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Jack Gilbert on Handling Injustice

“To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.”

Jack Gilbert


Found in the epic Magic Lessons podcast, episode #201. From a poem called A Brief for the Defense. Here’s that poem:

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Alan Watts on Vices and Naughtiness

“I have no wish to defend my ‘vices’ with propaganda, making out that they are in fact virtues which others should follow. I am only saying that I distrust people who show no sign of naughtiness or self-indulgence.”

Alan Watts

Rumi on What You Think You Want

I know that God will give me my daily bread…

When I run after what I think I want,
My days are a furnace of distress and anxiety;
If I sit in my own place of patience,
What I need flows to me,
And without any pain.

From this I understand that
What I want also wants me,
Is looking for me
And attracting me;
When it cannot attract me
Any more to go to it,
It has to come to me.

There is a great secret
In this for anyone
Who can grasp it.

Tim Jenison on Art and Technology

“There’s also this modern idea that art and technology must never meet – you know, you go to school for technology or you go to school for art, but never for both… And in the Golden Age, they were one and the same person.”

Tim Jenison


Great fk’n flick. Quite the cocktail.

Cornell West on How to do Good in America

“… and of course America is a romantic project. It’s paradiso, city on the hill and all this other mess and lies and so on. No, no, America is a very fragile democratic experiment predicated on the dispossession of the lands of indigenous peoples, the enslavement of African peoples and the subjugation of women and marginalization of gays and lesbians and it has great potential but this notion that somehow, you know, we had it all, or ever will have it all, has got to go — you have got to push it to the side. And once you push all that to the side then it tends to evacuate the language of disappointment and the language of failure and you say, ‘ok well how much have we done? how have we been able to do it? can we do more?’ well in certain situations you can’t do more; it is like trying to break dance at 75, you can’t do it anymore you were a master at 16, it’s over. You cannot make love at 80 the way you did at 20, so what? Time is real.”

Cornell West

Chuck Klosterman on How to Write a Book

“So this book I had been sort of thinking about writing my whole life, but it didn’t dawn on me to write it until about three years ago. That’s how books work. It’s like you think about them for a long time without knowing it, and then something happens that causes you to make it into a physical book and if you really had been thinking about, it the book turns out to be good; and if you hadn’t been thinking about it, the book turns out to be forced.”

Chuck Klosterman

A Zen Master on the Goal vs. the Path

A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master: “If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen.”

The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”

The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?”

Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”

“But, if I really, really work at it. How long then?” asked the student.

“Thirty years,” replied the Master.

“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”

Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

William Blake on Minding Particulars

Labor well the minute particulars, take care of the little ones
He who would do good for another must do it in minute particulars
General Good is the plea of the Scoundrel Hypocrite and Flatterer
For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized particulars”

William Blake

The ‘Make Friends With Fear’ Game

“Give it a try, make friends with fear. Why? Because your life is a fucking nightmare and what do you have to lose and it’s worth it if there’s even a chance you’ll be happier with yourself. Right?”

Chase Reeves


This quote is from an article I wrote over on Medium about how to, you know, make a good life, not, like, be all {waves hands} fucked up all the time and moody or whatever. Give it a read.

Bean on how Power Works

“…these fools always look up for power. People above you, they never want to share power with you. Why you look to them? They give you nothing. People below you, you give them hope, you give them respect, they give you power, cause they don’t think they have any, so they don’t mind giving it up.”

Bean, Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card