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Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination. Learning to suspend your imagination and live completely in the very second of the present with no before and no after is the greatest gift a soldier can acquire.
If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
The first and most important thing of all, at least for writers today, is to strip language clean, to lay it bare down to the bone.
They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.
Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports. . . all others are games.
I've seen a lot of patriots and they all died just like anybody else if it hurt bad enough and once they were dead their patriotism was only good for legends; it was bad for their prose and made them write bad poetry. If you are going to be a great patriot i.e. loyal to any existing order of government (not one who wishes to destroy the existing for something better) you want to be killed early if your life and works won't stink.
There's nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility is being superior to your former self.
I wish I could write well enough to write about aircraft. Faulkner did it very well in Pylon but you cannot do something someone else has done though you might have done it if they hadn't.
There are two kinds of stories, the ones you live and the ones you make up. And nobody knows the difference, and I don't ever tell which is which.
To stay in places and to leave, to trust, to distrust, to no longer believe and believe again, . . . to watch the snow come, to watch it go, to hear rain on a tent, to know where I can find what I want.
The only thing that can spoil a day is people and if you can keep from making engagements, every day has no limits.
When writing a novel a writer should create living people people not characters. A character is a caricature.
Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.
There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly in the only heritage he has to leave.
All the critics who could not make their reputations by discovering you are hoping to make them by predicting hopefully your approaching impotence, failure and general drying up of natural juices. Not a one will wish you luck or hope that you will keep on writing unless you have political affiliations in which case these will rally around and speak of you and Homer, Balzac, Zola and Link Steffens.
Decadence is a difficult word to use since it has become little more than a term of abuse applied by critics to anything they do not yet understand or which seems to differ from their moral concepts.
Everyone has his own conscience, and there should be no rules about how a conscience should function.
For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try…
Real seriousness in regard to writing is one of two absolute necessities. The other, unfortunately, is talent.
So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.
The age demanded that we dance and jammed us into iron pants. And in the end the age was handed the sort of shit that it demanded.
The hardest thing to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn, and anybody is cheating who takes politics as a way out. All the outs are too easy, and the thing itself is too hard to do.
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