Robert Stone

A Flag for Sunrise

The three of them sat in a charged silence that filled the car. In the instant they were bound in excuses and evasions, in lost dreams and death. If any of them were to speak it would come forth, the place names of that alien language, the mutual friends and betrayals and crazy laughter. It would end, as it always did, in that dreadful nostalgia. 117

The absence of evil was the greatest horror. 438

She was different; she was heart, she was there, in there every minute feeling it. This kind of thing was not for him but he knew it when he saw it; he was not an anthropologist for nothing. It'll kill her, he thought, drive her crazy. Her eyes were already clouding with sorrow and loss. It was herself she was grieving and hoping for; for that reason she was the real thing. So he began to fall in love with her. 299

He would not be able to explain it to her. She had aroused an appetite in them as she had in him. He called his hunger love, what they called theirs he had no way of knowing. It was malice, shame--the desperado's rage at innocence and grace, the villain's abhorrence of love and life and goodness. Names and words were of no account; it was an old game, older than words. 381

I'm working on a multivolume study of mankind called The Aesthetics of Horseshit. I want to beat the sociologists at their own game. p. 149

Then she was beside him trembling in the morning sun, honey-haired--and you wanted to be with her, of course you did. You wanted to salve the loneliness. You wanted to break down, however you might, the entombed separateness of the two selves down there, yourself and May. Anyone would. p.377

In this aspect, she was a challenge and a provocation to the likes of Holliwell. The impulse stripped down was to love her or destroy her. Stripped further it was toward both those ends, to subsume her in flesh and spirit. It was predatory. p.378

He drank the fortified coffee. Oh, May, he thought, I'm not your lost Tiger. He was the Adversary. He would not let go of her now, although it was within his power. Shown flesh, the Adversary eats; presented with inner space, he hastens to occupy it. The Adversary is a lover. p.379

God doesn't work through history, May. That's a delusion of the Western Mind. p.387

In her eyes, the hunger for absolutes. A woman incapable of compromise who had taken on compromise like a hair shirt and never forgiven herself or anyone else and then rebelled. She could, he thought, have no idea what that would evoke in the hearts of smaller weaker people, clinging to places of power. She was Enemy, Nemesis, Cassandra. She was in real trouble. 343

Prime Green

Being in the presence of a great crime always manages to arouse competing moral perspectives from the sentient witnesses. 15

Penguins they were, Adelie penguins, the little hooded characters who waddle clownishly around their breeding colonies. The book on Adelie penguins will tell you that they are "ungainly" on land and that, having no land-based enemies, they have little fear of man; encountering humans, they pause to regard them "quizzically." Their Chaplin-like gait and myopic clueless stares deprive them of the dignity to which all creatures in their natural state should be entitled. Even the desperate defense of their nests and eggs had an absurd quality. They come at the persistent intruder, cackling Donald Duck-like, fowl obscenities and churning their flippers faster than the eye can see, like so many tasteful little pinball machine components. A good shot with the flipper, however, can buy them back a little respect, since they're capable of breaking a human's leg with one, and they give it all the force a small ridiculous bird can muster. But on land they are among nature's comedians. Nature, pretty humorless, in tooth in claw, provides few. The Adelie transformation in the grip of its migratory instinct, from droll oddity to mighty exemplar of the life force, is one of the great sights the ocean affords a traveler, one of the runic lessons you go on considering for the rest of your life. 11

Detective Tracy was hard but fair. Perhaps the tragedy of his own brutally geometric features gave him some insight into the desperate rebellion of deformed local outlaws. 31-32

I have come to believe that language, a line of print, say, is capable of inhabiting the imagination far more intensely than any picture, however doctored. The same principle applies to the novel, if it works. No Hollywood Flick, no movie of any provenance, can ever provide an experience of the battle of Borodino as intense as that provided in Tolstoy's pages. Descriptive language supplies deeper penetration, attaches itself to the rods and cones of interior perception, to a greater degree than a recovered or remembered image. Language is the process that lashes experience to the internet. 133

...invented stories are so liberating and bright with possibility while the true shit keeps you bound to a fallen world. 143

I had always been interested in politics. Belief fascinated me, because of my own experience of lost faith. 168

So much can be said about the intersections of life and language, the degree to which language can be made to serve the truth. By the truth I mean unresisted insight, which is what gets us by, which makes one person's life and sufferings comprehensible to another. 177

Fun with problems

High Wire

It's a fallen world, is it not? We carry love in earthen vessels. (158)