Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Two more quotes from The Ox-Bow Incident:

Most men are afraid of being thought cowards than of anything else, and a lot more afraid of being thought physical cowards than moral ones. There are a lot of loud arguments to cover moral cowardice, but even an animal will know if you're scared. If rarity is worth, then moral courage is a lot higher quality than physical courage; but, excepting diamonds and hard cash, there aren't many who take to anything because of its rarity. Just the other way. Davies was resisting something that had immediacy and a strong animal grip, with something remote and mistrusted. He'd have to make his argument look common sense and hardy, or else humorous, and I wasn't sure he could do either. If he couldn't he was going to find that it was the small but present "we," not the big, misty 'we," that shaped men's deeds, no matter what shaped their explanations.


Having heard myself speak I realized that queerly, weak and bad-tempered as it was, there had been something in the kid's raving which had made the canyon seem to swell out and become immaterial until you could think the whole world, the univese, into the half-darkness around you: millions of souls swarming like fierce, tiny, pale stars, shinging hard, winking about cores of minute, mean feelings, thoughts and deeds. To me his idea appeared just the opposite of Davies'. To the kid, what everybody thought was low and wicked, and their hanging together was a mere disguise of their evil. To Davies, what everybody thought became, because everybody thought it, just and fine, and to act up to what they thought was to elevate oneself. And yet both of them gave you that feeling of thinking outside yourself, in a big place; the kid gave me that feeling even more, if anything, though he was disgusting. You could feel what he meant; you could only think what Davies meant.

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