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Category Archives: truth

“I do not mean to be sentimental about suffering – enough is certainly as good as a feast – but people who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are. That man who is forced each day to snatch his manhood, his identity, out of the fire of human cruelty that rages to destroy it knows, if he survives his effort, and even if he does not survive it, something about himself and human that no school on earth – and, indeed, no church – can teach. He achieves his own authority, and that is unshakable. This is because, in order to save his life, he is forced to look beneath appearances, to take nothing for granted, to hear the meaning behind the words.”

– James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time


“Mortals covet. They covet flavorful tea and dark chocolate and silver ladles and fluffy comforters and the fat bottoms of women bending over to tie a shoe. They covet wide green fields and open skies and even hulking mountains of ice and stone. Nothing – nothing in creation has ever been safe from them.”

– Chris Adrian, The Children’s Hospital

“Finding ways to appreciate advances without embracing complacency is a delicate task. It involves being hopeful and motivated and keeping eyes on the prize ahead. Saying that everything is fine or that it will never get any better are ways of going nowhere or of making it impossible to go anywhere. Either approach implies that there is no road out or that, if there is, you don’t need to or can’t go down it. You can. We have.”

– Rebecca Solnit, “Pandora’s Box and the Volunteer Police Force,” Men Explain Things to Me

“The grounds for hope are simply that we don’t know what will happen next, and that the unlikely and the unimaginable transpire quite regularly. And that the unofficial history of the world shows that dedicated individuals and popular movements can shape history and have, though how and when we might win and how long it takes is not predictable.

“Despair is a form of certainty, certainty that the future will be a lot like the present or will decline from it; despair is a confident memory of the future. Optimism is similarly confident about what will happen. Both are grounds for not acting. Hope can be the knowledge that we don’t have that memory and that reality doesn’t necessarily match our plans.”

– Rebecca Solnit, “Woolf’s Darkness,” Men Explain Things to Me

“Most stories are travel stories, and in traveling our lives begin to assume the shape of a story. It may be because a journey is so often a metaphor for life itself that journeying is satisfying.”

– Rebecca Solnit, A Book of Migrations

“I wasn’t sure what I would find, but travel provides not confirmations, but surprises.”

– Rebecca Solnit, A Book of Migrations

“…like most aesthetics this one contained an ethic, a worldview with a mandate on how to act, how to live.”

– Rebecca Solnit, “Abandon,” A Field Guide to Getting Lost

“When destiny knocks the first nail in the coffin of a tyrant, it is seldom long before she knocks the last.”

– Richard Hughes, A High Wind in Jamaica

“It is a luxury to do something that serves no practical purpose: the luxury of civilization.”

– ML Stedman, The Light Between Oceans

“The people who tell us to ‘get over it’ and ‘get on with it’ are the least able to have teh direct experience that they berate navel-gazers for avoiding. The ‘it’ they’re ‘getting on with’ is a ghostly re-enactment of unreflecting habits. Not thinking about something is the surest way to remain under its influence.”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

“The child existed for the three of them in many ways – as a bone of contention, a zone of negotiation, a locus of arguments, a reminder of sex, a sore spot, a tender spot, a sweet spot – before it existed in the world.”

– Alix Ohlin, Inside

“Mitch was happy. He was satisfied that someone hated him as much as he deserved, and was willing to tell him so. At least there was one person in the world who told the truth.”

– Alix Ohlin, Inside

“The definition of the truly foreign locale is one that fosters a piercing and perpetual yearning to go home.”

– Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

“Taken to its logical conclusion, every story is sad, because at the end everyone dies. Birth, copulation, and death. No exceptions.

… The picture is of happiness, the story not. Happiness is a garden walled with galss: there’s no way in or out. In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It’s loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road.”

– Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

“You want the truth, of course. You want me to put two and two together. But two and two doesn’t necessarily get you the truth. Two and two equals a voice outside the window. Two and two equals the wind. The living bird is not its labelled bones.”

– Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin