Tag Archives: Critical Thinking

All the bells say: too late.

“A country which is supposed to be built on dissent, built on the value of the individual, now distrusts dissent at least as much as any totalitarian government can and debases the individual in many ways because it places security and money above the individual; and when these things are cultivated and honored in the country, no matter what else it may have, it is in danger of perishing, because no country can survive, it cannot survive, without a patient, active responsibility for all its citizens.

We have begun to see what happens to a country when it is run according to the rules of a popularity contest; we have begun to see that we ourselves are for more dangerous for ourselves than Khrushchev or Castro.”

                                      –James Baldwin, “What Price Freedom?” (1964)

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Rejection Slips

“As readers, we remain in the nursery stage as long as we cannot distinguish between taste and judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like, this I don’t like.”

                                                                                                 –W. H. Auden

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Contributor Notes

“Writers are, in the first place, readers. I tell every writer I’ve ever known, either they are deep readers or they cannot become real writers. Read only the best and most challenging and traditional. And reread it.” –Harold Bloom

“Everybody should advertise while they are alive.” –Elbert Hubbard

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Ready, Set

“On the opposite side of the discussion, the phrase ‘right to life’ is an excellent example of a ‘buzzword,’ designed to inflame rather than illuminate. There is no right to life in any society on Earth today, nor has there been at any former time (with a few rare exceptions, such as among the Jains of India). We raise farm animals for slaughter; destroy forests; pollute rivers and lakes until no fish can live there; hunt deer and elk for sport, leopards for their pelts, and whales for dog food; entwine dolphins, gasping and writhing, in great tuna nets; and club seal pups to death for ‘population management.’ All these beasts and vegetables are as alive as we. What is protected in many human societies is not life, but human life. And even with this protection, we wage ‘modern’ wars on civilian populations with a toll so terrible we are, most of us, afraid to consider it very deeply. Often such mass murders are justified by racial or nationalistic redefinitions of our opponents as less than human.”

“Once intelligent beings achieve technology and the capacity for self-destruction of their species, the selective advantage of intelligence becomes more uncertain.”

                                                                                           –Carl Sagan

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Easement

“We’re developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”

                                                                                            –Rod Serling

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Commencement

“One must be an inventor to read well.”

                                     –Emerson

“Words are perhaps the hardest of all material of art: for they must be used to express both visual beauty and beauty of sound, as well as communicating a grammatical statement.”

                                                                                              –T. S. Eliot

“Don’t imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music, or that you can please the expert before you have spent at least as much effort on the art of verse as the average piano teacher spends on the art of music.”

                                                                                                                     –Ezra Pound

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Signs

“In a consumer society, there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.”

                                                                                             –Ivan Illich

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How it is.

“I don’t think, even as an author, that I have knowledge to give to readers. Philosophers might and scientists can. It’s possible for me to express something that you can agree or disagree with, but certainly you will have heard it before. So I don’t think the ‘what’ distinguishes a good novel from a bad one but rather the ‘how’—the aesthetic quality of the sensibility of the writer, his craft, his ability to create and communicate.

I don’t have a philosophy of life, or a need to organize its progression. My books are not constructed to ‘say anything.’ When I was at college, in every literary discussion there was always such an emphasis on ‘What does he say? What’s the message?’ Even then I felt that very few authors had anything to say. What was important to me was ‘What does it do?’ This refutes, of course, the idea that the message is the objective of a novel. In fact, any ‘message’ becomes part of the texture, stirred so much that it’s as negligible as a teaspoon of salt in a large stew. Think of the number of artists who have done still lifes—a view of a river or a vase of flowers . . . there is nothing about the choice of subject that is going to startle anybody. What will distinguish one still life from another is what the artist brings to it. To a certain extent that is true of the novelist.”

                                                                         –Joseph Heller

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Masters

“However strong national armaments may be, they do not create military security for any nation nor do they guarantee the maintenance of peace.”

“There is no compromise possible between preparation for war, on the one hand, and preparation of a world society based on law and order on the other.”

                                                                                                   –Albert Einstein

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Here do we go from where?

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when a cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainment, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.”

                                                                                           –Neil Postman

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