Like non-alcoholic beer, decaf coffee, low-tar cigarettes, and self-help books like Eat More, Weigh Less, Skyy vodka is built on that distinctly American quest to find magic formulas to indulge more and suffer less.
“So when you look at me
You better look hard and look twice”
“no matter how good or bad an experience is, or how long it lasts, judgments about it are shaped disproportionally by the best and worst moments and if it ended well or badly.”
I don’t know if I need seclusion, but I do like to be alone in a room.
i get extremely tired of hearing a version of this “if you allow gay marriage today on the basis of love, you will allow incest and pedophilia tomorrow.”
allow me to clarify: incest abuses children and potential offspring. pedophilia abuses children. bestiality abuses animals.
who and what does gay marriage between unrelated consenting adults abuse? nothing but the feelings of conservatives. if we have to consider the feelings of conservatives (e.g. SOME christians), we will have to ban taiji (satanic), yoga (satanic), Harry Potter (satanic), rock n’ roll (satanic) and the Pope (unfortunately some believe the Pope is the antichrist).
I firmly believe, and I don’t say this as a criticism, that life is meaningless. I’m not alone in thinking this — there have been many great minds far, far superior to mine, that have come to that conclusion. And unless somebody can come up with some proof or some example where it’s not, I think it is. I think it’s a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, and that’s just the way I feel about it…
And the universe, as you know from the best of physicists, is coming apart, and eventually there will be nothing, absolutely nothing. All the great works of Shakespeare, and Beethoven, and Da Vinci, all that will be gone. Now, not for a long time, but shorter than you think, really, because the sun is going to burn out much earlier than the universe vanishes, so you don’t have to wait for the universe to vanish. It’ll happen earlier than that. So all these plays and these symphonies, the height of human achievement, will be gone completely. There’ll be no time, no space, nothing at all. Just zero.
… but in the end the universe burns out. So I think it’s completely meaningless, and to be honest, my characters portray this feeling. Have a good weekend.
You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.
Those things that hurt, instruct.
Biology isn’t elegant the way physics appears to be. The living world is bursting with variety and unpredictable complexity, because biology is the product of historical accidents, with species solving problems based on happenstance that leads them down one evolutionary road rather than another.
The fact is that I have changed my mind. The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.
It was the case of Tony Nicklinson that exerted the deepest influence on me. Here was a dignified man making a simple appeal for mercy, begging that the law allow him to die in peace, supported by his family. His distress made me question my motives in previous debates. Had I been putting doctrine before compassion, dogma before human dignity?
I began to reconsider how to interpret Christian theology on the subject. As I did so, I grew less and less certain of my opposition to the right to die.
The other is Junichiro Tanizaki, who wrote “Neko to Shozo to futari no onna” (A cat, Shozo and two women), which describes how cats live their lives. It is arguably the best Japanese novel about cats ever written.
Perhaps the greatest principle in politics is that people love to be frightened.
Some people believe that the Bible is literally true. Some of them also believe that there are “natural” things like heterosexual relations and “unnatural” things like gay relations. If we were all descended from Adam and Eve, at one point brothers and sisters would lay with one another to populate the human race. If so, is incest “natural” or “unnatural”? And is it part of God’s plan?
“I’ve been a deep believer my whole life. 18 years as a Southern Baptist. More than 40 years as a mainline Protestant. I’m an ordained pastor. But it’s just stopped making sense to me. You see people doing terrible things in the name of religion, and you think: ‘Those people believe just as strongly as I do. They’re just as convinced as I am.’ And it just doesn’t make sense anymore. It doesn’t make sense to believe in a God that dabbles in people’s lives. If a plane crashes, and one person survives, everyone thanks God. They say: ‘God had a purpose for that person. God saved her for a reason!’ Do we not realize how cruel that is? Do we not realize how cruel it is to say that if God had a purpose for that person, he also had a purpose in killing everyone else on that plane? And a purpose in starving millions of children? A purpose in slavery and genocide? For every time you say that there’s a purpose behind one person’s success, you invalidate billions of people. You say there is a purpose to their suffering. And that’s just cruel.”
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.
There is only one thing in this world shittier than biting it from cancer when you’re sixteen, and that’s having a kid who bites it from cancer.
“There will come a time,” I said, “when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this”—I gestured encompassingly—“will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
I told Augustus the broad outline of my miracle: diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer when I was thirteen. (I didn’t tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman. Now die.) It was, we were told, incurable.
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.
“Pain demands to be felt,” he said, which was a line from An Imperial Affliction.
“All salvation is temporary,” Augustus shot back. “I bought them a minute. Maybe that’s the minute that buys them an hour, which is the hour that buys them a year. No one’s gonna buy them forever, Hazel Grace, but my life bought them a minute. And that’s not nothing.”
“Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,”
“I’m like. Like. I’m like a grenade, Mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?”
People talk about the courage of cancer patients, and I do not deny that courage. I had been poked and stabbed and poisoned for years, and still I trod on. But make no mistake: In that moment, I would have been very, very happy to die.
… and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he had Cassius note, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.” Easy enough to say when you’re a Roman nobleman (or Shakespeare!), but there is no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars.
What a slut time is. She screws everybody.
The living, thank heaven, retain the ability to surprise and to disappoint. Your Hazel is alive, Waters, and you mustn’t impose your will upon another’s decision, particularly a decision arrived at thoughtfully. She wishes to spare you pain, and you should let her. You may not find young Hazel’s logic persuasive, but I have trod through this vale of tears longer than you, and from where I’m sitting, she’s not the lunatic.
You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.
The world went on, as it does, without my full participation…
“You’re a hard person to comfort,” Augustus said. “Easy comfort isn’t comforting,” I said.
“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
“I think forever is an incorrect concept,” I answered.
“It’s really mean of you to say that the only lives that matter are the ones that are lived for something or die for something. That’s a really mean thing to say to me.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
“You are a side effect,” Van Houten continued, “of an evolutionary process that cares little for individual lives. You are a failed experiment in mutation.”
“I don’t think defeatism is honest,” Dad answered. “I refuse to accept that.”
“So everything happens for a reason and we’ll all go live in the clouds and play harps and live in mansions?”
The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.
In heaven, Augustus will finally be healed and whole,” implying that he had been less whole than other people due to his leglessness, and I kind of could not repress my sigh of disgust.
Funerals, I had decided, are for the living.
I thought of my dad telling me that the universe wants to be noticed. But what we want is to be noticed by the universe, to have the universe give a shit what happens to us—not the collective idea of sentient life but each of us, as individuals.
Here’s the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That’s what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.
I want to leave a mark.
But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, “They’ll remember me now,” but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion…
Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.
The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention.
You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
The point is that the outside world will trivialize you for almost anything if it wants to. You may as well be who you are.
It’s not that you set out to oppose authority. In the act of writing you simply do. Your job, your reason for writing, is to uncover what the state and the conventions of your town normally hide. That’s why you want to write—to tell what hasn’t been told.
dear friends, maria popova quotes beautifully from henry miller.
you might find it instructional.
it ends with this:
The most difficult thing for a creative individual is to refrain from the effort to make the world to his liking and to accept his fellow man for what he is, whether good, bad or indifferent.
I’d finally been able to give it because I’d let go of all the grandiose ideas I’d once had about myself and my writing—so talented! so young! I’d stopped being grandiose. I’d lowered myself to the notion that the absolute only thing that mattered was getting that extra beating heart out of my chest. Which meant I had to write my book. My very possibly mediocre book. My very possibly never-going-to-be-published book. My absolutely nowhere-in-league-with-the-writers-I’d-admired-so-much-that-I-practically-memorized-their-sentences book. It was only then, when I humbly surrendered, that I was able to do the work I needed to do.