Quite a Quote

Amos Oz, the Jerusalemite writer who now lives in the Negev, offers this droll solution: “We should remove every stone of the Holy Sites and transport them to Scandinavia for a hundred years and not return them until everyone has learned to live together in Jerusalem.” Sadly this is slightly impractical.

Montefiore, Simon Sebag. Jerusalem: The Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.

Quite a Quote

The A.S.I. soon registers 375 m.p.h. It is clear that I am in an almost perpendicular dive. I read on the illuminated figures of the altimeter 6900, 6600, 6000, 5400, 5100, 4800, 4500 feet. At this rate it is only a matter of seconds before there will be a crash, and that will be the end. I am in a sweat; water just pours off me. Is it rain or is it sweat? 3900, 3300, 2400, 1800, 1500 on the altimeter. Gradually I succeed in getting the other instruments functioning properly except for an alarming pressure on the joy stick. So I continue to hurtle earthwards. The vertical speed indicator is still set at maximum. All this time I am completely benighted. Ghostly lightning flashes stab the darkness, making it even more difficult to fly by instruments. I pull on the stick with both hands to bring the aircraft back into a horizontal position. Altitude 1500, 1200 feet! The blood is throbbing in my temples, I gasp for breath. Something inside me urges me to give up this struggle with the unleashed forces of the elements. Why go on? All my efforts are of no avail. Now it also strikes me that the altimeter has stopped at 600 feet; it still oscillates feebly like an exhausted barometer. That means the crash will come at any moment with the altimeter still registering 600 feet. No, carry on, dourly, with might and main. A groaning thump. There now, I am dead. . . I think. Dead.? If I were I should not be able to think. Besides, I can still hear the noise of the engine. It is still as dark all around as it was before, and now the unruffled voice of Scharnovski says serenely: “It looks as if we had bumped into something or other, sir.”

Rudel, Hans Ulrich. Stuka Pilot. London: Black House Publishing, 2013.

Quite a Quote

Atlanta survived the war and grew so quickly afterward that its destruction in late 1864 appears almost as just another of its occasional economic setbacks. It has no place in the argument over whether the New South was just a mutated form of the Old South or something new. Atlanta existed as something on the outside of the traditional South, a city on the edge of the Midwest that had more in common with Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas and the like—cities of steam and fire.

 

Davis, Robert Scott. Civil War: Atlanta. Charleston: The History Press, 2011.

Quite a Quote

You must struggle to truly remember this past in all its nuance, error, and humanity. You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never compensate for this. Perhaps our triumphs are not even the point. Perhaps struggle is all we have because the god of history is an atheist, and nothing about his world is meant to be. So you must wake up every morning knowing that no promise is unbreakable, least of all the promise of waking up at all. This is not despair. These are the preferences of the universe itself: verbs over nouns, actions over states, struggle over hope.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

Quite a Quote

It wasn’t only my hair and my clothes. I knew I also had to censor the things I said. I’d worn the same outfit throughout junior high, but I’d also carried around The Big Book of Burial Rites and a few times tried at lunch to begin discussions by asking people if they’d rather be buried or cremated. And it wasn’t only in the lunchroom; in history I’d demonstrated Lido burial by lying out on the floor with my arms crossed over my chest and my face and feet covered with torn leaves I’d brought from hom in a Ziplock bag. I’d tried out some of my dad’s ideas, saying trying to define yourself was like trying to bite your own teeth and asking if anyone had heard of the Theosophical Society. For a period I also carried the unicorn girl notebook around and tried to tell the kids who had lockers near mine about the unicorn girl’s antics. I had told a girl in my gym class that the mole on our teacher’s upper arm looked like a flower bud.

Steinke, Darcey. Sister Golden Hair. Brooklyn: Tin House Books, 2014.

Quite a Quote

     The principal chief’s true intentions would never be known, because Jackson did not test them. Although the letter was addressed to Jackson, there is no record that he answered it personally. Instead a disapproving note came from an aide, and the president maintained his course. A partial solution would not satisfy the Georgians, and according to Jackson it was the Georgians alone with whom Ross must come to terms. Georgia, not Jackson, was destroying the Cherokee Nation; the president was merely standing aside to let it happen. So it was with the national economy—the Bank of the United States, not Jackson, was wrecking it. So it had been twenty years earlier when his soldiers were preparing to execute John Wood. “Between [the] law & its offender,” he had written then, “the commanding General ought not to be expected to interpose.”

Inskeep, Steve. Jacksonland. New York: Penguin Books, 2016.

Quite a Quote

Sleep now became so importunate that the man had never known such overpowering odds. It flashed into his mind that he was in fact dying. He felt weak, his head ached, and his breathing was labored. There was a dull ringing in his ears, yet he could still hear a thudding, a hammering. It was his heart.
     What might that bode?
     At that very moment the vixen uttered three long-drawn-out warning cries. This was to the east of the man, borne to him on the wind; they struck him like a gust.
     He jerked. Darting his eyes to the left, he glimpsed there a blue shape—it seemed to him a devilish coal-black beast.
     It vanished.
     Dead silence. Not even a heartbeat.
     Was he dead, then?

Sjón. The Blue Fox. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

Quite a Quote

By remaining cool and reasonable Bolívar retained his panoply of power. At the same time he reminded Santander of his place in the hierarchy of the revolution: ‘It is an honour that two of my friends and assistants have emerged as two prodigies…. I am the man of difficulties, you are the man of law, and Sucre is the man of war.’ The meaning was clear: I am supreme, the one who solves the great problems. I command, you administer.

Lynch, John. Simón Bolívar: A Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

Quite a Quote

     At no. 27 Viktoriastrasse, in Berne, a young woman lies on her bed. The sounds of her parents’ fighting drifts up to her room. She covers her ears and stares at a photograph on her table, a photograph of herself as a child, squatting at the beach with her mother and father. Against one wall of her room stands a chestnut bureau. A porcelain wash basin sits on the bureau. The blue paint on the wall is peeling and cracked. At the foot of her bed, a suitcase is open, half-filled with clothes. She stares at the photograph, then out into time. The future is beckoning. She makes up her mind. Without finishing her packing, she rushes out of her house, this point of her life, rushes straight to the future. She rushes past one year ahead, five years, ten years, twenty years, finally puts on the brakes. But she is moving so fast that she cannot slow down until she is fifty years old. Events have raced by her vision and barely been seen. A balding solicitor who get her pregnant and then left. A blur of a year at the university. A small apartment in Lausanne for some period of time. A girlfriend in Fribourg. Scattered visits to her parents gone gray. The hospital room where her mother died. The damp apartment in Zürich, smelling of garlic, where her father died. A letter from her daughter, living somewhere in England.
     The woman catches her breath. She is fifty years old. She lies on her bed, tries to remember her life, stares at a photograph of herself as a child, squatting at the beach with her mother and father.

Lightman, Alan. Einstein’s Dreams. New York: Warner Books, 1994.

Quite a Quote

     And so they would come, each of them the same, but all of them different. They would wake me before they got to the door, the presence and strong telepathic head would do it, like Dirty John, or when they put the key in the lock, subtle and self-assertive, like Ivan, or when they walked possessive and heavy about the kitchen, like Antoine, or when they came to bed and kissed me hello, and I would kiss back, saying “Who?”—or kissing would recognize touch or texture: the smell of Pete’s musty clothes, or Don’s expensive cologne, or half-sense an aura in the dark.
     And they would clamber half-clothed, hastily, into bed, or sit on the blankets and talk me awake, or they would have brought up some grass or some wine, and I would watch, tousled and sleepy, while they made a fire. There would be the B-Minor Mass to fuck to, or Bessie Smith, and we would have a moon, and open window breezes off the river, or dank, chilly greyness and rain beating down, and it was all good, the core and heart of that time. I thought it as fucking my comrades, and a year slipped by.

di Prima, Diane. Memoirs of a Beatnik. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

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Short books about albums. Published by Bloomsbury.

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Zoë Tersche

Freelance writing focusing on internet freedoms and surveillance along with sexuality and gender in media and tech.