GLOG

March 8th, 2013 by ali

Bluebird

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

– Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems

December 27th, 2012 by ali

War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. [...]

I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect an early success.

But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for anything. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.

– Major-General William T. Sherman, Letter to the Mayor and City Council of Atlanta, 1864

December 13th, 2012 by ali

The narrow policy of preserving, without any foreign mixture, the pure blood of the ancient citizens, had checked the fortune, and hastened the ruin, of Athens and Sparta. The aspiring genius of Rome sacrificed vanity to ambition, and deemed it more prudent, as well as honourable, to adopt virtue and merit for her own wheresoever they were found, among slaves or strangers, enemies or barbarians.

[...]

The grandsons of the Gauls, who had besieged Julius Caesar in Alesia, commanded legions, governed provinces, and were admitted into the senate of Rome. Their ambition, instead of disturbing the tranquillity of the state, was intimately connected with its safety and greatness.

– Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volume I (1776)

November 2nd, 2012 by ali

Nowadays, while the Germans still endure the same life of poverty and privation as before, without any change in their diet or clothing, the Gauls, through living near the Roman Province and becoming acquainted with sea-borne products, are abundantly supplied with various commodities. Gradually accustomed to inferiority and defeated in many battles, they do not even pretend to compete with the Germans in bravery.

– Gaius Julius Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul

October 27th, 2012 by ali

How To Become a God

After recounting the opinion of Augustus, an empreror whom Pliny clearly admires, the dutiful Roman accepts boastful imperial claims because his rule was beneficial to humankind. Though otherwise skeptical, Pliny is neither gullible nor impious. His attitude toward the deification of emperors is similarly expressed. Reason tells him that mortals do not become divine. But what is a god? To Pliny, one human being who helps another.

– Robert A. Gurval, Caesar’s Comet: The Politics and Poetics of an Augustan Myth

October 27th, 2012 by ali

The human race has to live with its conscience. Whatever the Hermians argue, survival is not everything.

– Arthur C. Clarke, Rendezvous With Rama

September 13th, 2012 by ali

Maybe it’s being raised Jewish that allows for finding something satisfying in the unforgiving qualities of traditional Buddhism. The only way to atone for doing wrong is to do the right thing. “I’m sorry” just doesn’t cut it. There is no get-out-of-gaol-free card in the deck. Makes sense to me.

– Jake Adelstein, Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

September 13th, 2012 by ali

On the eighth day, the forty-year-old hobo said to Billy, “This ain’t bad. I can be comfortable anywhere.” “You can?” said Billy. On the ninth day, the hobo died. So it goes. His last words were, “You think this is bad? This ain’t bad.”

–Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

September 5th, 2012 by ali

It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join formation.

The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.

When the bombers got back to their base, the steel containers were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

The Americans fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn’t in the movie. Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed.

– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

August 23rd, 2012 by ali

Anger may in time change to gladness, vexation may be succeeded by content. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War