"You've probably worked out by now that if you think courageous thoughts, you will cross busy streets without looking, and if you think sadistic, venal thoughts, you will find yourself pulling out the chair every time someone is about to sit down. You are what you think. So if you don't want to turn into your father, you don't want to think yourself into a corner like he did- you need to think yourself into the open, and the only way to do that is to enjoy not knowing whether you're right or wrong, play the game of life without trying to work out the rules. Stop judging the living, enjoy futility, don't be disillusioned with murder, remember that fasting men survive while starving men die, laugh as your illusions collapse, and above all, always bless every single minute of this silly season in hell."
how apt, on xenophobia and the world at large:
"... But I doubted that they were aware of the adolescent competition among political leaders to see who had the toughest immigration policies, the kind you wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley. Or that public opinion was already set against them, because even if you're running for your life you still have to wait in line, or that Australia, like everywhere, excelled in making excellent arbitrary distinctions between people seem important."
amongst other acute and interesting observations:
"But what I want to know is, what does your view of my father say about you? When someone comes into the world who reaches the worst depths that humans can sink to, we will always call him a monster, or evil, or the embodiment of evil, but there is never any serious hint or suggestion that there is something actually supernatural or otherworldly about this individual. He may be an evil man, but he is just a man. But when our extraordinary person operating on the other side of the spectrum, the good, rises to the surface, like Jesus or Buddha, immediately we elevate him to God, a deity, something divine, supernatural, otherworldly. This is a reflection of how we see ourselves. We have no trouble believing that the worst creature who has done the most harm is a man, but we absolutely cannot believe that the best creature, who tries to inspire imagination, creativity and empathy, can be one of us. We just don't think that highly of ourselves, but we happily think that low."
"... how when you're a child, to stop you from following the crowd you're assaulted with the line 'If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?' but when you're an adult and to be different is suddenly a crime, people seem to be saying, 'Hey. Everyone is jumping off a bridge. Why aren't you?'"
there are also some I like, just because.
" 'Dad,' I said, 'remember how you said love is a pleasure, a stimulant and a distraction?'
'Well, there's something else you didn't mention. And that's that if you could save the person from ever having another splinter in her finger, you'd run around the world laminating all the wood with a fine, transparent surface, just to save her from the splinter. That's love.'
Dad said, 'Huh. I'll make a note of that.' "
One of my favourite books ever, second time reading it, much thanks to sxpx who gave it to me for my 18th birthday.