But you cannot know the glimpses I have had, you cannot know there is another, dazzling place, that seems to welcome me! I have been led to it, Helen, by someone marvellous and strange. You won't know this. They will tell you of her, and they will make her seem squalid and ordinary, they will turn my passion into something gross and wrong. You will know, that it is neither of those things. It is only love, Helen - only that. I cannot live, and not be at her side!
Phoebe realized how very wrong she'd been about this house, this family. It was far darker, more dangerous than the places she'd grown up in. In the dingy little apartments her mother rented, everything was out in the open. Their lives were dirty and squalid, but they didn't pretend to be anything else. Here, things seemed so normal, so perfect, but it was all a deception.
Under the dominion of the priests our earth became the ascetic planet; a squalid den careering through space, peopled by discontented and arrogant creatures, who were disgusted with life, abhorred their globe as a vale of tears, and who in their envy and hatred of beauty and joy did themselves as much harm as possible.
Material advancement has its share in moral and intellectual progress. Becky Sharp's acute remark that it is not difficult to be virtuous on ten thousand a year has its applications to nations; and it is futile to expect a hungry and squalid population to be anything but violent and gross.
We are Jesus Christ's; we belong to him. But even more, we are increasingly him. He moves in and commandeers our hands and feet, requisitions our minds and tongues. We sense his rearranging: debris into the divine, pig's ear into silk purse. He repurposes bad decisions and squalid choices. Little by little, a new image emerges.
Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.
What other developed democracy has such a ridiculous and squalid history of intolerance? From the imprisonment and roasting of heretics, witches and poachers, to the censorship of literature, art and television: from St Alban through Wilde, Joyce and Lawrence I think we can point with pride to as grim a catalogue of intemperate, bigoted repression as any nation on earth...
No one as yet has approached the management of New York in a proper spirit; that is to say, regarding it as the shiftless outcome of squalid barbarism and reckless extravagance. No one is likely to do so, because reflections on the long narrow pig-trough are construed as malevolent attacks against the spirit and majesty of the American people, and lead to angry comparisons.
I started playing music around 13 or 14, played jazz in high school, and played other stuff in college. After college, I tried to make it as a musician. I lived in a big squalid house full of dudes outside of Boston. We were all musicians. We built this studio in the basement and played there all hours of the day.
Go ye, who rest so placidly upon the sacred Bard who had been young, and when he strung his harp was old, and had never seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging their bread; go, Teachers of content and honest pride, into the mine, the mill, the forge, the squalid depths of deepest ignorance, and uttermost abyss of man's neglect, and say can any hopeful plant spring up in air so foul that it extinguishes the soul's bright torch as fast as it is kindled!
Americans are not going to tolerate intimidation, terror and outright acts of war against this nation and its people. And we are especially not going to tolerate these attacks from outlaw states run by the strangest collection of misfits, Looney Tunes and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich ... There can be no place on earth where it is safe for these monsters to rest,or train or practice their cruel and deadly. We must act together - or unilateraly, if necessary - to ensue that these terrorists have no sanctuary, anywhere.
But even if ego-death is regarded as the optimum model for human existence, one of liberation from ourselves, it still remains a compromise with being, a concession to the blunder of creation itself. We should be able to do better, and we can. To have our egos killed off is second-best to killing off death and all the squalid byplay that flitters around it. So let all lands be small, and grower smaller and smaller until no lands are left where any human footstep need press itself upon the earth.
Word it as softly as you please, the spirit of patriotism is the spirit of the dog and wolf. The moment there is a misunderstanding about a boundary line or a hamper of fish or some other squalid matter, see patriotism rise, and hear him split the universe with is war-whoop. The spirit of patriotism being in its nature jealous and selfish, is just in man's line, it comes natural to him - he can live up to all its requirements to the letter; but the spirit of Christianity is not in its entirety possible to him.
The last year of her college career was wheeling slowly round. She could see ahead her examination and her departure. She had the ash of disillusion gritting under her teeth. Would the next move turn out the same? Always the shining doorway ahead; and then, upon approach, always the shining doorway was a gate into another ugly yard, dirty and active and dead. Always the crest of the hill gleaming ahead under heaven: and then, from the top of the hill only another sordid valley full of amorphous, squalid activity.
His sensitive nature was still smarting under the lashes of an undivided and squalid way of life. His soul was still disquieted and cast down by the dull phenomenon of Dublin. He had emerged from a two years' spell of revery to find himself in the midst of a new scene, every event and figure of which affected him intimately, disheartened him or allured and, whether alluring or disheartening, filled him always with unrest and bitter thoughts. All the leisure which his school life left him was passed in the company of subversive writers whose jibes and violence of speech set up a ferment in his brain before they passed out of it into his crude writings.
There is quite enough sorrow and shame and suffering and baseness in real life and there is no need for meeting it unnecessarily in fiction. As Police Commissioner it was my duty to deal with all kinds of squalid misery and hideous and unspeakable infamy, and I should have been worse than a coward if I had shrunk from doing what was necessary; but there would have been no use whatever in my reading novels detailing all this misery and squalor and crime, or at least in reading them as a steady thing. Now and then there is a powerful but sad story which really is interesting and which really does good; but normally the books which do good and the books which healthy people find interesting are those which are not in the least of the sugar-candy variety, but which, while portraying foulness and suffering when they must be portrayed, yet have a joyous as well as a noble side.
In Shanghai's prime, no city in the Orient, or the world for that matter, could compare with it. At the peak of its spectacular career the swamp-ridden metropolis surely ranked as the most pleasure-mad, rapacious, corrupt, strife-ridden, licentious, squalid, and decadent city in the world. It was the most pleasure-mad because nowhere else did the population pursue amusement, from feasting to whoring, dancing to powder-taking, with such abandoned zeal. It was rapacious because greed was its driving force; strife-ridden because calamity was always at the door; licentious because it catered to every depravity known to man; squalid because misery stared one brazenly in the face; and decadent because morality, as every Shanghai resident knew, was irrelevant. The missionaries might rail at Shanghai's wickedness and reformers condemn its iniquities, but there was never reason for the city to mend its errant ways, for as a popular Chinese saying aptly observed, "Shanghai is like the emperor's ugly daughter; she never has to worry about finding suitors." Other great cities - Rome, Athens, or St. Petersburg, for instance - might flatter themselves that they had been conceived for virtuous, even heroic, purposes. Not so the ugly daughter who reveled in her bastard status. Half Oriental, half Occidental: half land, half water; neither a colony nor wholly belonging to China; inhabited by the citizens of every nation in the world but ruled by none, the emperor's ugly daughter was an anomaly among cities. The strange fruit of a forced union between East and West, this mongrel princess came into the world through a grasping premise-the right of one nation to foist a poisonous drug upon another. Born in greed and humiliation, the ugly daughter grew up in the shadow of the Celestial Empire's defeat by outsiders in the Opium War. Nonetheless, within decades, she had become Asia's greatest metropolis, a brash sprawling juggernaut of a city that dominated the rest of the country with its power, sophistication, and, most of all money.
A black boy brought Wilson's gin and he sipped it very slowly because he had nothing else to do except to return to his hot and squalid room and read a novel - or a poem. Wilson liked poetry, but he absorbed it secretly, like a drug. The Golden Treasury accompanied him wherever he went, but it was taken at night in small doses - a finger of Longfellow, Macaulay, Mangan: 'Go on to tell how, with genius wasted, Betrayed in friendship, befooled in love... ' His taste was romantic. For public exhibition he has his Wallace. He wanted passionately to be indistinguishable on the surface from other men: he wore his moustache like a club tie - it was his highest common factor, but his eyes betrayed him - brown dog's eyes, a setter's eyes, pointing mournfully towards Bond Street.
He beheld in swift succession the incidents in the brief tale of his experience. His wretched home, his still more wretched school-days, the years of vicious life he had led since then, one act of selfish dishonour leading to another; it was all clear and pitiless now, all its squalid folly, in the cold light of the dawn. He came to the hut, to the fight with the Porroh man, to the retreat down the river to Sulyma, to the Mendi assassin and his red parcel, to his frantic endeavours to destroy the head, to the growth of his hallucination. It was a hallucination! He knew it was. A hallucination merely. For a moment he snatched at hope. He looked away from the glass, and on the bracket, the inverted head grinned and grimaced at him... With the stiff fingers of his bandaged hand he felt at his neck for the throb of his arteries. The morning was very cold, the steel blade felt like ice. ("Pollock And The Porrah Man")
The great fault of modern democracy - a fault that is common to the capitalist and the socialist - is that it accepts economic wealth as the end of society and the standard of personal happiness... The great curse of our modern society is not so much lack of money as the fact that the lack of money condemns a man to a squalid and incomplete existence. But even if he has money, and a great deal of it, he is still in danger of leading an incomplete and cramped life, because our whole social order is directed to economic instead of spiritual ends. The economic view of life regards money as equivalent to satisfaction. Get money, and if you get enough of it you will get everything else that is worth having. The Christian view of life, on the other hand, puts economic things in second place. First seek the kingdom of God, and everything else will be added to you. And this is not so absurd as it sounds, for we have only to think for a moment to realise that the ills of modern society do not spring from poverty in fact, society today is probably richer in material wealth than any society that has ever existed. What we are suffering from is lack of social adjustment and the failure to subordinate material and economic goods to human and spiritual ones.
Christopher Henry Dawson
I wanted to write an adventure story, not, it's true, I really did. I shall have failed, that's all. Adventures bore me. I have no idea how to talk about countries, how to make people wish they had been there. I am not a good travelling salesman. Countries? Where are they , whatever became of them. When I was twelve I dreamed of Hongkong. That tedious, commonplace little provincial town! Shops sprouting from every nook and cranny! The Chinese junks pictured on the lids of chocolate boxes used to fascinate me. Junks: sort of chopped-off barges, where the housewives do all their cooking and washing on deck. They even have television. As for the Niagara Falls: water, nothing but water! A dam is more interesting; at least one can occasionally see a big crack at its base, and hope for some excitement. When one travels, one sees nothing but hotels. Squalid rooms, with iron bedsteads, and a picture of some kind hanging on the wall from a rusty nail, a coloured print of London Bridge or the Eiffel Tower. One also sees trains, lots of trains, and airports that look like restaurants, and restaurants that look like morgues. All the ports in the world are hemmed in by oil slicks and shabby customs buildings. In the streets of the towns, people keep to the sidewalks, cars stop at red lights. If only one occasionally arrived in a country where women are the colour of steel and men wear owls on their heads. But no, they are sensible, they all have black ties, partings to one side, brassie¨res and stiletto heels. In all the restaurants, when one has finished eating one calls over the individual who has been prowling among the tables, and pays him with a promissory note. There are cigarettes everywhere! There are airplanes and automobiles everywhere.
Jean-Marie G. Le Clezio
The hoopoe said: 'Your heart's congealed like ice; When will you free yourself from cowardice? Since you have such a short time to live here, What difference does it make? What should you fear? The world is filth and sin, and homeless men Must enter it and homeless leave again. They die, as worms, in squalid pain; if we Must perish in this quest, that, certainly, Is better than a life of filth and grief. If this great search is vain, if my belief Is groundless, it is right that I should die. So many errors throng the world - then why Should we not risk this quest? To suffer blame For love is better than a life of shame. No one has reached this goal, so why appeal To those whose blindness claims it is unreal? I'd rather die deceived by dreams than give My heart to home and trade and never live. We've been and heard so much - what have we learned? Not for one moment has the self been spurned; Fools gather round and hinder our release. When will their stale, insistent whining cease? We have no freedom to achieve our goal Until from Self and fools we free the soul. To be admitted past the veil you must Be dead to all the crowd considers just. Once past the veil you understand the Way From which the crowd's glib courtiers blindly stray. If you have any will, leave women's stories, And even if this search for hidden glories Proves blasphemy at last, be sure our quest Is not mere talk but an exacting test. The fruit of love's great tree is poverty; Whoever knows this knows humility. When love has pitched his tent in someone's breast, That man despairs of life and knows no rest. Love's pain will murder him and blandly ask A surgeon's fee for managing the task - The water that he drinks brings pain, his bread Is turned to blood immediately shed; Though he is weak, faint, feebler than an ant, Love forces him to be her combatant; He cannot take one mouthful unaware That he is floundering in a sea of care.
Farid Al-Din Attar
Old Hubert must have had a premonition of his squalid demise. In October he said to me, 'Forty-two years I've had this place. I'd really like to go back home, but I ain't got the energy since my old girl died. And I can't sell it the way it is now. But anyway before I hang my hat up I'd be curious to know what's in that third cellar of mine.' The third cellar has been walled up by order of the civil defence authorities after the floods of 1910. A double barrier of cemented bricks prevents the rising waters from invading the upper floors when flooding occurs. In the event of storms or blocked drains, the cellar acts as a regulatory overflow. The weather was fine: no risk of drowning or any sudden emergency. There were five of us: Hubert, Gerard the painter, two regulars and myself. Old Marteau, the local builder, was upstairs with his gear, ready to repair the damage. We made a hole. Our exploration took us sixty metres down a laboriously-faced vaulted corridor (it must have been an old thoroughfare). We were wading through a disgusting sludge. At the far end, an impassable barrier of iron bars. The corridor continued beyond it, plunging downwards. In short, it was a kind of drain-trap. That's all. Nothing else. Disappointed, we retraced our steps. Old Hubert scanned the walls with his electric torch. Look! An opening. No, an alcove, with some wooden object that looks like a black statuette. I pick the thing up: it's easily removable. I stick it under my arm. I told Hubert, 'It's of no interest... ' and kept this treasure for myself. I gazed at it for hours on end, in private. So my deductions, my hunches were not mistaken: the Bie¨vre-Seine confluence was once the site where sorcerers and satanists must surely have gathered. And this kind of primitive magic, which the blacks of Central Africa practise today, was known here several centuries ago. The statuette had miraculously survived the onslaught of time: the well-known virtues of the waters of the Bie¨vre, so rich in tannin, had protected the wood from rotting, actually hardened, almost fossilized it. The object answered a purpose that was anything but aesthetic. Crudely carved, probably from heart of oak. The legs were slightly set apart, the arms detached from the body. No indication of gender. Four nails set in a triangle were planted in its chest. Two of them, corroded with rust, broke off at the wood's surface all on their own. There was a spike sunk in each eye. The skull, like a salt cellar, had twenty-four holes in which little tufts of brown hair had been planted, fixed in place with wax, of which there were still some vestiges. I've kept quiet about my find. I'm biding my time.