My dad has sometimes felt that I grew up a little lacking in sufficient eccentricity - in the sense that I'm willing to live as an adult in a house with walls that are parallel to each other, that sort of thing.
It is only when we are very happy, that we can bear to gaze merrily upon the vast and limitless expanse of water, rolling on and on with such persistent, irritating monotony, to the accompaniment of our thoughts, whether grave or gay. When they are gay, the waves echo their gaiety; but when they are sad, then every breaker, as it rolls, seems to bring additional sadness, and to speak to us of hopelessness and of the pettiness of all our joys.
'Exactly,' he said, while he leant forward excitedly, for all the world like a Jack-in-the-box let loose. 'Precisely; and you are a journalist - call yourself one, at least - and it should be part of your business to notice and describe people. I don't mean only the wonderful personage with the clear Saxon features, the fine blue eyes, the noble brow and classic face, but the ordinary person - the person who represents ninety out of every hundred of his own kind - the average Englishman, say, of the middle classes, who is neither very tall nor very short, who wears a moustache which is neither fair nor dark, but which masks his mouth, and a top hat which hides the shape of his head and brow, a man, in fact, who dresses like hundreds of his fellow-creatures, moves like them, speaks like them, has no peculiarity.'
We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.
It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don't regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn't save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I'm not naive, and I don't romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job.
Let me tell you what a writer is. A writer takes comprehensive views, holds large convictions, makes wide generalizations. A writer's not English, Mexican, or American. A writer's not a woman nor a man. A writer's not Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, nor snake worshipper. To local standards of right and wrong a writer's civilly indifferent. In the virtues, a writer's concerned only with general expediency. A writer doesn't waste time focusing on fixed moral principles that aren't yet before the court of conscience. Happiness discloses itself to a writer as the end and purpose of life, and art and love are the only means to a writer's happiness. A writer is free of all doctrines, theories, etiquettes, and politics. To a writer, a continent doesn't seem long, nor a century wide. And a writer has ever present consciousness that this is a world of...fools and rogues, blind with superstition, tormented with envy, consumed with vanity, selfish, false, cruel, cursed with illusions, and frothing mad.
From every book invisible threads reach out to other books; and as the mind comes to use and control those threads the whole panorama of the world's life, past and present, becomes constantly more varied and interesting, while at the same time the mind's own powers of reflection and judgment are exercised and strengthened.
The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, What is the use of climbing Mount Everest? and my answer must at once be, It is no use. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It's no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
Here is the same clock that walked quietly Through those enormous years I half recall,When between one blue summer and anotherTime seemed as many miles as round the world,And world a day, a moment or a mile,Or a sweet slope of grass edged with the sea,Or a new song to sing, or a tree dressed in gold
I had been playing with matches and burned a small rug. I was in the process of covering up my crime when suddenly God saw me. I felt His gaze inside my head and on my hands....I flew into a rage against so crude an indiscretion, I blasphemed....He never looked at me again....I had the more difficulty getting rid of Him the Holy Ghost in that He had installed Himself at the back of my head....I collared the Holy Ghost in the cellar and threw Him out.