Thursday, June 14, 2018

Happy USA Flag Day

USA flag day
U.S. flag flying in monsoon storm, summer 2017
HonorHealth John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital

“That piece of red, white and blue bunting means five thousand years of struggle upward. It is the full-blown flower of ages of fighting for liberty. It is the century plant of human hope in bloom.

Your flag stands for humanity, for an equal opportunity to all the sons of men. Of course, we haven’t arrived yet at that goal; there are many injustices yet among us, many senseless and cruel customs of the past still clinging to us, but the only hope of righting the wrongs of men lies in the feeling produced in our bosoms by the sight of that flag.

It stands for no race. It stands for men, men of any blood who will come and live with us under its protection. It is the only banner that means mankind.

Other flags mean a glorious past, this flag a glorious future. It is not so much the flag of our fathers as it is the flag of our children. It is the flag of tomorrow. It is not the flag of your king, it is the flag of yourself and of all your neighbors.

Its power and influence mean that in due time, slowly and by force of law, the last ancient fraud shall be smitten, the last unearned privilege removed, the last man shall have a place to work and a living wage, the last woman shall have all her rights of person and of citizenship.

Don’t be ashamed when your throat chokes and the tears come, as you see your flag flying. You will never have a worthier emotion.

That flag is the cream of all religions, the concentrated essence of the best impulses of the human race.

By hundreds and by thousands the wretched victims of old-world caste are streaming westward, seeking here the thing that the flag stands for — opportunity.

It waves defiance at all ghosts, they that have long intimidated men; the ghost of monarchy, the ghost of aristocracy, the ghost of war.

What better ensign than the flag of the United States of America, which has never stood for the narrowness of race nor the pride of blood, but always and only for human rights?”

—Frank Crane, circa 1915, excerpted

Friday, May 25, 2018

I’m trying my very best

“Try your very best to live in the present moment where your heart beats are.”

—Bernard Basset, We Neurotics: A Handbook for the Half-Mad, 1962

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dotard quotes

The word 'dotard' is suddenly all over the Web after yesterday's news reports of verbal escalations between the leaders of the United States and North Korea. I dug up some old-time quotations about dotards & dotage and posted them, along with definitions, to The Quote Garden — click here to read.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Snorting chocolate quotations

After reading an article on cacao snuff, I just had to take a quick dip into Google Books to see if anything has been written before on the topic of chocolate snorting. You can read the results here: Snorting Chocolate Quotes. I will admit to having had chocolate up my nose, but it was only from licking off what melted onto the wrapper.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Walt Whitman — American democracy & call for unity

The below is excerpted from Helena Born, Whitman’s Ideal Democracy and Other Writings, 1902, pages 3–19:

Walt Whitman circa 1870
Photo: Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
Source: The Letters of Anne Gilchrist
and Walt Whitman
, 1918
[mod. Terri Guillemets, 2017]
An unprecedented material success, which is national and purchased at the cost of individuals, accords little with a philosophy based on a fine conception of individuality. The majority of the workers to-day are engaged in occupations that are irksome and hence devoid of beauty, while the dependent classes — those living on others’ labor, commonly called “independent” — are leading abnormal lives which force their productive energies into artificial channels. As Edward Carpenter points out, “the outer life of society... is animated first and foremost by fear,” — at one extreme the dread of starvation, at the other the dread of losing commercially acquired wealth.

Thus, the social organism, while it grows to vaster and vaster proportions, is deficient in that in which it should be supreme — deficient in soul. Whitman indeed, despite his joyous optimism and passionate idealism, finds much to deplore in our times and lands. The absence of moral conscience, hollowness of heart, disbelief, hypocrisy, business depravity, official corruption, greed, — these are among the blemishes revealed by the moral microscope with which he examines American civilization.

“Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness at heart than at present, and here in the United States. Genuine belief seems to have left us. The underlying principles of the States are not honestly believed in (for all this hectic glow and these melodramatic screamings), nor is humanity itself believed in. What penetrating eye does not everywhere see through the mask? The spectacle is appalling. We live in an atmosphere of hypocrisy throughout.... The depravity of the business classes of our country is not less than has been supposed, but infinitely greater.... The great cities reek with respectable as much as non-respectable robbery and scoundrelism.... In business (this all-devouring modern word, business), the one sole object is, by any means, pecuniary gain. The magician’s serpent in the fable ate up all the other serpents, and money-making is our magician’s serpent, remaining to-day sole master of the field.”

Democracy is not a class war. Democracy is conceived in the interests of all, and will not be best promoted by antagonism and aggression. The poor are not enslaved by governmental tyranny and capitalism alone. Perhaps the real battle, as Whitman hints, is “between democracy’s convictions, aspirations, and the people’s crudeness, vice, caprices.”

Whitman’s pride in and love for his country were not due to a belief in the finality of its institutions. “Others take finish, but the Republic is ever constructive and ever keeps vista.”

No one with keen social consciousness can doubt that, in order to make possible an ideal democracy, grave political and economic changes are imperative; but I claim Whitman’s support for my contention that the impulse to bring about these changes will not result from a purely intellectual appeal. The changes will be an emanation from the right emotion, the right spirit. Many reformers, weary of the apparent failure of ethical and religious teaching, are impatient of utterances with any such implication. Whitman’s inclusiveness should suggest to us that the remedy is not in a propaganda at either pole, but in effort cognizant of the interaction of man and his environment, and which neglects the evolution of neither.

The bearing of comrade-love on democracy Whitman describes so impressively that I quote his words without comment:

“Intense and loving comradeship, the personal attachment of man to man, — which, hard to define, underlies the lessons and ideals of the profound saviors of every land and age, and which seems to promise, when thoroughly developed, cultivated, and recognized in manners and literature, the most substantial hope and safety of the future of these States, — will then be fully expressed. 
It is to the development, identification, and general prevalence of that fervid comradeship (the adhesive love, at least rivaling the amative love hitherto possessing imaginative literature, if not going beyond it) that I look for the counterbalance and offset of our materialistic and vulgar American democracy and for the spiritualization thereof. Many will say it is a dream, and will not follow my inferences; but I confidently expect a time when there will be seen, running like a half-hid warp through all the myriad audible and visible worldly interests of America, threads of manly friendship, fond and loving, pure and sweet, strong and lifelong, carried to degrees hitherto unknown — not only giving tone to individual character, and making it unprecedentedly emotional, muscular, heroic, and refined, but having the deepest relation to general politics. I say democracy infers such loving comradeship, without which it will be incomplete, in vain, and incapable of perpetuating itself.”

He declares that “affection shall solve the problems of freedom,” — “those who love each other shall become invincible.”

“The dependence of Liberty shall be lovers,
The continuance of Equality shall be comrades.”
“To hold men together by paper and seal or by compulsion is no account,
That only holds men together which aggregates all in a living principle, as the hold of the limbs of the body or the fibres of plants.”

Whitman beheld... in America a peculiarly favorable field for the growth of true democracy. The underlying principle of the United States Constitution and of the Declaration of Independence; early colonial traditions, — simple, not plutocratic, — in which equality of opportunity was more nearly realized than it has been since; the subsequent fusion of nationalities; — these and other considerations fill him with highest hope for this land of lands. “Here is not merely a nation, but a teeming nation of nations.”

Yet his love of country was never mere patriotism. “O America, because you build for mankind, I build for you!” His love enfolds the world. The recent military achievements of this country are a bitter satire on Whitman’s cordial acknowledgment of contemporary lands, his vision of the “continent indissoluble,” and of “cities inseparable with their arms about each other’s necks.” We have to turn over the pages for a passage more applicable to the present. Here is one:

“I will make a song for the ears of the President, full of weapons with menacing points,
And behind the weapons countless dissatisfied faces.”

Whitman is ill-pleased with what “the word of the modern” — the word “culture” — has come to represent: “As now taught, accepted and carried out, are not the processes of culture rapidly creating a class of supercilious infidels, who believe in nothing? Shall a man lose himself in countless masses of adjustments, and be so shaped with reference to this, that, and the other that the simply good and healthy and brave parts of him are reduced and clipped away, like the bordering of box in a garden?... I should demand a programme of culture, drawn out, not for a single class alone, or for the parlors or lecture rooms, but with an eye to practical life, the west, the working men, the facts of farms and jack-planes and engineers, and of the broad range of the women also of the middle and working strata, and with reference to the perfect equality of women, and of a grand and powerful motherhood. I should demand of this programme or theory a scope generous enough to include the widest human area.”

It must never be overlooked in the consideration of such a subject as the foregoing that changes of letter are unavailing without a corresponding change of spirit. Does not every radical number one or more conservatives among his friends with whom he finds himself in closer accord than with certain of his own intellectual kin? Solidarity implies much more than mere verbal congruity.

We cannot linger to read all Whitman’s directing posts; we have necessarily omitted many. To me, they seem to point to the supremacy of love in human relations, — to a time characterized by the full expression and reception of individuality, by copiousness of life facilitating soul progression, to a time when mutual helpfulness will replace rivalry, when non-governmental organization will spring up in place of coercive authority, and when natural leadership, based on innate fitness, will supersede officialism founded on adventitious extrinsic conditions, — a time when the social sympathies will be so developed that the regulation of production will be free from monopolistic interference, and the creative ability of the individual, governed by the wisdom that is of the soul, will find full scope and delight in spontaneous work nicely adjusted to the needs of the community, — the desire being to contribute that which shall be a joy and benefit to all. With economics based on an ethical and spiritual foundation, the stimuli which many have found only in the competitive struggle will assuredly arise in the more intense social passion of which we now and then see prophetic examples. Whitman conceives, he tells us, “a community, to-day and here, in which, on a sufficient scale, the perfect personalities, without noise, meet... a community organized in running order, powers judiciously delegated — farming, building, trade, courts, mails, schools, elections, all attended to; and then the rest of life, the main thing, freely branching and blossoming in each individual, and bearing golden fruit.”

By such conceptions are we fortified in our faith that the combined incentive of individual differentiation and collective progress, in its spiritual as well as material aspect, is destined to outdistance the present antisocial form of competition, abolish privilege, and lead to the social harmony in which all discordant notes eventually blend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rampant ipsedixitism

Until Election 2016, I hadn’t been putting together as many current events pages of quotations as I did in years past. But there are just so many historical quotes relevant to what’s been going on in the U.S.A. So I’ve compiled a page of quotes about many of the issues coming up in the first several days of the new Trump administration. You can read the quotes here:

THE PRESS MUST BE FREE. It has always been so, and much evil has been corrected by it.— If Government finds itself annoyed by it, let it examine its own conduct, and it will find the cause,— let it amend it, and it will find the remedy.” ~Thomas Erskine, 1792

P.S. Ipsedixitism is when a declaration is made dogmatically, assertively, emphatically and without proof, as if no supporting evidence is needed. Ipse dixit, n.: a dogmatic and unproven statement.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Prayer of the Nation

God give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands!
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor, and who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And scorn his treacherous flatteries without winking.
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking!
—J. G. Holland (1819–1881), “The Prayer of the Nation,” circa mid‑1850s

This poem has a storied history and has been used over this past 160 years by many persons and groups who believe themselves to be in the right, even some groups that many of us see as evil — even some persons and groups that the opposing side would simultaneously claim as their own impassioned battle cry.

But for those of us who are inclined to do so, let’s not overanalyze the poetic prayer or argue politics. For the moment, let’s just have this without regard to gender or religion, free from distractions of wandering connotations or intents, put aside for now the malleability of human minds and the multitudes of viewpoints; and let’s simply enjoy this poem for the plainness of its words, the timelessness of its ideas, and the inspiration of its call. I intend it here primarily as an interesting example of old words made new, of vintage literature meets current events.