QUOTATIONS

There are a couple of websites which have various quotes from MacDonald’s books.  I am putting down some I like, and  you are free to add any by e-mailing me.


 from The Last One Left : 



    “Friendships, like marriages, are dependent on avoiding the unforgivable.”


 from  A Flash of Green:


"Now it stands to reason, mister, any damn fool stares into the sun long enough, he'll end up seeing exactly what some other damn fool tells him he's going to see."


from:  the Green Ripper  :


A fanatic is a person who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his original aim. 


from Chapter Eight of Pale Gray for Guilt

So they sat, holding hands, and Jan fell asleep. Puss gave me a sleepywink and then she was gone too. I looked out of the jet at Decembergray, at cloud towers reaching up toward us. Tush was gone, and toomany others were gone, and I sought chill comfort in an analogy ofdeath that has been with me for years. It doesn't explain or justify.It just seems to remind me how things are.

Picture a very swift torrent, a river rushing down between rocky walls. There is a long, shallow bar of sand and gravel that runsright down the middle of the river. It is under water. You are bornand you have to sand on that narrow, submerged bar, where everyonestands. The ones born before you, the ones older than you, areupriver from you. The younger ones stand braced on the bardownriver. And the whole long bar is slowly moving down that river oftime, washing away at the upstream end and building up downstream.

Your time, the time of all your contemporaries, schoolmates, yourloves and your adversaries, is that part of the shifting bar on whichyou stand. And it is crowded at first. You can see the way it thins out, upstream from you. The old ones are washed away and their bodies go swiftly by, like logs in the current. Downstream where the younger ones stand thick, you can see them flounder, lose footing, wash away. Always there is more room where you stand, but always the swift watergrows deeper, and you feel the shift of the sand and the gravel under your feet as the river wears it away. Someone looking for a safer place can nudge you off balance, and you are gone. Someone who has stood beside you for a long time gives a forlorn cry and you reach to catch their hand, but the fingertips slide away and they are gone.There are the sounds in the rocky gorge, the roar of the water, the shifting, gritty sound of sand and gravel underfoot, the forlorn cries of despair as the nearby ones, and the ones upstream, are taken bythe current. Some old ones who stand on a good place, well braced,understanding currents and balance, last a long time. A Churchill,fat cigar atilt, sourly amused at his own endurance and, in the end,indifferent to rivers and the rage of waters. Far downstream from you are the thin, startled cries of the ones who never got planted, never got set, never quite understood the message of the torrent

*********************************

from Where is Janice Gantry? :

 “Somebody has to be tireless...or the fast buck operators would asphalt the entire coast, fill every bay and slay every living thing incapable  of carrying a wallet.



from A Purple Place For Dying :


    * "...it is like what we have done to chickens. Forced growth under optimum conditions, so that in eight weeks they are ready for the mechanical picker. The most forlorn and comical statements are the ones made by the grateful young who say Now I can be ready in two years and nine months to go out in and earn a living rather than wasting 4 years in college. Education is something that should be apart from the necessities of earning a living, not a tool therefore. It needs contemplation, fallow periods, the measured and guided study of the history of man’s reiteration of the most agonizing question of all: Why? Today the good ones, the ones who want to ask why, find no one around with any interest in answering the question, so they drop out, because theirs is the type of mind which becomes monstrously bored at the trade-school concept. A devoted technician is seldom an educated man. He can be a useful man, a contented man, a busy man. But he has no more sense of the mystery and wonder and paradox of existence than does one of those chickens fattening itself for the mechanical plucking, freezing and packaging."


__

 Education is something which should be apart from the necessities of earning a living, not a tool therefore. It needs contemplation, fallow periods, the measured and guided study of the history of man's reiteration of the most agonizing question of all: Why? Today the good ones, the ones who want to ask why, find no one around with any interest in answering the question, so they drop out, because theirs is the type of mind which becomes monstrously bored at the trade-school concept. 



from A Deadly Shade of Gold:


    * "The only thing in the world worth a damn is the strange, touching, pathetic, awesome nobility of the individual human spirit.”


--to me organized religion, the formalities and routines, it's like being marched in formation to look at a sunset. 


    * "I know just enough about myself to know I cannot settle for one of those simplifications which indignant people seize upon to make understandable a world too complex for their comprehension. Astrology, health food, flag waving, bible thumping, Zen, nudism, nihilism -- all of these are grotesque simplifications which small dreary people adopt in the hope of thereby finding The Answer, because the very concept that maybe there is no answer, never has been, never will be, terrifies them."


    * "I think there is some kind of divine order in the universe. Every leaf on every tree in the world is unique. As far as we can see, there are other galaxies, all slowly spinning, numerous as the leaves in the forest. In an infinite number of planets, there has to be an infinite number with life forms on them. Maybe this planet is one of the discarded mistakes. Maybe it's one of the victories. We'll never know."


from Dress Her in Indigo:


    * "Any man who outgrows the myths of childhood is ninety-nine percent aware and convinced of his own mortality. But then comes the chilly breath on the nape of the neck, a stirring of the air by the wings of the bleak angel. When a man becomes one hundred percent certain of his inevitable death, he gets The Look."


   

From The Long Lavender Look :


    * "The only thing that prisons demonstrably cure is heterosexuality."



from A Tan and Sandy Silence:


Note:  This quote has often been used as if JDM wrote it as a poem:


    * "Up with life. Stamp out all small and large indignities. Leave everyone alone to make it without pressure. Down with hurting. Lower the standard of living. Do without plastics. Smash the servo-mechanisms. Stop grabbing. Snuff the breeze and hug the kids. Love all love. Hate all hate."


.. The trouble with the news is that everybody knows everything too fast and too often and too many times. News had always been bad. The tiger the lives in the forest just ate your wife and kids, Joe. There are no fat grub worms under the rotten logs this year, Al. Those sickies in the village on the other side of the mountain are training hairy mammoths to stomp us flat, Pete. They nailed up two thieves and one crackpot, Mary. So devote wire service people and network people and syndication people to gathering up all the bad news they can possibly dredge and comb and scrape out of a news-tired world and have them spray it back at everybody in constant streams of electrons, and two things happen. First, we all stop listening, so they have to make it even more horrendous to capture our attention. Secondly we all become even more convinced that everything has gone rotten, and there is no hope at all, no hope at all. In a world of no hope the motto is semper fidleis, which means in translation, "Every week is screw-your-buddy week and his wife too, if he's out of town." 


    * "We're all children. We invent the adult facade and don it and try to keep the buttons and the medals polished. We're all trying to give such a good imitation of being an adult that the real adults in the world won't catch on. Each of us takes up the shticks that compose the adult image we seek. I'd gone the route of lazy, ironic bravado, of amiable, unaffiliated insouciance. Tinhorn knights of a stumbling Rosiante from Rent-A-Steed, maybe with one little area of the heart so pinched, so parched, I never dared let anything really lasting happen to me. Or dared admit the the flaw...


      "The adult you pretend to be convinces himself that the risk is worth the game, the game worth the risk. Tells himself the choice of life style could get him killed -- on the Daytona track, in the bull ring, falling from the raw steel framework forty stories up, catching a rodeo hoof in the side of the head.


      "Adult pretenses are never a perfect fit for the child underneath, and when there is the presentiment of death, like a hard black light making panther eyes glow in the back of the cave, the cry is, 'Mommy, mommy, mommy, it's so dark out there, so dark and so forever.'"


from The Scarlet Ruse :


    * "Way over half the murders committed in this country are by close friends or relatives of the deceased. A gun makes a loud and satisfying noise in a moment of passion and requires no agility and very little strength. How many murders wouldn't happen, if they all had to use hammers and knives?”



 And that, of course, is the tragic flaw in the narcotics laws -- that possession of marijuana is a felony. Regardless of whether it is as harmless as some believe, or as evil and vicious as others believe, savage and uncompromising law is bad law, and the good and humane judge will jump at any technicality that will keep him from imposing a penalty so barbaric and so cruel. The self-righteous pillars of church and society demand that "the drug traffic be stamped out" and think that making possession a felony will do the trick. Their ignorance of the roots of the drug traffic is as extensive as their ignorance of the law. 

Let's say a kid in Florida, a college kid eighteen years old, is picked up with a couple of joints on him. He is convicted of possession, which is an automatic felony, and given a suspended sentence. What has he lost? The judge who imposes the sentence knows the kid has lost the right to vote, the right to own a gun, the right to run for public office. He can never become a doctor, dentist, C.P.A., engineer, lawyer architect, realtor, osteopath, physical therapist, private detective, pharmacist, school teacher, barber, funeral director, masseur, or stock broker. He can never get any job where he has to be bonded or licensed.  He can't work for the city, county, or federal governments. He can't get into West Point, Annapolis, or the Air Force Academy. He can enlist in the military, but will be denied his choice of service, and probably be assigned to a labor battalion. 

It is too rough. It slams too many doors. It effectively destroys the kid's life. It is too harsh a penalty for a little faddist experimentation. The judge knows it. So he looks for any out, and then nothing at all happens to the kid. Too many times harsh law ends up being, in effect, no law at all. All automatic felony laws are, without exception, bad law, from the Sullivan Act in New York State, to the hit and run in California. They destroy the wisdom and discretion of the Court, and defeat the purposes they are meant to serve.  


from The Dreadful Lemon Sky:


 "It was easy to see the shape and history of Bayside, Florida. There had been a little town on the bay shore, a few hundred people, a sleepy downtown with live oaks and Spanish moss. Then International Amalgamated Development had moved in, bought a couple of thousand acres, and put in shopping centers, town houses, condominiums, and rental apartments, just south of town. Next had arrived Consolidated Construction Enterprises and done the same thing north of town. Smaller operators had done the same things on a smaller scale west of town. When downtown decayed, the town fathers widened the streets and cut down the shade trees in an attempt to look just like a shopping center. It didn't work. It never does. This was instant Florida, tacky and stifling and full of ugly and spurious energies. They had every chain food-service outfit known to man, interspersed with used-car lots and furniture stores."




from Nightmare In Pink: 

  • ...it isn't foolish or wicked to enjoy. Wickedness is hurting people on purpose. I love what you are and what you are and how you are. You give me great joy. And you make horrible coffee.
  • By feeling insecure about our making love, Nina, you make the inference that we are a pair of cheap people involved in some cheap pleasant friction. Pull on the pants and walk away, adding up the score. I think we're interested in each other, involved with each other, curious about each other. This was a part of exploring and learning. When it's good you learn something about yourself too. If the spirit is involved, if there is tenderness and respect and awareness of need, that's all the morality I care about.


 from The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper: 

  • It's no good telling somebody they're trying too hard. It's very much like ordering a child to go stand in a corner for a half hour and never once think about elephants.
  • I am not suited to the role of going around selling the life-can-be-beautiful idea. It can be, indeed. But you don't buy the concept from your friendly door-to-door lecture salesman.




from Darker than Amber:


--

 You can be at ease only with those people to whom you can say any damn fool thing that comes into your head, knowing they will respond in kind, and knowing that any misunderstandings will be thrashed out right now, rather than buried deep and given a chance to fester. 

Most people are [blind]. Eyesight is what you use to get around without running into things. But they find no esthetic value in what they see. 

Carrying a gun, especially a very utilitarian one, has the bully boy flavor of the ersatz male, the fellow with such a hollow sense of inadequacy has has to bolster his sexual ego with a more specific symbol of gonadal prowess. 


 And that, of course, is the tragic flaw in the narcotics laws -- that possession of marijuana is a felony. Regardless of whether it is as harmless as some believe, or as evil and vicious as others believe, savage and uncompromising law is bad law, and the good and humane judge will jump at any technicality that will keep him from imposing a penalty so barbaric and so cruel. The self-righteous pillars of church and society demand that "the drug traffic be stamped out" and think that making possession a felony will do the trick. Their ignorance of the roots of the drug traffic is as extensive as their ignorance of the law. 

Let's say a kid in Florida, a college kid eighteen years old, is picked up with a couple of joints on him. He is convicted of possession, which is an automatic felony, and given a suspended sentence. What has he lost? The judge who imposes the sentence knows the kid has lost the right to vote, the right to own a gun, the right to run for public office. He can never become a doctor, dentist, C.P.A., engineer, lawyer architect, realtor, osteopath, physical therapist, private detective, pharmacist, school teacher, barber, funeral director, masseur, or stock broker. He can never get any job where he has to be bonded or licensed.  He can't work for the city, county, or federal governments. He can't get into West Point, Annapolis, or the Air Force Academy. He can enlist in the military, but will be denied his choice of service, and probably be assigned to a labor battalion. 

It is too rough. It slams too many doors. It effectively destroys the kid's life. It is too harsh a penalty for a little faddist experimentation. The judge knows it. So he looks for any out, and then nothing at all happens to the kid. Too many times harsh law ends up being, in effect, no law at all. All automatic felony laws are, without exception, bad law, from the Sullivan Act in New York State, to the hit and run in California. They destroy the wisdom and discretion of the Court, and defeat the purposes they are meant to serve.  



from Cinnamon Skin

 

—We’ve discussed what he calls the Shah of Iran paradox. When you crush a rebellion by killing people who are trying to overthrow your government and install their own, at what point are you violating their human rights, and at what point are they violating yours? The Shah let Khomeni escape to Paris. And Batista let Castro leave the country. At what point on the scale are people dissidents, and at what point does it become armed rebellion?

--

 Walking back through the mall to the exit nearest our part of the parking lot, we passed one shop which sold computers, printers, software, and games. It was packed with teenagers, the kind who wear wire rims and know what the new world is about. The clerks were indulgent, letting them program the computers. Two hundred yards away, near the six movie houses, a different kind of teenager shoved quarters into the space-war games, tensing over the triggers, releasing the eerie sounds of extraterrestrial combat. Any kid back in the computer store could have told the combatants that because there is no atmosphere in space, there is absolutely no sound at all. Perfect distribution: the future managers and the future managed ones. Twenty in the computer store, two hundred in the arcade. 

The future managers have run on past us into the thickets of CP/M, M-Basic, Cobol, Fortran, Z-80, Apples, and Worms. Soon the bosses of the microcomputer revolution will sell us preprogrammed units for each household which will provide entertainment, print out news, purvey mail-order goods, pay bills, balance accounts, keep track of expenses, and compute taxes. But by then the future managers will be over on the far side of the thickets, dealing with bubble memories, machines that design machines, projects so esoteric our pedestrian minds cannot comprehend them. It will be the biggest revolution of all, bigger than the wheel, bigger than Franklin's kite, bigger than paper towels. 

We all think of the inconvenience of making an effort. We're all going to do the right things a little later on. Soon. But soon slides by so easily. Then we vow we'll try to do better. We all carry that little oppressive weight around in the back of our mind -- that we should be living better, trying harder, but we're not. We're all living just about as well as we can at any given moment. But that doesn't stop the wishing. 



from The Deep Blue Goodby:



-.. I do not function too well on emotional motivations. I am wary of them. And I am wary of a lot of other things, such as plastic credit cards, payroll deductions, insurance programs, retirement benefits, savings accounts, Green Stamps, time clocks, newspapers, mortgages, sermons, miracle fabrics, deodorants, check lists, time payments, political parties, lending libraries, television, actresses, junior chambers of commerce, pageants, progress, and manifest destiny.

I am wary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess we have built into such a glittering top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it. 

I am also wary of all earnestness.



-Abstract theory by McGee. My tourist theory. Any Ohioan crossing the state line into Florida should be fitted with a metal box that rests against the small of the back. Every ninety seconds a bell rings and a dollar bill emerges part way from a slot in the top of the box. The nearest native removes it. That would take care of the tipping problem. At places where hundreds of them flock together, the ringing of the bells would be continuous.


from The Empty Copper Sea:

  

Florida can never really come to grips with saving the environment because a very large percentage of the population at any given time just got there. So why should they fight to turn the clock back? It looks great to them the way it is. Two years later, as they are beginning to feel uneasy, a few thousand more people are just discovering it all for the first time and wouldn't change a thing. And meanwhile the people who knew what it was like twenty years ago are an ever-dwindling minority, a voice too faint to be heard. 


© bill 2014