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John Ashbery

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There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.
--
International Herald Tribune (Paris, October 2, 1989)

 
John Ashbery

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The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace.

 
H. L. Mencken
 

In my view, if there's going to be an army, I think it ought to be a citizens' army. Now, here I do agree with some people, the top brass, they don't want a citizens' army. They want a mercenary army, what we call a volunteer army. A mercenary army of the disadvantaged. And in fact, in the Vietnam War, the U.S. military realized, they had made a very bad mistake. I mean, for the first time I think ever in the history of European imperialism, including us, they had used a citizens' army to fight a vicious, brutal, colonial war, and civilians just cannot do that kind of a thing. For that, you need the French Foreign Legion, the Gurkhas or something like that. Every predecessor has used mercenaries, often drawn from the country that they're attacking, like England ran India with Indian mercenaries. You take them from one place and send them to kill people in the other place. That's the standard way to run imperial wars. They're just too brutal and violent and murderous. Civilians are not going to be able to do it for very long. What happened was, the army started falling apart. One of the reasons that the army was withdrawn was because the top military wanted it out of there. They were afraid they were not going to have an army anymore. Soldiers were fragging officers. The whole thing was falling apart. They were on drugs. And that's why I think that they're not going to have a draft. That's why I'm in favor of it. If there's going to be an army that will fight brutal, colonial wars... it ought to be a citizens' army so that the attitudes of the society are reflected in the military.

 
Noam Chomsky
 

It is our duty to help liberate that God who is stifling in us, in mankind, in masses of people living in darkness.
We must be ready at any moment to give up our lives for his sake. For life is not a goal; it is also an instrument, like death, like beauty, like virtue, like knowledge. Whose instrument? Of that God who fights for freedom.
We are all one, we are all an imperiled essence. If at the far end of the world a spirit degenerates, it drags down our spirit into its own degradation. If one mind at the far end of the world sinks into idiocy, our own temples over-brim with darkness.
For it is only One who struggles at the far end of earth and sky. One. And if He goes lost, it is we who must bear the responsibility. If He goes lost, then we go lost.
This is why the salvation of the Universe is also our salvation, why solidarity among men is no longer a tenderhearted luxury but a deep necessity and self-preservation, as much a necessity as, in an army under fire, the salvation of your comrade-in-arms.

 
Nikos Kazantzakis
 

The great modern heresy in poetry is to confuse the use we make of words in a poem with modalities of speech...For true poetry is never speech but always a song.

 
Herbert Read
 

Salvation is a matter of course; nothing follows in turn from it. Therefore, let us not waste time by first making doubtful something that is a matter of course, and then by allying the doubt that never brings the assurance one has when one lets it come as a matter of course, this point of view still does not deny that heavenís salvation is a good and can disapprove of the wish for it only insofar as the wish already is a kind of unnecessary concern, since salvation is a matter of course whether one wishes it or not.

 
Soren Aabye Kierkegaard
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