January 16

day of the year

Quotes of the day from previous years:

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. ~ Arthur C. Clarke
If we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it. ~ Ernest Hemingway
What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love... I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. (Martin Luther King Day 2006 in U.S.)
To me, literature is a calling, even a kind of salvation. It connects me with an enterprise that is over 2,000 years old. What do we have from the past? Art and thought. That's what lasts. That's what continues to feed people and give them an idea of something better. A better state of one's feelings or simply the idea of a silence in one's self that allows one to think or to feel. Which to me is the same. ~ Susan Sontag (born January 16, 1933)
I don't want to express alienation. It isn't what I feel. I'm interested in various kinds of passionate engagement. All my work says be serious, be passionate, wake up. ~ Susan Sontag
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ~ Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Ours is an age which consciously pursues health, and yet only believes in the reality of sickness. The truths we respect are those born of affliction. We measure truth in terms of the cost to the writer in suffering — rather than by the standard of an objective truth to which a writer's words correspond. Each of our truths must have a martyr. ~ Susan Sontag
We are told we must choose — the old or the new. In fact, we must choose both. What is a life if not a series of negotiations between the old and the new? It seems to me that one should always be seeking to talk oneself out of these stark oppositions. ~ Susan Sontag
One of my oldest crusades is against the distinction between thought and feelings… which is really the basis of all anti-intellectual views: the heart and the head, thinking and feeling, fantasy and judgment. We have more or less the same bodies, but very different kinds of thoughts. I believe that we think much more with the instruments provided by our culture than we do with our bodies, and hence the much greater diversity of thought in the world. Thinking is a form of feeling; feeling is a form of thinking. ~ Susan Sontag
We live in a culture in which intelligence is denied relevance altogether, in a search for radical innocence, or is defended as an instrument of authority and repression. In my view, the only intelligence worth defending is critical, dialectical, skeptical, desimplifying.
~ Susan Sontag ~
From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art.
~ Susan Sontag ~
Literature is dialogue; responsiveness. Literature might be described as the history of human responsiveness to what is alive and what is moribund as cultures evolve and interact with one another.
~ Susan Sontag ~
One cannot condemn tendencies in art; one can only condemn works of art. To be categorically against a current art tendency or style means, in effect, to pronounce on works of art not yet created and not yet seen. It means inquiring into the motives of artists instead of into results. Yet we all know — or are supposed to know — that results are all that count in art.
~ Clement Greenberg ~
Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comformable.
~ Susan Sontag ~
Authoritarian political ideologies have a vested interest in promoting fear, a sense of the imminence of takeover by aliens — and real diseases are useful material. Epidemic diseases usually elicit a call to ban the entry of foreigners, immigrants. And xenophobic propaganda has always depicted immigrants as bearers of disease … Such is the extraordinary potency and efficacy of the plague metaphor: it allows a disease to be regarded both as something incurred by vulnerable "others" and as (potentially) everyone's disease.
~ Susan Sontag ~
The principal instances of mass violence in the world today are those committed by governments within their own legally recognized borders. Can we really say there is no response to this? Is it acceptable that such slaughters be dismissed as civil wars, also known as "age-old ethnic hatreds." (After all, anti-Semitism was an old tradition in Europe; indeed, a good deal older than ancient Balkan hatreds. Would this have justified letting Hitler kill all the Jews on German territory?) Is it true that war never solved anything? (Ask a black American if he or she thinks our Civil War didn't solve anything.)
War is not simply a mistake, a failure to communicate. There is radical evil in the world, which is why there are just wars.
~ Susan Sontag ~
For Peace. Against War. Who is not? But how can you stop those bent on genocide without making war?
~ Susan Sontag ~
It is not suffering as such that is most deeply feared but suffering that degrades.
~ Susan Sontag ~
One of the most dangerous forms of human error is forgetting what one is trying to achieve.
~ Paul Nitze ~
Our main goal should be to establish a precedent for a new post-Cold War era, in which the community of nations, working through the United Nations and other organizations, can insure that would-be aggressors do not profit from invasion, coercion and force.
~ Paul Nitze ~
Human will can be effective only at the margin of events. Freedom is not absolute either for individuals or for nations and much is determined by forces beyond their control, by events of the past, by accident, or by chance. At any given moment in time the margin of freedom left them may seem so small as to make it hardly worthwhile to exercise their will one way or the other. But the narrow margin of today becomes the foundation of the broader possibility for tomorrow. Over time the margin of freedom — the impact of will upon the possible — expands geometrically. The decision of today makes possible, or forecloses, ten decisions of tomorrow.
The accumulated wisdom and experience of the past do not always give unambiguous precedents for decisions and actions at the relevant margin of freedom of the present. A new integration of general purpose with the concrete possibilities of the present may then become necessary. The most difficult issues of foreign policy and ethics arise when changes in degree, at some point, move so far as to become changes in kind, and dictate fundamental departures from past policy and direction.
~ Paul Nitze ~
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DOB: Clement Greenberg · Paul Nitze · Susan Sontag

Complete honesty has nothing to do with "purity" or naivety. The full truth is unattainable to naivety, and the completely honest artist is not pure in heart. ~ Clement Greenberg (born January 16, 1909)

Once efficiency is universally accepted as a rule, it becomes an inner compulsion and weighs like a sense of sin, simply because no one can ever be efficient enough, just as no one can ever be virtuous enough. ~ Clement Greenberg

  • 3 InvisibleSun 09:40, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
  • 3 Kalki 23:21, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
  • 1 Zarbon 18:15, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place. ~ Susan Sontag

I believe that courage is morally neutral. I can well imagine wicked people being brave and good people being timid or afraid. I don't consider it a moral virtue. ~ Susan Sontag

I guess I think I'm writing for people who are smarter than I am, because then I'll be doing something that's worth their time. I'd be very afraid to write from a position where I consciously thought I was smarter than most of my readers. ~ Susan Sontag

The truth is always something that is told, not something that is known. If there were no speaking or writing, there would be no truth about anything. There would only be what is. ~ Susan Sontag

I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them. ~ Susan Sontag

The need for truth is not constant; no more than is the need for repose. An idea which is a distortion may have a greater intellectual thrust than the truth; it may better serve the needs of the spirit, which vary. The truth is balance, but the opposite of truth, which is unbalance, may not be a lie. ~ Susan Sontag