Totem Quotes (displaying: 1 - 24 of 24 quotes )
The Pig Chef was - if you thought about it - one of the more sinister icons of American roadside art. Danny's personal totem. What kind of pig is a butcher? What kind of pig cooks barbeque? A traitor pig, a killer pig, a doomed preterite pig destined for eternal damnation. Danny's Pig Chefs showed the full weight of this knowledge in their mocking eyes and snaggled snouts.
I lost the conviction that lights would always turn green for me, the pleasant certainty that those rather passive virtues which had won me approval as a child automatically guaranteed me not only Phi Beta Kappa keys but happiness, honor, and the love of a good man; lost a certain touching faith in the totem power of good manners, clean hair, and a proven competence on the Stanford-Binet scale. To such doubtful amulets had my self-respect been pinned, and I faced myself that day with the non-plused apprehension of someone who has come across a vampire and has no crucifix at hand.
The Bumpuses were so low down on the evolutionary totem pole that they weren't even included in Darwin's famous family tree. They had inbred and ingrown and finally emerged from the Kentucky hills like some remnant of Attila the Hung's barbarian horde. Flick said that they had webbed feet and only three toes. It might have been true.
We wanted to blast the world free of history.... picture yourself planting radishes and seed potatoes on the fifteenth green of a forgotten golf course. You'll hunt elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center, and dig clams next to the skeleton of the Space Needle leaning at a forty-five degree angle. We'll paint the skyscrapers with huge totem faces and goblin tikis, and every evening what's left of mankind will retreat to empty zoos and lock itself in cages as protection against the bears and big cats and wolves that pace and watch us from outside the cage bars at night.
My hips bristle with totems and talismans, proof that I am not simply a character in a fixed book or film. I am no single narrative. As neither Rebecca de Winter nor Jane Eyre, I am free to revise my story, to reinvent myself, my world, at any given moment. Advancing beside Archer, I am resplendent in my savage finery of seized power. In my service charge the collected blackguards of a dozen tyrants now dispatched to a lesser oblivion. My fingers, stained crimson with the blood of despots, are not the fingers which paged through the paper lives of helpless romantic heroines. No more am I a passive damsel who waits for circumstance to decide her fate; now have I become the scalawag, the swashbuckler, the Heathcliff of my dreams bent on rescuing myself. For now do I embody all the traits I had so hoped to find in Goran. Meaning: No longer am I limited.
But something magical happened to me when I went to Reardan. Overnight I became a good player. I suppose it had something to do with confidence. I mean, I'd always been the lowest Indian on the reservation totem pole - I wasn't expected to be good so I wasn't. But in Reardan, my coach and the other players wanted me to be good. They needed me to be good. They expected me to be good. And so I became good. I wanted to live up to the expectations. I guess that's what it comes down to. The power of expectations. And as they expected more of me, I expected more of myself, and it just grew and grew.
Up until then I'd thought that white people and colored people getting along was the big aim, but after that I decided everybody being colorless together was a better plan. I thought of that policeman, Eddie Hazelwurst, saying I'd lowered myself to be in this house of colored women, and for the very life of me I couldn't understand how it had turned out this way, how colored women had become the lowest ones on the totem pole. You only had to look at them to see how special they were, like hidden royalty among us. Eddie Hazelwurst. What a shitbucket.
In fact I no longer value this kind of memento. I no longer want reminders of what was, what got broken, what got lost, what got wasted. There was a period, a long period, dating from my childhood until quite recently, when I thought I did. A period during which I believed that I could keep people fully present, keep them with me, by preserving their mementos, their "things," their totems.
We know the original relation of the theater and the cult of the Dead: the first actors separated themselves from the community by playing the role of the Dead: to make oneself up was to designate oneself as a body simultaneously living and dead: the whitened bust of the totemic theater, the man with the painted face in the Chinese theater, the rice-paste makeup of the Indian Katha-Kali, the Japanese No mask ... Now it is this same relation which I find in the Photograph; however 'lifelike' we strive to make it (and this frenzy to be lifelike can only be our mythic denial of an apprehension of death), Photography is a kind of primitive theater, a kind of Tableau Vivant, a figuration of the motionless and made-up face beneath which we see the dead.