e.b. white’s response to a man who had lost his faith in humanity

helping charlotteDear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society – things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbour seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,

E. B. White

(I found this at Letters of Note.)

goo goo g’joob

The Beatles’ song, I am the Walrus, slowed down 800% and set to the 1969 film Vertige by Jean Beaudin.

“Sympathetic but subtly critical, Vertige presents itself as a psychological portrait of the escape and/or contestation tactics of the decade’s youth: while war, violence, famine and poverty continue to devastate the planet, these youngsters seek refuge in the hedonistic haven of sexual liberation, lysergic research and communal fictions.”

Watch the film at ubu.com. And HERE is an etymological investigation into the phrase “goo goo g’joob”.

jean-beaudin-vertige-1969

on the painfulness of compassion

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”

― Andrew Boyd, in Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe (W W Norton & Company, 2002).

kurt vonnegut on the golden rule

kurt singature

 

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

— From God Bless You, Mr Rosewater (1965)

simone weil on living against brutality

Let us not think that because we are less brutal, less violent, less inhuman than our opponents we will carry the day. Brutality, violence, and inhumanity have an immense prestige that schoolbooks hide from children, that grown men do not admit, but that everyone bows before. For the opposite virtues to have as much prestige, they must be actively and constantly put into practice. Anyone who is merely incapable of being as brutal, as violent, and as inhuman as someone else, but who does not practice the opposite virtues, is inferior to that person in both inner strength and prestige, and he will not hold out in a confrontation.