decades later, Chimen attempted to explain this shift. "When I was involved in politics and had contacts with leading Arabs in every Arab country in the Middle East I realised, fully, the total hostility of all the Arabs that I encountered, and their leading representation of the Left in Arabian countries, to the existence of the State of Israel," Chime wrote to his friend Walter Zander in June 1976. "Without exception, all were for its total destruction, and I became utterly despairing of discussing the Jewish question with them: they showed no compassion or feeling for it." He ended his letter by warning against "idealism in a vacuum" Many of the guests around the Seder table went through a similar change of heart.

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, pp.215-216

Indeed, despite his growing obsession with all things Jewish, Chimen never re-embraced Orthodoxy. To the contrary, what most interested him about the great Jewish religious commentaries was how they related to the march to modernity: how Rashi's interpretations of biblical texts had segued into Maimonides's ethics, and how Maimonides ultimately led to Spinoza, greatest of all Jewish philosophers.

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, p.246

In Chimen's library, one could see how Spinoza, a man ahead of his time, had influenced the emergence of modernity. He was a philosopher of religion who helped pave the way for the triumph of the scientific mind-set: He set the intellectual stage for Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity more than two hundred years later, as Einstein himself acknowledged. His God and Einstein's-the god who did not play dice, the god who presided over the space-time continuum-would have understood each other all too well.

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, pp.246-247

Paradoxically, perhaps, Hebrew printing in what would become the Ottoman capital developed centuries before Islamic printing in the city got a foothold, having been established as early as 1493 by two Portuguese brothers, David and Samuel Nahmias. In the decades that followed, the Nahmias press published more than one hundred books, in tiny editions that never exceeded three hundred in number, many of them written by Sephardic refugees from the Spanish Inquisition to the west. "Without the Inquisition," Paul Hamburg, the librarian of the Judaica Collection at the University of California at Berkeley, believes, "Spain would have developed as the center of Jewish printing in Europe. That didn't happen-because the Jewish were expelled from Spain in 1492." 

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, p.250

For much of his adult life, Chimen had been guided by Marx's admonition to action: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." Now, as he aged, a subtle shift occurred. Increasingly he looked not to Marx but to Spinoza for moral guidance. "To be is to do, and to know is to do," Spinoza had written at his desk in Amsterdam in the late seventeenth century. It was also a call to action, but it was no longer an explicit call to revolution. Chime remained vitally engaged in the world around him, but he no longer felt compelled to shake the pillars of the temple..

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, p.264

(...) He [Chimen] talked of how the eighteenth-century French philosopher Motesquieu had posited the idea that it was Jews who had invented letters of exchange and bills of credit, vital forerunners to paper money that greatly facilitated international commerce; and then he debunked the idea, explaining that it was in fact Lombard merchants and bankers who had introduced these tools to the world of trade. He went on to detail how Jews had come to occupy crucial niches within capitalism as advanced economic systems evolved: as bankers, insurers, stockbrokers; as developers of the French and Russian railway systems and of the German shipping industry; and as vital players in the clothing, shoe, and furniture industries in England and America.

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, p.281

He discussed Jewish contributions to science and industry, finance, politics. And he gave his audience an overview of the various political movements toward emancipation, and the surge in the Jewish populations of cities that followed the lifting of residency restrictions: The Jewish population of Berlin, for example, increased from barely 1,000 during Mendelsshon's lifetime to more than 300,000 by the time Nazis came to power 150 years later. He also discoursed on the rise of the highly political and ultimately deadly anti-Semitism that mushroomed in the twentieth century at least partly in reaction to the huge influx of Jews into Europe's great metropolises.   

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, p.282

In 1982, Chimen retired formally from his professorship at University College London. The University threw him a dinner party. Salmon, peas, and salad; followed by a choice of strawberries and cream or apple strudel; topped off with coffee and petits fours. Then, after toasts had been raised to the Queen, to Professor and Mrs. Abramsky, and to the college, Chimen got up to speak. He repeated the formula that he had first penned to [Isaiah] Berlin several years earlier, stressing the importance of "freedom from chains, from imprisonment, from enslavement to other men-all other senses of freedom are an extension of this." And, he now continued, "Men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them." Without choice, he told his audience, people's "lives will lack purpose, and, in the end, they will lose all that makes them human."

Sasha Abramsky, "The House of Twenty Thousand Books", Published by The New York Review of Book, USA, 2014, p.284


Oliver Sacks (British Neurologist, Naturalist, Historian of Science, and Author, 1933-2015)

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate-the genetic and neaural fate-of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

Oliver Sacks, “My Own Life”, The New York Times, February 19, 2015


Czesław Miłosz ( Polish poet, prose writer, translator and diplomat. 1911-2004)

In the spring of 1943, on a beautiful quiet night, a country night in the outskirts of Warsaw, standing on the balcony, we could hear screaming from the ghetto…. This screaming gave us goose pimples. They were the screams of thousands of people being murdered. It travelled through the silent spaces of the city from among a red glow of fires, under indifferent stars, into the benevolent silence of gardens in which plants laboriously emitted oxygen, the air was fragrant, and a man felt that it was good to be alive. There was something particularly cruel in this peace of the night, whose beauty and human crime struck the heart simultaneously. We did not look each other in the eye.

Cited in Charles Simic, “Poems From The Abyss”, The New York Review Of Books, November 23, 2017 Issue

One of the honorable traits of men is their will to leave their reports as witnesses.

Cited in Charles Simic, “Poems From The Abyss”, The New York Review Of Books, November 23, 2017 Issue


John Gloag ( British Writer, 1896-1981)

It was frightfully simple, like all really big ideas.

John Gloag, “Kind Uncle Buckby”, Cassell, London, 1946, Pg 297


Graham E Fuller (American Author & Political Analyist, 1937-...)

I realize that that's one of the things I love about the Middle East: I have often felt at times like I'm trapped in an Anglo-Saxon body and temparament, that I'd really prefer to be more physical, emotional, volatile in personality. I like the social conventions in the Middle East when I deal with Arabs, Turks, Pakistanis; it is expected that you stand close to someone when you talk, touch them frequently in expressing frankness, friendliness, intimacy, trust, embracing, holding a handshake maybe a full minute while exchanging greeting or farewells. I'd like to be more spontaneous. Luke helps me in that.

Graham E Fuller, “Three Truths and A Lie-A Memoir”, CreateSpace Inedendent Publishing Platform, USA, 2012, Pg 97

Death in poorer and harsher societies is a familiar visitor, thrusting its way indiscriminately into daily life-in onslaughts of disease, neglect, civil strife, wars, barbarians, crimes, tsunamies, plaguges, bandits and other timeless disasters.

Graham E Fuller, “Three Truths and A Lie-A Memoir”, CreateSpace Inedendent Publishing Platform, USA, 2012, Pg 224

Our Western illusion of control over our destinies makes harsh twists of fate, like untimely death, feel all the crueler. This is striking after many years of living in the Muslim world. You can't pass an hour with Muslim friends without the invocation of Insha'Allah-God willing-coming to the lips. It's not just an overdose of piety, as most Westerners would assume. You invoke the phrase after any statement of personal intent for the future. "I'll be back on the Friday flight, Insha'Allah." Yes, Man may intend, but God determines whether intensions will be fulfilled. We should never mistake mere intensions for absolute certainities. We should be mindful-indeed acknowledge our gratefullness-on each occasion when our plans and expectations do in fact works out as hoped. In an uncertain world they might well not. So you will often hear a Muslim offer soft thanks, for example, after the aircraft wheels touch down, of al-Hamdu l'llah 'ala-ssalaama, "Praise God for safety."

Graham E. Fuller, “Three Truths and A Lie-A Memoir”, CreateSpace Inedendent Publishing Platform, USA, 2012, Pg 225

It's been twelve years. His death ages ago, a minute ago. Time eases saddness, yes, but does not erase. Events remain in the mind, but they do not remain static: they are marinated, filtered and modulated by time, through aging and perspective.

Graham E. Fuller, “Three Truths and A Lie-A Memoir”, CreateSpace Inedendent Publishing Platform, USA, 2012, Pg 244

And I do know that Luke's death has not left an "emptiness" or a "hole" in my hearth-a phrase I often hear others use about loss from death. My heart has not hardened, not has it withdrawn or atrophied through the experience. On the contrary, I feel more as if I have grown a second hearth. In fact I have now become a more emotional person. I often find tears in my eyes when read about death, especially of a young person, in the newspaper. But more than that: I become more emotional in every respect: seeing films, hearing music can now bring out deeper emotions. Happy events too, now cause me to tear up more readily. I'm more open, more vulnerable to the world, more sensitive to its emotional elements. That is an unexpected blessing for someone who took routine refuge in an analytical mind.

Graham E. Fuller, “Three Truths and A Lie-A Memoir”, CreateSpace Inedendent Publishing Platform, USA, 2012, Pg 259

In our sojourn on this Earth we course through specific time and specific space; these intersections of lives with other lives-spiritual and physical-are what change us. But like all spiritual experiences, the moments and events are what we make of them.

Graham E. Fuller, “Three Truths and A Lie-A Memoir”, CreateSpace Inedendent Publishing Platform, USA, 2012, Pg 260

Bishop Milton Wright (Father of Wright Brothers, 1828-1917)

All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden on others.

Cited in James Salter, “Threy Began A New Era”, The New York Review of Books, August 13,2015


First published here in March 2009 with ensuing additions.