Quote of the Day, F.O. Matthiessen

F.O. Matthiessen…We must remember that Santayana coined the phrase ‘the genteel tradition’ to describe what he considered the most dangerous defect in American thought.

Observing our dominant New England culture, Santayana believed that its deep-rooted error was that it separated thought from experience. Among the legacies of a colonial culture is the habit of thinking of creative sources as somehow remote from itself, of escaping from the hardness and rawness of everyday surroundings into an idealized picture of civilized refinement, of believing that the essence of beauty must lie in what James Russell Lowell read about in Keats rather than in what Walt Whitman saw in the streets of Brooklyn. The inescapable result of this is to make art an adornment rather than an organic expression of life, to confuse it with politeness and delicacy.

F.O. Matthiessen, Theodore Dreiser

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Quote of the Day, Eric Miles Williamson

You want perfect? Read someone else’s fucking book. This book, if I’m doing it right, is anything but purrfect. I don’t want you to finish it and lean back in your expensive chaise lounge and sigh, reassured that all the stupid shit you’ve done in your life really all adds up to a fine and dandy ending, your fat ass retired and happy and laying out on a beach in Hawaii drinking cocktails and watching chicks you’d like to bone hula hula in front of you while you try to hide the hardon you wish were better than a half-limp slug of cottage cheese. I don’t want you to finish this novel and, if you’re the rich fuck I suspect you are (because unfortunately my people can’t read, and if they can they read something that matters to them like Sports Illustrated or Hustler), you think that the shit-for-life you’ve imposed on my people by your very existence is something that is not your fault and that everything works out in the end, your sins forgiven and your virtues rewarded in the great steakhouse in the sky, extra cheese and sour cream for the potatoes please, belch apres. Quite the opposite, good sir, ma’am. I want you to finish my book and be a little apprehensive, just a little, a bit concerned, ol’ boy, good lady, that maybe, just maybe, maybe we’re gunning for you. Maybe we’re just waiting for our chance to take you the fuck out.

—  Eric Miles Williamson, Welcome to Oakland

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Quote of the Day, Arthur Schopenhauer

Obscurity and vagueness of expression is always and everywhere a very bad sign:  for in 99 cases out of 100, it derives from vagueness of thought, which in turn comes from an original incongruity in the thought itself, and thus from its falsity.

Arthur Schopenhauer, “On Books and Writing”

from Essays and Aphorisms

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Quote of the Day, Larry McMurtry

I nowadays have the feeling that not only are most bookmen eccentrics, but even the act they support—reading—is itself an eccentricity now, if a mild one. Interrupted narrative has become a natural thing. One could argue that Dickens and the other popular, serially published nineteenth-century novelists started this, and the television commercial made interruption come to seem normal. But the silicon chip has accelerated the process of interruption beyond all reckoning: iPods, blackberrys, laptops all break narrative into shorter and shorter sequences.

Still, it’s at least possible that these toys will someday lose their freshness and an old-fashioned thing, the book, will come to hold some interest for the masses again.

Then again, maybe not …

— Larry McMurtry,  Books: A Memoir

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