The sleepless hum of the city was abidingly in his ears, and the lamps that dotted the misty pavements stared at him blinkingly all along the route. The tall black buildings rose up grimly into the night; the faces that flitted to and fro along the pavements, kept ever sliding past him, melting into the darkness; and the cabs and 'buses, still astir in the streets, had a ghostly air as they vanished in the gloom. ("An Unexpected Journey")
How many of us are able to distinguish between the odors of noon and midnight, or of winter and summer, or of a windy spell and a still one? If man is so generally less happy in the cities than in the country, it is because all these variations and nuances of sight and smell and sound are less clearly marked and lost in the general monotony of gray walls and cement pavements.
In the city of flesh I travel without maps, a worried tourist: and Ottilie was a very Venice. I stumbled lost in the blue shade of her pavements. Here was a dreamy stillness, a swaying, the splash of an oar. Then, when I least expected it, suddenly I stepped out into the great square, the sunlight, and she was a flock of birds scattering with soft cries in my arms.
In railway halls, on pavements near the traffic, They beg, their eyes made big by empty staring And only measuring Time , like the blank clock. No, I shall weave no tracery of pen-ornament To make them birds upon my singing tree: Time merely drives these lives which do not live As tides push rotten stuff along the shore.
Rhoda comes now, having slipped in while we were not looking. She must have made a tortuous course, taking cover now behind a waiter, now behind some ornamental pillar, so as to put off as long as possible the shock of recognition, so as to be secure for one more moment to rock her petals in her basin. We wake her. We torture her. She dreads us, she despises us, yet she comes cringing to our sides because for al our cruelty there is always some name, some face which sheds a radiance, which lights up her pavements and makes it possible for her to replenish her dreams.
Men, women and children too, ran hysterically, falling and stumbling, getting up, tripping and falling again, rolling over and over. Most of them managed to regain their feet and made it to the water. But many of them never made it and were left behind, their feet drumming in blinding pain on the overheated pavements amidst the rubble, until there came one last convulsing shudder from the smoking 'thing' on the ground, and then no further movement.
Thousands of salespeople are pounding the pavements today, tired, discouraged and underpaid. Why? Because they are always thinking only of what they want. They don't realize that neither you nor I want to buy anything. If we did, we would go out and buy it. But both of us are eternally interested in solving our problems. And if salespeople can show us how their services or merchandise will help us solve our problems, they won't need to sell us. We'll buy. And customers like to feel that they are buying - not being sold.
The Parisian is to the French what the Athenian was to the Greeks: no one sleeps better than he, no one is more openly frivolous and idle, no one appears more heedless. But this is misleading. He is given to every kind of listlessness, but when there is glory to be won he may be inspired with every kind of fury. Give him a pike and he will enact the tenth of August, a musket and you have Austerlitz. He was the springboard of Napoleon and the mainstay of Danton. At the cry of "la patrie" he enrols, and at the call of liberty he tears up the pavements. Beware of him!
I'd decided the campus was just a place to hide. There were some campus freaks who stayed on forever. The whole college scene was soft. They never told you what to expect out there in the real world. They just crammed you with theory and never told you how hard the pavements were. A college education could destroy an individual for life. Books could make you soft. When you put them down, and really went out there, then you needed to know what they never told you.
As the shabby section of the audience rose to its feet, waving its hats and food-wrappers, a rich, stale smell wafted through the auditorium. It had something of the fog on the boulevard outside, where the pavements were sticky with rain, but also something more intimate : it suggested old stew and course tobacco, the coat racks and bookshelves of a pawnshop, and damp straw mattresses impregnated with urine and patchouli. It was - as though the set designer had intended some ironical epilogue - the smell of the real Latin Quarter.
When those who had been evicted went back to where they came from, they found their villages had disappeared under great dams and dusty quarries. Their homes were occupied by hunger-and policemen. The forests were filling up with armed guerrillas. They found that the wars from the edge of India, in Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur, had migrated to its heart. People returned to live on city streets and pavements, in hovels on dusty construction sites, wondering which corner of this huge country was meant for them.
Do not ride in cars: they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents. Do not stay at home: 17% of all accidents occur in the home. Do not walk on the streets or pavements: 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians. Do not travel by air, rail, or water: 16% of accidents happen on these. Only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders. Hence the safest place for you to be at any time is at church!
We were land-based agrarian people from Africa. We were uprooted from Africa, and we spent 200 years developing our culture as black Americans. And then we left the South. We uprooted ourselves and attempted to transplant this culture to the pavements of the industrialized North. And it was a transplant that did not take. I think if we had stayed in the South, we would have been a stronger people. And because the connection between the South of the 20's, 30's and 40's has been broken, it's very difficult to understand who we are.
Revolutionists are accused of sowing fear abroad. Every barricade seems a crime. Their theories are incriminated, their aim suspected, their ulterior motive is feared, their conscience denounced. They are reproached with raising, erecting, and heaping up, against the reigning social state, a mass of miseries, of griefs, of iniquities, of wrongs, of despairs, and of tearing from the lowest depths blocks of shadow in order therein to embattle themselves and to combat. People shout to them: 'You are tearing up the pavements of hell!' They might reply: 'That is because our barricade is made of good intentions.
The roar of the traffic, the passage of undifferentiated faces, this way and that way, drugs me into dreams; rubs the features from faces. People might walk through me. And what is this moment of time, this particular day in which I have found myself caught? The growl of traffic might be any uproar - forest trees or the roar of wild beasts. Time has whizzed back an inch or two on its reel; our short progress has been cancelled. I think also that our bodies are in truth naked. We are only lightly covered with buttoned cloth; and beneath these pavements are shells, bones and silence.
8 April 1891 The obscenity of nostrils and mouths; the ignominious cupidity of smiles and women encountered in the street; the shifty baseness on every side, as of hyenas and wild beasts ready to bite: tradesmen in their shops and strollers on their pavements. How long must I suffer this? I have suffered it before, as a child, when, descending by chance to the servant's quarters, I overheard in astonishment their vile gossip, tearing up my own kind with their lovely teeth. This hostility to the entire race, this muted detestation of lynxes in human form, I must have rediscovered it later while at school. I had a repugnance and horror for all base instincts, but am I not myself instinctively violent and lewd, murderous and sensual? Am I any different, in essence, from the members of the riotous and murderous mob of a hundred years ago, who hurled the town sergeants into the Seine and cried, 'String up the aristos!' just as they shout 'Down with the army!' or 'Death to the Jews!
Every inch of space was used. As the road narrowed, signs receded upwards and changed to the vertical. Businesses simply soared from ground level and hung out vaster, more fascinatingly illuminated shingles than competitors. We were still in a traffic tangle, but now the road curved. Shops crowded the pavements and became homelier. Vegetables, spices, grocery produce in boxes or hanging from shop lintels, meats adangle - as always, my ultimate ghastliness - and here and there among the crowds the alarming spectacle of an armed Sikh, shotgun aslant, casually sitting at a bank entrance. And markets everywhere. To the right, cramped streets sloped down to the harbor. To the left, as we meandered along the tramlines through sudden dense markets of hawkers' barrows, the streets turned abruptly into flights of steps careering upwards into a bluish mist of domestic smoke, clouds of washing on poles, and climbing. Hong Kong had the knack of building where others wouldn't dare.
I would rather go mad, gone down the dark road to Mexico, heroin dripping in my veins, eyes and ears full of marijuana, eating the god Peyote on the floor of a mudhut on the border or laying in a hotel room over the body of some suffering man or woman; rather jar my body down the road, crying by a diner in the Western sun; rather crawl on my naked belly over the tincans of Cincinnati; rather drag a rotten railroad tie to a Golgotha in the Rockies; rather, crowned with thorns in Galveston, nailed hand and foot in Los Angeles, raised up to die in Denver, pierced in the side in Chicago, perished and tombed in New Orleans and resurrected in 1958 somewhere on Garret Mountain, come down roaring in a blaze of hot cars and garbage, streetcorner Evangel in front of City I-Tall, surrounded by statues of agonized lions, with a mouthful of shit, and the hair rising on my scalp, screaming and dancing in praise of Eternity annihilating the sidewalk, annihilating reality, screaming and dancing against the orchestra in the destructible ballroom of the world, blood streaming from my belly and shoulders flooding the city with its hideous ecstasy, rolling over the pavements and highways by the bayoux and forests and derricks leaving my flesh and my bones hanging on the trees.
From p. 40 of Signet Edition of Thomas Wolfe's _You Can't Go Home Again_ (1940): Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen. The voice of forest water in the night, a woman's laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel, the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows, the delicate web of children's voices in bright air-these things will never change. The glitter of sunlight on roughened water, the glory of the stars, the innocence of morning, the smell of the sea in harbors, the feathery blur and smoky buddings of young boughs, and something there that comes and goes and never can be captured, the thorn of spring, the sharp and tongueless cry-these things will always be the same. All things belonging to the earth will never change-the leaf, the blade, the flower, the wind that cries and sleeps and wakes again, the trees whose stiff arms clash and tremble in the dark, and the dust of lovers long since buried in the earth-all things proceeding from the earth to seasons, all things that lapse and change and come again upon the earth-these things will always be the same, for they come up from the earth that never changes, they go back into the earth that lasts forever. Only the earth endures, but it endures forever. The tarantula, the adder, and the asp will also never change. Pain and death will always be the same. But under the pavements trembling like a pulse, under the buildings trembling like a cry, under the waste of time, under the hoof of the beast above the broken bones of cities, there will be something growing like a flower, something bursting from the earth again, forever deathless, faithful, coming into life again like April.
I am an urchin, standing in the cold, elbowed aside by the glossy rich visitors in their fur coats and ostentatious jewellery, being fussed into the hotel by pompous-looking doormen. 'No problem. I'd better get home, actually Mr - Gustav. A drink is very tempting, but maybe not such a good idea after all.' I pat my pockets. 'And I'm skint.' 'Pavements not paved with gold yet, eh?' He moves on along the facade of the grand hotel to the corner, and waits. He's staring not back at me but down St James Street. I wage a little war with myself. He's a stranger, remember. The newspaper headlines, exaggerated by the time they reach the office of Jake's local rag: Country girl from the sticks raped and murdered in London by suave conman. Even Poppy would be wagging her metaphorical finger at me by now. Blaming herself for not being there, looking out for me. But we're out in public here. Lots of people around us. He's charming. He's incredibly attractive. He's got a lovely deep, well spoken voice. And he's an entrepreneur who must be bloody rich if he owns more than one house. What the hell else am I going to do with myself when everyone else is out having fun? One thing I won't tell him is that my pockets might be empty, but my bank account is full. 'One drink. Then I must get back.' He doesn't answer or protest, but with a courtly bow he crooks his elbow and escorts me down St James. We turn right and into the far more subtle splendour of Dukes Hotel. 'Dress code?' I ask nervously, wiping my feet obediently on the huge but welcoming doormat and drifting ahead of him into the smart interior where domed and glassed corridors lead here and there. The foyer smells of mulled wine and candles and entices you to succumb to its perfumed embrace.