Flannery O’Connor, “Wise Blood”

“Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it. Where is there a place for you to be? No place.

Nothing outside you can give you any place,” he said. “You needn’t look at the sky because it’s not going to open up and show no place behind it. You needn’t to search for any hole in the ground to look through into somewhere else. You can’t go neither forwards nor backwards into your daddy’s time nor your children’s if you have them. In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got. If there was any Fall, look there, if there was any Redemption, look there, and if you expect any Judgment, look there, because they all three will have to be in your time and your body and where in your time and your body can they be?”


Ed Sanders, “The Family: The Story of Charles Manson’s Dune Buggy Attack Battalion”

“A part of the group was stoned and were sitting in the middle of the room. They had begun to write a song and had left off the project. Charlie was sitting in the midst of the gathering and the topic was the ever-present project of snuff. Charlie said, “Die,” so all lay down and pretended they were dead. Bo started screaming “Charlie”— and then “Oh-h-h-h-h!” Paul Watkins testified to the following concerning this famous party: “I was listening to Charlie say die.” Watkins testified that he tried to think of a way to die but he couldn’t so when Charlie said, “Die,” Watkins lay down and “acted like I was dead.” Everybody else did and Bo was screaming and Charlie was sitting in the middle of the room moving the fingers, talking about the confusion in the air, how fine it was.”

Michael Ondaatje, “The Collected Works of Billy The Kid”

His stomach was warm
remembered this when I put my hand into
a pot of luke warm tea to wash it out
dragging out the stomach to get the bullet
he wanted to see when taking tea
with Sallie Chisum in Paris Texas

With Sallie Chisum in Paris Texas
he wanted to see when taking tea
dragging out the stomach to get the bullet
a pot of luke warm tea to wash it out
remembered this when I put my hand into
his stomach was warm

Siri Husvedt, “Living, Thinking, Looking”

“…Self-consciousness itself is born in the “mirroring” and the acquisition of symbols through which we are able to represent ourselves as an “I,” a “he,” or a “she.” It is this distance from the self that makes narrative movement and autobiographical memory possible. Without it, we couldn’t tell ourselves the story of ourselves. Living solely in reflection, however, creates a terrible machinery of insatiable desire, the endless pursuit of the thing that will fill the emptiness and feed a starved self-image. Emma Bovary dreams of Paris: “She knew all the latest fashions, where to find the best tailors, the days for going to the Bois or the Opera. She studio descriptions of furniture in Eugene Sue, and sought in Balzac and George Sand a vicarious gratification of her own desires.”

It is no secret that, once gained, the objects of desire often lose their sweetness. The real Paris cannot live up to the dream city. The high-heeled pumps displayed in a shop window that glow with the promise of beauty, urbanity, and wealth are just shoes once they find their way into the closet. After a big wedding, which in all its pomp and circumstance announces marriage as a state of ultimate arrival, there is life with a real human being, who is inevitably myopic, weak, and idiosyncratic. The revolutionary eats and sleeps the revolution, the grand cleansing moment when a new order will triumph, and then, once it has happened, finds himself wandering among corpses and ruins. Only human beings destroy themselves by ideas.”

Jeffery Burton Russell, “Satan: The Early Christian Tradition”

“Christian tradition has interpreted the saving work of the Passion in three main ways. According to the first interpretation, human nature had been sanctified, dignified, transformed, and saved by the very act of Christ’s becoming man. In terms of the second, Christ was a sacrifice offered to God in order to bring about the reconciliation between man and God. The third, in ransom theory, found its first strong proponent in Irenaeus, and its basis is as follows. Since Satan justly held the human race in prison, God offered himself as ransom for our freedom. The price could be paid only by God. Only God could freely submit. No on else could choose freely, because original sin had deprived us all our freedom. By submitting to Satan’s power of his own free will and choice, Christ liberated us from the Devil’s power. God handed Jesus over in order to release the hostages. The Devil accepted Jesus. But when he seized him and put him to death, he overstepped the boundaries of justice, since Jesus himself was without sin and could not justly be held. The Devil had held us justly in the past, but when he broke the rules of justice himself, he lost his rights and could no longer hold either Jesus or us. Christ’s suffering crippled the Devil, freeing us from death and damnation.”

William Faulkner, “Uncle Willy”

“The sister got there from Texas that night and we would walk past the house and see the ladies on the front porch or going in and out, and now and then Reverend Schultz kind of bulging out from among them like he would out of Mr. Miller’s Bible class, and we would crawl up behind the hedge and hear them through the window, hear Uncle Willy crying and cussing and fighting to get out of the bed and the ladies saying, ‘Now, Mr. Christian, Uncle Willy,’ and ‘Now Bubber,’ too, since his sister was there, and Unce Willy crying and praying and cussing. And then it was Friday and he gave up. We could hear them holding him in the bed; I reckon this was his last go-round, because none of them had time to talk now; and then we heard him, his voice weak but clear and his breath going in and out.

‘Wait,’ he said. ‘Wait! I will ask it one more time. Won’t you please quit? Won’t you please go away? Won’t you please go to hell and just let me come on at my own gait?’

‘No, Mr. Christian,” Mrs. Merridew said. ‘We are doing this to save you.’

For a minute we didn’t hear anything. Then we heard Uncle Willy lay back in the bed, kind of flop back.

‘All right,’ he said. ‘All right.’

It was like one of those sheep they would sacrifice back in the Bible. It was like it had climbed up onto the altar itself and flopped onto its back with its throat held up and said: ‘All right. Come on and get it over with. Cut my damn throat and go away and let me lay quiet in the fire.’”