The Earl of Blackstone didn't seem particularly mysterious to Emily. In fact, as he stood there silently-except for that sneering laugh he'd tried to cover up-she could think of several other adjectives to add to the list next time Sarah was searching for one: rude, self-important, boorish. And, if one could judge by the slightly slack-jawed way he stared at her, perhaps even 'simple.
Rule by the statist elite is not benign or simply a matter of who happens to be in office: it is rule by a growing army of leeches and parasites battening off the income and wealth of hard-working Americans, destroying their property, corrupting their customs and institutions, sneering at their religion.
Philosophers get attention only when they appear to be doing something sinister--corrupting the youth, undermining the foundations of civilization, sneering at all we hold dear. The rest of the time everybody assumes that they are hard at work somewhere down in the sub-basement, keeping those foundations in good repair. Nobody much cares what brand of intellectual duct tape is being used.
My own terror of appearing sentimental is so strong that I've decided to fight against it, some; but the terror is still there. . . . Do you identify with a distaste/fear about sentimentality? Do you agree that, past a certain line, such distaste can turn everything arch and sneering and too ironic? Or do you have your own set of abstract questions to drive yourself nuts with?
David Foster Wallace
Given the clientele, the restaurants on Capri might resemble those fancy Northern Italian places on the East Side of Manhattan where the captain has taken bilingual sneering lessons from the maitre d' at the French joint down the street and the waiter, whose father was born in Palermo, would deny under torture that tomato sauce has ever touched his lips.
And, conversely, she went on to herself, sneering at the Grand Duke's palace, poverty is wasted on the poor, who never know how to make the best of things, are only the rich without money, are just as useless at looking after themselves, can't handle their cash just like the rich can't, always squandering it on bright, pretty, useless things in just the same way.
A criminal trial is like a cultural in-flight test in which society projects its own history, fears, impatience, insolence, clemency, insecurities, dreams and nightmares upon facts. ... What's inside is every fairy-tale monster, a brutal ogre, a bloodthirsty werewolf, an elegant vampire, a scheming devil, a bullying giant, a sneering troll, or maybe just an abusive stepfather.
Evil turned out not to be a grand thing. Not sneering Emperors with their world-conquering designs. Not cackling demons plotting in the darkness beyond the world. It was small men with their small acts and their small reasons. It was selfishness and carelessness and waste. It was bad luck, incompetence, and stupidity. It was violence divorced from conscience or consequence. It was high ideals, even, and low methods.
I know of no other place that is so fascinating yet so frustrating, so aware of the world and its own place within it but at the same time utterly insular. A country touched by nostalgia, with a past so great - so marked by brilliance and achievement - that French people today seem both enriched and burdened by it. France is like a maddening, moody lover who inspires emotional highs and lows. One minute it fills you with a rush of passion, the next you're full of fury, itching to smack the mouth of some sneering shopkeeper or smug civil servant. Yes, it's a love-hate relationship.
Men never fail to dwell on maternity as a disqualification for the possession of many civil and political rights. Suggest the idea of women having a voice in making laws and administering the Government in the halls of legislation, in Congress, or the British Parliament, and men will declaim at once on the disabilities of maternity in a sneering contemptuous way, as if the office of motherhood was undignified and did not comport with the highest public offices in church and state. It is vain that we point them to Queen Victoria, who has carefully reared a large family, while considering and signing...
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
LARRY-(with increasing bitter intensity, more as if he were fighting with himself than with Hickey) I'm afraid to live, am I?-and even more afraid to die! So I sit here, with my pride drowned on the bottom of a bottle, keeping drunk so I won't see myself shaking in my britches with fright, or hear myself whining and praying: Beloved Christ, let me live a little longer at any price! If it's only for a few days more, or a few hours even, have mercy, Almighty God, and let me still clutch greedily to my yellow heart this sweet treasure, this jewel beyond price, the dirty, stinking bit of withered old flesh which is my beautiful little life! (He laughs with a sneering, vindictive self-loathing, staring inward at himself with contempt and hatred. Then abruptly he makes Hickey again the antagonist.) You think you'll make me admit that to myself?
Adelia began to get cross. Why was it women who were to blame for everything-everything, from the Fall of Man to these blasted hedges? 'We are not in a labyrinth, my lord, ' she said clearly. 'Where are we, then?' 'It's a maze.' 'Same difference.' Puffing at the horse: 'Get back, you great cow.' 'No, it isn't. A labyrinth has only one path and you merely have to follow it. It's a symbol of life or, rather, of life and death. Labyrinths twist and turn, but they have a beginning and an end, through darkness into light.' Softening, and hoping that he would, too, she added, 'Like Ariadne's. Rather beautiful, really.' 'I don't want mythology, mistress, beautiful or not, I want to get to that sodding tower. What's a maze when it's at home?' 'It's a trick. A trick to confuse. To amaze.' 'And I suppose Mistress Clever-boots knows how to get us out?' 'I do, actually.' God's rib, he was sneering at her, sneering. She'd a mind to stay where she was and let him sweat. 'Then in the name of Christ, do it.' 'Stop bellowing at me, ' she yelled at him. 'You're bellowing.' She saw his teeth grit in the pretense of a placatory smile; he always had good teeth. Still did. Between them, he said, 'The Bishop of Saint Albans presents his compliments to Mistress Adelia and please to escort him out of this hag's hole, for the love of God. How will you do it?' 'My business.' Be damned if she'd tell him. Women were defenseless enough without revealing their secrets. 'I'll have to take the lead.' She stumped along in front, holding Walt's mount's reins in her right hand. In the other was her riding crop, which she trailed with apparent casualness so that it brushed against the hedge on her left. As she went, she chuntered to herself. Lord, how disregarded I am in this damned country. How disregarded all women are... Ironically, the lower down the social scale women were, the greater freedom they had; the wives of laborers and craftsmen could work alongside their men-even, sometimes, when they were widowed, take over their husband's trade. Adelia trudged on. Hag's hole. Grendel's mother's entrails. Why was this dreadful place feminine to the men lost in it? Because it was tunneled? Womb-like? Is this woman's magic? The great womb? Is that why the Church hates me, hates all women? Because we are the source of all true power? Of life? She supposed that by leading them out of it, she was only confirming that a woman knew its secrets and they did not. Great God, she thought, it isn't a question of hatred. It's fear. They are frightened of us. And Adelia laughed quietly, sending a suggestion of sound reverberating backward along the tunnel, as if a small pebble was skipping on water, making each man start when it passed him. 'What in hell was that?' Walt called back stolidly, 'Reckon someone's laughing at us, master.' 'Dear God.
I have never fully unbosomed myself to any human being; I have never been encouraged to trust much in the sympathy of my fellow men. But we have all a chance of meeting with some pity, some tenderness, some charity, when we are dead: it is the living only who cannot be forgiven - the living only from whom men's indulgence and reverence are held off, like the rain by the hard east wind. While the heart beats, bruise it - it is your only opportunity; while the eye can still turn towards you with moist, timid entreaty, freeze it with an icy unanswering gaze; while the ear, that delicate messenger to the inmost sanctuary of the soul, can still take in the tones of kindness, put it off with hard civility, or sneering compliment, or envious affectation of indifference; while the creative brain can still throb with the sense of injustice, with the yearning for brotherly recognition - make haste - oppress it with your ill-considered judgements, your trivial comparisons, your careless misrepresentations. The heart will by and by be still - ubi saeoa indignatio ulterius cor lacerate nequit; the eye will cease to entreat; the ear will be deaf; the brain will have ceased from all wants as well as from all work. Then your charitable speeches may find vent; then you may remember and pity the toil and the struggle and the failure; then you may give due honour to the work achieved; then you may find extenuation for errors, and may consent to bury them ("The Lifted Veil")
But there is a way of despising the dandelion which is not that of the dreary pessimist, but of the more offensive optimist. It can be done in various ways; one of which is saying, "You can get much better dandelions at Selfridge's, " or "You can get much cheaper dandelions at Woolworth's." Another way is to observe with a casual drawl, "Of course nobody but Gamboli in Vienna really understands dandelions, " or saying that nobody would put up with the old-fashioned dandelion since the super-dandelion has been grown in the Frankfurt Palm Garden; or merely sneering at the stinginess of providing dandelions, when all the best hostesses give you an orchid for your buttonhole and a bouquet of rare exotics to take away with you. These are all methods of undervaluing the thing by comparison; for it is not familiarity but comparison that breeds contempt. And all such captious comparisons are ultimately based on the strange and staggering heresy that a human being has a right to dandelions; that in some extraordinary fashion we can demand the very pick of all the dandelions in the garden of Paradise; that we owe no thanks for them at all and need feel no wonder at them at all; and above all no wonder at being thought worthy to receive them. Instead of saying, like the old religious poet, "What is man that Thou carest for him, or the son of man that Thou regardest him?" we are to say like the discontented cabman, "What's this?" or like the bad-tempered Major in the club, "Is this a chop fit for a gentleman?" Now I not only dislike this attitude quite as much as the Swinburnian pessimistic attitude, but I think it comes to very much the same thing; to the actual loss of appetite for the chop or the dish of dandelion-tea. And the name of it is Presumption and the name of its twin brother is Despair. This is the principle I was maintaining when I seemed an optimist to Mr. Max Beerbohm; and this is the principle I am still maintaining when I should undoubtedly seem a pessimist to Mr. Gordon Selfridge. The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.