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Remembering Florence King

Published Sunday, January 10, 2016 @ 11:07 AM EST
Jan 10 2016

Florence King, a columnist, author and professional misanthrope who was a constitutional crosspatch about all manner of things — in particular those things that smacked in the slightest of what she decried as touchy-feely late-20th-century liberalism — died on Wednesday at her home in Fredericksburg, Va. She was 80.

Her death, announced by the conservative magazine National Review, to which she had long contributed, took place not long after she had moved to an assisted-living community in Fredericksburg. It is reasonable to assume, however, that in moving there Miss King did not ultimately attain her stated goal of living “in a place that does not call itself ‘the community with a heart,’ ” as she once wrote, “where all the young people leave and the rest sit on a porch with a rifle across their knees.”

(Click here for full New York Times obituary.)


A home without a grandmother is like an egg without salt.

America is the only country in the world where you can suffer culture shock without leaving home.

Americans have gotten the message that life is easier if they don't think straight.

As the only class distinction available in a democracy, the college degree has created a caste society as rigid as ancient India's.

By sending the contradictory message that the famous are just plain folks on Mount Olympus, America has forged a relentless tension between loftiness and accessibility. Stir in the fact that the inborn talent and intelligence needed to achieve fame are immune to distributive tinkering by government programs and you have a definition of fame certain to produce envious rage: somebody screwed democracy.

Chinks in America's egalitarian armor are not hard to find. Democracy is the fig leaf of elitism.

Democracy is the crude leading the crud.

Each time a mediocre singer performs, he is saying, in effect, 'This is good enough for you.' The audience, thrust into that familiar American mood of knowing something is wrong but not knowing what it is, unconsciously absorbs the insult and projects it back onto the mediocre performer in the form of inattention, rudeness and noise.

Familiarity doesn't breed contempt, it is contempt.

Golf is an exercise in Scottish pointlessness for people who are no longer able to throw telephone poles at each other.

He travels fastest who travels alone, and that goes double for she. Real feminism is spinsterhood. It's time America admitted that old maids give all women a good name.

Humor inspires sympathetic, good-natured laughter and is favored by the 'healing power' gang. Wit goes for the jugular, not the jocular, and it's the opposite of football; instead of building character, it tears it down.

I do believe in reincarnation, but I do not believe there is life before noon.

I'd rather rot on my own floor than be found by a bunch of bingo players in a nursing home.

I've always said that next to Imperial China, the South is the best place in the world to be an old lady.

I've had sex and I've had food, and I'd rather eat.

In social matters, pointless conventions are not merely the bee sting of etiquette, but the snake bite of moral order.

Judge not, lest ye be judged judgmental.

Men are not very good at loving, but they are experts at admiring and respecting; the woman who goes after their admiration and respect will often come out better than she who goes out after their love.

Misanthropes have some admirable if paradoxical virtues. It is no exaggeration to say that we are among the nicest people you are likely to meet. Because good manners build sturdy walls, our distaste for intimacy makes us exceedingly cordial 'ships that pass in the night.' As long as you remain a stranger we will be your friend forever.

Owning your own home is America's unique recipe for avoiding revolution and promoting pseudo-equality at the same time. To keep citizens puttering in their yards instead of sputtering on the barricades, the government has gladly deprived itself of billions in tax revenues by letting home 'owners' deduct mortgage interest payments.

People are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they're all asleep at the switch. Consequently we are living in the Age of Human Error.

Showing up at school already able to read is like showing up at the undertaker's already embalmed: people start worrying about being put out of their jobs.

Southerners are so devoted to genealogy that we see a family tree under every bush.

Southerners have a genius for psychological alchemy. If something intolerable simply cannot be changed, driven away or shot they will not only tolerate it but take pride in it as well.

Thank God I'm over the hill... None of the things men do to women could possibly happen to me now unless the U.S. is invaded by one of those new Russian republics whose soldiers aren't fussy.

The confidence and security of a people can be measured by their attitude toward laxatives.

The feminization of America... has mired us in a soft, sickly, helpless tolerance of everything. America is the girl who can't say no, the town pump who lets anybody have a go at her. We are a single- parent country with no father to cut through the molasses and point out, for example, the inconsistency of embracing warm and compassionate 'values' while condemning cold and detached 'value judgments.'

The proliferation of support groups suggests to me that too many Americans are growing up in homes that do not contain a grandmother.

The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners.

There are so many different kinds of people in America, with so many different boiling points, that we don't know how to fight with each other... no American can be sure how or when another will react, so we zap each other with friendliness to neutralize potentially dangerous situations.

Those colorful denizens of male despair, the Bowery bum and the rail-riding hobo, have been replaced by the bag lady and the welfare mother. Women have even taken over Skid Row.

True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories.

When they came for the smokers, I kept silent because I don't smoke.
When they came for the meat eaters, I kept silent because I'm a vegetarian.
When they came for the gun owners, I kept silent because I'm a pacifist.
When they came for the drivers, I kept silent because I'm a bicyclist.
They never did come for me.
I'm still here because there's nobody left in the secret police except sissies with rickets.

Categories: Florence King, Passages, Quotes of the day


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