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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

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xix

There’s a certain kind of cultural hero—the artist, the scientist, the thinker—who is often characterized as one who lives for “the work.” Family, friends, moral obligations be damned, the work comes first. The reason the work comes first in the case of the artist, the scientist, the thinker is that its practice makes flare into bright life a sense of inner expressiveness that is incomparable. To feel not simply alive but expressive is to feel as though one has reached center. That conviction of centeredness irradiates the mind, heart, and spirit like nothing else. Many if not most of the Communists who felt destined for a life of serious radicalism experienced themselves in exactly the same way. Their lives too—impassioned by an ideal of social justice—were irradiated by a kind of expressiveness that made them feel brilliantly centered. This centeredness glowed in the dark: it was what made them beautiful, well spoken, and often heroic.

—p.xix by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

There’s a certain kind of cultural hero—the artist, the scientist, the thinker—who is often characterized as one who lives for “the work.” Family, friends, moral obligations be damned, the work comes first. The reason the work comes first in the case of the artist, the scientist, the thinker is that its practice makes flare into bright life a sense of inner expressiveness that is incomparable. To feel not simply alive but expressive is to feel as though one has reached center. That conviction of centeredness irradiates the mind, heart, and spirit like nothing else. Many if not most of the Communists who felt destined for a life of serious radicalism experienced themselves in exactly the same way. Their lives too—impassioned by an ideal of social justice—were irradiated by a kind of expressiveness that made them feel brilliantly centered. This centeredness glowed in the dark: it was what made them beautiful, well spoken, and often heroic.

—p.xix by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
4

[...] the mere articulation of the words in my mother’s mouth produced a peculiar and relieving focus against the murkiness of that mysterious force, a focus which told me where and who I was: I was the daughter of Papa who worked hard all day long. Finally, the words said: We are all of us, here in this house, vitally connected to the fact that Papa works hard all day long. We pay attention to and respect that fact; we make common cause with it. This last, this oneness, this solidarity, produced in me pride and excitement; it dissolved the numbness and transformed the pain back into a moving, stirring, agitating element: something to be understood and responded to, something to be dealt with and struggled against.

—p.4 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

[...] the mere articulation of the words in my mother’s mouth produced a peculiar and relieving focus against the murkiness of that mysterious force, a focus which told me where and who I was: I was the daughter of Papa who worked hard all day long. Finally, the words said: We are all of us, here in this house, vitally connected to the fact that Papa works hard all day long. We pay attention to and respect that fact; we make common cause with it. This last, this oneness, this solidarity, produced in me pride and excitement; it dissolved the numbness and transformed the pain back into a moving, stirring, agitating element: something to be understood and responded to, something to be dealt with and struggled against.

—p.4 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
7

They took with them on this journey not only their own narrow, impoverished experience but a set of abstractions as well, abstractions with the power to transform. When these people sat down at the kitchen table to talk, Politics sat down with them, Ideas sat down with them, above all, History sat down with them. They spoke and thought within a context that had world-making properties. This context lifted them out of the nameless, faceless obscurity of the soul into which they had been born and gave them, for the first time in their lives, a sense of rights as well as of obligations. They had rights because they now knew who and what they were. They were not simply the disinherited of the earth, they were proletarians. They were not a people without a history, they had the Russian Revolution. They were not without a civilizing world view, they had Marxism.

—p.7 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

They took with them on this journey not only their own narrow, impoverished experience but a set of abstractions as well, abstractions with the power to transform. When these people sat down at the kitchen table to talk, Politics sat down with them, Ideas sat down with them, above all, History sat down with them. They spoke and thought within a context that had world-making properties. This context lifted them out of the nameless, faceless obscurity of the soul into which they had been born and gave them, for the first time in their lives, a sense of rights as well as of obligations. They had rights because they now knew who and what they were. They were not simply the disinherited of the earth, they were proletarians. They were not a people without a history, they had the Russian Revolution. They were not without a civilizing world view, they had Marxism.

—p.7 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
9

Who, who came out of that world could fail to remember the extraordinary quality these experiences embodied for all those living through them? You were, if you were there, in the presence of one of the most amazing of humanizing processes: that process whereby one emerges by merging; whereby one experiences oneself through an idea of the self beyond the self and one becomes free, whole, and separate through the mysterious agency of a disciplining context. In short, you were in the presence of the socializing emotion, that emotion whose operating force is such that men and women feel themselves not through that which composes their own unique, individual selves but rather through that which composes the shared, irreducible self.

—p.9 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

Who, who came out of that world could fail to remember the extraordinary quality these experiences embodied for all those living through them? You were, if you were there, in the presence of one of the most amazing of humanizing processes: that process whereby one emerges by merging; whereby one experiences oneself through an idea of the self beyond the self and one becomes free, whole, and separate through the mysterious agency of a disciplining context. In short, you were in the presence of the socializing emotion, that emotion whose operating force is such that men and women feel themselves not through that which composes their own unique, individual selves but rather through that which composes the shared, irreducible self.

—p.9 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
13

What I remember most deeply about the Communists is their passion. It was passion that converted them, passion that held them, passion that lifted them up and then twisted them down. Each and every one of them experienced a kind of inner radiance: some intensity of illumination that tore at the soul. To know that radiance, to be lit from within, and then to lose it; to be thrown back, away from its light and heat; to know thereafter the ordinary greyness of life, black and lightless; that was to know a kind of exaltation and dread that can be understood only, perhaps, by those who have loved deeply and suffered the crippling loss of that love.

—p.13 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

What I remember most deeply about the Communists is their passion. It was passion that converted them, passion that held them, passion that lifted them up and then twisted them down. Each and every one of them experienced a kind of inner radiance: some intensity of illumination that tore at the soul. To know that radiance, to be lit from within, and then to lose it; to be thrown back, away from its light and heat; to know thereafter the ordinary greyness of life, black and lightless; that was to know a kind of exaltation and dread that can be understood only, perhaps, by those who have loved deeply and suffered the crippling loss of that love.

—p.13 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
32

“[...] Imagine being that poor with nothing to explain your poverty to you, nothing to give it some meaning, to help you get through the days and years because you could believe that it wouldn’t always be this way.

“That’s what our politics was to us. It literally negated our deprivation. It was rich, warm, energetic, an exciting thickness in which our lives were wrapped. It nourished us when nothing else nourished us. It not only kept us alive, it made us powerful inside ourselves. During the Depression my father couldn’t even get work as a button-maker. He made syrups—vanilla and chocolate, I’ll never forget—on the kitchen stove, and he poured them into huge milk cans, and he lugged them around the neighborhood selling them door-to-door. From the time I could schlepp the milk can I went with him. . . .

“But every Sunday for thirty years, rain or shine, in blizzards, in heat, sick, starving or otherwise, he sold the Daily Worker down at the railroad yards. And when he sold the Daily Worker he seemed suddenly whole and strong, and then I loved him desperately.

—p.32 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

“[...] Imagine being that poor with nothing to explain your poverty to you, nothing to give it some meaning, to help you get through the days and years because you could believe that it wouldn’t always be this way.

“That’s what our politics was to us. It literally negated our deprivation. It was rich, warm, energetic, an exciting thickness in which our lives were wrapped. It nourished us when nothing else nourished us. It not only kept us alive, it made us powerful inside ourselves. During the Depression my father couldn’t even get work as a button-maker. He made syrups—vanilla and chocolate, I’ll never forget—on the kitchen stove, and he poured them into huge milk cans, and he lugged them around the neighborhood selling them door-to-door. From the time I could schlepp the milk can I went with him. . . .

“But every Sunday for thirty years, rain or shine, in blizzards, in heat, sick, starving or otherwise, he sold the Daily Worker down at the railroad yards. And when he sold the Daily Worker he seemed suddenly whole and strong, and then I loved him desperately.

—p.32 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
38

Saltzman looks at his watch. “I’ve got to go,” he says. “You know, my union is striking. I’ve got to go relieve someone on the picket line.”

He shakes his head in wonder. “It’s not for myself that I picket anymore. I make good money now, I’m a privileged old man in the shop. It’s for them. It’s for these know-nothings who have come after me that I picket. You want an education in America? Come down to my shop building at seven o’clock in the morning. You’ll see them fighting like animals to get up to the shop to get at their machines. And then stand in the bank on Friday and look at their paychecks. A man with a family takes home seventy-seven dollars.”

Now Saltzman weeps in earnest. “For what?” he cries, forgetful of the fancy restaurant and the snobbish waiters. “All those years! For what? What have we accomplished here?”

man

—p.38 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

Saltzman looks at his watch. “I’ve got to go,” he says. “You know, my union is striking. I’ve got to go relieve someone on the picket line.”

He shakes his head in wonder. “It’s not for myself that I picket anymore. I make good money now, I’m a privileged old man in the shop. It’s for them. It’s for these know-nothings who have come after me that I picket. You want an education in America? Come down to my shop building at seven o’clock in the morning. You’ll see them fighting like animals to get up to the shop to get at their machines. And then stand in the bank on Friday and look at their paychecks. A man with a family takes home seventy-seven dollars.”

Now Saltzman weeps in earnest. “For what?” he cries, forgetful of the fancy restaurant and the snobbish waiters. “All those years! For what? What have we accomplished here?”

man

—p.38 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
42

“A lot of it was just sheer grinding shitwork. You think making a revolution is all agony and ecstasy? It’s not, it’s mostly drudgery. Hard, disciplined, repetitive work that’s boring and necessary. But what keeps you going is that twenty times a week something would happen—out there in that lousy capitalist world or inside among your comrades—and you’d remember. You’d remember why you were here, and what you were doing it all for, and it was like a shot of adrenalin coursing through your veins. The world was all around you all the time. That was the tremendous thing about those times. The sense of history that you lived with daily. The sense of remaking the world. Every time I wrote a leaflet or marched on a picket line or went to a meeting I was remaking the world. . . . My father’s bitter, forgotten life. I felt myself vindicating that life, and the millions of lives like his, pulling my father back inside the circle of the world, pulling him back off the edge of the map, because I was doing what I was doing. Because I was a Communist.

—p.42 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

“A lot of it was just sheer grinding shitwork. You think making a revolution is all agony and ecstasy? It’s not, it’s mostly drudgery. Hard, disciplined, repetitive work that’s boring and necessary. But what keeps you going is that twenty times a week something would happen—out there in that lousy capitalist world or inside among your comrades—and you’d remember. You’d remember why you were here, and what you were doing it all for, and it was like a shot of adrenalin coursing through your veins. The world was all around you all the time. That was the tremendous thing about those times. The sense of history that you lived with daily. The sense of remaking the world. Every time I wrote a leaflet or marched on a picket line or went to a meeting I was remaking the world. . . . My father’s bitter, forgotten life. I felt myself vindicating that life, and the millions of lives like his, pulling my father back inside the circle of the world, pulling him back off the edge of the map, because I was doing what I was doing. Because I was a Communist.

—p.42 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
46

He went to work in a steel mill. And, of course, within minutes he became a union organizer in the mill. And, of course, within minutes after that, he joined the Communist Party. “You see, there was no way out,” Preisen laughs now. “In those days, no matter which way you turned, the best, the most exciting, the most serious guys in the labor movement were in the Party. If you wanted to do anything at all, you found yourself working with these guys. And, they were beautiful people. And, it was a tough, exciting time. History was all around you. You could touch it, smell it, see it. And when a labor organizer who was also a Communist got up to talk you could taste it in your mouth. How could a guy like me resist it? I couldn’t then . . . and not for a long time afterward.

someone who went to fight in Spain in 1938 at the age of 19

—p.46 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

He went to work in a steel mill. And, of course, within minutes he became a union organizer in the mill. And, of course, within minutes after that, he joined the Communist Party. “You see, there was no way out,” Preisen laughs now. “In those days, no matter which way you turned, the best, the most exciting, the most serious guys in the labor movement were in the Party. If you wanted to do anything at all, you found yourself working with these guys. And, they were beautiful people. And, it was a tough, exciting time. History was all around you. You could touch it, smell it, see it. And when a labor organizer who was also a Communist got up to talk you could taste it in your mouth. How could a guy like me resist it? I couldn’t then . . . and not for a long time afterward.

someone who went to fight in Spain in 1938 at the age of 19

—p.46 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago
52

[...] she looks hard at me, and she says: “You don’t understand. We had no choice. It’s not like today, where the kids think they have the choice to be political or not be political, or be any other damn thing they want to be. We had no choice. We did not choose, we were chosen. Life came in on us, and we were bashed over the head, and we struggled to our knees and to our feet, and when we were standing there was the Communist Party. That was the time, and that’s the kind of people we were.”

Belle, who leaves her husband after he's expelled from the party (quarrels "over union policy and the Stalin Pact")

—p.52 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago

[...] she looks hard at me, and she says: “You don’t understand. We had no choice. It’s not like today, where the kids think they have the choice to be political or not be political, or be any other damn thing they want to be. We had no choice. We did not choose, we were chosen. Life came in on us, and we were bashed over the head, and we struggled to our knees and to our feet, and when we were standing there was the Communist Party. That was the time, and that’s the kind of people we were.”

Belle, who leaves her husband after he's expelled from the party (quarrels "over union policy and the Stalin Pact")

—p.52 by Vivian Gornick 3 years, 4 months ago