It is as if the soul of the continent is weeping. Why does it weep? It weeps for the bones of the buffalo. It weeps for magic that has been forgotten. It weeps for the decline of poets.It weepsfor the black people who think like white people.It weepsfor the Indians who think like settlers.It weepsfor the children who think like adults.It weepsfor the free who think like prisoners.Most of all, it weepsfor the cowgirls who think like cowboys.
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Reality is contradictory. And it's paradoxical. If there's any one word -- if you had to pick one word to describe the nature of the universe -- I think that word would be paradox. That's true at the subatomic level, right through sociological, psychological, philosophical levels on up to cosmic levels.
The fact is, what I hated in the Church was what I hated in society. Namely, authoritarians. Power freaks. Rigid dogmatists. Those greedy, underloved, undersexed twits who want to run everything. While the rest of us are busy living - busy tasting and testing and hugging and kissing and goofing and growing - they are busy taking over.
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If kissing is man's greatest invention, then fermentation and patriarchy compete with the domestication of animals for the distinction of being man's worst folly, and no doubt the three combined long ago, the one growing out of the others, to foster civilization and lead Western humanity to its present state of decline.
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The Divine was beyond description, beyond knowing, beyond comprehension. To say that the Divine was Creation divided by Destruction was as close as one could come to definition. But the puny of soul, the dull of wit, weren't content with that. They wanted to hang a face on the Divine. They went so far as to attribute petty human emotions (anger, jealousy, etc) to it, not stopping to realize that if God were a being, even a supreme being, our prayers would have bored him to death long ago.
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The inability to correctly perceive reality is often responsible for humans' insane behavior. And every time they substitute an all-purpose, sloppy slang word for the words that would accurately describe an emotion or a situation, it lowers their reality orientations, pushes them farther from shore, out onto the foggy waters of alienation and confusion.
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In general, I've found female protagonists more intriguing to work with than males. I cherish women and have always preferred their company, reveling in their perfumes, their contours, their finer-grained sensibilities, lunar intuitions, nurturing instincts and relatively unfettered emotions--although I'm certainly not unaware that there are plenty of neurotic, uptight, stupid women in the world.
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If desire causes suffering, it may be because we do not desire wisely, or that we are inexpert at obtaining what we desire. Instead of hiding our heads in a prayer cloth and building walls against temptation, why not get better at fulfilling desire? Salvation is for the feeble, that's what I think. I don't want salvation, I want life, all of life, the miserable as well as the superb.
The trouble with you is that the only way you can communicate is through art. You've never learned to communicate your feelings to a man. You don't even want to communicate in a relationship. You think that if you open up to love, you'll lose your independence or your self-expression or creativity or whatever you call all that passionate, wonderful stuff that makes you feel alive inside.
...to emphasize the afterlife is to deny life. To concentrate on Heaven is to create hell. In their desperate longing to transcend the disorderliness, friction, and unpredictability that pesters life; in their desire for a fresh start in a tidy habitat, germ-free and secured by angels, religious multitudes are gambling the only life they may ever have on a dark horse in a race that has no finish line.
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There are times when we can feel destiny close around us like a fist around a doorknob. Sure, we can resist. But a knob that won't turn, a door that sticks and never budges, is a nuisance to the gods. The gods may kick in the jamb. Worse, they may walk away in disgust, leaving us to hang dumbly from our tight hinges, deprived of any other chance in life to swing open into unnecessary risk and thus into enchantment.
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A book no more contains reality than a clock contains time. A book may measure so-called reality as a clock measures so-called time; a book may create an illusion of reality as a clock creates an illusion of time; a book may be real, just as a clock is real (both more real, perhaps, than those ideas to which they allude); but let's not kid ourselves - all a clock contains is wheels and springs and all a book contains is sentences.
You've heard of people calling in sick. You may have called in sick a few times yourself. But have you ever thought about calling in well? It'd go like this: You'd get the boss on the line and say, "Listen, I've been sick ever since I started working here, but today I'm well and I won't be in anymore." Call in well.
In referring to her earlier statement that he had was not her type because he was "a dollar short when it came to maturity and a day late when it came to peace." I may have been wrong about that," she conceded. "You are a complicated man, but happily complicated. You have found a way to be at home with the world's confusion, a way to embrace the chaos rather than struggle to reduce it or become its victim. It's all part of the game to you, and you are delighted to play. In that regard, you may have reached a more elevated plateau of harmony than...ummph.
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As long as a population can be induced to believe in a supernatural hereafter, it can be oppressed and controlled. People will put up with all sorts of tyranny, poverty, and painful treatment if they're convinced that they'll eventually escape to some resort in the sky where lifeguards are superfluous and the pool never closes. Moreover, the faithful are usually willing to risk their skins in whatever military adventure their government may currently be promoting.
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The word desire suggests that there is something we do not have. If we have everything already, then there can be no desire, for there is nothing left to want. I think that what the Buddha may have been trying to tell us is that we have it all, each of us, all the time; therefore, desire is simply unnecessary.
The principal difference between an adventurer and a suicide is that the adventurer leaves himself a margin of escape (the narrower the margin the greater the adventure), a margin whose width and length may be determined by unknown factors but whose navigation is determined by the measure of the adventurer's nerve and wits. It is exhilarating to live by one's nerves or toward the summit of one's wits.
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If little else, the brain is an educational toy. Why it may be a frustrating play thing - one whose finer points recede just when you think you are mastering them - it is nonetheless perpetually fascinating, frequently surprising, occasionally rewarding, and it comes already assembled. [...] Alas! the brain is a toy that plays games of its own. Its very most favorite game is the one-thing-leads-to-another game.
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There's always the same amount of good luck and bad luck in the world. If one person doesn't get the bad luck, somebody else will have to get it in their place. There's always the same amount of good and evil, too. We can't eradicate evil, we can only evict it, force it to move across town. And when evil moves, some good always goes with it. But we can never alter the ratio of good to evil. All we can do is keep things stirred up so neither good nor evil solidifies. That's when things get scary. Life is like a stew, you have to stir it frequently, or all the scum rises to the top.
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What bothers most critics of my work is the goofiness. One reviewer said I need to make up my mind if want to be funny or serious. My response is that I will make up my mind when God does, because life is a commingling of the sacred and the profane, good and evil. To try and separate them is fallacy.
I could say I believe in every drop of rain that . . . Well, I believe life is a Zen koan, that is, an unsolvable riddle. But the contemplation of that riddle--even though it cannot be solved--is, in itself, transformative. And if the contemplation is of high enough quality, you can merge with the divine.
If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It's a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you - the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.
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Modern Romans insisted that there was only one god, a notion that struck Alobar as comically simplistic. Worse, this Semitic deity was reputed to be jealous (what was there to be jealous of if there were no other gods?), vindictive, and altogether foul-tempered. If you didn't serve the nasty fellow, the Romans would burn your house down. If you did serve him, you were called a Christian and got to burn other people's houses down.
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We modern human beings are looking at life, trying to make some sense of it; observing a 'reality' that often seems to be unfolding in a foreign tongue-only we've all been issued the wrong librettos. For a text, we're given the Bible. Or the Talmud or the Koran. We're given Time magazine, and Reader's Digest, daily papers, and the six o'clock news; we're given schoolbooks, sitcoms, and revisionist histories; we're given psychological counseling, cults, workshops, advertisements, sales pitches, and authoritative pronouncements by pundits, sold-out scientists, political activists, and heads of state. Unfortunately, none of these translations bears more than a faint resemblance to what is transpiring in the true theater of existence, and most of them are dangerously misleading. We're attempting to comprehend the spiraling intricacies of a magnificently complex tragicomedy with librettos that describe the barrom melodramas or kindergarten skits. And when's the last time you heard anybody bitch about it to the management?
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If desire causes suffering, it may be because we do not desire wisely, or that we are inexpert at obtaining what we desire. Instead of hiding our heads in a prayer cloth and building walls against temptation, why not get better at fulfilling desire? Salvation is for the feeble, that's what I think. I don't want salvation, I want life, all of life, the miserable as well as the superb. If the gods would tax ecstasy, then I shall pay; however, I shall protest their taxes at each opportunity, and if Woden or Shiva or Buddha or that Christian fellow-what's his name?-cannot respect that, then I'll accept their wrath. At least I will have tasted the banquet that they have spread before me on this rich, round planet, rather than recoiling from it like a toothless bunny. I cannot believe that the most delicious things were placed here merely to test us, to tempt us, to make it the more difficult for us to capture the grand prize: the safety of the void. To fashion of life such a petty game is unworthy of both men and gods.
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Soul is not even that Crackerjack prize that God and Satan scuffle over after the worms have all licked our bones. That's why, when we ponder-as sooner or later each of us must-exactly what we ought to be doing about our soul, religion is the wrong, if conventional, place to turn. Religion is little more than a transaction in which troubled people trade their souls for temporary and wholly illusionary psychological comfort-the old give-it-up-in-order-to-save-it routine. Religions lead us to believe that the soul is the ultimate family jewel and that in return for our mindless obedience, they can secure it for us in their vaults, or at least insure it against fire theft. They are mistaken.
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Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away. When you come upon a man who has been dead many years, his bones will still be lying there, in place, content, patiently waiting, but his flesh will have gotten up and left him. Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious. Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time. Flesh is water. Stones are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable. Tell me, then, Alobar, in order to achieve immortality, should you emulate water or stone? Should you trust your flesh or your bones?
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It seems like with you everything leads back to the subject of death." "Sure and show me the person's road that does not lead to death. we try to divert our attention, to pretend 'tisn't so, but the very air we breathe is vulture's breath. Please don't be insinuatin' your man is morbid. I dwell on death in order to defeat it.
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Our lives are not as limited as we think they are; the world is a wonderfully weird place; consensual reality is significantly flawed; no institution can be trusted, but love does work; all things are possible; and we all could be happy and fulfilled if we only had the guts to be truly free and the wisdom to shrink our egos and quit taking ourselves so damn seriously.
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Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life's bittersweet route.
If New Orleans is not fully in the mainstream of culture, neither is it fully in the mainstream of time. Lacking a well-defined present, it lives somewhere between its past and its future, as if uncertain whether to advance or to retreat. Perhaps it is its perpetual ambivalence that is its secret charm. Somewhere between Preservation Hall and the Superdome, between voodoo and cybernetics, New Orleans listens eagerly to the seductive promises of the future but keeps at least one foot firmly planted in its history, and in the end, conforms, like an artist, not to the world but to its own inner being-ever mindful of its personal style.
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Information about time cannot be imparted in a straightforward way. Like furniture, it has to be tipped and tilted to get it through the door. If the past is a solid oak buffet whose legs must be unscrewed and whose drawers must be removed before, in an altered state, it can be upended into the entryway of our minds, then the future is a king-size waterbed that hardly stands a chance, especially if it needs to be brought up in an elevator. Those billions who persist in perceiving time as the pursuit of the future are continually buying waterbeds that will never make it beyond the front porch or the lobby. And if man's mission is to reside in the fullness of the present, then he's got no space for the waterbed, anyhow, not even if he could lower it through a skylight.
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The illusion of the seventh veil was the illusion that you could get somebody else to do it for you. To think for you. To hang on your cross. The priest, the rabbi, the imam, the swami, the philosophical novelist were traffic cops, at best. They might direct you through a busy intersection, but they wouldn't follow you home and park your car.
Like the Arthurian years at Camelot, the Sixties constituted a breakthrough, a fleeting moment of glory, a time when a significant little chunk of humanity briefly realised its moral potential and flirted with its neurological destiny, a collective spiritual awakening that flared brilliantly until the barbaric and mediocre impulses of the species drew tight once more the curtains of darkness.
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That's the way the mind works: the brain is genetically disposed towards organization, yet if not controlled, will link even the most imagerial fragment to another on the flimsiest pretense and in the most freewheeling manner, as if it takes a kind of organic pleasure in creative association, without regards to logic or chronological sequence.
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