Dad, will they ever come back?No. And yes. Dad tucked away his harmonica. No not them. But yes, other people like them. Not in a carnival. God knows what shape they'll come in next. But sunrise, noon, or at the latest, sunset tomorrow they'll show. They're on the road.Oh, no, said Will.Oh, yes, said Dad. We got to watch out the rest of our lives. The fight's just begun.They moved around the carousel slowly.What will they look like? How will we know them?Why, said Dad, quietly, maybe they're already here.Both boys looked around swiftly.But there was only the meadow, the machine and themselves.Will looked at Jim, at his father and then down at his own body and hands. He glanced up at Dad.Dad nodded, once, gravely and then nodded at the carousel and stepped up on it and touched a brass pole.Will stepped up beside him. Jim stepped up beside Will.Jim stroked a horse's mane. Will patted a horse's shoulders.The great machine softly tilted in the tides of night.Just three times around, ahead, thought Will. Hey.Just four times around, ahead, thought Jim. Boy.Just ten times around, back, thought Charles Halloway. Lord.Each read the thoughts in the other's eyes.How easy, thought Will.Just this once, thought Jim.But then, thought Charles Halloway, once you start, you'd always come back. One more ride and one more ride. And, after awhile, you'd offer rides to friends and more friends until finally...The thought hit them all in the same quiet moment....finally you wind up owner of the carousel, keeper of the freaks...proprietor for some small part of eternity of the traveling dark carnival shows....Maybe, said their eyes, they're already here.
Ray Bradbury
Pettiness often leads both to error and to the digging of a trap for oneself. Wondering (which I am sure he didn't) 'if by the 1990s [Hitchens] was morphing into someone I didn’t quite recognize, Blumenthal recalls with horror the night that I 'gave' a farewell party for Martin Walker of the Guardian and then didn't attend it because I wanted to be on television instead. This is easy: Martin had asked to use the fine lobby of my building for a farewell bash and I'd set it up. People have quite often asked me to do that. My wife did the honors after Nightline told me that I’d have to come to New York if I wanted to abuse Mother Teresa and Princess Diana on the same show. Of all the people I know, Martin Walker and Sidney Blumenthal would have been the top two in recognizing that journalism and argument come first and that there can be no hard feelings about it. How do I know this? Well, I have known Martin since Oxford. (He produced a book on Clinton, published in America as 'The President We Deserve'. He reprinted it in London, under the title, 'The President They Deserve'. I doffed my hat to that.) While Sidney—I can barely believe I am telling you this—once also solicited an invitation to hold his book party at my home. A few days later he called me back, to tell me that Martin Peretz, owner of the New Republic, had insisted on giving the party instead. I said, fine, no bones broken; no caterers ordered as yet. 'I don't think you quite get it,' he went on, after an honorable pause. 'That means you can't come to the party at all.' I knew that about my old foe Peretz: I didn't then know I knew it about Blumenthal. I also thought that it was just within the limit of the rules. I ask you to believe that I had buried this memory until this book came out, but also to believe that I won't be slandered and won't refrain—if motives or conduct are in question—from speculating about them in my turn.
Christopher Hitchens
The moon fled eastward like a frightened dove, while the stars changed their places in the heavens, like a disbanding army.'Where are we?' asked Gil Gil.'In France,' responded the Angel of Death. 'We have now traversed a large portion of the two bellicose nations which waged so sanguinary a war with each other at the beginning of the present century. We have seen the theater of the War of Succession. Conquered and conquerors both lie sleeping at this instant. My apprentice, Sleep, rules over the heroes who did not perish then, in battle, or afterward of sickness or of old age. I do not understand why it is that below on earth all men are not friends? The identity of your misfortunes and your weaknesses, the need you have of each other, the shortness of your life, the spectacle of the grandeur of other worlds and the comparison between them and your littleness, all this should combine to unite you in brotherhood, like the passengers of a vessel threatened with shipwreck. There, there is neither love, nor hate, nor ambition, no one is debtor or creditor, no one is great or little, no one is handsome or ugly, no one is happy or unfortunate. The same danger surrounds all and my presence makes all equal. Well, then, what is the earth, seen from this height, but a ship which is foundering, a city delivered up to an epidemic or a conflagration?''What are those ignes fatui which I can see shining in certain places on the terrestrial globe, ever since the moon veiled her light?' asked the young man.'They are cemeteries. We are now above Paris. Side by side with every city, every town, every village of the living there is always a city, a town, or a village of the dead, as the shadow is always beside the body. Geography, then, is of two kinds, although mortals only speak of the kind which is agreeable to them. A map of all the cemeteries which there are on the earth would be sufficient indication of the political geography of your world. You would miscalculate, however, in regard to the population; the dead cities are much more densely populated than the living; in the latter there are hardly three generations at one time, while, in the former, hundreds of generations are often crowded together. As for the lights you see shining, they are phosphorescent gleams from dead bodies, or rather they are the expiring gleams of thousands of vanished lives; they are the twilight glow of love, ambition, anger, genius, mercy; they are, in short, the last glow of a dying light, of the individuality which is disappearing, of the being yielding back his elements to mother earth. They are - and now it is that I have found the true word - the foam made by the river when it mingles its waters with those of the ocean.' The Angel of Death paused. (The Friend of Death)
Pedro Antonio de Alarcón
Of course the activists—not those whose thinking had become rigid, but those whose approach to revolution was imaginatively anarchic—had long ago grasped the reality which still eluded the press: we were seeing something important. We were seeing the desperate attempt of a handful of pathetically unequipped children to create a community in a social vacuum. Once we had seen these children, Ave could no longer overlook the vacuum, no longer pretend that the society’s atomization could be reversed. This was not a traditional generational rebellion. At some point between 1945 and 1967 we had somehow neglected to tell these children the rules of the game we happened to be playing. Maybe we had stopped believing in the rules ourselves, maybe we were having a failure of nerve about the game. Maybe there were just too few people around to do the telling. These were children who grew up cut loose from the web of cousins and great-aunts and family doctors and lifelong neighbors who had traditionally suggested and enforced the society’s values. They are children who have moved around a lot, San Jose, Chula Vista, here. They are less in rebellion against the society than ignorant of it, able only to feed back certain of its most publicized self-doubts, Vietnam, Saran-Wrap, diet pills, the Bomb.They feed back exactly what is given them. Because they do not believe in words—words are for typeheads, Chester Anderson tells them and a thought which needs words is just one more of those ego trips—their only proficient vocabulary is in the society’s platitudes. As it happens I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language and I am not optimistic about children who will settle for saying, to indicate that their mother and father do not live together, that they come from a broken home. They are sixteen, fifteen, fourteen years old, younger all the time, an army of children waiting to be given the words.
Joan Didion
Shut up, shut up, will you! Nobody minds that you are in pain. Pain is a human condition. You do not care that I am hungry, do you? And therefore I do not need to care whether you are in agony. Nobody is hurting you! Be quiet, be quiet! Rannig, fill his mouth with dirt and I’m sure I do not care what diseases he contracts. He has already been in the water. He has probably swallowed millions of pestilential microbes and they are none of them acting too quickly. Do you hear me? I say shut up, sir! By my hat—the man makes a noise to shatter teeth! Here, what are you complaining about? Bartleby looked over and saw where Shandandzo was gripping himself. Oh, they are only knees! You have two of them and an immune system—the body heals, if you leave it alone! You need not shout about it! He took the headwrap from Rannig’s hand and shoved it into Shandandzo’s mouth. There. That will quiet you for a while. Don’t you know there are men reading and having their tea? Shameful of you to carry on in this way. The captain only put your knife behind your kneecaps and made a few fractures. Hardly anything to cry about at all. A man has no business crying about kneecaps. A tendon, I grant you, might deserve a paltry yelp or two, but you are alive and you have your health otherwise— you can want nothing else. You hardly need your knees when you are always on the gad, stealing priceless artifacts from visiting dignitaries—and you are a noble besides. Nobles have money: they hardly need feelings or knees. They have men for that. He snuffed and watched Shandandzo’s eyes roll back in his head. Now, if you will be a very good convulsing noble, or whatever it is you are, you will be quiet and make no more fuss about your knees. He turned back toward the teahouse, humphed to himself and moved to go, but turning back, he said, And if you make anymore obnoxious noises whilst I am writing my notes, I will have the boy throw you down a well.
Michelle Franklin