Tag Archives: quotes

From “I” to “We”

From John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, set in the Dust Bowl/Great Depression years in the US:

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and I am bewildered. And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep those two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here “I lost my land” is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate—”We lost our land.” The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first “we” there grows a still more dangerous thing: “I have little food” plus “I have none.” If from this problem the sum is “We have a little food,” the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It’s wool. It was my mother’s blanket—take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning—from “I” to “we.”

If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into “I,” and cuts you off forever from the “we.”

(from the Steinbeck Centennial Edition of The Grapes of Wrath, 2002, pp. 151-2)

The beauty and hardness of the prairies

“The prairies are not an easy landscape. It is a natural reflex to be awed by mountains; huge and overpowering, they are a beginner’s landscape. Coastlines roll a rich variety of life and change before the lazy eye. Domestic landscapes of gentle hills, wooded groves, and small farms enfold a timid soul in warm security. But the prairies–like the high seas or the desert–are a challenge and a reward for the strong of spirit only. You may sicken and tire here, fall prey to loneliness and melancholy, and be driven out to seek refuge in softer lands. Or you may meet the challenge, your senses may sharpen, strengthen, and thrill, as space and landscape subtlety stretch you out like a transcontinental train at full throttle. You may rejoice in the powerful exhilaration of moving over the prairies, akin to sailing the seas, an experience of freedom bordering on intoxication. Yet this great freedom is only ever a hair’s breadth away from deepest loneliness.”

~ Norman Henderson, Rediscovering the Prairies: Journeys by Dog, Horse, and Canoe, 7.

Failing by default

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

– J K Rowling, speaking at Harvard University

Words I need to hear regularly. (Via)

Weather

Feel like posting something, but don’t have much time right now.  So I’m going to steal a quote that Lisa posted:

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, the wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ” John Ruskin

Agreed.  Although, given what has happened around here in the last couple of days, there are certainly bad weather systems.

Quote of the Vacation

From The Office, season 3, “Product Recall“.  Unlike my last Office quotes, this one will only really make sense if you are familiar with the show.  The episode begins with Jim walking into the office dressed as and talking like Dwight.

Jim: Question. What kind of bear is best?

Dwight: That’s a ridiculous question.

Jim: False. Black bear.

Dwight: That’s debatable. There are basically two schools of thought–

Jim: Fact. Bears eat beets. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

Dwight: Bears do not… What is going on?! What are you doing?!

I quote it only because we watched this episode shortly before we left on our vacation and I quoted this throughout our time on the road: “Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.” (Emphasis on the “B”s)