Sunday, September 23, 2012

Collected Quotations, September 2012

A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child. And I have searched myself for this possibility with a kind of horror. For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married a man; I saw no reason why she should inherit a baby. I knew that ten or twelve thousand miles driving a truck, alone and unattended, over every kind of road, would be hard work, but to me it represented the antidote for the poison of the professional sick man. And in my own life I am not willing to trade quality for quantity. If this projected journey should prove too much then it was time to go anyway. I see too many men delay their exits with a sickly, slow reluctance to leave the stage. It's bad theater as well as bad living.
-John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley
What most worries daybeepers about people from Europe, and specifically about missionaries, is that they confuse the Earth, whose divinity is equal to that of the celestial God, with the devil. As the daykeepers put it, "He who makes an enemy of the Earth makes an enemy of his own body."
-Dennis Tedlock, from the preface of his translation of the Popul Vuh
Drought indeed stressed the [Mayan] system, but the societal disintegration in the south was due not to surpassing inherent ecological limits but the political failure to find solutions. In our day the Soviet Union disintegrated after drought caused a series of bad harvests in the 1970s and 1980s, but nobody argues that climate ended Communist rule. Similarly, one should grant the Maya the dignity of assigning them responsibility for their failures as well as their successes.
-Charles C. Mann, 1491

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