“The natural role of the twentieth-century man is anxiety.”
“You can indulge your righteous rage but the things it comes out of are pretty cheap. The trick is to make yourself an instrument of your own policy. Whether you like it or not, that's the highest effectiveness man has achieved.”
“The more things you own, the more things you need to keep you comfortable.”
“Yeah, fighting a war to fix something works about as good as going to a whorehouse to get rid of a clap.”
“Tolstoy teaches us that compassion is of value and enriches our life only when compassion is severe, which is to say when we can perceive everything that is good and bad about a character but are still able to feel that the sum of us as human beings is probably a little more good than awful. In any case, good or bad, it reminds us that life is like a gladiators’ arena for the soul and so we can feel strengthened by those who endure, and feel awe and pity for those who do not.”
“The jeep would round the bend, be hit by a dozen bullets at once, and that would be the end of his petty history of unfocused groping and unimportant dissatisfactions.”
“Roth was feeling a gentle warmth as he thought of his son. He was remembering the way his son used to awaken him on Sunday mornings. His wife would put the baby in bed with him, and the child would straddle his stomach and pull feebly at the hairs on Roth’s chest, cooing with delight. It gave him a pang of joy to think of it, and then, back of it, a realization that he had never enjoyed his child as much when he had lived with him. He had been annoyed and irritable at having his sleep disturbed, and it filled him with wonder that he could have missed so much happiness when he had been so close to it. It seemed to him now that he was very near a fundamental understanding of himself, and he felt a sense of mystery and discovery as if he had found unseen gulfs and bridges in all the familiar drab terrain of his life. “You know,” he said, “life is funny.”
“You’ve seen too many movies. If you’re holding a gun and you shoot a defenseless man, then you’re a poor creature, a dastardly person. That’s a perfectly ridiculous idea, you realize. The fact that you’re holding the gun and the other man is not is no accident. It’s a product of everything you’ve achieved, it assumes that if you’re . . . you’re aware enough, you have the gun when you need it.”
“Red had a deep loathing of the night before them. He had been through so much combat, had felt so many kinds of terror, and had seen so many men killed that he no longer had any illusions about the inviolability of his own flesh. He knew he could be killed; it was something he had accepted long ago, and he had grown a shell about that knowledge so that he rarely thought of anything further ahead than the next few minutes…”
“No, but why is Croft that way?
Oh there are The Answers. He is that way because of the-corruption-of-the-society. He is that way because he is having problems of adjustment. It is because he is a Texan. It is because he has renounced God. He is that way because he was born that way, or because the Devil has claimed him for one of his own, or because the only woman he ever loved was untrue to him.”
“The book was sloppily written in many parts (the words came too quickly and too easily) and there was hardly a noun in any sentence that was not holding hands with the nearest and most commonly available adjective — scalding coffee and tremulous fear are the sorts of thing you will find throughout. Over-certified adjectives are the mark of most best-seller writing.”
“Everything was damp and rife and hot as though the jungle were an immense collection of oily rags growing hotter and hotter under the dark stifling vaults of a huge warehouse. Heat licked at everything, and the foliage, responding, grew to prodigious sizes. In the depths, in the heat and the moisture, it was never silent. The birds cawed, the small animals and occasional snakes rustled and squealed, and beneath it all was a hush, almost palpable, in which could be heard the rapt absorbed sounds of vegetation growing.”
“The best they could? I don’t think so.” He paused as if to edit his woes and select the most telling ones. “Did you notice how they treated the officers? They slept in staterooms when we were jammed in the hold like pigs. It’s to make them feel superior, a chosen group. That’s the same device Hitler uses when he makes the Germans think they’re superior.” Roth felt as if he were on the edge of something profound.”
“I HATE EVERYTHING WHICH IS NOT IN MYSELF”
“And they were always young, Air Corps pilots and ensigns, and good-looking girls in fur coats, and always the government secretary or two, the working girl as a carry-over from the fraternity parties when she was always the girl who could be made because in some mysterious way the women of the lower classes could be depended upon to copulate like jack rabbits. And they all knew they were going to die soon with a sentimental and unstated English attitude which was completely phony. It came from books they had never read, and movies they shouldn’t have seen; it was fed by the tears of their mothers, and the knowledge quite shocking, quite unbelievable, that a lot of them did die when they went overseas. Its origins were spurious; they never could connect really the romance of their impending deaths with the banal mechanical process of flying an airplane and landing and living in the barren eventless Army camps that surrounded their airfields. But nevertheless they had discovered it was a talisman, they were going to die soon, and they wore it magically until you believed in it when you were with them. And they did magical things like pouring whisky on each other’s hair, or setting mattresses afire, or grabbing hats on the fly from the heads of established businessmen. Of all the parties those were perhaps the best, but he had come to them too old.”
“City Point is so beautiful, she says. In the night they cannot see the garbage that litters the beach, the seaweed and driftwood, the condoms that wallow sluggishly on the foam’s edge, discarded on the shore like the minuscule loathsome animals of the sea. Yeah, it’s something, he says slowly.”
“And in the complicated, relished, introspective web of young lovers, or more exactly, young petters, they progress along the oldest channel in the world and the most deceptive, for they are certain it is unique to them. Even as they are calling themselves engaged, they are losing the details of their subtle involved pledging of a troth. They are moved and warmed by intimacies between them, by long husky conversations in the parlor, in inexpensive restaurants, by the murmurs, the holding of hands in the dark velvet caverns of movie houses. They forget most of the things that have advanced them into love, feel now only the effect of them. And of course their conversation alters, new themes are bruited. Shy sensitive girls may end up as poetesses or they may turn bitter and drink alone in bars, but nice shy sensitive Jewish girls usually marry and have children, gain two pounds a year, and worry more about refurbishing hats and trying a new casserole than about the meaning of life. After their engagement, Natalie talks over their prospects.”
“It takes all kinds to make a world.”
“The moments like these, the passing doubts, were the temptations that caught you if you were not careful.”
“His decision had been made in the valley, and it lay as an iron warp in his mind. He could have turned back no more easily than he could have killed himself.”
“Yank! Yank! We you come to get Yank. We you come to get.”
“There was the old myth of divine intervention. You blasphemed, and a lightning bolt struck you. That was a little steep too. If punishment is at all proportionate to the offense, then power becomes watered. The only way you generate the proper attitude of awe and obedience is through immense and disproportionate power.”
“Israel is the heart of all nations.” It was the conscience and the raw exposed nerve; all emotion passed through it. But it was more than that; it was the heart that suffered whenever any part of the body was ill.”
“You know,” he laughed easily, “with all the goddam drinkin’ Ah’ve done, Ah still can’t remember the taste of it unless Ah got the bottle right with me.”
“He knew that again now. Hennessey’s death had opened to Croft vistas of such omnipotence that he was afraid to consider it directly. All day the fact hovered about his head, tantalizing him with odd dreams and portents of power.”
“Roth was irritated. Just because he was a Jew too, they always assumed he felt the same way about things. It made him feel a little frustrated. No doubt some of his bad luck had come because he was one, but that was unfair; it wasn’t as if he took an interest, it was just an accident of birth.”
“American’s capacity for real estate improvement; build yourself a house, grow fat in it, and die.”
“Hearn’s death was happily smudged, or at least on the surface, but ever since the second ambush he had been feeling the apprehension of a man in a dream who knows he is guilty, is waiting for his punishment, and cannot remember his crime.”
“Goldstein, you'd be a pretty good boy if you wasn't so chicken.”
“It was probably a damn sight easier than getting rid of a woman who had found something in him that he didn't have or he didn't care to give.”
“What the heck kind of name was Sir?”
“Did you tell her?” “Tell her what?” “That you love her?”
“After a moment, he murmured, "Emmaline. I am sorry. I am...overwrought." His laughter was unsteady. "And there's a phrase I've never used before. At least not in reference to myself." An unwilling smile curved her mouth. "I hope you won't swoon. I don't carry smelling salts." "No," he said. "I wouldn't have imagined you did.”
“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful-
The eye of the little god, four cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.”
“Muttering something, Tant raised his hands to the sky as he walked beside me. I wasn’t sure if it was a prayer or curse, but I distinctly heard “Why me?”
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