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288 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1965
Maybe I flatter myself when I think that I have things in common with Hamlet, that I have an important mission, that I’m temporarily mixed up about how it should be done. Hamlet had one big edge on me. His father’s ghost told him exactly what he had to do, while I am operating without instructions. But from somewhere something is trying to tell me where to go, what to do there, and why to do it. Don’t worry, I don’t hear voices.
“You’re the man who stands on a street corner with a roll of toilet paper, and written on each square are the words, ‘I love you.’ And each passer-by, no matter who, gets a square all his or her own.”
“The problem is this: How to love people who have no use?
“In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering, and probably medicine, too. So — if we can’t find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, as has so often been suggested, rub them out.”
“Americans have long been taught to hate all people who will not or cannot work, to hate even themselves for that. We can thank the vanished frontier for that piece of common-sense cruelty. The time is coming, if it isn’t here now, when it will no longer be common sense. It will simply be cruel.” (LoA, p. 332)