Monday, February 28, 2011

Provincial Life: from Let us Now Praise Famous Men

Tacoma Ruins
we may do well to question whether there is anything more marvelous or more valuable in the state of being we distinguish as 'life' than in the state of being of a stone, the brainless energy of a star, the diffuse existence of space. Certainly life is valuable; indispensable to all our personal calculations, the very spine of them: but we should realize that life and consciousness are only the special crutches of the living and the conscious, and that in setting as we do so high a value by them we are in a certain degree making a virtue of necessity; are being provincial; are pleading a local cause: like that small Nevada town whose pride, because it is its chiefly discernible exclusive distinction, [is] in a mineral spring whose water, assisted by salt and pepper, tastes remarkably like chicken soup.
From James Agee, Let us Now Praise Famous Men, 204 (Ballentine Pressing, 1966), a passage my wife, Alison, passed on to me, and me to you.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Cohen said...

It goes without saying that I love this quotation. Nonetheless I will say it: I love this quotation.