Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mikhail Gorbachev on Jesus Christ

’Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.’

Friday, December 19, 2008

from Halldor Laxness, The Great Weaver From Kashmir (1927)

How in the world can Christianity, a nineteen-hundred year old ghost story from Asia, be expected to have any influence on contemporary Europeans?

Men live in reality, and there they are condemned to help themselves. God has sentenced man to help himself. God does not help him; that is evidenced everywhere. It is also evidenced everywhere that the more faith men put in God, the more liable they are to wallow in idiocy and penury, the less liable to rise up against their enemies, against lies and tyranny. In just a short time the holiest names of Christianity will not be seen upon anything other than fatted calves, lapdogs, soft drinks and laundries.


The older a man becomes, the more vain become the questions that he ponders, the more paltry the decisions that he makes. It is a rare exception to meet a man older than thirty who thinks. To grow older signifies a man's surrender to facts. He no longer changes water into wine, no longer gives orders, is no longer a creative philosopher. His cleverness from this point on is confined to taking a position toward things as they are, settling himself down in such a way that the flaws he fought against most often in his youth cause him the least amount of trouble possible. To grow older is to lose the nerve to try to untie the Gordian knot, to settle with whatever one wasn't able to conquer. The soul of a middle-aged man is solidified lava.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wallace Shawn, Designated Mourner

There are ideas that are almost like formalized greetings. Everyone agrees with them, but we keep repeating them anyway, all day long. Everyone keeps saying, for example, "Human motivation is very complex." But if you stop and think about it, you have to admit that human motivation is not complex, or it's complex only in the same sense that the motivation of a fly is complex. In other words, if you try to swat a fly, it moves out of the way. And humans are the same. They step aside when they sense something coming about to hit them in the face. Of course, you do see the occasional exception-- the person who just stands there and waits for the blow.

Thom Gunn, Autobiography

The sniff of the real, that's
what I'd want to get
how it felt
to sit on Parliament
Hill on a May evening
studying for exams skinny
seventeen dissatisfied
yet sniffing such
a potent air, smell of
grass in the heat from
the day's sun

I'd been walking through the damp
rich ways by the ponds
and now lay on the upper
grass with Lamartine's poems

life seemed all
loss, and what was more
I'd lost whatever it was
before I'd even had it

a green dry prospect
distant babble of children
and beyond, distinct at
the end of the glow
St Paul's like a stone thimble
longing so hard to make
inclusions that the longing
has become in memory
an inclusion