A quarterly column of wise words…
I am a lover of truth, a worshipper or freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion, and every day I am sorely, grossly, heinously and deeply offended, wounded, mortified and injured by a thousand different blasphemies against it. When the fundamental canons of truth, honesty, compassion and decency are hourly assaulted by fatuous bishops, pompous, illiberal and ignorant priests, politicians and prelates, sanctimonious censors, self-appointed moralists and busy-bodies, what recourse of ancient laws have I? None whatever. Nor would I ask for any. For unlike these blistering imbeciles my belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.
You should try the fruit of every tree of every garden in the world. But ‘try’ is the word. Some fruits will be rotten, some will be poisonous, and some will be so seductive you eat nothing else and become malnu-treated, if there is such a word. STEPHEN FRY
The integrity of love is always more important than the purity of dogma. UNKNOWN
Our life is but a mere tracing on the surface of mystery. And the surface of mystery is not smooth. ANNIE DILLARD
Did you once desire to shine among your peers—or did you shrink from the knowledge of your won defect in the midst of them?
Did you, friend, covet so to be more beautiful, witty, virtuous—to be able to tell a store or sustain an argument well, or to be able to discourse on any subject, or to be a skilful rider or a good shot?
Or shrank from the ridicule which the reverse of these excited—which was certain and is still certain to come upon you?
Was it really your own anxious face you used to keep catching in the glass? was it really you who had so many things, one way or another, you wanted to conceal from others—so many opinions too to disguise?
All that is changed now.
The doors that were closed stand open.
Yet how slight a thing it is.
The upturning of a palm? the curve of a lip, an eyelid? Nothing.
Nothing that can be seen with the mortal eye or heard by the ear, nothing that can be definitely thought, spoken, or written in a book—
Yet the doors that were trebled-bolted and barred, and the doors weed-overgrown with rusty old hinges,
Fly open of themselves. EDWARD CARPENTER
Tell me the landscape in which you live, and I will tell you who you are. JOSÉ ORTEGA Y GASSETT
If I could take all my parts with me when I go somewhere, and not have to say to one of them, ‘No, you stay home tonight, you won’t be welcome,’ because I’m going to an all-white party where I can be gay, but not Black. Or I’m going to a Black poetry reading, and half the poets are anti-homosexual, or thousands of situations where something of what I am cannot come with me. The day all the different parts of me can come along, we would have what I would call a revolution. PAT PARKER
When you consider that God could have commanded anything he wanted—anything!—the Ten [Commandments] have got to rank as one of the great missed moral opportunities of all time. How different history would have been had he clearly and unmistakably forbidden war, tyranny, taking over other people’s countries, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning, treating women—or anyone—as chattel or inferior beings. KATHA POLLITT
Ours should be a vision willing to exceed all that attempts to confine and intimidate us. We would be wise to develop strong powerful voices that can range over the entire landscape of human experience and condition. ESSEX HEMPHILL
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