Weekend Words: Flag

Peter Paul Rubens, "Battle for the Flag" (1602-05), oil on canvas, 83 x 117 cm. Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna. (Image via Web Gallery of Art)
Peter Paul Rubens, “Battle for the Flag” (1602–5), oil on canvas, 83 x 117 cm, Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna (image via Web Gallery of Art)

This week it was revealed that the masterminds behind the mysterious appearance of a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge on July 22nd were artists after all.

“Talk about the flag or drugs or crime (never about race or class or justice) and follow the yellow brick road to the wonderful land of consensus. In place of honest argument among consenting adults the politicians substitute a lullaby for frightened children: the pretense that conflict doesn’t really exist, that we have achieved the blessed state in which we no longer need politics.”

—Lewis H. Lapham

“No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake. Loose ends, things unrelated, shifts, nightmare journeys, cities arrived at and left, meetings, desertions, betrayals, all manner of unions, adulteries, triumphs, defeats… these are the facts.”

—Alexander Trocchi

“Beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death’s pale flag is not advanced there.”

—William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

“Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.”

—James Baldwin

“Retreat was out of hope,—
Behind, a sealed route,
Eternity’s white flag before,
And God at every gate.”

—Emily Dickinson, “Our journey had advanced”

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

—H. L. Mencken

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