To be strong and true had been the most important task he had set himself since early childhood.Once, as a boy, he had tried to outstare the sun. But before he could tell whether he had really looked at it or not, changes had occurred: the blazing red ball that had been there at first began to whirl, then suddenly dimmed, till it became a cold, bluish-black, flattened disk of iron. He felt he had seen the very essence of the sun.... For a while, wherever he looked he saw the sun's pale afterimage: in the undergrowth; in the shade beneath the trees; even, when he gazed up, in every part of the sky. The truth was something too dazzling to be looked at directly. And yet, once it had come into one's field of vision, one saw patches of light in all kinds of places: the afterimages of virtue.
I spent most of my life believing lwas crazy because all the crazy things I experienced in childhood were treated as nonexistent or normal. This belief colored every decision made, from something so basic as what to wear today, to the more esoteric boundaries of whether I should kill myself. I understood very well that killing myself under the wrong circumstances would establish my insanity forever. So I analyzed every word, every gesture, before committing myself. (Which probably accounts for why I am alive today.)
The death of Robert G. Ingersoll, on July 21, 1899, was one of the most widely -- noted events of that year in the civilized world. It was also one of the most widely and profoundly regretted, -- the most deeply deplored. Everywhere, the wisest knew (and the noblest felt) that the cause of humanity had met its greatest loss. To many thousands who realized the intellectual amplitude, the moral heroism and grandeur, the boundless generosity and sympathy, the tenderness and affection, of this incomparable man, his passing was as an intimate and bitter bereavement.Ingersoll was doubtless known, personally and otherwise, to more people than any other American who had not sat in the presidential chair; and, notwithstanding either the number or the wishes of his critics, his death probably brought genuine grief to more hearts than has that of any other individual in our history. Twice before, 'a Nation bowed and wept'; this time, a people.
Most of Arbus's work lies within the Warhol aesthetic, that is, defines itself in relation to the twin poles of boringness and freakishness; but it doesn't have the Warhol style. Arbus had neither Warhol's narcissism and genius for publicity nor the self-protective blandness with which he insulates himself from the freaky nor his sentimentality. It is unlikey that Warhol, who comes from a working-class family, ever felt any ambivalence toward success which afflicted the children of the Jewish upper middle classes in the 1960s. To someone raised as a Catholic, like Warhol (and virtually everyone in his gang), a fascination with evil comes much more genuinely than it does to someone from a Jewish background. Compared with Warhol, Arbus seems strikingly vulnerable, innocent--and certainly more pessimistic. Her Dantesque vision of the city (and the suburbs) has no reserves of irony. Although much of Arbus's material is the same as that depicted in, say, Warhol's Chelsea Girls (1966)...For Arbus, both freaks and Middle America were equally exotic: a boy marching in a pro-war parade and a Levittown housewife were as alien as a dwarf or a transvestite; lower-middle-class suburbia was as remote as Times Square, lunatic asylums, and gay bars. Arbus's work expressed her turn against what was public (as she experienced it), conventional, safe, reassuring--and boring--in favor of what was private, hidden, ugly, dangerous, and fascinating. These contrasts, now, seem almost quaint. What is safe no long monopolizes public imagery. The freakish is no longer a private zone, difficult of access. People who are bizarre, in sexual disgrace, emotionally vacant are seen daily on the newsstands, on TV, in the subways. Hobbesian man roams the streets, quite visible, with glitter in his hair.
When I talk about unrequited love, most of you probably think about romantic love, but there are many other kinds of love that are not adequately returned, if they are returned at all. An angry adolescent may not love her mother back as her mother loves her; an abusive father doesn't return the innocent open love of his young child. But grief is the ultimate unrequieted love. However hard and however long we love someone who has died, they can never love us back. At least that is how it feels...
Then came the most exquisite moment of her whole life passing a stone urn with flowers in it. Sally stopped; picked a flower; kissed her on the lips. The whole world might have turned upside down! The others disappeared; there she was alone with Sally. And she felt that she had been given a present, wrapped up, and told just to keep it, not to look at it — a diamond, something infinitely precious, wrapped up, which, as they walked (up and down, up and down), she uncovered, or the radiance burnt through, the revelation, the religious feeling!
That is probably one of the toughest days I've ever had on the golf course. It just felt like everything I was doing was backfiring on me. I was hitting good shots, but nothing seemed to go as planned. I hit a lot of good putts out there, but looked like a terrible putter. We were just having trouble reading the greens.
There’s a reason you probably haven’t heard much about this aspect of the heartland. This kind of blight can’t be easily blamed on the usual suspects like government or counterculture or high-hat urban policy. The villain that did this to my home state wasn’t the Supreme Court or Lyndon Johnson, showering dollars on the poor or putting criminals back on the street. The culprit is the conservatives’ beloved free-market capitalism, a system that, at its most unrestrained, has little use for smalltown merchants or the agricultural system that supported the small towns in the first place....
Most of us probably fall several times a day into a fit somewhat like this: The eyes are fixed on vacancy, the sounds of the world melt into a confused unity, the attention is dispersed so that the whole body is felt, as it were, at once, and the foreground of consciousness is filled, if by anything, by a sort of solemn sense of surrender to the empty passing of time. In the dim background of our mind we know meanwhile what we ought to be doing: getting up, dressing ourselves, answering the person who has spoken to us, trying to make the next step in our reasoning. But somehow we cannot start; the pensée de derrière la tête [thought at the back of the head] fails to pierce the shell of lethargy that wraps our state about. Every moment we expect the shell to break, for we know no reason why it should continue. But it does continue, pulse after pulse, and we float with it, until—also without reason that we can discover—an energy is given, something—we know not what—enables us to gather ourselves together, we wink our eyes, we shake our head, the background ideas become effective, and the wheels of life go round again.