We have preachers and savants who dilate endlessly on the sanctity of family and childhood but who tolerate a system in which a casual observer can correlate a child's social origin with its physical well-being.
People know when they are being lied to, they know when their rulers are absurd, they know they do not love their chains.
I have quite a decent constitution in spite of all my abuse of it and my advanced years. I'm still quite robust.
The politicized sponsors of this pseudoscientific nonsense should be ashamed to live, let alone die. If you want to take part in the war against cancer, and other terrible maladies, too, then join the battle against their lethal stupidity.
One of the most repellent spectacles at election times is the pretense of piety on the part of people running for office.
I, for one, will not have the Vietcong insulted by any comparison to the forces of Zarqawi, the Fedayeen Saddam, and the criminal underworld now arrayed against us. These depraved elements are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge.
I think the socialist movement, by removing many, many people from grinding stagnation and poverty and overwork, does enable people not just to lead better lives but to be better people.
Bombing Afghanistan back into the Stone Age was quite a favourite headline for some wobbly liberals. The slogan does all the work. But an instant's thought shows that Afghanistan is being, if anything, bombed OUT of the Stone Age.
No possible future government in Kabul can be worse than the Taliban, and no thinkable future government would allow the level of Al Qaeda gangsterism to recur. So the outcome is proportionate and congruent with international principles of self-defense.
The faithful believe that certain truths have been 'revealed.' The skeptics and secularists believe that truth is only to be sought by free inquiry and trial and error. Only one of those positions is dogmatic.
In order to be a part of the totalitarian mind-set, it is not necessary to wear a uniform or carry a club or a whip. It is only necessary to wish for your own subjection, and to delight in the subjection of others.
I suppose that one reason I have always detested religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea that the universe is designed with 'you' in mind or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not. This kind of modesty is too arrogant for me.
Indeed, it's futile to try and use Holy Scripture to support any political position. I deeply distrust anyone who does. Just look at what an Islamic Republic is like.
I'm not resigned, but I'm realistic too. The statistics in my case are very poor. Not many people come through esophageal cancer and live to talk about it, or not for long.
Religion looks forward to the destruction of the world.... Perhaps half aware that its unsupported arguments are not entirely persuasive, and perhaps uneasy about its own greedy accumulation of temporal power and wealth, religion has never ceased to proclaim the Apocalypse and the day of judgment.
I want to urge you very strongly to travel as much as you can, and to evolve yourself as an internationalist. It's as important a part of your education as a radical as the reading of any book.
Even if the U.S. doesn't attack Saddam Hussein is not going to survive. His regime is on the verge of implosion.
Objective means that, in a confrontation with the evidence, you would be willing to change your own mind.
Only a complete moral idiot can believe for an instant that we are fighting against the wretched of the earth. We are fighting, as I said before, against the scum of the earth.
I didn't think Marilyn Monroe was beautiful. It used to worry me. I thought maybe I'm not put together like the other chaps.
Never ask while you are doing it if what you are doing is fun. Don't introduce even your most reliably witty acquaintance as someone who will set the table on a roar.
It is indeed strange, given the heavy emphasis placed by chroniclers on Churchill's sheer magnitude of personality, that the ingredient of pure ambition should be so much ignored or even disallowed.
The man who prays is the one who thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct god how to put them right.
I think that people's sexual preferences are a legitimate subject for humour, dirty humour if at all possible.
It ought to be an offense to be excruciating and unfunny in circumstances where your audience is almost morally obliged to enthuse.
In Africa, there is a birthrate trap: a higher standard of living will lead to smaller families but smaller families will not lead to a higher standard of living.
When people have tried everything and have discovered that nothing works, they will tend to revert to what they know best--which will often be the tribe, the totem, or the taboo.
On page 607, alluding to the end of my first marriage (and carefully remembering to state that that's none of his business), he very sweetly says that I 'might leave a wife, but not a friend.' Nice try. Neat smear. But he shouldn't be so sure.
Exercise is a pastime only for those who are already slender and physically fit. It just isn't so much fun when you have a marked tendency to wheeze and throw up, and a cannonball of a belly sloshing around inside the baggy garments.
We have millions and millions of North Korean children totally stunted in mind and body and will have to be dealt with at some point, who have been raised to believe that they live in a regime that is run by a god.
One of the reasons I decided to apply for American citizenship after something like a quarter of century of living here on a British, European Union passport and a green card, was my identification with the United States in the post-September 11th period.
The one thing that the racist can never manage is anything like discrimination: he is indiscriminate by definition.
What is it you most dislike? Stupidity, especially in its nastiest forms of racism and superstition.
Why do humans exist? A major part of the answer: because Pikaia Gracilens survived the Burgess decimation.
I'm not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.
The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.
The quality you most admire in a man? Courage moral and physical: 'anima'--the ability to think like a woman. Also a sense of the absurd.
The quality you most admire in a woman? Courage moral and physical: anima--the ability to visualize the mind and need of a man. Also a sense of the absurd.
The rich world likes and wishes to believe that someone, somewhere, is doing something for the Third World. For this reason, it does not inquire too closely into the motives or practices of anyone who fulfills, however vicariously, this mandate.
If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.
Hesitate once, hesitate twice, hesitate a hundred times before employing political standards as a device for the analysis and appreciation of poetry.
When you consider how many millions of workdays begin with hangovers great and small, it is mildly surprising to find how few real descriptions of the experience our literature can boast.
Your favorite occupation? Travel in contested territory. Hard-working writing and reading when safely home, in the knowledge that an amusing friend is later coming to dinner.
I have been called arrogant myself in my time, and hope to earn the title again, but to claim that I am privy to the secrets of the universe and its creator -- that's beyond my conceit.
As the cleansing ocean closes over bin Laden's carcass, may the earth lie lightly on the countless graves of those he sentenced without compunction to be burned alive or dismembered in the street.
I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that 'issue' I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity.
A panel at a beautiful annual literary festival in Brazil, held in the almost Utopian coastal town of Parati, found me matched with Fernando Gabeira. This comparison reduced my own limited charisma value to something like zero: Gabeira has excelled at every cultural activity in Brazil.
Those who willed the means and wished the ends are not absolved from guilt by the refusal of reality to match their schemes.
I was precocious enough to watch the news and read the papers, and I can remember October 1956, the simultaneous crisis in Hungary and Suez, very well. And getting a sense that the world was dangerous, a sense that the game was up, that the Empire was over.
As the many male victims of rape in the regime's disgusting jails can testify, this state-run pathology of sexual repression and sexual sadism is not content to degrade women only.
Some peaceniks clear their throats by saying that, of course, they oppose Saddam Hussein as much as anybody, though not enough to support doing anything about him.
Who are your favorite heroines in real life? The women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who risk their lives and their beauty to defy the foulness of theocracy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi as their ideal feminine model.
So this is the way we live now: conditioned by the awareness that no North Korean provocation, however egregious, can be confronted, lest it furnish the occasion or pretext for something truly barbarous and insane.
Obviously, there must be some connection between the subordination of actual individuals and the grotesque exaltation of symbolic ones like Kim Il Sung.
Not since North Korean media declared Kim Jong-il to be the reincarnation of Kim Il Sung has there been such a blatant attempt to create a necrocracy, or perhaps mausolocracy, in which a living claimant assumes the fleshly mantle of the departed.
Today's left would have left us with Slobodan Milosevic in power, Bosnia ethnically cleansed, Kosovo part of Greater Serbia, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and Iraq the property of a psychopathic crime family. Now, I'm sorry to say, I've no patience with that leftist mentality anymore.
The (Catholic) church, as far as I know, has not endorsed any war as just since it supported General Franco's invasion of Spain to destroy the Spanish republic with a Muslim mercenary army in the thirties, on the side of Hitler.
What if, I never tire of asking, we said 'Secret Council' instead of the archaic and therefore cuddly 'Privy Council'?
Don't write in to ask whether I would prefer Gingrich to Clinton. Ask, rather, whether Clinton prefers Gingrich to you. Go triangulate yourself.
Among the privileges of being a superpower, the right and the ability to make a local quarrel into a global one ranks very high.
In effect, nobody who is not from the losing classes has ever been thrust into a death cell in these United States.
There is no such thing as notoriety in the United States these days, let alone infamy. Celebrity is all.
How is the United States at once the most conservative and commercial AND the most revolutionary society on Earth?
Nihil humanum a me alienum puto, said the Roman poet Terence: 'Nothing human is alien to me.' The slogan of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service could have been the reverse: To us, no aliens are human.
How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the land question in Zimbabwe is the single most decisive one.
There is no reason at all why there aren't enough people to guard New Orleans and to help stabilise Baghdad.
Authors who moan with praise for their editors always seem to reek slightly of the Stockholm syndrome.
I have not been able to discover whether there exists a precise French equivalent for the common Anglo-American expression 'killing time.' It's a very crass and breezy expression, when you ponder it for a moment, considering that time, after all, is killing us.
He's a man George W. Bush who is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is a man who is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.
Happiness is fleeting and life is brief, but we know that, nonetheless, life can be savored and that happiness, even of the ecstatic kind, is available to us.
There is almost no country in Africa where it is not essential to know to which tribe, or which subgroup of which tribe, the president belongs. From this single piece of information you can trace the lines of patronage and allegiance that define the state.
Your least favorite virtue, or nominee for the most overrated one? Faith. Closely followed--in view of the overall shortage of time--by patience.
The secular argument, or the liberal argument, is to as much as possible remove taboos so things do not become unmentionable; to let some air into the discussion.
The fact is: It's true what they say about the United States. It is a land of opportunity. It is too various to get bored with it.
I do not believe any of the statistical claims that are made about public opinion. I don't see why anybody does.
Littera scripta manet -- 'The written word will remain'. That's true, but it won't be that much comfort to me.
A speech idiosyncrasy, in the same way as an air quote, is really justifiable only if it's employed very sparingly and if the user consciously intends to be using it.
In the grip of a neurological disorder, I am fast losing control of words even as my relationship with the world has been reduced to them.
The people who tend to raise antiwar slogans will do so generally when it's American or British interests involved.
I used to wish there was a useful term for those of us who thought American power should be used to remove psychopathic dictators.
My children, to the extent that they have found religion, have found it from me, in that I insist on at least a modicum of religious education for them.
My dear wife has, I would say, probably never opened a religious book, and seems to be one of those people to whom the whole idea is utterly remote and absurd.
I have nowhere claimed nor even implied that unbelief is a guarantee of good conduct or even an indicator of it.
I mean, what would I be doing if I couldn't write? But that fortunately hasn't proved to be the case and I can read any day. I still read a lot, and I can write any day, but much more slowly and fewer words.
Read with care, George Orwell's diaries, from the years 1931 to 1949, can greatly enrich our understanding of how Orwell transmuted the raw material of everyday experience into some of his best-known novels and polemics.
No school of philosophy has ever solved this question of whether being determines consciousness or the other way around. It may be a false antithesis.
I'm here as a product of process of evolution, which doesn't make very many exceptions. And which rates life relatively cheaply.
I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.
One of the many problems with the American left has been its image as something rather too solemn, mirthless, herbivorous, dull, monochrome, righteous, and boring.
I make preparations both to live and to die every day, but with the emphasis on not dying, and on acting as if I was going to carry on living.
Pakistan has to export a lot of uneducated people, many of whom have become infected with the most barbaric reactionary ideas.
Even with all the advantages of retrospect, and a lot of witnesses dead and gone, you can't make your life look as if you intended it or you were consistent. All you can show is how you dealt with various hands.
The Koran shows every sign of being thrown together by human beings, as do all the other holy books.
Lovers often invest their first meetings with retrospective significance, as if to try to conjure the elements of the numinous out of the stubborn witness of the everyday.
In one way, I suppose, I have been 'in denial' for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light.
In one way, I suppose, I have been "in denial" for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light. But for precisely that reason, I can't see myself smiting my brow with shock or hear myself whining about how it's all so unfair: I have been taunting the Reaper into taking a free scythe in my direction and have now succumbed to something so predictable and banal that it bores even me.
'Bombing Afghanistan back into the Stone Age' was quite a favourite headline for some wobbly liberals. The slogan does all the work. But an instant's thought shows that Afghanistan is being, if anything, bombed out of the Stone Age.
You notice how liberals keep saying, 'If only Islam would have a Reformation' -- it can't have one. It says it can't. It's extremely dangerous in that way.
I must have been one of the least surprised people on earth on September 11. I felt very braced for that. I knew something like that was going to come.
There's a big difference, as I'm sure you know, it's a slightly manneristic one, between people of the '60s and people of '68. Being a soixante-huitard -- it's so nice to have a French word for it -- is very different from just having happened to been a baby boomer in the '60s.
One has children in the expectation of dying before them. In fact, you want to make damn sure you die before them, just as you plant a tree or build a house knowing, hoping that it will outlive you. That's how the human species has done as well as it has.
It's surprising to me how many of my friends send Christmas cards, or holiday cards, including my atheist and secular friends.
For the people who ostensibly wish me well or are worried about my immortal soul, I say I take it kindly.
It's impossible, I think, however much I'd become disillusioned politically or evolve into a post-political person, I don't think I'd ever change my view that socialism is the best political moment humans have ever come up with.
One of the great questions of philosophy is, do we innately have morality, or do we get it from celestial dictation? A study of the Ten Commandments is a very good way of getting into and resolving that issue.
I had real plans for my next decade and felt I'd worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read -- if not indeed write -- the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?
I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient.
Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and -- since there is no other metaphor -- also the soul.
'WASP' is the only ethnic term that is in fact a term of class, apart from redneck, which is another word for the same group but who are in the lower social strata, so it's inexplicably tied up with social standing and culture and history in a way that the other hyphenations just are not.
George Bush made a mistake when he referred to the Saddam Hussein regime as 'evil.' Every liberal and leftist knows how to titter at such black-and-white moral absolutism.
My favorite time in the cycles of public life is the time when the Pope is dead and they haven't elected a new one. There's no one in the world who is infallible for those weeks. And you know, I don't miss it.
The advice I've been giving to people all my life -- that you may not be interested in the dialectic but the dialectic is interested in you; you can't give up politics, it won't give you up -- was the advice I should have been taking myself.
My father had died, and very swiftly, too, of cancer of the esophagus. He was 79. I am 61. In whatever kind of a 'race' life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist.
Knowing that we are primates, I think, is a fascinating discovery, and a very interesting and rather cheering one.
I'm afraid the SS's relationship with the Catholic Church is something the Church still has to deal with and does not deny.
Well, to the people who pray for me to not only have an agonising death, but then be reborn to have an agonising and horrible eternal life of torture, I say, 'Well, good on you. See you there.'
Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they'd both unite against an invasion from Mars.
Well, we can't say any more than we can say there is no god, there is no afterlife. We can only say there is no persuasive evidence for or argument for it.
A good day is one where I can not just read a book, but write a review of it. Maybe today I'll be able to do that. I get for some reason somewhat stronger when the sun starts to go down. Dusk is a good time for me. I'm crepuscular.
Primate and elephant and even pig societies show considerable evidence of care for others, parent-child bonding, solidarity in the face of danger, and so on.
There are people who cannot forget, as neither do I, the lesson of the years of the Indochina War. Which was, first, that the state is capable of being a murderer. A mass murderer, and a conspirator and a liar.
Well, I'll put it this way: you can certainly say belief in God makes people behave worse. That can be proved beyond a doubt.
I love it when Muslims go to war with each other, as I do when the Christians do, because it shows there's no such thing as the Christian world and the Islamic world. That's all crap.
The human wish to credit good things as miraculous and to charge bad things to another account is apparently universal.
If you look at any Muslim society and you make a scale of how developed they are, and how successful the economy is, it's a straight line. It depends on how much they emancipate their women.
Say 'Toronto' or 'Ontario,' and the immediate thought associations are with a somewhat blander version of North America: a United States with a welfare regime and a more polite street etiquette, and the additionally reassuring visage of Queen Elizabeth on the currency.
The great thing about the United States and the historically magnetic effect it has had on a lot of people like me is its generosity, to put it simply.
Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God.