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Steve Toltz (born 1972 in Sydney) is an Australian novelist.
A Fraction of the Whole (2008)
- You never hear about a sportsman losing his sense of smell in a tragic accident, and for good reason; in order for the universe to teach excruciating lessons that we are unable to apply in later life, the sportsman must lose his legs, the philosopher his mind, the painter his eyes, the musician his ears, the chef his tongue.
- Most of my life I never worked out whether to pity, ignore, adore, judge, or murder my father. His mystifying behavior left me wavering right up until the end.
- "OK, Jasper. Here it is: The world's not falling apart imperceptibly anymore, these days it makes a loud shredding noise! In every city of the world, the smell of hamburgers marches brazenly down the street looking for old friends! In traditional fairy tales, the wicked witch was ugly; in modern ones, she has high cheekbones and silicone implants! People are not mysterious because they never shut up! Belief illuminates the way a blindfold does! Are you listening, Jasper?"
- "Look, Jasper," Dad said as we settled on a bench. "It's about time you found out how your grandparents fucked up, so you can work out what you did with the failures of your antecedents: did you run with them or ricochet against their errors, instead making your own huge gaffes in an opposing orbit? We all crawl feebly away from our grandparents' graves with their sad act of dying ringing in our ears, and in our mouths we have the aftertaste of their grossest violation against themselves: the shame of their unlived lives. It's only the steady accumulation of regrets and failures and our shame of our unlived lives that opens the door to understanding them. If by some quirk of fate we led charmed lives, bounding energetically from one masterful success to another, we'd never understand them! never!"
- I tell you, it's indescribable the joy children get from watching a fight. It's a blinding Christmas orgasm for a child. And this is human nature undiluted by age and experience! This is mankind fresh out of the box! Whoever says it's life that makes monsters out of people should check out the raw nature of children, a lot of pups who haven't yet had their dose of failure, regret, disappointment, and betrayal but still behave like savage dogs. I have nothing against children, I just wouldn't trust one not to giggle if I accidentally stepped on a land mine.
- Pride is the first thing you need to do away with in life. It's there to make you feel good about yourself. It's like putting a suit on a shriveled carrot and taking it out to the theater and pretending it's someone important. The first step in self-liberation is to be free of self-respect. I understand why it's useful for some. When people have nothing, they can still have their pride. That's why the poor were given the myth of nobility, because the cupboards were bare. Are you listening to me? This is important, Jasper. I don't want you to have anything to do with nobility, pride, or self-respect. They're tools to help you bronze your own head.
- And now everyone returning from an armed conflict is called a hero too. In the old days you had to commit specific acts of valor during war; now you just need to turn up. These days when a war is on, heroism seems to mean 'attendance.'
- I had only a splinter of awareness back then that no matter what anybody says, choosing between the available options is not the same as thinking for yourself. The only true way of thinking for yourself is to create options of your own, options that don't exist.
- When people think your days are numbered, they're really very nice to you. It's only when you're trying to get on in the world that they bring their claws out.
- Even ugly people know beauty when they don't see it.
- While Terry joined the others in the pool, I subjected myself to a dreadful thing called musical chairs, another cruel game. There's one chair short, and when the music stops you have to run for a seat. The life lessons never stop at a children's party. The music blares. You never know when it's going to stop. You're on edge the whole game; the tension is unbearable. Everyone dances in a circle around the ring of chairs, but it's no happy dance. Everyone has his eyes on the mother over by the radio, her hand poised on the volume control. Now and then a child wrongly anticipates her and dives for a chair. He's shouted at. He jumps off the seat again. He's a wreck. The music plays on. The children's faces are contorted in terror. No one wants to be excluded. The mother taunts the children by pretending to reach for the volume. The children wish they were dead. The game is an analogy for life: there are not enough chairs or good times to go around, not enough food, not enough joy, nor beds nor jobs nor laughs nor friends nor smiles nor money nor clean air to breathe...and yet the music goes on.
- I'd learned a valuable lesson: people almost never look up. Who knows why? Maybe they're looking at the soil for a preview of coming attractions. And so they should. I think anyone who says he looks to the future and doesn't have one eye on the dirt is being short-sighted.
- "OK, boys, you heard the man. Get out of here. Come back, though, I've got lots more stuff. And you never know, maybe we can work together one day. Just because I'm in here for life doesn't mean I won't be out one day. Life doesn't really mean life. It's just a figure of speech. It means an eternity which is actually shorter than life, if you know what I mean."
- Harry, to Marty and Terry
- I took a step closer to the edge. High in the trees I could hear the sounds of birds. They weren't chirping, they were just moving around making everything rustle. Down near the earth brown beetles were rummaging in the dirt, not thinking about death. It didn't seem to me I'd be missing out on much. Existence is humiliating anyway. If Someone was watching us build, decay, create, degenerate, believe, and wither as we do, he'd never stop laughing. So why not? What do I know about suicide? Only that it is a melodramatic act, as well as an admission that the heat is too hot so I'm getting out of this crazy kitchen. And why shouldn't a fourteen-year-old commit suicide? Sixteen-year-olds do it all the time. Maybe I'm just ahead of my time. Why shouldn't I end it all?
- You experience life alone, you can be as intimate with another as much as you like, but there has to be always a part of you and your existence that is incommunicable; you die alone, the experience is yours alone, you might have a dozen spectators who love you, but your isolation, from birth to death, is never fully penetrated. What if death is the same aloneness, though, for eternity? An incommunicable, cruel, and infinite loneliness. We don't know what death is. Maybe it's that.
- Let me save you some time. There is no bottom. Despair is bottomless. You'll never get there, and that's why I know you'll never kill yourself. Not you. Only those attached to the trivial things take their own lives, but you never will. You see, a person who reveres life and family and all that stuff, he'll be the first to put his neck in a noose, but those who don't think too highly of their loves and possessions, those who know too well the lack of purpose of it all, they're the ones who can't so it. Do you know what irony is? Well, you just heard one. If you believe in immortality, you can kill yourself, but if you feel that life is a brief flicker between two immense voids to which humanity is unfairly condemned, you wouldn't dare. Look, Marty, you're in an untenable situation. You don't have the resources to live a full life, yet you can't bring yourself to die. So what do you do?
- Harry, to Marty
- No one listened to me. Caroline and I stood together as they dragged Terry away to a mental asylum. I looked at my parents incredulously, at their inexorably tepid souls. All I could do was uselessly shake a clenched fist and think how people are so eager to become slaves that it's unbelievable. Christ. Sometimes they throw off their freedom so quickly, you'd think it was burning them.
- It's so rare that people give you real, practical advice. Normally they say things like "Don't worry," and "Everything will be OK," which is not only impractical, it's exasperating, and you have to wait until they're diagnosed with a terminal disease before you can say it back to them with any pleasure.
- "...What did I have to lose Would they really bother giving me another life sentence? I already have six!" Harry paused here a moment, reflecting, and said quietly, "I'll tell you something, Marty, there's freedom in forever."
- Betrayal wears a lot of different hats. You don't have to make a show of it like Brutus did, you don't have to leave anything visible jutting from the base of your best friend's spine, and afterward can stand there straining your ears for hours, but you won't hear a cock crow either. No, the most insidious betrayals are done merely by leaving the life jacket hanging in your closet while you lie to yourself that it's probably not the drowning man's size. That's how we slide, and while we slide we blame the world's problems on colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, corporatism, stupid white men, and America, but there's no need to make a brand name of blame. Individual self-interest: that's the source of our descent, and it doesn't start in the boardroom or the war rooms either. It starts in the home.
- What followed was a period of lost time: three years, during which I felt myself circling the questions that had been circling me, though I never found the answers I needed. While searching, I went for walks. I read. I taught myself the art of reading while walking. I lay under trees and watched the clouds creep across the sky through a veil of leaves. I passed whole months thinking. I discovered more about the properties of loneliness, how it is like the slow squeeze of testicles by a hand that has just been in the refrigerator. If I could not find a way to be authentically in the world, then I would find a superior way of hiding, and to that end I tried on different masks: shy, graceful, pensive, buoyant, jovial, frail - they were the simple masks that had one defining characteristic. Other times I tried on more complicated masks, somber and buoyant, vulnerable yet cheerful, proud yet brooding. These I ultimately abandoned as they required too much upkeep on an energy level. Take it from me: complex masks eat you alive in maintenance.
- When you withdraw from the world, the world withdraws too, in equal measure. It's a two-step, you and the world. I didn't look for trouble, and it wore me down that none found me. Doing nothing is as tumultuous for me as working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on the morning of a market crash. It's how I'm made. Nothing happened to me in three years and it was very, very stressful.
- Democracy in crime was turning out no different from democracies everywhere: a sublime idea in theory, soiled by the reality that deep down nobody really believes that all men are created equal.
- Normally, there is your life, and you turn on the television and there is news, and no matter how grave it is, of how deep in the toilet the world has fallen,, or how relevant the information might be to your own existence, your life remains a separate entity from the news. You still have to wash your underpants during a war, don't you? And don't you still have to fight with your loved ones and then apologize when you don't even mean it even when there's a hole in the sky burning everything to a crisp? Of course you do. As a rule, there's no hole big enough to interrupt this interminable business of living, but there are exceptions, grim instances in the lives of a few select unlucky bastards when the news in the papers and the news in their bedrooms intersect. I tell you, it's a daunting and appalling moment when you have to read the newspapers to find out about your own struggle.
- It would be easy enough to get my hands on a gun. You only had to open a cupboard at Harry's or plunge your hand deep into the sugar bowl to find a semiautomatic. Of course, I despised guns and all the baggage that went along with them, like bullet wounds and death, but on the other hand, I liked the idea of breaking another one of the Ten Commandments, especially since I didn't honor my father either. They couldn't very well force you to suffer for two eternities, could they?
- Let's not beat around the bush: human feelings can be ridiculous. Thinking back to that moment, to how I felt at the realization that my stepfather was slowly murdering me, I did not feel anger. I did not feel outrage. I felt hurt. That's right. That this man who I'd lived with my whole life, the man who married my mother and was for all practical purposes my father, was maliciously poisoning me to death hurt my feelings. Ridiculous!
- Confronting your own assassin is a tricky business; you don't want to trigger your own murder just for the sake of getting something off your chest.
- There's almost no situation you can get yourself into when you don't want what the other guy has.
- What is it with these fucking arsonists? I supposed they are less likely to be malignant smudges of evil than just dumb and bored: a deadly combination. And whatever happens in their upbringing, they emerge from adolescence with no sense of empathy whatsoever. These dumb, bored, unempathetic people are all around us. We can't trust anyone to behave himself. We always have to be on the lookout. Here's the case-winning example: it doesn't happen every day, but every now and again, people shit in public swimming pools. That just says it all to me.
- After all, memory may be the only thing on earth we can truly manipulate to serve us, so we don't have to look back at ourselves in the receding past and think, What an arsehole!
- Stupid how we think God only hears our thoughts when we address them to him in particular & not when we think our dirty little thoughts in everyday scenarios such as I hope Fred dies soon so I can have his office, it really is much nicer than mine. The meaning of faith is our understanding w/ Creator that he will not eavesdrop on our mid's whisper to itself unless invited.
- Pity is the awful lost dazed brother of empathy. Pity doesn't know what to do with itself so it just goes Awwwwwww.
- To have a child is to be impaled daily on the spike of responsibility.
- The life force is like a hot potato, and while impure thoughts may make you burn in hell for all eternity once you die, here in life what gets you baked and fried is your inability to act on them.
- People carry their secrets in hidden places, not on their faces. They carry their suffering on their faces. Also bitterness, if there's room.
- This is exactly the kind of thing a single man can do at five-thirty in the morning, I thought - this is exactly why people have wives and husbands and girlfriends and boyfriends, so they don't allow themselves to get too creepy. But leave a man alone for long enough and there is nothing odd he won't do. A life lived alone weakens the mind's immune system, and your brain becomes susceptible to an attack of strange ideas.
- Denouncing civilization takes its toll when you continue to exist within it.
- I think that's the real loss of innocence: the first time you glimpse the boundaries that will limit your own potential.
- I have too much free time. Free time makes people think; thinking makes people morbidly self-absorbed; and unless you are watertight and flawless, excessive self-absorption leads to depression. That's why depression is the number-two disease in the world, behind Internet porn eyestrain.
- God is the beautiful propaganda made in the fires of Man. And it's OK to love God because you appreciate the artistry of his creation, but you don't have to believe in a character because you're impressed by the author. Death and Man, God's coauthors, are the most prolific writers on the planet. Their output is prodigious. Man's Unconscious and Inevitable Death have co-penned Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha, to name a few. And that's just the characters. They created heaven, hell, paradise, limbo, and purgatory. And that's just the settings. And what more? Everything, maybe. This successful partnership has created everything in the world but the world itself, everything that exists except for what was originally here when we found it. You get it? Do you understand the Process?
- Humans are unique in this world in that, as opposed to all other animals, they have developed a consciousness so advanced that it has one awful by-product: they are the only creatures aware of their own mortality. This truth is so terrifying that from an early age humans bury it deep in their unconscious, and this has turned people into red-blooded machines, fleshy factories that manufacture meaning. The meaning they feel becomes channeled into their immortality projects - such as their children, or their gods, or their artistic works, or their businesses, or their nations - that they believe will outlive them. And here's the problem: people feel they need these beliefs in order to live but are unconsciously suicidal because of their beliefs. That's why when a person sacrifices his life for a religious cause, he has chosen to die not for a god but in the service of an unconscious primal fear. So it is this fear that causes him to die of the very thing he is afraid of. You see? The irony of their immortality projects is that while they have been designed by the unconscious to fool the person into a sense of specialness and into a bid for everlasting life, the manner in which they fret about their immortality projects is the very thing that kills them. This is where you have to be careful. This is my warning to you. My road warning. The denial of death rushes people into an early grave, and if you are not careful, they will take you with them.
- In truth, his speech made an impression on my mind so deep, a surgeon could probably still make out the grooves. And not just because it planted a seed that would eventually make me distrust any feelings or ideas of my own that might be viewed as spiritual, but because there's nothing more distressing or uncomfortable to look at than a philosopher who's thought himself into a corner. And that was the night I first got a good, clear look at his corner, his terrible corner, his sad dead end, where Dad had inoculated himself against having anything mystical or religious ever happen to him, so that if God came down and boogied right in his face, he'd never allow himself to believe it. That was the night I understood he was not just a skeptic who doesn't believe in a sixth sense, but he was the über-skeptic, who wouldn't trust or believe in the other five either.
- That's the problem with people who suffer right in your face. They can't so much as scratch their noses without its being poignant.
- At the other end of the packed carriage there was a commotion, and a small crowd formed a circle - bad news for someone. Circles of people always are. Honestly, sometimes I think human beings should be prohibited from forming groups. I'm no fascist, but I wouldn't mind at all if we had to live out our lives in single file.
- She was secretive, like me - not wanting anyone to know her every thought in case he used it against her. I imagined she'd discovered, as I had, that what people want from you is confirmation that you're toeing the line, living by the same rules they are, and that you're not going off on your own or awarding yourself any special privileges.
- Whenever I'd heard anyone say "Relationships are work," I'd always scoffed, because I thought relationships should grow wild like untended gardens, but now I knew they were work, and unpaid work too - volunteer work.
- The worst thing you can say about someone in a society like ours is that they can't hold down a job. It conjures images of unshaven losers with weak grips watching sadly as the jobs slip free and float away. There's nothing we respect more than work, and there's nothing we denigrate more than the unwillingness to work, and if someone wants to dedicate himself to painting or writing poetry, he'd better be holding down a job at a hamburger restaurant if he knows what's good for him.
- It's like Dad said: moments of cosmic consciousness could simply be a natural reaction to a sudden unconscious awareness of our own mortality. For all we know, the feeling of unity might be the greatest proof of separateness there is. Who knows? Just because they feel like genuine apprehensions of Truth doesn't mean they are. I mean, if you mistrust one sense, you must mistrust them all. There's no reason the sixth sense might not be as misleading as smell or sight. That's the lesson I've learned from my father, the headline news from the corner that he thought himself into: direct intuitions as as untrustworthy as they are potent.
- No, why air every ugly, negative, loopy, idiotic thought that floats through the head? That's why when you're standing by the harbor and your lover says, in a tender embrace, "What are you thinking about?" you don't respond, "That I hate people and I wish they'd fall down and never get up." I'm telling you. You just can't say it. I don't know much about women, but I do know that.
- After this incident I got into the bad habit of treating her with courtesy and respect. Courtesy and respect are advisable when addressing a judge right before he sentences you, but in a relationship they signify discomfort.
- You may have all the money in the world, Mr. Hobbs, I thought, you might own the whole universe and its particles thereof, you might gain interest on the stars and reap dividends from the moon, but I'm young and you're old and I have something you don't - a future.
- I remember her dragging me once to a rally where the speaker said the media barons were in the pocket of the government, and then a month later to another rally where this speaker said the government was in the pockets of the media barons (she agreed with both), and I remember trying to explain to her that it only looks like they are, because by coincidence the government and the newspapers just happen to have the exact same agenda: to scare the shit out of people and then keep them in constant freezing terror. She didn't care. She decreed her everlasting hatred for both groups, and nothing could persuade her otherwise.
- Outside, I broke into tears. What a hassle! Now I'll have to become rich and successful just so she could regret dumping me. That's another thing to do in this short, busy life. Christ. They're adding up.
- Anyone with an overactive imagination, in particular a perversely negative one, need never be surprised by anything. The imagination absolutely can catch out imminent disasters as they're warming up, especially if you keep your nostrils open. People who can accurately read the future: are they gifted at seeing or gifted at guessing?
- Sometimes I think the human animal doesn't really need food or water to survive, only gossip.
- Does anyone go to the grave satisfied? The satisfaction can't exist as long as there's one itch left to scratch. And I don't care who you are, there's always an itch.
- What a nasty act of cruelty, giving a dying man his last wish. Don't you realize he doesn't want it? His real wish is not to die.
- Are you all following me? We puzzlingly overestimate our elected representatives. Don't overestimate me! I'll make blunder after stupid blunder! But it is necessary for you to know where I stand on certain contentious issues so you'll know what kind of blunders I'll be making. Well, I am certainly not on the right. I don't care if gays get married or get divorced. Not that I'm not for gay rights specifically. I'm just against the phrase 'family values.' In fact, when someone says the phrase 'family values,' I feel like I've been slapped in the face with a condom from 1953. Well, then, am I on the left? Sure, they're the first to sign petitions and in international affairs will always support the perceived underdog, even if the underdog is a bunch of cannibals - as long as they have less money and fewer resources - and these deeply caring individuals on the left will do anything for the betterment of the disenfranchised except make a personal sacrifice. So you see? I'm neither left nor right. But I'm just an ordinary person who goes to sleep feeling guilty every night.
- Eight hundred million people went to bed hungry today. All right, I'll admit for a while our roles as massively wasteful consumers seemed to be doing us a world of good - we were slimming down, a good half of us had breast implants; frankly, we were looking good - but now we're all fatter and more cancerous than ever, so what's the point of it? The world is getting hotter, the ice caps are melting, because man keeps saying to nature, Hey, our whole idea of a cozy future is to have jobs. That's all we've got planned. What's more, we will pursue this aim at any cost, even, paradoxically, if it means the eventual destruction of our workplace. Man says, Sacrifice industry and economy and jobs? For what? Future generations? I don't even know those guys! I'll tell you something for free - it makes me ashamed that our species, which is so finely ennobled by its sacrifices, winds up sacrificing it all for the wrong things and comes off just looking like a race of people who like to use the hair dryer while taking a bath.
- I'm only sorry I was born three-quarters through this self-inflicted tragedy and not at the very beginning or at the very end. I'm fucking sick of watching this tragedy in slow motion. The other planets aren't though - they're on the edge of their suns. The reason we've never had visitors from outer space isn't that they don't exist but that they don't want to know us. We're the village idiots of all the teeming galaxies. On. quiet night you can hear their cackled laughter. And what are they laughing at? Let me put it this way: humanity is the guy who shits in his own pants and then walks around saying, 'So, do you like my new shirt?'
- I believe that inequality is not the product of capitalism but the product of the fact that in a group of two men and one woman, one of the men will be taller and will have straighter teeth than the other, and he'll get the woman. Thus I believe that economics isn't the basis of inequality, straight teeth are!
- When democracy works, the government does what the people want. The problem with that is that people want shitty things! People are scared and greedy and self-centered and only concerned about their financial security! Yes, the truth of the matter is THERE HAS YET TO BE A GREAT DEMOCRATIC NATION BECAUSE THERE HAS YET TO BE A GREAT BUNCH OF PEOPLE!
- That's the wonderful thing about democracy: you can hold public office legitimately while still being despised by 49.9 percent of the suspicious eyes on the street.
- I'm telling you, the whole of Australia went crazy. The national obsession became reform. I even think they understood that it wasn't the ideas themselves but the idea of the ideas, the idea that we might as well restlessly innovate and wherever possible obliterate our slavish connection with the past. Why? Because the past is always the worst thing happening to the present at any given time.
- They say power corrupts - and how! The me I have always loved, despite my phony self-deprecation, was being mirrored in the eyes around me. It was an egoists fantasy! My spirit was flying! I was so caught up in my own reformation I didn't realize I was losing the very ingredients that had led me to success - relentless negativity about the human spirit, cynicism and pragmatism about the human mind and how it is constrained. Success had thrown me off balance, and as a result I tarted having faith in people, and worse - I began to have faith in the people. All right. I'll say it. I should've listened to my son, who told me by a look and tone of voice, if not in actual words, "Dad, you're fucking it up!"
- There's nothing like a nostalgia trip to make you feel alien from both your past and your present. You also see what's static in you, what you hadn't the courage or strength to change, and all your old fears, the ones you still carry. The disappointment of your failure is palpable. It's terrible to go around bumping into yourself like that.
- Honestly, with all the noise a father makes about demanding respect and obedience, I don't think there can be a father in the world who doesn't, at the bottom of his heart, want a simple thing: for his son to like him.
- "It's too late now," he said. "You can't stop a tidal wave of hatred once it's reached the shore."
- They could learn that my skin was being peeled away by a blind cook who had mistaken me for a giant potato, and they would cheer. Cheer! It seems that in our society Christianity has made permanent inroads in the eye-for-an-eye department but has made little progress on the practical application of forgiveness.
- The lights in the plane were turned off, and as we flew across the planet in darkness, I thought about the man I'd be killing. From media reports I'd learned that frustrated detectives in Thailand, unable to locate him, made assertions that he was the embodiment of evil, a true monster. Clearly, then, the world would be better off without him. Nevertheless, I was depressed by the realization that murder was the only utilitarian idea I'd ever had.
- As it was my first time in a foreign country, my eyes soaked it up - but I'll save you the travelogue description. It's Thailand. You know the sights, you know the smells. You've read the books, you've seen the movies. Hot, sticky, sweaty, it smelled of spicy food, and everywhere there lurked the hint of drugs and prostitution, because like most travelers, we had brought our preconceived notions with us on the journey and did not check them, as we should have, into immigration as hazardous materials best suited for quarantine.
- Career criminals and philosophers have a surprising amount in common - they are both at odds with society, they both live uncompromisingly by their own rules, and they both make really lousy parent figures.
- "This is one of those sunsets made glorious by the pollution of a congested city. Someone has to say it and it might as well be me - Nature's own work pales in comparison. The same goes for mass destruction. One day we'll all be basking in the glow of a nuclear winter and God, won't it be heaven on the eyes!"
- Cancer thrives on broken hearts; it is a vulture waiting for you to give up on human warmth.
- The thing that makes a man go crazy isn't loneliness or suffering after all - it's being kept in a state of perpetual dread.
- As I ran, I thought how I hate any kind of mob - I hate mobs of sports fans, mobs of environmental demonstrators, I even hate mobs of supermodels, that's how much I hate mobs. I tell you, mankind is bearable only when you get him on his own.
- What a disappointment my brain turned out to be. After everything I had witnessed in my life, I had almost convinced myself that the wheel of personal history spins on thought, and therefore my history was muddy because my thinking had been muddy. I imagined that everything I'd experienced to date was likely to be a materialization of my fears (especially my fear of Dad's fears). In short, I had briefly believed that if man's character is his fate, and if his character is the sum of his actions, and his actions are a result of his thoughts, then man's character, actions, and fate are dependent on what he thinks. Now I wasn't so sure.
- Watching them watching us, I wondered if they had the slightest clue what to expect in Australia. I supposed they knew they'd be living an underground existence, exploited in brothels, factories, building sites, restaurant kitchens, and by the fashion industry, who would get them sewing their fingers to the bone. But I doubted they were aware of the adolescent competition among political leaders to see who had the toughest immigration policies, the kind you wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley. Or that public opinion ws already set against them, because even if you're running for your life you still have to wait in line, or that Australia, like everywhere, excelled in making arbitrary distinctions between people seem important.
- I think all people on their deathbeds should not forgive themselves for not committing suicide, even one day earlier. To let yourself be murdered by Nature's hand is the only real apathy there is.
- People always say, "It's good to be a part of a something bigger than yourself," but you already are. You're part of a huge thing. The whole of humanity. That's enormous. But you can't see it, so you pick, what? An organization? A culture? A religion? That's not bigger than you. It's much, much smaller!
- It's hard enough to go through life disappointing yourself every second day, but disappointing others takes it out of you too. That's why you should never answer the phone or the door. So you don't have to say no to whoever's on the other side.
- Dad always mentioned that people don't go on journeys at all but spend a lifetime searching for and gathering evidence to rationalize the beliefs they've held in their hearts since day one. They have new revelations, certainly, but these rarely shatter their core belief structure - they just build on it. He believed that if the base remains intact, it doesn't matter what you build on it, it is not a journey at all. It is just layering. He didn't believe that anyone ever started from scratch. "People aren't looking for answers," he often said. "They're looking for facts to prove their case."