Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas. March 21, 2007.

221 It [Christmas dinner] is an annual gathering of all the accessible members of the family, young or old, rich or poor; and all the children look forward to it, for two months beforehand, in a fever of anticipation; formerly it was held at grandpapa’s; but grandpapa is getting old, and grandmama is getting old too, and rather infirm, they have given up house-keeping, and domesticated themselves with Uncle George, so the party always takes place at Uncle George’s house, but grandmama sends in most of the good things, and grandpapa always will toddle down, all the way to Newgate Market to buy the turkey, which he engages a porter to bring home behind him in triumph, always insisting on the man’s being rewarded with a glass of spirits, over and above his hire, to drink “a merry Christmas and a happy new year to Aunt George.” Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

134 The agency’s (CIA) continuing problem is that a big part of its mission runs counter to the best of American ideals. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

512 [Lyndon] Johnson to John McCone of the CIA: “I thought you guys had people everywhere, that you knew everything, and now you don’t even know anything about a raggedy-ass little fourth-rate country.” Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest

299 Thus do all things preach the indifferency of circumstances. Emerson, Compensation.

47 [London]: The last drunken man, who shall find his way home before sunlight, has just staggered heavily along, roaring out the burden of the drinking song of the previous night: the last houseless vagrant whom penury and police have left in the streets, has coiled up his chilly limbs in some paved corner, to dream of food and warmth. Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

71 [London]: In addition to the numerous groups who are idling about the gin-shops and squabbling in the center of the road, every post in the open space has its occupant, who leans against it for hours, with listless perseverance…one class of men in London appear to have no enjoyment beyond leaning against posts…idea of a man dressing himself in his best clothes to lean against a post all day. Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

72 Now anybody who passed through the Dials on a hot summer’s evening, and saw the different women of the house gossiping on the steps would be apt to think that all was harmony among them…Alas! the man in the shop ill-treats his family; the carpet-beater extends his professional pursuits to his wife; the one-pair front has an undying feud with the two-pair front, in consequence of the two-pair front persisting in dancing over his (the one-pair front’s) head, when he and his family have retired for the night; the two-pair back will interfere with the front kitchen’s children; the Irishman comes home drunk every other night, and attacks everybody; and the one-pair back screams at everything…animosities spring up between floor and floor…Mrs. A. “smacks” Mrs. B’s child for “making faces”; Mrs. B. forthwith throws cold water over Mrs. A’s child for “calling names.” Dickens, Sketches by Boz.

607 JFK: …to take people already confused by broken homes, overcrowded schools, hostile communities and fill them with such desperate resentment that, to affirm their own impalpable identities, they could not stop short of violence and murder. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days

69 The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

261 Johnson on London: It is not in the…buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

261 Johnson on London: But the intellectual…is struck with it [London], as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible. Boswell, Life of Johnson, Vol. 1.

57 At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others—poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner—young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

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