The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.
At the age of twelve, before I had had one full year of formal schooling, I had a conception of life that no experience would ever erase, a predilection for what was real that no argument could ever gainsay, a sense of the world that was mine and mine alone, a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter, a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering.
age quotestwelve quotesfull quotesyear quotesformal quotesschooling quotesconception quoteslife quotesexperience quoteserase quotespredilection quotesreal quotesargument quotesgainsay quotessense quotesworld quotesmine quotesnotion quotesmeant quoteseducation quotesalter quotesconviction quotesmeaning quotesliving quotesstruggling quoteswring quotesmeaningless quotessuffering quotes
Rather, I plead with you to see a mode of life in our midst, a mode of life stunted and distorted, but possessing its own laws and claims, an existence of men growing out of the soil prepared by the collective but blind will of a hundred million people. I beg you to recognize human life draped in a form and guise alien to ours, but springing from a soil plowed and sown by our own hands. I ask you to recognize laws and processes flowing from such a condition, understand them, seek to change them. If we do none of these, then we should not pretend horror or surprise when thwarted life expresses itself in fear and hate and crime.
plead quotesmode quoteslife quotesmidst quotesstunted quotesdistorted quotespossessing quoteslaws quotesclaims quotesexistence quotesmen quotesgrowing quotessoil quotesprepared quotescollective quotesblind quoteshundred quotesmillion quotespeople quotesbeg quotesrecognize quoteshuman quotesdraped quotesform quotesguise quotesalien quotesspringing quotesplowed quotessown quoteshands quotesprocesses quotesflowing quotescondition quotesunderstand quotesseek quoteschange quotespretend quoteshorror quotessurprise quotesthwarted quotesexpresses quotesfear quoteshate quotescrime quotes
One walks along a street and strays unknowingly from one's path; one then looks up and suddenly for those familiar landmarks of orientation, and, seeing none, one feels lost. Panic drapes the look of the world in a strangeness, and the more one stares blankly at the world, the stranger it looks, the more hideously frightening it seems. There is then born in one a wild, hot wish to project out upon the alien world the world that one is seeking. This wish is a hunger for power, to be in command of one's self.
walks quotesstreet quotesstrays quotesunknowingly quotesones quotespath quotessuddenly quotesfamiliar quoteslandmarks quotesorientation quotesfeels quoteslost quotespanic quotesdrapes quotesworld quotesstrangeness quotesstares quotesblankly quotesworld quotesstranger quoteshideously quotesfrightening quotesborn quoteswild quoteshot quotesproject quotesalien quotesseeking quoteshunger quotespower quotescommand quotes
the real danger does not stem from those who seek to grab their share of wealth through force, or from those who try to defend their property through violence, for both of these groups, by their affirmative acts, support the values of the system in which they live. The millions that I would fear are those who do not dream of the prizes that the nation holds forth, for it is in them, though they may not know it, that a revolution has taken place and is building its time to translate itself into a new and strange way of life.
real quotesdanger quotesstem quotesseek quotesgrab quotesshare quoteswealth quotesforce quotesdefend quotesproperty quotesviolence quotesgroups quotesaffirmative quotesacts quotessupport quotesvalues quotessystem quoteslive quotesmillions quotesfear quotesdream quotesprizes quotesnation quotesholds quotesrevolution quotesplace quotesbuilding quotestime quotestranslate quotesstrange quoteslife quotes
If you've a notion of what man's heart is, wouldn't you say that maybe the whole effort of man on earth to build a civilization is simply man's frantic and frightened attempt to hide himself from himself? That there is a part of man that man wants to reject? That man wants to keep from knowing what he is? That he wants to protect himself from seeing that he is something awful? And that this 'awful' part of himself might not be as awful as he thinks, but he finds it too strange and he does not know what to do with it? We talk about what to do with the atom bomb... But man's heart, his spirit is the deadliest thing in creation. Are not all cultures and civilizations just screens which men have used to divide themselves, to put between that part of themselves which they are afraid of and that part of themselves which they wish, in their deep timidity, to try to preserve? Are not all of man's efforts at order an attempt to still man's fear of himself?
notion quotesmans quotesheart quoteseffort quotesman quotesearth quotesbuild quotescivilization quotessimply quotesfrantic quotesfrightened quotesattempt quoteshide quotespart quotesreject quotesknowing quotesprotect quotesawful quotesawful quotesawful quotesthinks quotesfinds quotesstrange quotestalk quotesatom quotesbomb quotesheart quotesspirit quotesdeadliest quotesthing quotescreation quotescultures quotescivilizations quotesscreens quotesmen quotesdivide quotesput quotesafraid quotesdeep quotestimidity quotespreserve quotesefforts quotesorder quotesfear quotes
Maybe man is nothing in particular, ' Cross said gropingly. 'Maybe that's the terror of it. Man may be just anything at all. And maybe man deep down suspects this, really knows this, kind of dreams that it is true; but at the same time he does not want really to know it? May not human life on this earth be a kind of frozen fear of man at what he could possibly be? And every move he makes might not these moves be just to hide this awful fact? To twist it into something which he feels would make him rest and breathe a little easier? What man is is perhaps too much to be borne by man...
man quotes quotescross quotesgropingly quotesmaybe quotesterror quotesman quotesdeep quotessuspects quoteskind quotesdreams quotestrue quotestime quoteshuman quoteslife quotesearth quotesfrozen quotesfear quotespossibly quotesmove quotesmakes quotesmoves quoteshide quotesawful quotesfact quotestwist quotesfeels quotesmake quotesrest quotesbreathe quoteseasier quotesborne quotesman quotes
He lay still, his bloodshot eyes staring blankly before him, and drifted into dreams of his problems, compulsively living out dialogues, summing up emotional scenes with his mother, Dot, and his friends. Repeatedly he chided himself to go to sleep, but it did no good, for he was hungry for these waking visions that depicted his dilemmas, yet he knew that such brooding did not help; in fact he was wasting his waning strength, for into these unreal dramas he was putting the whole of his ardent being. The long hours dragged on.
lay quotesbloodshot quoteseyes quotesstaring quotesblankly quotesdrifted quotesdreams quotesproblems quotescompulsively quotesliving quotesdialogues quotessumming quotesemotional quotesscenes quotesmother quotesdot quotesfriends quotesrepeatedly quoteschided quotessleep quotesgood quoteshungry quoteswaking quotesvisions quotesdepicted quotesdilemmas quotesknew quotesbrooding quotesfact quoteswasting quoteswaning quotesstrength quotesunreal quotesdramas quotesputting quotesardent quoteslong quoteshours quotesdragged quotes
I had written a book of short stories which was published under the title of "Uncle Tom's Children". When the review of that book began to appear, I realized that I had made an awful naive mistake. I found that I had written a book which even bankers' daughters could read and weep over and feel good about. I swore to myself that if I ever wrote another book, no one would weep over it; that it would be so hard and deep that they would have to face it without the consolation of tears.
written quotesbook quotesshort quotesstories quotespublished quotestitle quotesuncle quotestoms quoteschildren quotesreview quotesbegan quotesrealized quotesmade quotesawful quotesnaive quotesmistake quotesfound quotesbankers quotesdaughters quotesread quotesweep quotesfeel quotesgood quotesswore quoteswrote quotesbook quoteshard quotesdeep quotesface quotesconsolation quotestears quotes
In me was shaping a yearning for a kind of consciousness, a mode of being that the way of life about me had said could not be, must not be, and upon which the penalty of death had been placed. Somewhere in the dead of the southern night my life had switched onto the wrong track and without my knowing it, the locomotive of my heart was rushing down a dangerously steep slope, heading for a collision, heedless of the warning red lights that blinked all about me, the sirens and the ells and the screams that filled the air.
shaping quotesyearning quoteskind quotesconsciousness quotesmode quoteslife quotespenalty quotesdeath quotesdead quotessouthern quotesnight quotesswitched quoteswrong quotestrack quotesknowing quoteslocomotive quotesheart quotesrushing quotesdangerously quotessteep quotesslope quotesheading quotescollision quotesheedless quoteswarning quotesred quoteslights quotesblinked quotessirens quotesells quotesscreams quotesfilled quotesair quotes
We had our own civilization in Africa before we were captured and carried off to this land. We smelted iron, danced, made music and folk poems; we sculpted, worked in glass, spun cotton and wool, wove baskets and cloth. We invented a medium of exchange, mined silver and gold, made pottery and cutlery, we fashioned tools and utensils of brass, bronze, ivory, quartz, and granite. We had our own literature, our own systems of law, religion, medicine, science, and education.
civilization quotesafrica quotescaptured quotescarried quotesland quotessmelted quotesiron quotesdanced quotesmade quotesmusic quotesfolk quotespoems quotessculpted quotesworked quotesglass quotesspun quotescotton quoteswool quoteswove quotesbaskets quotescloth quotesinvented quotesmedium quotesexchange quotesmined quotessilver quotesgold quotespottery quotescutlery quotesfashioned quotestools quotesutensils quotesbrass quotesbronze quotesivory quotesquartz quotesgranite quotesliterature quotessystems quoteslaw quotesreligion quotesmedicine quotesscience quoteseducation quotes
Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness
tooyoung quotestoonew quotesamerica quoteslusty quoteslonely quotesaggressive quotesafraid quotesinsists quotesworld quotesterms quotesgood quotesbad quotesholy quotesevil quoteshigh quoteslow quoteswhite quotesblack quotesamerica quotesfrightened quotesfact quoteshistory quotesprocesses quotesnecessity quoteshugs quoteseasy quotesdamning quotesunderstand quotesexcluding quotessalves quotesconscience quotesselfdraped quotescloak quotesrighteousness quotes
Is not life exactly what it ought to be, in a certain sense? Isn't it only the naive who find all of this baffling? If you've a notion of what man's heart is, wouldn't you say that maybe the whole effort of man on earth to build a civilization is simply man's frantic and frightened attempt to hide himself from himself?
It would have been impossible for me to have told anyone what I derived from these novels, for it was nothing less than a sense of life itself. [...] It had been only through books - at best, no more than vicarious cultural transfusions - that I had managed to keep myself alive in a negatively vital way. Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books; consequently, my belief in books had risen more out of a sense of desperation than from any abiding conviction of their ultimate value.
impossible quotestold quotesderived quotesnovels quotessense quoteslife quotesbooks quotesvicarious quotescultural quotestransfusions quotesmanaged quotesalive quotesnegatively quotesvital quotesenvironment quotesfailed quotessupport quotesnourish quotesclutched quotesbooks quotesbelief quotesrisen quotesdesperation quotesabiding quotesconviction quotesultimate quotes
Anything seemed possible, likely, feasible, because I wanted everything to be possible... Because I had no power to make things happen outside of me in the objective world, I made things happen within. Because my environment was bare and bleak, I endowed it with unlimited potentialities, redeemed it for the sake of my own hungry and cloudy yearning.