Inherent in every living thing is an insatiable hunger, the innate desire to express life by freely and fully being 'what' it was uniquely created to be. To personalize this, consider the possibility that there was a time when you were a 'what' before you were a 'who.' If you can wrap your mind around that possibility, then, the question to explore is, what were you before you became a who-and why did you become the who you uniquely are when there are so many other 'who's on the planet you might have been? While this may seem like a bit of a paradoxi- cal tongue twister, it is the quintessential question that requires exploration if you are to follow your true North Star back to your point of origin, where you'll find your authentic self waiting to weave itself into the fabric of your human life today and every day.
What makes you think human beings are sentient and aware? There's no evidence for it. Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told-and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.' The reason is that beliefs guide behavior which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion. Next question.
Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and, therefore, the foundation of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
My dis-interest in what people speak of as "women's problems, " "women's literature." Have women a special sensibility? No. There are individuals uniquely talented & uniquely equipped to interpret the complex symbolism of the world but they are certainly not determined by gender. The very idea is astonishing. [... ] Energy, talent, vision, insight, compassion, the ability to stay with a single work for long periods of time, the ability to be faithful (to both one's writing and one's beloved)-these have nothing to do with gender. [... ] The sensibility of a Virginia Woolf, for instance. It's her own, it's uniquely hers. Not because she is a "female" but because she is, or was, Virginia Woolf. Not more sensitive than Henry James or Proust or James Joyce, consequently not more "feminine" in the narrow & misleading sense people use that term today... But then I suppose critics must have something to write about. [... ]
Jack Kerouac died after throwing up blood. The malt liquor. Then that other guy who shot his wife in the head. Burroughs somebody. And I wonder about literary figures. They're all drunk and staggering and haunting people today, I bet, still muttering and ranting in disassociated lines. Or, I'm wondering about a middle ground with wooly blankets and nubbly cardigans and nobody shot in the head. Where yes, you are uniquely mad. But functionally uniquely mad. Endlessly absorbed but in the mildly scattered kind of way instead of in the crap-I-shot-my-wife-in-the-head kind of way. Unable to dedicate to another human being only in occasional fits. Roald Dahl says you're a fool to become a writer, your only compensation being absolute freedom but then I'm not so sure about that. He bought a wagon from a Romanian gypsy and his kids played in it and I think he had more in the way of compensation than absolute freedom. He's got a point, though, even if he reached a point where his own point no longer applied to him. He had no master except his own soul, and that, he was sure, was why he did it.
Certainly, we can no longer look upon the canon of Western art - Greco-Roman as revived, extended, and graced by the Renaissance - as -the- tradition in art, or even any longer as distinctly and uniquely -ours-. That canon is in fact only one tradition among many, and indeed in its strict adherence to representational form is rather the exception in the whole gallery of -human- art. Such an extension of the resources of the past, for the modern artist, implies a different and more comprehensive understanding of the term "human" itself: a Sumerian figure of a fertility goddess is as "human" to us as a Greek Aphrodite. When the sensibility of an age can accommodate the alien "inhuman" forms of primitive art side by side with the classic "human" figures of Greece or the Renaissance, it should be obvious that the attitude toward man that we call classical humanism - which is the intellectual expression of the spirit that informs the classical canon of Western art - has also gone by the boards.
The kiss is the greatest of gifts, a miracle, uniquely human. A kiss beneath the mistletoe. A kiss after midnight. A kiss before dying. The devil's kiss. As a picture tells a thousand words, so a kiss says everything that's important. I am told prostitutes never kiss their clients. It is too personal, too human. We kiss to say I love you. We kiss the rings of the self-important. The feet of conquerors. The rich dark earth when we reach the promised land. We kiss our hands and wave as loved ones begin a journey. We kiss strangers before dawn in the first hours of a New Year because our wintry lips are incomplete until they are oiled by a kiss.
All types of societies are limited by economic factors. Nineteenth century civilization alone was economic in a different and distinctive sense, for it chose to base itself in a motive rarely acknowledged as valid in history of human societies, and certainly never before raised to the level of justification of action and behavior in everyday life, namely, gain. The self-regulating market system was uniquely derived from this principle. The mechanism which the motive gain set in motion was comparable in effectiveness only to the most violent outburst of religious fervor in history. Within a generation the whole human world was subjected to its undiluted influence.