Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vidal on Christianity and Homosexuality

"At least when the Emperor Justinian, a sky-god man, decided to outlaw sodomy, he had to come up with a good practical reason, which he did. It is well known, Justinian declared, that buggery is a principal cause of earthquakes, and so must be prohibited. But our sky-godders, always eager to hate, still quote Leviticus, as if that loony text had anything useful to say about anything except, perhaps, the inadvisibility of eating shellfish in the Jerusalem area." -- Gore Vidal, "Monotheism and its Discontents," United States: Essays 1952-1992

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nietzsche and the Monsters of the Abyss (not a Troma flick)

"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bloom's Shakespearean Marx

"Coriolanus is a far more powerful reading of Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon than any Marxist reading of Coriolanus could hope to be." -- Harold Bloom, The Western Canon

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Fathers of the Church had way too much time on their hands

"To vindicate the omnipotence of our will, Saint Augustine alleges that he knew a man who commanded his behind to produce as many farts as he wanted, and his commentator Vives goes him one better with another example of his own time, of farts arranged to suit the tone of verses pronounced to their accompaniment..." -- Michel de Montaigne, "Of The Power of The Imagination," Essays

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hemingway's Prayer

"Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nadas as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee." -- Ernest Hemingway, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

...but if there were, Wallace Stevens could've written you a policy

"There is thus no insurance against the risk of writing." -- Jacques Derrida, "Force and Signification," Writing and Difference

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pater on philosophy and/as art

"Philosophy serves culture, not by the fancied gift of absolute or transcendental knowledge, but by suggesting questions which help one to detect the passion, and strangeness, and dramatic contrasts of life." -- Walter Pater, The Renaissance

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On the difference between reading and reading well

"He who has read Kafka's Metamorphosis and can look into his mirror unflinching may technically be able to read print, but is illiterate in the only sense that matters." -- George Steiner, 'Humane Literacy,' Language and Silence

Friday, November 19, 2010

Religion: A Roman View

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." --Seneca, quoted in Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paglia's modest proposal for a revision of the Book of Genesis

"In the beginning was nature. The background from which and against which our ideas of God were formed, nature remains the supreme moral problem." -- Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shakespeare on Freud, Lacan and Psychoanalysis

MACBETH: Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Rase out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

DOCTOR: Therein the patient must minister to himself.

-- William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hume and miracles

"...the Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one." -- David Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wilde Truth

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility." -- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Illness and the Inescapability of Metaphor

"People speak of illness as deepening. I don't feel deepened. I feel flattened. I've become opaque to myself." -- Susan Sontag, from her journals, quoted in David Rieff, Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son's Memoir

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sartre on atheism and existentialism

"Existentialism is nothing else but an attempt to draw the full conclusions from a consistently atheistic position." -- Jean-Paul Sartre, "Existentialism is a Humanism"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Unsettling Emerson

"People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I begin this blog of daily epigrams for atheists and intellectuals with a favorite quote from Nietzsche:

"Weariness that wants to reach the ultimate with one leap, with one fatal leap, a poor ignorant weariness that does not want to want any more: this created all gods and afterworlds." -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (translated by Walter Kaufmann)