It ended by my almost believing (perhaps actually believing) that this was perhaps my normal condition. But at first, in the beginning, what agonies I endured in that struggle! I did not believe it was the same with other people, and all my life I hid this fact about myself as a secret. I was ashamed (even now, perhaps, I am ashamed): I got to the point of feeling a sort of secret abnormal, despicable enjoyment in returning home to my corner on some disgusting Petersburg night, acutely conscious that that day I had committed a loathsome action again, that what was done could never be undone, and secretly, inwardly gnawing, gnawing at myself for it, tearing and consuming myself till at last the bitterness turned into a sort of shameful accursed sweetness, and at last-into positive real enjoyment! Yes, into enjoyment, into enjoyment! I insist upon that. I have spoken of this because I keep wanting to know for a fact whether other people feel such enjoyment? I will explain; the enjoyment was just from the too intense consciousness of one's own degradation; it was from feeling oneself that one had reached the last barrier, that it was horrible, but that it could not be otherwise; that there was no escape for you; that you never could become a different man; that even if time and faith were still left you to change into something different you would most likely not wish to change; or if you did wish to, even then you would do nothing; because perhaps in reality there was nothing for you to change into. And the worst of it was, and the root of it all, that it was all in accord with the normal fundamental laws of over-acute consciousness, and with the inertia that was the direct result of those laws, and that consequently one was not only unable to change but could do absolutely nothing. Thus it would follow, as the result of acute consciousness, that one is not to blame in being a scoundrel; as though that were any consolation to the scoundrel once he has come to realise that he actually is a scoundrel.
If you really want peace of mind and inner calm, you will get it. Regardless of how unjustly you have been treated, or how unfair the boss has been, or what a mean scoundrel someone has proved to be, all this makes no difference to you when you awaken to your mental and spiritual powers.
Tell a scoundrel, three or four times a day, that he is the pink of probity, and you make him at least the perfection of "respectability" in good earnest. On the other hand, accuse an honorable man, too petinaciously, of being a villain, and you fill him with a perverse ambition to show you that you are not altogether in the wrong.
Edgar Allan Poe
As long as I live under the capitalistic system I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation.
Patriotism, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit it is the first.
I was instructed long ago by a wise editor, "If you understand something you can explain it so that almost anyone can understand it. If you don't, you won't be able to understand your own explanation." That is why 90% of academic film theory is bullshit. Jargon is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
I think people are a mixture of everything. I like desperate characters because they do things that most of us normally wouldn't do. If a character is a scoundrel or a liar you think you know them, but then I can bring some emotion to them and they become much fuller than you ever imagined. So what I try to do is have a story where you don't quite know where it's going, and characters who you don't quite know where they're going.
The problem is that you cannot prove yourself against someone who is much weaker than yourself. They are in a lose/lose situation. If you are strong and fighting the weak, then if you kill your opponent then you are a scoundrel... if you let him kill you, then you are an idiot. So here is a dilemma which others have suffered before us, and for which as far as I can see there is simply no escape.
Martin Van Creveld
Under the pressure of fanaticism, and with the mob complacently applauding the show, democratic law tends more and more to be grounded upon the maxim that every citizen is, by nature, a traitor, a libertine, and a scoundrel. In order to dissuade him from his evil-doing the police power is extended until it surpasses anything ever heard of in the oriental monarchies of antiquity.
H. L. Mencken
I am not here to pass civilities or compliments with you, but on other business. I have stood your meanness as long as I intend to. You have played the part of a damned scoundrel, and are a coward, and if you were any part of a man I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it. You may as well not issue any more orders to me, for I will not obey them... and as I say to you that if you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path it will be at the peril of your life.
Nathan Bedford Forrest
We are accustomed to the artist scoundrel or specialist in vice, and unaccustomed to the creator in whom passion and reason and moral integrity hold in balance. But greatness of intellect and feeling, or soul and conduct magnanimity, in short does occur; it is not a myth for boy scouts, and its reality is important, if only to give us the true range of the term "human," which we so regularly define by its lower reaches.
It doesn't matter who you marry, as long as he thinks like you and is a gentleman and a Southerner and prideful. For a woman, love comes after marriage." "Oh, Pa, that's such an Old Country notion!" "And a good notion it is! All this American business of running around marrying for love, like servants, like Yankees! The best marriages are when the parents choose for the girl. For how can a silly piece like yourself tell a good man from a scoundrel?
If you went to a home, kicked down the front door, chased the people who lived there out into the street and said, Go! You are free! Free as a bird! Go! Go! - do you think they would shout and dance for joy? They wouldn't. Birds are not free. The people you've just evicted would sputter, With what right do you throw us out? This is our home. We own it. We have lived here for years. We're calling the police, you scoundrel.
I want peace; yes, I'd sell the whole world for a farthing, straight off, so long as I was left in peace. Is the world to go to pot, or am I to go without my tea? I say that the world may go to pot for me so long as I always get my tea. Did you know that, or not? Well, anyway, I know that I am a blackguard, a scoundrel, an egoist, a sluggard.
Dickey Perrott, you Jago whelp, look at them - look hard. Some day if you are clever - cleverer than anyone in the Jago right now - if you're only scoundrel enough, and brazen enough, and lucky enough - one of a thousand - maybe you'll be like them: bursting with high living, drunk when you like, red and pimply. There it is - that's your aim in life - there's your pattern. Learn to read and write, learn all you can, learn cunning, spare nobody and stop at nothing, and perhaps - It's the best the world has for you, for the Jago's got you, and that's the only way out, except gaol and the gallows. So do your devil most, or God help you, Dicky Perrot - though he wont: for the Jago's got you!
The Fundamentalist Christians have told me that I am a slave of Satan and should have my demons expelled with an exorcism. The Fundamentalist Materialists inform me that I am a liar, charlatan, fraud and scoundrel. Aside from this minor difference, the letters are astoundingly similar. Both groups share the same crusading zeal and the same lack of humor, charity and common human decency. These intolerable cults have served to confirm me in my agnosticism by presenting further evidence to support my contention that when dogma enters the brain, all intellectual activity ceases.
Robert Anton Wilson
The novelist Dumas would one day borrow features from both of his uncles, not to mention his grandfather, the acknowledged scoundrel, in fashioning the central villains of The Count of Monte Cristo. Reading court documents detailing the sordid unraveling of Charles's sham fortune, which would have devastating effects on his daughter and her unsuspecting husband, I couldn't help thinking that one of the interesting things about Dumas's villains is that, while greedy and unprincipled themselves, they produce children who can be innocent and decent. This was something that the writer understood very well from his own family.
Like a battalion of marines at roll call, her neck hairs marshaled to five-alarm status. She stumbled back to her desk, jerked open the botton drawer, retrieved a pair of Nighthawk binoculars, fixed the scopes on him, and fiddled with the focus. Gotcha. Hair the colour of coal. Chocolate brown eyes. A five-o'clock shadow ringing his craggy jawline. Handsome as the day was long... He sauntered towards her, oozing charisma from every pore. Charlee forgot to breathe. And then he committed the gravest sin of all, knocking her world helter-skelter. The scoundrel smiled.
The older lady harrumphed. "I warned you, daughter. This scoundrel Hades is no good. You could've married the god of doctors or the god of lawyers, but noooo. You had to eat the pomegranate." "Mother-" "And get stuck in the Underworld!" "Mother, please-" "And here it is August, and do you come home like you're supposed to? Do you ever think about your poor lonely mother?" "DEMETER!" Hades shouted. "That is enough. You are a guest in my house." "Oh, a house is it?" she said. "You call this dump a house? Make my daughter live in this dark, damp-" "I told you, " Hades said, grinding his teeth, "there's a war in the world above. You and Persephone are better off here with me." "Excuse me, " I broke in. "But if you're going to kill me, could you just get on with it?
For years I'd been awaiting that overriding urge I'd always heard about, the narcotic pining that draws childless women ineluctably to strangers' strollers in parks. I wanted to be drowned by the hormonal imperative, to wake one day and throw my arms around your neck, reach down for you, and pray that while that black flower bloomed behind my eyes you had just left me with child. (With child: There's a lovely warm sound to that expression, an archaic but tender acknowledgement that for nine months you have company wherever you go. Pregnant, by contrast, is heavy and bulging and always sounds to my ear like bad news: 'I'm pregnant.' I instinctively picture a sixteen-year-old at the dinner table- pale, unwell, with a scoundrel of a boyfriend- forcing herself to blurt out her mother's deepest fear.) (27)
You may plainly perceive the traitor through his mask; he is well known every-where in his true colors; his rolling eyes and his honeyed tones impose only on those who do not know him. People are aware that this low-bred fellow, who deserves to be pilloried, has, by the dirtiest jobs, made his way in the world; and that the splendid position he has acquired makes merit repine and virtue blush. Yet whatever dishonourable epithets may be launched against him everywhere, nobody defends his wretched honour. Call him a rogue, an infamous wretch, a confounded scoundrel if you like, all the world will say 'yea, ' and no one contradicts you. But for all that, his bowing and scraping are welcome everywhere; he is received, smiled upon, and wriggles himself into all kinds of society; and, if any appointment is to be secured by intriguing, he will carry the day over a man of the greatest worth. Zounds! these are mortal stabs to me, to see vice parleyed with; and sometimes times I feel suddenly inclined to fly into a wilderness far from the approach of men.
Nevertheless a certain class of dishonesty, dishonesty magnificent in its proportions, and climbing into high places, has become at the same time so rampant and so splendid that there seems to be reason for fearing that men and women will be taught to feel that dishonesty, if it can become splendid, will cease to be abominable. If dishonesty can live in a gorgeous palace with pictures on all its walls, and gems in all its cupboards, with marble and ivory in all its corners, and can give Apician dinners, and get into Parliament, and deal in millions, then dishonesty is not disgraceful, and the man dishonest after such a fashion is not a low scoundrel. Instigated, I say, by some such reflections as these, I sat down in my new house to write The Way We Live Now. And as I had ventured to take the whip of the satirist into my hand, I went beyond the iniquities of the great speculator who robs everybody, and made an onslaught also on other vices;-on the intrigues of girls who want to get married, on the luxury of young men who prefer to remain single, and on the puffing propensities of authors who desire to cheat the public into buying their volumes.
Red Fox The red fox crosses the ice intent on none of my business. It's winter and slim pickings. I stand in the bushy cemetery, pretending to watch birds, but really watching the fox who could care less. She pauses on the sheer glare of the pond. She knows I'm there, sniffs me in the wind at her shoulder. If I had a gun or dog or a raw heart, she'd smell it. She didn't get this smart for nothing. She's a lean vixen: I can see the ribs, the sly trickster's eyes, filled with longing and desperation, the skinny feet, adept at lies. Why encourage the notion of virtuous poverty? It's only an excuse for zero charity. Hunger corrupts, and absolute hunger corrupts absolutely, or almost. Of course there are mothers, squeezing their breasts dry, pawning their bodies, shedding teeth for their children, or that's our fond belief. But remember - Hansel and Gretel were dumped in the forest because their parents were starving. Sauve qui peut. To survive we'd all turn thief and rascal, or so says the fox, with her coat of an elegant scoundrel, her white knife of a smile, who knows just where she's going: to steal something that doesn't belong to her - some chicken, or one more chance, or other life.