We must be aware of the dangers which lie in our most generous wishes. Some paradox of our nature leads us , when once we have made our fellow men the objects of our enlightened interest, to go on to make them the objects of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion.

-Lionel Trilling quoted in Joan Didion, On Morality (Slouching towards Bethlehem)


Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.

-Joan Didion, On Self-Respect (Slouching towards Bethlehem)

She compared America to Rome. She said she thought the glory days of this country had long ago passed, and even those glory days were sullied: They had been built on the bodies of others.

-Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

You have been cast into a race in which the wind is always at your face and the hounds are always at your heels. And to varying degrees this is true of all life.The difference is that you do not have the privilege of living in ignorance of this essential fact.

-Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

I am sorry that I cannot make it okay. I am sorry that I cannot save you–but not that sorry. Part of me thinks that your very vulnerability brings you closer to the meaning of life…

-Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

We would prefer to say that such people cannot exist, that there aren’t any. To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good…

-Solzhenitsyn, quotes in Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me