“Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.”
“None of those other things makes a difference. Love is the strongest thing in the world, you know. Nothing can touch it. Nothing comes close. If we love each other we're safe from it all. Love is the biggest thing there is.”
“I know you'll think this is crazy, but all I want to do is hold you, and I think that if you'll let me do that just for a few seconds, I can walk away, and never speak to you again.”
“To deny that there was this dark side of life would be like pretending that the cold of winter was somehow only a temporary illusion, a way station on the way to the higher "reality" of long, warm, pleasant summers. But summer, it turned out, was no more real than the snow that melted in wintertime.”
“There are things in this universe that we cannot control, and then there are the things we can. . . . Let fate, coincidence, and accident conspire; human beings must act on reason.”
“The strange thing was, he wanted to like everyone. He just couldn't find a way to do it.”
“That the world was silent and cold and bare and that in this lay its terrible beauty”
“Ishmael gave himself to the writing of it, and as he did so he understood this, too: that accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.”
“The world was incomprehensibly intricate, and yet this forest made a simple sense in her heart that she felt nowhere else.
[S]he wanted only her own strawberry farm, the fragrance of the fields and the cedar trees, and to live simply in this place forever.
[S]he had fallen into loving him long before she knew herself, though it occurred to her now that she might never know herself, that perhaps no one ever does, that such a thing might not be possible.
[Y]ou should learn to say nothing that will cause you regret. You should not say what is not in your heart -- or what is only in your heart for a moment. But you know this -- silence is better.”
“How could they say that they truly loved each other? They had simply grown up together, been children together, and the proximity of it, the closeness of it, had produced in them love s illusion. And yet--on the other hand--what was love if it wasn't this instinct she felt...”
“He didn't like very many people any more, or very many things either. He preferred not to be this way, but there it was, he was like that. His cynicism, a veteran's cynicism, was a thing that disturbed him all the time.”
“The snowfall obliterated the borders between the fields and made Kabuo Miyamoto's long-cherished seven acres indistinguishable from the land that surrounded them. All human claims to the landscape were superseded, made null and void by the snow. The world was one world, and the notion that a man might kill another over some small patch of it did not make sense.”
“We Japanese, on the other hand, know our egos are nothing. We bend our egos, all of the time, and that is where we differ. That is the fundamental difference, Hatsue. We bend our heads, we bow and are silent, because we understand that by ourselves alone, we are nothing at all, dust in a strong wind, while the 'hakujin' believes his aloneness is everything, his separateness is the foundation of his existence. He seeks and grasps, seeks and grasps for his separateness, while we seek union with the Greater Life--you must see that these are distinct paths we are travelling, Hatsue, the 'hakujin' and we Japanese" (p. 176).”
“His cynicism - a veteran's cynicism - was a thing that disturbed him all the time. It seemed to him after the war that the world was thoroughly altered. It was not even a thing you could explain to anybody, why it was that everything was folly. People appeared enormously foolish to him. He understood that they were only animated cavities full of jelly and strings and liquids. He had seen the insides of jaggedly ripped-open dead people. He knew, for instance, what brains looked like spilling out of somebody's head. In the context of this, much of what went on in normal life seemed wholly and disturbingly ridiculous.”
“He hoped it would snow recklessly and bring to the island the impossible winter purity, so rare and precious, he remembered fondly from his youth.”
“[Ishmael] listened to the world turned silent by the snow; there was absolutely nothing to hear. The silence of the world roared steadily in his ears while he came to recognize that he did not belong here, he had no place in the tree any longer. Some much younger people should find this tree, hold to it tightly as their deepest secret as he and Hatsue had. For them it might stave off what he could not help but see with clarity: that the world was silent and cold and bare and that in this lay its terrible beauty.”
“If disaster, so be it, they said to themselves. There was nothing to be done except what could be done. The rest -- like the salt water around them, which swallowed the snow without effort, remaining what it was implacably -- was out of their hands, beyond.”
“He had seen the insides of jaggedly ripped-open dead people. He knew, for instance, what brains looked like spilling out of somebody's head. In the context of this, much of what went on in normal life seemed wholly and disturbingly ridiculous.”
“The whites, you see, are tempted by their egos and have no means to resist. We Japanese, on the other hand, know our egos are nothing. We bend our egos, all of the time, and that is where we differ. That is the fundamental difference, Hatsue. We bend our heads, we bow and are silent, because we understand that by ourselves, alone, we are nothing at all, dust in a strong wind, while the hakujin believes his aloneness is everything, his separateness is the foundation of his existence. He seeks and grasps, seeks and grasps for his separateness, while we seek union with the Greater Life—you must see that these are distinct paths we are traveling, Hatsue, the hakujin and we Japanese.”
“He decided then that he would love her forever no matter what came to pass. It was not so much a matter of deciding as accepting the inevitability of it.”
“For them it might stave off what he could not help but see with clarity: that the world was silent and cold and bare and that in this lay its terrible beauty.”
“I'd rather know I can trust you. So before you read what's in that thing, tell me a story that squares with its details and exonerate yourself in my eyes. Tell me the story you should have told the sheriff right off the bat, when it wasn't too late, when the truth might still have given you your freedom. When the truth might have done you some good.”
“Tell the truth,' Nels said. 'Decide to tell the truth before it's too late.”
“[H]e had this view of things - that most human activity was utter folly, his own included, and that his existence in the world made others nervous.”
“I don't feel anything either way. No feeling about it comes to me - it's not something I have a choice about. Isn't a feeling like that supposed to happen? I can't make a feeling like that up, can I? Maybe God just chooses certain people, and the rest of us - we can't feel Him.”
“He had watched her, after all, mourn her husband's death and it had been for her in part the discovery that grief could attach itself with permanence - something Ishmael had already discovered. It attached itself and then it burrowed inside and made a nest and stayed. It ate whatever was warm nearby, and then the coldness settled in permanently. You learned to live with it.”
“I can't tell you what to do, Ishmael. I've tried to understand what it's been like for you - having gone to war, having lost your arm, not having married or had children. I've tried to make sense of it all, believe me, I have - how it must feel to be you. But I must confess that, no matter how I try, I can't really understand you. There are other boys, after all, who went to war and came back home and pushed on with their lives. They found girls and married and had children and raised families despite whatever was behind them. But you - you went numb, Ishmael. And you've stayed numb all these years.”
“There were guys who prayed at Tarawa,' said Ishmael. 'They still got killed, Mother. Just like the guys who didn't pray. It didn't matter either way.”
“The trick was to live here without hating yourself because all around you was hatred. The trick was to refuse to allow your pain to prevent you from living honorably.”
“The trick was to live here without hating yourself because all around you was hatred.”
“I knew I should believe him, as he taught at Oxford, but his answers did not feel complete. It was like having a meal and not getting quite enough to eat.”
“You mean to tell me,’ I said, ‘that every time I pleasure a young lady, I shoot into her two thousand million spermatozoa?’ ‘Absolutely.’ ‘All squiggling and squirming and thrashing about?’ ‘Of course.’ ‘No wonder it gives her a charge,’ I said. A.”
“Now that it’s too late, now that I lie here dying on this bloodstained sand, I finally get it.
I understand, now.
I understand. I know what he meant. My father told me that to know
the enemy is half the battle. I know you, now. That’s right.
All of you who sit in comfort and watch me die, who see the twitch of
my bowels through my own eyes: You are my enemy.
Corpses lie scattered around me, gleanings left in a wheat field by a careless reaper. Berne’s body cools beneath the bend of my back, and I can’t feel him anymore. The sky darkens over my head—but no, I think that’s my eyes; Pallas’ light seems to have faded.
Every drop of the blood that soaks into this sand stains my hands and the hands of the monsters that put me here.
That’s you, again.
It’s your money that supports me, and everyone like me; it’s your lust that we serve.
You could thumb your emergency cut-off, turn your eyes from the screen, walk out of the theatre, close the book . . .
But you don’t.
You are my accomplice, and my destroyer.
My insatiable blood-crazed god.
Ah, ahhh, Christ . . . it hurts.”
“Worst of all was the blizzard. People from the east or west coasts of America may think they have seen a blizzard. Likely they have not. It is almost exclusively a phenomenon of the plains, and got its name on the plains. It entailed wind-driven snow so dense and temperatures so cold that anyone lost in them on the shelterless plains was as good as dead.”
“And when you do find this letter, you know
what? Something extraordinary will happen. It will be like a reverse solar eclipse - the sun will
start shining down in the middle of night, imagine that!”
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