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  • The people trying to change others can conveniently be termed the angry, while the people trying to change themselves might be called the guilty, although it would be just as descriptive to speak of the controlling and the dependent, or the paranoid and the repressive, or, inelegantly, the screamers and the criers. In some circles, attaching labels to people rates only a little higher than chicken stealing, because ... a label immediately ends attempts to understand the individual.


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  • Labels not only free us from the obligation to think creatively; they numb our sensibilities, our power to feel. During the Vietnam War, the phrase body count entered our vocabulary. It is an ambiguous phrase, inorganic, even faintly sporty. It distanced us from the painful reality of corpses, of dead, mutilated people.

  • What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.

  • Labeling makes the invisible visible, but it's limiting. Categories are the enemy of connecting. Link, don't rank.

  • The language of labels is like paper money, issued irresponsibly, with nothing of intrinsic value behind it, that is, with no effort of the intelligence to see, to really apprehend.

  • Knowledge supersedes impression. Naming relegates nature to the world of books, experts, and authorities. It dilutes the immediacy of the experience.

  • New labels change nothing.

  • ... we expect definitions to tell us not only what is, but what to do about it; to show us how the world fits together and how its different parts connect and work. ... A label is the first step toward action.

  • ... how ridiculous we often are in our negations, our strutting self importance, our penchant for making labels and sticking them on people. As though labelling a person disposed of him!

  • hiss panicsss / as in from Hispania? / where's that? / non-existent country / non-existent people / no history or geography / no tongue to speak / of struggle.

  • All the kitchen objects [were] named: shakers called Salt and Pepper, a holder that said Napkins, a plastic cover emblazoned with Toaster, all for the benefit of those inevitable visitors from another planet.

  • Labels are for filing, labels are for clothing, labels are not for people.