Rhonda Byrne (quotes)

  • Shift your awareness.
  • Heaven is within you.
  • Your joy lies within you.
  • The Secret is within you.
  • Your thoughts become things!
  • It’s important to feel good.
  • Healthy respect for yourself.
  • Immune system will heal itself.
  • Your thoughts cause your feelings.
  • Gratitude is the great multiplier.
  • VISUALIZE!!! Rehearse your future.
  • I don’t control anything I create.
  • Feel the joy .. feel the happiness.
  • You attract your dominant thoughts.
  • Love is… a positive force of life.
  • Everyone has the power to visualize.
  • We are the creators of our universe.
  • They remember to do it all the time.
  • You get exactly what you are FEELING.
  • “The Secret” is the law of attraction.
  • You are meant to have an amazing life.
  • People are responsible for their own joy.
  • The Law of Attraction is the Law of Love.
  • we attract what is happening in our lives
  • We are all connected, and we are all One.
  • Life is meant to be abundant in ALL areas.
  • Make a written list of everything you love.
  • You have to feel love to harness its power!
  • Expectation is a powerful attractive force.
  • To attract money, you must focus on wealth.
  • The Universe is a masterpiece of abundance.
  • All stress begins with one negative thought.
  • Universe will re-arrange itself accordingly.
  • Success comes from within, not from without.
  • see the things that you want as already yours
  • The time to embrace your magnificence is now.
  • There is always something to be grateful for.
  • You will attract everything that you require.
  • The law of attraction says like attracts like.
  • Your imagination is an extremely powerful tool.
  • You are the only one that creates your reality.
  • How can you become more prosperous?? INTEND IT!!
  • As you ask and feel and believe, you will receive.
  • Plant as many good thoughts as you can in each day.
  • Start thinking happy thoughts and start being happy.
  • To not love ourselves can keep what we want from us.
  • Life can be absoletely phenomenal, and it should be.
  • We are mass energy. Everything is energy. EVERYTHING.
  • Happy feelings will attract more happy circumstances.
  • Trust the Universe. Trust and believe and have faith.
  • Everything you want to be, do or have comes from love.
  • Life isn’t happening to you; life is responding to you.
  • What you are thinking now is creating your future life.
  • Play the picture in your mind – focus on the end result.
  • When the opportunity is there, when the impulse is there
  • Even challenges are beautiful opportunities in disguise.
  • See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it.
  • Out of my greatest dispair, was to come my greatest gift.
  • VISUALIZE!!! See it, feel it! This is where action begins.
  • The feeling of love is the highest frequency you can emit.
  • You have the ability to choose what you want to experience.
  • Illness cannot exist in a body that has harmonious thoughts.
  • You can’t have a universe without the mind entering into it.
  • Every idea from your thoughts is the real thing it’s strength
  • Healing through the mind can work harmoniously with medicine.
  • Remember that you are a magnet, attracting everything to you.
  • Whatever is going on in your mind is what you are attracting.
  • No one else can think or feel for you .. it’s YOU .. ONLY YOU.
  • And allow the world as others choose to see it, exist as well.
  • It’s OK that thoughts don’t manifest into reality immediately.
  • You don’t need to know how the Universe will rearrange itself.
  • Whatever you give out in life is what you receive back in life.
  • Remember that your thoughts are the primary cause of everything.
  • Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can.
  • We become what we think about. Energy flows where attention goes.
  • There is no greater power in the Universe than the power of love.
  • Claim the things you want by feeling and believing they are yours.
  • Thought impregnated with love becomes invincible. (Charles Haanel)
  • When you feel good you uplift your life, and you uplift the world.
  • Your feelings are your greatest tools to help you create your life.
  • When you have an inspired thought, you must trust it and act on it.
  • Set a goal so big that if you achieved it, it would blow your mind.
  • Every thought has a frequency. Thoughts send out a magnetic energy.
  • Remember that you are a magnet! Appreciation attracts appreciation!
  • You have to talk about what you love, to bring what you love to you.
  • It is impossible to feel bad and at the same time have good thoughts
  • Turn it over to the universe daily.. but it should never be a chore.
  • Faith is trusting in the good. Fear is putting your trust in the bad.
  • People think about what they don’t want and attract more of the same.
  • Love and gratitude can part seas, move mountains, and create miracles.
  • Every thought of yours is a real thing ‚Äì a force. (Prentice Mulford)
  • An affirmative thought is 100 times more powerful than a negative one.
  • Go for the sense of inner joy and peace then all outside things appear.
  • The universe likes SPEED. Don’t delay, don’t second-guess, don’t doubt.
  • The more you use the power within you, the more you will draw it to you.
  • If you are feeling good , it is because you are thinking good thoughts .
  • There is no excuse not to give two minutes today to intend your tomorrow.
  • Through this most powerful law, your thoughts become things in your life.
  • The better you feel about money, the more money you magnetize to yourself.
  • Laughter attracts joy, releases negativity, and leads to miraculous cures.
  • The shortcut to anything you want in your life is to BE and FEEL happy now!
  • When you are praising or blessing you are on the highest frequency of love.
  • The Universe offers all things to all people through the law of attraction.
  • Asking is the first step in the Creative Process, so make it a habit to ask.
  • Learn to become still, and take your attention away from what you don’t want
  • Receiving involves feeling the way you feel once your desire has manifested.
  • EVERYTHING in your life you have attracted .. accept that fact .. it’s true.
  • Feel exhilarated by this whole process. You want to be high, happy, in tune.
  • You get to choose what you want, but you must get clear about what you want.
  • Be grateful for what you already have, and you will attract more good things.
  • We have so much love to give, and the more that we give, the more we receive.
  • It is as easy to manifest one dollar as it is to manifest one million dollars.
  • Choose your thoughts carefully […] you are the masterpiece of your own life.
  • Love, because when you love, you are using the greatest power in the Universe.
  • We are like magnets – like attract like. You become AND attract what you think.
  • When you want to change your circumstances, you must first change your thinking.
  • You are the master of your life, and the Universe is answering your every command.
  • the force of love will change your life so fast that you will scarcely believe it!
  • You have to find a different approach to what is through a different vantage point.
  • Remove stress from the body and the body regenerates itself. You can heal yourself.
  • Ask once, believe you have received, and all you have to do to receive is feel good.
  • Your power is in your thoughts, so stay awake. In other words, remember to remember.
  • When you get the hang of this, before you know it you will KNOW you are the creator.
  • Gratitude is the great multiplier, so say thank you for your health every single day.
  • Your thoughts are seeds, and the harvest you reap will depend on the seeds you plant.
  • When you are in joy you are in love with the world & the Universe is in love with you.
  • Most people offer the majority of their thought in response to what they are observing.
  • Whenever you think you can or think you can‚Äôt, either way you are right. (Henry Ford)
  • Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts.
  • You might get an inspired thought or idea to help you move towards what you want faster.
  • What you focus on with your thought and feeling is what you attract into your experience.
  • Love is appreciating, complimenting, feeling gratitude, and speaking good words to others.
  • Start by using this sentence for all of your wants: “I’m so happy and grateful now that…. “
  • If you focus completely on the things you love, then you are on your way to a beautiful life.
  • To attract the things we love we must transmit love, and those things will appear immediately.
  • Your life will be what you create it as, and no one will stand in judgment of it, now or ever.
  • Those who speak most of illness have illness, those who speak most of prosperity have it..etc.
  • No rules according to the Universe. You provide the feelings of having it now; it will respond.
  • Treat yourself the way you want to be treated by others… love yourself and you will be loved.
  • By all means ask for abundance and health for you, but also ask for it to be given to everyone.
  • Treat yourself with love and respect, and you will attract people who show you love and respect.
  • Life doesn’t just happen to you; you receive everything in your life based on what you’ve given.
  • When you are in Joy, you are compassionate. When you are in Joy, you are considerate and caring.
  • Your wealth is waiting for you in the invisible, and to bring it into the visible, think wealth!
  • The truth is there is more than enough love, creative ideas, power, joy, happiness to go around.
  • You are the one who calls the law of attraction into action, and you do it through your thoughts.
  • Your ability to think is unlimited, and so the things you can think into existence are unlimited.
  • Close your eyes and visualize having what you already want – and the feeling of having it already.
  • LOA is simply figuring out for yourself what will generate the positive feelings of having it NOW.
  • There is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstances of your life can change!
  • Health: thank the universe for your own healing. Laugh, stress free happiness will keep you healthy.
  • You become what you think about most.. But you also attract what you think about most. (John Assaraf)
  • You must believe that you have received. You must know that what you want is your the moment you ask.
  • Start telling the story of your amazing life, and the law of attraction must make sure you receive it!
  • The key is your thoughts and feelings, and you have been holding the key in your hand all of your life.
  • It may seem like a big risk to follow your dream, but isn’t the greatest risk of all to miss your life?
  • Decide what you want … believe you can have it, believe you deserve it, believe it’s possible for you.
  • All your power is in your awareness of that power, and through holding that power in your consciousness.
  • Every day, in every moment, you make the choice whether to love and harness the positive force – or not.
  • Life is simple. Your life is made up of only two kinds of things ‚Äì positive things and negative things.
  • Your thoughts determine your frequency, and your feelings tell you immediately what frequency you are on.
  • HOW LONG??? No rules on time .. the more aligned you are with positive feelings the quicker things happen.
  • To make a relationship work, focus on what you appreciate about the other person, and not your complaints.
  • Parts of our bodies are replace every day, every week..etc… Within a few years we have a brand new body.
  • You are a genius beyond description, so start telling yourself that and become aware of who you really are.
  • To use the law of attraction to your advantage, make it a habitual way of being, not just a one-time event.
  • When you do not treat yourself the way you want others to treat you, you can never change the way things are.
  • See yourself living in a new body. Hopeful = recovery. Happy = happier biochemistry. Stress degrades the bod.
  • Don’t define yourself by your body .. it’s the infinite being that’s connected to everything in the universe.
  • Thought = creation. If these thoughts are attached to powerful emotions (good or bad) that speeds the creation
  • Create your day in advance by thinking the way you want it to go, and you will create your life intentionally.
  • When you make feeling good a priority, that magnificent frequency will radiate and touch everyone close to you.
  • When you realize your potential to feel good, you will ask no one to be different in order for you to feel good.
  • Compliment people wherever you go. Praise every single thing you see. Be a ray of sunshine to everyone you meet.
  • It only takes a minute to cause hurt but sometimes a lifetime to repair. Be careful with your words and actions.
  • Every single second is an opportunity to change your life, because in any moment you can change the way you feel.
  • If you have more negative things than positive things in your life, then something is very wrong and you know it.
  • Size is nothing to the universe (unlimited abundance if that’s what you wish) We make the rules on size and time.
  • The positive force of love can create anything good, increase good things and change anything negative in your life.
  • Focus only on things you love, feel love, and you will experience that love and joy coming back to you – multiplied!
  • Be aware of everything around you, because you are receiving the answers to your questions in every moment of the day.
  • When you conceive something in your mind, know it is a fact, and that there can be no question about its manifestation.
  • The law of attraction is the law of creation. Quantum physicists tell us that the entire Universe emerged from thought!
  • Just the simple process of letting go of negative thoughts will allow your natural state of health to emerge within you.
  • Love is not weak, feeble or soft. Love is the positive force of life. Love is the cause of everything positive and good.
  • If you can think about what you want in your mind, and make that your dominant thought, you will bring it into your life.
  • You will attract everything you require – money, people, connections.. PAY ATTENTION to what’s being set in front of you.
  • You can use the law of attraction to create your whole life in advance, right down to the next thing you are doing today.
  • How it will happen, how the Universe will bring it to you, is not your concern or job. Allow the Universe to do it for you.
  • You can begin feeling whatever you want (even if it’s not there).. the universe will correspond to the nature of your song.
  • When you give thanks as though you have already received what you want, you are emitting a powerful signal to the Universe.
  • What are the things you are grateful for?? Feel the gratitude.. focus on what you have right now that you are grateful for.
  • Giving is a powerful action to bring more money into your life, because when you are giving you are saying, “I have plenty.”
  • You are the ruler of a kingdom, and whatever you think and feel becomes the law of your kingdom — the law within your body.
  • For those you work with or interact with regularly .. get a notebook and write down positive aspects of each of those people.
  • You can purposefully use your feelings to transmit an even more powerful frequency, by adding feeling to what you are wanting.
  • You create your future with the power of your intention. Intention is simply the conscious act of determining your future now.
  • When you find your purpose, it is like your heart has been set alight with passion. You know it absolutely, without any doubt.
  • Focus on being grateful for what you have already .. enjoy it!! Then release into the universe. The universe will manifest it.
  • When we open our minds to the unlimited creative power, we will call forth abundance and see and experience a whole new world.
  • Decide what you want to be, do, and have, think the thoughts of it, emit the frequency, and your vision will become your life.
  • Instead of focusing on the world’s problems, give your attention and energy to trust, love, abundance, education and peace. :-)
  • When you say “I am,” the words that follow are summoning creation with a mighty force, because you are declaring it to be fact.
  • Life is not about negative circumstances that happen to you, it’s about what you do with the golden opportunities hidden within!
  • The truth is that the universe has been answering you all of your life, but you cannot receive the answers unless you are awake.
  • I was trying to change things on the outside and you can’t. You’ve got to feel it on the inside and everything else will change.
  • You are not here to try to get the world to be just as you want it. You are here to create the world around you that you choose.
  • Your current thoughts are creating your future life. What you think about the most or focus on the most will appear as your life
  • You can change your emotion immediately .. by thinking of something joyful, or singing a song, or remembering a happy experience.
  • The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts.
  • No matter who you are, no matter how difficult things might appear to be, you are always being moved towards magnificence. Always.
  • Everything else you see and experience in this world is effect, and that includes your feelings. The cause is always your thoughts.
  • The law of attraction is a law of nature. It is as impartial and impersonal as the law of gravity is. It is precise and it is exact
  • You will free yourself from the cumbersome impossibilities of needing to control the world, your friends, your mate, your children.
  • Just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful quotes each and every day…Some days, it’s the nicest thing I hear all day….Muah.
  • In the moment you ask, and believe and know you already have it in the unseen, the entire Universe shifts to bring it into the seen.
  • You have the ability to give so much to the world by emitting feelings of love and well-being, despite what is happening around you.
  • So let the variety of your reality thrill you as you choose all the things you want.. get behind the good feelings of all your wants.
  • As you think of yourself living in abundance, you are powerfully and consciously determining your life through the law of attraction.
  • It is important to remember that we are energy. Einstein told us that. And energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes form.
  • You cannot create in another’s life against their will, but if it is something they want, your thoughts are a real force that helps them.
  • The only difference between people who live in this way… is that the people who love in the magic of life have habituated ways of being
  • The only reason why people do not have what they want is because they are thinking more about what they don’t want than what they do want.
  • Remember it only takes giving love and good feelings a minimum of 51 percent of the tiem to reach the tipping point and change everything.
  • One energy field. Our bodies have distracted us from our energy. We are the infinite field of unfolding possibilities. The creative force.
  • You are the masterpiece of your own life. You are the Michelangelo of your own life. The David you are sculpturing is you (Dr. Joe Vitale)
  • When you emit the perfect frequency of what you want, the perfect people, circumstances, and events will be attracted to you and delivered!
  • Nothing can prevent your picture from coming into concrete form except the same power which gave it birth ‚Äì yourself. (Genevieve Behrend)
  • The feeling of love is the highest frequency you can emit. The greater the love you feel and emit, the greater the power you are harnessing.
  • We don’t need to complicate all the “reasons” behind our emotions. It’s much simpler than that. Two categories .. good feelings, bad feelings.
  • Without exception, every person who has a great life used love to achieve it. The power to have all the positive and good things in life is love.
  • When you need money, it is a powerful feeling within you, and so of course through the law of attraction you will continue to attract needing money.
  • Every person has their own unique circumstances to overcome, but every single person has the opportunity to achieve anything – and change everything.
  • Thoughts that bring about good feelings mean you are on the right track. Thoughts that bring about bad feelings means you are not on the right track.
  • You can’t change a negative situation with bad feelings. If you keep reacting negatively, your bad feelings will magnify and multiply the negativity.
  • You are free to think thoughts of worry or joy, and whatever you choose will attract the same kind back to you. Worry attracts worry. Joy attracts joy.
  • Whatever is in your magnetic field is attracting to itself, and so the more love in your field, the more power you have to attract the things you love.
  • Everything is energy. You are an energy magnet, so you electrically energize everything to you and electrically energize yourself to everything you want
  • If you have an intuitive or instinctive feeling, follow it, and you will find that the Universe is magnetically moving you to receive what you asked for.
  • The Great Secret of Life is the law of attraction that says like attracts like, so when you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you.
  • Whatever you give out in life is what you receive back in life. Give positivity, you receive back positivity; give negativity, you receive back negativity.
  • ‘Checks are coming in the mail regularly’… or change your bank statement to whatever balance you want in there… and get behind the feeling of having it.
  • Create a Vision Board .. pictures of what you want to attract .. every day look at it and get into the feeling state of already having acquired these wants.
  • There is a truth deep down inside of you that has been waiting for you to discover it, and that truth is this: you deserve all good things life has to offer.
  • Remember, if you are criticising, you are not being grateful. If you are blaming, you are not being grateful. If you are complaining, you are not being grateful.
  • People think that if everyone knows the power of the LOA there won’t be enough to go around .. This is a lie that’s been ingrained in us and makes so many greedy.
  • Absolutely everything you experience in your life is a result of what you have given in your thoughts and feelings, whether you realize you have given them or not.
  • There is both joy and suffering on planet Earth because this beautiful world is a world of duality – a world of opposites. There is an opposite side to everything.
  • That a man can change himself‚Ķand master his own destiny is the conclusion of every mind who is wide-awake to the power of right thought.‚Äù(Christian D. Larson)
  • You must look for the good in people to have more of it appear. As you look only for the good things in a person, you will be amazed at what your new focus reveals.
  • It’s impossible to feel sad or have any negative feeling when you’re grateful. If you’re in the midst of a difficult situation, look for something to be grateful for.
  • I am content and happy with my situation and like the flexibility that comes with being self-employed. And it’s nice to know that I can contribute something to society
  • Whoever has gratitude will be given more, and he or she will have an abundance. Whoever does not have gratitude, even what he or she has will be taken from him or her.
  • The more love you give in your day-to-day life, the greater the magnetic power of love you have in the field around you, and everything you want will fall at your feet.
  • All of this abundance begins to shine through a mind that is aware of it’s own infinite nature. There’s enough for everyone. See it. Believe it. it will show up for you.
  • The life of your dreams, everything you would love to be, do or have, has always been closer to you than you knew, because the power to everything you want is inside you.
  • Your feelings are cosmic communication! The good feelings mean, GOOD FOR YOU. The bad feelings are to get your attention so that you will change what you are focusing on.
  • Write down the things you like most about them (don’t expect change from them). Law of attraction will not put you in the same space together if you frequencies don’t match.
  • There are no accidents or coincidences in life – everything is synchronicity – because everything has a frequency. It’s simply the physics of life and the universe in action.
  • Every day is an opportunity for a new life. Every day you stand at the tipping point of your life. And on any one day you can change the future ‚Äì through the way that you feel.
  • Whatever you can imagine is waiting for you, fully created in the invisible, and the way to make it visible is to harness the force of love by imagining and feeling what you love.
  • I am a psychologically disabled person and it’s difficult for me to get and hold down a job. When I don’t work people accuse me of being lazy, taking advantage of government money
  • You can change your life, because you have an unlimited ability to think and talk about what you love, and so you have an unlimited ability to bring everything good in life to you.
  • The Secret’s message is to empower people. Its message releases people from feeling like victims and gives them the knowledge to intentionally create their lives the way they want.
  • Whatever you believe about your body, your cells believe too. They don’t question anything you think, feel, or believe. In fact, they hear every thought, feeling, and belief you have.
  • The things that come most quickly into your life are the things that you BELIEVE in the most. You can only bring to you what you BELIEVE, so you must BELIEVE to receive what you want.
  • Life is so much easier than you think it is, and as you come to understand the way life works, and the power you have inside you, you will experience the magic of life in its fullness.
  • Before you eat food or drink water, look at what you’re about to eat or drink and feel love and gratitude. Make sure your conversations are positive when you are sitting down to a meal.
  • Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life. Be grateful for what you already have, and you will attract more good things.
  • If you practice gratitude a little, your life will change a little. If you practice gratitude a lot every day, your life will change dramatically and in ways that you can hardly imagine.
  • Your imagination is more real that then the world you see, because the world you see comes from what you imagine and believe! What you believe and feel to be true is what will be your life.
  • Your happiness depends upon your very own thoughts. No one else can think your thoughts for you. Deliberately think thoughts of what you want because they’re the thoughts that make you happy.
  • You cannot help the world by focusing on the negative things. As you focus on the world’s negative events, you not only add to them, but you also bring more negative things into your own life.
  • Whether you have been aware of your thoughts in the past or not, now you are becoming aware. Right now, with the knowledge of The Secret, you are waking up from a deep sleep and becoming aware!
  • It is impossible to bring more into your life if you are feeling ungrateful about what you have. Why? Because the thoughts and feelings you emit as you feel ungrateful are all negative emotions.
  • Are your thoughts worthy of you? If not – now is the time to change them. You can begin right were you are right now. Nothing matters but this moment and what you are focusing your attention on.
  • Love and gratitude can part seas… It can move mountains and it can create miracles. The power of love and gratitude will dissolve all negativity in our lives no matter what the form has taken.
  • You are human, you will make mistakes, and it’s one of the most beautiful things about being human, but you must learn from your mistakes, otherwise your life will have a lot of unnecessary pain.
  • People who have great lives think and talk about what they love more than what they don’t love. And people who are struggling, think and talk about what they don’t love more than what they do love.
  • The law of attraction says that like attracts like, and when you think and feel what you want to attract on the inside, the law will use people, circumstances and events to magnetize what you want…
  • You are the driver of your mind, so take charge and keep it busy with your instructions by telling it where you want it to go. Your mind only takes off on its own if you are not telling it what to do.
  • It doesn’t matter whether your thoughts and feelings are good or bad, you are giving them out, and they will return to you as automatically and precisely as an echo returns the same words you send out.
  • You have the freedom to choose to be optimistic or pessimistic. You can peel off your old attitude like a suit of clothes, and put on a brand spanking new attitude every single day. It’s as simple as that.
  • Life is supposed to be fun! When you’re having fun, you feel great and you receive great things! Having fun brings the life you want, and taking things too seriously brings a life you have to take seriously.
  • Adjusting to a new path and a new direction will require new qualities and strengths, and these qualities are always exactly what we need to acquire in order to accomplish the great things ahead in our life.
  • No matter what challenging situation you may find yourself in, imagine the best outcome of it and feel it! When you do, you will change the circumstances, and you will change the situation into what you want!
  • You are the most powerful magnet in the universe! You contain a magnetic power within you that is more powerful than anything in this world, and this unfathomable magnetic power is emitted through your thoughts
  • What does it mean to be healthy? You may think that being healthy means that you are not sick, but being healthy is far more than that. If you feel okay, or average, or nothing much at all, you are not healthy.
  • You are energy, and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Energy just changes form. And that means You! The true essence of You, the pure energy of You, has always been and always will be. You can never not be.
  • I looked at what my talents and desires are and decided to start my own business. I like the advantage of being able to work at a slower pace if I need to do that and there is no one pressuring me to work faster
  • It only takes a few minutes in the morning to use gratitude to Have A Magical Day by giving thanks for the events in your day ahead of time, but this one practice alone will change the way your entire day unfolds.
  • To attract money, you must focus on wealth. It is impossible to bring more money into your life when you are noticing you do not have enough, because that means you are thinking thoughts that you do not have enough.
  • People who have drawn wealth into their lives used The Secret, whether consciously or unconsciously. They think thoughts of abundance and wealth, and they do allow any contradictory thoughts to take root in their minds.
  • Never let a day pass without looking for the good, feeling the good within you, praising, appreciating, blessing, and being grateful. Make it your life commitment, and you will stand in utter awe of what happens in your life.
  • Difficult times are the greatest opportunities in disguise. When we face difficult times we have to put in determined work to get ourselves into joy. Difficult times are your greatest opportunity to practice yourself into joy!
  • Many people don’t know about the power of good feelings, and so their feelings are reactions or responses to what happens to them. They have put their feelings on automatic pilot, instead of deliberately taking charge of them.
  • Your life is a reflection of your past thoughts. That includes all the great things, and all the things you consider not so great… Think thoughts of abundance and wealth, and do not allow any contradictory thoughts to take root.
  • Every good thought, every good word, every good emotion, and every act of kindness, is lifting the vibration of your being to new heights. And as you begin to raise your vibration, a new life and a new world will reveal itself to you.
  • There is no greater power in the Universe than the power of love. The feeling of love is the highest frequency you can emit. If you could wrqp every thought in love, if you could love everything and everyone, your life would be transformed.
  • Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source – you.
  • Let go of the things you don’t love about your childhood, and keep the things you love. Let go of the things you don’t love about your adolescent and adult years, and keep the good things. Just keep the things you love about your whole life.
  • Even if you think the tentacles of security have already wrapped themselves around you and you can’t move because of your obligations, it’s never too late-there are always unlimited ways to follow your dreams, and it is much easier than you think.
  • Write your script. When you see things you don’t want, don’t think about them, write about them, talk about them, push against them, or join groups that focus on the don’t wants… remove your attention from don’t wants.. and place them on do wants.
  • When you look at yourself and feel dissatisfaction about any part of you, you will continue to attract feelings of dissatisfaction, because the law mirrors back to you exactly what you are holding inside. Be in awe and wonder at the magnificence of you!
  • When you have a pile of bills that you have no idea how you are going to pay, you cannot focus on the bills, because you will continue to attract more bills. You have to find a way that works for you to focus on prosperity, despite the bills around you.
  • The difference between someone who is struggling and someone who has a fabulous life comes down to one thing — love. Those who have a great life imagine what they love and want, and they feel the love of what’s they’re imagining more than other people.
  • If people believe they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they have no control over outside circumstances, those thoughts of fear, separation, and powerlessness, if persistent, can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Don‚Äôt become mesmerize by the pictures that have appeared if they are not what you want. Take responsibility for them, make light of them if you can, and let them go. Then think new thoughts of what you want, feel them, and be grateful that it is done.
  • Visualization is the process of creating pictures in your mind of yourself enjoying what you want. When you visualize, you generate powerful thoughts and feelings of having it now. The law of attraction then returns that reality to you, just as you saw it in your mind.
  • you parrot negative things and squawk about the things you don’t love, you are literally jailing yourself, like a parrot in a cage. Every time you talk about what you don’t love, you are adding another bar to the cage and you are locking yourself away from all the good.
  • I never studied science or physics at school, and yet when I read complex books on quantum physics I understood them perfectly because I wanted to understand them. The study of quantum physics helped me to have a deeper understanding of the Secret, on an energetic level.
  • What you feel about another person, what you think or say about another person, what you do to another person ‚Äì you do to you. Give judgment and criticism and you give it to yourself. Give love and appreciation to another person or anything, and you give it to yourself.
  • There is always something to be grateful for. Pure love has no conditions or boundaries. Love does not restrain itself or hold back. Love gives all the time and doesn’t ask for anything in return. Love is a continuous flow without any limits. And all of this is inside you.
  • However, when we shift our awareness or “frequency” from self-consciousness – where fear, impossibility or feelings of separation reside – to cosmic consciousness, which is in total harmony with the universe and where none of those feelings exist, then anything is possible.
  • Your life is in your hands. No matter where you are now, no matter what has happened in your life,you can begin to consciously choose your thoughts, and you can change your life.There is no such thing as a hopeless situation.Every single circumstance of your life can change!
  • The law of attraction says there are no limits and anything is possible. Your imagination has no limits, and anything is possible for you to imagine! Isn’t it interesting that the law of attraction and your imagination say the same thing? Think about it. What’s it telling you?
  • We can never bring anything to us unless we are GRATEFUL for what we have. In fact, if somebody was completely and utterly GRATEFUL for everything, they would never have to ask for anything, because it would be given to them before they even asked. That is the power of GRATITUDE!
  • Life isn‚Äôt happening to you; life is responding to you. Life is your call! Every area of your life is your call. You are the creator of your life. You are the writer of your life story. You are the director of your life movie. You decide what your life will be ‚Äì by what you give out.
  • Every day, or at least twice a week, take a few minutes and focus on seeing yourself in joy. Feel yourself in joy. Imagine only joy ahead in your life and see yourself basking in it. As you do this the Universe will move all people, circumstances, and events to bring you joy, joy and more joy.
  • If you’re not feeling good and you want to change the way you feel, or if you want to lift good feelings higher, then take a minute or two and god through a mental list of everything you love and adore. You can do it while getting dressed in the morning, walking, driving or traveling anywhere.
  • The tighter you try and hold on to something that you are afraid of losing, the more you are pushing it away.Those thoughts are filled with fear, and if you continue to persist, what you fear the most will come upon you. Fear nothing – just think about what you want. It feels so much better!
  • The reason visualization is so powerful is because as you create pictures in your mind of seeing yourself with what it is you want, you are generating thoughts and feelings of having it now. Visualization is simply powerfully focused thought in pictures, and it causes equally powerful feelings.
  • Joy attracts more joy. Happiness attracts more happiness. Peace attracts more peace. GRATITUDE attracts more GRATITUDE. Kindness attracts more kindness. Love attracts more love. Your job is an inside one. To change your world, all you have to do is change the way you feel inside. How easy is that?
  • If you are complaining about things in your life, you are on the complaining frequency, and you are not in a position to attract what you want. Get on to the frequency of good with your thoughts and words. Firstly you will feel good, and secondly you will be on the frequency of receiving more good.
  • The earth turns on its orbit for You. The oceans ebb and flow for You. The birds sing for You. The sun rises and it sets for You. The stars come out for You. Every beautiful thing you see, every wondrous thing you experience, is all there, for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist, without You.
  • Whenever you focus on the blessings in your life, you’re instantaneously on the blessing frequency, and blessings increase in your life IN THAT MOMENT! ‘I am truly blessed every day by every person, circumstance, and event, and I’m truly blessed to be sharing my life with all of you.’ How are you blessed?
  • You create your future with the power of your intention. Intention is simply the conscious act of determining your future now. Health, harmony in relationships, happiness, money, creativity, and love will come to you in the future, based on your intentions now. Intend every day and create your future life.
  • There are no limits to what you can create for you, because your ability to think is unlimited! But you cannot create other people’s lives for them. You cannot think for them, and if you try to force your opinions on others you will only attract like forces to you. So let all others create the life they want.
  • You are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing Itself as You. You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet
  • If you have “needing money” in your vibration, then you will keep attracting needing money. You have to find a way of being happy NOW, feeling good NOW, and being in joy NOW, without the money, because those great feelings are how you will feel with the money. Money doesn’t bring happiness – but HAPPINESS BRINGS MONEY.
  • Trust the Universe. Trust and believe and have faith. I truly had no idea how I was going to bring the knowledge of The Secret onto the movie screen. I just held to the outcome of the vision, I saw the outcome clearly in my mind, I felt it with all my might, and everything that we needed to create The Secret came to us.
  • If you think or say, ‘I always get jetlag when I travel,’ your cells receive ‘jetlag’ as a command, and they must carry out your instructions. Think and feel that you have a weight problem, and your cells receive the order of a weight problem. They must follow your instructions and keep your body in an overweight condition.
  • A person who sets his or her mind on the dark side of life, who lives over and over the misfortunes and disappointments of the past, prays for similar misfortunes and disappointments in the future. If you will see nothing but ill luck in the future, you are praying for such ill luck and will surely get it. (Prentice Mulford)
  • Your life right now is a reflection of your past thoughts. That includes all the great things, and all the things you consider not so great. Since you attract to you what you think about most, it is easy to see what your dominant thoughts have been on every subject of your life, because that is what you have experienced. Until now!
  • The Secret gives you anything you want: happiness, health, and wealth. ¶Thoughts become things!…Say this over to yourself and let it seep into your consciousness and your awareness. Your thoughts become things.  If you can think about what you want in your mind, and make that your dominant thought, you will bring it into your life.
  • So how do you fall in love with life? The same way you fall in love with another person — you adore everything about them! You fall in love with another person by seeing only love, hearing only love, speaking only love, and by feeling love with all your heart! And that is exactly how you use the ultimate power of love in love with life.
  • Be aware of the big difference between inspired action and activity. Activity comes from the brain-mind and is rooted in disbelief and lack of faith – you are taking action to makeyour desire happen. Inspired action is allowing the law to work through you and to move you. Activity feels hard. Inspired action feels wonderful.
  • When anything good happens to you in your day, give thanks. It doesn’t matter how small it is, say thank you. When you get the perfect parking space, hear your favorite song on the radio, approach a light that turns green, or find an empty seat on the bus or train, say thank you. These are all good things that you are receiving from life.
  • The fastest way to become the master of your thoughts and emotions is through challenging situations. If your life is going along fairly smoothly, there are not the same opportunities that enable you to strengthen your power and become the master of your thoughts and emotions. You see, even challenges are beautiful opportunities in disguise.
  • Be grateful for what you have now. As you begin to think about all the things in your life you are grateful for, you will be amazed at the never ending thoughts that come back to you of more things to be grateful for. You have to make a start, and then the law of attraction will receive those grateful thoughts and give you more just like them.
  • When you ask for happiness and a beautiful life, ask not just for you, but for everyone. When you ask for something better, ask not just for you, but for everyone. By all means ask for abundance and health for you, but also ask for it to be given to everyone. Can you imagine what would happen if six billion people asked for these things for you?
  • Do not worry at all about negative thoughts, and do not try to control them. All you have to do is begin to think good thoughts each day. Plant as many good thoughts as you can in each day. As you begin to think good thoughts you will attract more and more good thoughts, and eventually the good thoughts will wipe out the negative thoughts altogether.
  • The purpose of life is joy! When you’re in joy, you attract the highest and best in every area of your life. Joy increases to the exact degree that you deliberately increase your good thoughts, good words, and good actions. I’ve found in my life that the easiest way to increase my joy is to religiously practice gratitude until I’m a gratitude machine!
  • You cannot ‚Äúcatch‚Äù anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought. You are also inviting illness if you are listening to people talking about their illness. As you listen, you are giving all your thought and focus to illness, and when you give all of your thought to something, you are asking for it.

 

 

William Faulkner (quotes)

  • Listen to the voices.
  • I will never lie again.
  • I listen to the voices.
  • Poor man. Poor mankind.
  • Go on and wonder.
  • Caddy smelled like trees.
  • History is not was, it is.
  • You can’t. You just have to.
  • Who gathers the withered rose?
  • She was the captain of her soul
  • Try to be better than yourself.
  • My, my. A body does get around.
  • Don’t be ‘a writer’. Be writing.
  • Read, read read. Read everything.
  • You men,’ she says. ‘You durn men.
  • I decline to accept the end of man.
  • Idleness breeds our better virtues.
  • A man is the sum of his misfortunes.
  • Did you ever have a sister? did you?
  • Civilization begins with distillation
  • No one individual can tell the truth.
  • A gentleman can live through anything.
  • Love doesn’t die; the men and women do.
  • The past isn’t over. It isn’t even past.
  • Pouring out liquor is like burning books.
  • If a story is in you, it has to come out.
  • There is no such thing as was — only is.
  • If there is a God what the hell is He for?
  • The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
  • In writing, you must kill all your darlings.
  • Between grief and nothing, I will take grief.
  • I believe in God, God. God, I believe in God.
  • Some things you must always be unable to bear.
  • I don’t want money badly enough to work for it.
  • You have to write badly in order to write well.
  • The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.
  • Only when the clock stops does time come to life
  • No man can write who is not first a humanitarian
  • Don’t do what you can do – try what you can’t do.
  • The salvation of the world is in man’s suffering.
  • If happy I can be I will, if suffer I must I can.
  • I am not one of those women who can stand things.
  • The past is never forgotten; it’s never even past
  • Nicknames are vulgar. Only common people use them.
  • It’s terrible to be young. It’s terrible. Terrible
  • Now she hates me. I have taught her that, at least.
  • . . . Like giving caviar to an elephant.
  • All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection.
  • I feel like a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth.
  • Be scared. You can’t help that. But don’t be afraid.
  • We shall not kill and maybe next time we even won’t.
  • We have to start teaching ourselves not to be afraid.
  • She clung to that which had robbed her, as people do.
  • The best fiction is far more true than any journalism.
  • Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do.
  • Henry James was one of the nicest old ladies I ever met.
  • Believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail.
  • I say money has no value; it’s just the way you spend it.
  • Well, it’s like this. I ain’t got to but I can’t help it.
  • Life is a process of preparing to be dead for a long time.
  • Curiosity is a mistress whose slaves decline no sacrifice.
  • In every writer there is a certain amount of the scavenger.
  • I believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail.
  • Don Quixote — I read that every year, as some do the Bible.
  • Memory believes before knowing remembers. [Light in August]
  • Dear God, let me be damned a little longer, a little while.
  • Purity is a negative state and therefore contrary to nature.
  • Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.
  • When ideas come, I write them; when they don’t come, I don’t.
  • War and drink are the two things man is never too poor to buy.
  • It’s always the idle habits you acquire which you will regret.
  • When my horse is running good, I don’t stop to give him sugar.
  • The most beautiful description of a woman is by understatement
  • True poetry is not of earth, ‘T is more of Heaven by its birth.
  • Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error.
  • A man never gets anywhere if facts and his ledgers don’t square.
  • Unless you’re ashamed of yourself now and then, you’re not honest
  • Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.
  • Marriage is long enough to have plenty of room for time behind it.
  • …the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.
  • In my opinion it’s a shame that there is so much work in the world.
  • The scattered tea goes with the leaves and every day a sunset dies.
  • Knowing not grieving remembers a thousand savage and lonely streets.
  • That’s a very good way to learn the craft of writing – from reading.
  • It is the writer’s privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.
  • Why that’s a hundred miles away. That’s a long way to go just to eat.
  • Your illusions are a part of you like your bones and flesh and memory.
  • …It seems hard that a man in his need could be so flouted by a road.
  • The writer has three sources: imagination, observation, and experience
  • I’m inclined to think that a military background wouldn’t hurt anyone.
  • Writing a first draft is like trying to build a house in a strong wind.
  • How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.
  • I’ve got to feel the pencil and see the words at the end of the pencil,
  • Love in the young requires as little of hope as of desire to feed upon.
  • I draw no petty social lines. A man to me is a man, wherever I find him.
  • The work of the artist is to lift up peoples hearts and help them endure
  • What a writer’s obituary should read – he wrote the books, then he died.
  • We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.
  • Riches is nothing in the face of the Lord, for He can see into the heart.
  • …how false the most profound book turns out to be when applied to life.
  • He is thinking quietly: I should not have got out of the habit of prayer.
  • Hemingway shot himself. I don’t like a man that takes the short way home.
  • And sure enough, even waiting will end…if you can just wait long enough.
  • A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.
  • I am trying to say it all in one sentence, between one cap and one period.
  • You must always know the past, for there is no real Was, there is only Is.
  • . . . You cant understand it. You would have to be born there.
  • Don’t bother just to be better than others. Try to be better than yourself.
  • No battle is ever won … victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.
  • Just when do men that have different blood in them stop hating one another?
  • To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.
  • The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.
  • The Swiss are not a people so much as a neat, clean, quite solvent business.
  • Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency to get the book written.
  • The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself
  • We must just stay awake and see evil done for a little while it’s not always.
  • We have all heard what we wanted to hear! Truth that sounds right to our ears!
  • It feels almost soft, like something to be caressed. Only gold feels that way.
  • I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.
  • Most men are a little better than their circumstances give them a chance to be.
  • Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique.
  • People need trouble – a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it.
  • She loved him not only in spite of but because he himself was incapable of love.
  • The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means.
  • Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.
  • The end of wisdom is to dream high enough to lose the dream in the seeking of it.
  • He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.
  • People to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too.
  • The writer doesn’t need economic freedom. All he needs is a pencil and some paper.
  • Fear is the most damnable, damaging thing to human personality in the whole world.
  • You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.
  • I know now that what makes a fool is an inability to take even his own good advice.
  • Had Passion and Purity never encountered, Tenderness had never come into the world.
  • Let the past abolish the past when — and if — it can substitute something better.
  • Everyone in the South has no time for reading because they are all too busy writing.
  • Hollywood is a place where a man can get stabbed in the back while climbing a ladder.
  • Success is feminine and like a woman, if you cringe before her, she will override you
  • I took out my watch and listened to it clicking away, not knowing it couldn’t even lie
  • You don’t love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.
  • You don’t love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults.
  • I knew that nobody but a luckless man could ever need a doctor in the face of a cyclone.
  • No man can cause more grief than that one clinging blindly to the vices of his ancestors.
  • Perhaps they were right putting love into books. Perhaps it could not live anywhere else.
  • Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything good.
  • There is no such thing as was—only is. If was existed, there would be no grief or sorrow.
  • It’s all now you see: tomorrow began yesterday and yesterday won’t be over until tomorrow.
  • Men have been pacifists for every reason under the sun except to avoid danger and fighting.
  • There is no such thing as was – only is. If was existed, there would be no grief or sorrow.
  • The artists who want to be writers, read the reviews; the artists who want to write, don’t.
  • There is no such thing as a bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others.
  • …no man can cause more grief than the one clinging blindly to the vices of his ancesters.
  • If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, all of us.
  • To the man grown the long crowded mile of his boyhood becomes less than the throw of a stone.
  • It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That’s how the world is going to end.
  • Even sound seemed to fail in this air, like the air was worn out with carrying sounds so long.
  • Who is he who will affirm that there must be a web of flesh and bone to hold the shape of love?
  • The reason you will not say it is, when you say it, even to yourself, you will know it is true.
  • People … have tried to evoke God or devil to justify them in what their glands insisted upon.
  • Tomorrow night is nothing but one long sleepless wrestle with yesterday’s omissions and regrets.
  • A gentleman accepts the responsibility of his actions and bears the burden of their consequences.
  • A writer is congenitally unable to tell the truth and that is why we call what he writes fiction.
  • This does not matter. This is not anything yet. It all depends on what you do with it, afterward.
  • Perhaps they were right in putting love into books, . . . Perhaps it could not live anywhere else.
  • A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once.
  • This is a free country. Folks have a right to send me letters, and I have a right not to read them.
  • I’m bad and I’m going to hell, and I don’t care. I’d rather be in hell than anywhere where you are.
  • Mississippi begins in a lobby of a Memphis, Tennessee hotel and extends south to the Gulf of Mexico
  • In Europe, being an artist is a form of behavior. In America, it’s an excuse for a form of behavior.
  • It seems impossible for a man to learn the value of money without first having to learn to waste it.
  • Ever since then I have believed that God is not only a gentleman and a sport; he is a Kentuckian too.
  • I only write when I feel the inspiration. Fortunately, inspiration strikes at 10:00 o’clock every day.
  • The necessity of the idea creates its own style. The material itself dictates how it should be written.
  • Landlord of a bordello! The company’s good and the mornings are quiet, which is the best time to write.
  • I do not rewrite unless I am absolutely sure that I can express the material better if I do rewrite it.
  • Maybe the only thing worse than having to give gratitude constantlyall the time, is having to accept it.
  • You can’t beat women anyhow and that if you are wise or dislike trouble and uproar you don’t even try to.
  • It is my ambition to be, as a private individual, abolished and voided from history, leaving it markless.
  • Necessity has a way of obliterating from our conduct various delicate scruples regarding honor and pride.
  • Though children can accept adults as adults, adults can never accept children as anything but adults too.
  • A writer is trying to create believable people in credible moving situations in the most moving way he can.
  • Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.
  • And even a liar can be scared into telling the truth, same as honest man can be tortured into telling a lie.
  • My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.
  • …only the peak feels so sound and stable that the beginning of the falling is hidden for a little while…
  • There is that might-have-been which is the single rock we cling to above the maelstrom of unbearable reality.
  • Our most treasured family heirloom are our sweet family memories. The past is never dead, it is not even past.
  • A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station….
  • You should approach Joyce’s Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith.
  • Everything in Los Angeles is too large, too loud and usually banal in concept… The plastic asshole of the world.
  • And when I think about that, I think that if nothing but being married will help a man, he’s durn nigh hopeless.
  • A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
  • Well, between Scotch and nothin’, I suppose I’d take Scotch. It’s the nearest thing to good moonshine I can find.
  • If you could just ravel out into time. That would be nice. It would be nice if you could just ravel out into time
  • Well, between Scotch and nothin’, I suppose I’d take Scotch. It’s the nearest thing to good moonshine I can find.
  • There are some things for which three words are three too many, and three thousand words that many words too less.
  • A writer strives to express a universal truth in the way that rings the most bells in the shortest amount of time.
  • A man’s moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.
  • Tell about the South. What’s it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all.
  • A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you’d think misfortune would get tired but then time is your misfortune
  • An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.
  • any live man is better than any dead man but no live or dead man is very much better than any other live or dead man
  • The books I read are the ones I knew and loved when I was a young man and to which I return as you do to old friends.
  • My ideal job? Landlord of a bordello! The company’s good and the mornings are quiet, which is the best time to write.
  • Whatever its symbol – cross or crescent or whatever – that symbol is man’s reminder of his duty inside the human race.
  • The poets are almost always wrong about the facts. That’s because they’re not interested in the facts, only the truth.
  • An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.
  • Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.
  • He was looking at her from behind the smiling that wasn’t smiling but was something you were not supposed to see beyond.
  • Man performs and engenders so much more than he can or should have to bear. That’s how he finds that he can bear anything.
  • An artist is completely amoral in that he will rob, beg, borrow, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.
  • All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the base of our splendid failure to do the impossible.
  • I don’t know anything about inspiration because I don’t know what inspiration is; I’ve heard about it, but I never saw it.
  • The saddest thing about love, Joe, is that not only the love cannot last forever, but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten.
  • The poets are almost always wrong about the facts… That’s because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth…
  • The quality an artist must have is objectivity in judging his work, plus the honesty and courage not to kid himself about it.
  • The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
  • It is assumed that anyone who makes a million dollars has a unique gift, though he might have made it off some useless gadget.
  • I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark; I dont. I dont! I dont hate it! I dont hate it!
  • We could live like counts. … If all that money is out there, I might as well hack a little on the side and put the novel off.
  • Women … to them any wedding is better than no wedding and a big wedding with a villain preferable to a small one with a saint.
  • Like a fellow running from or toward a gun ain’t got time to worry whether the word for what he is doing is courage or cowardice.
  • War is an episode, a crisis, a fever the purpose of which is to rid the body of fever. So the purpose of a war is to end the war.
  • Man the sum of what have you. A problem in impure properties carried tediously to an unvarying nil: stalemate of dust and desire.
  • I believe man will not merely endure, he will prevail…because he has a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
  • Maybe times are never strange to women: it is just one continuous monotonous thing full of the repeated follies of their menfolks.
  • The writer in America isn’t part of the culture of this country. He’s like a fine dog. People like him around, but he’s of no use.
  • A fellow gets to thinking. About all the sorrow and afflictions in this world; how it’s liable to strike anywhere, like lightning.
  • It wasn’t until the Nobel Prize that they really thawed out. They couldn’t understand my books, but they could understand $30,000.
  • The most important thing is insight, that is to be – curious – to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does.
  • Menfolks listens to somebody because of what he says. Women don’t. They don’t care what he said. They listens because of what he is.
  • The only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost.
  • It’s not when you realise that nothing can help you – religion, pride, anything – it’s when you realise that you don’t need any aid.
  • To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.
  • All men are just accumulations dolls stuffed with sawdust swept up from the trash heaps where all previous dolls had been thrown away.
  • Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
  • You like orchids?… Nasty things. Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men, their perfume has the rotten sweetness of corruption.
  • It’s not when you realize that nothing can help you ‚ religion, pride, anything ‚ it’s when you realize that you don’t need any aid.
  • Some days in late August at home are like this, the air thin and eager like this, with something in it sad and nostalgic and familiar…
  • When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there’s no holding me.
  • You don’t dare think whole even to yourself the entirety of a dear hope or wish let alone a desperate one else you yourself have doomed it.
  • I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.
  • Surely heaven must have something of the color and shape of whatever village or hill or cottage of which the believer says, This is my own.
  • Women do have an affinity for evil, for believing that no woman is to be trusted, but that some men are too innocent to protect themselves.
  • I suppose that people, using themselves and each other so much by words, are at least consistent in attributing wisdom to a still tongue…
  • …surely there is something in madness, even the demoniac, which Satan flees, aghast at his own handiwork, and which God looks on in pity..
  • So long as the deceit ran along quiet and monotonous, all of us let ourselves be deceived, abetting it unawares or maybe through cowardice…
  • Time is a fluid condition which has no existence except in the momentary avatars of individual people. There is no such thing as was – only is.
  • ingenuity was apparently given man in order that he may supply himself in crisis with shapes and sounds with which to guard himself from truth.
  • The best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel. In my opinion it’s the perfect milieu for an artist to work in.
  • Every man has a different idea of what’s beautiful, and it’s best to take the gesture, the shadow of the branch, and let the mind create the tree.
  • To me, all human behavior is unpredictable and, considering man’s frailty… and… the ramshackle universe he functions in, it’s… all irrational.
  • A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
  • She is like all the rest of them. Whether they are seventeen or fortyseven, when they finally come to surrender completely, it’s going to be in words.
  • So vast, so limitless in capacity is man’s imagination to disperse and burn away the rubble-dross of fact and probability, leaving only truth and dream.
  • The last sound on the worthless earth will be two human beings trying to launch a homemade spaceship and already quarreling about where they are going next.
  • One of the saddest things is that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can’t eat … nor make love for eight hours.
  • Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death. Good ones don’t have time to bother with success or getting rich.
  • There were many things I could do for two or three days and earn enough money to live on for the rest of the month. By temperament I’m a vagabond and a tramp.
  • There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it’s the risk, the gamble. In any event it’s a thing I need.
  • Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
  • She forced herself once more to think of nothing, to keep her consciousness immersed, as a little dog that one keeps under water until he has stopped struggling
  • Sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words
  • the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat
  • Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
  • One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can’t eat…nor make love for eight hours…
  • The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.
  • Gough never pretended to perfection or to sainthood – well, hardly ever. Although when he set off the metal detector at airport security, he would blame his aura.
  • That’s sad too, people cannot do anything that dreadful they cannot do anything very dreadful at all they cannot even remember tomorrow what seemed dreadful today
  • It is not proof that I sought. I, of all men, know that proof is but a fallacy invented by man to justify to himself and his fellows his own crass lust and folly.
  • I love Virginians because Virginians are all snobs and I like snobs. A snob has to spend so much time being a snob that he has little time left to meddle with you.
  • When I was little there was a picture in one of our books, a dark place into which a single weak ray of light came slanting upon two faces lifted out of the shadow.
  • Caddy got the box and set it on the floor and opened it. It was full of stars. When I was still, they were still. When I moved, they glinted and sparkled. I hushed.
  • …thinking as he had thought before and would think again and as every other man has thought: how false the most profound book turns out to be when applied to life.
  • For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863.
  • The writer’s only responsibility is to his art…If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.
  • For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863…
  • The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.
  • …and you don t have to sleep alone you don t even have to sleep at all and so all you have to do is show the stick to the dog now and then and say Thank God for nothing.
  • Life was created in the valleys. It blew up onto the hills on the old terrors, the old lusts, the old despairs. That’s why you must walk up the hills so you can ride down.
  • Even at sixty-two, I can still go harder and further and longer than some of the others. That is, I seem to have reached the point where all I have to risk is just my bones.
  • Setting an example for your children takes all the fun out of middle age Conditions are never just right. People who delay action until all factors are favorable do nothing.
  • Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.
  • If I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything.
  • The next time you try to seduce anyone, don’t do it with talk, with words. Women know more about words than men ever will. And they know how little they can ever possibly mean.
  • The clock tick-tocked, solemn and profound. It might have been the dry pulse of the decaying house itself, after a while it whirred and cleared its throat and struck six times.
  • Thank God you can flee, can escape from that massy five-foot-thick maggot-cheesy solidarity which overlays the earth, in which men and women in couples are ranked like ninepins.
  • Well, Bud,” he said, looking at me, “I’ll be damned if you don’t go to a lot of trouble to have your fun. Kidnapping, then fighting. What do you do on your holidays? Burn houses?
  • I would say that music is the easiest means in which to express, but since words are my talent, I must try to express clumsily in words what the pure music would have done better.
  • Man knows so little about his fellows. In his eyes all men or women act upon what he believes would motivate him if we were mad enough to do what that other man or woman is doing.
  • It’s the most satisfying occupation man has discovered yet, because you never can quite do it as well as you want to, so there’s always something to wake up tomorrow morning to do.
  • There is no such thing as bad whiskey. Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others. But a man shouldn’t fool with booze until he’s fifty; then he’s a damn fool if he doesn’t.
  • I’d have wasted a lot of time and trouble before I learned that the best way to take all people, black or white, is to take them for what they think they are, then leave them alone.
  • I would say that music is the easiest means in which to express . . . but since words are my talent, I must try to express clumsily in words what the pure must would have done better.
  • When I was a boy I first learned how much better water tastes when it has set a while in a cedar bucket. Warmish-cool, with a faint taste like the hot July wind in Cedar trees smells.
  • Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.
  • Then Ben wailed again, hopeless and prolonged. It was nothing. Just sound. It might have been all time and injustice and sorrow become vocal for an instant by a conjunction of planets.
  • By artist I mean of course everyone who has tried to create something which was not here before him, with no other tools and material than the uncommer-ciable ones of the human spirit.
  • It’s always the idle habits you acquire which you will regret. Father said that. That Christ was not crucified: he was worn away by a minute clicking of little wheels. That had no sister.
  • The whiskey died away in time and was renewed and died again, but the street ran on. From that night the thousand streets ran as one street, with imperceptible corners and changes of scene.
  • The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.
  • What’s wrong with this world is, it’s not finished yet. It is not completed to that point where man can put his final signature to the job and say, “It is finished. We made it, and it works.
  • The artist is still a little like the old court jester. He’s supposed to speak his vicious paradoxes with some sense in them, but he isn’t part of whatever the fabric is that makes a nation.
  • And I will look down and see my murmuring bones and the deep water like wind, like a roof of wind, and after a long time they cannot distinguish even bones upon the lonely and inviolate sand.
  • The whiskey died away in time and was renewed and died again, but the street ran on. From that night the thousand streets ran as one street, with imperceptible corners and changes of scene …
  • The phenomenon of war is its hermaphroditism: the principles of victory and of defeat inhabit the same body and the necessary opponent, enemy, is merely the bed they self-exhaust each other on.
  • We cannot choose freedom established on a hierarchy of degrees of freedom, on a caste system of equality like military rank. We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.
  • With me, a story usually begins with a single idea or mental picture. The writing of the story is simply a matter of working up to that moment, to explain why it happened or what caused it to follow.
  • …if there was anything at all in the Book, anything of hope and peace for His blind and bewildered spawn which He had chosen above all others to offer immortality, THOU SHALT NOT KILL must be it…
  • Truth; that long clean clear simple undeniable unchallengeable straight and shining line, on one side of which black is black and on the other white is white, has now become an angle, a point of view.
  • A hack writer who would have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tried out a few of the old proven ‘sure-fire’ literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.
  • That which is destroying the Church is not the outward groping of those within it nor the inward groping of those without, but the professionals who control it and who have removed the bells from its steeples.
  • That’s the one trouble with this country: everything, weather, all, hangs on too long. Like our rivers, our land: opaque, slow, violent; shaping and creating the life of man in its implacable and brooding image.
  • A hack writer who would not have been considered a fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven “sure-fire” literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.
  • How do our lives ravel out into the no-wind, no-sound, the weary gestures wearily recapitulant: echoes of old compulsions with no-hand on no-string: in sunset we fall into furious attitudes, dead gestures of dolls.
  • One day I was talking to Cora. She prayed for me because she believed I was blind to sin, wanting me to kneel and pray too, because people to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too.
  • They all talked at once, their voices insistent and contradictory and impatient, making of unreality a possibility, then a probability, then an incontrovertible fact, as people will when their desires become words.
  • It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.
  • People need trouble – a little frustration to sharpen the spirit on, toughen it. Artists do; I don’t mean you need to live in a rat hole or gutter, but you have to learn fortitude, endurance. Only vegetables are happy.
  • A dream is not a very safe thing to be near… I know; I had one once. It’s like a loaded pistol with a hair trigger: if it stays alive long enough, somebody is going to be hurt. But if it’s a good dream, it’s worth it.
  • I have found that the greatest help in meeting any problem with decency and selfrespect and whatever courage is demanded, is to know where you yourself stand. That is, to have in words what you believe and are acting from.
  • I never promise a woman anything nor let her know what I’m going to give her. That’s the only way to manage them. Always keep them guessing. If you cant think of any other way to surprise them, give them a bust in the jaw.
  • They say that it is the practiced liar who can deceive. But so often the practiced and chronic liar deceives only himself; it is the man who all his life has been selfconvicted of veracity whose lies find quickest credence.
  • I have found that the greatest help in meeting any problem with decency and self-respect and whatever courage is demanded, is to know where you yourself stand. That is, to have in words what you believe and are acting from.
  • I’m a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can’t and then tries the short story which is the most demanding form after poetry. And failing at that, only then does he take up novel writing.
  • I learned little save that most of the deeds, good and bad both, incurring opprobrium or plaudits or reward either, within the scope of man’s abilities, had already been performed and were to be learned about only from books.
  • It’s a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can’t eat for eight hours; he can’t drink for eight hours; he can’t make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work.
  • I’m a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry Ô¨Årst, Ô¨Ånds he can’t, and then tries the short story, which is the most demanding form after poetry. And, failing at that, only then does he take up novel writing.
  • She was bored. She loved, had capacity to love, for love, to give and accept love. Only she tried twice and failed twice to find somebody not just strong enough to deserve it, earn it, match it, but even brave enough to accept it.
  • It used to be I thought of death as a man something like Grandfather a friend of his a kind of private and particular friend like we used to think of Grandfather’s desk not to touch it not even to talk loud in the room where it was.
  • An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t know why they chose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.
  • I don’t care much for facts, am not much interested in them, you can’t stand a fact up, you’ve got to prop it up, and when you move to one side a little and look at it from that angle, it’s not thick enough to cast a shadow in that direction.
  • The air brightened, the running shadow patches were now the obverse, and it seemed to him that the fact that the day was clearing was another cunning stroke on the part of the foe, the fresh battle toward which he was carrying ancient wounds.
  • The only rule I have is to quit while it’s still hot. Never write yourself out. Always quit when it’s going good. Then it’s easier to take it up again. If you exhaust yourself, then you’ll get into a dead spell and you’ll have trouble with it.
  • You’re looking, sir, at a very dull survivor of a very gaudy life. Crippled, paralyzed in both legs. Very little I can eat, and my sleep is so near waking that it’s hardly worth the name. I seem to exist largely on heat, like a newborn spider.
  • Living is one constant and perpetual instant when the arras-veil before what-is-to-be hangs docile and even glad to the lightest naked thrust if we had dared, were brave enough (not wise enough: no wisdom needed here) to make the rending gash.
  • It was like something you have dreaded and feared and dodged for years until it seemed like all your life, then despite everything it happened to you and all it was was just pain, all it did was hurt and so it was all over, all finished, all right.
  • It’s because I’m alone.. If I could just feel it, it would be different, because I would not be alone. But if I were not alone, everybody would know it. And he could do so much for me, and then I would not be alone. Then I could be all right alone.
  • Be scared. You can’t help that. But don’t be afraid. Ain’t nothing in the woods going to hurt you unless you corner it, or it smells that you are afraid. A bear or a deer, too, has got to be scared of a coward the same as a brave man has got to be.
  • Nothing can injure a man’s writing if he’s a first-rate writer. If a man is not a first-rate writer, there’s not anything can help it much. The problem does not apply if he is not first rate because he has already sold his soul for a swimming pool.
  • I could smell the curves of the river beyond the dusk and I saw the last light supine and tranquil upon tideflats like pieces of broken mirror, then beyond them lights began in the pale clear air, trembling a little like butterflies hovering a long way off.
  • I don’t suppose anybody ever deliberately listens to a watch or a clock. You don’t have to. You can be oblivious to the sound for a long while, then in a second of ticking it can create in the mind unbroken the long diminishing parade of time you didn’t hear.
  • I think that no one individual can look at truth. It blinds you. You look at it and you see one phase of it. Someone else looks at it and sees a slightly awry phase of it. But taken all together, the truth is in what they saw though nobody saw the truth intact.
  • I think the serious things really are the things that make for happiness–people and things that are compatible, love…. So many people are content just to sit around and talk about them instead of getting out and attaining them. As if life were a joke of some kind.
  • Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.
  • Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.
  • You could do so much for me if you just would. If you just knew. I am I and you are you and I know it and you don’t know it and you could do so much for me if you just would and if you just would then I could tell you and then nobody would have to know it except you and me.
  • And we’d sit in the dry leaves that whispered a little with the slow respiration of our waiting and with the slow breathing of the earth and the windless october, the rank smell of the lantern fouling the brittle air, listening to the dog and the echo of louis’ voice dying away
  • Really the writer doesn’t want success. . . . He knows he has a short span of life, that the day will come when he must pass through the wall of oblivion, and he wants to leave a scratch on that wall – Kilroy was here – that somebody a hundred, or a thousand years later will see.
  • A man. All men. He will pass up a hundred chances to do good for one chance to meddle where meddling is not wanted. He will overlook and fail to see chances, opportunities, for riches and fame and welldoing, and even sometimes for evil. But he won’t fail to see a chance to meddle.
  • As long as I live under the capitalistic system I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. But I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation.
  • When the switch fell I could feel it upon my flesh; when it welted and ridged it was my blood that ran, and I would think with each blow of the switch: Now you are aware of me! Now I am something in your secret and selfish life, who have marked your blood with my own for ever and ever.
  • The artist is of no importance. Only what he creates is important, since there is nothing new to be said. Shakespeare, Balzac, Homer have all written about the same things, and if they had lived one thousand or two thousand years longer, the publishers wouldn’t have needed anyone since.
  • The reason I don’t like interviews is that I seem to react violently to personal questions. If the questions are about the work, I try to answer them. When they are about me, I may answer or I may not, but even if I do, if the same question is asked tomorrow, the answer may be different.
  • A pair of jaybirds came up from nowhere, whirled up on the blast like gaudy scraps of cloth or paper and lodged in the mulberries, where they swung in raucous tilt and recover, screaming into the wind that ripped their harsh cries onward and away like scraps of paper or of cloth in turn.
  • It is as though the space between us were time: an irrevocable quality. It is as though time, no longer running straight before us in a diminishing line, now runs parallel between us like a looping string, the distance being the doubling accretion of the thread an not the interval between.
  • She wouldn’t say what we both knew. ‘The reason you will not say it is, when you say it, even to yourself, you will know it is true: is that it? But you know it is true now. I can almost tell you the day when you knew it is true. Why won’t you say it, even to yourself?’ She will not say it.
  • I had learned a little about writing from Soldier’s Pay – how to approach language, words: not with seriousness so much as an essayist does, but with a kind of alert respect, as you approach dynamite; even with joy, as you approach women: perhaps with the same secretly unscrupulous intentions.
  • I imagine as long as people will continue to read novels, people will continue to write them, or vice versa; unless of course the pictorial magazines and comic strips finally atrophy man’s capacity to read, and literature really is on its way back to the picture writing in the Neanderthal cave.
  • The poets are wrong of course […] But then poets are almost always wrong about facts. That’s because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth: which is why the truth they speak is so true that even those who hate poets by simple and natural instinct are exalted and terrified by it.
  • I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work — a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust.
  • Our freedom must be buttressed by a homogeny equally and unchallengeably free, no matter what color they are, so that all the other inimical forces everywhere — systems political or religious or racial or national — will not just respect us because we practice freedom, they will fear us because we do.
  • I think that-that anyone, the painter, the musician, the writer works in a-a kind of an-an insane fury. He’s demon-driven. He can get up feeling rotten, with a hangover, or with-with actual pain, and-and if he gets to work, the first thing he knows, he don’t remember that pain, that hangover-he’s too busy.
  • In a strange room you must empty yourself for sleep. And before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are emptied for sleep you are not. And when you are filled with sleep, you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not.
  • Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash: your picture in the paper nor money in the back either. Just refuse to bear them.
  • It always takes a man that never made much at any thing to tell you how to run your business, though. Like these college professors without a whole pair of socks to his name, telling you how to make a million in ten years, and a woman that couldn’t even get a husband can always tell you how to raise a family.
  • People everywhere are about the same, but … it did seem that in a small town, where evil is harder to accomplish, where opportunities for privacy are scarcer, that people can invent more of it in other people’s names. Because that was all it required: that idea, that single idle word blown from mind to mind.
  • A man or a race either if he’s any good can survive his past without even needing to escape from it and not because of the high quite often only too rhetorical rhetoric of humanity but for the simple indubitable practical reason of his future: that capacity to survive and absorb and endure and still be steadfast.
  • They will endure. They are better than we are. Stronger than we are. Their vices are vices aped from white men or that white men and bondage have taught them: improvidence and intemperance and evasion-not laziness: evasion: of what white men had set them to, not for their aggrandizement or even comfort but his own.
  • It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.
  • Sometimes I aint so sho who’s got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint. Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.
  • One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can’t eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours –all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.
  • When something is new and hard and bright, there ought to be something a little better for it than just being safe, since the safe things are just the things that folks have been doing so long they have worn the edges off and there’s nothing to the doing of them that leaves a man to say, That was not done before and it cannot be done again.
  • I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind — and that of the minds who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town.
  • Where the shadow of the bridge fell I could see down for a long way, but not as far as the bottom. When you leave a leaf in water a long time after awhile the tissue will be gone and the delicate fibres waving slow as the motion of sleep. They don’t touch one another, no matter how knotted up they once were, no matter how close they lay once to the bones.
  • I don’t think anybody can teach anybody anything. I think that you learn it, but the young writer that is as I say demon-driven and wants to learn and has got to write, he don’t know why, he will learn from almost any source that he finds. He will learn from older people who are not writers, he will learn from writers, but he learns it — you can’t teach it.
  • No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by that word. It is every individual’s individual code of behavior by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only. Whatever its symbol – cross or crescent or whatever – that symbol is man’s reminder of his duty inside the human race.
  • So the only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost. All the wrong environment will do is run his blood pressure up; he will spend more time being frustrated or outraged. My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.
  • ‘I never feel the need to discuss my work with anyone. No, I am too busy writing it. It has got to please me and if it does I don’t need to talk about it. If it doesn’t please me, talking about it won’t improve it, since the only thing to improve it is to work on it some more. I am not a literary man but only a writer. I don’t get any pleasure from talking shop.
  • He [the writer] must, teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and compassion and sacrifice. See Poets & Writers
  • All of us have failed to match our dream of perfection. I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible. If I could write all my work again, I’m convinced I could do it better. This is the healthiest condition for an artist. That’s why he keeps working, trying again: he believes each time that this time he will do it, bring it off. Of course he won’t.
  • I, the dreamer clinging yet to the dream as the patient clings to the last thin unbearable ecstatic instant of agony in order to sharpen the savor of the pain’s surcease, waking into the reality, the more than reality, not to the unchanged and unaltered old time but into a time altered to fit the dream which, conjunctive with the dreamer, becomes immolated and apotheosized
  • a fellow is more afraid of the trouble he might have than he ever is of the trouble he’s already got. He’ll cling to trouble he’s used to before he’ll risk a change. Yes. A man will talk about how he’d like to escape from living folks. But it’s the dead folks that do him the damage. It’s the dead ones that lay quiet in one place and dont try to hold him, that he cant escape from.
  • So, never be afraid. Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed. If you, not just you in this room tonight, but in all the thousands of other rooms like this one about the world today and tomorrow and next week, will do this, not as a class or classes, but as individuals, men and women, you will change the earth.
  • When grown people speak of the innocence of children, they don’t really know what they mean. Pressed, they will go a step further and say, Well, ignorance then. The child is neither. There is no crime which a boy of eleven had not envisaged long ago. His only innocence is, he may not yet be old enough to desire the fruits of it … his ignorance is, he does not know how to commit it.
  • …I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.
  • The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
  • …I seemed to be lying neither asleep nor awake looking down a long corridor of gray half light where all stable things had become shadowy paradoxical all I had done shadows all I had felt suffered taking visible form antic and perverse mocking without relevance inherent themselves with the denial of the significance they should have affirmed thinking I was I was not who was not was not who.
  • That was when I learned that words are no good; that words dont ever fit even what they are trying to say at. When he was born I knew that motherhood was invented by someone who had to have a word for it because the ones that had the children didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not. I knew that fear was invented by someone that had never had the fear; pride, who never had the pride.
  • You get born and you try this and you don’t know why, only you keep on trying it and you are born at the same time with a lot of other people, all mixed up with them, like trying to, having to, move your arms and legs with strings, only the same strings are hitched to all the other arms and legs and the others all trying and they don’t know why either except that the strings are all in one another’s way.
  • The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.
  • …I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other; and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words.
  • Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.
  • If we Americans are to survive it will have to be because we choose and elect and defend to be first of all Americans; to present to the world one homogeneous and unbroken front, whether of white Americans or black ones or purple or blue or green. If we in America have reached that point in our desperate culture when we must murder children, no matter for what reason or what color, we don’t deserve to survive, and probably won t.
  • Women are like that they don’t acquire knowledge of people we are for that they are just born with a practical fertility of suspicion that makes a crop every so often and usually right they have an affinity for evil for supplying whatever the evil lacks in itself for drawing it about them instinctively as you do bed-clothing in slumber fertilizing the mind for it until the evil has served its purpose whether it ever existed or no.
  • If we Americans are to survive it will have to be because we choose and elect and defend to be first of all Americans; to present to the world one homogeneous and unbroken front, whether of white Americans or black ones or purple or blue or green… If we in America have reached that point in our desperate culture when we must murder children, no matter for what reason or what color, we don’t deserve to survive, and probably won’t.
  • God created man and He created the world for him to live in and I reckon He created the kind of world He would have wanted to live in if He had been a man–the ground to walk on, the big woods, the trees and the water, and the game to live in it. And maybe He didn’t put the desire to hunt and kill game in man but I reckon He knew it was going to be there, that man was going to teach it to himself, since he wasn’t quite God himself yet.
  • Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done. The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.
  • Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done. The writer’s only responsibility is to his art.
  • The ideal woman which is in every man’s mind is evoked by a word or phrase or the shape of her wrist, her hand. The most beautiful description of a woman is by understatement. Remember, all Tolstoy ever said to describe Anna Karenina was that she was beautiful and could see in the dark like a cat. Every man has a different idea of what’s beautiful, and it’s best to take the gesture, the shadow of the branch, and let the mind create the tree.
  • Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again.
  • The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, It moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immotality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artists way of scribbling “Kilroy was here” on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.
  • The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist’s way of scribbling “Kilroy was here” on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.
  • He thought that it was loneliness which he was trying to escape and not himself. But the street ran on: catlike, one place was the same as another to him. But in none of them could he be quiet. But the street ran on in its moods and phases, always empty: he might have seen himself as in numberless avatars, in silence, doomed with motion, driven by the courage of flagged and spurred despair; by the despair of courage whose opportunities had to be flagged and spurred.
  • He had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that that word was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn’t need a word for that any more than for pride or fear….One day I was talking to Cora. She prayed for me because she believed I was blind to sin, wanting me to kneel and pray too, because people to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too.
  • Yes sir. You can be more careless, you can put more trash in [a novel] and be excused for it. In a short story that’s next to the poem, almost every word has got to be almost exactly right. In the novel you can be careless but in the short story you can’t. I mean by that the good short stories like Chekhov wrote. That’s why I rate that second – it’s because it demands a nearer absolute exactitude. You have less room to be slovenly and careless. There’s less room in it for trash.
  • People between twenty and forty are not sympathetic. The child has the capacity to do but it can’t know. It only knows when it is no longer able to do -after forty. Between twenty and forty the will of the child to do gets stronger, more dangerous, but it has not begun to learn to know yet. Since his capacity to do is forced into channels of evil through environment and pressures, man is strong before he is moral. The world’s anguish is caused by people between twenty and forty.
  • It is just dawn, daylight: that gray and lonely suspension filled with the peaceful and tentative waking of birds. The air, inbreathed, is like spring water. He breathes deep and slow, feeling with each breath himself diffuse in the natural grayness, becoming one with loneliness and quiet that has never known fury or despair. “That was all I wanted,” he thinks, in a quiet and slow amazement. “That was all, for thirty years. That didn’t seem to be a whole lot to ask in thirty years.
  • They say love dies between two people. That’s wrong. It doesn’t die. It just leaves you, goes away, if you aren’t good enough, worthy enough. It doesn’t die; you’re the the one that dies. It’s like the ocean: if you’re no good, if you begin to make a bad smell in it, it just spews you up somewhere to die. You die anyway, but I had rather drown in the ocean than be urped up onto a strip of dead beach and be dried away by the sun into a little foul smear with no name to it, just this was for an epitaph
  • In the South you are ashamed of being a virgin. Boys. Men. They lie about it. Because it means less to women, Father said. He said it was men invented virginity not women. Father said it’s like death: only a state in which the others are left and I said, But to believe it doesn’t matter and he said, That’s what’s so sad about anything: not only virginity and I said, Why couldn’t it have been me and not her who is unvirgin and he said, That’s why that’s sad too; nothing is even worth the changing of it…
  • The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity. Haunted by wrong turns and roads not taken, we pursue images perceived as new but whose providence dates to the dim dramas of childhood, which are themselves but ripples of consequence echoing down the generations. The quotidian demands of life distract from this resonance of images and events, but some of us feel it always.
  • We will have to choose not between color nor race nor religion nor between East and West either, but simply between being slaves and being free. And we will have to choose completely and for good; the time is already past now when we can choose a little of each, a little of both. We can choose a state of slavedom, and if we are powerful enough to be among the top two or three or ten, we can have a certain amount of license – until someone more powerful rises and has us machine-gunned against a cellar wall.
  • . . .in August in Mississippi there’s a few days somewhere about the middle of the month when suddenly there’s a foretaste of fall, it’s cool, there’s a lambence, a soft, a luminous quality to the light, as though it came not from just today but from back in the old classic times. It might have fauns and satyrs and the gods and—from Greece, from Olympus in it somewhere. It lasts just for a day or two, then it’s gone. . .the title reminded me of that time, of a luminosity older than our Christian civilization.
  • He made the earth first and peopled it with dumb creatures, and then He created man to be His overseer on the earth and to hold suzerainty over the earth and the animals on it in His name, not to hold for himself and his descendants inviolable title forever, generation after generation, to the oblongs and squares of the earth, but to hold the earth mutual and intact in the communal anonymity of brotherhood, and all the fee He asked was pity and humility and sufferance and endurance and the sweat of has face for bread.
  • Because there is something in the touch of flesh with flesh which abrogates, cuts sharp and straight across the devious intricate channels of decorous ordering, which enemies as well as lovers know because it makes them both:—touch and touch of that which is the citadel of the central I-Am’s private own: not spirit, soul; the liquorish and ungirdled mind is anyone’s to take in any any darkened hallway of this earthly tenement. But let flesh touch with flesh, and watch the fall of all the eggshell shibboleth of caste and color too.
  • Good art can come out of thieves, bootleggers, or horse swipes. People really are afraid to find out just how much hardship and poverty they can stand. They are afraid to find out how tough they are. Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death. Good ones don’t have time to bother with success or getting rich. Success is feminine and like a woman; if you cringe before her, she will override you. So the way to treat her is to show her the back of your hand. Then maybe she will do the crawling.
  • I notice how it takes a lazy man, a man that hates moving, to get set on moving once he does get started off, the same as when he was set on staying still, like it aint the moving he hates so much as the starting and the stopping. And like he would be kind of proud of whatever come up to make the moving or the setting still look hard. He set there on the wagon hunched up, blinking, listening to us tell about how quick the bridge went and how high the water was, and I be durn if he didn’t act like he was proud of it, like he had made the river rise himself.
  • It has always seemed to me that the only painless death must be that which takes the intelligence by violent surprise and from the rear so to speak since if death be anything at all beyond a brief and peculiar emotional state of the bereaved it must be a brief and likewise peculiar state of the subject as well and if aught can be more painful to any intelligence above that of a child or an idiot than a slow and gradual confronting with that which over a long period of bewilderment and dread it has been taught to regard as an irrevocable and unplumbable finality, I do not know it.
  • At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that the young man must possess or teach himself, training himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance-that is to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is to be-curiosity-to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does, and if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got it or not.
  • And that’s how the book grew. That is, I wrote that same story four times. None of them were right, but I had anguished so much that I could not throw any of it away and start over, so I printed it in the four sections. That was not a deliberate tour de force at all, the book just grew that way. That I was still trying to tell one story which moved me very much and each time I failed, but I had put so much anguish into it that I couldn’t throw it away, like the mother that had four bad children, that she would have been better off if they all had been eliminated, But she couldn’t relinquish any of them. And that’s the reason I have the most tenderness for that book, because it failed four times.

 

 

Jules Renard (quotes)

  • Wrinkles are engraved smiles.
  • Style is to forget all styles.
  • He walked noisily, like a fish.
  • The bourgeois are other people.
  • God does not believe in our God.
  • I learn to love it more and more.
  • Art: to nudge truth along a little.
  • Being bored is an insult to oneself.
  • God, he whom everyone knows, by name.
  • Words are the small change of thought.
  • Broken china lasts longer than unbroken.
  • The ideal of calm exists in a sitting cat.
  • As I grow to understand life less and less,
  • I am not sincere, even when I say I am not.
  • The more one reads, the less one imitates.
  • Add two letters two paris and it’s paradise.
  • If money does not make you happy, give it back
  • It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.
  • The less I understand life, the more I live it!
  • To have a horror of the bourgeois is bourgeois.
  • Clarity is the politeness of the man of letters.
  • In morals, always do as others do; in art, never.
  • There are no friends; only moments of friendship.
  • Style means the right word. The rest matters little.
  • To think is not enough, you must think of something.
  • A cold in the head causes less suffering than an idea.
  • Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.
  • On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.
  • We spend our lives talking about this mystery. Our life.
  • A beautiful line of verse has twelve feet, and two wings.
  • I am never bored; to be bored is an insult to one’s self.
  • If you are afraid of being lonely, don’t try to be right.
  • Be modest! It is the kind of pride least likely to offend.
  • Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.
  • The horse is the only animal into which one can bang nails.
  • Socialism must come down from the brain and reach the heart.
  • It is when we are faced with death that we turn most bookish.
  • Do not ask me to be kind; just ask me to act as though I were.
  • We must be greater than God, for we have to undo His injustice.
  • Dreaming is to think by moonlight by the light of an inner moon.
  • I find that when I do not think of myself I do not think at all.
  • Acting of some actors seems natural, because they have no talent.
  • I don’t claim to have taste , but of my distaste I am very sure .
  • Talent is like money; you don’t have to have some to talk about it.
  • There are moments when everything goes well, but don’t be frightened.
  • It is a pity that those whose good graces we long for are always dead.
  • It is not enough to be happy, it is also necessary that others not be.
  • Somewhere in the shadow cast by every famous man is a feminine victim.
  • Truth makes many appeals, not the least of which is its power to shock.
  • Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.
  • The void yields up nothing. You have to be a great poet to make it ring.
  • To succeed you must add water to your wine, until there is no more wine.
  • True courage consists in being courageous precisely when when we’re not.
  • The body advances, while the mind flutters around it like a bird.
  • Posterity! Why should people be less stupid tomorrow than they are today?
  • At the bottom of all patriotism there is war: that is why I am no patriot.
  • Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice.
  • Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.
  • Paradise does not exist, but we must nonetheless strive to be worthy of it.
  • Words should be only the clothes, carefully custom-made to fit the thought.
  • As I grow to understand life less and less, I learn to love it more and more.
  • Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.
  • I finally know what distinguishes man from the other beasts: financial worries.
  • You can recover from the writing malady only by falling mortally ill and dying.
  • The danger of success is that it makes us forget the world’s dreadful injustice.
  • The danger of success is that it makes us forget the world’s dreadful injustice.
  • There are moments when everything goes well; don’t be frightened, it won’t last.
  • Some people are so boring that they make you waste an entire day in five minutes.
  • I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn’t.
  • We are so happy to advise others that occasionally we even do it in their interest.
  • Failure is not our only punishment for laziness; there is also the success of others.
  • The truly free man is he who can decline a dinner invitation without giving an excuse.
  • We don’t understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it
  • An egotist always resents meeting another egotist as if he alone had the right to be one.
  • If one were to build the house of happiness, the largest space would be the waiting room.
  • It is in the midst of the city that one writes the most inspiring pages about the country.
  • Talent is a question of quantity. Talent does not write one page; it writes three hundred.
  • Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
  • When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness.
  • I don’t know if God exists, but it would certainly be better for his reputation if he didn’t
  • It is more difficult to be an honorable man for a week than to be a hero for fifteen minutes.
  • It is easy for a somebody to be modest, but it is difficult to be modest when one is a nobody.
  • An optimist is a driver who thinks that empty space at the curb won’t have a hydrant beside it.
  • In the most complete friendship there is always a little empty space, like the space in an egg.
  • There are places and moments in which one is so completely alone that one sees the world entire.
  • Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none
  • Only in this world do we laugh: in hell, it won’t be possible; and in heaven, it won’t be proper.
  • The truly free man is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse.
  • The peasant is the only species of human being who doesn’t like the country and never looks at it.
  • Words are the coins making up the currency of sentences, and there are always too many small coins.
  • The reward of great men is that, long after they have died, one is not quite sure that they are dead
  • if I were to begin my life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more.
  • How many people have wanted to kill themselves, and have been content with tearing up their photograph!
  • When the defects of others are perceived with so much clarity, it is because one possesses them oneself.
  • Don’t tell a woman she’s pretty; tell her there’s no other woman like her, and all roads will open to you
  • Don’t tell a woman she’s pretty; tell her there’s no other woman like her, and all roads will open to you.
  • Let us stay at home: there we are decent. Let us not go out: our defects wait for us at the door, like flies.
  • The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse.
  • The profession of letters is, after all, the only one in which one can make no money without being ridiculous.
  • If I had my life to live over again, I would ask that not a thing be changed, but that my eyes be opened wider.
  • I am afraid I shall not find him, but I shall still look for him, for if he exists, he may be appreciative of my efforts.
  • There is nothing like literature: I lose a cow, I write about her death, and my writing pays me enough to buy another cow.
  • In literature, there are only oxen. The biggest ones are the geniuses-the ones who toil eighteen hours a day without tiring.
  • The strong do not hesitate. They settle down, they sweat, they go on to the end. They exhaust the ink, they use up the paper.
  • Never does one feel oneself so utterly helpless as in trying to speak comfort for great bereavement. Time is the only comforter.
  • We are in the world to laugh. In purgatory or in hell we shall no longer be able to do so. And in heaven it would not be proper.
  • It astounds us to come upon other egoists, as though we alone had the right to be selfish, and to be filled with eagerness to live.
  • The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.
  • Our dream dashes itself against the great mystery like a wasp against a window pane. Less merciful than man, God never opens the window.
  • Whenever I have talked to anyone at too great length, I am like a man who has drunk too much, and ashamed, doesn’t know where to put himself.
  • I have a remarkable memory; I forget everything. It is wonderfully convenient. It is as though the world were constantly renewing itself for me.
  • There is a justice, but we do not always see it. Discreet, smiling, it is there, at one side, a little behind injustice, which makes a big noise.
  • We are ignorant of the Beyond because this ignorance is the condition of our own life. Just as ice cannot know fire except by melting and vanishing.
  • How describe the delicate thing that happens when a brilliant insect alights on a flower? Words, with their weight, fall upon the picture like birds of prey.
  • Life is what our character makes it. We fashion it, as a snail does its shell. A man can say: I never made a fortune because it is not in my character to be rich.
  • the important people in our lives leave imprints. they may die or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart
  • I can’t get around this dilemma: I have a horror of troubles, but they whip me up, they make me talented. Peace and well-being, on the contrary, paralyze me. Either be a nobody, or everlastingly plagued.
  • Those moments when you feel you want to read something truly beautiful. The eyes make a tour of the library, and there is nothing. Then you decide to take no matter what, and it is full of beautiful things.
  • I have no religion,’ says Borneau, ‘but I respect the religion of others. Religion is sacred.’ Why this privilege, this immunity?… A believer creates God in his own image; if he is ugly, his God will be morally ugly. Why should moral ugliness be respectable?
  • It doesn’t pay to say too much when you are mad enough to choke. For the word that stings the deepest is the word that is never spoke, Let the other fellow wrangle till the storm has blown away, then he’ll do a heap of thinking about the things you didn’t say.
  • Oh! Old rubbish! Old letters, old clothes, old objects that one does not want to throw away. How well nature has understood that, every year, she must change her leaves, her flowers, her fruit and her vegetables, and make manure out of the mementos of her year!

 

 

Elizabeth Gilbert (quotes)

  • Your tears are my prayers.
  • the beauty of doing nothing
  • God dwells within you, as you.
  • Dear me, how I love a library.
  • I believe in a magnificent God.
  • library is a beautiful old thing
  • eventually, everything goes away.
  • Let your conscience be your guide.
  • Teach your heart that this is destiny
  • God is an experience of supreme love.
  • I think I deserve something beautiful.
  • Embrace the glorious mess that you are
  • David was catnip and kryptonite to me.
  • Most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
  • You have no idea how strong my love is!
  • Devotion is diligence without assurance
  • Who amongst us lives without sacrifice?
  • Man is a demon, man is a god. Both true.
  • Life’s metaphors are God’s instructions.
  • Embrace the beautiful mess that you are.
  • There’s nothing special about your fear.
  • to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.
  • too many maniacs not enough michelangelos
  • If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.
  • meditation vs prayer = listening vs talking
  • My life’s accomplishments? Sanity, and you.
  • I want to have a lasting experience of God.
  • The resting place of the mind is the heart.
  • traveling is the great true love of my life
  • Oh my God, baby, you are in so much trouble.
  • I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine.
  • I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.
  • Nothing is less efficient than perfectionism.
  • Your fear is the most boring thing about you.
  • The only boring people I know are bored people.
  • Who will ever kiss this encyclopedia of a head?
  • The love that moves the sun and the other stars.
  • You never know how a good quest is going to end.
  • What worked yesterday doesn’t always work today.
  • God dwells within you, as you.
  • I am a better person when I have less on my plate.
  • Take me someplace where we can be silent together.
  • Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.
  • Someone has to write all those stories: why not me?
  • Eventually, everything goes away.
  • God wants us to be in joy, God wants us to be happy.
  • Attraversiamo (meaning “Lets cross over” in Italian)
  • This is intimacy: the trading of stories in the dark.
  • The mosquitoes here are big enough to rape a chicken.
  • I cannot overstate the power of libraries in my life.
  • I do not need to love you to prove that I love myself!!
  • we must take care of our families wherever we find them.
  • Sometimes out hearts are broken so new light can get in.
  • The hero’s journey is simply who we are as human beings.
  • Most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
  • The gods are fond of the cryptic and dislike the evident.
  • Beauty is not required. Beauty is accuracy’s distraction.
  • My face is a transparent transmitter of my every thought.
  • I have a rigid self-accountability. You have to work hard.
  • Life’s metaphors are God’s instructions.
  • Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.
  • The appreciation of pleasure can be the anchor of humanity.
  • whenever I would feel such happiness my guilt alarm went off
  • he was still my romantic hero and I was still his living dream
  • I was perfectly happy in my boring life before you came along.
  • If faith were rational , it wouldn’t be -by definition- faith.
  • Addiction is the hallmark of every infatuation-based love story.
  • I like it when science and devotion find places of intersection.
  • And what will I be able to do tomorrow that I cannot yet do today?
  • Some days are meant to be counted, others are meant to be weighed.
  • I think there’s more real in the unreal than there is in the real.
  • What time has ever been a simple time for those who are living it?
  • Balance is not letting anyone love you less than you love yourself.
  • You know the old adage: Plant an expectation, reap a disappointment.
  • Listen to the whispers or soon you will be listening to the screams.
  • I am a better person when I have less on my plate.
  • A fish and a bird may indeed fall in love, but where shall they live?
  • To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.
  • Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.
  • Kalos Kai Agathos, the singular balance of the good and the beautiful.
  • Sometimes beauty needs a bit of ignoring, to properly come into being.
  • Om Namah Shivaya, meaning, I honor the divinity that resides within me.
  • I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.
  • Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself.
  • You have the opposite of poker face. You have like.. miniature golf face.
  • When a man who looks like Yoda hands you a prophecy, you have to respond.
  • If you want to get to the castle, Groceries, you’ve got to swim the moat.
  • There’s only one problem with the hero’s journey, it never included women.
  • Bhuta ia, dewa ia. (Bali expression meaning Man is a demon, man is a god.)
  • Who loves you most? Who loves you best? Who thinks of you when others rest?
  • Nobody’s really paying that much attention to your massive personal dramas.
  • A glorious failure can sometimes be more life affirming than a cautious win.
  • Look for God. Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water.
  • Childlessness doesn’t make people selfish; selfishness makes people selfish.
  • One must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.
  • Mistakes will be made. Failure will occur. You pick yourself up and carry on.
  • Do you think there’s any way humans can love each other without complication?
  • What are you willing to give up, in order to become who you really need to be?
  • the health of the planet is affected by the health of every individual on it !
  • Everything really is going to be okay. (And if not okay, then at least comic.)
  • When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. It’s safe. Let go.
  • Your father only has one foot on this earth. And really, really long legs . . .
  • Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.
  • Oh, cold world — I have grown so weary of you and all your horrible bathrooms.
  • You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.
  • God never slams a door in your face without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies.
  • This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.
  • And then, in that regal silence, finally – I began to meditate on (and with) God.
  • I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on the water.
  • The thing that I do try to convey is, don’t do what I did – but ask what I asked.
  • If something is rubbing so hard against you, you can be sure it’s working on you.
  • Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone.
  • [Italian men] are like show poodles. Sometimes they look so good I want to applaud.
  • You may return here once you have fully come to understand that you are always here.
  • Nothing is so essential as dignity. ¶Time will reveal who has it and who has it not.
  • In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted.
  • At some point, you gotta let go, and sit still, and allow contentment to come to you.
  • Zen masters say you cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.
  • I’ve been screwed and sued and tattooed, and I’m still standin’ here in front of you.
  • I would say that if you really want to STOP knowing someone, you have to divorce him.
  • Everything good I’ve ever gotten in life, I only got because I gave something else up.
  • Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.
  • You know the old adage: Plant an expectation, reap a disappointment.
  • Tis’ better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else’s perfectly.
  • longing to travel while you are already traveling is, I admit, a kind of greedy madness
  • So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.
  • So sadness is a place?’ Giovanni asked. ‘Sometimes people live there for years,’I said.
  • As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.
  • It may be that same-sex couples will save the institution of marriage.
  • Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.
  • Dear Lord, please show me everything I need to understand about forgiveness and surrender
  • Power is a neutral energy source, like tofu. It’s what you do with it that gives it flavor.
  • The beauty and variety of the natural world are merely the visible legacies of endless war.
  • But vegetarians can eat this…Because intestines aren’t even meat, Liz. They’re just sh$*.
  • creative people always suffer from depression because we’re so super sensitive and special?
  • You take whatever works from wherever you can find it, and you keep moving toward the light.
  • To show a longing for anything that one cannot have, for instance, is not a clever position.
  • You love new boyfriend?” “I think so. Yes.” “Then you must spoil him. And he must spoil you.
  • I equal parts loved him and could not stand him. I couldn’t wake him to share in my distress.
  • The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life’s achievement.
  • This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.
  • Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship – a play between divine grace and willful self-effort.
  • The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not.
  • There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in.
  • I am stronger than depression and I am braver than loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.
  • Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy.
  • Women are capable of enduring a tremendous amount of disappointment and still have a good life.
  • Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.
  • you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead.
  • You can butcher the sheep only once. But if you are careful, you can shear the sheep every year.
  • I wondered, “Why have I been chasing happiness my whole life when bliss was here the entire time?
  • Traveling-to-a-place energy and living-in-a-place energy are two fundamentally different energies
  • I have these new policies toward my life, like ‘I will not accelerate when I see the yellow light.’
  • This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.
  • And then, in that regal silence, finally – I began to meditate on (and with) God.
  • I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on the water.
  • How could two people who were so in love not end up happily ever after? It had to work. Didn’t it?
  • In fact, it was all I could do to stop myself from saying, ‘I’ve always been a big fan of your work.
  • Fear is the travel companion for a life lived on the edge of certainty and safety.
  • Success isn’t about acquiring things, it’s about discovering your life purpose and following the call
  • To be prosperous and happy in life, Henry, it is simple. Pick one woman, pick it well, and surrender.
  • You are accidentally leaving your DNA all over everything in a novel because it’s all coming from you.
  • Every word was a singing sparrow, a magic trick, a truffle for me. The words made me laugh in delight.
  • Admittedly, I am not the one who looks fantastic in everything, but still I cannot help loving myself.
  • Watch for the people whose eyes light up when you talk about your dream. Those are the people you keep.
  • That competition and the struggle for existence is the mechanism behind this state of perpetual change.
  • It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated.
  • At some point, you gotta let go, and sit still, and allow contentment to come to you.
  • You have now reached infatuation’s final destination; the complete and merciless devaluation of self.
  • Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.
  • I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.
  • I never wanted to be the person that waited for a stranger to come to town – I wanted to be the stranger!
  • It’s not enough for me to just hear about something or read about something, I wanna know it in my bones.
  • I watched them, thinking that little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.
  • Tis’ better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else’s perfectly.
  • As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.
  • Yoga is the effort to experience one’s divinity personally and then to hold on to that experience forever.
  • We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.
  • Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You must fight for it, strive for it, and insist upon it.
  • Tis’ better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else’s perfectly.
  • The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust, and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams.
  • Dear Lord, please show me everything I need to understand about forgiveness and surrender
  • The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That’s where you need to go
  • Change is all about motion, motion is all about uncertainty and we are deeply uncomfortable with uncertainty.
  • If life gives you lemons, don’t settle for simply making lemonade – make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.
  • Whatever this feeling is – this is what I have been praying for. And this is also what I have been praying to.
  • I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write.
  • I guess what I want to learn is how to live in this world and enjoy its delights but also devote myself to God.
  • But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilling yearnings.
  • Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship – a play between divine grace and wilful self-effort.
  • To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.
  • The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.
  • I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check.
  • I am the planet’s most affectionate life-form, something like the cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle.
  • the only thing you need to do for now is get some rest and take good care of yourself until you do know the answer
  • There are always two figures in a marriage, two votes, two conflicting sets of decisions, desires and limitations.
  • So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly.
  • When the past has passed from you at last, let go. Then climb down and begin the rest of your life. With great joy.
  • Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark.
  • Do I really deserve this pleasure? This is American, too-the insecurity about whether we have earned our happiness.
  • Our relationship now thoroughly ruined, with even civility destroyed between us, all I wanted anymore was the door.
  • The act of quiet nighttime talking, illustrates for me more than anything else the curious alchemy of companionship.
  • Depression on my left, Loneliness on my right. They don’t need to show me thier badges. I know these guys very well.
  • Traveling-to-a-place energy and living-in-a-place energy are two fundamentally different energies.
  • Don’t be afraid. Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be.
  • Venice is beautiful, but like a Bergman movie is beautiful; you can admire it, but you don’t really want to live in it.
  • To be prosperous and happy in life, Henry, it is simple. Pick one woman, pick it well, and surrender.
  • Being content with what you have already is an art form that leads to a peace that can’t be replaced by anything else.
  • Even in the worst tragedies and crisis, there’s no reason to add to everyone’s misery by looking miserable yourself.
  • Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience.
  • Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.
  • Guilt’s just your ego’s way of tricking you into thinking that you’re making moral progress. Don’t fall for it, my dear.
  • I was a veritable Johnny Appleseed of grand expectations, and all I reaped for my trouble was a harvest of bitter fruit.
  • You must find another reason to work, other than the desire for success or recognition. It must come from another place.
  • The day is ending. It’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, Let go.
  • Given that life is so short, do I really want to spend one-ninetieth of my remaining days on earth reading Edward Gibbon?
  • Felipe and I, as we discover to our delight, are a perfectly matched, genetically engineered belly-to-belly success story.
  • Maybe the difference between first marriage and second marriage is that the second time at least you know you are gambling.
  • Look – I understand that an unexamined life is not worth living, but do you think I could someday have an unexamined lunch?
  • We’re miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentment and mortality.
  • If you’re alive, you’re creative. All we need to do to be creative is to do whatever makes us feel alive.
  • Every intimacy carries secreted somewhere below its initial lovely surfaces, the ever-coiled makings of complete catastrophe.
  • Marriage is not simply a romantic union between two people; it’s also a political and economic contract of the highest order.
  • Creativity is a scavenger hunt. It’s your obligation to pay attention to clues, to the thing that gives you that little tweak.
  • I feel like if I were to get another tattoo, it would probably be those two words. Just stubborn, stubborn, stubborn gladness.
  • I was a writer before ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ and I’ll be a writer after it’s over. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.
  • The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust, and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams.
  • True wisdom gives the only possible answer at any given moment, and that night, going back to bed was the only possible answer.
  • A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.
  • I am determined to make the most of this life that I have, damn it – it’s that kind of stubbornness I think we all need more of.
  • I want to learn how to speak Italian. For years, I’d wished I could speak Italian–a language I find more beautiful than roses :)
  • I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.
  • There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite themselves.
  • I had a great teacher in India who said to me, ‘If you think you’re spiritual and evolved and enlightened, go home for Christmas.’
  • To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.
  • If you’re going to answer the call and you’re going to transform and you’re going to change, get ready. It is not a day at the beach.
  • It’s what I call the haute couture, high-end version of fear perfectionism. It’s just fear in really good shoes. But it’s still fear.
  • When the past has passed from you at last, let go. Then climb down and begin the rest of your life. With great joy.
  • Until I can feel as ecstatic about having a baby as I felt about going to New Zealand to search for giant squid, I cannot have a baby.
  • There’s no trouble in this world so serious that it can’t be cured with a hot bath, a glass of whiskey, and the Book of Common Prayer.
  • the four virtues a person needs in order to be safe and happy in life: intelligence, friendship, strength and (I love this one) poetry.
  • Mostly you meet friends when traveling by accident, like by sitting next to them on the train, or in a restaurant, or in a holding cell.
  • My whole life I’ve been an over-giver. My general operating policy has always been, ‘If it belongs to me, don’t worry: You can have it!’
  • I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.
  • Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.
  • There is no choice more intensely personal, after all, than whom you choose to marry; that choice tells us, to a large extent, who you are.
  • We’re already separated that’s official but there’s still a window of hope left open that perhaps someday we could give things another try.
  • We can change our wives, he said. We can change our jobs, our nationalities and even our religions, but we can never change our team.
  • I would like to spend the rest of my days in a place so silent and working at a pace so slow that I would be able to hear myself living.
  • Well, just remember–all your misery will be waiting for you at the door upon your exit, should you care to pick it up again when you leave.
  • It’s so much easier and cheaper to keep the river uncontaminated in the first place than it is to clean it up again once it’s been polluted.
  • Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.
  • This is what intimacy does to us over time. That’s what a long marriage can do: It causes us to inherit and trade each other’s stories. (p.237)
  • You must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God.
  • You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.
  • I wonder if I am capable of being somebody’s sun, somebody’s everything. Am I centered enough now to be the center of somebody else’s life?
  • I believe in miracles, I believe in the Law of Attraction, but even I don’t think I’m big enough to manifest five Asian elephants cloaked in gold.
  • Infatuation is not quite the same thing as love; it’s more like love’s shady second cousin who’s always borrowing money and can’t hold down a job.
  • a woman’s place is in the kitchen…sitting in a comfortable chair, with her feet up, drinking a glass of wine and watching her husband cook dinner.
  • My heart was broken so badly last time that it still hurts. Isn’t that crazy? To still have a broken heart almost two years after a love story ends?
  • Also, I could finally sleep. And this was the real gift, because when you cannot sleep, you cannot get yourself out of the ditch–there’s not a chance.
  • Most of humanity, he said, have eyes that are so caked shut with the dust of deception they will never see the truth, no matter who tries to help them.
  • Thich Nhat Hanh has the ability to bring forth the state of peace that we each inherently posses merely by his presence in a room-this is divine power.
  • Sanity and clarity are more important for me and I’m willing to give up a lot of shimmer for it. I’m willing to have more boring friends, who are sane.
  • There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow.
  • You might get nothing out of it at all except a beautiful, long life where all you did was follow your gorgeous curiosity. And that should be enough too.
  • There is a reason they call God a presence – because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time.
  • I have searched frantically for contentment for so many years in so many ways, and all the acquisitions and accomplishments- they run you down in the end.
  • For if there is one thing I have learned over the years about men, it is that feelings of powerlessness do not usually bring forth their finest qualities.
  • Every day when you wake up, ask yourself, ‘What do I really, really, really want? ‘ You have to say really, really, really, otherwise you won’t believe it.
  • That’s the thing about a human life-there’s no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed.
  • You can measure the happiness of a marriage by the number of scars that each partner carries on their tongues, earned from years of biting back angry words.
  • Richard didn’t even have time to ask if I thought I’d ever amount to anything in this life before I looked him eye to eye and said, “I already have, mister.
  • I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.
  • I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to- come surprises.
  • Devotion is diligence without assurance. If faith were rational, it wouldn’t be by definition faith. Faith is walking face-first and full speed into the dark.
  • I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.
  • When I diagnose my depression now, I think it was partially about saying goodbye to these kids that I always expected to have but already knew that I wouldn’t.
  • By unnerving definition, anything that the heart has chosen for its own mysterious reasons it can always unchoose later‚ again, for its own mysterious reasons.
  • One of these poems I wrote after having been here only a month. The other, I wrote this morning. In the space between the two poems, I have found acres of grace
  • From the most sacred ancient text of Yoga: Oh Krishna, the mind is restless, turbulent, strong, and unyielding. I consider it as difficult to subdue as the wind.
  • I’m not a big Austen reader. I wouldn’t say I dislike her, but if I had to choose between her and Eliot to bring to a desert island, it would definitely be Eliot.
  • It has never been easy for me to understand why people work so hard to create something beautiful, but then refuse to share it with anyone, for fear of criticism.
  • I know this simple fact to be true, for I myself have abandoned people who did not want me to go, and I myself have been abandoned by those whom I begged to stay.
  • Nobody until very recently would have thought that their husband was supposed to be their best friend, confidante, intellectual soul mate, co-parent, inspiration.
  • You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.
  • But if you can plant yourself in stillness long enough, you will, in time, experience the truth that everything (both uncomfortable and lovely) does eventually pass.
  • I said, “It seems like you have fond feelings toward your ex-wife. Are you two still close?” “Nah,” he said casually. “She thinks I changed my name to Motherfucker.”
  • I believe that – if you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression – that you should take on this work like a holy calling.
  • I can honestly say [that writing] is the best life there is, because you get to live within the realm of your own mind, and that is a profoundly rare human privilege.
  • The world is like a dropped pie most of the time. Don’t kill yourself trying to put it back together. Just grab a fork and eat some of it off the floor. Then carry on.
  • A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
  • Real, sane, mature love; the kind that pays the mortgage year after year and picks up the kids after school‚ not based on infatuation but on affection and respect.
  • The Augusteum warns me not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve.
  • But we are not what the other one needs, still he is certain that I will find great love in my life someday. He is sure of it. After all, he says, beauty attracts beauty.
  • When it comes to women, get your life together first. Put on your own oxygen mask first. Figure out who you are. Mature. And then go find somebody to share that life with.
  • I share it here because something was about to occur on that bathroom floor that would change forever the progression of my life..what happened was that I started to pray.
  • Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life’s expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work.
  • If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that.
  • There is a reason they call God a presence – because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time.
  • I am not an expert at praying, as you know. But can you please help me? I am in desperate need of help. I don’t know what to do. I need an answer. Please tell me what to do.
  • It used to be that god was revealed in the wonders of nature; now God was being challenged by those same wonders. Scholars were now required to choose one side or the other.
  • You can measure the happiness of a marriage by the number of scars that each partner carries on their tongues, earned from years of biting back angry words.
  • If I’d had any way of knowing that things were- as Lily Tomlin once said- going to get a whole lot worse before they got worse, I’m not sure how I would have slept that night.
  • You can measure the happiness of a marriage by the number of scars that each partner carries on their tongues, earned from years of biting back angry words.
  • We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we are afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.
  • Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.
  • The best we can do then, in response to our incomprehensible and dangerous world, is to practice holding equilibrium internally – no matter what insanity is transpiring out there.
  • Equally disquieting are the times when we do make a choice, only to later feel as though we have murdered some other aspect of our being by settling on one single concrete decision.
  • The Yogic path is about disentangling the built-in glitches of the human condition, which I’m going to over-simply define here as the heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment.
  • It is not we as individuals, then, who must bend uncomfortably around the institution of marriage; rather, it is the institution of marriage that has to bend uncomfortably around us.
  • Real, sane, mature love—the kind that pays the mortgage year after year and picks up the kids after school—is not based on infatuation but on affection and respect.
  • Devotion is diligence without assurance. Faith is a way of saying “Yes, I pre-accept the terms of the universe and I embrace in advance what I am presently incapable of understanding.
  • Absolute certainty is not something I strive for anymore. I’ve learned the hard way that destiny usually looks upon our most strident convictions with amusement, or perhaps even pity.
  • Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing.
  • What happens and what you encounter, what you collide with – it’s so exciting and revealing about how much more interesting and tricky the universe is than we think in our daily lives.
  • It’s easy enough to pray when you’re in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainment.
  • The thing I love about Dickens is the omniscient, omnipotent narrator, and the great confidence of the narrator, which marks 19th-century novelists in general and Dickens in particular.
  • the great lack of parity between husbands and wives has always been spawned by the disproportionate degree of self-sacrifice that women are willing to make on behalf of those they love.
  • We have hands; we can stand on them if we want to. That’s our privilege. That’s the joy of a mortal body. And that’s why God needs us. Because God loves to feel things through our hands.
  • But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help, appealing to a higher authority in order to find your comfort.
  • And we have a little herb garden, which survived the winter thanks to global warming. It makes me feel like a cool, old Italian housewife, that I kept my rosemary alive outside all winter.
  • You make some big grandoise decision about what you need to do, or who you need to be, and then circumstances arise that immediately reveal to you how little you understood about yourself.
  • Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life’s expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work.
  • The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.
  • I myself have never been enchanted by the dream of the white wedding, and, heaven help us, the expectation that this exquisitely catered event should be ‘the happiest moment’ of one’s life.
  • When it comes to women, get your life together first. Put on your own oxygen mask first. Figure out who you are. Mature. And then go find somebody to share that life with.
  • My heart skipped a beat and then flat-out tripped over itself and fell on its face. Then my heart stood up, brushed itself off, took a deep breath and announced: “I want a spiritual teacher.
  • The Yogic scriptures say that God responds to the sacred prayers and efforts of human beings in any way whatsoever that mortals choose to worship – just so long as those prayers are sincere.
  • I see a lot of women who can’t travel when they’re young, and then their kids grow up and they become amazing adventurers. Travel is not only for the young. Sometimes it’s wasted on the young.
  • In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.
  • I’m afraid many women do choose the wedding over the marriage. It seems a steep price to pay, but it comes from a place of deep, sad longing to be loved and to have it proven that you are of value.
  • That’s your friend. My husband is my best friend. He’s not the mirror that holds up my flaws. He’s just the guy who’s like, ‘I think you’re terrific’… It’s just simple, showing up for each other.
  • Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.
  • I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. You take whatever works from wherever you can find it, and you keep moving toward the light.
  • There are times when the only access I have to the truest person that I am is when I’m alone and trying to solve a sentence. It’s exciting, even when it’s frustrating, even when I can’t do it right.
  • There’s a lot of disorder that comes along with wanting to know everything and wanting to try everything and wanting to experience everything, but there’s a lot of knowledge that comes out of it too.
  • Every few years, I think, ‘Maybe now I’m finally smart enough or sophisticated enough to understand ‘Ulysses.” So I pick it up and try it again. And by page 10, as always, I’m like, ‘What the hell?’
  • The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us,…The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in coming to viruous balance with himself.
  • Oh, I just want what we all want: a comfortable couch, a nice beverage, a weekend of no distractions and a book that will stop time, lift me out of my quotidian existence and alter my thinking forever.
  • All I could say was, “I don’t know what to do.” I remember her taking me by the shoulders and looking me in the eye with a calm smile and saying simply, “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.
  • In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.
  • the number 108 is held to be the most auspicious, a perfect three-digit multiple of three, its components adding up to 9, which is three threes. And 3, of course, is the number representing supreme balance.
  • But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help, appealing to a higher authority in order to find your comfort.
  • The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.
  • But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help, appealing to a higher authority in order to find your comfort.
  • Travel is similar to therapy. You can go to the best psychologist in the world for ten years. If you don’t feel like actively shifting anything in your life, there is nothing that person can do to change you.
  • I had long ago learned that when you are the giant, alien visitor to a remote and foreign culture it is sort of your job to become an object of ridicule. It’s the least you can do, really, as a polite guest.
  • We set up one rule in our house, which is, ‘Guests of guests cannot bring guests.’ That rule was required because that happened one weekend, and we finally said, ‘Okay, you know what? That’s a little too much.’
  • Most of us, even if only for two minutes in our lives, have experienced at some time or another an inexplicable and random sense of complete bliss, unrelated to anything that was happening in the outside world.
  • I think my weakness as a writer is a limited imagination, and I think my strength is a talent for reflecting the world, or sort of curating things out of the world and putting them into books.
  • This was not my moment to be seeking romance and (as day follows night) to further complicate my already knotty life. This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.
  • What Richard is talking about is instead admitting to the existence of negative thoughts, understanding where they came from and why they arrived, and then – with great forgiveness and fortitude – dismissing them.
  • What kind of dog is that?” I would always give the same answer: “She’s a brown dog.” Similarly, when the question is raised, “What kind of God do you believe in?” my answer is easy: “I believe in a magnificent God.
  • People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or most appropriate — and all reach You, just as rivers enter the ocean.
  • Everything was a miracle until we solved it. … the first man who ever saw a flying fish probably thought he was witnessing a miracle – and the first man who ever described a flying fish was doubtless called a liar.
  • The six elements of her Fail Proof Broken-Heart Curing Treatment: “Vitamin E, get much sleep, drink much water, travel to a place far away from the person you loved, meditate and teach your heart that this is destiny.
  • The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us. The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in coming to viruous balance with himself.
  • The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us. The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in coming to virtuous balance with himself.
  • In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.
  • As for discipline‚ it’s important, but sort of overrated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you.
  • You are here and you are allowed to be here and therefore you are allowed to make decisions about yourself and the people in your life; rather than sort of backing up and making sure it’s okay with everybody at every turn.
  • Listen – of course money changes everything, but so does sunlight, and so does food: These are powerful but neutral energy sources, neither inherently good nor evil but shaped only by the way we use them.
  • One of my favorite Sufi poems… says that God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen.
  • With each reunion (we) had to learn each other all over again. There was always that nervous moment at the airport when I would stand there waiting for him to arrive, wondering, Will I still know him? Will he still know me?
  • The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness.
  • I thought about one of my favorite Sufi poems, which says that God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen.
  • Before you realize this truth, say the Yogis, you will always be in despair, a notion nicely expressed in this exasperated line from the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus: ‘You bear God within you, poor wretch, and know it not.
  • My career started young and I was really ambitious, and then I had success and I hung out with people who were much older. I think I might have been temporally misplaced, so I thought I was 40. It was a premature midlife crisis.
  • The culture of Rome just doesn’t match the culture of Yoga, not as far as I can see. In fact, I’ve decided that Rome and Yoga don’t have anything in common at all. Except for the way they both kind of remind you of the word toga.
  • That’s just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge. This is what ego does. It keeps you feeling separate, keeps you with a sense of duality, tries to convince you that you’re flawed and broken and alone instead of whole.
  • There is a theory that if you yearn sincerely enough for a Guru, you will find one. The universe will shift, destiny’s molecules will get themselves organized and your path will soon intersect with the path of the master you need.
  • I’m so excited about school. I’m such a shameless student. I laid my clothes out last night, just like I did before my first day of first grade, with my patent leather shoes and my new lunch box. I hope the teacher will like me :)
  • When you have only two minutes to say good-bye to the person you love most in the world, and you don’t know when you’ll see each other again, you can become logjammed with the effort to say and do and settle everything at once.
  • I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. And what is that thing? And how are we to relate to it in a way that will not make us lose our minds, but, in fact, might actually keep us sane?
  • Once you have maintained a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it forever.
  • Nothing in the last few years has dazzled me more than Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall,’ which blew the top of my head straight off. I’ve read it three times, and I’m still trying to figure out how she put that magnificent thing together.
  • In 1954, Pope Pius XI, of all people, sent some Vatican delegates on a trip to Libya with these written instructions: “Do NOT think that you are going among Infidels. Muslims attain salvation, too. The ways of Providence are infinite.
  • Learning how to discipline your speech is a way of preventing your energies from spilling out of you through the rupture of your mouth, exhausting you and filling the world with words, words, words instead of serenity, peace and bliss.
  • What a large number of factors constitute a single human being! How very many layers we operate on, and how very many influences we receive from our minds, our bodies, our histories, our families, our cities, our souls and our lunches!
  • Here in America, marriage still has a mystical, intangible power: It is a passport to adulthood and respectability and to a certain extent citizenship. Any relationship less than “married” is considered temporary and not worthy of honor.
  • The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That’s where you need to go.
  • There is a level of grief so deep that it stops resembling grief at all. The pain becomes so severe that the body can no longer feel it. The grief cauterizes itself, scars over, prevents inflated feeling. Such numbness is a kind of mercy.
  • He looks at you like you’re someone he’s never met before, much less someone he once loved with high passion. The irony is, you can hardly blame him. I mean, check yourself out. You’re a pathetic mess, unrecognizable even to your own eyes.
  • But when it comes to writing the thing that I’ve sort of been thinking about lately, is why? You know, is it rational? Is it logical that anybody should be expected to be afraid of the work that they feel they were put on this Earth to do.
  • Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years–I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.
  • I thought about one of my favorite Sufi poems, which says that God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen.
  • We all seem to get this idea that, in order to be sacred, we have to make some massive, drastic change of character, that we have to renounce our individuality. To know God, you only need to renounce one thing – your sense of division from God
  • As far as we know, we are the only species on the planet who have been given the gift-or curse, perhaps-of awareness about our own mortality. Everything here eventually dies; we’re just the lucky ones who get to think about this fact every day.
  • I used to say, ‘Man, I think I’d be a really good dad. I’ll be a great provider. I’m funny; I’ll go on trips with them – I’ll do all sorts of stuff.’ But the momming? I’m not made for that. I have a really good mom; I know what she put into it.
  • I thought about the relentless thought-processing, soul-devouring machine that is my brain, and wondered how on earth I was ever going to master it. Then I remembered that line from Jaws and couldn’t help smiling: ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat.
  • That’s just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge. This is what ego does. It keeps you feeling separate, keeps you with a sense of duality, tries to convince you that you’re flawed and broken and alone instead of whole.
  • To devote yourself to the creation and enjoyment of beauty, then, can be a serious business-not always necessarily a means of escaping reality, but sometimes a means of holding on to the real when everything is flaking away into… rhetoric and plot.
  • I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. And what is that thing? And how are we to relate to it in a way that will not make us lose our minds, but, in fact, might actually keep us sane?
  • This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down.
  • Now imagine a life in which every day a person is presented with not two or even three but dozens of choices, and you can begin to grasp why the modern world has become, even with all its advantages, a neurosis-generating machine of the highest order.
  • Let me ask you something, in all the years that you have undressed in front of a gentleman has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out and left? No? It’s because he doesn’t care! He’s in a room with a naked girl, he just won the lottery
  • But at some point you have to make peace with what you were given and if God wanted me to be a shy girl with think, dark hair, He would have made me that way, but He didn’t. Useful, then, might be to accept how I was made and embody myself fully therein.
  • Men go into marriage with virtually no expectations whatsoever. Ten years later, the men are delightfully surprised to find out that it’s actually kind of nice, and the women have sort of had to take a nose dive from what they thought it was going to be.
  • We were taught to be dependable, responsible, the top of our classes at school, the most organized and efficient babysitters in town, the very miniature models of our hardworking farmer/nurse mother, a pair of junior Swiss Army knives, born to multitask.
  • Indeed, when I came to Italy, I expected to encounter a certain amount of resentment, but have received instead empathy from most Italians. In any reference to George Bush, people only nod to Berlusconi, saying”,”We understand how it is – we have one, too.
  • You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.
  • If we never leave our house except to drive to work, do we need to be even remotely aware of this powerful, humbling, extraordinary and eternal life force that surges and ebbs around us all the time? Apparently not. Because we have stopped paying attention.
  • I feel like there are women who are genuinely born to be mothers, and women who are born to be aunties, and women who really probably not should be allowed near children. The tragedy that happens is when any one of those women ends up in the wrong category.
  • Returning to writing fiction after 13 years away from it. Returning to the rootstock of my whole life as a writer. It’s what I had wanted to be for my entire life, since I can remember, since my particular time immemorial. It’s how I got my start as a writer.
  • When I look at my life and the lives of my female friends these days – with our dizzying number of opportunities and talents – I sometimes feel as though we are all mice in a giant experimental maze, scurrying around frantically, trying to find our way through.
  • The resting place of the mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That’s where you need to go.
  • To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled, and to trust that, that fulfillment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful “magic skills” that human beings are capable of. It has been noted by almost every ancient wisdom tradition
  • At that moment of realization (that union with God is always present), that’s when God let me go, let me slide through His fingers with this last compassionate, unspoken message: You may return here once you have fully come to understand that you are always here.
  • I think it’s unfortunate that there exists only one path in America to complete social legitimacy, and that is marriage. I think, for instance, that it would be far easier for Americans to elect a black president or a female president than an unmarried president.
  • Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he taught.
  • To feel physically comfortable with someone else’s body is not a decision you make. It has very little thing to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not.
  • Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single- pointed focus, he taught.
  • I was the baby of the family, but I was never babied, and that allowed me to take whatever artistic temperament I had and apply learned discipline. I was taught how to work. I think that’s everything. Creativity and imagination alone are not going to get you there.
  • He endeared himself to me forever the first night we met, when I was getting frustrated with my inability to find the words I wanted in Italian, and he put his hand on my arm and said, “Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.
  • We’re miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character.
  • Because I know something that you don’t know. I know that this is the worst experience of your life, but I also know that someday you’ll move past it and you’ll be fine. And helping somebody likej you through the worst experience of her life is incredibly gratifying.
  • It seems obvious that there comes period in your life when you have to learn to say no to things you don’t want to do. But the biggest trickiest lesson in holding on the stalwart committment to your creativity is learning how to say no to the things you do want to do.
  • So when modern-day religious conservatives wax nostalgic about how marriage is a sacred tradition that reaches back into history for thousands of uninterrupted years, they are absolutely correct, but in only one respect-only if they happen to be talking about Judaism.
  • People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
  • A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner-continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you-is a fine art, in and of itself.
  • When I lost my friends, it was because I had used the power of giving on them recklessly. I swept into their lives with my big fat checkbook, and I erased years of obstacles for them overnight – but sometimes, in the process, I also accidentally erased years of dignity.
  • Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure.Ours is an entertainment seeking-nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one….This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype- the overstressed executive who goes on vacation, but who cannot relax.
  • Take care of the problems now, or else you’ll just have to suffer again later when you scew everything up the next time. And that repetition of suffering – that’s hell.  Moving out of that endless repetition to a new level of understand – there’s where you’ll find heaven.
  • In Venice in the Middle Ages there was once a profession for a man called a codega–a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection through the dark streets.
  • I love my friends and family, but I also love it when they can’t find me and I can spend all day reading or walking all alone, in silence, eight thousand miles away from everyone. All alone and unreachable in a foreign country is one my most favorite possible things to be.
  • People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.     
  • You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.
  • Moss is inconceivably strong. Moss eats stone; scarcely anything, in return, eats moss. Moss dines upon boulders, slowly but devastatingly, in a meal that lasts for centuries. Given enough time, a colony of moss can turn a cliff into gravel, and turn that gravel into topsoil.
  • I think sometimes we look at other people’s marriages and we think they must always be so happy together. I don’t know anybody who’s married for a long time who hasn’t somehow made room in their love story for the hate and resentment that they sometimes feel toward each other.
  • Desiring another person is perhaps the most risky endeavor of all. As soon as you want somebody‚ really want him‚ it is as though you have taken a surgical needle and sutured your happiness to the skin of that person, so that any separation will now cause a lacerating injury.
  • Of course, we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating cereal straight out of the box and staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working, yes, but not exactly the same thing as pleasure).
  • They flank me – depression on my left, loneliness on my right. They don’t need to show their badges. I know these guys very well. … Then they frisk me. They empty my pockets of any joy I had been carrying there. Depression even confiscates my identity; but he always does that.
  • Ketut, why is life all crazy like this?” I asked my medicine man the next day…So what can we do about the craziness of the world?” Nothing.” Ketut laughed, but with a dose of kindness. “This is nature of world. This is destiny. Worry about your craziness only-make you in peace.
  • I push every day against forces that say you have to go faster, be more effective, be more productive, you have to constantly outdo yourself, you have to constantly outdo your neighbor – all of the stuff that creates an incredibly productive society, but also a very neurotic one.
  • There’s no reason to keep a piece of furniture in your house that is so sacred and rare that you can’t put your feet up on it and a dog can’t jump up on it. Likewise, a book that sits on a shelf like a piece of porcelain, only to be admired, never to be read again, is a dead book.
  • To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled, and to trust that, that fulfilment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful “magic skills”” that human beings are capable of. It has been noted by almost every ancient wisdom tradition.
  • To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled, and to trust that, that fulfillment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful “magic skills”” that human beings are capable of. It has been noted by almost every ancient wisdom tradition.
  • A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master.
  • There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. ‘How much do you love me?’ And, ‘Who’s in charge?’ Everything else is somehow manageable. But these two questions of love and control undo us all, trip us up and cause war, grief, and suffering.
  • It’s still two human beings trying to get along, so it’s going to be complicated. And love is always complicated. But humans must try to love each other, darling. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.
  • A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
  • I don’t hate humanity and I’m not interested in people who do. Although, it’s funny, actually, some of my favorite writers really do. Like Martin Amis. My dirty secret. ‘London Fields’ is one of my favorite books ever. And it’s indefensible! But he’s so funny… I forgive him everything.
  • When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.
  • In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.
  • The sound universe is also spectacular around here. In the evenings there’s a cricket orchestra with frogs providing the bass line. In the dead of night the dogs howl about how misunderstood they are. Before dawn the roosters for miles around announce how freaking cool it is to be roosters.
  • Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment seeking-nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one….This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype- the overstressed executive who goes on vacation, but who cannot relax.
  • But, ancient Greece and ancient Rome – people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then, OK? People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons.
  • I feel like all this stuff that we make: books and art and music, all of it. There’s this energy that circles the world that wants to be made manifest, and it is just looking for someone to come through. And it’s dying for you to make it. And if you don’t do it, it will go find somebody else.
  • Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment seeking- nation, but not necessarily a pleasure- seeking one….This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype- the overstressed executive who goes on vacation, but who cannot relax.
  • They flank me – Depression on my left, loneliness on my right. They don’t need to show their badges. I know these guys very well. …then they frisk me. They empty my pockets of any joy I had been carrying there. Depression even confiscates my identity; but he always does that.
  • This was my voice, but perfectly wise, calm and compassionate. This was what my voice would sound like if I’d only ever experienced love and certainty in my life. How can I describe the warmth of affection in that voice, as it gave me the answer that would forever seal my faith in the divine?
  • The Bhagavad Gita‚ that ancient Indian Yogic text‚ says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection. So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly.
  • Now, if you are like me – if you are like practically anybody in America – then you probably hold some negative opinions about the French, based upon movies, rumors, recent headlines, unfortunate run-ins with Parisian waiters, or… you know… all that unpleasantness surrounding the Vichy regime.
  • God wants us to be in joy, God wants us to be happy. Because of this extraordinary consciousness and this great ability for wonder and marvel, and without denying any of the terrors and horrors of the world, we also have an obligation toward joy and toward miracle and excitement.
  • Then again, you cannot stop the flood of desire as it moves through the world, inappropriate though it may sometimes be. It is the prerogative of all humans to make ludicrous choices, to fall in love with the most unlikely of partners, and to set themselves up for the most predicatable of calamities.
  • Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in a human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy. One, you can see; one, you cannot. One is made of bones and teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith. But they are both equally true.
  • Nobody wants to do it – not real change, not soul change, not the painful molecular change required to truly become who you need to be. Nobody ever does real transformation for fun. Nobody ever does it on a dare. You do it only when your back is so far against the wall that you have no choice anymore.
  • I am alone, I am all alone, I am completely alone. Grasping this reality, I let go of my bag, drop to my knees and press my forehead against the floor. There, I offer up to the universe a fervent prayer of thanks. First in English. Then in Italian. And then – just to get the point across – in Sanskrit.
  • It’s not an accident that both my sister and I are writers. Our parents created an accidental Petri dish. My family has great storytellers, and I grew up in a very funny, conversational house and didn’t have television. This small family farm was a bubble world that didn’t have much to do with reality.
  • The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland.
  • Here’s the thing: the unit of reverence in Europe is the family, which is why a child born today of unmarried parents in Sweden has a better chance of growing up in a house with both of his parents than a child born to a married couple in America. Here we revere the couple, there they revere the family.
  • I still can’t say whether I ever want children¶. I can only say how I feel now–grateful to be on my own. I also know that I won’t go forth and have children just in case I might regret missing it later in life; I don’t think this is a strong enough motivation to bring more babies onto the earth.
  • My husband is not American. He was born in Brazil, where he grew up under a filthy, corrupt dictatorship. In his twenties, he moved to Europe, where he lived for a while under various socialist democracies. He spent a few years on a kibbutz in Israel, living out a utopian experiment in communal existence.
  • My restlessness makes me a far better day-to-day traveler than he will ever be. I am infinitely curious and almost infinitely patient with mishaps, discomforts, and minor disasters. So I can go anywhere on the planet‚ that’s not a problem. The problem is that I just can’t live anywhere on the planet.
  • Maybe this is just some stupid romantic South American idea, but I need you to understand-darling, for you, I am even willing to suffer. Whatever pain happens to us in the future, I accept it already, just for the pleasure of being with you now. Let’s enjoy this time. It’s marvelous. Felipe-Eat, Pray, Love
  • When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.
  • The Hopi Indians thought that the world’s religions each contained one spiritual thread, and that these threads are always seeking each other, wanting to join. When all the threads are finally woven together they will form a rope that will pull us out of this dark cycle of history and into the next realm.
  • In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.
  • There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction. There are certain lottery tickets I can buy, thereby increasing my odds of finding contentment. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with.
  • [Saint Anthony] said, in his solitude, he sometimes encountered devils who looked like angels, and other times he found angels who looked like devils. When asked how he could tell the difference, the saint said that you can only tell which is which by the way you feel after the creature has left your company.
  • Your fear is just as boring as mine is. Everyone’s got the same one. It is not precious. It is not special. It is not singular to you. It’s just the one we all got wired with when we came in. Focus on your unique qualities that deserve to be celebrated and put fear back in its place. Don’t listen to it. Onward.
  • I should just put it bluntly, because we’re all sort of friends here now – it’s exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me. Oh, so Jesus, what a thought! You know that’s the kind of thought that could lead a person to start drinking gin at nine o’clock in the morning, and I don’t want to go there.
  • The trick at every turn was to endure the test of living for as long as possible. The odds of survival were punishingly slim, for the world was naught by a school of calamity and an endless burning furnace of tribulation. But those who survived the world shaped it–even as the world, simultaneously, shaped them.
  • I felt like I was some kind of primitive spring-loaded machine, placed under far more tension than it had ever been built to sustain, about to blast apart at great danger to anyone standing nearby. I imagined my body parts flying off my torso in order to escape the volcanic core of unhappiness that had become: me.
  • every healthy marriage is composed of walls and windows. The windows are the aspects of your relationship that are open to the world‚ that is, the necessary gaps through which you interact with family and friends; the walls are the barriers of trust behind which you guard the most intimatesecrets of your marriage.
  • Traveling is the great true love of my life… I am loyal and constant in my love of travel. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby – I just don’t care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it’s mine. Because it looks exactly like me.
  • Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.
  • When we are mindful of every nuance of our natural world, we finally get the picture: that we are only given one dazzling moment of life here on Earth, and we must stand before that reality both humbled and elevated, subject to every law of our universe and grateful for our brief but intrinsic participation with it.
  • As I got older, I discovered that nothing within me cried out for a baby. My womb did not seem to have come equipped with that famously ticking clock. Unlike so many of my friends, I did not ache with longing whenever I saw an infant. (Though I did ache with longing, it is true, whenever I saw a good used-book shop)
  • Every try to take a toy away from a toddler? They don’t like that, do they? They start kicking and screaming. Best way to take a toy away from a toddler is distract the kid, give him something else to play with. Instead of trying to forcefully take thoughts out of your mind, give your mind something better to play with.
  • And when you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt – this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty to find something beautiful within life no matter how slight.
  • Unfenced by law, the unmarried lover can quit a bad relationship at any time. But you – the legally married person who wants to escape doomed love – may soon discover that a significant portion of your marriage contract belongs to the State, and that it sometimes takes a very long while for the State to grant you your leave.
  • There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction. There are certain lottery tickets I can buy, thereby increasing my odds of finding contentment. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom share my body and life and money and energy with.
  • To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God.
  • What if we just acknowledged that we have a bad relationship, and we stuck it out, anyway? What if we admitted that we make each other nuts, we fight constantly and hardly ever have sex, but we can’t live without each other, so we deal with it? And then we could spend our lives together – in misery, but happy to not be apart.
  • To my taste, the men in Rome are ridiculously, hurtfully, stupidly beautiful. More beautiful even than Roman women, to be honest. Italian men are beautiful in the same way as French women, which is to say– no detail spared in the quest for perfection. They’re like show poodles. Sometimes they look so good I want to applaud.
  • The whole sphere of air that surrounds us, Alma, is alive with invisible attractions ‚ electric, magnetic, fiery and thoughtful. There is a universal sympathy all around us.¶ When we cease all argument and debate ‚ both internal and external ‚ our true questions can be heard and answered. ¶That is the gathering of magic.
  • I had always been taught that the pursuit of happiness was my natural (even national) birthright. It is the emotional trademark of my culture to seek happiness. Not just any kind of happiness, either, but profound happiness, even soaring happiness. And what could possibly bring a person more soaring happiness than romantic love.
  • I do forget sometimes how much it means for certain men, for certain people‚ to be able to provide their loved ones with material comforts and protection at all times. I forget how dangerously reduced some men can feel when that basic ability has been stripped from them. I forget how much that matters to men, what it represents.
  • Every healthy marriage is composed of walls and windows. The windows are the aspects of your relationship that are open to the world—that is, the necessary gaps through which you interact with family and friends; the walls are the barriers of trust behind which you guard the most intimatesecrets of your marriage.
  • I am far more of a loner than people would imagine. But I am the most gregarious and socially interactive loner you ever met. The thing is, I am fascinated by people’s stories and I’m very talkative and can’t ever say no to anything or anyone, so I tend to over-socialize, to give away too much of my time to the many people I adore.
  • You know, I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche. It’s like asking somebody to swallow the sun.
  • Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. So that might be creativity, family, invention, adventure, faith, service, it might be raising corgies, I don’t know – Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.
  • Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.
  • I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you… There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.
  • in stillness, I watched myselfget eaten by mosquitoes… the itch was maddening at first but eventually it just melded into a general burning feeling and i rode that heat to a mld euphoria. I allowed the pain to lose its specific associations and become pure sensation… and that eventually lifted me out of myself and into meditation.
  • I think it’s wonderful when a love story begins with a great deal of romance and affection, passion and excitement, that’s how it should be. But I don’t necessarily know that it’s the wisest thing in the world to expect that it ends there, or that it should, 30 years down the road, still look as it did on the night of your first kiss.
  • Time — when pursued like a bandit — will behave like one; always remaining one country or one room ahead of you, changing its name and hair color to elude you, slipping ou the back door of the motel just as you’re banging through the lobby with your newest search warrant, leaving only a burning cigarette in the ashtray to taunt you.
  • Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.
  • Here was something I already knew to be true about myself: Just as there are some wives who will occasionally need a break from their husbands in order to visit a spa for the weekend with their girlfriends, I will always be the sort of wife who occasionally needs a break from her husband in order to visit Cambodia. Just for a few days!
  • God isn’t interested in watching you enact some performance of personality in order to comply with some crackpot notion you have about how a spiritual person looks or behaves. We all seem to get this idea that, in order to be sacred, we have to make some massive, dramatic change of character, that we have to renounce our individuality.
  • Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistuinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody‚ so utterly well known and so thoroughly ever-present that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?
  • We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.
  • I have good idea, for if you meet some person from different religion and he want to make argument about God. My idea is, you listen to everything this man say about God. Never argue about God with him. Best thing to say is, ‘I agree with you.’ Then you go home, pray what you want. This is my idea for people to have peace about religion.
  • I have a lot of trouble forgiving myself for being so dumb… But yes, of course, the big generous compassionate view that you should take of yourself and of all events is: what a glorious circus train this has been, and what a wonderful messy parade, and all of those steps took me here, where I precisely need to be now, so God bless it.
  • Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.
  • I was full of a hot, powerful sadness and would have loved to burst into the comfort of tears, but tried hard not to, remembering something my Guru once said — that you should never give yourself a chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency and it happens over and over again. You must practice staying strong, instead.
  • Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope
  • There were times, especially when I was traveling for ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ when, I swear to God, I would feel this weight of my female ancestors, all those Swedish farmwives from beyond the grave who were like, ‘Go! Go to Naples! Eat more pizza! Go to India, ride an elephant! Do it! Swim in the Indian Ocean. Read those books. Learn a language.’
  • To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God.
  • I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.
  • As somebody who, in my second marriage, insisted on a prenuptial agreement, I can also testify that sometimes it is an act of love to chart the exit strategy before you enter the union, in order to make sure that not only you, but your partner as well, knows that there will be no World War III should hearts and minds, for any sad reason, change.
  • He is only happy when he can maintain himself – mentally and spiritually – at the intersection between a vertical line and horizontal one, in a state of perfect balance. For this, he needs to know where he is located every moment, both in his relationship to the divine and to his family here on earth. If he loses that balance, he loses his power.
  • According to the mystics, this search for divine bliss is the entire purpose of a human life. this is why we all chose to be born, and this is why all the suffering and pain of life on earth is worthwhile–just for the chance to experience this infinite love. And once you have found this divinity within, can you hold it? Because if you can…bliss.
  • How much do you love me?’ and “Who’s in charge?” ….these two questions of LOVE and CONTROL undo us ALL, trip us up and cause war, grief, and suffering. People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or most appropriate — and all reach You, just as rivers enter the ocean.
  • I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.
  • I have no nostalgia for the patriarchy, please believe me. But what I have come to realize is that, when that patriarchic system was (rightfully) dismantled, it was not necessarily replaced by another form of protection. What I mean is–I never thought to ask a suitor the same challenging questions my father might have asked him, in a different age.
  • Parla come magni,’ It means, ‘Speak the way you eat,’ or in my personal translation: ‘Say it like you eat it.’ It’s a reminder – when you’re making a big deal out of explaining something, when you’re searching for the right words – to keep your language as simple and direct as Roman rood. Don’t make a big production out of it. Just lay it on the table.
  • Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody—so utterly well-known and so thoroughly ever-present that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?
  • I think it’s wonderful when a love story begins with a great deal of romance and affection, passion and excitement, that’s how it should be. But I don’t necessarily know that it’s the wisest thing in the world to expect that it ends there, or that it should, 30 years down the road, still look as it did on the night of your first kiss.
  • Traditionally, I have responded to the transcendent mystics of all religions. I have always responded with breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abides very close to us indeed- much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts.
  • He told me that one of the reasons people are so unhappy is they don’t talk to themselves. He said you have to keep a conversation going with yourself throughout your life to see how you’re doing, to keep your focus, to remain your own friend. He told me that he talked to himself all the time, and that it helped him to grow stronger and better everyday.
  • But he [Depression] just gives me that dark smile, settles into my favorite chair, puts his feet on my table and lights a cigar, filling the place with his awful smoke. Loneliness watches and sighs, then climbs into my bed and pulls the covers over himself, fully dressed, shoes and all. He’s going to make me sleep with him again tonight, I just know it.
  • Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistuinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody—so utterly well known and so thoroughly ever-present that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?
  • Where did you get the idea you aren’t allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent–you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So, put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me–it will at least be taken into consideration.
  • Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.
  • When I tried this morning, after an hour or so of unhappy thinking, to dip back into my meditation, I took a new idea with me: compassion. I asked my heart if it could please infuse my soul with a more generous perspective on my mind’s workings. Instead of thinking that I was a failure, could I perhaps accept that I am only a human being–and a normal one, at that?
  • We all have love stories that go terribly wrong; we all have horribly broken hearts. And somehow we endure. We’re not destroyed by it. We endure and go on to do interesting things and have worthy lives, even though we carry our heartbreaks with us. That’s a kind of personal story of mine that I don’t think I would tell in memoir but I do think I can tell in fiction.
  • Writing is not like dancing or modeling; it’s not something where-if you missed it by age 19-you’re finished. It’s never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, and the right person somehow discovers it, they will clear room for you on the bookshelves of the world-at any age. At least try.
  • Lay your wishes aside for a spell, and look deep into what you believe about yourself. Make sure your beliefs about your own life are anchored in greatness, in holiness, in worth, in grace, in joy, in excitement -in internal certainties rather than external circumstances. Because that belief? That’s where you’re heading, no matter what it may look like on the outside.
  • In every possible instance Saint Paul begged Christians to restrain themselves to contain their carnal yearnings to live solitary and sexless lives on earth as it is in heaven. “But if they cannot contain ” Paul finally conceded then “let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn.” Which is perhaps the most begrudging endorsement of matrimony in human history.
  • Where did you get the idea you aren’t allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent–you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So, put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me–it will at least be taken into consideration.
  • When Catherine told me about this (tragedy nearby), I could only say, shocked, “Dear God, that family needs grace.” She replied firmly, “That family needs casseroles,” and then proceeded to organize the entire neighborhood into bringing that family dinner, in shifts, every single night, for an entire year. I do not know if my sister fully recognizes that this _is_ grace.
  • Where did you get the idea you aren’t allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent–you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So, put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me–it will at least be taken into consideration.
  • Every woman deserves a man that can make her heart forget that it was ever broken. Even if these have been broken to pieces to me,this represents a person who gave me a complete,flawless heart. I don’t need someone who makes my heart whole. Instead, I need someone who will never let me feel broken. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.
  • You have to get hurt. That’s how you learn. The strongest people out there, the ones who laugh the hardest with a genuine smile, those are the people who have fought the toughest battles. Because they’ve decided that they’re not going to let anything hold them down, they’re showing the world who’s boss. One must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.
  • I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the monkey mind. The thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. My mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.
  • The little fishing boat anchors right off the shore of Gili Meno. There are no docks here on this island. You have to roll up your pants, jump off the boat and wade in through the surf on your own power. There’s absolutely no way to do this without getting soaking wet or even banged up on the coral, but it’s worth all the trouble because the beach here is so beautiful, so special
  • You know, it’s the same thing as the question of free will and destiny, the question of creativity – you, the artist, you’re not the puppet of the piano, you’re not the puppet of the muse, but you’re not its master, either. It’s a relationship, it’s a conversation, and all it wants is to be treated with respect and dignity – and it will return ten thousand times over.
  • There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint,’Dear saint-please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.’ This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue come to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust,’My son-please, please, please…buy a ticket.
  • The Silly Putty-like malleability of the institution [marriage], in fact, is the only reason we still have the thing at all. Very few people… would accept marriage on it’s thirteenth-century terms. Marriage survives, in other words, precisely because it evolves. (Though I suppose this would not be a very persuasive argument to those who probably also don’t believe in evolution).
  • We gallop through our lives like circus performers balancing on two speeding side-by-side horses–one foot is on the horse called “fate,” the other on the horse called “free will.” And the question you have to ask every day is–which horse is which? Which horse do I need to stop worrying about because it’s not under my control, and which do I need to steer with concentrated effort?
  • Maybe [artistry] doesn’t have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you’re finished … it starts to change everything.
  • When I tried this morning, after an hour or so of unhappy thinking, to dip back into my meditation, I took a new idea with me: compassion. I asked my heart if it could please infuse my soul with a more generous perspective on my mind’s workings. Instead of thinking that I was a failure, could I perhaps accept that I am only a human being– and a normal one, at that?
  • Lay your wishes aside for a spell, and look deep into what you believe about yourself. Make sure your beliefs about your own life are anchored in greatness, in holiness, in worth, in grace, in joy, in excitement -in internal certainties rather than external circumstances. Because that belief? That’s where you’re heading, no matter what it may look like on the outside.
  • You know, it’s the same thing as the question of free will and destiny, the question of creativity – you, the artist, you’re not the puppet of the piano, you’re not the puppet of the muse, but you’re not its master, either. It’s a relationship, it’s a conversation, and all it wants is to be treated with respect and dignity – and it will return ten thousand times over.
  • Why must everything be repeat and repeat, never finish, never resting? You work so hard one day, but the next day you must only work again. You eat, but the next day, you are already hungry. You find love, then love goes away. You are born with nothing, you work hard, then you die with nothing. You are young, then you are old. No matter how hard you work, you cannot stop getting old. – Wayan
  • This is a nice metaphor, too, about mothers and daughters – that when it came time for me to make my own, I was making a completely different garden than the one that my mom has. They don’t look like they came from relatives. Hers is a very productive and pragmatic vegetable garden, and mine is a ridiculous overabundance of useless plants. It doesn’t feed anybody, it doesn’t serve any purpose.
  • When it seemed like I was going to really have to be there at Todd’s [Willingham] execution, I don’t think I could have done it. I think I began to distance myself. I didn’t visit as often; I didn’t write as often. This was kind of after my conversation with [fire science expert] Gerald Hurst. And the [car] accident made sure that I didn’t have to go up there. But I think he and I both shared that.
  • I’d learned enough from life’s experiences to understand that destiny’s interventions can sometimes be read as invitation for us to address and even surmount our biggest fears. It doesn’t take a great genius to recognize that when you are pushed by circumstance to do the one thing you have always most specifically loathed and feared, this can be, at the very least, an interesting growth opportunity.
  • Maybe artistry doesn’t have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you’re finished … it starts to change everything.
  • We gallop through our lives like circus performers balancing on two speeding side-by-side horses–one foot is on the horse called “fate,” the other on the horse called “free will.” And the question you have to ask every day is–which horse is which? Which horse do I need to stop worrying about because it’s not under my control, and which do I need to steer with concentrated effort?
  • I want to have a lasting experience with God. Sometimes I feel like I understand the divinity of this world, but then I loose it because I get distracted by my petty desires and fears. I want to be with God all the time. But I don’t want to be a monk, or totally give up worldly pleasures. I guess what I want to learn is how to leave in this world and enjoy its delights, but also elevate myself to God.
  • I tried to reassure him with every line about how the world is hard and unfair sometimes, but that it’s all OK because he is so loved. He is surrounded by souls who would do anything to help him. And not only that–he has wisdom and patience of his own, buried deep inside his being, which will only reveal themselves over time and will always carry him through any trial. He is a gift from God to all of us.
  • I have far more enthusiasm in life than I have actual energy. In my excitement, I routinely take on more that I can physically or emotionally handle, which causes me to break down in quite predictable displays of dramatic exhaustion. You will be the one burdened with the job of mopping me up every time I’ve overextended myself and then fallen apart. This will be unbelievably tedious. I apologize in advance.
  • Imagine that the universe is a great spinning engine. You want to stay near the core of the thing – right in the hub of the wheel – not out at the edges where all the wild whirling takes place, where you can get frayed and crazy. The hub of calmness – that’s your heart. That’s where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers in the world. Just keep coming back to that center and you’ll always find peace.
  • Well, I always tried to look nice and be feminine even in the worst tragedies and crisis, there’s no reason to add to everyone’s misery by looking miserable yourself. That’s my philosophy. This is why I always wore makeup and jewelry into the jungle-nothing too extravagant, but maybe just a nice gold bracelet and some earrings, a little lipstick, good perfume. Just enough to show that I still had my self-respect.
  • I’m an enormous product of my century, I’m a product of my upbringing. I was not aware of the fact that I was entering marriage with the highest set of expectations that humans have ever brought to the institution. It was really good to find that out. It doesn’t have to be the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the moon and the stars – it can just be the moon. It’s enough that it just can be what it is.
  • Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. If you don’t have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.
  • Once Henry had heard a crying noise at sea, and had seen a mermaid floating on the ocean’s surface. The mermaid had been injured by a shark. Henry had pulled the mermaid out of the water with a rope, and she had died in his arms…”what language did the mermaid speak?” Alma wanted to know, imagining that it like almost have to be Greek. “English!” Henry said. “By God, plum, why would I rescue a deuced foreign mermaid?
  • Moss grows where nothing else can grow. It grows on bricks. It grows on tree bark and roofing slate. It grows in the Arctic Circle and in the balmiest tropics; it also grows on the fur of sloths, on the backs of snails, on decaying human bones. … It is a resurrection engine. A single clump of mosses can lie dormant and dry for forty years at a stretch, and then vault back again into life with a mere soaking of water.
  • Astonishingly, at some point, a sputtering torch was thrust into her hands. Alma did not see who gave it to her. She had never before been entrusted with fire. The torch spit sparks and sent chunks of flaming tar spinning into the air behind her as she bolted across the cosmos-the only body in the heavens who was not held to a strict elliptical path. Nobody stopped her. She was a comet. She did not know that she was not flying.
  • Imagine that the universe is a great spinning engine. You want to stay near the core of the thing – right in the hub of the wheel – not out at the edges where all the wild whirling takes place, where you can get frayed and crazy. The hub of calmness – that’s your heart. That’s where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers in the world. Just keep coming back to that center and you’ll always find peace.
  • You are still young, so you think only of your own self. You do not notice the tribulations that occur all around you, to other people. Do not protest; it is true. I am not condemning you. I was as selfish as you, when I was your age. It is the custom of the young to be selfish… But someday you will understand that nobody passes through this world without suffering-no matter what you think of them and their supposed good fortune.
  • But why must everything have a practical application? I’d been such a diligent soldier for years – working, producing, never missing a deadline, taking care of my loved ones, my gums and my credit record, voting, etc. Is this lifetime supposed to be only about duty? In this dark period of loss, did I need any justification for learning Italian other than that it was the only thing I could imagine bringing me any pleasure right now?
  • Why they always look so serious in Yoga? You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver. Practice tonight at hotel. Not to hurry, not to try too hard. Too serious, you make you sick. You can calling the good energy with a smile. (From Ketut Liyer, the Balinese healer)
  • This person had arrived, he had illuminated her, he had ensorcelled her with notions of miracle and beauty, he had both understood and misunderstood her, he had married her, he had broken her heart, he had looked upon her with those sad and hopeless eyes, he had accepted his banishment, and now he was gone. What a stark and stunning thing was life- that such a cataclysm can enter and depart so quickly, and leave such wreckage behind!
  • Creativity does not belong exclusively to professional artists and geniuses; it is the birthright of every single human being. Creativity is our common heritage. You don’t need to quit your job and move to Paris in order to lay claim to this heritage – all you have to do is clear some space in your life for whimsy, invention, sensory pleasure, and play. Most of all, you have to learn how to follow your curiosity more than your fear.
  • In the modern industrialized Western world, where I come from, the person whom you choose to marry is perhaps the single most vivid representation of your own personality. Your spouse becomes the most gleaming possible mirror through which your emotional individualism is reflected back to the world. There is no choice more intensely personal after all, than whom you choose to marry; that choice tells us, to a large extent, who you are.
  • Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.
  • But is it such a bad thing to live like this for just a little while? Just for a few months of one’s life, is it so awful to travel through time with no greater ambition than to find the next lovely meal? Or to learn how to speak a language for no higher purpose than that it pleases your ear to hear it? Or to nap in a garden, in a patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favourite fountain? And then to do it again the next day?
  • My mother has made choices in her life, as we all must, and she is at peace with them. I can see her peace. She did not cop out on herself. The benefits of her choices are massive-a long, stable marriage to a man she still calls her best friend; a family that has extended now into grandchildren who adore her; a certainty in her own strength. Maybe some things were sacrificed, and my dad made his sacrifices, too-but who amongst us lives without sacrifice?
  • Marriage is an ongoing, centuries-long social experiment that is mostly controlled by the individuals in the relationships who insist on determining what the relationship terms are going to be. And that’s why the terms of marriage change with every century and decade. We’re shaping it from the inside. Marriage endures because it evolves. Obviously it does. None of us would accept marriage on its 13th century terms, not even the most conservative people…
  • Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.
  • When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.
  • I will tell you why we have these extraordinary minds and souls, Miss Whittaker,” he continued, as though he had not heard her. “We have them because there is a supreme intelligence in the universe, which wishes for communion with us. This supreme intelligence longs to be known. It calls out to us. It draws us close to its mystery, and grants us these remarkable minds, in order that we try to reach for it. It wants us to find it. It wants union with us, more than anything.
  • Until-as often happened during those first months travel, whenever I would feel such happiness-my guilt alarm went off. I heard my ex-husband’s voice speaking disdainfully in my ear: So this is what you gave up everything for? This is why you gutted our entire life together? For a few stalks of asparagus and an Italian newspaper? I replied aloud to him: “First of all,” I said, “I’m very sorry, but this isn’t your business anymore. And secondly, to answer you question…yes.
  • She followed the pleasure where it led. She had no weight, no name, no thoughts, no history. Then came a burst of phosphorescence, as though a firework had discharged behind her eyes, and it was over. She felt quiet and warm. For the first conscious moment of her life, her mind was free from wonder, free from worry, free from work or puzzlement. Then, from the middle of that marvelous furred stillness, a thought took shape, took hold, took over. I shall have to do this again.
  • Problem is, you can’t accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at the dump, baby, you’re just lickin’ at the empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.‚ But I love him.‚ So love him. But I miss him.  So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.
  • Then my mother shocked me. She said, ” All those things that you want from your relationship, Liz? I have always wanted those things too.” [She] showed me the handful of bullets she’d had to bite over the decades in order to stay happily married (and she was happily married…) to my father. “You have to understand how little I was raised to expect that I desired in life, honey. Remember- I come from a different time and place… and you have to understand how much I love your father.
  • My love affair with (him) had a wonderful element of romance to it, which I will always cherish. But it was not an infatuation, and here’s how I can tell: because I did not demand that he become my Great Emancipator or my Source of All Life, nor did I immediately vanish into that man’s chest cavity like a twisted, unrecognizable, parasitical homonculus. During our long period of courtship, I remained intact within my own personality, and I allowed myself to meet (him) for who he was.
  • There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
  • People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.
  • The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he taught. But what about the benefits of living harmoniously among extremes? What if you could somehow create an expansive enough life that you could synchronize seemingly incongruous opposites into a worldview that excludes nothing?
  • Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don’t you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching, I mean you got zapped, kiddo. But that love you felt, that’s just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That’s just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck, Groceries‚ you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It’s your destiny. Don’t laugh.
  • The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy. We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I’m a failure I’m lonely I’m a failure I’m lonely) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.
  • I wanted to experience both. I wanted worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. I wanted what the Greeks called kalos kai agathos, the singular balance of the good and the beautiful. I’d been missing both during these last hard years, because both pleasure and devotion require a stress-free space in which to flourish and I’d been living in a giant trash compactor of nonstop anxiety. As for how to balance the urge for pleasure against the longing for devotion…well, surely there was a way to learn that trick.
  • Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then ‘Ole!’ And if not, do your dance anyhow. And ‘Ole!’ to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. ‘Ole!’ to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.
  • If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.
  • There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
  • People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.
  • I decide every day that I love Creativity enough to accept that Fear will always come with it. And I talk to Fear all the time, speaking to it with love and respect, saying to it: I know that you are Fear, and that your job is to be afraid. And you do your job really well! I will never ask you to leave me alone or to be silent, because you have a right to speak your own voice, and I know that you will never leave me alone or be silent, anyhow. But I need you to understand that I will always choose Creativity over you.
  • The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy. We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I’m a failure I’m lonely I’m a failure I’m lonely) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.
  • The notion is that human beings are born, (as my Guru has explained many times,) with equivalent potential for both contraction and expansion. The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us, and then it’s up to the individual (or the family, or the society) to decide what will be brought forth – the virtues or the malevolence. The madness of this planet is largely a result of human being’s difficulty in coming into virtuous balance with himself. Lunacy (both collective and individual) results.
  • Both the five-year-olds looked at me with bewilderment and a bit of fearful uncertainty. I had a sudden horrifying image of the woman I might become if I’m not careful: Crazy Aunt Liz. The divorcee in the muumuu with the dyed orange hair who doesn’t eat dairy but smokes menthols, who’s always just coming back from her astrology cruise or breaking up with her aroma-therapist boyfriend, who reads the Tarot cards of kindergarteners and says things like, “Bring Aunty Liz another wine cooler, baby, and I’ll let you wear my mood ring.
  • Virginia Woolf wrote, “Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword.” On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where all is correct. But on the other side of that sword, if you’re crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, “all is confusion.” Nothing follows a regular course. Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will be more perilous.
  • Offer it up personally,then. Right now. I thought of how many people go to their graves unforgiven and unforgiving. I thought of how many people have had siblings or friends or children or lovers disappear from their lives before precious words of clemency or absolution could be passed along. How do the survivors of terminated relationships ever endure the pain of unfinished business? From that place of meditation, I found the answer-you can finish the business yourself, from within yourself. It’s not only possible, it’s essential.
  • Someone asked me if I would like to write a man on death row, be a pen pal, and I was like, sure. I volunteered. I had been in a place in my life – a relationship had ended; my parents were getting elderly – I was kind of adrift. The name that was given to me, just randomly, was Todd Willingham. And he wrote me a letter, and in this letter, he thanked me for writing him and [said that] if I would like to visit, he would put me on his visitor list… I was just really struck by the letter from Todd. It was very polite; it was very kind.
  • So I stood up and did a handstand on my Guru’s roof, to celebrate the notion of liberation. I felt the dusty tiles under my hands. I felt my own strength and balance. I felt the easy night breeze on the palms of my bare feet. This kind of thing — a spontaneous handstand–isn’t something a disembodied cool blue soul can do, but a human being can do it. We have hands; we can stand on them if we want to. That’s our privilege. That’s the joy of a mortal body. And that’s why God needs us. Because God loves to feel things through our hands.
  • I remember asking myself one night, while I was curled up in the same old corner of my same old couch in tears yet again over the same old repetition of sorrowful thoughts, ‘Is there ANYTHING about this scene you can change, Liz?’ And all I could think to do was stand up, whle still sobbing, and try to balance on one foot in the middle of the living room. Just to prove that – while I couldn’t stop the tears or change my dismal interior dialogue – I was not yet totally out of control: at least I could cry hysterically while balanced on one foot.
  • I have my own set of survival techniques. I am patient. I know how to pack light. But my one might travel talent is that I can make friends with anybody. I can make friends with the dead. If there isn’t anyone else around to talk to, I could probably make friends with a four-foot-tall pile of sheetrock. That is why I’m not afraid to travel to the most remote places in the world, not if there are human beings there to meet. People asked me before I left, do you have friends [there]?’ and I would just shake my head no, thinking to myself, But I will.
  • The search for God is a reversal of the normal, mundane worldly order. In search for God, you revert from what attracts you and swim toward that which is difficult. You abandon your comforting and familiar habits with the hope (the mere hope!) that something greater will be offered you in return for what you have given up.. if we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be.. a prudent insurance policy.
  • I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.
  • I won the argument against the knife that night, but barely. I had some other good ideas around that time–about how jumping off a building or blowing my brains out with a gun might stop the suffering. but something about spending a night with a knife in my hand did it. The next morning I called my friend Susan as the sun came up, begged her to help me. I don’t think a woman in the whole history of my family had ever done that before, had ever sat in the middle of the road like that and said, in the middle of her life, “I cannot walk another step further–somebody has to help me.
  • It was like time would stop, and the dancer would sort of step through some kind of portal and he wasn’t doing anything different than he had ever done, 1,000 nights before, but everything would align. And all of a sudden, he would no longer appear to be merely human. He would be lit from within, and lit from below and all lit up on fire with divinity. And when this happened, back then, people knew it for what it was, you know, they called it by it’s name. They would put their hands together and they would start to chant, “Allah, Allah, Allah, God God, God.” That’s God, you know.
  • Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.
  • This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.
  • I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.

 

Elie Wiesel (quotes)

  • Think higher, feel deeper.
  • No human being is illegal.
  • For me, every hour is grace.
  • The danger lies in forgetting.
  • Questions outlive the answers.
  • Every moment is a new beginning.
  • Peace is our gift to each other.
  • Humanity would never tolerate it
  • How can a human being be illegal?
  • A man can laugh while he suffers.
  • Not to remember is not an option.
  • Love makes everything complicated.
  • A word is worth a thousand pictures.
  • Holy War is a contradiction of terms.
  • I do not believe in collective guilt.
  • To forget a Holocaust is to kill twice
  • When adults wage war, children perish.
  • I was never without a book in my hand.
  • It always hurts when you lose a secret.
  • God means movement, and not explanation.
  • That [Exodus] occurred, I have no doubt.
  • Every moment contains a spark of eternity.
  • Some stories are true that never happened.
  • What I do, I want to do with all my being.
  • After all, God is God because he remembers.
  • Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.
  • I think [teacher] is the noblest profession.
  • In Jewish history there are no coincidences.
  • The whole community must be saved [in Tibet].
  • One person of integrity can make a difference.
  • Not to transmit an experience is to betray it.
  • Even in darkness it is possible to create light.
  • Naturally, the human being wants to forget pain.
  • An indifference to suffering makes humans inhuman
  • There are real people behind the [Bible] stories.
  • God made (human beings) because he loves stories.
  • I write to understand as much as to be understood.
  • For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.
  • War is like night, she said. It covers everything.
  • My anger rises up within faith and not outside it.
  • Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love.
  • When you listen to a witness, you become a witness.
  • Tibet’s a tragedy. It’s an insult to human decency.
  • I don’t want my past to become anyone else’s future.
  • There is no word in Hebrew for religion, by the way.
  • Each man was his own executioner and his own victim.
  • [The Bible] is been my passion almost from my youth.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
  • And to write is to sow and to reap at the same time.
  • It’s not hatred that kills people, it’s indifference
  • The opposite of faith is not heresy but indifference
  • The opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
  • There are no accidents, only encounters with destiny!
  • If the victims are my problem, the killers are yours.
  • Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
  • Occasionally, I come to moments of anguish in the text.
  • When our center is strong, everything else is secondary.
  • Music does not replace words, it gives tone to the words
  • After my father’s death, nothing could touch me any more.
  • The sins I regret the most are the one’s I didn’t commit.
  • Which is worse? Killing with hate or killing without hate?
  • Warmed-over loves and soups are generally not recommended.
  • I do not recall a Jewish home without a book on the table.
  • Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.
  • Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.
  • Life belongs to man, but the meaning of life is beyond him.
  • I spent most of my time talking to God more than to people.
  • The yellow star? Oh well, what of it? You dont die of it.
  • Whatever you think in life… think higher and feel deeper.
  • To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.
  • What would the future of man be if it were devoid of memory?
  • Had the situation not been so tragic, we might have laughed.
  • What do all my books have in common? A commitment to memory.
  • Those who kept silent yesterday will remain silent tomorrow.
  • I have one request: may I never use my reason against truth.
  • I had my religious crisis after the war, not during the war.
  • Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
  • Eternity is the place where questions and answers become one.
  • The primary task of a Jew in turbulent times is to be Jewish.
  • People become the stories they hear and the stories they tell.
  • [Moses] Mendelssohn was a religious Jew. I felt sorry for him.
  • Which is better, truth that is a lie or the lie that is truth?
  • I have a tremendous respect for Professor [Frank Moore] Cross.
  • To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.
  • Memory feeds a culture, nourishes hope and makes a human, human.
  • My God was never happiness, but to understand and be understood.
  • I believe in the story [ of Adam and Eve]. For me, it’s a story.
  • Because I survived, I must do everything possible to help others.
  • We’ve sort of agreed that the account of Adam and Eve is a story.
  • I will say, with memoir, you must be honest. You must be truthful.
  • I have to be self-conscious of what I’m trying to do with my life.
  • every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer . . .
  • I think that human beings are capable of the worst things possible.
  • The more you ask certain questions, the more dangerous they become.
  • In Jewish tradition the Talmud is said to have been given on Sinai.
  • When I see a child who is hungry, I see a person who is humiliated.
  • Not all games are innocent. Some come dangerously close to cruelty.
  • In order to fly, you have to give up the ground you are standing on.
  • In the face of suffering, one has no right to turn away, not to see.
  • What is man? Ally of God or simply his toy? His triumph or his fall?
  • It’s not only America. Terrorism now is a threat to the whole world.
  • I respect scholarship. But I don’t like to do things half-heartedly.
  • The philosophers are wrong: it is not words that kill, it is silence.
  • I shall always remember that smile. From what world did it come from?
  • Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.
  • ‘Indifference to evil is equal to evil’ because it strengthens people.
  • Weapons means killing. Weapons is ah, I’m simply sensitive to the word.
  • Next to him lay his violin, trampled, an eerily poignant little corpse.
  • Memory is the keyword which combines past with present, past and future.
  • Since God is, He is to be found in the questions as well as the answers.
  • Today, as yesterday, a nation is judged by its attitude towards refugees.
  • We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children.
  • I learned to trust the threats of enemies before the promises of friends.
  • You’re at the bottom of the mountain. May you climb up without suffering.
  • If we want to know history, I would think there would be every reason to.
  • You cannot write in more than one language. Words don’t come out as well.
  • In the word question, there is a beautiful word – quest. I love that word.
  • Drawn to childhood, the old man will seek it in a thousand different ways.
  • What is man? Hope turned to dust. No. What is man? Dust turned to hope.
  • Take sides. Neutrality always serves the oppressor and never the oppressed.
  • Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming.
  • I describe incidents which may or may not have happened but which are true.
  • I’m not a military man. I wish I were, then maybe I could give some advice.
  • What is Scripture? The Hebrew word is torah. Torah means teaching, learning.
  • It is true that not all the victims were Jews, but all the Jews were victims
  • I’ve given my life to the principle and the ideal of memory, and remembrance.
  • One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.
  • A religious person answers to God, not to the elected or non-elected official.
  • No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has escaped the kingdom of night.
  • A destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent.
  • For in my tradition, as a Jew, I believe that whatever we receive we must share.
  • And action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all.
  • Life is not a fist. Life is an open hand waiting for some other hand to enter it.
  • Human beings should be held accountable. Leave God alone. He has enough problems.
  • There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.
  • When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.
  • Only the guilty are guilty: the children of killers are not killers, but children.
  • For me democracy is the only way of life. The opposite is dictatorship or anarchy.
  • [ Rabbi Shlomo ben Isaac] was the greatest commentator [of the Bible] we ever had.
  • Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story. That is his duty.
  • Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write.
  • I personally have no doubt that the Exodus occurred. How it occurred, I don’t know.
  • The story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac are nowhere in any other tradition.
  • You take a text, you explore it, you enter it with all your heart and all your mind.
  • Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.
  • did everything I could in my life to be immune to hatred, because hatred is a cancer.
  • Knowledge does not corrupt, unless it is arrogant; but then it is not true knowledge.
  • Perhaps fate isn’t blind after all. Perhaps it’s capable of fantasy, even compassion.
  • Christians call it the “Sacrifice of Isaac,” and Jews call it the “Binding of Isaac.”
  • There is one right I would not grant anyone. And that is the right to be indifferent.
  • Judaism is in a sense a Rabbinic, Talmudic religion, rather than a Biblical religion.
  • My faith is a wounded faith, but it’s not without faith. My life is not without faith.
  • If God exists, how can we lay claim to freedom, since He is its beginning and its end?
  • Some events do take place but are not true; others are, although they never occurred.
  • No one may speak for the dead, no one may interpret their mutilated dreams and visions.
  • The story [of the Sacrifice of Isaac ] is much more a part of theology than of history.
  • I think [Sacrifice of Isaac] is the most important event in the Bible except for Sinai.
  • Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to life as long as God himself
  • In those dark times, one rose to the very heights of humanity by simply remaining human.
  • Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another.
  • I am much more afraid of my good deeds that please me than of my bad deeds that repel me.
  • This is the role of writers: to turn their tears into a story – and perhaps into a prayer.
  • The Jewish tradition of learning-is learning. Adam chose knowledge instead of immortality.
  • You shouldn’t act as a spokesperson for someone who’s trying to impose his will on you.
  • I think so. 9/11 has been a turning point in American history, there’s no doubt about that.
  • I don’t believe in collective guilt. The children of killers are not killers, but children.
  • Indifference is the sign of sickness, a sickness of the soul more contagious than any other.
  • ..you do not leave a library; if you do what it wants you to do, you are taking it with you.
  • You know, words have strange destiny, too. They grow. They get old. They die. They come back.
  • I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.
  • Humanity? Humanity is not concerned with us. Today anything is allowed. Anything is possible.
  • Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.
  • The only way for us to help ourselves is to help others and to listen to each other’s stories.
  • Life is really fascinated only by death. It vibrates only when it comes in contact with death.
  • I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
  • I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some both.
  • Man walks the moon but his soul remains riveted to earth. Once upon a time it was the opposite.
  • It’s easier to be conformist naturally; it’s easier except for those who don’t like conformism.
  • I belong to a tradition that believes that the death of a single child is a blemish on creation.
  • I’ll tell you what: I believe mysticism is a very serious endeavor. One must be equipped for it.
  • What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.
  • Whether every story that’s there [in the Bible] is a historic truth … Again, I’m not concerned.
  • The world? The world is not interested in us. Today, everything is possible, even the crematoria.
  • Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.
  • Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
  • Oh, it is not death that frightens me, but the impossibility of imparting some meaning to my past.
  • Moses was the greatest legislator and the commander in chief of perhaps the first liberation army.
  • I’m not a political person, and their ambitions are not mine. They want power. I don’t want power.
  • One can do without solutions. Only the questions matter. We may share them or turn away from them.
  • The most important question a human being has to face… What is it? The question, Why are we here?
  • The sincere Christian knows that what died in Auschwitz was not the Jewish people but Christianity.
  • Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life.
  • I needed to know that there was such a thing as love and that it brought smiles and joy in its wake.
  • Whenever an angel says “Be not afraid!” you’d better start worrying. A big assignment is on the way.
  • I was 15, not 14, when I was inside there [Auschwitz], 15, and for me both were actually a surprise.
  • Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.
  • The Holocaust is not a cheap soap opera. The Holocaust is not a romantic novel. It is something else.
  • Only fanatics in religion as well as in politics can find a meaning in someone else’s death.
  • We still are looking for someone who knows the secret of immortality. Only God is immortal; we are not.
  • Every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them.
  • The deeper the nostalgia and the more complete the fear, the purer, the richer the word and the secret.
  • There is not anti-semitism as an ideology. The civilized world must think that anti-semitism is stupid.
  • Anything you want to say about God you better make sure you can say in front of a pit of burning babies.
  • For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences.
  • When I say it doesn’t make much difference, I mean in terms of the importance of the piece of literature.
  • There is much to be done, there is much that can be done… one person of integrity can make a difference.
  • Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?
  • Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.
  • A holy war is a contradiction in terms. War dehumanizes, war diminishes, war debases all those who wage it.
  • Once upon a time refugee meant somebody who has a refuge, found a place, a haven where he could find refuge.
  • Gratitude is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the happiness and humanity of the human being.
  • [Tibet] is a small country based on religious principle, religious traditions. It never wanted any conquest.
  • I wrote my first book, I published it in 1955, it was in Yiddish and it was called And The World Was Silent.
  • I come from a tradition – from the Jewish tradition, which believes in words, in language, in communication.
  • He explained to me with great insistence that every question posessed a power that did not lie in the answer.
  • Even if people tell me they have historical proof [that it is not historical], that doesn’t really bother me.
  • If you ask me what I want to achieve, it’s to create an awareness, which is already the beginning of teaching.
  • In the beginning there was faith – which is childish; trust – which is vain; and illusion – which is dangerous.
  • A man who is fighting for the future of mankind is not waiting for torture, he’s waiting for — the Revolution.
  • Did I write it so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of madness?
  • My ambition really was, even as a child, to be a writer, a commentator, and a teacher, but a teacher of Talmud.
  • We didn’t really differ [with Frank Moore Cross] because we have the same love of the text. We share that love.
  • It is by his freedom that a man knows himself, by his sovereignty over his own life that a man measures himself.
  • Certain things, certain events, seem inexplicable only for a time: up to the moment when the veil is torn aside.
  • It was the beginning of the war. I was twelve years old, my parents were alive, and God still dwelt in our town.
  • Except that a human being is both the public and the private. We are both, private and public in the same person.
  • It takes more than a few generations to change a human nation. Those who are intent to bring (change) will do so.
  • Politicians, they give the visible aspect of the change, but the change, the root, the anchor are in young people.
  • Abraham is trying to obey God, but not to kill. I feel that moment is one of the defining moments of Jewish faith.
  • I developed an anger at [Moses] Mendelssohn. Later, I read the book. I realized there was nothing subversive in it.
  • Suffering pulls us farther away from other human beings. It builds a wall made of cries and contempt to separate us.
  • I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.
  • When has religion ever been unifying? Religion has introduced many wars in this world, enough bloodshed and violence.
  • I told him that I did not believe that they could burn people in our age, that humanity would never tolerate it . . .
  • Sometimes I think I prefer the storyteller in [Roman Vishniac] to the photographer. But aren’t they one and the same?
  • There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
  • All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them. No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior.
  • My teachers [ had the most impact in my life]. Of course, my father and grandfather, but after my family, my teachers.
  • For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile.
  • Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.
  • Man, as long as he lives, is immortal. One minute before his death he shall be immortal. But one minute later, God wins.
  • You know how many reasons we have to be desperate and despairing, the world is not learning anything. We have seen that.
  • We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else.
  • Therefore, all my adult life, since I began my life as an author, or as a teacher, I always try to listen to the victim.
  • Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.
  • I never compared Nazis into communism, but communism was the same thing, the end justifies the means. Whatever the means.
  • Personally, as a student who loves words, who loves texts, I am concerned with finding something in the text from within.
  • Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
  • We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark.
  • I believe in God–in spite of God! I believe in Mankind–in spite of Mankind! I believe in the Future–in spite of the Past!
  • From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.
  • I remember when I heard the words “Biblical criticism” in my town, it was with disdain: “Biblical criticism? How dare you?”.
  • I came to the conclusion that I am free to choose my own suffering. But I am not free to consent to someone else’s suffering.
  • Simply because, one hand, there are the haters, The hater has power. All we can do is oppose it, or one becomes an accomplice.
  • All I hope is that the American coalition is doing its best to prevent civilian casualties and the killing of innocent people.
  • It was like a page torn from a history book, from some historical novel about the captivity of babylon or Spanish Inquisition.
  • Words can be turned into spears. They can be turned into prayers. It’s a strange world that you are in. But you deal with words.
  • Look, if I were alone in the world, I would have the right to choose despair, solitude and self-fulfillment. But I am not alone.
  • My students are very special. They are my source of pride, my source of joy, my source of hope. I am terribly fond of my students.
  • For the good of all, I say: Be careful, the brutality of the world must not be more powerful or attractive than love and friendship.
  • Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.
  • Granted that every war is madness-civil war, fratricide, is the worst of all; it reaches deeper into ugliness, cruelty and absurdity.
  • Fanaticism in many lands has surfaced as the greatest threat to the world. Indifference to its consequences would be a serious mistake.
  • I’m not a political person. I usually beware of political persons. I know many, but I’m not one of them. I have no political ambitions.
  • Except if it has some historical meaning for them to have Tibet under their control. I don’t understand why [ Chinese] want it so much.
  • I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone – terribly alone in a world without God and without (hu)man(ity).
  • The Biblical text does not have punctuation marks like periods and question marks. Where we end sentences is a matter of interpretation.
  • Man asks and God replies but we don’t understand his replies because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die.
  • The more we know, the more pain we have. But because we are human beings, this must be. Otherwise we become objects rather than subjects.
  • I had to be honest with myself and that I felt hatred then, but as children say “I hate you”, it’s not really hate, you know, it’s anger.
  • Writing is like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate, in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain
  • I believe a human being – if he or she wants to remain human, then he or she must do something with what we have seen, endured, witnessed.
  • Education in the key to preventing the cycle of violence and hatred that marred the 20th century from repeating itself in the 21st century.
  • I have tried to keep memory alive… I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
  • I was convinced that hatred among nations and among people perished in Auschwitz. It didn’t. The victims died but the haters are still here.
  • This day I ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused.
  • That is my major preoccupation, memory, the kingdom of memory. I want to protect and enrich that kingdom, glorify that kingdom and serve it.
  • More people are aware of the consequences of hatred. People are aware. Therefore more people are engaged in fighting … racism and so forth.
  • First we must understand that there can be no life without risk – and when our center is strong, everything else is secondary, even the risks.
  • What I don’t like today is, to put it coarsely, the phony Hasidism, the phony mysticism. Many students say, “Teach me mysticism.” It’s a joke.
  • [Adolf] Hitler needed, he didn’t want to kill Jews, he wanted to expel German Jews, and therefore it’s not entirely corroborating your theory.
  • Human beings all change. Not what they are but who they are. We have the power to change what we do with our life and turn it into our destiny.
  • I don’t think I should accept other people’s suffering because I suffered. Just the opposite, because I suffered I don’t want others to suffer.
  • We are all teachers, or should be. Anyone who relays experience to another person is a teacher. Not to transmit your experience is to betray it.
  • [Friedrich] Nietzsche said something marvellous, he said “Madness is not a consequence of uncertainty but of certainty”, and this is fanaticism.
  • In the concentration camps, we discovered this whole universe where everyone had his place. The killer came to kill, and the victims came to die.
  • Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed.
  • For nearly 3,500 years Exodus has left such an imprint on people’s memories that I cannot imagine it had been invented just as a legend or a tale.
  • The Holocaust is a sacred subject. One should take off one’s shoes when entering its domain, one should tremble each time one pronounces the word.
  • The impact of the holocaust on believers as well as unbelievers, on Jews as well as Christians, has not yet been evaluated. Not deeply, not enough.
  • When I began teaching you hardly could find a university in America or a college where they would teach either Jewish studies or Holocaust studies.
  • For us it’s not easy to be conformist, I cannot stand to be conformist, I don’t accept what it is, I like to say no. If I see an injustice I scream.
  • For me [Patriarchs] exist. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob exist today. They are people that you see with white beards. I have no doubt of their existence.
  • Writing should not be routine; writing should actually be the opposite of procedural because otherwise the written word would become a routine word.
  • Though we talk peace, we wage war. Sometimes we even wage war in the name of peace. Does that seem paradoxical? Well, war is not afraid of paradoxes.
  • Better that one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand other hearts need not be broken at all.
  • You’re shaking,¶ so am I. It’s because of Jerusalem, isn’t it? One doesn’t go to Jerusalem, one returns to it. That’s one of its mysteries.
  • One thing is that [Tibetans] should not give up hope. That’s – even [if] it lasts a century. My discussions with the Dalai Lama always were about that.
  • I really don’t teach the way Professor [Frank Moore] Cross does. I don’t teach the text the same way he does. I teach Biblical themes, Biblical events.
  • That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life – that is what is abnormal.
  • We’re both [with Elie Wiesel] a long way from the position of the so-called Biblical minimalists. Some of them see no history in the Bible until Josiah.
  • Bread, soup – these were my whole life. I was a body. Perhaps less than that even: a starved stomach. The stomach alone was aware of the passage of time.
  • I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their best characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory.
  • Pain is essential. Often I cannot avoid it.Therefore all one can do is redeem it; and the only way to redeem it is through literature, art, poetry, music.
  • The sky is so close to the sea that it is difficult to tell which is reflected in the other, which one needs the other, which one is dominating the other.
  • As you know, I describe Shirat ha-Yam as part of an epic story that has qualities of history and which also has qualities of the mythological, of an epic.
  • My faith is a wounded faith, but my life is not without faith. I didn’t divorce God, but I’m quarrelling and arguing and questioning, it’s a wounded faith.
  • I became one of [Moses Mendelssohn] defenders. But then I heard the words “Biblical criticism” again. And, of course, afterward, I studied it more closely.
  • If there is a single theme that dominates all my writings, all my obsessions, it is that of memory-because I fear forgetfulness as much as hatred and death.
  • The stars were only sparks of the fire which devoured us. Should that fire die out one day, there would be nothing left in the sky but dead stars, dead eyes.
  • I’ve worked with five Presidents in America, all of them I ask the same question always: Why didn’t the American allies bomb the railways going to Auschwitz?
  • Every single human being is a unique human being. And, therefore, it’s so criminal to do something to that human being, because he or she represents humanity.
  • Josiah has a tremendous reputation in the text. He rediscovered the Book of the Law; you remember how Hilkiah the High Priest somehow found it [2 Kings 22:8].
  • In Talmudic literature, certainly in the beginning, he was like a human being – except he was a serpent. But he was talking and walking and probably dreaming.
  • I don’t think [governments] use [religious repression ] as a weapon, they use it as a as a means of – of oppression. To stifle opposition. To mute resistance.
  • Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate – healthy virile hate – for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German.
  • If life is not a celebration, why remember it ? If life — mine or that of my fellow man — is not an offering to the other, what are we doing on this earth?
  • We are all brothers and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive. (pg. 39)
  • None of us is in a position to eliminate war, but it is our obligation to denounce it and expose it in all its hideousness. War leaves no victors, only victims.
  • Whatever we thought was certain is no longer certain, and therefore in science probably certain things must be correct, but in human behaviour I am not so sure.
  • Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.
  • No commandment surpasses the one concerning the liberation of hostages, for they are among the starving, the thirsting, the stripped, always in danger of death.
  • For the dead and the living, we must bear witness. Not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are responsible for what we do with those memories
  • The only place where I felt at home, on familiar ground, was the Jewish cemetery. And yet I had never set foot in it before. Children had been forbidden to enter.
  • Do you know what laughter is? I’ll tell you. It’s God’s mistake. When God made man in order to bend him to his wishes he carelessly gave him the gift of laughter.
  • I do not deal with the text [of the Bible] scientifically. I read it, I’m interested in its layers of meaning, but my relation to it is much more an emotional one.
  • Bite your lips, little brother…Don’t cry. Keep your anger, your hate, for another day, for later. The day will come but not now…Wait. Clench your teeth and wait.
  • I think that human beings are capable of the worst things possible and they show that there were times, and there probably are times, that it is human to be inhuman.
  • I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. and anyone who does not remember betrays them again.
  • I try to see their moral relevance [in the Bible] and, of course, to admire the literary beauty of the text. Prophetic poetry: No one has written the way Isaiah does.
  • Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.
  • I imagine, like all his predecessors, Barak Obama would like to achieve greatness in bringing peace in the Middle East. I hope it will not be at the expense of Israel.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Indifference creates evil. Hatred is evil itself. Indifference is what allows evil to be strong, what gives it power.
  • Perhaps some day someone will explain how, on the level of man, Auschwitz was possible; but on the level of God, it will forever remain the most disturbing of mysteries.
  • I was there when God was put on trial….At the end of the trial, they used the word chayav, rather than ‘guilty’. It means ‘He owes us something’. Then we went to pray.
  • A voice behind me asked, “Where is God? Where is He? Where can He be now?” and a voice within me answered: “Where? Here He is – He has been hanged here, on these gallows.”
  • I come from a very religious background.And actually I remained in it. All my anger I describe in my quarrels with God in Auschwitz, but you know I used to pray every day.
  • Sometimes I am asked if I know ‘the response to Auschwitz; I answer that not only do I not know it, but that I don’t even know if a tragedy of this magnitude has a response.
  • In my tradition, one must wait until one has learned a lot of Bible and Talmud and the Prophets to handle mysticism. This isn’t instant coffee. There is no instant mysticism.
  • [Shirat ha-Yam ] is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, pieces of Biblical literature that we possess. It is much closer to history than later traditions of the Exodus.
  • There is a coalition of anti-Semitism today, the extreme left, the extreme right and in the middle the huge corpus of Islam. I’m worried, I go around with a very heavy heart.
  • What does mysticism really mean? It means the way to attain knowledge. It’s close to philosophy, except in philosophy you go horizontally while in mysticism you go vertically.
  • The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, and so are you.
  • His cold eyes stared at me. At last, he said wearily: “I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.
  • I would hesitate to give advice to the Dalai Lama and his people because they are suffering. The Dalai Lama suffered from exile and the people in Tibet suffer from oppression.
  • There is divine beauty in learning… To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps.
  • Man, by definition, is born a stranger: coming from nowhere, he is thrust into an alien world which existed before him-a world which didn’t need him. And which will survive him.
  • In my little town, Sighet, which is in Romania, Hungary-Romania, but a real shtetl, a little [Jewish] village – and we began with the Chumash [Pentateuch], probably at age four.
  • I’ve organised for the last years, since I got the Nobel Prize actually, Anatomy of Hate Conferences all over the world, what is hate. Didn’t help but at least they explored it.
  • Emphasis must be put on learning: there is no substitute to education. It can be briefly formulated in a few words: always, whatever you do in life, think higher and feel deeper.
  • Mankind needs peace more than ever, for our entire planet, threatened by nuclear war, is in danger of total destruction. A destruction only man can provoke, only man can prevent.
  • The Holocaust is the most documented tragedy in recorded history. And therefore, later on, if there will be a later on, anyone wishing to know will know where to go for knowledge.
  • Of course, afterward, I studied [commentary on the Bible by a Rabbi Moshe Dessauer] more closely. But, in truth, it doesn’t touch me. It doesn’t change my attitude toward the text.
  • Paris: city of encounters, of furtive and painful discoveries. All isms converge there, including the anti-isms, all the revolutionaries too, including the counterrevolutionaries .
  • I feel very close to French culture and to the French humanism, which occasionally one finds, even in the highest places. And therefore, all of my books have been written in French.
  • I remember, May 1944: I was 15-and-a-half, and I was thrown into a haunted universe where the story of the human adventure seemed to swing irrevocably between horror and malediction.
  • Only one enemy is worse than despair: indifference. In every area of human creativity, indifference is the enemy; indifference of evil is worse than evil, because it is also sterile.
  • I thought that culture and education are the shield. An educated person cannot do certain things and, and be educated, you cannot, and there they were, killing children day after day.
  • The darkness enveloped us. All I could hear was the violin and it was as if Juliek’s soul had become the bow. He was playing his life…He played that which he would never play again.
  • What is being lost is the magic of the word. I am not an image person. Imagery belongs to another civilization: the caveman. Caveman couldn’t express himself so he put images on walls.
  • In spite of despair, hope must exist. In spite of suffering, humanity must prevail. And in spite of all the differences in the world, the worst enemy, the worst peril, is indifference.
  • It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.
  • I say to myself, if the text was good enough for my father and grandfather, it must be good enough for me. I admit, that is a rather personal way of approaching the text – or a prayer.
  • I think those governments who resent religion, they’re afraid of religion because religion may be in their eyes, in their views be seen as a counter government or a parallel government.
  • I make a difference between genocide and Holocaust. Holocaust was mainly Jewish, that was the only people, to the last Jew, sentenced to die for one reason, for being Jewish, that’s all.
  • They are committing the greatest indignity human beings can inflict on one another: telling people who have suffered excruciating pain and loss that their pain and loss were illusions. (v)
  • I’ve been fighting my entire adult life for men and women everywhere to be equal and to be different. But there is one right I would not grant anyone. And that is the right to be indifferent.
  • Now, when I hear that Christians are getting together in order to defend the people of Israel, of course it brings joy to my heart. And it simply says, look, people have learned from history.
  • Why is war such an easy option? Why does peace remain such an elusive goal? We know statesmen skilled at waging war, but where are those dedicated enough to humanity to find a way to avoid war
  • It’s not a weapon, [governments] don’t kill, they don’t conduct massacres, although massacres have been committed and many people were killed, but they stifle religion, they’re afraid probably.
  • I don’t see the junk youth. I only meet students, and even those who are not formally at the university, if they come to listen to me, they come to read me, it means they are not junk students.
  • [Memory] is a passion no less powerful or pervasive than love. It is [the ability] to live in more than one world, to prevent the past from fading, and to call upon the future to illuminate it.
  • For the purpose of my life, I don’t ask the question. First of all, I believe. I think the Five Books of Moses are inspired. Call it divine. I don’t know. But I would certainly call it inspired.
  • If you make a determination that [story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac] is not historical, do you throw it away? I don’t think we can say whether it’s precisely, scientifically historical.
  • Usually I get up early every morning and from 6:00 to 10:00 I write. The rest of the time I study and prepare my work or I do other things. But four hours a day are exclusively devoted to writing.
  • Go over to Greece with the Iliad and Odyssey. These have elements of history, and they have non-historical elements. It’s very difficult to pull them apart. And I think there’s not much reason to.
  • We know, for instance, of “The Book of the Wars of the Lord.” It is mentioned in the text [Numbers 21:14]. There was a book: Where is it? One day you will dig and you will maybe find it. [Laughter]
  • The knowledge that I have acquired must not remain imprisoned in my brain. I owe it to many men and women to do something with it. I feel the need to pay back what was given to me. Call it gratitude.
  • Terrorism must be outlawed by all civilized nations ¬ó not explained or rationalized, but fought and eradicated. Nothing can, nothing will justify the murder of innocent people and helpless children.
  • Worse still is that mankind – the non-Jewish world – learned nothing from the Holocaust: The event which had no precedent in history, which should be equal to the Revelation at Sinai in significance.
  • If there is one person on the planet who still is suffering from loneliness and from pain or despair, and we don’t know about it, or we don’t want to know about it, then something is wrong with the world.
  • [Chinese] are a huge empire now, you’ll soon be – in a few years two billion people in the world. So, you should be more compassionate, more understanding. And above all, you don’t need all their trouble.
  • Philosophy is a slow process of logic and logical discourse: A bringing B bringing C and so forth. In mysticism you can jump from A to Z. But the ultimate objective is the same. It’s knowledge. It’s truth.
  • We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.
  • Everybody around us was weeping. Someone began to recite Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. I don’t know whether, during the history of the Jewish people, men have ever before recited Kaddish for themselves.
  • I have an open mind – – I read, I study, I study your work and the work of other people with less talent. But that is not what I do in my writing and teaching. Still the love for the text we have in common.
  • The criminal is not alone when he returns to the scene of the crime; he is joined there by his victim, and both are driven by the same curiosity: to relive that moment which stamped past and future for each.
  • It is up to us to determine whether the years ahead will be for humankind a curse or a blessing. We always must remember that it is given to men and women to choose life and living, not death and destruction.
  • I’d rather speak as a student of philosophy. Philosophically it makes no sense, absolutely makes no sense. Why should people inherit evil things when their memories could contain and should invoke good things?
  • I cannot cure everybody. I cannot help everybody. But to tell the lonely person that I am not far or different from that lonely person, that I am with him or her, that’s all I think we can do and we should do.
  • No human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?
  • [Tibet] never sought any territory. All it wanted is the conquest of the soul, that people should attain a kind of inner sovereignty, inner independence, inner freedom. And inner strength to attain the absolute.
  • What [Franz] Kafka says about the Tower of Babel: In the beginning there were actually many languages, and then as a punishment God gave the world a single language. And then they stopped understanding each other.
  • My interpretation is different. God asks Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” [Genesis 4:9] And Cain answers “Lo yadati, “I don’t know” or “I didn’t know.” Then comes a period, followed by “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
  • A Jew must be sensitive to the pain of all human beings. A Jew cannot remain indifferent to human suffering… The mission of the Jewish people has never been to make the world more Jewish, but to make it more human.
  • The Vietnam War ended because of the campus situation. And so many other injustices have been corrected in the World today only thanks to the young people. So, young people especially have a responsibility for Tibet.
  • It is obvious that the war which Hitler and his accomplices waged was a war not only against Jewish men, women, and children, but also against Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish tradition, therefore Jewish memory.
  • Nobody is stronger, nobody is weaker than someone who came back. There is nothing you can do to such a person because whatever you could do is less than what has already been done to him. We have already paid the price.
  • Be careful with words, they’re dangerous. Be wary of them. They begat either demons or angels. It’s up to you to give life to one or the other. Be careful, I tell you, nothing is as dangerous as giving free rein to words
  • I rarely speak about God. To God yes. I protest against Him. I shout at Him. But open discourse about the qualities of God, about the problems that God imposes, theodicy, no. And yet He is there, in silence, in filigree.
  • He wants to see whether we are capable of overcoming out base instincts, of killing the Satan within ourselves. We have no right to despair. And if he punishes us mercilessly, it is a sign that He loves us that much more.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
  • you can do something. You can, even for one person Don’t turn away; help. Because those who suffer, often suffer not because of the person or the group that inflicts the suffering; they seem to suffer because nobody cares.
  • There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don’t see them.
  • Yet another last night. The last night at home, the last night in the ghetto, the last night in the train, and, now, the last night in Buna. How much longer were our lives to be dragged out from one ‘last night’ to another?
  • I would say to [Chinese government], You don’t need Tibet really. You don’t need all the problems Tibet creates for you. It’s so small, so far away. Give them their religious freedom and I know that they wouldn’t misuse it.
  • Always remember, my good friends, that there is one sin we must never commit and it is to humiliate another person or to allow another person to be humiliated in our presence without us screaming and shouting and protesting.
  • You cross a border and the policeman or the frontier policeman look at you, What are you doing here? Why are you coming? How long will you stay? Well, if I had nearly enough years, I would write a novel about being a refugee.
  • I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
  • Often I say to myself “Really, what are we doing on this planet?” We are passing the message as well as we can, communicating our fears, our hopes … Day in day out, week after week and year after year, people kill each other.
  • I was very, very religious. And of course I wrote about it in ‘Night.’ I questioned God’s silence. So I questioned. I don’t have an answer for that. Does it mean that I stopped having faith? No. I have faith, but I question it.
  • Nevertheless, we are led to believe that true words can communicate more than truth, they communicate what life is all about, that it’s threatened, when it’s threatened, when it’s in danger, then it becomes a curse or a blessing.
  • All those who love thrillers will find in Michael Alexiades’s first novel a source of great pleasure and satisfaction. It combines suspense and knowledge, experience and imagination. His grateful readers will now wait for the next.
  • There is Israel, for us at least. What no other generation had, we have. We have Israel in spite of all the dangers, the threats and the wars, we have Israel. We can go to Jerusalem. Generations and generations could not and we can.
  • I am not so na√Øve as to believe that this slim volume will change the course of history or shake the conscience of the world. Books no longer have the power they once did. Those who kept silent yesterday will remain silent tomorrow.
  • We are heading towards catastrophe. I think the world is going to pieces. I am very pessimistic. Why? Because the world hasn’t been punished yet, and the only punishment that could be adequate is the nuclear destruction of the world.
  • We live in the age of communication. Write letters to the editor. Speak to your congressman, to your senator. If you are young, especially young people are taken by this human rights activities. They should organize the universities.
  • Some of the men spoke of God: His mysterious ways, the sins of the Jewish people, and the redemption to come. As for me, I had ceased to pray. I concurred with Job! I was not denying His existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.
  • I want to go back to the child I used to be, and to read with the same naivet√© [the Pentateuch]. I want to leave science aside and go back to the pure perception offered to me in the text that is waiting there for me year after year.
  • [Moishe] explained to me, with great emphasis, that every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer…. And why do you pray, Moishe?’ I asked him. I pray to the God within me for the strength to ask Him the real questions.
  • In my town we studied the five Books of Moses, but rarely the prophets. We studied the Talmud so much that I sometimes knew the prophets because of the prophetic quotations in the Talmud. We almost never studied the prophets themselves.
  • Fanaticism is the greatest threat today. Literally, the 21st century threatened by fanatics, and we have fanatics in every religion, unfortunately, and what can we do against them? Words nothing else, I’m against violence but only words.
  • At Auschwitz, not only man died, but also the idea of man. To live in a world where there is nothing anymore, where the executioner acts as god, as judge-many wanted no part of it. It was its own heart the world incinerated at Auschwitz.
  • I did not weep, and it pained me that i could not weep. But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like–free at last!
  • I think the Messianic concept, which is the Jewish offering to mankind, is a great victory. What does it mean? It means that history has a sense, a meaning, a direction; it goes somewhere, and necessarily in a good direction–the Messiah.
  • I was inspired by the marvelous example of Giacometti, the great sculptor. He always said that his dream was to do a bust so small that it could enter a matchbook, but so heavy that no one could lift it. That’s what a good book should be.
  • No one has written the way Isaiah does. The royal style, the majesty of the language. He is called the prince of the prophets. No one has written like that. I’ve studied ancient literature, Homer, for example, but it’s not the same thing.
  • All those – or most of those – who went through the experience during the Second World War – they want to remember more – more and more. It’s never enough because we feel that we have to tell the story. And no one can tell the story fully.
  • When you die and go to heaven our maker is not going to ask, ‘why didn’t you discover the cure for such and such? why didn’t you become the Messiah?’ The only question we will be asked in that precious moment is ‘why didn’t you become you?’
  • Just as there are predatory birds, so there are predatory ideas: I came under their spell. . . .Just as the survivors say that no one will ever understand the victims, what I must tell you is that you will never understand the executioners.
  • Even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. That it is possible to feel free inside a prison. That even in exile, friendship exists and can become an anchor. That one instant before dying, man is still immortal.
  • Man prefers to blame himself for all possible sins and crimes rather than come to the conclusion that God is capable of the most flagrant injustice. I still blush every time I think of the way God makes fun of human beings, his favorite toys.
  • With every cell of my being and with every fiber of my memory I oppose the death penalty in all forms. I do not believe any civilized society should be at the service of death. I don’t think it’s human to become an agent of the angel of death.
  • Refugee today means somebody who has no home. No homeland. No security. No government to protect him or her. And it is of course one feels not only uprooted, one feels useless. One feels always surrounded by hostile forces. Arousing suspicion.
  • When I see what is happening all over the world today – the violence – the stupid, arrogant, grotesque violence that is dominating humankind. I cannot not remember that there were other times, of course [the Second World War]. I never compare.
  • Hunger is isolating; it may not and cannot be experienced vicariously. He who never felt hunger can never know its real effects, both tangible and intangible. Hunger defies imagination; it even defies memory. Hunger is felt only in the present.
  • I have absolutely no problem with the young Germans. I even feel sorry for the young Germans because to be maybe sons or daughters of killers is different than them to be sons and daughters of the victims. And I felt sorry for them. I still do.
  • We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children. Between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves.
  • I think this century more than any other really has seen the phenomenon of people being uprooted in such numbers, such a degree. They even have a word for it: The refugees. It’s a new word, a 20th Century word, but refugee is actually a misnomer.
  • I believe that all the survivors are mad. One time or another their madness will explode. You cannot absorb that much madness and not be influenced by it. That is why the children of survivors are so tragic. I see them in school. They don’t know how
  • I think he is condemned by himself to loneliness. God is One: he was, he is, he will be always One. One is so lonely. Maybe that is why he created human beings–to feel less lonely. But as human beings betray his creation, he may become even lonelier.
  • When I have my manuscript finished, more or less, I type it myself, with two fingers. I type fast with two fingers. And then when it’s ready, I reread, recorrect, and retype it. Everything is my own work. I do not give it to secretaries or to typists.
  • What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.
  • One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.
  • We’re alone, but we are capable of communicating to one another both our loneliness and our desire to break through it. You say, ‘I’m alone.’ Someone answers, ‘I’m alone too.’ There’s a shift in the scale of power. A bridge is thrown between the two abysses.
  • We were masters of nature, masters of the world. We had forgotten everything–death, fatigue, our natural needs. Stronger than cold or hunger, stronger than the shots and the desire to die, condemned and wandering, mere numbers, we were the only men on earth.
  • “Am I my brother’s keeper?” There you have the whole Biblical understanding that you are your brother’s keeper. You also have a whole other understanding in which you are not your brother’s keeper. And I’ve heard some extremely bright people take this position.
  • From time immemorial, people have talked about peace without achieving it. Do we simply lack enough experience? Though we talk peace, we wage war. Sometimes we even wage war in the name of peace. . . . War may be too much a part of history to be eliminated¬óever.
  • Today there isn’t a university where they don’t have special courses [Jewish studies or Holocaust studies], hundreds and hundreds of universities, young people today want to know more than their elders did, much more, and therefore I am very optimistic about young people.
  • Young people want to learn, they are thirsty for knowledge, they want to understand and remember. The main thing is to teach them where not to go. Oppression, not to go; dictatorship, not to go; racism and prejudice, absolutely not to go. This is a moral plan [for society].
  • I remember those faces of people who were good I saw that. I saw a father who gave his bread to his son and his son gave back the bread to his father. That, to me, was such a defeat of the enemies, will of the enemies, theories of the enemies, aspirations, here [in Auschwitz].
  • What of the Exodus? That too, is a wonderful story, but from the viewpoint of an historian, it is – to use a word scholars love – problematic. Let’s say there are doubts, to say the least, among many scholars, as to whether the Exodus actually occurred. That’s a historical issue.
  • A Jew who converted, who simulated, was, at least in some periods, safe. Hitler in the beginning did not want to kill all the Jews but he wanted us to have a Germany free of Jews. If America had allowed Jews to come in, the British had accepted Jews from Palestine, they were safe.
  • Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.
  • Man’s strength resides in his capacity and desire to elevate himself, so as to attain the good. To travel step by step toward the heights. And that is all he can do. To reach heaven and remain there is beyond his powers: Even Moses had to return to earth. Is it the same for evil?
  • Today again the teacher is the important thing, but on the other hand anti-Semitism is growing today. No doubt about it. All over the world, especially in Europe, and it’s true they begin with anti-Israeli attitudes and then it’s so strong that it runs over and becomes anti-Semitic.
  • Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.
  • In the word question, there is a beautiful word – quest. I love that word. We are all partners in a quest. The essential questions have no answers. You are my question, and I am yours – and then there is dialogue. The moment we have answers, there is no dialogue. Questions unite people.
  • How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in furnaces? Praised be Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar?
  • I have learned two lessons in my life: first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.
  • The act of writing is for me often nothing more than the secret or conscious desire to carve words on a tombstone: to the memory of a town forever vanished, to the memory of a childhood in exile, to the memory of all those I loved and who, before I could tell them I loved them, went away.
  • No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them. Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.
  • I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could prepare yourselves while there was still time. To live? I don’t attach any importance to my life any more. I’m alone. No, I wanted to come back, and to warn you. And see how it is, no one will listen to me.
  • I don’t speak about my pain. My pain is something that doesn’t need to be purged. I want to prevent people from suffering. I don’t speak about my suffering. Suffering is something personal and discreet. Also, I know it will never leave me. I don’t want it to leave me. It would be a betrayal.
  • But where was I to start? The world is so vast, I shall start with the country I knew best, my own. But my country is so very large. I had better start with my town. But my town, too, is large. I had best start with my street. No, my home. No, my family. Never mind, I shall start with myself.
  • Every nation has its prestigious military academies – or so few of them – that reach not only the virtues of peace but also the art of attaining it? I mean attaining and protecting it by means other than weapons, the tools of war. Why are we surprised whenever war recedes and yields to peace?
  • I remember one day I came home and shouted to my grandmother, “Grandma, Sarah is pregnant!” Poor Sarah! For weeks before I had read how difficult it was for her to get pregnant. “Grandma! I have news for you!” “What did you learn?” “I have news, Grandma: Sarah is pregnant!” [Genesis 16 – 21].
  • There are moments when I think it will never end, that it will last indefinitely. It’s like the rain. Here the rain, like everything else, suggests permanence and eternity. I say to myself: it’s raining today and it’s going to rain tomorrow and the next day, the next week and the next century.
  • The night was gone. The morning star was shining in the sky. I too had become a completely different person. The student of the Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames. There remained only a shape that looked like me. A dark flame had entered into my soul and devoured it.
  • I listen to music when I write. I need the musical background. Classical music. I’m behind the times. I’m still with Baroque music, Gregorian chant, the requiems, and with the quartets of Beethoven and Brahms. That is what I need for the climate, for the surroundings, for the landscape: the music.
  • My loyalty to my people, to our people, and to Israel comes first and prevents me from saying anything critical of Israel outside Israel. As a Jew I see my role as a melitz yosher, a defender of Israel: I defend even her mistakes must identify with whatever Israel does even with her errors.
  • If the Book of the Law could be forgotten for so many years, who knows what was done to it during those years? Maybe it was lost later, too. And another one replaced it, and that one is no longer the original text. These are questions that perturb me much more than whether it’s history or not history.
  • It may well be that our means are fairly limited and our possibilities restricted when it comes to applying pressure on our government But is this a reason to do nothing? Despair is nor an answer Neither is resignation Resignation only leads to indifference, which is not merely a sin but a punishment.
  • I was involved in trying to save the Rwandan people and Sudan now. It’s a mass murder. Mass murder is a terrifying word. We don’t have to go further than that. Cambodia came close to, but what was it, Cambodians killing Cambodians after all. So therefore I think we should be very careful with vocabulary.
  • As for the discipline, we [me and Frank Moore Cross] belong to two different disciplines. One involves research and archaeological materials. Mine is more interpretive. But it is the love for the text that is there, and that is what makes the whole adventure of reading and studying and sharing worthwhile.
  • Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.
  • I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and dying? Even today, when I hear that particular piece by Beethoven, my eyes close and out of the darkness emerges the pale and melancholy face of my Polish comrade bidding farewell to an audience of dying men.
  • Writers write because they cannot allow the characters that inhabit them to suffocate them. These characters want to get out, to breathe fresh air and partake of the wine of friendship; were they to remain locked in, they would forcibly break down the walls. It is they who force the writer to tell their stories.
  • In the face of suffering, one has no right to turn away, not to see. In the face of injustice, one may not look the other way. When someone suffers, and it is not you, that person comes first.  One’s very suffering gives one priority. . . . To watch over one who grieves is a more urgent duty than to think of God.
  • I have no doubt that faith is only pure when it does not negate the faith of another. I have no doubt that evil can be fought and that indifference is no option. I have no doubt that fanaticism is dangerous. And of all the books in the world on life, I have no doubt that the life of one person weighs more than them all.
  • The darkest days in my life after the war, after the war, was when I discovered that the … most of the members and commanders of the Einsatz group that were doing the killings, not even in gas chambers, but killing with machine guns, had college degrees from German universities and PhD’s and MD’s. Couldn’t believe it.
  • How can one explain the attraction terror holds for some minds and why for intellectuals? . . .In a totalitarian and terrorist regime, man is no longer a unique being with infinite possibilities and limitless choices but a number, a puppet, with just this difference numbers and puppets are not susceptible to fear.
  • For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.
  • Tibet, why is it occupied? For political reasons maybe they have a reason. I don’t know. But religiously, why? The fact that the religious community is being oppressed and persecuted is something that every single person in the world who has any religious faith and religious feeling for – for people who have faith should speak up.
  • I don’t know the real answer, my answer to anything which is essentially human relations is education. Whatever the answer is, education must be its measured component and if you try to educate with generosity not with triumphalism I think sometimes it works, especially young people, that’s why I teach, I’ve been teaching all my life.
  • This is the duty of our generation as we enter the twenty-first century – solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community in which all members will define themselves not by their own identity but by that of others.
  • If you read Exodus 15 carefully, it describes a storm at sea. This is the old Yahwistic source. In the retelling of the story in the later Priestly source, it is more miraculous: The water stands up on either side like a wall. There are walls of water standing up. As you move back in time, oddly enough, the story becomes more historical.
  • If anyone had told us in 1945 that there are certain battles we’ll have to fight again we wouldn’t have believed it. Racism, anti-Semitism, starvation of children and, who would have believed that? At least I was convinced then, naively, that at least something happened in history that, because of myself, certain things cannot happen again.
  • Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
  • A disciple came to the celebrated Master of the Good Name with a question. Rabbi, how are we to distinguish between a true master and a fake? And the master of the good name said, When you meet a person who poses as a master, ask him a question: whether he knows how to purify your thoughts. If he says that he knows, then he is a fake.
  • I am looking for the word which is there and shouldn’t be there. I wonder, why is it there? Or I look for problems: the Akedah [the Binding of Isaac – Genesis 22]. It still baffles me. Each time I read it – and I read it at least twice a year – each time I discover new layers in it. Always. So this is of more concern to me than the minimalists.
  • But the forces of evil have not abdicated. The malevolent ghosts of hatred are resurgent with a fury and a boldness that are as astounding as they are nauseating: ethnic conflicts, religious riots, anti-Semitic incidents here, there, and everywhere. What is wrong with these morally degenerate people that they abuse their freedom, so recently won?
  • I was working as a journalist for an Israeli paper in Paris, and my salary at the highest was fifty dollars a month. At the end of the month I always had palpitations; I didn’t know how to pay my rent. Even after the war, I was often hungry. But that’s part of the romantic condition of a student. To be a student in Paris and not be hungry is wrong.
  • Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming. At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning. The tragedy of man is that he doesn’t know how to distinguish between day and night. He says things at night that should only be said by day.
  • We cannot indefinitely avoid depressing subject matter, particularly it it is true, and in the subsequent quarter century the world has had to hear a story it would have preferred not to hear – the story of how a cultured people turned to genocide, and how the rest of the world, also composed of cultured people, remained silent in the face of genocide. (v)
  • One day – I remember it was a Sabbath afternoon – I came to the synagogue with a book in my hand. I saw a commentary on the Bible by a certain Rabbi Moshe Dessauer, better known as Moses Mendelssohn. An elderly man came up to me – I was then maybe 10 or 12. “What are you studying?” he said. “Dessauer’s commentaries,” I said. So he gave me a slap on my face.
  • The Bible is interpreted by the Talmud. Except, in Rabbinic tradition, a Talmudic law has the weight of the Biblical law. Sometimes we say in a prayer, “Blessed are Thou, O God, who has ordered us and commended us,” to do something. But you don’t find that “something” in the Bible; you find it in the Talmud. So Talmudic law becomes as important as Biblical law.
  • I would not like to draw analogies, with the past.Governments, leaders, intellectuals, mainly intellectuals who should know the ethical dimensions, are so important, so essential to culture, religion, to civilization, and to our own lives. And that means what? It means not to be indifferent, not to stand idly by. That is a biblical commandment that we are committed.
  • Remember also that it is not knowledge but the yearning for knowledge that makes for a complete, accomplished man. Such a man does not stand still but perseveres in the face of adversity, nor does he remain untouched by the pain cause by absence. On the contrary, he recognizes himself in each cry, uttered or repressed, in the smallest rift, in the most pressing need.
  • The term is piqua nevish [?] it means to save a soul, to save a life. And that commandment supersedes all others. It means literally you may violate almost everything except, I think, three commandments of the heart, 613, – you may do anything, violate any commandment and the injunction simply to save a human life. And there are enough lives to be saved in – in Tibet.
  • Still I believe that Hanna Arendt, she was wrong when she tried to say that we are all actually capable of this, it’s not true. I think it’s not true. There are certain things human beings are not capable of. I mean people, even normal human beings. You have to do certain things in order to become what the enemy was and I didn’t accept her philosophical outlook on that.
  • I still believe in man in spite of man. I believe in language even though it has been wounded, deformed, and perverted by the enemies of mankind. And I continue to cling to words because it is up to us to transform them into instruments of comprehension rather than contempt. It is up to us to choose whether we wish to use them to curse or to heal, to wound or to console.
  • Acutely aware of the poverty of my means, language became obstacle. At every page I thought, ‘That’s not it.’ So I began again with other verbs and other images. No, that wasn’t it either. But what exactly was that it I was searching for? It must have been all that eludes us, hidden behind a veil so as not to be stolen, usurped and trivialized. Words seemed weak and pale.
  • John XXI was a very great pope and he’s the one who actually corrected the liturgy. He did so because of his friend Jules Isaac, a French Jewish historian who was a friend of John Paul, of John 23rd, and he convinced him and he changed the liturgy, no more Jew, the perfidious Jew and so forth and now, and don’t speak any more of the Jews killing Christ. Things have changed.
  • Take the story of Cain and Abel. Why were we given that story? Scientifically, you may have an explanation for it, but I’m not approaching it from the scientific point of view. I’m saying: Why do we need that? It’s a sordid story, a depressing story, a dark story. Why should I believe that I’m a descendant of either Cain or Abel? Thank God there is a third son! [Genesis 4:25]
  • In the beginning was belief, foolish belief, and faith, empty faith, and illusion, the terrible illusion. … We believed in God, had faith in man, and lived with the illusion that in each one of us is a sacred spark from the fire of the shekinah, that each one carried in his eyes and in his soul the sign of God. This was the source‚ if not the cause, of all our misfortune.
  • The American and the British armies liberated camps, there wasn’t a single order of the day: Let’s go and liberate the camp. They stumbled upon the camps. Same thing with the Russians, I asked the Colonel who liberated Auschwitz, they didn’t, there wasn’t a priority. But I feel that that was a mistake, it was a sin because they could have saved so many people and they didn’t.
  • The Tibetan religion has a past. And furthermore it has such an appeal. There again young people today are drawn to Buddhism and to Tibet. It’s not only because of the Dalai Lama. It’s because of what Tibet represents. There is a vast reservoir of knowledge, of mystical knowledge, which can be found in Tibet.The Chinese shouldn’t be afraid of that really. They have other means of survival.
  • My good friends, we are all waiting. We are waiting, if not for the Messiah, as such, we are waiting for the messianic moment. And the messianic moment is what each and every one of us tries to build, meaning a certain area of humanity that links us to all those who are human and, therefore, desperately trying to fight despair as humanly as possible and – I hope – with some measure of success.
  • Everything is in it: the promise and the hope and the fear and the challenge and the defiance. The test is a double test: Just as God tested Abraham, Abraham tested God: “Let’s see if you really want me to go ahead with it and kill my son.” Then the angel says, “Do not raise your hand against the boy” [Genesis 22:12]. It was the Angel of God who says this, not God. God was embarrassed. [All laugh]
  • My approach is not a scientific approach. For that, we have greater minds than mine. My approach is: I am in the possession of a text, it has survived so many centuries, and it is my task, my pleasure, to try to decipher it and find all the things that have been said about these few words by generations and generations of commentators. That is what I’m doing. I don’t innovate anything. I’m just repeating.
  • [My approach to the Bible, history does really matter.] Everything matters. But I have priorities. For instance, for me to know whether there were two Isaiahs or one is less important than the text itself. Of course I read the arguments for and against. But it’s not my task in life to say there were two or three authors of Isaiah’s book, or how many authors there were of Deuteronomy. This is not what I’m doing.
  • My faceless neighbor spoke up: Don’t be deluded. Hitler has made it clear that he will annihilate all Jews before the clock strikes twelve. I exploded: “What do you care what he said? Would you want us to consider him a prophet?” His cold eyes stared at me. At last he said, wearily: I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.
  • I make a difference between genocide and Holocaust. Holocaust was mainly Jewish, that was the only people, to the last Jew, sentenced to die for one reason, for being Jewish, that’s all. Genocide is something else. Genocide has been actually codified by the United Nations. It’s the intent of killing, the intent of killing people, a community in this culture so forth, but no other people has been really interested.
  • It has become increasingly clear that Hungarian authorities are encouraging the whitewashing of tragic and criminal episodes in Hungary’s past, namely the wartime Hungarian governments’ involvement in the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of its Jewish citizens. I found it outrageous that the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly could participate in a ceremony honoring a Hungarian fascist ideologue
  • For one who is indifferent, life itself is a prison. Any sense of community is external or, even worse, nonexistent. Thus, indifference means solitude. Those who are indifferent do not see others. They feel nothing for others and are unconcerned with what might happen to them. They are surrounded by a great emptiness. Filled by it, in fact. They are devoid of all hope as well as imagination. In other words, devoid of any future.
  • It was pitch dark. I could hear only the violin, and it was as though Juliek’s soul were the bow. He was playing his life. The whole of his life was gliding on the strings–his last hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future. He played as he would never play again…When I awoke, in the daylight, I could see Juliek, opposite me, slumped over, dead. Near him lay his violin, smashed, trampled, a strange overwhelming little corpse.
  • I’m a privileged person, I feel privileged because of who I am. I write books, I write novels, I write essays and I teach and I go from university to university. I’m one of the old, but I still go around, but I only see those who are not like that, I don’t see the junk youth. I only meet students, and even those who are not formally at the university, if they come to listen to me, they come to read me, it means they are not junk students.
  • I read the text; and then I come to the Shirat ha-Yam, to the Song of the Sea [Exodus 15], to the poetry. Who could have written such a poem except someone who went through it? It is so full of life, so full of truth, of passion, of concern. And the thousands and thousands of commentaries in the Talmudic tradition that have been written on it. It had to have happened. But even if not, I would attribute the same beauty to the text as I do now.
  • I believe in books. And when our people [coughing] – our people of Jerusalem, let’s say after the Romans destroyed the temple and the city, all we took is a little book, that’s all. Not treasures, we had no treasures. They were ransacked, taken away. But the book – the little book – and this book produced more books, thousands, hundreds of thousands of books, and in the book we found our memory, and our attachment to that memory is what kept us alive.
  • But because of his telling, many who did not believe have come to believe, and some who did not care have come to care. He tells the story, out of infinite pain, partly to honor the dead, but also to warn the living – to warn the living that it could happen again and that it must never happen again. Better than one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand other hearts need not be broken at all. (vi)
  • Listen to me, kid. Don’t forget that you are in a concentration camp. In this place, it is every many for himself, and you cannot think of others. Not even you father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone. Let me give you good advice: stop giving your ration of bread and soup to your old father. You cannot help him anymore. And you are hurting yourself. In fact, you should be getting his rations.
  • There are so many who know more than I do, who understand the world better than I do. I would be truly learned, a great scholar, if only I could retain everything I’ve learned from those I have known. But then would I still be me? And isn’t all that only words? Words grow old, too; they change their meaning and their usage. They get sick just as we do; they die of their wounds and then they are relegated to the dust of dictionaries. And where am I in all this?
  • The Pope going to Jerusalem, the Pope recognising the State of Islam, the Pope going to the wall organising a concert for the Holocaust in the Vatican, going to the synagogue in Vatican, and that happens in Protestant service as well. That doesn’t mean that anti-Semitism disappear, but it is on certain level that Jews all the time, or with Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, meeting all the time, studying together, signing petitions for all kinds of causes.
  • If enough people are sensitive to the tragedy of Tibet, I think it will produce a change politically as well. But furthermore, it’s important for the people in Tibet. Now communication is such [that] people know what is happening. Even Tibetan people would know that the Interfaith or the international group of religious people – that everybody who is religious is taking up their cause. It would help them a lot if we give them courage, and that in itself is enough.
  • I’d almost say hope isn’t what it used to be. It’s very difficult today to be a teacher. I speak to children. And tell them, look, no matter what, you must have hope. You must. When I invoke Camus, who said when there is no hope, you must invent hope. . .hope is something that is not what God gives us. It’s like peace. It’s a gift that one can give to one another. Only another person can push me to despair. And only another person can push me to hope. Its my choice.
  • And I, the for¬≠mer mys¬≠tic, was think¬≠ing: Yes, man is stronger, greater than God. When Adam and Eve de¬≠ceived You, You chased them from par¬≠adise. When You were dis¬≠pleased by Noah’s generation, You brought down the Flood. When Sodom lost Your fa¬≠vour, You caused the heav¬≠ens to rain down fire and damna¬≠tion. But look at these men whom You have be¬≠trayed, al¬≠low¬≠ing them to be tortured, slaugh¬≠tered, gassed, and burned, what do they do? They pray be¬≠fore You! They praise Your name!
  • I may be a descendant of Seth. I say to myself, What does [the story of Cain and Abel] teach me? So I go back to all the interpretations in the Talmud, which to me are a source of pleasure and joy. Then I say, maybe this story is not for then; maybe it’s for now! It’s possible for brothers to kill one another in civil wars. But most important, whoever kills, kills his brother. That’s a moral conclusion that may not be there; but that must be my conclusion. Otherwise, why read it? Whoever kills, kills his brother.
  • In my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one. Just as the past Lingers in the present, all my writings after night, including those that deal with biblical, Talmudic, or Hasidic themes, profoundly bear it’s stamp, and cannot be understood if one has not read this very first of my works. Why did I write it? Did I write it so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of the madness, the immense, terrifying madness that had erupted in history and in the conscience of mankind?
  • There is much to be done, there is much that can be done… One person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.
  • [The Book of the Law]was lost for so many years. And then Josiah decided to celebrate Passover. The text says that “The Passover sacrifice had not been offered in that way … during the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah” [2 Kings 23:22]. What do you mean? Not in the days of David and Solomon? Never before? And what of the days of the prophets? What happened? That’s what I’m anguishing over. If the Book of the Law could be forgotten for so many years, who knows what was done to it during those years? Maybe it was lost later, too.
  • … True, we are often too weak to stop injustices; but the least we can do is to protest against them. True, we are too poor to eliminate hunger; but in feeding one child, we protest against hunger.  True, we are too timid and powerless to take on all the guards of all the political prisons in the world; but in offering our solidarity to one prisoner we denounce all the tormentors.  True, we are powerless against death; but as long as we help one man, one woman, one child live one hour longer in safety and dignity, we affirm  man’s [woman’s] right to live.

 

 

J. R. R. Tolkien (quotes)

  • See your road through.
  • Mind your P’s and Q’s.
  • Third time pays for all
  • Fire, fear, foes! Awake!
  • We must do without hope.
  • Over hill and under hill
  • My Precious, my Precious.
  • Wraiths! Wraiths on wings!
  • I’m going on an adventure!
  • The road goes ever on and on
  • Short cuts make long delays.
  • Handsome is as handsome does
  • All’s well that ends better.
  • I wisely started with a map.
  • Never laugh at live dragons.
  • No Victory Without Suffering
  • The burned hand teaches best.
  • Often does hatred hurt itself.
  • Don’t go where I can’t follow!
  • What does your heart tell you?
  • All shall love me and despair.
  • Great heart will not be denied.
  • Tears unnumbered ye shall shed.
  • Farewell! I go to find the Sun!
  • Above all shadows rides the sun.
  • Hush! Take no notice!” – Gandalf
  • Little by little, one travels far
  • Not everyone who wanders is lost.
  • I will not walk backward in life.
  • All that is gold does not glitter.
  • Where will wants not, a way opens.
  • Fair speech may hide a foul heart.
  • Slight changes simply make a blur.
  • Do not spoil the wonder with haste!
  • Courage is found in unlikely places.
  • Speak politely to an enraged dragon.
  • Adventures make one late for supper.
  • Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.
  • The wise speak only of what they know
  • The treacherous are ever distrustful.
  • For nothing is evil in the beginning.
  • A pen is to me as a beak is to a hen.
  • Memory is not what the heart desires.
  • Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall
  • I’d got hobbits on my hands hadn’t I?
  • I am in fact, a hobbit in all but size
  • What punishments of God are not gifts?
  • Faithful heart may have froward tongue.
  • out of the frying pan and into the fire
  • I dislike allegory wherever I smell it.
  • Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
  • Not all that have fallen are vanquished.
  • The greatest adventure is what lies ahead
  • To crooked eyes truth may wear a wry face
  • A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds.
  • May the hair on your toes never fall out!
  • Green are the leaves I leave in Mirkwood.
  • Help means ruin and saving means slaying.
  • Struck by lightning! Struck by lightning!
  • False hopes are more dangerous than fears.
  • Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory
  • Your lullaby would waken a drunken goblin!
  • For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
  • I don’t know, and I would rather not guess.
  • Home is now behind you, the world is ahead!
  • There is no ship now that can bear me hence
  • Time doesn’t seem to pass here: it just is.
  • I do not believe this darkness will endure.
  • Curse us and crush us, my precious is lost!
  • Better mistrust undeserved than rash words.
  • Valour needs first strength, then a weapon.
  • I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones.
  • It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort
  • The doom lies in yourself, not in your name.
  • It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life.
  • You aren’t nearly through this adventure yet.
  • In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
  • It is plain that we were meant to go together.
  • I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon.
  • And he smote the Balrog upon the mountainside.
  • The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn.
  • Wars are not favourable to delicate pleasures.
  • Don’t put a lump of rock under my elbow again!
  • I’m a Roman Catholic! A devout Roman Catholic.
  • It’s a dangerous business, going out your door.
  • For it is easier to shout ‘Stop’, than to do it
  • On their deathbed men will speak true, they say.
  • Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.
  • If by my life or death I can protect you, I will.
  • He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.
  • I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure.
  • It is mine to give to whom I will, like my heart.
  • Very potent influence on myself has been Finnish.
  • Adventures are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine.
  • Let the unseen days be. Today is more than enough.
  • A red sun rises. Blood has been spilled this night.
  • I have no help to send, therefore I must go myself.
  • Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?
  • I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge.
  • True education is a kind of never-ending story . . .
  • Praise from the praise-worthy is beyond all rewards.
  • The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards.
  • You can only come to the morning through the shadows.
  • In doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom.
  • Where there’s life there’s hope, and need of vittles.
  • If we all got angry together something might be done.
  • I have an unsatisfied desire to shoot well with a bow.
  • What do you fear, lady?’ he asked. ‘A cage,’ she said.
  • We are never late. We arrive precisely when we mean to.
  • I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations.
  • That was the most awkward Wednesday he ever remembered.
  • The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there.
  • Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.
  • You may not like my burglar, but please don’t damage him.
  • It never does to leave a live Dragon out of the equation.
  • And yet their wills did not yield, and they struggled on.
  • A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.
  • Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.
  • Trolls simply detest the very sight of dwarves (uncooked).
  • I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.
  • There are other men, and other lives, and time still to be.
  • He stands not alone. You would die before your stroke fell.
  • I don’t feel any guilt complex about The Lord of the Rings.
  • If this is victory, then our hands are too small to hold it.
  • The war made me poignantly aware of the beauty of the world.
  • I wished to be loved by another. But I desire no man’s pity.
  • Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
  • It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.
  • There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.
  • Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life.
  • Bilbo saw that the moment had come when he must do something.
  • To be a cult figure in one’s own lifetime is most unpleasant.
  • Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, √âowyn!
  • The wolf that one hears is worse than the orc that one fears.
  • There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.
  • It is mine, I tell you. My own. My precious. Yes, my precious.
  • So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.
  • I will take the Ring”, he said, “though I do not know the way.
  • You have nice manners for a thief and a liar,” said the dragon.
  • “That’s done it!” said Sam. “Now I’ve rung the front-door bell!”
  • Let him go, you filth! Let him go! You will not touch him again!
  • For we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make.
  • It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will heal nothing.
  • I may be a burglar…but I’m an honest one, I hope, more or less.
  • The world changes, and all that once was strong now proves unsure.
  • his old life lay behind in the mists, dark adventure lay in front.
  • A year shall I endure for every day that passes until your return.
  • All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
  • You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil.
  • Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.
  • Fear nothing! Have peace until the morning! Heed no nightly noises!
  • I have spoken words of hope. But only of hope. Hope is not victory.
  • I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew.
  • Their ‘magic’ is Art, delivered from many of its human limitations.
  • I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.
  • Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master.
  • Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.
  • A friend of mine tells that I talk in shorthand and then smudge it.
  • Let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.
  • A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust and longs for friendship.
  • Your talk of sniffling riders with invisible noses has unsettled me.
  • All have their worth and each contributes to the worth of the others.
  • The world was fair, the mountains tall In Elder Days before the fall.
  • It matters little who is the enemy, if we cannot beat off his attack.
  • A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.
  • May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.
  • I’m in a position where it doesn’t matter what people think of me now.
  • It seemed like all the way to tomorrow and over it to the days beyond.
  • O! Tril-lil-lil-lolly the valley is jolly, ha! ha! -Elves of Rivendell
  • Few there were who could change his courses by counsel. None by force.
  • It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.
  • Elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo, a star shines on the hour of our meeting.
  • Is it nice, my preciousss? Is it juicy? Is it scrumptiously crunchable?
  • The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
  • Of all the things that men may heed ‘Tis most of love they sing indeed.
  • After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’.
  • I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.
  • I want to be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.
  • Things will go as they will, and there is no need to hurry to meet them.
  • We set out to save the Shire, Sam and it has been saved – but not for me.
  • He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.
  • Voiceless it cries, Wingless flutters, Toothless bites, Mouthless mutters.
  • A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
  • Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.
  • We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon our knees.
  • Ultimately we’ve only got humanity to work with. It’s only clay we’ve got.
  • There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
  • Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!
  • True courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.
  • I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Few can foresee whither their road will lead them, till they come to its end.
  • Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.
  • There is no curse in Elvish, Entish or the tongues of Men for this treachery!
  • If you sit on the doorstep long enough, I daresay you will think of something
  • May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.
  • He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.
  • Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!” But no living man am I!
  • Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.
  • It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy, for good or for ill.
  • The burned hand teaches best. After that, advice about fire goes to the heart.
  • It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.
  • A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.
  • The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.
  • All my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded.
  • Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.
  • Trolls are slow in the uptake, and mighty suspicious about anything new to them.
  • Many evil things there are that your strong walls and bright swords do not stay.
  • History often resembles myth, because they are both ultimately of the same stuff.
  • So fair, so cold; like a morning of pale spring still clinging to winter’s chill.
  • What course am I to take?” “Towards danger; but not too rashly, nor too straight.
  • Farewell! wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!
  • Look, up at the sky. There is a light, a beauty up there, that no shadow can touch
  • Fear both the heat and the cold of your heart, and strive for patience, if you can.
  • We don’t want any adventures here! You might try over the Hill or Across the Water.
  • deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone.
  • And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end‚ ¶ because how could the end be happy?
  • Gandalf: Three hundred lives of men I have walked this earth and now I have no time.
  • It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.
  • And what do you wish?’ he said at last. ‘That what should be shall be,’ she answered.
  • Don’t tell us about dreams ‚ dream dinners aren’t any good and we can’t share them.
  • The realm of Suaron is ended!’ said Gandalf. ‘The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest
  • I shall claim full amends for every fall and stubbed toe, if you do not lead us well.
  • A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.
  • Farewell! O Gandalf! May you ever appear where you are most needed and least expected!
  • Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation.
  • For victory is victory, however small, nor is its worth only from what follows from it.
  • Speak, or I will put a dint in your hat that even a wizard will find hard to deal with!
  • If this nice friendliness would spread about in Mordor, half our trouble would be over.
  • Advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.
  • American English is essentially English after having been wiped off with a dirty sponge.
  • The greater part of the truth is always hidden, in regions out of the reach of cynicism.
  • Where iss it, where iss it: my Precious, my Precious? It’s ours, it is, and we wants it.
  • Oh! That was poetry!” said Pippin. “Do you really mean to start before the break of day?
  • His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.
  • We meet again, at the turn of the tide. A great storm is coming, but the tide has turned.
  • I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!
  • It needs but one foe to breed a war, and those who have not swords can still die upon them.
  • Far, far below the deepest delvings of the dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things.
  • Touching your cap to the Squire may be damn bad for the Squire, but it’s damn good for you.
  • I don’t want to be in a battle. But waiting on the edge of one I can’t escape is even worse.
  • And then alas! I let the matter reset, watching and waiting only, as we have too often done.
  • If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
  • It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.
  • it was easier to believe in the Dragon and less easy to believe in Thorin in these wild parts
  • Much evil must befall a country before it wholly forgets the Elves, if once they dwelt there.
  • You have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.
  • The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus means that one day everything sad will come untrue.
  • End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take.
  • But it seems that the wind is setting East, and the withering of all Woods may be drawing near.
  • People remember Longfellow wrote Hiawatha, quite forget he was a Professor of Modern Languages!
  • A story must be told or there’ll be no story, yet it is the untold stories that are most moving.
  • Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars, not if you care for such things.
  • I invented that little rhyme about ‘One Ring to rule them all’, I remember, in the bath one day.
  • Being a cheerful hobbit, he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed. (Of Sam)
  • Faerie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary, and dungeons for the overbold.
  • Tomorrow we may come this way, And take the hidden paths that run Towards the Moon or to the Sun
  • There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.
  • Alive without breath, As cold as death; Never thirsty, ever drinking, All in mail never clinking.
  • Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst, it will be a marvel!
  • How do you move on? You move on when your heart finally understands that there is no turning back.
  • No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.
  • No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it.
  • And its object is Art not power, sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of Creation.
  • The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.
  • Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on on the story.
  • The whole thing is quite hopeless, so it’s no good worrying about tomorrow. It probably won’t come.
  • Over the field rang his clear voice calling: Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world’s ending!
  • I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to
  • Frodo: Go back, Sam! I’m going to Mordor alone. Sam: Of course you are, and I’m coming with you!
  • Don’t leave me here alone! It’s your Sam calling. Don’t go where I can’t follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo!
  • What has roots as nobody sees, Is taller than trees Up, up it goes, And yet never grows? A mountain.
  • Evidently we look so much alike that your desire to make an incurable dent in my hat must be excused.
  • And the Ring is so heavy, Sam. I begin to see it in my mind all the time, like a great wheel of fire.
  • Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet though you do not see them
  • Dead men are not friends to living men, and give them no gifts. (Ghan-buri-Ghan, of allies during war)
  • Well, you can go on looking forward,” said Gandalf. “There may be many unexpected feasts ahead of you.
  • When he heard there was nothing to eat, he sat down and wept “Why did I ever wake up!” he cried.
  • We are plain quiet folk, and I have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, and uncomfortable things.
  • I give you this toast: To the Hobbits. May they outlast the Sarumans and see spring again in the trees.
  • If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else. Not all those who wander are lost.
  • Why O why did I ever leave my hobbit-hole?” said poor Mr. Baggins, bumping up and down on Bombur’s back.
  • Don’t dip your beard in the foam, Father!” They cried to Thorin. “It is long enough without watering it!
  • Courage will now be your best defence against the storm that is at hand-that and such hope as I bring.
  • Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of the reality, O Smaug the Chiefest and greatest of Calamities.
  • Shall we mourn here deedless forever a shadow-folk mist-haunting dropping vain tears in the thankless sea
  • The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation – This story begins and ends in joy.
  • Where there are so many, all speech becomes a debate without end. But two together may perhaps find wisdom.
  • I wish life was not so short. Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about.
  • Art is the human process that produces by the way (it is not its only or ultimate object) Secondary Belief.
  • One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
  • He [Bilbo] fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.
  • For you do not yet know the strengths of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet on the road.
  • With hope or without hope we will follow the trail of our enemies. And woe to them, if we prove the swifter!
  • Yes, I am here. And you are lucky to be here too after all the absurd things you’ve done since you left home.
  • And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.
  • I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
  • The quiet was so deep that their feet seemed to thump along while all the trees leaned over them and listened.
  • please don’t cook me, kind sirs! I am a good cook myself, and cook better than I cook, if you see what I mean.
  • Why must you speak your thoughts? Silence, if fair words stick in your throat, would serve all our ends better.
  • I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago, and of people who will see a world that I shall never know.
  • You ought not to be rude to an eagle, when you are only the size of a hobbit, and are up in hid eyrie at night!
  • Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend. It can be so, sometimes.
  • Yes, I am white now,’ said Gandalf. ‘Indeed I am Saruman, one might almost say, Saruman as he should have been.
  • The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.
  • Chip the glasses and crack the plates! / Blunt the knives and bend the forks! / That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates.
  • His love for Frodo rose above all other thoughts, and forgetting his peril he cried aloud: ‘I’m coming Mr. Frodo!
  • I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin.
  • Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves and Men and all Free Folk go with you. May the stars shine upon your faces!
  • To think I should have lived to be goodmorninged by Belladonna Took’s son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!
  • Many are the strange chances of the world, and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter.
  • This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.
  • For still there are so many things that I have never seen: in every wood in every spring there is a different green.
  • If you do not believe in a personal God, the question: ‘What is the purpose of life?’ is unaskable and unanswerable.
  • Books ought to have good endings.How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?
  • And what would you do, if an uninvited dwarf came and hung his things up in your hall without a word of explanation?
  • I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
  • But I am the real Strider, fortunately. I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.
  • For so sworn good or evil an oath may not be broken and it shall pursue oathkeeper and oathbreaker to the world’s end.
  • Outside the ring of dancing warriors with spears and axes stood wolves at a respectful distance, watching and waiting.
  • Together we will take the road that leads into the West, And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.
  • If you’re going to have a complicated story you must work to a map; otherwise you’ll never make a map of it afterwards.
  • We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!
  • And long there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world.
  • I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at.
  • For some time I lived in fear of receiving a letter signed ‘S. Gollum’. That would have been more difficult to deal with.
  • We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!
  • √ìnen i-estel edain, √∫-chebin estel anim. (I gave Hope to the D√∫nedain, I have kept none for myself.) (Gilraen’s linnod)
  • There was a fire in the wide hearth before them, and it was burning with a sweet smell, as if it were built of apple-wood.
  • Splendid! They used to go up like great lilies and snapdragons and laburnums of fire and hang in the twilight all evening!
  • Each of us embodies, in a particular tale and clothed in the garments of time & place, universal truth and everlasting life.
  • Such bees! Bilbo had never seen anything like them. “If one were to sting me,” He thought “I should swell up as big as I am!
  • And it is not our part here to take thought only for a season, or for a few lives of Men, or for a passing age of the world.
  • Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?
  • Then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet the eyes.
  • evil labours with vast power and perpetual success – in vain: preparing always only the soil for unexpected good to sprout in.
  • You will notice already that Mr. Baggins was not quite so prosy as he liked to believe, also that he was very fond of flowers.
  • Gandalf thought of most things; and though he could not do everything, he could do a great deal for friends in a tight corner.
  • O Elbereth! Gilthoniel! We still remember, we who dwell In this far land beneath the trees. Thy starlight on the Western Seas.
  • This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away.
  • The only just literary critic,” he concluded, “is Christ, who admires more than does any man the gifts He Himself has bestowed.
  • Far over misty mountains cold To dungeons deep and caverns old We must away, ere break of day, To find our long-forgotten gold.
  • Pay heed to the tales of old wives. It may well be that they alone keep in memory what it was once needful for the wise to know.
  • It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.
  • Alas, not me, lord!” she said. “Shadow lies on me still. Look not to me for healing! I am a shieldmaiden and my hand is ungentle.
  • Memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror, be it clear as Kheled-zaram. Or so says the heart of Gimli the Dwarf.
  • For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest.
  • Arise now, arise, Riders of Th√©oden! Dire deeds awake, dark is it eastward. Let horse be bridled, horn be sounded! Forth Eorlingas!
  • True education is a kind of never ending story‚ a matter of continual beginnings, of habitual fresh starts, of persistent newness.
  • Let this be the hour when we draw swords together. Fell deeds awake. Now for wrath, now for ruin, and the red dawn. Forth, Eorlingas!
  • I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.
  • Here you find us sitting on a field of victory, amid the plunder of armies, and you wonder how we came by a few well-earned comforts!
  • Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the key-hole.
  • Things are drawing towards the end now, unless I am mistaken. There is an unpleasant time just in front of you; but keep your heart up!
  • Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.
  • For if joyful is the fountain that rises in the sun, its springs are in the wells of sorrow unfathomable at the foundations of the Earth.
  • Without the high and noble the simple and vulgar is utterly mean; and without the simple and ordinary the noble and heroic is meaningless
  • I’ve always been impressed that we are here, surviving, because of the indomitable courage of quite small people against impossible odds.
  • A few melancholy birds were pipping and wailing, until the round red sun sank slowly into the western shadows; then an empty silence fell
  • If you’re referring to the incident with the dragon, I was barely involved. All I did was give your uncle a little nudge out of the door.
  • Thank you, Sam,” he said in a cracked whisper. “How far is there to go?” I don’t know,” said Sam, “because I don’t know where we’re going.
  • I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind,” said Sam. “And I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart.
  • Saruman,” I said, standing away from him, “only one hand at a time can weild the One, and you know that well, so do not trouble to say we!
  • The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.
  • And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.
  • The Nazgul they were; the Ringwraiths, the Enemy’s most terribly servants; darkness went with them and they cried with the voices of death.
  • But the enemy has the move, and he is about to open his full game. And pawns are as likely to see as much of it as any. Sharpen your blade!
  • But he that sows lies in the end shall not lack of a harvest, and soon he may rest from toil indeed, while others reap and sow in his stead.
  • My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs).
  • Yes, they are elves,” Legolas said. “and they say that you breathe so loud they could shoot you in the dark.” Sam hastily covered his mouth.
  • In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.
  • It is wisdom to recognize necessity when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope.
  • Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?
  • Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not Today. Good morning! But please come to tea -any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!
  • There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
  • I am rather tired, and no longer young enough to pillage the night to make up for the deficit of hours in the day…” JRR Tolkien, Letter # 174
  • Farewell we call to hearth and hall! Though wind may blow and rain may fall. We must away ere the break of day. Far over wood and mountain tall.
  • Creative fantasy, because it is mainly trying to do something else … may open your hoard and let all the locked things fly away like cage-birds.
  • Such is of the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.
  • There cannot be any ‘story’ without a fall – all stories are ultimately about the fall – at least not for human minds as we know them and have them.
  • Fantasy (in this sense) is, I think, not a lower but a higher form of Art, indeed the most nearly pure form, and so (when achieved) the most potent.
  • My advice to all who have the time or inclination to concern themselves with the international language movement would be: ‘Back Esperanto loyally.’
  • I am in fact a hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated).
  • My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!
  • There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil. Some are greater than I am. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming.
  • He was as noble and fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer.
  • How could such a large door be kept secret from everybody outside, apart from the dragon?” [Bilbo] asked. He was only a little hobbit you must remember.
  • They were frightfully angry. Quite apart from the stones no spider has ever liked being called Attercop, and Tomnoddy of course is insulting to anybody.
  • And if Sam considered himself lucky, Frodo knew he was more lucky himself; for there was not a hobbit in the Shire that was looked after with such care.
  • Venice seemed incredibly lovely, elvishly lovely–to me like a dream of Old Gondor, or Pelargir of the Numenorean Ships, before the return of the Shadow.
  • Of the twelve companions of Thorin, ten remained. Fili and Kili had fallen defending him with shield and body, for he was their mother’s elder brother.
  • It gives me great pleasure, a good name. I always in writing start with a name. Give me a name and it produces a story, not the other way about normally.
  • All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But… I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.
  • I am wholly in favour of ‘dull stodges’. A surprising large proportion prove ‘educable’: for which a primary qualification is the willingness to do work.
  • Then shouldering their burdens, they set off, seeking a path that would bring them over the grey hills of the Emyn Muil, and down into the Land of Shadow.
  • The world has changed. I see it in the water. I feel it in the Earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, For none now live who remember it.
  • Fool of a Took!” he growled. “This is a serious journey, not a hobbit walking-party. Throw yourself in next time, and then you will be no further nuisance.
  • No, my heart will not yet despair. Gandalf fell and has returned and is with us. We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon our knees.
  • The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.
  • My ‘Sam Gamgee’ is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself.
  • Then Aragorn was abashed, for he saw the elven-light in her eyes and the wisdom of many days; yet from that hour he loved Arwen Und√≥miel daughter of Elrond.
  • Now and again he spoke to those that served him and thanked them in their own language. They smiled at him and said laughing: ‘Here is a jewel among hobbits!
  • Then Elrond and Galadriel rode on; for the Third Age was over and the Days of the Rings were passed and an end was come of the story and song of those times.
  • O! Where are you going With beards all a-wagging? No knowing, no knowing What brings Mister Baggins, And Balin and Dwalin down into the valley in June ha! ha!
  • You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.
  • Love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West, and cometh from the Sea.
  • The washing-up was so dismally real that Bilbo was forced to believe the party of the night before had not been part of his bad dreams, as he had rather hoped.
  • A sister they had, Galadriel, most beautiful of all the house of Finw√´; her hair was lit with gold as though it had caught in a mesh the radiance of Laurelin.
  • After some while Bilbo became impatient. “Well, what is it?” he said. “The answer’s not a kettle boiling over, as you seem to think by the noise you are making.
  • He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.
  • Indeed you did your best…I hope that it may be long before you find yourself in such a tight corner again between two such terrible old men. ~ Gandalf to Pippin
  • And now leave me in peace for a bit! I don’t want to answer a string of questions while I am eating. I want to think!” “Good Heavens!” said Pippin. “At breakfast?
  • You can make the Ring into an allegory of our own time, if you like: and allegory of the inevitable fate that waits for all attempts to defeat evil power by power.
  • It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
  • Yet seldom do they fail of their seed, And that will lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for. The deeds of Men will outlast us.
  • What did I tell you, Mr. Pippin?’ said Sam, sheathing his sword. ‘Wolves won’t get him. That was an eye-opener, and no mistake! Nearly singed the hair off my head!
  • It [discovering Finnish] was like discovering a wine-cellar filled with bottles of amazing wine of a kind and flavour never tasted before. It quite intoxicated me.
  • Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?
  • The romantic chivalric tradition takes, or at any rate has in the past taken, the young man’s eye off women as they are, as companions in shipwreck not guiding stars.
  • He knew that all the hazards and perils were now drawing together to a point: the next day would be a day of doom, the day of final effort or disaster, the last gasp.
  • In this Music [the singing of the angels in harmony] the World was begun; for Iluvatar made visible the song of the Ainur,and they beheld it as a light in the darkness.
  • Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.
  • This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal; Slays king, ruins town, And beats high mountain down.
  • For the trouble with the real folk of Faerie is that they do not always look like what they are; and they put on the pride and beauty that we would fain wear ourselves.
  • Already he was a very different hobbit from the one that had run out without a pocket-handkerchief from Bag-End long ago. He had not had a pocket-handkerchief for ages.
  • The chief purpose of life, for any of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks.
  • There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.
  • Then hope unlooked-for came so suddenly to Eomer’s heart, and with it the bite of care and fear renewed, that he said no more, but turned and went swiftly from the hall.
  • Stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed for myself,’ said Denethor. ‘Have I not tasted it now many nights upon my tongue, foreboding that worse lay in the dregs?
  • And thus it came to pass that the Silmarils found their long homes: one in the airs of heaven, and one in the fires of the heart of the world, and one in the deep waters.
  • Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo! By water, wood and hill, by reed and willow, By fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us! Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!
  • I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones; and most of all I detest the segregation or separation of Language and Literature. I do not care which of them you think White.
  • And it is not always good to be healed in body. Nor is it always evil to die in battle, even in bitter pain. Were I permitted, in this dark hour I would choose the latter.
  • Hobbits delighted in such things, if they were accurate; they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions.
  • It is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place.
  • Their horses were of great stature, strong and clean-limbed; their gray coats glistened, their long tails flowed in the wind, their manes were braided on their proud necks.
  • For a while they stood there, like men on the edge of a sleep where nightmare lurks, holding it off, though they know that they can only come to morning through the shadows.
  • The strongest must seek a way, say you? But I say: let a ploughman plough, but choose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf, or over snow- an Elf!
  • And there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away.
  • Tall ships and tall kings Three times three, What brought they from the foundered land Over the flowing sea? Seven stars and seven stones And one white tree. (The Two Towers)
  • grows like a seed in the dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind: out of all that has been seen or thought or read, that has long ago been forgotten, descending into the deeps.
  • That’s what I meant,’ said Pippin. ‘We hobbits ought to stick together, and we will. I shall go, unless they chain me up. There must be someone with intelligence in the party.
  • The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One, mightier than they: the White Rider. He has passed through the fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him. We will go where he leads.
  • Nobody believes me when I say that my long book is an attempt to create a world in which a form of language agreeable to my personal aesthetic might seem real. But it is true.
  • Your time may come. Do not be too sad, Sam. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.
  • We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile.
  • Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a man’s heart than to behold the love of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned.
  • Where did you go to, if I may ask?’ said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along. To look ahead,’ said he. And what brought you back in the nick of time?’ Looking behind,’ said he.
  • Don’t the great tales never end?” “No, they never end as tales,” said Frodo. “But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later ‚ or sooner.
  • But do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know.
  • For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
  • No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself.
  • Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.
  • The greatest adventure is what lies ahead. Today and tomorrow are yet to be said.  The chances, the changes are all yours to make.  The mold of your life is in your hands to break.
  • We may indeed in counsel point to the higher road, but we cannot compel any free creature to walk upon it. That leadeth to tyranny, which disfigureth good and maketh it seem hateful.
  • For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him when he departs to the Havens: for mine is the choice of Luthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter.
  • And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark could outmatch in battle.
  • At my age I’m exactly the kind of person who has lived through one of the most quickly changing periods known to history. Surely there could never be in seventy years so much change.
  • There is a place called heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.
  • “Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!” he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say out of the frying-pan into the fire’ in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.
  • The Hobbits are just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects the generally small reach of their imagination – not the small reach of their courage or latent power.
  • Life is rather above the measure of us all (save for a very few perhaps). We all need literature that is above our measure–though we may not have sufficient energy for it all the time.
  • And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ringÔªø passed out of all knowledge.
  • I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.
  • His face was sad and stern because of the doom that was laid on him, and yet hope dwelt ever in the depths of his heart, from which mirth would arise at times like a spring from a rock.
  • I should have said Welsh has always attracted me. By its style and sound more than any other, ever though I first only saw it on coal trucks, I always wanted to know what it was about.
  • Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder.
  • Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
  • If people were in the habit of refering to ‘King George’s council, Winston and his gang,’ it would go a long way to clearing thought, and reducing the frightful landslide into Theyocracy.
  • And here he was, a little halfling from the Shire, a simple hobbit of the quiet countryside, expected to find a way where the great ones could not go, or dared not go. It was an evil fate.
  • Out of doubt, out of dark to the day’s rising I came singing into the sun, sword unsheathing. To hope’s end I rode and to heart’s breaking: Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
  • That’s the only place in all the lands we’ve ever heard of that we don’t want to see any closer; and that’s the one place we’re trying to get to! And that’s just where we can’t get, nohow.
  • Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins! We are met together in the house of our friend and fellow conspirator, this most excellent and audacious hobbit may the hair on his toes never fall out!
  • They must understand that ‚ Elrond and the Council, and the great Lords and Ladies with all their wisdom. Their plans have gone wrong. I can’t be their Ring-bearer. Not without Mr. Frodo.
  • Speak no evil of the Lady Galadriel!” said Aragorn sternly. “You know not what you say. There is in her and in this land, no evil, unless a man bring it hither himself. Then let him beware!
  • And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.
  • There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Il√∫vatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made.
  • What do you fear, lady?” [Aragorn] asked. “A cage,” [√âowyn] said. “To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.
  • Did he say:”Hullo,Pippin!This is a pleasant surprise!”?No,indeed!He said:”Get up,you tom-fool of a Took!Where,in the name of wonder,in all this ruin is Treebeard?I want him.Quick” -Pippin Took
  • It cannot be seen, cannot be felt, Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt, It lies behind stars and under hills, And empty holes it fills, It comes first and follows after, Ends life, kills laughter.
  • End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
  • Ho! Ho! Ho! To the bottle I go To heal my heart and drown my woe Rain may fall, and wind may blow And many miles be still to go But under a tall tree will I lie And let the clouds go sailing by
  • Leave him! I said. I never mean to. I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon; and if any of these Black Riders try to stop him, they’ll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said. They laughed.
  • But you speak of Master Gandalf, as if he was in a story that had come to an end.’ ‘Yes, we do,’ said Pippin sadly. ‘The story seems to be going on, but I am afraid Gandalf has fallen out of it.
  • I don’t deny it,” said Frodo, looking at Sam, who was now grinning. “I don’t deny it, but I’ll never believe you are sleeping again, whether you snore or not. I shall kick you hard to make sure.
  • When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
  • If you mean you think it is my job to go into the secret passage first, O Thorin Thrain’s son Oakenshield, may your beard grow ever longer, he said crossly, say so at once and have done!
  • He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.
  • These folk are hewers of trees and hunters of beasts; therefore we are their unfriends, and if they will not depart we shall afflict them in all ways that we can.” — The Silmarllion, JRR Tolkien
  • Arise, arise, Riders of Th√©oden! Fell deeds awake, fire and slaughter! spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
  • The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.
  • Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go
  • Middle-earth is our world. I have (of course) placed the action in a purely imaginary (though not wholly impossible) period of antiquity, in which the shape of the continental masses was different.
  • Orcs, and talking trees, and leagues of grass, and galloping riders, and glittering caves, and white towers and golden halls, and battles, and tall ships sailing, all these passed before Sam’s mind.
  • Elves and Dragons! Cabbages and potatoes are better for me and you. Don’t go getting mixed up in the business of your betters, or you’ll land in trouble too big for you. ~Hamfast Gamgee (the Gaffer)
  • Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen, not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Tempestuous as the sea, and stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!
  • For myself, I find I become less cynical rather than more–remembering my own sins and follies; and realize that men’s hearts are not often as bad as their acts, and very seldom as bad as their words.
  • His rage passes description – the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted.
  • Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow, Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow. None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the Master: His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.
  • And amid all the splendours of the World, its vast halls and spaces, and its wheeling fires, Il√∫vatar chose a place for their habitation in the Deeps of Time and in the midst of the innumerable stars.
  • Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.
  • I cannot,’ said Merry. ‘I have never seen them. I have never been outside of my own land before. And if I had known what the world outside was like, I don’t think I should have had the heart to leave it.
  • Still round the corner there may wait A new road or a secret gate And though I oft have passed them by A day will come at last when I Shall take the hidden paths that run West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
  • Rover did not know in the least where the moon’s path led to, and at present he was much too frightened and excited to ask, and anyway he was beginning to get used to extraordinary things happening to him.
  • Who are you, Master?’ he asked. ‘Eh, what?’ said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. ‘Don’t you know my name yet? That’s the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?
  • Sleep! I feel the need of it, as never I thought any dwarf could , riding is tiring work. Yet my axe is restless in my hand. Give me a row of orc-necks and room to swing and all weariness will fall from me!
  • Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes. Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.
  • And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.
  • The most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.
  • I felt a curious thrill, as if something had stirred in me, half wakened from sleep. There was something very remote and strange and beautiful behind those words, if I could grasp it, far beyond ancient English.
  • But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?
  • If you find that not many of the things you asked for have come, and not perhaps quite so many as sometimes, remember that this Christmas all over the world there are a terrible number of poor and starving people.
  • There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
  • No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth, alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above its fallen mate.
  • ‘Celtic’ is a magic bag, into which anything may be put, and out of which almost anything may come. Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason.
  • Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something…. That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.
  • I am a Christian‚ ¶so that I do not expect history to be anything but a long defeat though it contains (and in a legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory.
  • But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. √âowyn I am, √âomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.
  • Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, more numerous formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favourite haunt.
  • ‘Nonetheless day will bring hope to me,’ said Aragorn. ‘Is it not said that no foe has ever taken the Hornburg, if men defended it?’ ‘So the minstrels say,’ said √âomer. ‘Then let us defend it, and hope!’ said Aragorn.
  • The War is not over (and the one that is, or the part of it, has been largely lost). But it is of course wrong to fall into such a mood, for Wars are always lost, and War always goes on; and it is no good growing faint.
  • I will not give you counsel, saying do this, or do that. For not in doing or contriving, nor in choosing between this course and another, can I avail; but only in knowing what was and is, and in part also what shall be.
  • We were born in a dark age out of due time (for us). But there is this comfort: otherwise we should not know, or so much love, what we do love. I imagine the fish out of water is the only fish to have an inkling of water.
  • There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over… Faint to my ears came the gathered rumor of all lands: the springing and the dying, the song and the weeping, and the slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone.
  • I have talked quite long enough about my own follies. The thing is to finish the thing as devised and then let it be judged. But forgive me! It is written in my life-blood, such as that is, thick or thin; and I can no other.
  • But you comfort me, Gimli, I’m glad to have you standing nigh with your stout legs and your hard axe. I wish there were more of your kin among us. But even more would I give for a hundred good archers of Mirkwood.” – Legolas
  • But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.
  • I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
  • You are a set of deceitful scoundrels! But bless you! I give in. I will take Gildor’s advice. If the danger were not so dark, I should dance for joy. Even so, I cannot help feeling happy; happier than I have felt for a long time.
  • How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep…that have taken hold.
  • I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen, of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been; Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were, with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.
  • Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!” he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb. “You aren’t nearly through this adventure yet,” he added, and that was pretty true as well.
  • Lazy Lob and crazy Cob are weaving webs to wind me. I am far more sweet than other meat, but still they cannot find me! Here am I, naughty little fly; you are fat and lazy. You cannot trap me, though you try, in your cobwebs crazy.
  • I would have things as they were in all the days of my life, and in the days of my longfathers before me: to be the Lord of this City in peace, and leave my chair to a son after me, who would be his own master and no wizard’s pupil.
  • As she stood before Aragorn she paused suddenly and looked upon him, and her eyes were shining. And he looked down upon her fair face and smiled; but as he took the cup, his hand met hers, and he knew that she trembled at the touch.
  • Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament.¶ There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.
  • There was a willow hanging over the mill-pool and I learned to climb it. It belonged to a butcher on the Stratford Road, I think. One day they cut it down. They didn’t do anything with it: the log just lay there. I never forgot that.
  • War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.
  • Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes, and he looked on Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. ‘My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?
  • Dwarves are not heroes, but a calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don’t expect too much.
  • After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.
  • There was some murmuring, but also some grins on the faces of the men looking on: the sight of their Captain sitting on the ground and eye to eye with a young hobbit, legs well apart, bristling with wrath, was one beyond their experience.
  • Most people have made this mistake of thinking Middle-earth is a particular kind of earth or is another planet of the science fiction sort but it’s just an old fashioned word for this world we live in, as imagined surrounded by the Ocean.
  • The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.
  • My dear Frodo!’ exclaimed Gandalf. Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.
  • Then Morgoth stretching out his long arm towards Dor-lomin cursed Hurin and Morwen and their offspring, saying: ‘Behold! The shadow of my thought shall lie upon them wherever they go, and my hate shall pursue them to the ends of the world.
  • Though here at journey’s end I lie In darkness buried deep, Beyond all towers strong and high, Beyond all mountains steep, Above all shadows rides the Sun And Stars for ever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, Nor bid the Stars farewell.
  • Seek for the Sword that was broken In Imladris it dwells; There shall be counsels taken Stronger than Morgul-spells. There shall be shown a token That Doom is near at hand, For Isuldur’s Bane shall waken, And the halfling forth shall stand.
  • My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith.
  • That was Thorin’s style. He was an important dwarf. If he had been allowed, he would probably have gone on like this until he was out of breath, without telling anyone there anything that was not known already. But he was rudely interrupted.
  • I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my timid body did not wish to have them in the neighborhood. But the world that contained even the imagination of F√°fnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever the cost of peril.
  • Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.
  • Sam, clinging to Frodo’s arm, collapsed on a step in the black darkness. ‘Poor old Bill!’ he said in a choking voice. ‘Poor old Bill! Wolves and snakes! But the snakes were too much for him. I had to choose, Mr. Frodo. I had to come with you.
  • The stars are far brighter Than gems without measure, The moon is far whiter Than silver in treasure; The fire is more shining On hearth in the gloaming Than gold won by mining, So why go a-roaming? O! Tra-la-la-lally Come back to the Valley.
  • I don’t see why the likes o’ thee Without axin’ leave should go makin’ free With the shank or the shin o’ my father’s kin; So hand the old bone over! Rover! Trover!  Though dead he be, it belongs to he; So hand the old bnone over!
  • The main mark of modern governments is that we do not know who governs, de facto any more than de jure. We see the politician and not his backer; still less the backer of the backer; or, what is most important of all, the banker of the backer.
  • When Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold, Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold; When woodland halls are green and cool, and wind is in the West, Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is best!
  • Why was I chosen?’ ‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. ‘You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.
  • He loved mountains, or he had loved the thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.
  • The way is shut. Then they halted and looked at him and saw that he lived still; but he did not look at them. The way is shut, his voice said again. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.
  • he was for long my only audience… Only from him did I ever get the idea that my stuff’ could be more than a private hobby. But for his interest and unceasing eagerness for more I should never have brought The L. of the R. to a conclusion.
  • Well, you have now, Sam, dear Sam,’ said Frodo, and he lay back in Sam’s gentle arms, closing his eyes, like a child at rest when night-fears are driven away by some loved voice or hand. Sam felt that he could sit like that in endless happiness.
  • Arrow! Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and I have always recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!
  • You cannot pass,” he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Ud√ªn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.
  • He told them tales of bees and flowers, the ways of trees, and the strange creatures of the Forest, about the evil things and the good things, things friendly and things unfriendly, cruel things and kind things, and secrets hidden under brambles.
  • I wonder if people will ever say, ‘Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring.’ And they’ll say ‘Yes, that’s one of my favorite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn’t he, Dad?’ ‘Yes, my boy, the most famousest of hobbits. And that’s saying a lot.’
  • In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
  • And yet, Eomer, I say to you that she loves you more truly than me, for you she loves and knows; but in me she loves only a shadow and a thought: a hope of glory and great deeds, and lands far from the fields of Rohan. – Aragorn to Eomer, of Eowyn
  • There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off.
  • Fifteen birds in five firtrees, their feathers were fanned in a fiery breeze! But, funny little birds, they had no wings! O what shall we do with the funny little things? Roast ’em alive, or stew them in a pot; fry them, boil them and eat them hot?
  • Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to Gandalf; and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head and said: Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!
  • To whatever end. Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountains. Like wind in the meadow. The days have gone down in the west. Behind the hills, into shadow. How did it come to this?
  • Criticism – however valid or intellectually engaging – tends to get in the way of a writer who has anything personal to say. A tightrope walker may require practice, but if he starts a theory of equilibrium he will lose grace (and probably fall off).
  • We are lost, lost,’ said Gollum. ‘No name, no business, no Precious, nothing. Only empty. Only hungry; yes, we are hungry. A few little fishes, nasty bony little fishes, for a poor creature, and they say death. So wise they are; so just, so very just
  • He was kindhearted, in a way. You know the sort of kind heart: it made him uncomfortable more often than it made him do anything; and even when he did anything, it did not prevent him from grumbling, losing his temper and swearing (mostly to himself).
  • Some sang too that Thror and Thrain would come back one day and gold would flow in rivers, through the mountain-gates, and all that land would be filled with new song and new laughter. But this pleasant legend did not much affect their daily business.
  • Every writer making a secondary world wishes in some measure to be a real maker, or hopes that he is drawing on reality: hopes that the peculiar quality of this secondary world (if not all the details) are derived from Reality, or are flowing into it.
  • The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say
  • Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.
  • Eastward the dawn rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into guess; it was no more than a glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of the memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains.
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  • But the only measure that he knows is desire desire for power and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this we shall put him out of reckoning.
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  • If you want to know what cram is, I can only say that I don’t know the recipe; but it is biscuitish, keeps good indefinitely, is supposed to be sustaining, and is certainly not entertaining, being in fact very uninteresting except as a chewing exercise.
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  • It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam,” said Frodo, “and I could not have borne that.” “Not as certain as being left behind,” said Sam. “But I am going to Mordor.” “I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.
  • If only that dratted wizard would leave young Frodo alone, perhaps he’ll settle down and grow some hobbit-sense,’ they said. And to all appearance the wizard did leave Frodo alone, and he did settle down, but the growth of hobbit-sense was not very noticable.
  • But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.
  • The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords.
  • I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun; and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a Shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.
  • Much of the same sort of degraded and filthy talk can still be heard among the orc-minded; dreary and repetitive with hatred and contempt, too long removed from good to retain even verbal vigour, save in the ears of those to whom only the squalid sounds strong.
  • It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Il√∫vatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.
  • Upon the hearth the fire is red, Beneath the roof there is a bed; But not yet weary are our feet, Still round the corner we may meet A sudden tree or standing stone That none have seen but we alone. Tree and flower and leaf and grass, Let them pass! Let them pass!
  • Silver flow the streams from Celos to Erui In the green fields of Lebennin! Tall grows the grass there. In the wind from the Sea The white lilies sway, And the golden bells are shaken of mallos and alfirin In the green fields of Lebennin, In the wind from the Sea!
  • He raised his staff. There was a roll of thunder. The sunlight was blotted out from the eastern windows; the whole hall became suddenly dark as night. The fire faded to sullen embers. Only Gandalf could be seen, standing white and tall before the blackened hearth.
  • Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.
  • I have never had much confidence in my own work, and even now when I am assured (still much to my grateful surprise) that it has value for other people, I feel diffident, reluctant as it were to expose my world of imagination to possibly contemptuous eyes and ears.
  • What have I got in my pocket?” he said aloud. He was talking to himself, but Gollum thought it was a riddle, and he was frightfully upset. “Not fair! not fair!” he hissed. “It isn’t fair, my precious, is it, to ask us what it’s got in it’s nassty little pocketsess?
  • Farewell,” they cried, “Wherever you fare till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!” That is the polite thing to say among eagles. “May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,” answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.
  • Take now this Ring,’ he said; ‘for thy labours and thy cares will be heavy, but in all it will support thee and defend thee from weariness. For this is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill.
  • I hope I never smell the smell of apples again!” said Fili. “My tub was full of ut. To smell apples everlastingly when you can scarcely move and are cold and sick with hunger is maddening. I could eat anything in the wide world now for hours on end – but not an apple!
  • Far more often [than asking the question ‘Is it true?’] they [children] have asked me: ‘Was he good? Was he wicked?’ That is, they were far more concerned to get the Right side and the Wrong side clear. For that is a question equally important in History and in Faerie.
  • I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’ I should think so ‚ in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!
  • Elrond raised his eyes and looked at him, and Frodo felt his heart pierced by the sudden keenness of the glance. ‘If I understand aright all that I have heard,’ he said, ‘I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will.
  • After some time he felt for his pipe. It was not broken, and that was something. Then he felt for his pouch, and there was some tobacco in it, and that was something more. Then he felt for matches and he could not find any at all, and that shattered his hopes completely.
  • Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?’ A man may do both,’ said Aragorn. ‘For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!
  • It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.
  • Frodo drew himself up, and again Sam was startled by his words and his stern voice. ‘On the Precious? How dare you?’ he said. ‘Think! Would you commit your promise to that, Smeagol? It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are. It may twist your words. Beware!
  • Home is behind, the world ahead, And there are many paths to tread Through shadows to the edge of night, Until the stars are all alight. Then world behind and home ahead, We’ll wander back and home to bed. Mist and twilight, cloud and shade, Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
  • Bilbo lay with his eyes shut, gasping an taking pleasure in the feel of the fresh air again, and hardly noticing the excitement of the dwarves, or how they praised him and patted him on the back and put themseves and all their families for generations to come at his service.
  • I look East, West, North, South, and I do not see Sauron; but I see that Saruman has many descendants. We Hobbits have against them no magic weapons. Yet, my gentlehobbits, I give you this toast: To the Hobbits. May they outlast the Sarumans and see spring again in the trees.
  • There are many things in the deep waters; and seas and lands may change. And it is not our part here to take thought only for a season, or for a few lives of Men, or for a passing age of the world. We should seek a final end of this menace, even if we do not hope to make one.
  • There are truths, that are beyond us, transcendent truths, about beauty, truth, honor, etc. There are truths that man knows exist, but they cannot be seen – they are immaterial, but no less real, to us. It is only through the language of myth that we can speak of these truths.
  • And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.
  • Then Aragorn stooped and looked in her face, and it was indeed white as a lily, cold as frost, and hard as graven stone. But he bent and kissed her on the brow, and called her softly, saying: ‘√âowyn √âomund’s daughter, awake! For your enemy has passed away!’ – Aragorn & √âowyn
  • No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades.
  • Elrond’s house was perfect, whether you liked food or sleep or story-telling or singing (or reading), or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness. … Evil things did not come into the secret valley of Rivendell.
  • This of course is the way to talk to dragons, if you don’t want to reveal your proper name which is wise, and don’t want to infuriate them by a flat refusal which is also very wise. No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time to trying to understand it.
  • Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord. Alas for Gimli son of Gl√≥in!
  • I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.
  • Then she fell on her knees, saying: ‘I beg thee!’ ‘Nay, lady,’ he said, and taking her by the hand he raised her. The he kissed her hand, and sprang into the saddle, and rode away, and did not look back; and only those who knew him well and were near to him saw the pain that he bore.
  • Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!
  • Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to.
  • It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.
  • Cold be hand and heart and bone, and cold be sleep under stone: never more to wake on stony bed, never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead. In the black wind the stars shall die, and still on gold here let them lie, till the dark lord lifts his hand over dead sea and withered land.
  • The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is, where he came from. And if he was really evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home. If he would not rather have stayed there in peace. War will make corpses of us all.
  • And he sang to them, now in the Elven tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
  • Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that cellar door is ‘beautiful’, especially if dissociated from its sense (and its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful. Well then, in Welsh for me cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent.
  • A nice pickle they were all in now: all neatly tied up in sacks, with three angry trolls (and two with burns and bashes to remember) sitting by them, arguing whether they should roast them slowly, or mince them fine and boil them, or just sit on them one by one and squash them into jelly.
  • Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’ As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.
  • I do not know what is happening. The reason of my waking mind tells me that great evil has befallen and we stand at the end of days. But my heart says nay; and all my limbs are light, and a hope and joy are come to me that no reason can deny. […] I do not believe that darkness will endure!
  • Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that came down to us from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures. And of these histories most fair still in the ears of the Elves is the tale of Beren and L√∫thien
  • Fairy tale does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat…giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy; Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.
  • In one thing you have not changed, dear friend,” said Aragorn: “you still speak in riddles.” “What? In riddles?” said Gandalf. “No! For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to; the long explanations needed by the young are wearying.
  • There was a little corner of his mind that was still his own, and light came through it, as though a chink in the dark: light out of the past. It was actually pleasant, I think, to hear a kindly voice agin, bringing up memories of wind, and trees, and sun on the grass, and such forgotten things.
  • Now I know what a piece of bacon feels like when it is suddenly picked out of the pan on a fork and put back on the shelf!” “No you don’t!” he heard Dori answering, “because the bacon knows that it will get back in the pan sooner or later; and it is to be hoped we shan’t. Also eagles aren’t forks!
  • Fa√´rie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.
  • Here ends the SILMARILLION. If it has passed from the high and the beautiful to darkness and ruin, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred; and if any change shall come and the Marring be amended, Manw√´ and Varda may know; but they have not revealed it, and it is not declared in the dooms of Mandos.
  • He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazg√ªl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship.
  • He did not go much further, but sat down on the cold floor and gave himself up to complete miserableness, for a long while. He thought of himself frying bacon and eggs in his own kitchen at home – for he could feel inside that it was high time for some meal or other; but that only made him miserabler.
  • In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him.
  • Have you thought of an ending?’ ‘Yes , several, and all are dark and unpleasant,’ said Frodo. ‘Oh , that won’t do!’ said Bilbo. ‘Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?’ ‘It will do well, if it ever comes to that,’ said Frodo.
  • One has personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.
  • Being a cult figure in one’s own lifetime I am afraid is not at all pleasant. However I do not find that it tends to puff one up: in my case at any rate it makes me feel extremely small and inadequate. But even the nose of a very modest idol cannot remain entirely untickled by the sweet smell of incense.
  • My political opinions lean more and more to anarchy. The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power stations. I hope that, encouraged now as patriotism, may remain a habit.
  • All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.
  • Supernatural is a dangerous and difficult word in any of its senses, looser or stricter. But to fairies it can hardly be applied, unless super is taken merely as a superlative prefix. For it is man who is, in contrast to fairies, supernatural; whereas they are natural, far more natural than he. Such is their doom.
  • Those were happier days, when there was still close friendship at times between folk of different race, even between Dwarves and Elves.’ It was not the fault of the Dwarves that the friendship waned,’ said Gimli. I have not heard that it was the fault of the Elves,’ said Legolas. I have heard both,’ said Gandalf[.]
  • the association of children and fairy-stories is an accident of our domestic history. Fairy-stories have in the modern lettered world been relegated to the nursery, as shabby or old-fashioned furniture is relegated to the play-room, primarily because the adults do not want it, and do not mind if it is misused.
  • The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?
  • You renounce your friendship even in the hour of our need ‘ he said. ‘Yet you were glad indeed to receive our aid when you came at last to these shores fainthearted loiterers and well-nigh emptyhanded. In huts on the beaches would you be dwelling still had not the Noldor carved out your haven and toiled upon your walls.
  • Goodbye, master, my dear! Forgive your Sam. He’ll come back to this spot when the job’s done – if he manages it. And then he’ll not leave you again. Rest you quiet till I come; and may no foul creature come anigh you! And if the Lady could hear me and give me one wish, I would wish to come back and find you again. Good bye!
  • All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Erol and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.
  • If you took this thing on yourself, unwilling, at others’ asking, then you have pity and honour from me. And I marvel at you: to keep it hid and not to use it. You are a new people and a new world to me. Are all your kin of like sort? Your land must be a realm of peace and content, and there must gardners be in high hounour.
  • I am not a ‘democrat’ only because ‘humility’ and equality are spiritual principles corrupted by the attempt to mechanize and formalize them, with the result that we get not universal smallness and humility, but universal greatness and pride, till some Orc gets hold of a ring of power–and then we get and are getting slavery.
  • The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him.
  • But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow in the waters that was soon lost in the West. There he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-Earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart.
  • The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet it is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.
  • But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam
  • Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath.
  • He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.
  • What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!’ Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.
  • The Resurrection was the greatest eucatastrophe’ possible in the greatest Fairy Story and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.
  • But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap. He drew a deep breath. Well, I’m back,’ he said
  • We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor. We boast seldom, and then perform, or die in the attempt. “Not if I found it on the highway would I take it,” I said. Even if I were such a man as to desire this thing, and even though I knew not clearly what this thing was when I spoke, still I should take those words as a vow, and be held by them.
  • Now when T√∫rin learnt from Finduilas of what had passed, he was wrathful, and he said to Gwindor: ‘In love I hold you for your rescue and sake-keeping. But now you have done ill to me, friend, to betray my right name, and call my doom upon me, from which I would lie hid.’ But Gwindor answered: ‘The doom lies in yourself, not in your name.
  • For the rest, they shall represent the other Free Peoples of the World: Elves, Dwarves, and Men, Legolas shall be for the Elves; and Gimli son of Gloin for the Dwarves. They are willing to go at least to the passes of the Mountains, and maybe beyond. For Men you shall have Aragorn son of Arathorn, for the Ring of Isildur concerns him closely.
  • We are being at once wisely aware of our own frivolity if we avoid hitting and whacking and prefer ‘striking’ and ‘smiting’; talk and chat and prefer ‘speech’ and ‘discourse’; well-bred, brilliant, or polite noblemen (visions of snobbery columns in the Press, and fat men on the Riviera) and prefer the ‘worthy, brave and courteous men’ of long ago.
  • I must indeed abide the Doom of Men whether I will or nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Numenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Elves say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.
  • I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would take back my words and deeds at the Gate. . . If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
  • Justice is not Healing. Healing cometh only by suffering and patience, and maketh no demand, not even for Justice. Justice worketh only within the bonds of things as they are… and therefore though Justice is itself good and desireth no further evil, it can but perpetuate the evil that was, and doth not prevent it from the bearing of fruit in sorrow.
  • The dwarves of course are quite obviously, couldn’t you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic obviously, constructed to be Semitic. Hobbits are just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects (in general) the small reach of their imagination – not the small reach of their courage or latent power.
  • Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry. Yet in the wizard’s face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth.
  • It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.
  • We have sworn, and not lightly. This oath we will keep. We are threatened with many evils, and treason not least; but one thing is not said: that we shall suffer from cowardice, from cravens or the fear of cravens. Therefore I say that we will go on, and this doom I add: the deeds that we shall do shall be the matter of song until the last days of Arda.
  • The eyes were hollow and the carven head was broken, but about the high, stern forehead there was a coronal of silver and gold. A trailing plant with flowers like white stars had bound itself across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king, and in the crevices of his stony hair yellow stonecrop gleamed. “They cannot conquer for ever!” said Frodo.
  • A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo’s heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering. All these thoughts passed in a flash of a second. He trembled. And then quite suddenly in another flash, as if lifted by a new strength and resolve, he leaped.
  • Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out loud of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: ‘Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring’ and they’ll say ‘Oh yes, that’s one of my favorite stories.
  • Mercy!” cried Gandalf. “If the giving of knowledge is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more should you like to know?” “The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-Earth and Over-heave and of the Sundering Seas,” laughed Pippin. “Of course! What less?
  • Smaug certainly looked asleep, almost dead and dark, with scarcely a snore more than a whiff of unseen steam, when Bilbo peeped once more from the entrance. He was just about to step out onto the floor when he caught a sudden thin ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug’s left eye. He was only pretending to sleep! He was watching the tunnel entrance!
  • The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion’, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
  • Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!
  • That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, is say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.
  • At last, Lady Evenstar, fairest in this world, and most beloved, my world is fading. Lo! we have gathered, and we have spent, and now the time of payment draws near.” ‘Arwen knew well what he intended, and long had foreseen it; nonetheless she was overborne by her grief. “Would you then, lord, before your time leave your people that live by your word?” she said.
  • Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
  • It was just as the 1914 War burst on me that I made the discovery that ‘legends’ depend on the language to which they belong; but a living language depends equally on the ‘legends’ which it conveys by tradition. … Volapuk, Esperanto, Ido, Novial, &c &c are dead, far deader than ancient unused languages, because their authors never invented any Esperanto legends.
  • Burn, burn tree and fern! Shrivel and scorch! A fizzling torch To light the night for our delight, Ya hey! Bake and toast em, fry and roast em! till beards blaze, and eyes glaze; till hair smells and skins crack, fat melts, and bones black in cinders lie beneath the sky! So dwarves shall die, and light the night for our delight, Ya hey! Ya-harri-hey! Ya hoy!
  • The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.
  • And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!
  • Shadowfax tossed his head and cried aloud, as if a trumpet had summoned him to battle. Then he sprang forward. Fire flew from his feet; night rushed over him. As he fell slowly into sleep, Pippin had a strange feeling: he and Gandalf were still as stone, seated upon the statue of a running horse, while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.
  • It was an evil doom that set her in his path. For she is a fair maiden, fairest lady of a house of queens. And yet I know not how I should speak of her. When I first looked on her and perceived her unhappiness, it seemed to me that I saw a white flower standing straight and proud, shapely as a lily and yet knew that it was hard, as if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel.
  • The dragon is withered, His bones are now crumbled; His armour is shivered, His splendour is humbled! Though sword shall be rusted, And throne and crown perish With strength that men trusted And wealth that they cherish, Here grass is still growing, And leaves are yet swinging, The white water flowing, And elves are yet singing Come! Tra-la-la-lally! Come back to the valley!
  • They arose in my mind as ‘given’ things, and as they came, separately, so too the links grew. An absorbing, though continually interrupted labour (especially, even apart from the necessities of life, since the mind would wing to the other pole and spread itself on the linguistics): yet always I had the sense of recording what was already ‘there’, somewhere: not of ‘inventing’.
  • The woman turned and went slowly into the house. As she passed the doors she turned and looked back. Grave and thoughtful was her glance, as she looked on the king with cool pity in here eyes. Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings.
  • I remember nothing about it except a philological fact. My mother said nothing about the dragon, but pointed out that one could not say ‘a green great dragon’, but had to say ‘a great green dragon’. I wondered why, and still do. The fact that I remember this is possibly significant, as I do not think I ever tried to write a story again for many years, and was taken up with language.
  • Clap! Snap! the black crack! Grip, grab! Pinch, nab! And down down to Goblin-town You go, my lad! Clash, crash! Crush, smash! Hammer and tongs! Knocker and gongs! Pound, pound, far underground! Ho, ho! my lad! Swish, smack! Whip crack! Batter and beat! Yammer and bleat! Work, work! Nor dare to shirk, While Goblins quaff, and Goblins laugh, Round and round far underground Below, my lad!
  • And still Meriadoc the hobbit stood there blinking through his tears, and no one spoke to him, indeed none seemed to heed him. He brushed away the tears, and stooped to pick up the green shield that Eowyn had given him, and he slung it at his back. Then he looked for his sword that he had let fall; for even as he struck his blow his arm was numbed, and now he could only use his left hand.
  • Kings built tombs more splendid than the houses of the living and counted the names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars. And so the kingdom of Gondor sank into ruin, the line of kings failed, the white tree withered and the rule of Gondor was given over to lesser men.
  • My name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.
  • Thus Aragorn for the first time in the full light of day beheld √âowyn, Lady of Rohan, and thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood. And she was now suddenly aware of him: tall heir of kings, wise with many winters, greycloaked, hiding a power that yet she felt. For a moment still as stone she stood, then turning swiftly she was gone.
  • Of course, it is likely enough, my friends,’ he said slowly, ‘likely enough that we are going to our doom: the last march of the Ents. But if we stayed home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later. That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now. It was not a hasty resolve. Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song.
  • My friend, you had horses, and deed of arms, and the free fields; but she, being born in the body of a maid, had a spirit and courage at least the match of yours. Yet she was doomed to wait upon an old man, whom she loved as a father, and watch him falling into a mean dishonoured dotage; and her part seemed to her more ignoble than that of the staff he leaned on. -Gandalf to Eomer, of Eowyn
  • I should say that, in addition to my tree-love (it was originally called The Tree), it arose from my own pre-occupation with the Lord of the Rings, the knowledge that it would be finished in great detail or not at all, and the fear (near certainty) that it would be ‘not at all’. The war had arisen to darken all horizons. But no such analyses are a complete explanation even of a short story.
  • I knew that danger lay ahead, of course; but I did not expect to meet it in our own Shire. Can’t a hobbit walk from the Water to the River in peace?” “But it is not your own Shire,” said Gildor. “Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.
  • Haldir had gone on and was now climbing to the high flet. As Frodo prepared to follow him, he laid his hand upon the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree’s skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.
  • The mind that thought of light, heavy, grey, yellow, still, swift, also conceived of magic that would make heavy things light and able to fly, turn grey lead into yellow gold, and the still rock into a swift water. If it could do the one, it could do the other; it inevitably did both. When we can take green from grass, blue from heaven, and red from blood, we have already an enchanter’s power.
  • Here was one with an air of high nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Eldar Race. He knew now why Beregond spoke his name with love. He was a captain that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings.
  • I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?
  • Aragorn threw back his cloak. The elven-sheath glittered as he grasped it, and the bright blade of And√∫ril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. ‘Elendil!’ he cried. ‘I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, D√∫nadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!
  • There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
  • Gil-galad was an Elven-king. Of him the harpers sadly sing: the last whose realm was fair and free between the Mountains and the Sea. His sword was long, his lance was keen, his shining helm afar was seen; the countless stars of heaven’s field were mirrored in his silver shield. But long ago he rode away, and where he dwelleth none can say; for into darkness fell his star in Mordor where the shadows are.
  • Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?” A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count.
  • But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,’ said Frodo. Sam looked at him unhappily. ‘It all depends on what you want,’ put in Merry. ‘You can trust us to stick with you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.
  • “Good Morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat. “What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
  • One tiny Hobbit against all the evil the world could muster. A sane being would have given up, but Samwise burned with a magnificent madness, a glowing obsession to surmount every obstacle, to find Frodo, destroy the Ring, and cleanse Middle Earth of its festering malignancy. He knew he would try again. Fail, perhaps. And try once more. A thousand, thousand times if need be, but he would not give up the quest.
  • I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history ‚ true or feigned‚ with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.
  • Farewell sweet earth and northern sky, for ever blest, since here did lie and here with lissom limbs did run beneath the Moon, beneath the Sun, L√∫thien Tin√∫viel more fair than Mortal tongue can tell. Though all to ruin fell the world and were dissolved and backward hurled; unmade into the old abyss, yet were its making good, for this – the dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea – that L√∫thien for a time should be.
  • For Isildur would not surrender it to Elrond and C√≠rdan who stood by. They counselled him to cast it into the fire of Orodruin night at hand… But Isildur refused this counsel, saying: ‘This I will have as weregild for my father’s death, and my brother’s. Was it not I that dealt the Enemy his death-blow?’ And the Ring that he held seemed to him exceedingly fair to look on; and he would not suffer it to be destroyed.
  • And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
  • Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way. Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… And then you see it. Pippin: What? Gandalf?… See what?  Gandalf: White shores… and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.  Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad. Gandalf: No… No it isn’t.
  • She lifted up her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illuminated her alone and left all else dark. She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful. Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white whose gentle voice was soft and sad.
  • I don’t know how to say it, but after last night I feel different. I seem to see ahead, in a kind of way. I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can’t turn back. It isn’t right to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want – I don’t rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire. I must see it through, sir, if you understand me.
  • If your first Christmas tree is a wilting eucalyptus and if you’re normally troubled by heat and sand… then, to have just at the age when imagination is opening out, suddenly find yourself in a quiet Warwickshire village, I think it engenders a particular love of what you might call central Midlands English countryside. Based on good water, stones and elm trees and small quiet rivers and so on, and of course, rustic people about.
  • There was a deep silence, only scraped on its surfaces by the faint quiver of empty seed-plumes, and broken grass-blades trembling in small air-movements they could not feel. ‘Not a bird!’ said Sam mournfully. ‘No, no birds,’ said Gollum. ‘Nice birds!’ He licked his teeth. ‘No birds here. There are snakeses, wormses, things in the pools. Lots of things, lots of nasty things. No birds,’ he ended sadly. Sam looked at him with distaste.
  • A great dread fell on him, as if he was awaiting the pronouncement of some doom that he had long foreseen and vainly hoped might after all never be spoken. An overwhelming longing to rest and remain at peace by Bilbo’s side in Rivendell filled all his heart. At last with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice. “I will take the Ring,” he said, “though I do not know the way.
  • Far over the Misty Mountains cold, To dungeons deep and caverns old, We must away, ere break of day, To seek our pale enchanted gold. The dwarves of yore made mighty spells, While hammers fell like ringing bells, In places deep, where dark things sleep, In hollow halls beneath the fells. The pines were roaring on the heights, The wind was moaning in the night, The fire was red, it flaming spread, The trees like torches blazed with light.
  • Is it not a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt for so small a thing? So small a thing! And I have seen it only for an instant in the house of Elrond! Could I not have a sight of it again?” Frodo looked up. His heart went suddenly cold. He caught the strange gleam in Boromir’s eyes, yet his face was still kind and friendly. “It is best that it should lie hidden,” he answered. “As you wish. I care not.” said Boromir.
  • “We will make such a chase as shall be accounted a marvel among the Three Kindreds: Elves, Dwarves and Men. Forth the Three Hunters!” Like a deer he sprang away. Through the trees he sped. On and on he led them, tireless and swift, now that his mind was at last made up. The woods about the lake they left behind. Long slopes they climbed, dark, hard-edged against the sky already red with sunset. They passed away, grey shadows in a stony land.
  • Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light through whom is splintered from a single White to many hues, and endlessly combined in living shapes that move from mind to mind. Though all the crannies of the world we filled with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build Gods and their houses out of dark and light, and sowed the seed of dragons, ’twas our right (used or misused). The right has not decayed. We make still by the law in which we’re made.
  • I am in fact a Hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humor (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.
  • I should like to save the Shire, if I could – though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don’t feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.
  • So, though there was still some store of weapons in the Shire, these were used mostly as trophies, hanging above hearths or on walls, or gathered into the museum at Michel Delving. The Mathom-house it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a mathom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms, and many of the presents that passed from hand to hand were of that sort.
  • What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful ‘sub-creator’. He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is ‘true’: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside.
  • His head was swimming, and he was far from certain even of the direction they had been going in when he had his fall. He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment.
  • Fare well we call to hearth and hall Though wind may blow and rain may fall We must away ere break of day Over the wood and mountain tall To Rivendell where Elves yet dwell In glades beneath the misty fell Through moor and waste we ride in haste And wither then we cannot tell With foes ahead behind us dread Beneath the sky shall be our bed Until at last our toil be sped Our journey done, our errand sped We must away! We must away! We ride before the break of day!
  • There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnakes, and don’t know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done.
  • The King beneath the mountains, The King of carven stone, The lord of silver fountains Shall come into his own! His crown shall be upholden, His harp shall be restrung, His halls shall echo golden To songs of yore re-sung. The woods shall wave on mountains. And grass beneath the sun; His wealth shall flow in fountains And the rivers golden run. The streams shall run in gladness, The lakes shall shine and burn, And sorrow fail and sadness At the Mountain-king’s return!
  • All the same, I should like it all plain and clear,” said he obstinately, putting on his business manner (usually reserved for people who tried to borrow money off him), and doing his best to appear wise and prudent and professional and live up to Gandalf’s recommendation. “Also I should like to know about risks, out-of-pocket expenses, time required and remuneration, and so forth”–by which he meant: “What am I going to get out of it ? and am I going to come back alive?
  • And when [B√´or] lay dead, of no wound or grief, but stricken by age, the Eldar saw for the first time the swift waning of the life of Men, and the death of weariness which they knew not in themselves; and they grieved greatly for the loss of their friends. But B√´or at the last had relinquished his life willingly and passed in peace; and the Eldar wondered much at the strange fate of Men, for in all their lore there was no account of it, and its end was hidden from them.
  • I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led. And through the air. I am he that walks unseen. I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number. I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me. I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.
  • Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we can’t live long on the heights.’ ‘No,’ said Merry. ‘I can’t. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them. It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not.
  • Under the Mountain dark and tall The King has come unto his hall! His foe is dead, the Worm of Dread, And ever so his foes shall fall. The sword is sharp, the spear is long, The arrow swift, the Gate is strong; The heart is bold that looks on gold; The dwarves no more shall suffer wrong. The dwarves of yore made mighty spells, While hammers fells like ringing bells In places deep, where dark things sleep, In hollow halls beneath the fells. -from The Hobbit (Dwarves Battle Song)
  • Great engines crawled across the field; and in the midst was a huge ram, great as a forest-tree a hundred feet in length, swinging on mighty chains. Long had it been forging in the dark smithies of Mordor, and its hideous head, founded of black steel, was shaped in the likeness of a ravening wolf; on it spells of ruin lay. Grond they named it, in memory of the Hammer of the Underworld of old. Great beasts drew it, orcs surrounded it, and behind walked mountain-trolls to wield it.
  • Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many – yours not least.
  • One writes such a story [The Lord of the Rings] not out of the leaves of trees still to be observed, nor by means of botany and soil-science; but it grows like a seed in the dark out of the leaf-mold of the mind: out of all that has been seen or thought or read, that has long ago been forgotten, descending into the deeps. No doubt there is much personal selection, as with a gardener: what one throws on one’s personal compost-heap; and my mold is evidently made largely of linguistic matter.
  • Roads go ever ever on, Over rock and under tree, By caves where never sun has shone, By streams that never find the sea; Over snow by winter sown, And through the merry flowers of June, Over grass and over stone, And under mountains of the moon. Roads go ever ever on Under cloud and under star, Yet feet that wandering have gone Turn at last to home afar. Eyes that fire and sword have seen And horror in the halls of stone Look at last on meadows green And trees and hills they long have known
  • They hammered on the outer gate and called, but there was at first no answer; and then to their surprise someone blew a horn, and the lights in the windows went out. A voice shouted in the dark: ‘Who’s that? Be off! You can’t come in. Can’t you read the notice: No admittance between sundown and sunrise?’ ‘Of course we can’t read the notice in the dark,’ Sam shouted back. ‘And if hobbits of the Shire are to be kept out in the wet on a night like this, I’ll tear down your notice when I find it.
  • Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashipn the theme of Iluvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Iluvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void.
  • The Sword of Elendil was forged anew by Elvish smiths, and on its blade was traced a device of seven stars set between the crescent Moon and rayed Sun, and about them was written many runes; for Aragorn son of Arathorn was going to war upon the marches of Mordor. Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, its edge was hard and keen. And Aragorn gave it a new name and called it And√∫ril, Flame of the West.
  • Journey’s end In western lands beneath the Sun The flowers may rise in Spring, The trees may bud, the waters run, The merry finches sing. Or there maybe ’tis cloudless night, And swaying branches bear The Elven-stars as jewels white Amid their branching hair. Though here at journey’s end I lie In darkness buried deep, Beyond all towers strong and high, Beyond all mountains steep, Above all shadows rides the Sun And Stars for ever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, Nor bid the Stars farewell.J.
  • Where now are the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing? Where is the harp on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing? Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing? They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow; The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow. Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning, Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?
  • Nay! Alas for us all! And for all that walk in the world in these after-days. For such is the way of it: to find and lose, as it seems to those whose boat is on the running stream. But I count you blessed […] for your loss you suffer of your own free will, and you might have chosen otherwise. But you have not forsaken your companions, and the least reward that you shall have is that the memory of Lothl√≥rien shall remain ever clear and unstained in your heart, and shall neither fade nor grow stale.
  • I have in this War a burning private grudge ‚ which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler (for the odd thing about demonic inspiration and impetus is that it in no way enhances the purely intellectual stature: it chiefly affects the mere will). Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light.
  • Human stories are practically always about one thing, really, aren’t they? Death. The inevitability of death. . . . . . (quoting an obituary) ‘There is no such thing as a natural death. Nothing that ever happens to man is natural, since his presence calls the whole world into question. All men must die, but for every man his death is an accident, and even if he knows it he would sense to it an unjustifiable violation.’ Well, you may agree with the words or not, but those are the key spring of The Lord Of The Rings
  • And Gandalf said: “This is your realm, and the heart of the greater realm that shall be. The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun; and it is your task to order its beginning and to preserve what must be preserved. For though much has been saved, much must now pass away; and the power of the Three Rings also is ended. And all the lands that you see, and those that lie round about them, shall be dwellings of Men. For the time comes of the Dominion of Men, and the Elder Kindred shall fade or depart.
  • We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.
  • On two chairs beneath the bole of the tree and canopied by a living bough there sat, side by side, Celeborn and Galadriel… Very tall they were, and the Lady no less tall than the Lord; and they were grave and beautiful. They were clad wholly in white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold, and the hair of the Lord Celeborn was of silver long and bright; but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their eyes; for these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound, the wells of deep memory.
  • Then, √âowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful. In the valleys of our hills there are flowers fair and bright, and maidens fairer still; but neither flower nor lady have I seen till now in Gondor so lovely, and so sorrowful. It may be that only a few days are left ere darkness falls upon our world, and when it comes I hope to face it steadily; but it would ease my heart, if while the Sun yet shines, I could see you still. For you and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow, and the same hand drew us back.
  • Yet at the last Beren was slain by the Wolf that came from the gates of Angband, and he died in the arms of Tin√∫viel. But she chose mortality, and to die from the world, so that she might follow him; and it is sung that they met again beyond the Sundering Seas, and after a brief time walking alive once more in the green woods, together they passed, long ago, beyond the confines of this world. So it is that L√∫thien Tin√∫viel alone of the Elf-kindred has died indeed and left the world, and they have lost her whom they most loved.
  • Gandalf: Confound it all, Samwise Gamgee. Have you been eavesdropping? Sam: I ain’t been droppin’ no eaves sir, honest. I was just cutting the grass under the window there, if you’ll follow me. Gandalf: A little late for trimming the verge, don’t you think? Sam: I heard raised voices. Gandalf: What did you hear? Speak. Sam: N-nothing important. That is, I heard a good deal about a ring, and a Dark Lord, and something about the end of the world, but… Please, Mr. Gandalf, sir, don’t hurt me. Don’t turn me into anything… unnatural.
  • If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Took’s great-granduncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfibul’s head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf was invented at the same moment.
  • But Sauron was not of mortal flesh, and though he was robbed now of that shape in which had wrought so great an evil, so that he could never again appear fair to the eyes of Men, yet his spirit arose out of the deep and passed as a shadow and a black wind over the sea, and came back to Middle-earth and to Mordor that was his home. There he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dur, and dwelt there, dark and silent, until he wrought himself a new guise, an image of malice and hatred made visible; and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure.
  • Are you in pain, Frodo?’ said Gandalf quietly as he rode by Frodo’s side. ‘Well, yes I am,’ said Frodo. ‘It is my shoulder. The wound aches, and the memory of darkness is heavy on me. It was a year ago today.’ ‘Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured,’ said Gandalf. ‘I fear it may be so with mine,’ said Frodo. ‘There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?’ Gandalf did not answer.
  • I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country. … I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.
  • For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!’ I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered. I liked white better,’ I said. White!’ he sneered. ‘It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.’ In which case it is no longer white,’ said I. ‘And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.’ – Gandalf
  • Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament….There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, that every man’s heart desires
  • So it ends as I guessed it would,’ his thoughts said, even as it fluttered away; and it laughed a little within him ere it fled, almost gay it seemed to be casting off all doubt and care and fear. And even as it winged away into forgetfulness it heard voices, and they seemed to be crying in some forgotten world far above: ‘The eagles are coming! The eagles are coming!’ For one moment more Pippin’s thought hovered. “Bilbo! But no! That came in his tale, long long ago. This is my tale, and it ended now. Good-bye!’ And his thought fled far away and his eyes saw no more.
  • To the sea, to the sea! The white gulls are crying, The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying. West, west away, the round sun is falling, Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling, The voices of my people that have gone before me? I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me; For our days are ending and our years failing. I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing. Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling, Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling, In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover, Where the leaves fall not: land of my people forever!
  • One felt as if there was an enormous well behind them. Filled up with ages of memory and long, slow, steady thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the present : like sun shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake. I don’t know, but I t felt as if something that grew in the ground‚ asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between roof-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky had suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given to its own inside affairs for endless years.
  • If thou hadst thy will what wouldst thou reserve?” said Manwe. “Of all thy realm what dost thou hold dearest?” All have their worth,” said Yavanna, “and each contributes to the worth of the others. But the kelvar can flee or defend themselves, whereas the olvar that grow cannot. And among these I hold trees dear. Long in the growing, swift shall they be in the felling, and unless they pay toll with fruit upon their bough little mourned in their passing. So I see in my thought, would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those that wrong them!
  • And so it was settled. Sam Gamgee married Rose Cotton in the spring of 1420 (which was also famous for its weddings), and they came and lived at Bag End. And if Sam thought himself lucky, Frodo knew that he was more lucky himself; for there was not a hobbit in the Shire that was looked after with such care. When the labours or repair had all been planned and set going he took to a quiet life, writing a good deal and going through all his notes. He resigned the office of Deputy Mayor at the Free Fair that Midsummer, and dear old Will Whitfoot had another seven years of presiding at Banquets.
  • And you, Ringbearer’ she said, turning to Frodo. ‘I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you I have prepared this.’ She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it and rays of white light sprang from her hand. ‘In this phial,’ she said,’ is caught the light of Earendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out. Frodo took the phial, and for a moment as it shone between them, he saw her again standing like a queen, great and beautiful.
  • The news today about ‘Atomic bombs’ is so horrifying one is stunned. The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes: calmly plotting the destruction of the world! Such explosives in men’s hands, while their moral and intellectual status is declining, is about as useful as giving out firearms to all inmates of a gaol and then saying that you hope ‘this will ensure peace’. But one good thing may arise out of it, I suppose, if the write-ups are not overheated: Japan ought to cave in. Well we’re in God’s hands. But He does not look kindly on Babel-builders.

 

Haruki Murakami (quotes)

  • Deep rivers run quiet.
  • I’m not so weird to me.
  • I move, therefore I am.
  • At least he never walked.
  • Nature is actually unnatural
  • Will you wait for me forever?
  • But the silence spoke volumes.
  • Everything just blows me away.
  • Life is like a box of cookies.
  • Life: I’ll never understand it.
  • Killing time is not an easy job.
  • In dreams begins responsiblities.
  • Everything in life is a metaphor.
  • I’m all alone, but I’m not lonely.
  • What’s nurtured slowly grows well.
  • I wonder what ants do on rainy days?
  • With luck, it might even snow for us.
  • Only the dead stay seventeen forever.
  • I don’t know what it means to live.
  • Find me now. Before someone else does.
  • There has to be pain. That’s the rule.
  • There’s no war that will end all wars.
  • I often dream about the Dolphin Hotel.
  • Wherever there’s hope there’s a trial.
  • Time flows in a strange way on Sundays.
  • I feel like I’ve swallowed a cloudy sky
  • At times like this, adults need a drink
  • A theory is a battlefield in your head.
  • Passion can’t sustain itself forever.
  • If you never noticed, it never happened.
  • The world is an inherently unfair place.
  • Is it against the law for me to know it?
  • It is hard to be an individual in Japan.
  • Chance encounters are what keep us going.
  • Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
  • An unhealthy soul requires a healthy body.
  • A friend to kill time is a friend sublime.
  • It’s not me but the world that’s deranged.
  • After all this, I won’t start to hate you.
  • The light of morning decomposes everything.
  • Not everything was lost in the flow of time
  • When it’s all over, it’ll seem like a dream.
  • Artists are those who can evade the verbose.
  • Still, in the end, we all die just the same.
  • Be fearless, be brave, be bold, love yourself
  • Death leaves cans of shaving cream half-used.
  • Sometimes taking time is actually a shortcut.
  • I can bear any pain as long as it has meaning.
  • Sometimes I get real lonely sleeping with you.
  • I’m always tripped up by the eternal who am I?
  • Please remember: things are not what they seem.
  • Our responsibility begins with our imagination.
  • Everything, everything seemed once-upon-a-time.
  • In traveling, a companion, in life, compassion.
  • It was a strange feeling, like touching a void.
  • I like to read books. I like to listen to music.
  • We’re all kind of weird and twisted and drowning.
  • Loneliness becomes an acid that eats away at you.
  • To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm.
  • Everyone may be ordinary, but they’re not normal.
  • What if I’ve forgotten the most important thing?
  • Reality was utterly coolheaded and utterly lonely.
  • Is it possible to become friends with a butterfly?
  • It’s easy to forget things you don’t need anymore.
  • Understanding is but the sum of misunderstandings.
  • The unwaking world was as hushed as a deep forest.
  • Nights without work I spend with whisky and books.
  • The little things are important, Mr. Wind-Up Bird.
  • The world is full of ways and means to waste time.
  • I’m just kinda tired. Like a monkey in the rain.
  • I’m an average person. Is just that I like reading.
  • Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.
  • Nothing so consumes a person as meaningless exertion
  • What you see with your eyes is not necessarily real.
  • Pointless thinking is worse than no thinking at all.
  • Whatever can’t be expressed might as well not exist.
  • While they’re still alive, people can become ghosts.
  • I don’t go out of my way to make friends, that’s all.
  • I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.
  • Certain kinds of knowledge rob people of their sleep.
  • Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only arseholes do that.
  • She was seriously in love, but she never made demands.
  • The pillow smells like the sunlight, a precious smell.
  • Irrepressible curiosity vied with an instinctive fear.
  • A state of chronic powerlessness eats away at a person
  • Did you ever see anyone shot by a gun without bleeding?
  • In a sense, I’m the one who ruined me: I did it myself.
  • We never choose anything at all. Things happen. Or not.
  • If you’re young and talented, it’s like you have wings.
  • But metaphors help eliminate what separates you and me.
  • Concentration is one of the happiest things in my life.
  • Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.
  • There are many things we only see clearly in retrospect.
  • Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?
  • It takes years to build up, it takes moments to destroy.
  • Time moves in it special way in the middle of the night.
  • You can see a person’s whole life in the cancer they get.
  • Knowledge and ability were tools, not things to show off.
  • It’s like a kid standing at the window watching the rain.
  • Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time.
  • Among the many values in life, I appreciate freedom most.
  • Mediocrity’s like a spot on a shirt it never comes off.
  • It was a short one-paragraph item in the morning edition.
  • Learning another language is like becoming another person.
  • That’s what we all do: endlessly take the long way around.
  • Even castles in the sky can do with a fresh coat of paint.
  • The dead will always be dead, but we have to go on living.
  • It’s my motto for life. ‘Walk slowly; drink lots of water.
  • Whenever I get into something, I shut out everything else.
  • I’m a writer. I don’t support any war. That’s my principle.
  • Rousseau defined civilizations as when people build fences.
  • The worst thoughts usually strike in the dead of the night.
  • Mental acuity was never born from comfortable circumstances.
  • Fate seems to be taking me in some even stranger directions.
  • Cell phones are so convenient that they’re an inconvenience.
  • Life doesn’t require ideals. It requires standards of action.
  • Life is here, death is over there. I am here, not over there.
  • People’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive.
  • Distance might not solve anything, no matter how far you run.
  • I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.
  • It’s just like sex; when [a book is] finished, it’s finished.
  • Until the bitter end, the emptiness inside her was hers alone.
  • All right, then, I thought: here I am in the bottom of a well.
  • Each person feels pain in his own way, each has his own scars.
  • Better to be a first-class matchbox than a second-class match.
  • Her cry was the saddest sound of orgasm that I had ever heard.
  • I was dying. Like all the other people who live in this world.
  • Love and used Subarus were two different things. Weren’t they?
  • If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.
  • Some things, you know, if you say them, it makes them not true?
  • Love with complications. Scenery was the last thing on my mind.
  • The heavy smell of flower petals stroked the walls of my lungs.
  • When there’s nothing to do, you do nothing slowly and intently.
  • Sometimes we don’t need words. Rather, it’s words that need us.
  • Understanding’ is merely the sum total of our misunderstandings.
  • Memory is like fiction; or else it’s fiction that’s like memory.
  • Being active every day makes it easier to hear that inner voice.
  • Don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality!
  • If only I could fall sound asleep and wake up in my old reality!
  • If you think of someone enough, you’re sure to meet them again.
  • What happens when people open their hearts?”… “They get better.
  • Not that we were incompatible: we just had nothing to talk about.
  • If they invent a car that runs on stupid jokes, you could go far.
  • A fortunate author can write maybe twelve novels in his lifetime.
  • Some things are forgotten, some things disappear, some things die.
  • My imagination is a kind of animal. So what I do is keep it alive.
  • Your work should be an act of love, not a marriage of convenience.
  • One impossible day, of an impossible month, of an impossible year.
  • What we seek is some kind of compensation for what we put up with.
  • All of us are imperfect human beings living in an imperfect world.
  • I’m the kind of person who has to totally commit to whatever I do.
  • No matter how far you travel, you can never get away from yourself.
  • Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.
  • Like flowers scattered in a storm, a man’s life is a long farewell.
  • I don’t think of myself as an artist. I’m just a guy who can write.
  • Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language.
  • “I believe you,” she whispers after a moment. “Please find my mind.”
  • You have to wait until tomorrow to find out what tomorrow will bring.
  • I’m a very ordinary human being; I just happen to like reading books.
  • Sheep hurt my father, and through my father, sheep have also hurt me.
  • Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.
  • That’s how people live in the real world: forcing stuff on each other.
  • It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.
  • I’ll write to you. A super-long letter, like in an old-fashioned novel
  • My father always told me: ‘Give somebody a hand and he’ll take an arm.
  • When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself to it.
  • It’s good when food tastes good, it’s kind of like proof you’re alive.
  • For some reason all the middle-aged women he knew were very efficient.
  • Sometimes it’s not the people who change, it’s the mask that falls off.
  • One foot in front of the other. Repeat as often as necessary to finish.
  • What we call the present is given shape by an accumulation of the past.
  • In his own way, he’s lived life with all the intensity he could muster.
  • It’s the real world, full of gaps and inconsistencies and anticlimaxes.
  • Even if we could turn back, we’d probably never end up where we started.
  • People leave strange little memories of themselves behind when they die.
  • This was never any place I was meant to be. This isn’t a place for me.
  • In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment.
  • Life’s no piece of cake, mind you, but the recipe’s my own to fool with.
  • Don’t pointless things have a place, too, in this far-from-perfect world?
  • Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day.
  • Being alive, if you had to define it, meant emitting a variety of smells.
  • Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.
  • In most cases learning something essential in life requires physical pain.
  • I’m a coward when it comes to matters of the heart. That is my fatal flaw.
  • My biggest fault is that the faults I was born with grow bigger each year.
  • Young people these days don’t trust anything at all. They want to be free.
  • Time expands, then contracts, all in tune with the stirrings of the heart.
  • Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves.
  • Nobody’s easier to fool, than the person who is convinced that he is right.
  • I am a flawed human being – a far more flawed human being than you realize.
  • Things pass us by. Nobody can catch them. That’s the way we live our lives.
  • As long as I kept my body moving I could forget about the emptiness inside.
  • Life might just be an absurd, even crude, chain of events and nothing more.
  • Another person’s life is that person’s life. You can’t take responsibility.
  • It depends on which reality you take and which reality I take.
  • The ones with no imagination are always the quickest to justify themselves.
  • Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come.
  • You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.
  • The good thing about writing book is that you can dream while you are awake.
  • I have no models in Japanese literature. I created my own style, my own way.
  • It seems to me that very sad things always contain an element of the comical
  • I am here, alone, at the end of the world. I reach out and touch nothing.
  • Of what value is a civilization that can’t toast a piece of bread as ordered?
  • I can’t understand nothingness. I can’t understand it and I can’t imagine it.
  • Something inside me had dropped away, and nothing came in to fill the cavern.
  • ” “Again with the probablys.” “A world full of probablys,” she said.
  • If you really want to know something, you have to be willing to pay the price.
  • If I have left a wound inside you, it is not just your wound but mine as well.
  • Start making excuses and there’s no end to it. I can’t live that kind of life.
  • What makes us the most normal,” said Reiko, “is knowing that we’re not normal.
  • Overhead, the two moons worked together to bathe the world in a strange light.
  • People soon get tired of things that aren’t boring, but not of what is boring.
  • Tell me, Doctor, are you afraid of death?” “I guess it depends on how you die.
  • As long as you have the courage to admit mistakes, things can be turned around.
  • My shadow is only half of what it should be.” “Everyone has their shortcomings.
  • It’s pretty thin, the wall separating healthy confidence and unhealthy Pride.
  • A gentleman is someone who does not what he wants to do, but what he should do.
  • Once you let yourself grow close to someone, cutting the ties could be painful.
  • People are drawn deeper into tragedy not by their defects but by their virtues.
  • My point is: in this whole wide world the only person you can depend on is you.
  • let the wind change direction a little bit, and their cries turned to whispers.
  • Ordinary imperfect people, always choose similarly imperfect people as friends.
  • Time flows in strange ways on Sundays, and sights become mysteriously distorted.
  • That’s what the world is , after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.
  • There is nothing in this world that never takes a step outside a person’s heart.
  • I used to run a full marathon in three hours and 25 or 26 minutes. Not any more.
  • What I was chasing in circles must have been the tail of the darkness inside me.
  • They were each like a mirror for the other, reflecting the changes in themselves.
  • I may not be the most likable person in the world, but I try not to upset people.
  • Her pupils have taken on a lonely hue, like grey clouds reflected in a calm lake.
  • Our faces were no more than ten inches apart but she was lightyears away from me.
  • two people can sleep in the same bed and still be alone when they close their eyes
  • That was the rule. Break one of my rules once, and I’m bound to break many more.
  • It seemed to me that this world has a serious shortage of both logic and kindness.
  • There are ways of dying that don’t end in funerals. Types of death you can’t smell.
  • Spending plenty of time on something can be the most sophisticated form of revenge.
  • As I already explaned, I don’t have any form. I’m a conceptual metaphysical object.
  • Once she was out of the car and gone, my world was suddenly hollow and meaningless.
  • I had my jazz club and I had enough money. So I didn’t have to write for my living.
  • His heart, like mine, was ticking off the time allotted to his small restless body.
  • I’ve always liked libraries. They’re quiet and full of books and full of knowledge.
  • I think most people live in fiction…That’s how you keep your fragile body intact.
  • Everything passes. Nobody gets anything for keeps. And that’s how we’ve got to live.
  • Thinking about spaghetti that boils eternally but is never done is a sad, sad thing.
  • Judging the mistakes of strangers is an easy thing to do – and it feels pretty good.
  • The honour of physical decline is waiting, and you have to get used to that reality.
  • If you want to talk about something new, you have to make up a new kind of language.
  • In my younger days, I was trying to write sophisticated prose and fantastic stories.
  • Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the world is made up of all kinds of people.
  • Sometimes when I think of life, I feel like a piece of driftwood washed up on shore.
  • It was as if I were writing letters to hold together the pieces of my crumbling life.
  • Friends don’t need the intervention of a third party. Friendship’s a voluntary thing.
  • There’s a special feeling you get on a veranda that you just can’t get anywhere else.
  • ..finally he was just another ant, working and working until he died without meaning.
  • Love can rebuild the world, they say, so everything’s possible when it comes to love.
  • Even if you managed to escape from one cage, weren’t you just in another, larger one?
  • You can keep as quiet as you like, but one of these days somebody is going to find you.
  • When I start to write, I don’t have any plan at all. I just wait for the story to come.
  • There is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.
  • No matter how honestly you open up to someone, there are still things you cannot reveal.
  • This place is too calm, too natural–too complete. I don’t deserve it. At least not yet.
  • What we needed were not words and promises but a steady accumulation of small realities.
  • The world would be a pretty dull place if it were made up only of the first-rate, right?
  • The problem was, I think, that the places I fit in were always falling behind the rimes.
  • Exhaustion pays no mind to age or beauty. Like rain and earthquakes and hail and floods.
  • You make do with what you have. As you age you learn even to be happy with what you have.
  • It was a small room with dim light coming in the window, reminiscent of old Polish films.
  • Despite your best efforts, people are going to be hurt when it’s time for them to be hurt.
  • The passage of time will usually extract the venom of most things and render them harmless
  • Precipitate as weather, she appeared from somewhere, then evaporated, leaving only memory.
  • But I found that the longer you teach, the more you feel like a total stranger to yourself
  • If you do anything out of the ordinary, you can be sure someone, somewhere, will get upset.
  • When I wake up, my pillow’s cold and damp with tears. But tears for what? I have no idea.
  • I go by the gut. I might not appear to have any talent but I’ve got plenty of gut instinct.
  • Ever since that happened to me, I haven’t been able to give myself to anyone in this world.
  • Kids’ hearts are malleable, but once they gel it’s hard to get them back the way they were.
  • No matter what the situation may be, I still take pleasure in witnessing the joy of others.
  • I’m not human. I’m a piece of machinery. I don’t need to feel a thing. Just forge on ahead.
  • That’s evolution. Evolution’s always hard. Hard and bleak. No such thing as happy evolution
  • If there’s something I can’t do but want to, I won’t relax until I’m able to do it.
  • I don’t know how many good books I still have in me; I hope there are another four or five.
  • No matter how much suffering you went through, you never wanted to let go of those memories.
  • We were young, and we had no need for prophecies. Just living was itself an act of prophecy.
  • Music brings a warm glow to my vision, thawing mind and muscle from their endless wintering.
  • But what seems like a reasonable distance to one person might feel too far to somebody else.
  • In the spring of her twenty-second year, Sumire fell in love for the first time in her life.
  • I’m not a fast thinker, but once I am interested in something, I am doing it for many years.
  • The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts.
  • In the end, like so many beautiful promises in our lives, that dinner date never came to be.
  • The best point of my novels, I think, is their humor. I want to keep many my works humorous.
  • There’s no such thing as perfect writing, just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair.
  • And her sleep was too long and deep for that:so deep that she left her normal reality behind.
  • For a while” is a phrase whose length can’t be measured.At least by the person who’s waiting.
  • I am worrying about my country. I feel I have a responsibility as a novelist to do something.
  • Two-thirds of earth’s surface is ocean, and all we can see with the naked eye is the surface.
  • Spend your money on the things money can buy. Spend your time on the things money can’t buy.
  • No one could say how long that life would last. Whatever has form can disappear in an instant.
  • Open your eyes, train your ears, use your head. If a mind you have, then use it while you can.
  • Everytime you see a flood like that on the news you tell yourself: That’s it. That’s my heart.
  • As with marathon runs and lengths of toilet paper, there had to be standards to measure up to.
  • I’ll never see them again. I know that. And they know that. And knowing this, we say farewell.
  • I never trust people with no appetite. It’s like they’re always holding something back on you.
  • Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it’s time to drink.
  • People fall in love without reason, without even wanting to. You can’t predict it. That’s love.
  • Life is not like water. Things in life don’t necessarily flow over the shortest possible route.
  • What a terrible thing it is to wound someone you really care for and to do it so unconsciously.
  • If you’re in pitch blackness, all you can do is sit tight until your eyes get used to the dark.
  • The best way to think about reality, I had decided, was to get as far away from it as possible.
  • I’m me, and at the same time not me. That’s what it felt like. A very still, quiet feeling.
  • Whenever I write a novel, music just sort of naturally slips in (much like cats do, I suppose).
  • I may not look it, but I can be a very patient guy. And killing time is one of my specialities.
  • Even if you don’t acknowledge it, people die, and guys sleep with girls. That’s just how it is.
  • In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.
  • Nobody’s going to win all the time. On the highway of life you can’t always be in the fast lane.
  • The most dangerous creature here would have to be me. So maybe I’m just scared of my own shadow.
  • Wasn’t he the one who said you shouldn’t trust anybody who calls himself an ordinar man? – Naoko
  • It is very simple, actually. It is because you and Tengo were so powerfully drawn to each other.
  • The best musicians transpose consciousness into sound; painters do the same for color and shape.
  • So many dreams, so many disappointments, so many promises. And in the end, they all just vanish.
  • What the world needs is a set villain that people can point at and say, It’s all your fault!
  • When the fire goes out, you’ll start feeling the cold. You’ll wake up whether you want to or not.
  • Somewhere in his body–perhaps in the marrow of his bones–he would continue to feel her absence.
  • All imperfections are forced upon the imperfect, so the ‘perfect’ can live content and oblivious.
  • To be able to grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient acts.
  • Crying is personal. On the other hand, laughing is more general . Laughing makes our hearts wider.
  • So what’s wrong if there happens to be one guy in the world who enjoys trying to understand you?
  • If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.
  • The things she most wanted to tell him would lose their meaning the moment she put them into words.
  • Nothing in the real world is as beautiful as the illusions of a person about to lose consciousness.
  • You don’t have to judge the whole world by your own standards. Not everybody is like you, you know.
  • Never trust a man who carries a handkerchief, I always say. One of many prejudicial rules of thumb.
  • So this was how secrets got started, I thought to myself. People constructed them little by little.
  • Unclose your mind. You are not a prisoner. You are a bird in flight, searching the skies for dreams.
  • A certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect.
  • If you try to use your head to think about things, people don’t want to have anything to do with you
  • A person’s destiny is something you look back at afterwards, not something to be known in advance.
  • I’ve built a wall around me, never letting anybody inside and trying not to venture outside myself
  • I just feel pain. A lot of pain. I thought I could imagine how much this would hurt but I was wrong.
  • This is the extent of his knowledge of the sea: it was very big, it was salty, and fish lived there.
  • You know what it’s like when you’re trying to fall asleep and it only makes you more wide awake?
  • The fresh smell of coffee soon wafted through the apartment, the smell that separates night from day.
  • Can’ttrustpeople. Won’tdoanygood. They’llkillyoueverytime. They’llkilleachother. They’llkilleveryone.
  • Many are the women who can take their clothes off seductively, but women who can charm as they dress?
  • Most near-future fictions are boring. It’s always dark and always raining, and people are so unhappy.
  • Dreams come from the past, not from the future. Dreams shouldn’t control you–you should control them.
  • A person learns how to love himself through the simple acts of loving and being loved by someone else.
  • Writers have to keep on writing if they want to mature, like caterpillars endlessly chewing on leaves.
  • Is action merely the incidental product of thought, or is thought the consequential product of action?
  • I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make.
  • Most young people were getting jobs in big companies, becoming company men. I wanted to be individual.
  • I can be hurt, you know. I can get as exhausted as anybody else. I can feel so bad I want to cry, too.
  • Let the world move along as it pleased. If it had any business with him, it would be sure to tell him.
  • What gave money its true meaning was its dark-night namelessness, its breathtaking interchangeability.
  • My priority is my books, at least at this point. What I have to do is write the narrative of this time.
  • If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden.
  • Maybe the star doesnt even exist any more.Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.
  • How much do you love me?’ Midori asked. ‘Enough to melt all the tigers in the world to butter,’ I said.
  • I’m a writer, not a professional runner. It’s fun and it helps me write. I need powerful concentration.
  • The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.
  • The better you were able to imagine what you wanted to imagine, the farther you could flee from reality.
  • People with dark souls have nothing but dark dreams. People with really dark souls do nothing but dream.
  • Her smile steps offstage for a moment, then does an encore, all while I’m dealing with my blushing face.
  • Adults need more complex narratives. They have their own narratives. The main characters are themselves.
  • Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.
  • Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest.
  • The ground we stand on looks solid enough, but if something happens it can drop right out from under you.
  • Things you lost. Things you’re gonna lose. Everything. Here’s where it all ties together.
  • Reaching the finish line, never walking, and enjoying the race. These three, in this order, are my goals.
  • This may be the most important proposition revealed by history: At the time, no one knew what was coming.
  • Strong and independent? I’m neither. I’m just being pushed along by reality, whether I like it or not.
  • I couldn’t tell wether the hole that opened up inside me was from missing you or from the change of season
  • Writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.
  • There’s nothing wrong with not looking like something. It just means you don’t fit the stereotype yet.
  • Sex is an extremely subtle undertaking, unlike going to the department store on a Sunday to buy a thermos.
  • […] Shimamoto had her own little world within her. A world that was for her alone, one I could not enter.
  • I always write my novels with music (I don’t listened to the music seriously.) Music seems to encourage me.
  • But didn’t you say you were satisfied with your life?” “Word games,” I dismissed. “Every army needs a flag.
  • Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart. [On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning ]
  • If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
  • Such wounds to the heart will probably never heal. But we cannot simply sit and stare at our wounds forever.
  • If you listen to the radio for a whole hour there’s maybe one decent song. The rest is mass-produced garbage
  • As we go through life we gradually discover who we are, but the more we discover, the more we lose ourselves.
  • You are 27 or 28 right? It is very tough to live at that age. When nothing is sure. I have sympathy with you.
  • Say it before you run out of time. Say it before it’s too late. Say what you’re feeling. Waiting is a mistake.
  • Those were strange days, now that I look back at them. In the midst of life, everything revolved around death.
  • Is this what it means to go back to square one? Most likely. He had nothing left to lose, other than his life.
  • I’d made it back to the land of the living. No matter how boring or mediocre a world it might be, this was it.
  • Whoa!” he says with a smile. The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes deepen. “Chicken salad a la George Orwell!
  • No matter what form the relationship might take, he was the only person she could picture sharing her life with.
  • I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?
  • Everybody has to start somewhere. You have your whole future ahead of you. Perfection doesn’t happen right away.
  • Gazing at the rain, I consider what it means to belong, to become part of something. To have someone cry for me.
  • We all die and disappear, but that’s because the mechanism of the world itself is built on destruction and loss.
  • If you really want to know what’s happening here and now, you’ve got to use your own eyes and your own judgment.
  • When you are used to the kind of life -of never getting anything you want- you stop knowing what it is you want.
  • A person’s last moments are an important thing. You can’t choose how you’re born but you can choose how you die.
  • I think history is collective memories. In writing, I’m using my own memory, and I’m using my collective memory.
  • [But] we accept irony through a device called metaphor. And through that we grow and become deeper human beings.
  • Something in her small eyes caught the sunlight and glistened, like a glacier on the faraway face of a mountain.
  • It is my huge pleasure that my novels are translated into languages that are read among small numbers of people.
  • I learned that realism can come in all shapes and sizes. The world is big enough for different values to coexist.
  • Why do I act like this, agreeing when I really disagree, letting people force me to do things I don’t want to do?
  • No matter what they wish for, no matter how far they go, people can never be anything but themselves. That’s all.
  • Life is so uncertain: you never know what could happen. One way to deal with that is to keep your pajamas washed.
  • One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds
  • The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.
  • If you want everything to be nice and straight all the time, then go live in a world made with a triungular ruler.
  • I collect records. And cats. I don’t have any cats right now. But if I’m taking a walk and I see a cat, I’m happy.
  • The rain that fell on the city runs down the dark gutters and empties into the sea without even soaking the ground
  • It’s not right for one friend to do all the giving and the other to do all the taking: that’s not real friendship.
  • Sometimes you’re just the sweetest thing. Like Christmas, summer vacation, and a brand-new puppy rolled into one.
  • Have books happened’ to you? Unless your answer to that question is yes,’ I’m unsure how to talk to you
  • If I choose to write about sheep, it’s just because I happened to write about sheep. There is no deep significance.
  • I didn’t feel like I was in my own body; my body was just a lonely, temporary container I happened to be borrowing.
  • He does not exist here, with me, but flesh that does not exist will never die, and promises unmade are never broken.
  • This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock built when peace filled the world.
  • It is sometimes necessary for each person. Fill up with delicious food, get drunk, sing loudly and chat frivolously.
  • I’m not afraid to die. What I’m afraid of is having reality get the better of me, of having reality leave me behind.
  • I wasn’t particularly afraid of death itself. As Shakespeare said, die this year and you don’t have to die the next.
  • When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
  • The body is not the only target of rape. Violence does not always take a visible form, and not all wounds gush blood.
  • What I think is this: You should give up looking for lost cats and start searching for the other half of your shadow.
  • Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.
  • If I’m going to merely ramble, maybe I should just snuggle under the warm covers, think of Miu, and play with myself.
  • I’m not a fast reader. I like to linger over each sentence, enjoying the style. If I don’t enjoy the writing, I stop.
  • Having an object that symbolizes freedom might make a person happier than actually getting the freedom it represents.
  • My grandpa always said asking a question is embarrassing for a moment, but not asking is embarrassing for a lifetime.
  • The thing I’m most afraid of is me. Of not knowing what I’m going to do. Of not knowing what I’m doing right now
  • Have you ever had that feeling that you’d like to go to a whole different place and become a whole different self?
  • Memories and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age, and certain memories can never fade.
  • Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life
  • Become like a sheet of blotting paper and soak it all in. Later on you can figure out what to keep and what to unload.
  • Each of us possesses a tangible living soul. The system has no such thing. We must not allow the system to exploit us.
  • I may be the type who manages to grab all the pointless things in life but lets the really important things slip away.
  • It’s basically impossible for everybody’s justice to prevail or everybody’s happiness to triumph, so chaos takes over.
  • No matter how long you stand there examining yourself naked before a mirror, you’ll never see reflected what’s inside.
  • Most of the psychological differences between men and women seem to come from differences in their reproductive system
  • Between the time the last train leaves and the first train arrives, the place changes: it’s not the same as in daytime.
  • The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.
  • Does G get angry because it follows F in the alphabet? Does page 68 in a book start a revolution because it follows 67?
  • With each passing moment I’m becoming part of the past. There is no future for me, just the past steadily accumulating.
  • It doesn’t matter how old I get, but as long as I continue to live I’ll always discover something new about myself.
  • What was lost was lost. There was no retrieving it, however you schemed, no returning to how things were, no going back.
  • Huge organizations and me don’t get along. They’re too inflexible, waste too much time, and have too many stupid people.
  • You like to write. It’s the single most important quality for someone who wants to be a writer. But not in itself enough.
  • What do you think? I’m not a starfish or a pepper tree. I’m a living, breathing human being. Of course I’ve been in love.
  • Nobody likes being alone that much. I don’t go out of my way to make friends, that’s all. It just leads to disappointment.
  • I think of rivers, of tides. Forests and water gushing out. Rain and lightning. Rocks and shadows. All of these are in me.
  • Autumn finally arrived. And when it did, I came to a decision. Something had to give: I couldn’t keep on living like this.
  • Maybe working on the little things as dutifully and honestly as we can is how we stay sane when the world is falling apart.
  • For a certain kind of person, love begins from something tiny or silly. From something like that or it doesnt begin at all.
  • I’d be smiling and chatting away, and my mind would be floating around somewhere else, like a balloon with a broken string.
  • Maybe she thought the garbage and rocks in your head were interesting. But finally, garbage is garbage and rocks are rocks.
  • I love pop culture — the Rolling Stones, the Doors, David Lynch, things like that. That’s why I said I don’t like elitism.
  • If you think about it, an unfair society is a society that makes it possible for you to exploit your abilities to the limit.
  • I said nothing for a time, just ran my fingertips along the edge of the human-shaped emptiness that had been left inside me.
  • Most human activities are predicated on the assumption that life goes on. If you take that premise away, what is there left?
  • The curious thing about individuals is that their singularity always goes beyond any category or generalization in the book.
  • It’s hard to tell the difference between sea and sky, between voyager and sea. Between reality and the workings of the heart.
  • It’s because of you when I’m in bed in the morning that I can wind my spring and tell myself I have to live another good day.
  • The facts and techniques or whatever they teach you in class isn’t going to be veryuseful in the real world, that’s for sure.
  • Some people can work their butts off and never get what they’re aiming for while others can get it without any effort at all.
  • Results aside, the ability to have complete faith in another human being is one of the finest qualities a person can possess.
  • I never made any plan before writing, however I succeeded. I enjoyed writing with excitement ,”what happen on the next page?”
  • I happen to like the strange ones. People who look normal and leads normal lives – they’re the ones you have to watch out for.
  • There are lots of things we never understand, no matter how many years we put on, no matter how much experience we accumulate.
  • If you think God’s there, He is. If you don’t, He isn’t. And if that’s what God’s like, I wouldn’t worry about it.
  • That’s gotta be one of the principles behind reality. Accepting things that are hard to comprehend, and leaving them that way.
  • I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, but I won’t change.
  • What I want is for the two of us to meet somewhere by chance one day, like, passing on the street, or getting on the same bus.
  • Everybody thinks I’m this delicate little girl. But you can’t tell a book by it’s cover.’ To which she added a momentary smile.
  • Good style happens in one of two ways: the writer either has an inborn talent or is willing to work herself to death to get it.
  • This uneasiness comes over me from time to time, and I feel as if I’ve somehow been pieced together from two different puzzles.
  • My arm was not what she needed, but the arm of someone else. My warmth was not what she needed, but the warmth of someone else.
  • Don’t you think it would be wonderful to get rid of everything and everybody and just go some place where you don’t know a soul?
  • You can hide as cleverly as you like, but in the final analysis mimicry is deception, pure and simple. It doesn’t solve a thing.
  • I want to write about people who dream and wait for the night to end, who long for the light so they can hold the ones they love.
  • You can have tons of talent, but it won’t necessarily keep you fed. If you have sharp instincts, through, you’ll never go hungry.
  • I think of myself as more the non-turn-on type. so when I do get turned on, I don’t trust it, I have to investigate the source.
  • Have your dream…What you need now more than anything is discipline. Cast off mere words. Words turn into stone. (from Thailand)
  • What do I like about math? , When I’ve got figures in front of me, it relaxes me. Kind of like, everything fits where it belongs.
  • Whenever I look at the ocean, I always want to talk to people, but when I’m talking to people, I always want to look at the ocean.
  • When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.
  • sometimes I think I’ve got this hard kernel in my heart, and nothing much can get inside it. I doubt if I can really love anybody.
  • I was thirty-seven then, strapped in my seat as the huge 747 plunged through dense cloud cover on approach to the Hamburg airport.
  • It is the same with anything – you have to learn through your own experience, paying your own way. You can’t learn it from a book.
  • Perhaps I’m just too painstaking a type of person, but I can’t grasp much of anything without putting down my thoughts in writing.
  • Only where there is disillusionment and depression and sorrow does happiness arise; without the despair of loss, there is no hope.
  • The answer is dreams. Dreaming on and on. Entering the world of dreams and never coming out. Living in dreams for the rest of time.
  • In the world we live in, what we know and what we don’t know are like Siamese twins, inseparable, existing in a state of confusion.
  • She gave me this look she might have been watching from a lifeboat as the ship went down. Or maybe it was the other way around.
  • It’s just a feeling I have. What you see with your eyes is not necessarily real. My enemy is, among other things, the me inside me.
  • Waiting for your answer is one of the most painful things I have ever been through. At least let me know whether or not I hurt you.
  • You’re optimistic one moment, only to be racked the next by the certainty that it will all fall to pieces. And in the end it does.
  • My heroes don’t have anything special. They have something to tell other people but they don’t know how, so they talk to themselves.
  • We knew exactly what we wanted in each other. And even so, it ended. One day it stopped, as if the film simply slipped off the reel.
  • Her voice was like a line from an old black-and-white Jean-Luc Godard movie, filtering in just beyond the frame of my consciousness.
  • I used to think the years would go by in order, that you get older one year at a time. But it’s not like that. It happens overnight.
  • But if you knew you might not be able to see it again tomorrow, everything would suddenly become special and precious, wouldn’t it?
  • When I am writing, I do not distinguish between the natural and supernatural. Everything seems real. That is my world, you could say.
  • I’m kind of a low-key guy. The spotlight doesn’t suit me. I’m more of a side dish–cole slaw or French fries or a Wham! backup singer.
  • You know what I should do?” Hoshino asked excited. “Of course,” the cat said. “What’d I tell you? Cats know everything. Not like dogs.
  • There’s an essential order you have to follow in everything. It’s a way of showing respect, following everything in the correct order.
  • I didn’t read so much Japanese literature. Because my father was a teacher of Japanese literature, I just wanted to do something else.
  • Who can really distinguish between the sea and what’s reflected in it? Or tell the difference between the falling rain and loneliness?
  • What matters is deciding in your heart to accept another person completely. When you do that, it is always the first time and the last.
  • …most people in the world don’t really use their brains to think. And people who don’t think are the ones who don’t listen to others.
  • Give yourself five minutes to consider how you can turn a miserable situation to your benefit and that light bulb is going to click on.
  • The silence grew deeper, so deep that if you listened carefully you might very well catch the sound of the earth revolving on its axis.
  • Painful is the stress when one cannot reproduce or convey vividly to others, however hard he tries, what he’s experienced so intensely.
  • Letters are just pieces of paper,” I said. “Burn them, and what stays in your heart will stay; keep them, and what vanishes will vanish.
  • Possibilities are like cancer. The more I think about them, the more they multiply, and there’s no way to stop them. I’m out of control.
  • …I’ve just been feeling insecure since I was 20, and that’s all I’ve been trying to express. Now the entire world is feeling insecure.
  • Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely.
  • There had to be something wrong with my life. I should have been born a Yugoslavian shepherd who looked up at the Big Dipper every night.
  • As long as there’s such a thing as time, everybody’s damaged in the end, changed into something else. It always happens, sooner or later.
  • Everyone who has something is afraid of losing it, and people with nothing are worried they’ll forever have nothing. Everyone is the same.
  • Everything was too sharp and clear, so that I could never tell where to start- the way a map that shows too much can sometimes be useless.
  • It was spring break, so the theater was always packed with high schools students. It was an animal house. I wanted to burn the place down.
  • At the entrance to the original tower, there is a stone into which Jung carved some words with his own hand: ‘Cold or not, God is present.
  • What I’d like to be is a unique writer who’s different from everybody else. I want to be a writer who tells stories unlike other writers’.
  • When people tell a lie about something, they have to make up a bunch of lies to go with the first one. Mythomania’ is the word for it.
  • Grandfather always said school’s a place where they take sixteen years to wear down your brain. Grandfather hardly went to school either.
  • One of these days they’ll be making a film where the whole human race gets wiped out in a nuclear war, but everything works out in the end.
  • Sometimes when I’m with you, I remember things I lost when I was your age. Like I remember the sound of the rain and the smell of the wind.
  • The power to concentrate was the most important thing. Living without this power would be like opening one’s eyes without seeing anything.
  • It is not that the meaning cannot be explained. But there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.
  • I have read all my novels that were translated into English. Reading my novels is enjoyable because I forget almost all the content in them.
  • This is what it means to live on. When granted hope, a person uses it as fuel, as a guidepost to life. It is impossible to live without hope.
  • As long as I was alive, I was something. That was just how it was. But somewhere along the way it all changed. Living turned me into nothing.
  • Generally, people who are good at writing letters have no need to write letters. They’ve got plenty of life to lead inside their own context.
  • Hundreds of butterflies flitted in and out of sight like short-lived punctuation marks in a stream of consciousness without beginning or end.
  • Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum — a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I’m watching over it for no one but myself.
  • I’ve never once thought about how I was going to die, she said. I can’t think about it. I don’t even know how I’m going to live.
  • I write my novels personally, desperately and non-negligently. When I write my novels, I think about my novels only, and never do other works.
  • But if you peeled away the ornamental egos that she had built, there was only an abyss of nothingness and the intense thirst that came with it.
  • If you can love someone with your whole heart, even one person, then there’s salvation in life. Even if you can’t get together with that person.
  • Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.
  • She was hearing everything that went on in his heart, like a person who can trace a map with his fingertip and conjure up vivid, living scenery.
  • I’ve been running a full marathon every year for more than 20 years, and my record is getting worse. Getting older, getting worse. It’s natural.
  • You’re really cute, Midori,I corrected myself. What do you mean really cute?So cute the mountains crumble and the oceans dry up.
  • One listless day followed another, with nothing to distinguish one from the next. You could have changed the order and no one would have noticed.
  • If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again. I have only a few reasons to keep on running, and a truckload of them to quit.
  • A deserted library in the morning – there’s something about it that really gets to me. All possible words and ideas are there, resting peacefully.
  • Death was not the opposite of life. It was already here, within my being, it had always been here, and no struggle would permit me to forget that.
  • Animals that not only move by their own free will and share feelings with people but also possess sight and hearing qualify as deserving of names.
  • It’s precisely because of the pain, the we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive or at least a partial sense of it.
  • Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it.
  • I don’t care what you do to me, but I don’t want you to hurt me. I’ve had enough hurt already in my life. More than enough. Now I want to be happy.
  • So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets. Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.
  • Whenever she felt like crying, she would instead become angry at someone else or at herself which meant that it was rare for her to shed tears.
  • Never let the darkness or negativity outside affect your inner self. Just wait until morning comes and the bright light will drown out the darkness.
  • We’re both looking at the same moon, in the same world. We’re connected to reality by the same line. All I have to do is quietly draw it towards me.
  • I get irritated, I get upset. Especially when I’m in a hurry. But I see it all as part of our training. To get irritated is to lose our way in life.
  • It seems to me, though, that you always understand very well what I can’t say very well. Trouble is I end up being even worse at saying things well.
  • It’s all matter of attitude. You could let a lot of things bother you if you wanted to But it’s pretty much the same anywhere you go, you can manage.
  • But if something did happen, it happened. Whether it’s right or wrong. I accept everything that happens, and that’s how I became the person I am now.
  • Everyone just keeps on disappearing. Some things vanish, like they were cut away. Others fade slowly into the mist. And all that remains is a desert.
  • Lots of different ways to live and lots of different ways to die. But in the end that doesn’t make a bit of difference. All that remains is a desert.
  • You said that the mind is like the wind but perhaps it is we who are like the wind Knowing nothing, simply blowing through. Never aging, never dying.
  • Things may look different to you than they did before. I’ve had that experience myself. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s only one reality.
  • Of course you keep telling yourself there’s something to be learned from everything, and growing old shouldn’t be that hard. That’s the general drift.
  • I don’t know a whole lot about symbolism. There seems to me to be a potential danger in symbolism. I feel more comfortable with metaphors and similes.
  • We heard no other sounds. We met no other people. We saw only two bright red birds leap startled from the center of the meadow and dart into the woods.
  • A story is not something of this world. A real story requires a kind of magical baptism to link the world on this side with the world on the other side.
  • I just wanted to write something about running, but I realized that to write about my running is to write about my writing. It’s a parallel thing in me.
  • she was beautiful and seemingly quite intelligent, what with her pentameter search system. There wasn’t a reason in the world not to find her appealing.
  • What’s really important here,” I whispered loudly to myself,”is not the big things other people have thought up, but the small things you, yourself have
  • I think I’ll stay alive here a bit longer, and see with my own eyes what’s going to happen. I can still die after that – it won’t be too late. Probably.
  • Loving another person is a wonderful thing, and if that love is sincere, no one ends up tossed into a labyrinth. You have to have more faith in yourself.
  • Once thing goes wrong, then the whole house of cards collapses. And there’s no way you can extricate yourself. Until someone comes along to drag you out.
  • There weren’t any curtains in the windows, and the books that didn’t fit into the bookshelf lay piled on the floor like a bunch of intellectual refugees.
  • Writing is fun – at least mostly. I write for four hours every day. After that I go running. As a rule, 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). That’s easy to manage.
  • We can, if we so choose, wander aimlessly over the continent of the arbitrary. Rootless as some winged seed blown about on a serendipitous spring breeze.
  • If she did experience sex-or something close to it-in high school, I’m sure it would have been less out of sexual desire or love than literary curiosity.
  • And it was the kind of thing that loses the most important nuances when reduced to words. He had never told anyone about it, and he probably never would.
  • Mere humans who root through their refrigerators at three o’clock in the morning can only produce writing that matches what they do. And that includes me.
  • You have to dream intentionally. Most people dream a dream when they are asleep. But to be a writer, you have to dream while you are awake, intentionally.
  • When I first met you, I felt a kind of contradiction in you. You’re seeking something, but at the same time, you are running away for all you’re worth.
  • A girl doesn’t always want to go out, you know, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. Sometimes she feels like being nasty–like, if the guy’s gonna wait, let him really wait.
  • All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.
  • Whether it’s good for anything or not, cool or totally uncool, in the final analysis what’s most important is what you can’t see but can feel in your heart.
  • You could be anybody when you’re writing. That’s the reason that I’m writing: to be anybody. You can put your feet in various shoes and experience anything.
  • You are entering a phase of your life in which many different things will occur…bad things that seem good at first and good things that seem bad at first.
  • As time goes on, you’ll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves most things. And what time can’t solve, you have to solve yourself.
  • When you’re young, you think you can handle anything. By the time you find out otherwise, it’s already too late. You got a stocking wrapped around your neck.
  • The others in the dorm thought I wanted to be a writer, because I was always alone with a book, but I had no such ambition. There was nothing I wanted to be.
  • Maybe the only thing I can definitely say about is this: That’s life. Maybe the only thing we can do is accept it, without really knowing what’s going on.
  • What I feel for her is a wholly different emotion. It stands and walks on its own, living and breathing and throbbing and shaking me to the roots of my being.
  • I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it — to be fed so much love I couldn’t take any more. Just once.
  • I get up early in the morning, 4 o’clock, and I sit at my desk and what I do is just dream. After three or four hours, that’s enough. In the afternoon, I run.
  • I closed my own jazz bar so I could be a man who can write novels as I like. I was pleased about that. This pleasure was connected to the pleasure of writing.
  • Whether in music or in fiction, the most basic thing is rhythm. Your style needs to have good, natural, steady rhythm, or people won’t keep reading your work.
  • He sometimes wondered if she had become involved with him just so that she could cry in someone’s arms. Maybe she can’t cry alone, and that’s why she needs me.
  • To be able to talk to your heart’s content about a book you like with someone who feels the same way about it is one of the greatest joys that life can offer.
  • She’s letting out her feelings. The scary thing is not being able to do that. When your feelings build up and harden and die inside, then you’re in big trouble.
  • In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.
  • When someone is trying very hard to get something, they don’t. And when they’re running away from something as hard as they can, it usually catches up with them.
  • No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away.
  • Why do people have to build such depressing places? I’m not saying that every nook and cranny of the world has to be beautiful, but does it have to be this ugly?
  • You got to know your limits. Once is enough, but you got to learn. A little caution never hurt anyone. A good woodsman has only one scar on him. No more, no less.
  • I myself have been on my own and utterly independent since I graduated. I haven’t belonged to any company or any system. It isn’t easy to live like this in Japan.
  • Don’t pointless things have a place, too, in this far-from-perfect world? Remove everything pointless from an imperfect life, and it’d lose even its imperfection.
  • Which is why I am writing this book. To think. To understand. It just happens to be the way I’m made. I have to write things down to feel I fully comprehend them.
  • Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts.
  • Music always stimulates my imagination. When I’m writing I usually have some Baroque music on low in the background chamber music by Bach, Telemann, and the like.
  • I don’t know, there’s something about you. Say there’s an hourglass: the sand’s about to run out. Someone like you can always be counted on to turn the thing over.
  • Dreaming is the day job of novelists, but sharing our dreams is a still more important task for us. We cannot be novelists without this sense of sharing something.
  • They put up with such strenuous training, and where did their thoughts, their hopes and dreams, disappear to? When people pass away, do their thoughts just vanish?
  • Constipation was one of the things she hated most in the world, on par with despicable men who commit domestic violence and narrow-minded religious fundamentalists.
  • We were, the two of us, still fragmentary beings, just beginning to sense the presence of an unexpected, to be-aquired reality that would fill us and make us whole.
  • It’s just like Yeats said. In dreams begin responsibilities. Flip this around and you could say that where there’s no power to imagine, no responsibility can arise.
  • It feels good to think about you when I’m warm in bed. I feel as if you’re curled up there beside me, fast asleep. And I think how great it would be if it were true.
  • I find myself thinking about my ongoing existence as a human being and the path that lies ahead of me. Though of course these thoughts lead to but one place – death.
  • I never plan. I never know what the next page is going to be….. But that’s the fun of writing a novel or a story, because I don’t know what’s going to happen next.
  • When it’s raining like this,” said Naoko, “it feels as if we’re the only ones in the world. I wish it would just keep raining so the three of us could stay together.
  • Each individual has their own unique color, which shines faintly around the contours of their body. Like a halo. Or a backlight. I’m able to see those colors clearly.
  • I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.
  • But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.
  • Even chance meetings are the result of karma.¶ Things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events there’s no such thing as coincidence.
  • This is no honky-tonk parade. 1Q84 is the real world, where a cut draws real blood, where pain is real pain and fear is real fear. The moon in the sky is no paper moon.
  • Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.
  • Beyond the window, some kind of small, black thing shot across the sky. A bird, possibly. Or it might have been someone’s soul being blown to the far side of the world.
  • The whole terrible fight occured in the area of imagination. That is the precise location of our battlefield. It is there, that we experience our victories and defeats.
  • When I write a novel I put into play all the information inside me. It might be Japanese information or it might be Western; I don’t draw a distinction between the two.
  • I hate requests. They make me feel unhappy. It’s like when I take a book out of the library. As soon as I start to read it, all I can think about is when I’ll finish it.
  • Properly speaking, should any individual ever have exact, clear knowledge of his own core consciousness?” “I wouldn’t know,” I said. “Nor would we,” said the scientists.
  • I could have been a cult writer if I’d kept writing surrealistic novels. But I wanted to break into the mainstream, so I had to prove that I could write a realistic book.
  • Writing talent is similar to the art of chatting up a girl. You can improve to a certain degree through practice, but basically you are either born with it or you aren’t.
  • Time is too conceptual. Not that it stops us from filling it in. So much so, we can’t even tell whether our experiences belong to time or to the world of physical things.
  • The grounds of the place were dominated by several large, old willow trees that towered over the surrounding stone wall and swayed soundlessly in the wind like lost souls.
  • As long as an individual’s alive, he will undergo experience in some form or other, and those experiences are stored up instant by instant. To stop experiencin’ is to die.
  • How many Sundays – how many hundreds of Sundays like this – lay ahead of me? Quiet, peaceful, and lonely,I said aloud to myself. On Sundays, I didn’t wind my spring.
  • Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.
  • Once a guy starts using a wig, he has to keep using one. It’s, like, his fate. That’s why wig makers make such huge profits. I hate to say it, but they’re like drug dealers.
  • The journey I’m taking is inside me. Just like blood travels down veins, what I’m seeing is my inner self and what seems threatening is just the echo of the fear in my heart.
  • I probably still haven’t completely adapted to the world. I don’t know, I feel like this isn’t the real world. The people, the scene: they just don’t seem real to me.
  • I guess I felt attached to my weakness. My pain and suffering too. Summer light, the smell of a breeze, the sound of cicadas – if I like these things, why should I apologize?
  • Isn’t life strange? There are people who have so many leftover clothes they can’t stuff them all in their wardrobe. And then there are people like me, whose socks never match.
  • Genius or fool, you don’t live in the world alone. You can hide underground or you can build a wall around yourself, but somebody’s going to come along and screw up the works.
  • It’s true though: time moves in its own special way in the middle of the night,” the bartender says, loudly striking a book match and lighting a cigarette. “You can’t fight it.
  • By then running had entered the realm of the metaphysical. First there came the action of running, and accompanying it there was this entity known as me. I run; therefore I am.
  • As long as possible, I would really like to complete one marathon per year. Though my time has been slowing down as I get older, it has become a very important part of my life.
  • You’ve already decided what you’re going to do, and all that’s left is to set the wheels in motion. I mean, it’s your life. Basically, you gotta go with what you think is right.
  • I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do. To dream, to live in the world of dreams. But it doesn’t last forever. Wakefulness always comes to take me back.
  • Memory is so crazy! It’s like we’ve got these drawers crammed with tons of useless stuff. Meanwhile, all the really important things we just keep forgetting, one after the other.
  • I lost some of my friends because I got so famous, people who just assumed that I would be different now. I felt like everyone hated me. That is the most unhappy time of my life.
  • Of course you got rights, the law’s on your side, but sometimes the law takes a long time to kick in and so it gets put in the hands of us poor suckers on duty. You get my drift?
  • It is a lonely life sometimes, like throwing a stone into the deep darkness. It might hit something, but you can’t see it. The only thing you can do is to guess, and to believe.
  • I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.
  • I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. But it was not until much later that I was able to get any real sleep. In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment.
  • Thanks to the long days of rain, the blades of grass glowed with a deep-green luster, and they gave off the smell of wildness unique to things that sink their roots into the earth.
  • Stories lie deep in our souls. Stories lie so deep at the bottom of our hearts that they can bring people together on the deepest level. When I write a novel, I go into such depths.
  • I have no idea! I have been writing for 35 years and from the beginning up to now the situation’s almost the same. I’m kind of an ugly duckling. Always the duckling, never the swan.
  • Suicides? Heart attacks? The papers didn’t seem interested. The world was full of ways to die, too many to cover. Newsworthy deaths had to be exceptional. Most people go unobserved.
  • Sometimes I wonder why I’m a novelist right now. There is no definite career reason why I became a writer. Something happened, and I became a writer. And now I’m a successful writer.
  • An empty shell. Those were the first words that sprang to mind. …. Something incredibly important – .. – had disappeared from Miu for good. Leaving behind not life, but its absence
  • In terms of evolutionary history, it was only yesterday that men learned to walk around on two legs and get in trouble thinking complicated thoughts. So don’t worry, you’ll burn out.
  • If we reverse the outer shell and the essence–in other words, consider the outer shell the essence and the essence only the shell–our lives might be a whole lot easier to understand.
  • Myths are the prototype for all stories. When we write a story on our own it can’t help but link up with all sorts of myths. Myths are like a reservoir containing every story there is.
  • Living like an empty shell is not really living, no matter how many years it may go on. The heart and flesh of an empty shell give birth to nothing more than the life of an empty shell.
  • She lived frugally, but her meals were the only things on which she deliberately spent her money. She never compromised on the quality of her groceries, and drank only good-quality wines.
  • The years nineteen and twenty are a crucial stage in the maturation of character, and if you allow yourself to become warped when you’re that age, it will cause you pain when you’re older.
  • Time really is one big continuous cloth, no? We habitually cut out pieces of time to fit us, so we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that time is our size, but it really goes on and on.
  • Exerting yourself to the limit over and over again, that is the essence of running. Running is painful, but the pain doesn’t leave me, I can take care of it. That agrees with my mentality.
  • I just gave them a little scare. A touch of psychological terror. As Joseph Conrad once wrote, true terror is the kind that men feel towards their imagination. (from Super-frog Saves Tokyo)
  • People need routines. It’s like a theme in music. But it also restrictsyour thoughts and actions and limits your freedom. It structures your priorities and in some cases distorts your logic.
  • Waves of thought are stirring. In a twilight corner of her consciousness, one tiny fragment and another tiny fragment call out wordlessly to eachother, their spreading ripples intermingling.
  • Don’t tell me anymore. You should have your dream, as the old woman told you to. I understand how you feel, but if you put those feelings into words they will turn into lies. (from Thailand)
  • Problem is, once I sit at my desk and put all these down on paper. I realize something vital is missing. It doesn’t crystallize – no crystals, just pebbles. And I’m not transported anywhere.
  • But still,” Ayumi said, “it seems to me that this world has a serious shortage of both logic and kindness.” “You may be right,” Aomame said, “But it’s too late to trade it in for another one.
  • And everywhere, infinite options, infinite possibilities. An infinity, and at the same time, zero. We try to scoop it all up in our hands, and what we get is a handful of zero. That’s the city
  • It’s a terrible thing when a person dies, whatever the circumstances. A hole opens up in the world, and we need to pay the proper respects. If we don’t, the hole will never be filled in again.
  • Please think of me like an endangered species and just observe me quietly from far away. If you try to talk to me or touch me casually, I may get intimidated and bite you. So please be careful.
  • You said you’re going far away,” Tamaru said. “How far away are we talking about?” “It’s a distance that can’t be measured.” “Like the distance that separates one person’s heart from another’s.
  • I didn’t have much to say to anybody but kept to myself and my books. With my eyes closed, I would touch a familiar book and draw it’s fragrance deep inside me. This was enough to make me happy.
  • I generally concentrate on work for three or four hours every morning. I sit at my desk and focus totally on what I’m writing. I don’t see anything else, I don’t think about anything else.
  • Each day the sun would rise and set, the flag would be raised and lowered. Each Sunday I would have a date with my dead friend’s girl. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was going to do.
  • All things in my novels are real for me. Some western critics said that Garcia Marquez’s novels are magic realism. However, I believe that Marquez must have experienced everything in his novels.
  • I write weird stories. I don’t know why I like weirdness so much … But when I write, I write weird. That’s very strange. When I’m getting more and more serious, I’m getting more and more weird.
  • Reality’s just the accumulation of ominous prophecies come to life. All you have to do is open a newspaper on any given day to weigh the good news versus the bad news, and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Either I’m funny or the world’s funny. I don’t know which. The bottle and lid don’t fit. It could be the bottle’s fault or the lid’s fault. In either case, there’s no denying that the fit is bad.
  • Losing you is most difficult for me, but the nature of my love for you is what matters. If it distorts into half-truth, then perhaps it is better not to love you. I must keep my mind but loose you.
  • I don’t know — maybe the world has two different kinds of people, and for one kind the world is this completely logical, rice pudding place, and for the other it’s all hit-or-miss macaroni gratin.
  • The Earth, time, concepts, love, life, faith justice, evil – they’re all fluid and in transition. They don’t stay in one form or in one place forever. The whole universe is like some big FedEx box.
  • I am nothing. I’m like someone who’s been thrown into the ocean at night, floating all alone. I reach out, but no one is there. I call out, but no one answers. I have no connection to anything.
  • If a person remains tense for a long time he might not notice it himself, but it’s like his nerves are a piece of rubber that has been stretched out. It’s hard to go back to the original shape.
  • When microorganisms die, they make oil; when huge timbers fall, they make coal. But everything here was pure, unadulterated rubbish that didn’t make anything. Where does a busted videodeck get you?
  • I realize full well how hard it must be to go on living alone in a place from which someone has left you, but there is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.
  • But intolerant,narrow minds with no imagination are like parasites that transform the host,change form,and continue to thrive. They’re a lost cause, and I don’t want anyone like that coming in here.
  • I would never see her again, except in memory. She was here, and now she’s gone. There is no middle ground. Probably is a word that you may find south of the border. But never, ever west of the sun.
  • I’m going to take you out of here … I’m going to take you home, to the world where you belong, where cats with bent tails live, and there are little backyards, and alarm clocks ring in the morning.
  • This person, this self, this me, finally, was made somewhere else. Everything had come from somewhere else, and it would all go somewhere else. I was nothing but a pathway for the person known as me.
  • You have to make an effort to always look at the good side, always think about the good things. Then you’ve got nothing to be afraid of. If something bad comes up, you do more thinking at that point.
  • I want to believe you, but if that’s true, I just don’t get it. Why does loving somebody mean you have to hurt them just as much? I mean, if that’s the way it goes, what’s the point of loving someone?
  • In Japan they prefer the realistic style. They like answers and conclusions, but my stories have none. I want to leave them wide open to every possibility. I think my readers understand that openness.
  • I have these realistic dreams and snap wide awake in the middle of the night. And for a while I can’t work out what’s real and what isn’t… That kind of feeling. Do you have any idea what I’m saying?
  • Inside that darkness, i saw rain falling on the sea. Rain softly falling on a vast sea, with no one there to see it. The rain strikes the surface of the sea, yet even the fish don’t know it is raining.
  • I could disappear from the face of the earth, and the world would go on moving without the slightest twinge. Things were tremendously complicated, to be sure, but one thing was clear: no one needed me.
  • People lose fifty million skin cells every day. The cells get scraped off and turn into invisible dust, and disappear into the air. Maybe we are nothing but skin cells as far as the world is concerned.
  • Don’t let thoughts of me hold you back. Just do what you want to do. Otherwise, I might end up taking you with me, and that is the one thing I don’t want to do. I don’t want to interfere with your life.
  • Some people think literature is high culture and that it should only have a small readership. I don’t think so… I have to compete with popular culture, including TV, magazines, movies and video games.
  • Time passes slowly. Nobody says a word, everyone lost in quiet reading. One person sits at a desk jotting down notes, but the rest are sitting there silently, not moving, totally absorbed. Just like me.
  • People want to be bowled over by something special. Nine times out of ten you might strike out, but that tenth time, that peak experience, is what people want. That’s what can move the world. That’s art.
  • Maybe it’s just hiding somewhere. Or gone on a trip to come home. But falling in love is always a pretty crazy thing. It might appear out of the blue and just grab you. Who knows  maybe even tomorrow.
  • That’s what love’s all about. You’re the only one having those wonderful feelings, but you have to go it alone as you wander through the dark your mind and body have to bear it all. All by yourself.
  • For me, writing a novel is like having a dream. Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake. I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life.
  • For novelists or musicians, if they really want to create something, they need to go downstairs and find a passage to get into the second basement. What I want to do is go down there, but still stay sane.
  • Narratives have the same power, I think. Some readers of my novels ask me, “Why do you understand me?”. That’s a huge pleasure of mine because it means that readers and I can make our narratives relative.
  • Now all you can do is wait. It must be hard for you, but there is a right time for everything. Like the ebb and flow of tides. No one can do anything to change them. When it is time to wait, you must wait.
  • I contented myself with whiskey, for medicinal purposes. It helped numb my various aches and pains. Not that the alcohol actually reduced the pain; it just gave the pain a life of its own, apart from mine.
  • No, I don’t want your money. The world moves less by money than by what you owe people and what they owe you. I don’t like to owe anybody anything, so I keep to myself as much on the lending side as I can.
  • Things can be seen better in the darkness,” he said, as if he had just seen into her mind. “But the longer you spend in the dark, the harder it becomes to return to the world aboveground where the light is
  • You’re not a kid any more. You have the right to choose your own life. You can start again. If you want a cat, all you have to do is choose a life in which you can have a cat. It’s simple. It’s your right.
  • Like most novelists, I like to do exactly the opposite of what I’m told. It’s in my nature as a novelist. Novelists can’t trust anything they haven’t seen with their own eyes or touched with their own hands.
  • When I write about a 15-year old, I jump, I return to the days when I was that age. It’s like a time machine. I can remember everything. I can feel the wind. I can smell the air. Very actually. Very vividly.
  • In real life things don’t go so smoothly. At certain points in our lives, when we really need a clear-cut solution, the person who knocks at our door is, more likely than not, a messenger bearing bad news.
  • Ever since time began (when was that, I wonder?), it’s been moving ever forward without a moment’s rest. And one of the privileges given to those who’ve avoided dying young is the blessed right to grow old.
  • How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.
  • When I was a teenager, I thought how great it would be if only I could write novels in English. I had the feeling that I would be able to express my emotions so much more directly than if I wrote in Japanese.
  • Nakata’s empty inside… Do you know what it means to be completely empty? Being empty is like a vacant house. An unlocked, vacant house. Anybody can come in, anytime they want. That’s what scares me the most
  • You throw a stone into a deep pond. Splash. The sound is big, and it reverberates throughout the surrounding area. What comes out of the pond after that? All we can do is stare at the pond, holding our breath.
  • Tengo could hardly believe it– that in this frantic, labyrinth-like world, two people’s hearts– a boy’s and a girl’s– could be connected, unchanged, even though they hadn’t seen each other for twenty years.
  • Now and then may not be enough. ¶You have to enjoy it while you’re still young. enjoy it to the fullest. You can use the memories of what you did to warm your body after you get old and can’t do it anymore.
  • Running taught me to have faith in my skills as a writer. I learned how much I can demand of myself, when I need a break, and when the break starts to get too long. I known how hard I am allowed to push myself.
  • Shakespeare said it best,’ Tamaru said quietly as he gazed at that lumpish, misshapen head. ‘Something along these lines: if we die today, we do not have to die tomorrow, so let us look to the best in each other
  • I was feeling lonely without her, but the fact that I could feel lonely at all was consolation. Loneliness wasn’t such a bad feeling. It was like the stillness of the pin oak after the little birds had flown off.
  • I began running on an everyday basis after I became a writer. As being a writer requires sitting at a desk for hours a day, without getting some exercise you’d quickly get out of shape and gain weight, I figured.
  • I always feel like I’m struggling to become someone else. Like I’m trying to find a new place, grab hold of a new life, a new personality. I guess it’s part of growing up; it’s also an attempt to reinvent myself.
  • Kindness and a caring mind are two separate qualities. Kindness is manners. It is superficial custom, an acquired practice. Not so the mind. The mind is deeper, stronger, and, I believe, it is far more inconstant.
  • It’s like the Tibetan Wheel of the Passions. As the wheel turns, the values and feelings on the outer rim rise and fall, shining or sinking into darkness. But true love stays fastened to the axle and doesn’t move.
  • She curled up and pressed her cheek against his chest. Her ear was right above his heart. She was listening to his thoughts. “I need to know this,” Aomame said. “That we’re in the same world, seeing the same things.
  • Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.
  • If I stayed here, something inside me would be lost forever something I couldn’t afford to lose. It was like a vague dream, a burning, unfulfilled desire. The kind of dream people have only when they’re seventeen.
  • You know, the usual story. Once upon a time I was playing my harp by a spring when a fairy appeared out of nowhere, handed me a Beretta Model 92, and told me to shoot the white rabbit over there for target practice.
  • For a long time, she held a special place in my heart. I kept this special place just for her, like a “Reserved” sign on a quiet corner table in a restaurant. Despite the fact that I was sure I’d never see her again.
  • I don’t want our relationship to end like this. You’re one of the very few friends I have, and it hurts not being able to see you. When am I going to be able to talk to you? I want you to tell me that much, at least.
  • Age certainly hadn’t conferred any smarts on me. Character maybe, but mediocrity is a constant, as one Russian writer put it. Russian writers have a way with aphorisms. They probably spend all winter thinking them up.
  • I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue.
  • Listen up there’s no war that will end all wars,’ Crow tells me. War breeds war. Lapping up the blood shed by violence, feeding on wounded flesh. War is a perfect, self-contained being. You need to know that.
  • Our hearts are not stones. A stone may disintegrate in time and lose its outward form. But hearts never disintegrate. They have no outward form, and whether good or evil, we can always communicate them to one another.
  • Confidence; as a teenager? Because I knew what I loved. I loved to read; I loved to listen to music; and I love cats. Those three things. So, even though I was an only kid, I could be happy because I knew what I loved.
  • I started writing at the kitchen table after midnight. It took ten months to finish that first book; I sent it to a publisher and I got some kind of prize, so it was like a dream – I was surprised to find it happening.
  • Team sports aren’t my thing. I find it easier to pick something up if I can do it at my own speed. And you don’t need a partner to go running, you don’t need a particular place, like in tennis, just a pair of trainers.
  • Time, of course, topples everyone in its path equally- the way that driver beats his old horse until it dies. But the thrashing we receive is one of frightful gentleness. Few of us even realize that we are being beaten.
  • A strange, terrific force unlike anything I’ve ever experienced is sprouting in my heart, taking root there, growing. Shut up behind my rib cage, my warm heart expands and contracts independent of my will–over and over.
  • Not that running away’s going to solve everything. I don’t want to rain on your parade or anything, but I wouldn’t count on escaping this place if I were you. No matter how far you run. Distance might not solve anything.
  • In everybody’s life there’s a point of no return. And in a very few cases, a point where you can’t go forward anymore. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That’s how we survive.
  • I wondered if she was trying to convey something to me, something she could not put into words – something prior to words that she could not grasp within herself and which therefore had no hope of ever turning into words.
  • The moon had been observing the earth close-up longer than anyone. It must have witnessed all of the phenomena occurring – and all of the acts carried out – on this earth. But the moon remained silent; it told no stories.
  • Things outside you are projections of what’s inside you, and what’s inside you is a projection of what’s outside. So when you step into the labyrinth outside you, at the same time you’re stepping into the labyrinth inside.
  • Every writer has his writing technique – what he can and can’t do to describe something like war or history. I’m not good at writing about those things, but I try because I feel it is necessary to write that kind of thing.
  • Not to excuse myself, but when you have people right in front of you denying your very presence like that, then see if you don’t doubt whether you actually exist. I look at my hands half expecting to see clear through them.
  • That’s good. I was worried. Of course, I do have a few things wrong with me, but those are strictly problems I keep inside. I’d hate to think they were obvious to anybody else. Especially at the swimming pool in the summer.
  • I tell lies sometimes. The last time I lied was a year ago. I absolutely detest lying. You could say that lying and silence are the two greatest sins of present day society. Actually, I lie a lot, and I’m always clamming up.
  • It’s a question of attitude. If you really work at something you can do it up to a point. If you really work at being happy you can do it up to a point. But anything more than that you can’t. Anything more than that is luck.
  • I have this strange feeling that I’m not myself anymore. It’s hard to put into words, but I guess it’s like I was fast asleep, and someone came, disassembled me, and hurriedly put me back together again. That sort of feeling.
  • I am 55 years old now. It takes three years to write one book. I don’t know how many books I will be able to write before I die. It is like a countdown. So with each book I am praying – please let me live until I am finished.
  • I think that my job is to observe people and the world, and not to judge them. I always hope to position myself away from so-called conclusions. I would like to leave everything wide open to all the possibilities in the world.
  • That’s all I think about these days. Must be because I have so much time to kill every day. When you don’t have anything to do, your thoughts get really, really far out – so far out you can’t follow them all the way to the end.
  • Here, too, a brand-new day is beginning. It could be a day like all the others, or it could be a day remarkable enough in many ways to remain in the memory. In either case, for now, for most people, it is a blank sheet of paper.
  • In Japan, the writers have made up a literary community, a circle, a society. I think 90 percent of Japan’s writers live in Tokyo. Naturally, they make a community. There are groups and customs, and so they are tied up in a way.
  • To sleep with a woman: it can seem of the utmost importance in your mind, or then again it can seem like nothing much at all. Which only goes to say that there’s sex as therapy (self-therapy, that is) and there’s sex as pastime.
  • He felt as if his heart had dried up. I needed her he thought. I needed someone like her to fill the void inside me. But I wasn’t able to fill the void inside her. Until the bitter end, the emptiness inside her was hers alone.
  • She was, if anything, on the plain side, at least not the type to attract men wherever she went. But there was something in her face that was meant for me alone. Everytime we met, I took a good look at her. And loved what I saw.
  • The sad truth is that certain types of things can’t go backward. Once they start going forward, no matter what you do, they can’t go back the way they were. If even one little thing goes awry, then that’s how it will stay forever.
  • That’s how stories happen  with a turning point, an unexpected twist. There’s only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.
  • I’ve run the Boston Marathon 6 times before. I think the best aspects of the marathon are the beautiful changes of the scenery along the route and the warmth of the people’s support. I feel happier every time I enter this marathon.
  • I saw that she was crying. Before I knew it, I was kissing her. Others on the platform were staring at us, but I didn’t care about such things anymore. We were alive, she and I. And all we had to think about was continuing to live.
  • One last word of advice, though, Mr. Okada, though you may not want to hear this. There are things in this world it is better not to know about. Of course, those are the very things that people most want to know about. It’s strange.
  • Where I went in my travels, it’s impossible for me to recall. I remember the sights and sounds and smells clearly enough, but the names of the towns are gone, as well as any sense of the order in which I traveled from place to place.
  • Like a Chinese box, the world of the novel contained smaller worlds, and inside those were yet smaller worlds. Together, these worlds made up a single universe, and the universe waited there in the book to be discovered by the reader.
  • She waited for the train to pass. Then she said, “I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.
  • My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left. I remember exactly where I set down each and every one of them, and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart.
  • That’s the kind of death that frightens me. The shadow of death slowly, slowly eats away at the region of life, and before you know it everything’s dark and you can’t see, and the people around you think of you as more dead than alive.
  • When I was little, I had this science book. There was a section on ‘What would happen to the world if there was no friction?’ Answer: ‘Everything on earth would fly into space from the centrifugal force of revolution.’ That was my mood.
  • What if I’ve forgotten the most important thing? What if somewhere inside me there is a dark limbo where all the truly important memories are heaped and slowly turning into mud?…the thought fills me with an almost unbearable sorrow.
  • Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.
  • I go back to the reading room, where I sink down in the sofa and into the world of The Arabian Nights. Slowly, like a movie fadeout, the real world evaporates. I’m alone, inside the world of the story. My favourite feeling in the world.
  • What’s more, you’re loads better than you think you are.So why is it I get to thinking that way?I puzzled. That’s because you’re only half-living.she said briskly. The other half is still untapped somewhere.
  • Someone once said that nothing costs more and yields less benefit than revenge,Aomame said. Winston Churchill. As I recall it, though, he was making excuses for the British Empire’s budget deficits. It has no moral significance.
  • In dreams you don’t need to make any distinctions between things. Not at all. Boundaries don’t exist. So in dreams there are hardly ever collisions. Even if there are, they don’t hurt. Reality is different. Reality bites. Reality, reality.
  • And as we live our lives we discover – drawing toward us the thin threads attached to each – what has been lost. I closed my eyes and tried to bring to mind as many beautiful lost things as I could. Drawing them closer, holding on to them.
  • Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I’m gazing at a distant star. It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago. Maybe the star doesn’t even exist any more. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.
  • You always look so cool, like no matter what happens, it’s got nothing to do with you, but you’re not really like that. In your own way, you’re out there fighting as hard as you can, even if other people can’t tell by looking at you.
  • I don’t really know if it’s the right thing to do, making new life. Kids grow up, generations take their place. What does it all come to? More hills bulldozed and more ocean fronts filled in? Faster cars and more cats run over? Who needs it?
  • Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It’s like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven’t seen in a long time.
  • She was truly a beautiful girl. I could feel a small polished stone sinking through the darkest waters of my heart. All those deep convoluted channels and passageways, and yet she managed to toss her pebble right down to the bottom of it all.
  • Colours shone with exceptional clarity in the rain. The ground was a deep black, the pine branches a brilliant green, the people wrapped in yellow looking like special spirits that were allowed to wander over the earth on rainy mornings only.
  • Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The  hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.
  • You’re afraid of imagination and even more afraid of dreams. Afraid of the resposibility that begins in dreams. But you have to sleep and dreams are a part of sleep. When you’re awake you can suppress imagination but you can’t supress dreams.
  • George Orwell is half journalist, half fiction writer. I’m 100 percent fiction writer… I don’t want to write messages. I want to write good stories. I think of myself as a political person, but I don’t state my political messages to anybody.
  • I wrote my first two long novels and an anthology of short narratives, when I was a manager of my own jazz bar. There was not enough time to write and I didn’t know how to write novels. Therefore, I made written collages of aphorisms and rags.
  • Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?
  • If you miss the bus, miss the train, you’d be left behind. So everyone says, let’s get on the train, let’s get on the bus and go faster and get rich… I just didn’t like that kind of lifestyle. I love to read books, to listen to music.
  • He was silent for thirty seconds, maybe a minute. I uncrossed my legs under the table and wondered if this was the right moment to leave. It was as if my whole life revolved around trying to judge the right point in a conversation to say goodbye.
  • I never could stand being forced to do something I didn’t want to do at a time I didn’t want to do it. Whenever I was able to do something I liked to do, though, when I wanted to do it, and the way I wanted to do it, I’d give it everything I had.
  • You might think you made a new world or a new self, but your old self is always gonna be there, just below the surface, and if something happens, it’ll stick its head out and say ‘Hi.’ You don’t seem to realize that. You were made somewhere else.
  • What I saw wasn’t a ghost. It was simply–myself. I can never forget how terrified I was that night, and whenever I remember it, this thought always springs to mind: that the most frightening thing in the world is our own self. What do you think?
  • We each have a special something we can get only at a special time of our life. like a small flame. A careful, fortunate few cherish that flame, nurture it, hold it as a torch to light their way. But once that flame goes out, it’s gone forever.
  • And when you come back to Japan next summer, let’s have that date or whatever you want to call it. We can go to the zoo or the botanical garden or the aquarium, and then we’ll have the most politically correct and scrumptious omelets we can find.
  • I think people who share my dreams can enjoy reading my novels. And that’s a wonderful thing. I said that myths are like a reservoir of stories, and if I can act as a similar kind of “reservoir,” albeit a modest one, that would make me very happy.
  • What would tomorrow bring? I wondered. Both hands on the wheel, I closed my eyes. I didn’t feel like I was in my own body; my body was just a lonely, temporary container I happened to be borrowing. What would become of me tomorrow I did not know.
  • Now for a good twelve-hour sleep, I told myself. Twelve solid hours. Let birds sing, let people go to work. Somewhere out there, a volcano might blow, Israeli commandos might decimate a Palestinian village. I couldn’t stop it. I was going to sleep.
  • What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world. We get in the habit of thinking, this is the world, but that’s not true at all. The real world is a much darker and deeper place than this, and much of it is occupied by jellyfish and things.
  • ice contains no future , just the past, sealed away. As if they’re alive, everything in the world is sealed up inside, clear and distinct. Ice can preserve all kinds of things that way- cleanly, clearly. That’s the essence of ice, the role it plays.
  • So once you’re dead there’s just nothing? Mari: Basically… Korogi: I get so scared when I start thinking about this stuff. I can hardly breathe, and my whole body wants to shrink into a corner. It’s so much easier to just believe in reincarnation.
  • The world in books seemed so much more alive to me than anything outside. I could see things I’d never seen before. Books and music were my best friends. I had a couple of good friends at school, but never met anyone I could really speak my heart to.
  • I can’t build a simple shelf. I have no idea how to change an oil filter on a car. I can’t even stick a stamp on an envelope straight. And I’m always dialling the wrong number. But I have come up with a few original cocktails that people seem to like.
  • Well, finally, the events I’ve been through have been tremendously complicated. All kinds of characters have come on the scene, and strange things have happened one after another, to the point where, if I try to think about them in order, I lose track.
  • Hatsumi had a pretty good idea that Nagasawa was sleeping around, but she never complained to him. She was seriously in love with him, but she never made demands. ‘I don’t deserve a girl like Hatsumi,’ Nagasawa once said to me. I had to agree with him.
  • my heart would swell without warning, and tremble, and lurch with a stab of pain. I would try clamping my eyes shut and gritting my teeth, and waiting for it to pass. And it would pass — but slowly, taking its own time, and leaving a dull ache behind.
  • Our memory is made up of our individual memories and our collective memories. The two are intimately linked. And history is our collective memory. If our collective memory is taken from us – is rewritten – we lose the ability to sustain our true selves.
  • You live by yourself for a stretch of time and you get to staring at different objects. Sometimes you talk to yourself. You take meals in crowded joints. You develop an intimate relationship with your used Subaru. You slowly but surely become a has-been.
  • It might not be perfect, but the fundamental stance I adopted with regard to my home was to accept it, problems and all, because it was something I myself had chosen. If it had problems, these were almost certainly problems that had originated within me.
  • Perhaps most people in the world aren’t trying to be free, Kafka. They just think they are. It’s all an illusion. If they really were set free, most people would be in a real pickle. You’d better remember that. People actually prefer not being free?

 

  • People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest.
  • Any explanation or logic that explains everything so easily has a hidden trap in it. I’m speaking from experience. Somebody once said if it’s something a single book can explain, it’s not worth having explained. What I mean is don’t leap to any conclusions.
  • But knowing what I don’t want to do doesn’t help me figure out what I do want to do. I could do just about anything if somebody made me. But I don’t have an image of the one thing I really want to do. That’s my problem now. I can’t find the image.
  • I think certain types of processes don’t allow for any variation. If you have to be part of that process, all you can do is transform or perhaps distort yourself through that persistent repetition, and make that process a part of your own personality.
  • Even so, there were times I saw freshness and beauty. I could smell the air, and I really loved rock ‘n’ roll. Tears were warm, and girls were beautiful, like dreams. I liked movie theaters, the darkness and intimacy, and I liked the deep, sad summer nights.
  • I don’t know, I don’t feel right unless I’ve got the sea and mountains nearby. People are mostly a product of where they were born and raised. How you think and feel’s always linked to the lay of the land, the temperature. The prevailing winds, even.
  • I try not to think about anything special while running. As a matter of fact, I usually run with my mind empty. However, when I run empty-minded, something naturally and abruptly crawls in sometime. That might become an idea that can help me with my writing.
  • You have to be practical. So every time I say, if you want to write a novel you have to be practical, people get bored. They are disappointed. They are expecting a more dynamic, creative, artistic thing to say. What I want to say is: you have to be practical.
  • If you keep on writing for three years, every day, you should be strong. Of course, you have to be strong mentally, also. But in the first place, you have to be strong physically. That is a very important thing. Physically and mentally you have to be strong.
  • It made her think of Laika, the dog. The man-made satellite streaking soundlessly across the blackness of outer space. The dark, lustrous eyes of the dog gazing out the tiny window. In the infinite loneliness of space, what could the dog possibly be looking at?
  • What do we talk about? Just ordinary things. What happened today, or books we’ve read, or tomorrow’s weather, you know. Don’t tell me you’re wondering if people jump to their feet and shout stuff like ‘It’ll rain tomorrow if a polar bear eats the stars tonight!
  • Sometimes we don’t need words. Rather, it’s words that need us. If we were no longer here, words would lose their whole function. They would end up as words that are never spoken, and words that aren’t spoken are no longer words. – (Where I’m Likely To Find It)
  • There are three ways you can get along with a girl: one, shut up and listen to what she has to say; two, tell her you like what she’s wearing; and three, treat her to really good food…If you do all that and still don’t get the results you want, better give up.
  • Gays, lesbians, straights, feminists, fascist pigs, communists, Hare Krishnas – none of them bother me. I don’t care what banner they raise. But what I can’t stand are hollow people. When I’m with them I just can’t bare it, and wind up saying things I shouldn’t.
  • My father belongs to the generation that fought the war in the 1940s. When I was a kid my father told me stories – not so many, but it meant a lot to me. I wanted to know what happened then, to my father’s generation. It’s a kind of inheritance, the memory of it.
  • The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.
  • A certain something, he felt, had managed to work its way in through a tiny opening and was trying to fill a blank space inside him. The void was not one that she had made. It had always been there inside him. She had merely managed to shine a special light on it.
  • I didn’t want to be a writer, but I became one. And now I have many readers, in many countries. I think that’s a miracle. So I think I have to be humble regarding this ability. I’m proud of it and I enjoy it, and it is strange to say it this way, but I respect it.
  • I spent thirty-three years in another man’s shadow. I went everywhere he went, I helped him with everything he did. I was in a sense a part of him. When you live like that for a long time, you gradually lose track of what it is you yourself really want out of life
  • A certain kind of shittiness, a certain kind of stagnation, a certain kind of darkness, goes on propagating itself by its own power in its own self-contained cycle. And once it passes a certain point, no one can stop it-even if the person himself wants to stop it.
  • You know what girls are like. They turn twenty or twenty-one and all of a sudden they start having these concrete ideas. They get super realistic. And when that happens, everything that seemed so sweet and lovable about them begins to look ordinary and depressing.
  • The library was like a second home. Or maybe more like a real home, more than the place I lived in. By going every day I got to know all the lady librarians who worked there. They knew my name and always said hi. I was painfully shy, though, and could barely reply.
  • Since I have come to America, I am often asked whether my next novel will be set in America. I don’t think it will. I think I will be living in America for some time to come, but while living in America, I would like to write about Japanese society from the outside.
  • I can’t imagine how American readers will react to a novel, but if the story is appealing it doesn’t matter much if you don’t catch all the detail. I’m not too familiar with the geography of nineteenth century London, for instance, but I still enjoy reading Dickens.
  • I was reduced to pure concept. My flesh had dissolved; my form had dissipated. I floated in space. Liberated of my corporeal being, but without dispensation to go anywhere else.I was adrift in the void. Somewhere across the fine line separating nightmare from reality.
  • When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we’d be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.
  • My face, my self, what would they mean to anybody? Just another stiff. So this self of mine passes some other’s self on the street – what do we have to say to each other? Hey there! Hi ya!That’s about it. Nobody raises a hand. No one turns around to take another look.
  • And as the years have passed, the time has grown longer. The sad truth is that what I could recall in five seconds all too needed ten, then thirty, then a full minute – like shadows lengthening at dusk. Someday, I suppose, the shadows will be swallowed up in darkness.
  • I was enjoying myself writing, because I don’t know what’s going to happen when I take a ride around that corner. You don’t know at all what you’re going to find there. That can be thrilling when you read a book, especially when you’re a kid and you’re reading stories.
  • Whenever I meet people for the first time, I get them to talk for ten minutes. Then I size them up from the exact opposite perspective of all they’ve told me. Do you think that’s crazy? No,I said, shaking my head, I’d guess your method works quite well.
  • I am struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance.
  • Mountains, according to the angle of view, the season, the time of day, the beholder’s frame of mind, or any one thing, can effectively change their appearance. Thus, it is essential to recognize that we can never know more than one side, one small aspect of a mountain.
  • Let me tell you something, Mari. The ground we stand on looks solid enough, but if something happens it can drop right out from under you. And once that happens, you’ve had it: things’ll never be the same. All you can do is go on, living alone down there in the darkness.
  • I’ve translated a lot of American literature into Japanese, and I think that what makes a good translator is, above all, a feel for language and also a great affection for the work you’re translating. If one of those elements is missing the translation won’t be worth much.
  • There’s not much you can do about time – it just keeps on passing. But experience? Don’t tell me that. I’m not proud of it, but I don’t have any sexual desire. And what sort of experience can a writer have if she doesn’t feel passion? It’d be like a chef without an appetite.
  • I bet the reason people are afraid of going bald is because it makes them think of the end of life. I mean, when your hair starts to thin, it must feel as if your life is being worn away … as if you’ve taken a giant step in the direction of death, the last Big Consumption.
  • When a writer develops a story, he is confronted with a poison that is inside him. If you don’t have that poison, your story will be boring and uninspired. It’s like fugu: The flesh of the pufferfish is extremely tasty, but the roe, the liver, the heart can be lethally toxic.
  • It’s true that at the time I was fond of Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and it was from them that I learned about this kind of simple, swift-paced style, but the main reason for the style of my first novel is that I simply did not have the time to write sustained prose.
  • So I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Watanabe: Wow, and did your search pay off? M: That’s the hard part. I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.
  • Sometimes I feel so- I don’t know – lonely. The kind of helpless feeling when everything you’re used to has been ripped away. Like there’s no more gravity, and I’m left to drift in outer space with no idea where I’m going’ Like a little lost Sputnik?’ I guess so.
  • Everybody feels safe belonging not to the excluded minority but to the excluding majority. You think, Oh, I’m glad that’s not me. It’s basically the same in all periods in all societies. If you belong to the majority, you can avoid thinking about lots of troubling things.
  • As a novelist, you could say that I am dreaming while I am awake, and every day I can continue with yesterday’s dream. Because it is a dream, there are so many contradictions and I have to adjust them to make the story work. But, in principle, the original dream does not change.
  • To know one’s own state is not a simple matter. One cannot look directly at one’s own face with one’s own eyes, for example. One has no choice but to look at one’s reflection in the mirror. Through experience, we come to believe that the image is correct, but that is all.
  • Every day I go to my study and sit at my desk and put the computer on. At that moment, I have to open the door. It’s a big, heavy door. You have to go into the Other Room. Metaphorically, of course. And you have to come back to this side of the room. And you have to shut the door.
  • It’s a dark, cool, quiet place. A basement in your soul. And that place can sometimes be dangerous to the human mind. I can open the door and enter that darkness, but I have to be very careful. I can find my story there. Then I bring that thing to the surface, into the real world.
  • But I didn’t walk a single step. I stopped a lot to stretch, but I never walked. I didn’t come here to walk. I came to run. That’s the reason-the only reason-I flew all the way to the northern tip of Japan. No matter how slow I might run, I wasn’t about to walk. That was the rule.
  • He appeared before me and departed. We were not able to speak to or touch each other. But in that short interval, he transformed many things inside me. He literally stirred my mind and body the way a spoon stirs a cup of cocoa, down to the depths of my internal organs and my womb.
  • Symbolism and meaning are two separate things. I think she found the right words by bypassing procedures like meaning and logic. She captured words in a dream, like delicately catching hold of a butterfly’s wings as it flutters around. Artists are those who can evade the verbose.
  • No matter where i go, i still end up me. What’s missing never changes. The scenery may change, but i’m still the same incomplete person. The same missing elements torture me with a hunger that i can never satisfy. I think that lack itself is as close as i’ll come to defining myself.
  • You couldn’t begin to imagine who I am, where I’m going, or what I’m about to do, All of you are trapped here. You can’t go anywhere, forward or back. But I’m not like you. I have work to do. I have a mission to accomplish. And so, with your permission, I shall move ahead.
  • With the advent of winter, her eyes seemed to take on a greater transparency, a transparency that lead nowhere. Occassionally, for no particular reason, Naoko would gaze into my eyes as if searching for something. Each time I was filled with odd sensations of lonliness and inadequecy.
  • It’s just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality.
  • If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life.
  • Time weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to sleep through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won’t be able to escape it. Still, you have to go there- to the edge of the world. There’s something you can’t do unless you get there.
  • That’s wrong,” she declared. “Everyone must have one thing that they can excel at. It’s just a matter of drawing it out, isn’t it? But school doesn’t know how to draw it out. It crushes the gift. It’s no wonder most people never get to be what they want to be. They just get ground down.
  • Before I became a writer, I was running a jazz bar in the center of Tokyo, which means that I worked in filthy air all the time late into the night. I was very excited when I started making a living out of my writing, and I decided, ‘I will live in nothing but an absolutely healthy way.’
  • They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It’s a miracle, a cosmic miracle.
  • I would stare at the grains of light suspended in that silent space, struggling to see into my own heart. What did I want? And what did others want from me? But I could never find the answers. Sometimes I would reach out and try to grasp the grains of light, but my fingers touched nothing.
  • When I open them, most of the books have the smell of an earlier time leaking out between the pages – a special odor of the knowledge and emotions that for ages have been calmly resting between the covers. Breathing it in, I glance through a few pages before returning each book to its shelf.
  • Like you’re riding a train at night across some vast plain, and you catch a glimpse of a tiny light in a window of a farmhouse. In an instant it’s sucked back into the darkness behind and vanishes. But if you close your eyes, that point of light stays with you, just barely for a few moments.
  • I’m scared,” she said. “These days I feel like a snail without a shell.” “I’m scared too,” I said. “I feel like a frog without any webs.” She looked up and smiled. Wordlessly we walked over to a shaded part of the building and held each other and kissed, a shell-less snail and a webless frog.
  • An expectation was there, mixed in with so many other emotions – excitement, resignation, hesitation, confusion, fear – that would well up then wither on the vine. You’re optimistic one moment, only to be racked the next by the certainty that it will all fall to pieces. And in the end it does.
  • It’s the same with menus and men and just about anything else: we think we’re choosing things for ourselves, but in fact we may not be choosing anything. It could be that everthing’s being decided in advance and we pretend we’re making choices. Free will may be an illusion. I often think that.
  • Listening to the music while stretching her body close to its limit, she was able to attain a mysterious calm. She was simultaneously the torturer and the tortured, the forcer and the forced. This sense of inner-directed self-sufficiency was what she wanted most of all. It gave her deep solace.
  • Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding at times, maybe even get them going. But curiosity usually evaporates. Gust have to go for the long haul. Curiosity’s like a fun friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you to make it on your own – with whatever guts you can muster
  • You’re wrong. The mind is not like raindrops. It does not fall from the skies, it does not lose itself among other things. If you believe in me at all, then believe this: I promise you I will find it. Everything depends on this.” “I believe you,” she whispers after a moment. “Please find my mind.
  • Most people are not looking for provable truths. As you said, truth is often accompanied by intense pain, and almost no one is looking for painful truths. What people need is beautiful, comforting stories that make them feel as if their lives have some meaning. Which is where religion comes from.
  • You know, eating’s much more important than most people think. There comes a time in your life when you’ve just got to have something super-delicious. And when you’re standing at that crossroads your whole life can change, depending on which one you go into – the good restaurant or the awful one.
  • No truth can cure the sorrow we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see it through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sorrow that comes to us without warning.
  • How long it lasted, I couldn’t tell. It might have been five seconds, it might have been a minute. Time wasn’t fixed. It wavered, stretched, shrank. Or was it me that wavered, stretched, and shrank in the silence? I was warped in the folds of time, like a reflection in a fun house mirror.
  • Far away, I could hear them lapping up my brains. Like Macbeth’s witches, the three lithe cats surrounded my broken head, slurping up that thick soup inside. The tips of their rough tongues licked the soft folds of my mind. And with each lick my consciousness flickered like a flame and faded away.
  • Fairness is a concept that holds only in limited situations. Yet we want the concept to extend to everything, in and out of phase. From snails to hardware stores to married life. Maybe no one finds it, or even misses it, but fairness is like love. What is given has nothing to do with what we seek.
  • In other words, let’s face it: Life is basically unfair. But even in a situation that’s unfair, I think it’s possible to seek out a kind of fairness. Of course, that might take time and effort. And maybe it won’t seem to be worth all that. It’s up to each individual to decide whether or not it is.
  • You know what I’d really like to do the most right now? Climb up to the top of some high place like the pyramids. The highest place I can find. Where you can see forever. Stand on the very top, look all around the world, see all the scenery, and see with my own eyes what’s been lost from the world.
  • I have always liked running, so it wasn’t particularly difficult to make it a habit. All you need is a pair of running shoes and you can do it anywhere. It does not require anybody to do it with, and so I found the sport perfectly fits me as a person who tends to be independent and individualistic.
  • If there’s any guy crazy enough to attack me, I’m going to show him the end of the world — close up. I’m going to let him see the kingdom come with his own eyes. I’m going to send him straight to the southern hemisphere and let the ashes of death rain all over him and the kangaroos and the wallabies.
  • It’s a quiet place, so people talk quietly,” said Naoko. She made a neat pile of fish bones at the edge of her plate and dabbed at her mouth with a handkerchief. “There’s no need to raise your voice here. You don’t have to convince anybody of anything, and you don’t have to attract anyone’s attention.
  • She was a keen observer, a precise user of language, sharp-tongued and funny. She could stir your emotions. Yes, really, that’s what she was so good at – stirring people’s emotions, moving you. And she knew she had this power…I only realized later. At the time, I had no idea what she was doing to me.
  • I closed my eyes and listened carefully for the descendants of Sputnik, even now circling the earth, gravity their only tie to the planet. Lonely metal souls in the unimpeded darkness of space, they meet, pass each other, and part, never to meet again. No words passing between them. No promises to keep.
  • And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
  • Were the stars out when I left the house last evening? All I could remember was the couple in the Skyline listening to Duran Duran. Stars? Who remembers stars? Come to think of it, had I even looked up at the sky recently? Had the stars been wiped out of the sky three months ago, I wouldn’t have known.
  • A poet might die at twenty-one, a revolutionary or a rock star at twenty four. But after that you assume everything’s going to be all right. you’ve made it past Dead Man’s Curve and you’re out of the tunnel, cruising straight for your destination down a six lane highway whether you want it or not.
  • The ocean was one of the greatest things he had ever seen in his life bigger and deeper than anything he had imagined. It changed its color and shape and expression according to time and place and weather. It aroused a deep sadness in his heart, and at the same time it brought his heart peace and comfort.
  • Do you know what Sputnik’ means in Russian?  Travelling companion’. I looked it up in a dictionary not long ago. Kind of a strange coincidence if you think about it. I wonder why the Russians gave their satellite that strange name. It’s just a poor little lump of metal, spinning around the Earth.
  • But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.
  • I began to draw an invisible boundary between myself and other people. No matter who I was dealing with. I maintained a set distance, carefully monitoring the person’s attitude so that they wouldn’t get any closer. I didn’t easily swallow what other people told me. My only passions were books and music
  • All over the world people have developed their own ideas about what’s right and wrong in life, but so long as you aren’t harming others or the Earth, it’s your choice when you decide how you want to live your life – Yours and yours alone. Life’s no piece of cake, mind you, but the recipe’s my own to fool with.
  • According to Chekhov,” Tamaru said, rising from his chair, “once a gun appears in a story, it has to be fired.” “Meaning what?” “Meaning, don’t bring unnecessary props into a story. If a pistol appears, it has to be fired at some point. Chekhov liked to write stories that did away with all useless ornamentation.
  • Since I’m a novelist I’m the opposite of you – I believe that what’s most important is what cannot be measured. I’m not denying your way of thinking, but the greater part of people’s lives consist of things that are unmeasurable, and trying to change all these to something measurable is realistically impossible.
  • I’m not going to get involved in a debate with you. Just remember this: the gods give, and the gods take away. Even if you are not aware of having been granted what you posses, the gods remember what they gave you. They don’t forget a thing. You should use the abilities you have been granted with the utmost care.
  • Things like that happen all the time in this great big world of ours. It’s like taking a boat out on a beautiful lake on a beautiful day and thinking both the sky and the lake are beautiful. So stop eating yourself up alive. Things will go where they’re supposed to go if you just let them take their natural course.
  • But this thing, whatever it was, this mistlike something, hung there inside my body like a certain kind of potential. I wanted to give it a name, but the word refused to come to mind. I’m terrible at finding the right words for things. I’m sure Tolstoy would have been able to come up with exactly the right word
  • People have their own reasons for dying. It might look simple, but it never is. It’s just like a rock. What’s above ground is only a small part of it. But if you start pulling, it keeps coming and coming. The human mind dwells deep in darkness. Only the person himself knows the real reason, and maybe not even then.
  • At my core, there is nothing. Neither is it parched wastelands. At my core, there is love. I’ll go on loving that ten-year-old boy named Tengo forever — his strength, his intelligence, his kindness. He does not exist here, with me, but flesh that does not exist will never die, and promises unmade are never broken.
  • Everything has boundaries. the same holds true with thought. you shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you also should not be afraid of destroying them. that’s what is most important if you want to be free: respect for and exasperation with boundaries. what’s really important in life is always the things that are secondary.
  • As I see it, you are living with something that you keep hidden deep inside. Something heavy. I felt it from the first time I met you. You have a strong gaze, as if you have made up your mind about something. To tell you the truth, I myself carry such things around inside. Heavy things. That is how I can see it in you.
  • No matter what you tell me, no matter how legitimate your reasons, I can never just forget about you, I can never push the years we spent together out of my mind. I can’t do it because it really happened, they are part of my life, and there is no way I can just erase them. That would be the same as erasing my own self.
  • Then when dusk began to settle he would retrace his steps, back to his own world. And on the way home, a loneliness would always claim his heart. He could never quite get a grip on what it was. It just seemed that whatever lay waiting “out there” was all too vast, too overwhelming for him to possibly ever make a dent in.
  • The young man knows that he is irretrievably lost. This is no town of cats, he finally realizes. It is the place where he is meant to be lost. It is another world, which has been prepared especially for him. And never again, for all eternity, will the train stop at this station to take him back to the world he came from.
  • A man is like a two-story house. The first floor is equipped with an entrance and a living room. On the second floor is every family member’s room. They enjoy listening to music and reading books. On the first underground floor is the ruin of people’s memories. The room filled with darkness is the second underground floor.
  • I stare at this ceaseless, rushing crowd and imagine a time a hundred years from now. In a hundred years everybody here-me included-will have disappeared from the face of the earth and turned into ashes or dust. A weird thought, but everything in front of me starts to seem unreal, like a gust of wind could blow it all away.
  • The strength I’m looking for isn’t the type where you win or lose. I’m not after a wall that’ll repel power coming from outside. What I want us the kind of strength to be able to absorb that kind of power, to stand up to it.The strength to quietly endure things – unfairness, misfortunes, sadness, mistakes, misunderstandings.
  • You don’t get it, do you?” I said. It’s not a question of what then’. Some people get a kick out of reading railroad timetables and that’s all they do all day. Some people make huge model boats out of matchsticks. So what’s wrong if there happens to be one guy in the world who enjoys trying to understand you?
  • How about Proust’s In Search of Lost Time?” Tamaru asked. “If you’ve never read it this would be a good opportunity to read the whole thing.” “Have you read it?” “No, I haven’t been in jail, or had to hide out for a long time. Someone once said unless you have those kinds of opportunities, you can’t read the whole of Proust.
  • What’s most important is what you can’t see but can feel in your heart. To be able to grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient acts. But even activities that appear fruitless don’t necessarily end up so. That’s the feeling I have, as someone who’s felt this, who’s experienced it.
  • I was in my house, alone in the living room, anxious about you, watching the flashes of lightning. And a flash of lightning lit up this truth for me, right in front of my eye. That night i lost you, I lost something inside me. Or perhaps several things. Something central to my existence, the very support for who I am as a person
  • My very existence, my life in the world, seemed like a hallucination. A strong wind would make me think my body was about to be blown to the end of the earth, to some land I had never seen or heard of, where my mind and body would separate forever. Hold tight,I would tell myself, but there was nothing for me to hold on to.
  • I’m still not sure I made the right choice when I told my wife about the bakery attack.But then,it might not have been a question of right or wrong. Which is to say that wrong choices can produce right results, and vice versa. I myself have adopted the position that,in fact, we never choose anything at all. Things happen. Or not.
  • In his or her own way, everyone I saw before me looked happy. Whether they were really happy or just looked it, I couldn’t tell. But they did look happy on this pleasant early afternoon in late September, and because of that I felt a kind of loneliness new to me, as if I were the only one here who was not truly part of the scene.
  • The house kept its own time, like the old-fashioned grandfather clock in the living room. People who happened by raised the weights, and as long as the weights were wound, the clock continued ticking away. But with people gone and the weights unattended, whole chunks of time were left to collect in deposits of faded life on the floor.
  • One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.
  • But actually time isn’t a straight line. It doesn’t ave a shape. In all senses of the term, it doesn’t have any form. But since we can’t picture something without form in our minds, for the sake of convenience we understand it as a straight line. At this point, humans are the only ones who can make that sort of conceptual substitution.
  • You’re walking through a field all by yourself one day in spring and this sweet little bear cub with velvet fur and shiny little eyes comes walking along. And he says to you, ‘Hi, there, little lady. Want to tumble with me?’ So you and the bear spend the whole day in each other’s arms, tumbling down this clover-covered hill. Nice, huh?
  • Kafka is one of my very favorite writers. Kafka’s fictional world is already so complete that trying to follow in his steps is not just pointless, but quite risky, too. What I see myself doing, rather, is writing novels where, in my own way, I dismantle the fictional world of Kafka that itself dismantled the existing novelistic system.
  • I read Naoko’s letter again and again, and each time I read it I would be filled with the same unbearable sadness I used to feel whenever Naoko stared into my eyes. I had no way to deal with it, no place I could take it to or hide it away. Like the wind passing over my body, it had neither shape nor weight, nor could I wrap myself in it.
  • In order to pin down reality as realilty, we need another reality to relativize the first. Yet that other reality requires a third reality to serve as its grounding. An endless chain is created within our consciousness, and it is the maintenance of this chain which produces the sensation that we are actually here, that we ourselves exist.
  • I think you still love me, but we can’t escape the fact that I’m not enough for you. I knew this was going to happen. So I’m not blaming you for falling in love with another woman. I’m not angry, either. I should be, but I’m not. I just feel pain. A lot of pain. I thought I could imagine how much this would hurt, but I was wrong.
  • Okay, let’s put it this way. I would like to sleep with you. But it’s alright if I don’t sleep with you. What I’m saying is I’d like to be as fair as possible. I don’t want to force anything on anybody, any more than I’d want anything forced on me. It’s enough that I feel your presence or see your commas swirling around me.
  • I was confident that I was a special person. But time slowly chips away at life. People don’t just die when their time comes. They gradually die away, from the inside. And finally the day comes when you have to settle accounts. Nobody can escape it. People have to pay the price for what they’ve received. I have only just learned that truth.
  • A regular wind-up toy world this is, I think. Once a day the wind-up bird has to come and wind the springs of this world. Alone in this fun house, only I grow old, a pale softball of death swelling inside me. Yet even as I sleep somewhere between Saturn and Uranus, wind-up birds everywhere are busy at work fulfilling their appointed rounds.
  • This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don’t get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can’t do anything, don’t get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it’s ready to come undone. You have to realize it’s going to be a long process and that you’ll work on things slowly, one at a time.
  • I wasn’t in love with her. And she didn’t love me. For me the question of love was irrelevant. What I sought was the sense of being tossed about by some raging, savage force, in the midst of which lay something absolutely crucial. I had no idea what that was. But I wanted to thrust my hand right inside her body and touch it, whatever it was.
  • We fell silent again. The thing we had shared was nothing more than a fragment of time that had died longe ago.Even so, a faint glimmer of that warm memory still claimed a part of my heart. And when death claim me, no doubt I would walk along by that faint light in the brief instant before being flung once again into the abyss of nothingness
  • it occurred to me what a simple thing reality is, how easy it is to make it work. It’s just reality. Just housework. Just a home. Like running a simple machine. Once you learn to run it, it’s just a matter of repetition. You push this button and pull that lever. You adjust a gauge, put on the lid, set the timer. The same thing, over and over.
  • Like it or not, it’s the society we live in. Even the standard of right and wrong has been subdivided, made sophisticated. Within good, there’s fashionable good and unfashionable good, and ditto for bad. Within fashionable good, there’s formal and then there’s casual; there’s hip, there’s cool, there’s trendy, there’s snobbish. Mix ‘n’ match.
  • I’m free, I think. I shut my eyes and think hard and deep about how free I am, but I can’t really understand what it means. All I know is I’m totally alone. All alone in an unfamiliar place, like some solitary explorer who’s lost his compass and his map. Is this what it means to be free? I don’t know, and I give up thinking about it.
  • Your heart is like a great river after a long spell of rain, spilling over its banks. All signposts that once stood on the ground are gone, inundated and carried away by that rush of water. And still the rain beats down on the surface of the river. Every time you see a flood like that on the news you tell yourself: That’s it. That’s my heart.
  • When I was fifteen, all I wanted was to go off to some other world, a place beyond anybody’s reach. A place beyond the flow of time.- But there’s no place like that in this world. – Exactly. Which is why I’m living here, in this world where things are continually damaged, where the heart is fickle, where time flows past without a break.
  • What do you mean, ‘playing really creatively’? Can you give me an example?” “Hmm, let’s see … you send the music deep enough into your heart so that it makes your body undergo a kind of a physical shift, and simultaneously the listener’s body also undergoes the same kind of physical shift. It’s giving birth to that kind of shared state. Probably.
  • She’s kind of funny looking. Her face is out of balance–broad forehead, button nose, freckled cheeks, and pointy ears. A slammed-together, rough sort of face you can’t ignore. Still, the whole package isn’t so bad. For all I know maybe she’s not so wild about her own looks, but she seems comfortable with who she is, and that’s the important thing.
  • I often recall these words when I am writing, and I think to myself, It’s true. There aren’t any new words. Our job is to give new meanings and special overtones to absolutely ordinary words.I find the thought reassuring. It means that vast, unknown stretches still lie before us, fertile territories just waiting for us to cultivate them.
  • You’re here,I continued. At least you look as if you’re here. But maybe you aren’t. Maybe it’s just your shadow. The real you may be someplace else. Or maybe you already disappeared, a long, long time ago. I reach out my hand to see, but you’ve hidden yourself behind a cloud of probablys. Do you think we can go on like this forever?
  • Was it Aristotle who said the human soul is composed of reason, will, and desire?No, that was Plato. Aristotle and Plato were as different as Mel Torm√© and Bing Crosby. In any case, things were a lot simpler in the old days,Komatsu said. Wouldn’t it be fun to imagine reason, will, and desire engaged in a fierce debate around a table?
  • To me, love is a pure idea forged in flesh, awkwardly maybe, but it had to connect to somewhere, despite twists and turns of underground cable. An all-too-perfect thing. Sometimes the lines get crossed. Or you get a wrong number. But that’s nobody’s fault. It’ll always be like that, so long as we exist in this physical form. As a matter of principle.
  • From the girl who sat before me now…surged a fresh and physical life force. She was like a small animal that has popped into the world with the coming of spring. Her eyes moved like an independent organism with joy, laughter, anger, amazement, and despair. I hadn’t seen a face so vivid and expressive in ages, and I enjoyed watching it live and move.
  • I was reborn,” she said, her hot breath brushing his ear. “You were reborn,” Tengo said. “Because I died once.” “You died once,” Tengo repeated. “On a night when there was a cold rain falling,” she said. “Why did you die?” “So I would be reborn like this.” “You would be reborn,” Tengo said. “More or less,” she whispered quietly. “In all sorts of forms.
  • It is however, difficult to make your narratives relative by yourself. A novelists’ work is to provide models to make your narratives relative. If you read my novels then you may feel, “I have the same experience as this narrative”, or “I have the same idea as this novel”. It means that your narrative and mine sympathize, concord and resonate together.
  • Human beings are ultimately nothing but carriers-passageways- for genes. They ride us into the ground like racehorses from generation to generation. Genes don’t think about what constitutes good or evil. They don’t care whether we are happy or unhappy. We’re just means to an end for them. The only thing they think about is what is most efficient for them.
  • Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.
  • There’s no sense forcing yourself if you don’t feel like it. Tell you the truth, I’ve had sex with lots of guys, but I think I did it mostly out of fear. I was scared not to have somebody putting his arms around me, so I could never say no. That’s all. Nothing good ever came of sex like that. All it does is grind down the meaning of life a piece at a time.
  • pulled into my convenient neighborhood fast food restaurant. I ordered shrimp salad, onion rings, and a beer. The shrimp were straight out of the freezer, the onion rings soggy. Looking around the place, though, I failed to spot a single customer banging on a tray or complaining to a waitress. So I shut up and finished my food. Expect nothing, get nothing.
  • My biggest faults is that the faults I was born with grow bigger each year. It’s like I was raising chickens inside me. The chickens lay eggs and the eggs hatch into other chickens, which then lay eggs. Is this any way to live a life? What with all these faults I’ve got going, I have to wonder. Sure, I get by. But in the end, that’s not the question, is it?
  • You end up exhausted and spent, but later, in retrospect, you realize what it all was for. The parts fall into place, and you can see the whole picture and finally understand the role each individual part plays. The dawn comes, the sky grows light, and the colors and shapes of the roofs of houses, which you could only glimpse vaguely before, come into focus.
  • I’m in no position to hand down any advice,” he said, “but there’s a rule I follow when I don’t know what to do.” “A rule?” “If you have to choose between something that has form and something that doesn’t, go for the one without form. That’s my rule. Whenever I run into a wall I follow that rule, and it always works out. Even if it’s hard going at the time.
  • Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?
  • A short story I have written long ago would barge into my house in the middle of the night, shake me awake and shout, ‘Hey,this is no time for sleeping! You can’t forget me, there’s still more to write!’ Impelled by that voice, I would find myself writing a novel. In this sense, too, my short stories and novels connect inside me in a very natural, organic way.
  • The good thing about writing books is that you can dream while you are awake. If it’s a real dream, you cannot control it. When writing the book, you are awake; you can choose the time, the length, everything. I write for four or five hours in the morning and when the time comes, I stop. I can continue the next day. If it’s a real dream, you can’t do that.
  • I’ve been lonely for so long. And I’ve been hurt so deeply. If only I could have met you again a long time ago, then I wouldn’t have had to take all these detours to get here.’ Tengo shook his head. ‘I don’t think so. This way is just fine. This is exactly the right time. For both of us. […] We needed that much time…. to understand how lonely we really were.
  • Holding this soft, small living creature in my lap this way, though, and seeing how it slept with complete trust in me, I felt a warm rush in my chest. I put my hand on the cat’s chest and felt his heart beating. The pulse was faint and fast, but his heart, like mine, was ticking off the time allotted to his small body with all the restless earnestness of my own.
  • I wrote a huge number of letters that spring: one a week to Naoko, several to Reiko, and several more to Midori. I wrote letters in the classroom, I wrote letters at my desk at home with Seagull in my lap, I wrote letters at empty tables during my breaks at the Italian restaurant. It was as if I were writing letters to hold together the pieces of my crumbling life.
  • But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o’clock in the morning.
  • Everybody has some one thing they do not want to lose,” began the man. “You included. And we are professionals at finding out that very thing. Humans by necessity must have a midway point between their desires and their pride. Just as all objects must have a center of gravity. This is something we can pinpoint. Only when it is gone do people realize it even existed.
  • There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, no wind, and everything was quiet around us – all we could hear were birds chirping in the woods. The war seemed like something in a faraway land that had nothing to do with us. We sang songs as we hiked up the hill, sometimes imitating the birds we heard. Except for the fact that the war was still going on, it was a perfect morning.
  • Sitting on the floor, I’d replay the past in my head. Funny, that’s all I did, day after day after day for half a year, and I never tired of it. What I’d been through seemed so vast, with so many facets. Vast, but real, very real, which was why the experience persisted in towering before me, like a monument lit up at night. And the thing was, it was a monument to me.
  • In any case, suffice it to say I enjoyed hearing about faraway places. I had stocked up a whole store of these places, like a bear getting ready for hibernation. I’d close my eyes, and streets would materialize, rows of houses take shape. I could hear people’s voices, feel the gentle, steady rhythm of their lives, those people so distant, whom I’d probably never know.
  • The sense of tragedy – according to Aristotle – comes, ironically enough, not from the protagonist’s weak points but from his good qualities. Do you know what I’m getting at? People are drawn deeper into tragedy not by their defects but by their virtues. … [But] we accept irony through a device called metaphor. And through that we grow and become deeper human beings.
  • When you see runners in town is easy to distinguish beginners from veterans. The ones panting are beginners; the ones with quiet, measured breathing are the veterans. Their hearts, lost in thought, slowly tick away time. When we pass each other on the road, we listen to the rhythm of each other’s breathing, and sense the way the other person is ticking away the moments.
  • The morning air of the pasture turned steadily cooler. Day by day, the bright golden leaves of the birches turned more spotted as the first winds of winter slipped between the withered branches and across the highlands toward the southeast. Stopping in the center of the pasture, I could hear the winds clearly. No turning back, they pronounced. The brief autumn was gone.
  • Wasn’t it better if they kept this desire to see each other hidden within them, and never actually got together? That way, there would always be hope in their hearts. That hope would be a small, yet vital flame that warmed them to their core– a tiny flame to cup one’s hands around and protect from the wind, a flame that the violent winds of reality might easily extinguish.
  • I don’t think jealousy has much of a connection with real, objective conditions. Like if you’re fortunate you’re not jealous, but if life hasn’t blessed you, you are jealous. Jealousy doesn’t work that way. It’s more like a tumor secretly growing inside us that gets bigger and bigger, beyond all reason. Even if you find out it’s there, there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
  • You are a beautiful person, Doctor. Clearheaded. Strong. But you seem always to be dragging your heart along the ground. From now on, little by little, you must prepare yourself to face death. If you devote all of your future energy to living, you will not be able to die well. You must begin to shift gears, a little at a time. Living and dying are, in a sense, of equal value.
  • Memory is like fiction; or else it’s fiction that’s like memory. This really came home to me once I started writing fiction, that memory seemd a kind of fiction, or vice versa. Either way, no matter how hard you try to put everything neatly into shape, the context wanders this way and that, until finally the context isn’t even there anymore… Warm with life, hopeless unstable.
  • Me, I’ve seen 45 years and I’ve only figured out one thing. That’s this: if a person would just make the effort, there’s something to be learned from everything. From even the most ordinary, commonplace things, there’s always something you can learn. I read somewhere that they said there’s even different philosophies in razors. Fact is, if it weren’t for that, nobody’d survive.
  • Listen to this, Nimit. Follow Coleman Hawkins’ improvised lines very carefully. He is using them to tell us something. Pay very close attention. He is telling us the story of the free spirit that is doing everything it can to escape from within him. That same kind of spirit is inside me, inside you. There-you can hear it, I’m sure: the hot breath, the shivering heart. (Thailand)
  • You know, they’ve got these chocolate assortments, and you like some but you don’t like others? And you eat all the ones you like, and the only ones left are the ones you don’t like as much? I always think about that when something painful comes up. Now I just have to polish these off, and everything’ll be OK. Life is a box of chocolates. I suppose you could call it a philosophy.
  • There are symbolic dreams– dreams that symbolize some reality. Then there are symbolic realities — realities that symbolize a dream. Symbols are what you might call the honorary town councillors of the worm universe. In the worm universe, there is nothing unusual about a dairy cow seeking a pair of pliers. A cow is bound to get her pliers sometime. It has nothing to do with me.
  • In traveling, a companion, in life, compassion,'” she repeats, making sure of it. If she had paper and pencil, it wouldn’t surprise me if she wrote it down. “So what does that really mean? In simple terms.” I think it over. It takes me a while to gather my thoughts, but she waits patiently. “I think it means,” I say, “that chance encounters are what keep us going. In simple terms.
  • At any rate, that’s how I started running. Thirty three that’s how old I was then. Still young enough, though no longer a young man. The age that Jesus Christ died. The age that Scott Fitzgerald started to go downhill. That age may be a kind of crossroads in life. That was the age when I began my life as a runner, and it was my belated, but real, starting point as a novelist.
  • I wander though China. Without ever having boarded a plane. My travels take place here in the Tokoyo subways, in the backseat of a taxi… all of a sudden this city will start to go. In a flash, the buildings will crumble. Over the Tokyo streets will fall my China, like ash, leaching into everything it touches. Slowly, gradually, until nothing remains. No, this isn’t a place for me.
  • Where are you now?’ Where was I now? Gripping the receiver, I raised my hand and turned to see what lay beyond the telephone booth. Where was I now? I had no idea. No idea at all. Where was this place? All that flashed into my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again, I called out for Midori from the dead center of this place that was no place.
  • I didn’t start running because somebody asked me to become a runner. Just like I didn’t become a novelist because someone asked me to. One day, out of the blue, I wanted to write a novel. And one day, out of the blue, I started to run-simply because I wanted to. I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, but I won’t change.
  • I’m not sure if I could tell the difference between just staring into space and thinking. We’re usually thinking all the time, aren’t we? Not that we live in order to think, but the opposite isn’t true either that we think in order to live. I believe, contrary to Descartes, that we sometimes think in order not to be. Staring into space might unintentionally have the opposite effect.
  • Sometimes I find it too hot to run, and sometimes too cold. Or too cloudy. But I still go running. I know that if I didn’t go running, I wouldn’t go the next day either. It’s not in human nature to take unnecessary burdens upon oneself, so one’s body soon becomes disaccustomed. It mustn’t do that. It’s the same with writing. I write every day so that my mind doesn’t become disaccustomed.
  • I may not be much, but I’m all I’ve got. Maybe you need a magnifying glass to find my face in my high school graduation photo. Maybe I haven’t got any family or friends. Yes, yes, I know all that. But, strange as it might seem, I’m not entirely dissatisfied with life… I feel pretty much at home with what I am. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want any unicorns behind fences.
  • Everybody burns out in this world; amateur, pro, it doesn’t matter, they all burn out, they all get hurt, the OK guys and the not-OK guys both. That’s why everybody takes out a little insurance. I’ve got some too, here at the bottom of the heap. That way, you manage to survive if you burn out. If you’re all by yourself and don’t belong anywhere, you go down once, and you’re out. Finished.
  • Of course it hurt that we could never love each other in a physical way. We would have been far more happy if we had. But that was like the tides, the change of seasons–something immutable, an immovable destiny we could never alter. No matter how cleverly we might shelter it, our delicate friendship wasn’t going to last forever. We were bound to reach a dead end. That was painfully clear.
  • I’m not trying to imply I can keep up this silent, isolated facade all the time. Sometimes the wall I’ve erected around me comes crumbling down. It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes, before I even realize what’s going on, there I am–naked and defenseless and totally confused. At times like that I always feel an omen calling out to me, like a dark, omnipresent pool of water. ~page 10
  • And, well, mine are kind of on the heavy side anyway. The first day or two, I don’t want to do ANYTHING. Make sure you keep away from me then.’ I’d like to, but how can I tell?’ I asked. O.K., I’ll wear a hat for a couple of days after my period starts. A red one. That should work,’ she said with a laugh. ‘If you see me on the street and I’m wearing a red hat, don’t talk to me, just run away.
  • Everybody’s born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I’d really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person.
  • “Dance,” said the Sheep Man. “Yougottadance. Aslongasthemusicplays. Yougotta dance. Don’teventhinkwhy. Starttothink, yourfeetstop. Yourfeetstop, wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you’restuck. Sodon’tpayanymind, nomatterhowdumb. Yougottakeepthestep. Yougottalimberup. Yougottaloosenwhatyoubolteddown. Yougottauseallyougot. Weknowyou’re tired, tiredandscared. Happenstoeveryone, okay? Justdon’tletyourfeetstop.”
  • Maybe time is nothing at all like a straight line. Perhaps it’s shaped like a twisted doughnut. But for tens of thousands of years, people have probably been seeing time as a straight line that continues on forever. And that’s the concept they based their actions on. And until now they haven’t found anything inconvenient or contradictory about it. So as an experiential model, it’s probably correct.
  • I myself, as I’m writing, don’t know who did it. The readers and I are on the same ground. When I start to write a story, I don’t know the conclusion at all and I don’t know what’s going to happen next. If there is a murder case as the first thing, I don’t know who the killer is. I write the book because I would like to find out. If I know who the killer is, there’s no purpose to writing the story.
  • The point is, not to resist the flow. You go up when you’re supposed to go up and down when you’re supposed to go down. When you’re supposed to go up, find the highest tower and climb to the top. When you’re supposed to go down, find the deepest well and go down to the bottom. When there’s no flow, stay still. If you resist the flow, everything dries up. If everything dries up, the world is darkness.
  • The sun sliced through the windshield, sealing me in light. I closed my eyes and felt the warmth on my eyelids. Sunlight traveled a long distance to reach this planet; an infinitesimal portion of that sunlight was enough to warm my eyelids. I was moved. That something as insignificant as an eyelid had its place in the workings on the universe, that the cosmic order did not overlook this momentary fact.
  • But why should you be interested in me?” Good question. I can’t explain it myself right this moment. But maybe just maybe if we start getting together and talking, after a while something like Francis Lai’s soundtrack music will start playing in the background, and a whole slew of concrete reasons why I’m interested in you will line up out of nowhere. With luck, it might even snow for us.
  • Her partially open lips now opened wide, and her soft, fragrant tongue entered his mouth, where it began a relentless search for unformed words, for a secret code engraved there. Tengo’s own tongue responded unconsciously to this movement and soon their tongues were like two young snakes in a spring meadow, newly wakened from their hibernation and hungrily intertwining, each led on by the other’s scent.
  • You can’t look too far ahead. Do that and you’ll lose sight of what you’re doing and stumble. I’m not saying you should focus solely on the details right in front of you, mind you. You’ve got to look ahead a bit or else you’ll bump into something. You’ve got to conform to the proper order and at the same time keep an eye out for what’s ahead. That’s critical, no matter what you’re doing.
  • And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west. The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other’s 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.
  • Well, think of what I’m doing to you right now. For me I’m the self, and you’re the object. For you, of course, it’s the exact opposite you’re the self to you and I’m the object. And by exchanging self and object, we can project ourselves onto the other and gain self-consciousness. Volitionally.I still don’t get it, but it sure feels good.That’s the whole idea,the girl said.
  • Someone who can search for something is happy. Searching gives a meaning to life. Nowadays it’s not so easy to find something you might be looking for. The most important thing, however, is the search itself, the way you take. It’s not so important where it leads. that’s why my characters are always looking for something, maybe only a cat, a sheep or a wife, but that is at least the beginning of a story.
  • Inside him, twenty years dissolved and mixed into one complex, swirling whole. Everything that had accumulated over the years– all he had seen, all the words he has spoken, all the values he had held– all of it coalesced into one solid, thick pillar in his heart, the core of which was spinning like a potter’s wheel. Wordlessly, Tengo observed the scene, as if watching the destruction and rebirth of a planet.
  • All you have to do is wait,I explained. Sit tight and wait for the right moment. Not try to change anything by force, just watch the drift of things. Make an effort to cast a fair eye on everything. If you do that, you just naturally know what to do. But everyone’s always too busy. They’re too talented, their schedules are too full. They’re too interested in themselves to think about what’s fair.
  • They take the circuits out of people’s brains that make it possible for them to think for themselves. Their world is like the one that George Orwell depicted in his novel. I’m sure you realize that there are plenty of people who are looking for exactly that kind of brain death. It makes life a lot easier. You don’t have to think about difficult things, just shut up and do what your superiors tell you to do.
  • I’m tired of living unable to love anyone. I don’t have a single friend – not one. And, worst of all, I can’t even love myself. Why is that? Why can’t I love myself? It’s because I can’t love anyone else. A person learns how to love himself through the simple acts of loving and being loved by someone else. Do you understand what I am saying? A person who is incapable of loving another cannot properly love himself.
  • My peak? Would I even have one? I hardly had had anything you could call a life. A few ripples, some rises and falls. But that’s it. Almost nothing. Nothing born of nothing. I’d loved and been loved, but I had nothing to show. It was a singularly plain, featureless landscape. I felt like I was in a video game. A surrogate Pacman, crunching blindly through a labyrinth of dotted lines. The only certainty was my death.
  • Strange and mysterious things, though, aren’t they – earthquakes? We take it for granted that the earth beneath our feet is solid and stationary. We even talk about people being ‘down to earth’ or having their feet firmly planted on the ground. But suddenly one day we see that it isn’t true. The earth, the boulders, that are supposed to be solid, all of a sudden turn as mushy as liquid – From the short story “Thailand
  • I wonder how it turns out that we all lead such different lives. Take you and your sister, for example. You’re born to the same parents, you grow up in the same household, you’re both girls. How do you end up with such wildly different personalities?…One puts on a bikini like little semaphore flags and lies by the pool looking sexy, and the other puts on her school bathing suit and swims her heart out like a dolphin.
  • Then she took my hand and touched it to the wound beside her eye. I caressed the half-inch scar. As I did so, the waves of her consciousness pulsed through my fingertips and into me – a delicate resonance of longing. Probably someone should take this girl in his arms and hold her tight, I thought. Probably someone other than me. Someone qualified to give her something. “Goodbye, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. See you again sometime.
  • You know what I think?” she says. “That people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel. Advertising fillers in the newspaper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills: when you feed ’em to the fire, they’re all just paper.
  • Why?” she screamed. “Are you crazy? You know the English subjunctive, you understand trigonometry, you can read Marx, and you don’t know the answer to something as simple as that? Why do you even have to ask? Why do you have to make a girl SAY something like this? I like you more than I like him, that’s all. I wish I had fallen in love with somebody a little more handsome, of course. But I didn’t. I fell in love with you!
  • I think memory is the most important asset of human beings. It’s a kind of fuel; it burns and it warms you. My memory is like a chest: There are so many drawers in that chest, and when I want to be a fifteen-year-old boy, I open up a certain drawer and I find the scenery I saw when I was a boy in Kobe. I can smell the air, and I can touch the ground, and I can see the green of the trees. That’s why I want to write a book.
  • “Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.” Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be?
  • If, as the dowager had said, we are nothing but gene carriers, why do so many of us have to lead such strangely shaped lives? Wouldn’t our genetic purpose-to transmit DNA-be served just as well if we lived simple lives, not bothering our heads with a lot of extraneous thoughts, devoted entirely to preserving life and procreating? Did it benefit the genes in any way for us to lead such intricately warped, even bizarre, lives?
  • It feels like everything’s been decided in advance that I’m following a path somebody else has already mapped out for me. It doesn’t matter how much I think things over, how much effort I put into it. In fact, the harder I try, the more I lose my sense of who I am. It’s like my identity’s an orbit that I’ve strayed far away from, and that really hurts. But more than that, it scares me. Just thinking about it makes me flinch.
  • Even if there were two of me, I still couldn’t do all that has to be done. No matter what, though, I keep up my running. Running every day is a kind of lifeline for me, so I’m not going to lay off or quit just because I’m busy. If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again. I have only a few reasons to keep on running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.
  • My only passions were books and music. As you might guess, I led a lonely life. Not that I knew what I wanted in life – I didn’t. I loved reading novels to distraction, but didn’t write well enough to be a novelist; being an editor or a critic was out, too, since my tastes ran to the extremes. Novels should be for pure personal enjoyment, I decided, not part of your work or study. That’s why I didn’t study literature
  • I stare at her chest. As she breathes, the rounded peaks move up and down like the swell of waves, somehow reminding me of rain falling softly on a broad stretch of sea. I’m the lonely voyager standing on deck, and she’s the sea. The sky is a blanket of gray, merging with the gray sea off on the horizon. It’s hard to tell the difference between sea and sky. Between voyager and sea. Between reality and the workings of the heart.
  • I tell you, Mr. Okada, a cold beer at the end of the day is the best thing life has to offer. Some choosy people say that a too cold beer doesn’t taste good, but I couldn’t disagree more. The first beer should be so cold you can’t even taste it. The second one should be a little less chilled, but I want that first one to be like ice. I want it to be so cold my temples throb with pain. This is my own personal preference of course.
  • It was a narrow world, a world that was standing still. But the narrower it became, the more it betook of stillness, the more this world that enveloped me seemed to overflow with things and people that could only be called strange. They had been there all the while, it seemed, waiting in the shadows for me to stop moving. And every time the wind-up bird came to my yard to wind its spring, the world descendedmore deeply into chaos.
  • Even when I ran my bar I followed the same policy. A lot of customers came to the bar. If one in ten enjoyed the place and said he’d come again, that was enough. If one out of ten was a repeat customer, then the business would survive. To put it another way, it didn’t matter if nine out of ten didn’t like my bar. This realization lifted a weight off my shoulders. Still, I had to make sure that the one person who did like the place.
  • Where there is light, there must be shadow, where there is shadow there must be light. There is no shadow without light and no light without shadow…. We do not know if the so-called Little People are good or evil. This is, in a sense, something that surpasses our understanding and our definitions. We have lived with them since long, long ago– from a time before good and evil even existed, when people’s minds were still benighted.
  • In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is, more or less, an inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it. You could see it, too, as a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside.
  • So this was how secrets got started, I thought to myself. People constructed them little by little. I had not consciously intended to keep May Kasahara a secret from Kumiko. My relationship with her was not that big a deal: whether I mentioned it or not was of no consequence. Once it had flown down a certain delicate channel, however, it had become cloaked in the opacity of secretiveness, whatever my original intention had have been.
  • On any given day, something claims our attention. Anything at all, inconsequential things. A rosebud, a misplaced hat, that sweater we liked as a child, an old Gene Pitney record. A parade of trivia with no place to go. Things that bump around in our consciousness for two or three days then go back to wherever they came from… to darkness. We’ve got all these wells dug in our hearts. While above the wells, birds flit back and forth.
  • I want to write stories that are different from the ones I’ve written so far, Junpei thought: I want to write about people who dream and wait for the night to end, who long for the light so they can hold the ones they love. But right now I have to stay here and keep watch over this woman and this girl. I will never let anyone-not anyone-try to put them into that crazy box- not even if the sky should fall or the earth crack open with a roar.
  • Of course life frightens me sometimes. I don’t happen to take that as the premise for everything else though. I’m going to give it hundred percent and go as far as I can. I’ll take what I want and leave what I don’t want. That’s how I intend to live my life, and it things go bad, I’ll stop and reconsider at that point. If you think about it, an unfair society is a society that makes it possible for you to exploit your abilities to the limit.
  • I’ve never met a girl who thinks like you.” “A lot of people tell me that,” she said, digging at a cuticle. “But it’s the only way I know how to think. Seriously. I’m just telling you what I believe. It’s never crossed my mind that my way of thinking is different from other people’s. I’m not trying to be different. But when I speak out honestly, everybody thinks I’m kidding or playacting. When that happens, I feel like everything is such a pain!
  • Although I didn’t think so at the time, things were a lot simpler in 1969. All you had to do to express yourself was throw rocks at riot police. But with today’s sophistication, who’s in a position to throw rocks? Who’s going to brave what tear gas? C’mon, that’s the way it is. Everything is rigged, tied into that massive capital web, and beyond this web there’s another web. Nobody’s going anywhere. You throw a rock and it’ll come right back at you.
  • It’s basically the same in all periods of societies. If you belong to the majority, you can avoid thinking about lots of troubling things.’ ‘And those troubling things are all you /can/ think about when you’re one of the few.’ ‘That’s about the size of it,’ she said mournfully. ‘But maybe, if you’re in a situation like that, you learn to think for yourself.’ ‘Yes, but maybe what you end up thinking for yourself /about/ is all those troubling things.
  • Reading was like an addiction; I read while I ate, on the train, in bed until late at night, in school, where I’d keep the book hidden so I could read during class. Before long I bought a small stereo and spent all my time in my room, listening to jazz records. But I had almost no desire to talk to anyone about the experience I gained through books and music. I felt happy just being me and no one else. In that sense I could be called a stack-up loner.
  • I can never say what I want to say, it’s been like this for a while now. I try to say something but all I get are wrong words – the wrong words or the exact opposite words from what I mean. I try to correct myself, and that only makes it worse. I lose track of what I was trying to say to begin with. It’s like I’m split in two and playing tag with myself. One half is chasing this big, fat post. The other me has the right words, but this can’t catch her.
  • I found a Bill Evans record in the bookcase and was listening to it while drying my hair when I realized that it was the record I had played in Naoko’s room on the night of her birthday, the night she cried and I took her in my arms. That had happened only six months earlier, but it felt like something from a much remoter past. Maybe it felt that way because I had thought about it so often-too often, to the point where it had distorted my sense of time.
  • I have been told I’ve got a darkish personality. A few times.” Takahashi swings his trombone case from his right shoulder to his left. Then he says, “It’s not as if our lives are divided simply into light and dark. There’s shadowy middle ground. Recognizing and understanding the shadows is what a healthy intelligence does. And to acquire a healthy intelligence takes a certain amount of time and effort. I don’t think you have a particularly dark character.
  • Hey, what is it with you? Why are you so spaced out? You still haven’t answered me.” I probably still haven’t completely adapted to the world,” I said after giving it some thought. “I don’t know, I feel like this isn’t the real world. The people, the scene: they just don’t seem real to me.” Midori rested an elbow on the bar and looked at me. “There was something like that in a Jim Morrison song, I’m pretty sure.” People are strange when you’re a stranger.
  • I do feel that I’ve managed to make something I could maybe call my world‚ over time little by little. And when I’m inside it, to some extent, I feel kind of relieved. But the very fact I felt I had to make such a world probably means that I’m a weak person, that I bruise easily, don’t you think? And in the eyes of society at large, that world of mine is a puny little thing. It’s like a cardboard house: a puff of wind might carry it off somewhere.
  • No mistake about it. Ice is cold; roses are red; I’m in love. And this love is about to carry me off somewhere. The current’s too overpowering; I don’t have any choice. It may very well be a special place, some place I’ve never seen before. Danger may be lurking there, something that may end up wounding me deeply, fatally. I might end up losing everything. But there’s no turning back. I can only go with the flow. Even if it means I’ll be burned up, gone forever.
  • you mean machines are like humans?” I shook my head. “No, not like humans. With machines the feeling is, well, more finite. It doesn’t go any further. With humans it’s different. The feeling is always changing. Like if you love somebody, the love is always shifting or wavering. It’s always questioning or inflating or disappearing or denying or hurting. And the thing is, you can’t do anything about it, you can’t control it. With my Subaru, it’s not so complicated.
  • Kumiko and I felt something for each other from the beginning. It was not one of those strong, impulsive feelings that can hit two people like an electric shock when they first meet, but something quieter and gentler, like two tiny lights traveling in tandem through a vast darkness and drawing imperceptibly closer to each other as they go. As our meetings grew more frequent, I felt not so much that I had met someone new as that I had chanced upon a dear old friend.
  • So I’m not crazy after all! I thought it looked good myself once I cut it all off. Not one guy likes it, though. They all tell me I look like a first grader or a concentration camp survivor. What’s this thing that guys have for girls with long hair? Fascists, the whole bunch of them! Why do guys all think girls with long hair are the classiest, the sweetest, the most feminine? I mean, I myself know at least two hundred and fifty unclassy girls with long hair. Really.
  • As if to build a fence around the fatal emptiness inside her, she had to create a sunny person that she became. But if you peeled away the ornamental egos that she had built, there was only an abbys of nothingness and the intense thirst that came with it. Though she tried to forget it, the nothingness would visit her periodically – on a lonely rainy afternoon, or at dawn when she woke up from a nightmare. What she needed at such times was to be held by someone, anyone.
  • Oshima’s silent for a time as he gazes at the forest, eyes narrowed. Birds are flitting from one branch to the next. His hands are clasped behind his head. “I know how you feel,” he finally says. “But this is something you have to work out on your own. Nobody can help you. That’s what love’s all about, Kafka. You’re the one having those wonderful feelings, but you have to go it alone as you wander through the dark. Your mind and body have to bear it all. All by yourself.
  • For example, the wind has its reasons. We just don’t notice as we go about our lives. But then, at some point, we are made to notice. The wind envelops you with a certain purpose in mind, and it rocks you. The wind knows everything that’s inside you. And not just the wind. Everything, including a stone. They all know us very well. From top to bottom. It only occurs to us at certain times. And all we can do is go with those things. As we take them in, we survive, and deepen.
  • “They tell us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but I don’t believe that.” he said. Then, a moment later, he added: “Oh, the fear is there, all right. It comes to us in many different forms, at different times, and overwhelms us. But the most frightening thing we can do at such times is to turn our backs on it, to close our eyes. For then we take the most precious thing inside us and surrender it to something else. In my case, that something was the wave.”
  • Has the dark shadow really disappeared? Or is it inside me, concealed, waiting for its chance to reappear? Like a clever thief hidden inside a house, breathing quietly, waiting until everyone’s asleep. I have looked deep inside myself, trying to detect something that might be there. But just as our consciousness is a maze, so too is our body. Everywhere you turn there’s darkness, and a blind spot. Everywhere you find silent hints, everywhere a surprise is waiting for you.
  • sometimes i’d wake up at two or three in the morning and not be able to fall asleep again. i’d get out of bed, go to the kitchen, and pour myself a whiskey. glass in hand, i’d look down at the darkened cemetary across teh way and the headlights of the cars on the road. the moments of time linking night and dawn were long and dark. if i could cry, it might make things easier. but what would i cry over? i was too self centered to cry for other people, too old to cry for myself.
  • Hatred is like a long, dark shadow. Not even the person it falls upon knows where it comes from, in most cases. It is like a two-edged sword. When you cut the other person, you cut yourself. The more violently you hack at the other person, the more violently you hack at yourself. It can often be fatal. But it is not easy to dispose of. Please be careful, Mr.Okada. It is very dangerous. Once it has taken root in your heart, hatred is the most difficult think in the world to shake off.
  • I was twenty-one at the time, about to turn twenty-two. No prospect of graduating soon, and yet no reason to quit school. Caught in the most curiously depressing circumstances. For months I’d been stuck, unable to take one step in any new direction. The world kept moving on; I alone was at a standstill. In the autumn, everything took on a desolate cast, the colors swiftly fading before my eyes. The sunlight, the smell of the grass, the faintest patter of rain, everything got on my nerves.
  • As long as I stared at the clock, at least the world remained in motion. Not a very consequential world, but in motion nonetheless. And as long as I knew the world was still in motion, I knew I existed. Not a very consequential existence, but an existence nonetheless. It struck me as wanting that someone should confirm his own existence only by the hands of an electric wall clock. There had to be a more cognitive means of confirmation. But try as I might, nothing less facile came to mind.
  • Adults constantly raise the bar on smart children, precisely because they’re able to handle it. The children get overwhelmed by the tasks in front of them and gradually lose the sort of openness and sense of accomplishment they innately have. When they’re treated like that, children start to crawl inside a shell and keep everything inside. It takes a lot of time and effort to get them to open up again. Kids’ hearts are malleable, but once they gel it’s hard to get them back the way they were.
  • There were plenty of women around who dressed smartly, and plenty more who dressed to impress, but this girl was different. Totally different. She wore her clothing with such utter naturalness and grace that she could have been a bird that had wrapped itself in a special wind as it made ready to fly off to another world. He had never seen a woman who wore her clothes with such apparent joy. And the clothes themselves looked as if, in being draped on her body, they had won new life for themselves.
  • A life without pain: it was the very thing I had dreamed of for years, but now that I had it, I couldn’t find a place for myself within it. A clear gap separated me from it, and this caused me great confusion. I felt as if I were not anchored to this world – this world that I had hated so passionately until then; this world that I had continued to revile for its unfairness and injustice; this world where at least I knew who I was. Now the world ceased to be the world, and I had ceased to be me.
  • “I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.” “Waiting for perfect love?”  “No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortcake. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortcake out to me. And I say I don’t want it anymore and throw it out the window. That’s what I’m looking for.”
  • These days I just can’t seem to say what I mean […]. I just can’t. Every time I try to say something, it misses the point. Either that or I end up saying the opposite of what I mean. The more I try to get it right the more mixed up it gets. Sometimes I can’t even remember what I was trying to say in the first place. It’s like my body’s split in two and one of me is chasing the other me around a big pillar. We’re running circles around it. The other me has the right words, but I can never catch her.
  • How can the mind be so imperfect?” she says with a smile. I look at my hands. Bathed in the moonlight, they seem like statues, proportioned to no purpose. “It may well be imperfect,” I say, “but it leaves traces. And we can follow those traces, like footsteps in the snow.” “Where do the lead?” “To oneself,” I answer. “That’s where the mind is. Without the mind, nothing leads anywhere.” I look up. The winter moon is brilliant, over the Town, above the Wall. “Not one thing is your fault,” I comfort her.
  • So for all that we might speak words in each other’s vicinity, this could never develop into anything that could be called a conversation. It was as though we were speaking in different languages. If the Dalai Lama were on his deathbed and the jazz musician Eric Dolphy were to try to explain to him the importance of choosing one’s engine oil in accordance with changes in the sound of the bass clarinet, that exchange might have been more worthwhile and effective than my conversations with Noboru Wataya.
  • Whenever an occasion arose in which she needed an opinion on something in the wider world, she borrowed her husband’s. If this had been all there was to her, she wouldn’t have bothered anyone, but as is so often the case with such women, she suffered from an incurable case of of pretentiousness. Lacking any internalized values of her own, such people can arrive at a standpoint only by adopting other people’s standards or views. The only principle that governs their minds is the question “How do I look?
  • There are some things about myself I can’t explain to anyone. There are some things I don’t understand at all. I can’t tell what I think about things or what I’m after. I don’t know what my strengths are or what I’m supposed to do about them. But if I start thinking about these things in too much detail the whole thing gets scary. And if I get scared I can only think about myself. I become really self-centered, and without meaning to, I hurt people. So I’m not such a wonderful human being.
  • If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden. The two processes complement each other, creating a complete landscape that I treasure. The green foliage of the trees casts a pleasant shade over the earth, and the wind rustles the leaves, which are sometimes dyed a brilliant gold. Meanwhile, in the garden, buds appear on the flowers, and colorful petals attract bees and butterflies, reminding us of the subtle transition from one season to the next.
  • I’ve had that kind of experience myself: I’m looking at a map and I see someplace that makes me think, I absolutely have to go to this place, no matter what’. And most of the time, for some reason, the place is far away and hard to get to. I feel this overwhelming desire to know what kind of scenery the place has, or what people are doing there. It’s like measles – you can’t show other people exactly where the passion comes from. It’s curiosity in the purest sense. An inexplicable inspiration.
  • In ancient times, people weren’t just male or female, but one of three types: male/male, male/female, female/female. In other words, each person was made out of the components of two people. Everyone was happy with this arrangement and never really gave it much a thought. But then God took a knife and cut everybody in half, right down the middle. So after that the world was divided just into male and female, the upshot being that people spend their time running around trying to locate their missing other half.
  • Once, when I was younger, I thought I could be someone else. I’d move to Casablanca, open a bar, and I’d meet Ingrid Bergman. Or more realistically – whether actually more realistic or not – I’d tune in on a better life, something more suited to my true self. Toward that end, I had to undergo training. I read The Greening of America, and I saw Easy Rider three times. But like a boat with a twisted rudder, I kept coming back to the same place. I wasn’t anywhere. I was myself, waiting on the shore for me to return.
  • The best thing would be to break your neck, but you’d probably just break your leg and then you couldn’t do a thing. You’d yell at the top of your lungs, but nobody;d hear you, and you couldn’t expect anybody to find you, and you’d have centipedes and spiders crawling all over you, and the bones of the ones who died before are scattered all around you, and it’s dark and soggy, and way overhead there’s this tiny, tiny circle of light like a winter moon. You die there in this place, little by little, all by yourself.
  • Math is like water. It has a lot of difficult theories, of course, but its basic logic is very simple. Just as water flows from high to low over the shortest possible distance, figures can only flow in one direction. You just have to keep your eye on them for the route to reveal itself. That’s all it takes. You don’t have to do a thing. Just concentrate your attention and keep your eyes open, and the figures make everything clear to you. In this whole, wide world, the only thing that treats me so kindly is math.
  • Those five fingers and that palm were like a display case crammed full of everything I wanted to know–and everything I had to know. By taking my hand, she showed me what these things were. That within the real world, a place like this existed. In the space of those ten seconds I became I tiny bird, fluttering in the air, the wind rushing by. From high in the sky I could see a scene far away. It was so far off I couldn’t make it out clearly, yet something was there, and I knew that someday I would travel to that place.
  • I hurt myself deeply, though at the time I had no idea how deeply. I should have learned many things from that experience, but when I look back on it, all I gained was one single, undeniable fact. That ultimately I am a person who can do evil. I never consciously tried to hurt anyone, yet good intentions notwithstanding, when necessity demanded, I could become completely self-centred, even cruel. I was the kind of person who could, using some plausible excuse, inflict on a person I cared for a wound that would never heal.
  • Where the road sloped upward beyond the trees, I sat and looked toward the building where Naoko lived. It was easy to tell which room was hers. All I had to do was find the one window toward the back where a faint light trembled. I focused on that point of light for a long, long time. It made me think of something like the final throb of a soul’s dying embers. I wanted to cup my hands over what was left and keep it alive. I went on watching the way Jay Gatsby watched that tiny light on the opposite shore night after night.
  • Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads – at least that’s where I imagine it – there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.
  • So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that’s stolen from us–that’s snatched right out of our hands–even if we are left completely changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to the end of our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness.
  • I laughed. You’re too young to be so pessimistic,I said, using the English word. Pessi-what? Pessimistic. It means looking only at the dark side of things. Pessimistic, pessimistic. She repeated the English to herself over and over, and then she looked up at me with a fierce glare. I’m only sixteen,she said, and I don’t know much about the world, but I do know one thing for sure. If I’m pessimistic, then the adults in this world who are not pessimistic are a bunch of idiots.
  • For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary or perhaps more like mediocre level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.
  • In this world, there is no absolute good, no absolute evil,” the man said. “Good and evil are not fixed, stable entities, but are continually trading places. A good may be transformed into an evil in the next second. And vice versa. Such was the way of the world that Dostoevsky depicted in The Brothers Karamazov. The most important thing is to maintain the balance between the constantly moving good and evil. If you lean too much in either direction, it becomes difficult to maintain actual morals. Indeed, balance itself is the good.
  • No matter how clear things might become in the forest of story, there was never a clear-cut solution, as there was in math. The role of a story was, in the broadest terms, to transpose a problem into another form. Depending on the nature and the direction of the problem, a solution might be suggested in the narrative. Tengo would return to the real world with that solution in hand. It was like a piece of paper bearing the indecipherable text of a magic spell. It served no immediate practical purpose, but it contained a possibility.
  • Let me just tell you this, Watanabe,” said Midori, pressing her cheek against my neck. “I’m a real, live girl, with real, live blood gushing through my veins. You’re holding me in your arms and I’m telling you that I love you. I’m ready to do anything you tell me to do. I may be a little bit mad, but I’m a good girl, and honest, and I work hard, I’m kind of cute, I have nice boobs, I’m a good cook, and my father left me a trust fund. I mean, I’m a real bargain, don’t you think? If you don’t take me, I’ll end up going somewhere else.
  • Don’t you see? You and he might never cross paths again. Of course, a chance meeting could occur, and I hope it happens. I really do, for your sake. But realistically speaking, you have to see there’s a huge possibility you’ll never be able to meet him again. And even if you do meet, he might already be married to somebody else. He might have two kids. Isn’t that so? And in that case, you may have to live the rest of your life alone, never being joined with the one person you love in all the world. Don’t you find that scary?
  • I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring. I’ve had this tendency ever since I was young, when, given a choice, I much preferred reading books on my own or concentrating on listening to music over being with someone else. I could always think of things to do by myself.
  • Only people who have been discriminated against can really know how much it hurts. Each person feels the pain in his own way, each has his own scars. So I think I’m as concerned about fairness and justice as anybody. But what disgusts me even more are people who have no imagination. The kind T. S. Elliot calls ‘hollow men’. People who fill up that lack of imagination with heartless bits of straw, not even aware of what they’re doing. Callous people who throw a lot of empty words at you, trying to force you to do what you don’t want to.
  • I miss you terribly sometimes, but in general I go on living with all the energy I can muster. Just as you take care of the birds and the fields every morning, every morning I wind my own spring. I give it some 36 good twists by the time I’ve got up, brushed my teeth, shaved, eaten breakfast, changed my clothes, left the dorm, and arrived at the university. I tell myself, “OK, let’s make this day another good one.” I hadn’t noticed before, but they tell me I talk to myself a lot these days. Probably mumbling to myself while I wind my spring.
  • I have come to think that life is a far more limited thing than those in the midst of its maelstorm realize. That light shines into the act of life for only the briefest moment – perhaps only a matter of seconds. Once it is gone and failed to grasp its offered revelation, there is no second chance. One may have to live the rest of one’s life in hopeless depth of loneliness and remorse. In that twilight world, one can no longer look forward to anything. All that such a person holds in his hands is the withered corpse of what should have been.
  • There was just one moon. That familiar, yellow, solitary moon. The same moon that silently floated over fields of pampas grass, the moon that rose–a gleaming, round saucer–over the calm surface of lakes, that tranquilly beamed down on the rooftops of fast-asleep houses. The same moon that brought the high tide to shore, that softly shone on the fur of animals and enveloped and protected travelers at night. The moon that, as a crescent, shaved slivers from the soul–or, as a new moon, silently bathed the earth in its own loneliness. THAT moon.
  • Instead of things I’m good at, it might be faster to list the things I can’t do. I can’t cook or clean the house. My room’s a mess, and I’m always losing things. I love music, but I can’t sing a note. I’m clumsy and can barely sew a stitch. My sense of direction is the pits, and I can’t tell left from right half the time. When I get angry, I tend to break things. Plates and pencils, alarm clocks. Later on I regret it, but at the time I can’t help myself. I have no money in the bank. I’m bashful for no reason, and I have hardly any friends to speak of.
  • Tell me how you could say such a thing, she said, staring down at the ground beneath her feet. You’re not telling me anything I don’t know already. ‘Relax your body, and the rest of you will lighten up.’ What’s the point of saying that to me? If I relaxed my body now, I’d fall apart. I’ve always lived like this, and it’s the only way I know how to go on living. If I relaxed for a second, I’d never find my way back. I’d go to pieces, and the pieces would be blown away. Why can’t you see that? How can you talk about watching over me if you can’t see that?
  • Fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step.
  • Listen – God only exists in people’s minds. Especially in Japan, God’s always been kind of a flexible concept. Look at what happened after the war. Douglas MacArthur ordered the divine emperor to quit being God, and he did, making a speech saying he was just an ordinary person. So after 1946 he wasn’t God anymore. That’s what Japanese gods are like–they can be tweaked and adjusted. Some American comping on a cheap pipe gives the order and presto change-o–God’s no longer God. A very postmodern kind of thing. If you think God’s there, He is. If you don’t, He isn’t.
  • And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they’re nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we’d be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.
  • Then I noticed that my shadow was crying too, shedding clear, sharp shadow tears. Have you ever seen the shadows of tears, Mr. Wind-Up Bird? They’re nothing like ordinary shadows. Nothing at all. They come here from some other, distant world, especially for our hearts. Or maybe not. It struck me then that the tears my shadow was shedding might be the real thing, and the tears that I was shedding were just shadows. You don’t get it, I’m sure, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. When a naked seventeen-year-old girl is shedding tears in the moonlight, anything can happen. It’s true.
  • The world in books seemed so much more alive to me than anything outside. I could see things I’d never seen before. Books and music were my best friends. I had a couple of good friends at school, but never met anyone I could really speak my heart to. We’d just make small talk, play soccer together. When something bothered me, I didn’t talk with anyone about it. I thought it over all by myself, came to a conclusion, and took action alone. Not that I really felt lonely. I thought that’s just the way things are. Human beings, in the final analysis, have to survive on their own.
  • I’m not good at talking,Naoko said. Haven’t been for the longest while. I start to say something and the wrong words come out. Wrong or sometimes completely backward. I try to go back and correct it, but things get even more complicated and confused, so that I don’t even remember what I started to say in the first place. Like I was split into two or something, one half chasing the other. And there’s this big pillar in the middle and they go chasing each other around and around it. The other me always latches onto the right word and this me absolutely never catches up
  • That’s why I like listening to Schubert while I’m driving. Like I said, it’s because all his performances are imperfect. A dense, artistic kind of imperfection stimulates your consciousness, keeps you alert. If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I’m driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of – that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally I find that encouraging.
  • She’s always polite and kind, but her words lack the kind of curiosity and excitement you’d normally expect. Her true feelings- assuming such things exist- remain hidden away. Except for when a practical sort of decision has to be made, she never gives her personal opinion about anything. She seldom talks about herself, instead letting others talk, nodding warmly as she listens. But most people start to feel vaguely uneasy when talking with her, as if they suspect they’re wasting her time, trampling on her private, graceful, dignified world. And that impression is, for the most part, correct.
  • Not just beautiful, though  the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me. What I’ve up till now, what I’m going to do   they know it all. Nothing gets past their watchful eyes. As I sit there under the shining night sky, again a violent fear takes hold of me. My heart’s pounding a mile a minute, and I can barely breathe. All these millions of stars looking down on me, and I’ve never given them more than a passing thought before. Not just the stars   how many other things haven’t I noticed in the world, things I know nothing about?
  • How many times have you said, ‘This is it. I’ve finally found my one true love’? And how many times has the reality turned out differently? Paperback romances and fairy tales promote an ideal of a first and only love, but few of us can claim to have had such uncomplicated good fortune. For most people, the process of finding the perfect partner is one trial and error: breakups, makeups, missed opportunities and misunderstandings. Human love is a fragile creation, and sometimes the smallest thing – the wrong choice of words or a single clumsy gesture – can make love shatter, stall or fade away.
  • Most things are forgotten over time. Even the war itself, the life-and-death struggle people went through, is now like something from the distant past. We’re so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past, like ancient stars that have burned out, are no longer in orbit around our minds. There are just too many things we have to think about every day, too many new things we have to learn. New styles, new information, new technology, new terminology … But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone. And for me, what happened in the woods that day is one of these.

 

Isaac Asimov (quotes)

  • Past glories are poor feeding.
  • It’s the writing that teaches you.
  • All evil is good become cancerous.
  • The intelligent man is never bored.
  • Boasts are wind and deeds are hard.
  • Education isn’t something you can finish
  • Democracy cannot survive overpopulation.
  • Computerization eliminates the middleman
  • Economics is on the side of humanity now.
  • Finished products are for decadent minds.
  • Happiness is doing it rotten your own way.
  • Man’s greatest asset is the unsettled mind.
  • Theories are not so much wrong as incomplete
  • Oh, for a pin that would puncture pretension!
  • How many people is the earth able to sustain?
  • Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
  • Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.
  • Dreams may be impossible, yet still be dreamed.
  • Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those that live on it.
  • It is not only the living who are killed in war.
  • All life is nucleic acid; the rest is commentary
  • Flattery is useful when dealing with youngsters.
  • Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
  • I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
  • I’m not a speed reader. I’m a speed understander.
  • The spell of power never quite releases its hold.
  • It is not only the living who are killed in war.
  • Scientific truth is beyond loyalty and disloyalty.
  • I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
  • I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.
  • Today’s science fiction is tomorrow’s science fact.
  • It’s a poor atom blaster that won’t point both ways.
  • People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence.
  • In life, people will take you at your own reckoning.
  • American – Scientist January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992
  • I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.
  • Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.
  • Never judge your own writing. You’re not fit to do so.
  • The downtrodden are more religious than the satisfied.
  • People think of education as something they can finish.
  • Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.
  • The final end of Eternity, and the beginning of Infinity
  • The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying.
  • The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.
  • Nothing has to be true, but everything has to sound true.
  • There is as yet insufficient data for a meaningful answer.
  • Where any answer is possible, all answers are meaningless.
  • In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate.
  • All roads lead to Trantor, and that is where all stars end.
  • If you ask for too much, you lose even that which you have.
  • I don’t like anything that’s got to be. I want to know why.
  • The first step in making rabbit stew is catching the rabbit.
  • They don’t want equal time – they want all the time there is.
  • An atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.
  • Society is much more easily soothed than one’s own conscience.
  • Writing is my only interest. Even speaking is an interruption.
  • Was there anything more exciting in life than seeking answers?
  • There is nothing so eternally adhesive as the memory of power.
  • While he lives, he must think; while he thinks, he must dream.
  • I don’t believe in extraordinary concatenations of coincidence.
  • A fire-eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself.
  • Words are a pretty fuzzy substitute for mathematical equations.
  • I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it.
  • You can’t assert an answer just because it’s not something else.
  • At odd and unpredictable times, we cling in fright to the past .
  • Only a lie that wasn’t ashamed of itself could possibly succeed.
  • I am the beneficiary of a lucky break in the genetic sweepstakes.
  • The most hopelessly stupid man is he who is not aware he is wise.
  • The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing.
  • Scientists expect to be improved on and corrected; they hope to be
  • It was easy to cover up ignorance by the mystical word “intuition.
  • It seems to me that God is a convenient invention of the human mind
  • The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing.
  • The great secret of the successful fool is that he’s no fool at all
  • Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.
  • There are no happy endings in history, only crisis points that pass.
  • What would I do if I knew I only had six months to live? Type faster.
  • Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right.
  • There is no Master but the Master,” he said, “and QT-1 is his prophet.
  • There is no more desire to live past one’s time than to die before it.
  • It is remarkable, Hardin, how the religion of science has grabbed hold.
  • It is well-known that the friend of a conqueror is but the last victim.
  • To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.
  • It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.
  • It is the chief characteristic of the religion of science that it works.
  • When I die I won’t go to heaven or hell; there will just be nothingness.
  • When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent.
  • Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.
  • I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.
  • You don’t have to be able to lay eggs to know when one of them is rotten.
  • It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.
  • Life is a journey, but don’t worry, you’ll find a parking spot at the end.
  • Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket.
  • Life originated in the sea, and about eighty percent of it is still there.
  • Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.
  • I write for the same reason I breathe – because if I didn’t, I would die.
  • Why this reluctance to make the change? We fear the process of reeducation.
  • Intelligence is an accident of evolution, and not necessarily an advantage.
  • Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.
  • Mathematicians deal with large numbers sometimes, but never in their income.
  • The first law of dietetics seems to be: if it tastes good, it’s bad for you.
  • If a conclusion is not poetically balanced, it cannot be scientifically true.
  • … you just can’t differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans.
  • Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
  • It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.
  • Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.
  • Meanwhile, fears of universal disaster sank to an all time low over the world.
  • I don’t expect to live forever, but I do intend to hang on as long as possible.
  • The greatest inventors are unknown to us. Someone invented the wheel – but who?
  • A good question is, of course, the key by which infinite answers can be educed.
  • Grip the nettle firmly and it will become a stick with which to beat your enemy.
  • Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer should be replaced by a computer.
  • Many a prophecy, by the mere force of its being believed, is transmuted to fact.
  • I don’t expect to live forever, but I do intend to hang on as long as possible.
  • Surely no child, and few adults, have ever watched a bird in flight without envy.
  • People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
  • I have never written a book that didn’t teach me far more than it taught my reader.
  • It was obvious that bigotry was never a one-way operation, that hatred bred hatred!
  • The human brain, then, is the most complicated organization of matter that we know.
  • People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
  • Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.
  • To make discoveries, you have to be curious about why the universe is the way it is.
  • If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.
  • Science can amuse and fascinate us all, but it is engineering that changes the world.
  • If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.
  • Married life had taught him the futility of arguing with a female in a dark-brown mood.
  • I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing — to be clear.
  • If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.
  • The facts, gentlemen, and nothing but the facts, for careful eyes are narrowly watching.
  • Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate itself in empty phrases.
  • There seems to be a feeling that anything that is natural is good. Strychnine is natural.
  • Night will always be a time of fear and insecurity, and the heart will sink with the sun.
  • Having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.
  • In the presence of total Darkness, the mind finds it absolutely necessary to create light.
  • The false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
  • Every religion seems like a fantasy to outsiders, but as holy truth to those of the faith.
  • All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else.
  • Love life seems to be that factor which requires the largest quantity of magical tinkering.
  • I never considered myself a patriot. I like to think I recognize only humanity as my nation.
  • Courtiers don’t take wagers against the king’s skill. There is the deadly danger of winning.
  • The cure for advanced gullibility is to go to sleep and consider matters again the next day.
  • There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.
  • You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason—if you pick the proper postulates.
  • There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.
  • It is change continuing change, inevitable change that is the dominant factor in society today.
  • If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.
  • True literacy is becoming an arcane art and the nation [United States] is steadily dumbing down.
  • It’s your fiction that interests me. Your studies of the interplay of human motives and emotion.
  • A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • [O]ur statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.
  • Scientists derive satisfaction from figuring out the puzzle. It’s about the quest, not the grail.
  • If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.
  • It’s humbling to think that all animals, including human beings, are parasites of the plant world.
  • Working ten hour days allows you to fall behind twice as fast as you could working five hour days.
  • Postulates are based on assumption and adhered to by faith. Nothing in the Universe can shake them.
  • Politically popular speech has always been protected: even the Jews were free to say ‘Heil Hitler.’
  • To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
  • If there is a category of human being for whom his work ought to speak for itself, it is the writer.
  • It’s not so much what you have to learn if you accept weird theories, it’s what you have to UNlearn.
  • Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo.
  • We all know we fall. Newton’s discovery was that the moon falls, too-and by the same rule that we do.
  • To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
  • Creationists make it sound as though a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
  • If all human beings understood history, they might cease making the same stupid mistakes over and over.
  • Radiation, unlike smoking, drinking, and overeating, gives no pleasure, so the possible victims object.
  • It was childish to feel disappointed, but childishness comes almost as naturally to a man as to a child.
  • The closer to the truth, the better the lie, and the truth itself, when it can be used, is the best lie.
  • I figure that if God actually does exist, he is big enough to understand an honest difference of opinion.
  • The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
  • We’re forever teetering on the brink of the unknowable, and trying to understand what can’t be understood.
  • The law of conservation of energy tells us we can’t get something for nothing, but we refuse to believe it.
  • The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
  • It is always useful, you see, to subject the past life of reform politicians to rather inquisitive research.
  • Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.
  • Of course there are worlds. Millions of them! Every star you see has worlds, and most of those you don’t see.
  • The significant chemicals of living tissue are rickety and unstable, which is exactly what is needed for life.
  • There is an art to science, and a science in art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the whole.
  • A scientist is as weak and human as any man, but the pursuit of science may ennoble him even against his will.
  • It seems to me, Golan, that the advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.
  • To insult someone we call him ‘bestial. For deliberate cruelty and nature, ‘human’ might be the greater insult.
  • My feeling is, quite simply, that if there is a God, He has done such a bad job that he isn’t worth discussing.
  • Science doesn’t purvey absolute truth. Science is a mechanism… for testing your thoughts against the universe.
  • A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value.
  • That’s the harm of Close Encounters: that it convinces tens of millions that that’s what just science fiction is.
  • I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism.
  • There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death.
  • There is no merit to discipline under ideal circumstances. I must have it in the face of death or it is worthless.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
  • Old people think young people haven’t learned about love. Young people think old people have forgotten about love.
  • A neat and orderly laboratory is unlikely. It is, after all, so much a place of false starts and multiple attempts.
  • Humanity is cutting down its forests, apparently oblivious to the fact that we may not be able to live without them.
  • Custom is second nature. Be accustomed to a bald head, sufficiently accustomed, and hair on it would seem monstrous.
  • You show me someone who can’t understand people and I’ll show you someone who has built up a false image of himself.
  • The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers.
  • Experimentation is the least arrogant method of gaining knowledge. The experimenter humbly asks a question of nature.
  • There was this superstitious fear on the part of the pygmies of the present for the relics of the giants of the past.
  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka’ but ‘That’s funny.
  • I don’t believe in personal immortality; the only way I expect to have some version of such a thing is through my books.
  • Naturally, there’s got to be a limit for I don’t expect to live forever, but I do intend to hang on as long as possible.
  • Uncertainty that comes from knowledge (knowing what you don’t know) is different from uncertainty coming from ignorance.
  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’
  • Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us.
  • The advance of genetic engineering makes it quite conceivable that we will begin to design our own evolutionary progress.
  • It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
  • It is not so much that I have confidence in scientists being right, but that I have so much in nonscientists being wrong.
  • Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up. Well, maybe once..
  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’
  • The greatest weapons in the conquest of knowledge are an understanding mind and the inexorable curiosity that drives it on.
  • You wait for the war to happen like vultures. If you want to help, prevent the war. Don’t save the remnants. Save them all.
  • The age of the pulp magazine was the last in which youngsters, to get their primitive material, were forced to be literate.
  • Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
  • I don’t subscribe to the thesis, ‘Let the buyer beware,’ I prefer the disregarded one that goes, ‘Let the seller be honest.’
  • To test a perfect theory with imperfect instruments did not impress the Greek philosophers as a valid way to gain knowledge.
  • Do not forget that a traitor within our ranks, known to us, can do more harm to the enemy than a loyal man can do good to us.
  • It is almost impossible to think of something no one has thought of before, but it is always possible to add different frills.
  • In my life there have been several individuals whose presence made it easier for me to think, pleasanter to make my responses.
  • [Social] science fiction is that branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance on human beings.
  • The whole world might know you and acclaim you, but someone in the past, forever unreachable, forever unknowing, spoils it all.
  • Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.
  • Even as a youngster, though, I could not bring myself to believe that if knowledge presented danger, the solution was ignorance.
  • No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
  • It has always been my ambition to die in harness with my head face down on a keyboard and my nose caught between two of the keys.
  • Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.
  • Goodbye, Hari, my love. Remember always–all you did for me.” -I did nothing for you.” -You loved me and your love made me–human.
  • Author’s Notes: This story starts with section 6. This is not a mistake. I have my own subtle reasoning. So, just read, and enjoy.
  • And in man is a three-pound brain which, as far as we know, is the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe.
  • All the hundreds of millions of people who, in their time, believed the Earth was flat never succeeded in unrounding it by an inch.
  • When I feel difficulty coming on, I switch to another book I’m writing. When I get back to the problem, my unconscious has solved it.
  • Fertility is hereditary. If your parents didn’t have any children, neither will you. I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
  • It takes more than capital to swing business. You’ve got to have the A. I. D. degree to get by – Advertising, Initiative, and Dynamics.
  • Science is a set of rules to keep us from telling lies to each other. All scientists really have is a reputation for telling the truth.
  • Scientific apparatus offers a window to knowledge, but as they grow more elaborate, scientists spend ever more time washing the windows.
  • Fifty years,” I hackneyed, “is a long time.” “Not when you’re looking back at them,” she said. “You wonder how they vanished so quickly.
  • There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before.
  • One might accept death reasoningly, with every aspect of the conscious mind, but the body was a brute beast that knew nothing of reason.
  • It takes more than capital to swing business. You’ve got to have the A. I. D. degree to get by – Advertising, Initiative, and Dynamics.
  • Human beings sometimes find a kind of pleasure in nursing painful emotions, in blaming themselves without reason or even against reason.
  • All sorts of computer errors are now turning up. You’d be surprised to know the number of doctors who claim they are treating pregnant men.
  • Things do change. The only question is that since things are deteriorating so quickly, will society and man’s habits change quickly enough?
  • All sorts of computer errors are now turning up. You’d be surprised to know the number of doctors who claim they are treating pregnant men.
  • One thought that occurs to me is that men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better.
  • There is nothing frightening about an eternal dreamless sleep. Surely it is better than eternal torment in Hell and eternal boredom in Heaven.
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. [The Second Law of Robotics]
  • There is no one so insufferable as a person who gives no other excuse for a peculiar action than saying he had been directed to it in a dream.
  • Where is the world whose people don’t prefer a comfortable, warm, and well-worn belief, however illogical, to the chilly winds of uncertainty.
  • Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.
  • To introduce something altogether new would mean to begin all over, to become ignorant again, and to run the old, old risk of failing to learn.
  • Self-education is a continuing source of pleasure to me, for the more I know, the fuller my life is and the better I appreciate my own existence
  • We are all victimized by the natural perversity of inanimate objects…and the assorted human beings who perpetuate and maintain this perversity.
  • The world in general disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad. Even to speculate in public is rather worrisome.
  • So the universe is not quite as you thought it was. You’d better rearrange your beliefs, then. Because you certainly can’t rearrange the universe.
  • The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.
  • I don’t think I’ve ever held a racket in my hand … There’s got to be somebody in the US who isn’t trying to play tennis and stinking up the court.
  • Any system which allows men to choose their own future will end by choosing safety and mediocrity, and in such a Reality the stars are out of reach.
  • I consider violence an uneconomical way of attaining an end. There are always better substitutes, though they may sometimes be a little less direct.
  • Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments.
  • When asked for advice by beginners. Know your ending, I say, or the river of your story may finally sink into the desert sands and never reach the sea.
  • There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save.
  • When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
  • Inertia! Our ruling class knows one law; no change. Despotism! They know one rule; force. Maldistribution! They know one desire; to hold what is theirs.
  • God, how that stings! I’ve spent a lifetime loving science fiction and now I find that you must expect nothing of something that’s just science fiction.
  • The history of science is full of revolutionary advances that required small insights that anyone might have had, but that, in fact, only one person did.
  • Once you get it into your head that somebody is controlling events, you can interpret everything in that light and find no reasonable certainty anywhere.
  • Intuition is the art, peculiar to the human mind, of working out the correct answer from data that is, in itself, incomplete or even, perhaps, misleading.
  • Since emotions are few and reasons are many (said the robot Giscard) the behavior of a crowd can be more easily predicted than the behavior of one person.
  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I’ve found it!), but ‘That’s funny…’ -Isaac Asimov.
  • No vision of God and heaven ever experienced by the most exalted prophet can, in my opinion, match the vision of the universe as seen by Newton or Einstein
  • There is no right to deny freedom to any object with a mind advanced enough to grasp the concept and desire the state. -(from “The Bicentennial Man) story)
  • I wanted to be a psychological engineer, but we lacked the facilities, so I did the next best thing – I went into politics. It’s practically the same thing.
  • We are reaching the stage where the problems we must solve are going to become insoluble without computers. I do not fear computers, I fear the lack of them.
  • A myth or legend is simply not made up out of a vacuum. Nothing is–or can be. Somehow there is a kernel of truth behind it, however distorted that might be.
  • There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.
  • Life is glorious when it is happy; days are carefree when they are happy; the interplay of thought and imagination is far superior to that of muscle and sinew.
  • Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil-but there is no way around them.
  • This game the Persian Magi did invent, The force of Eastern wisdom to express: From thence to busy Europeans sent, And styled by modern Lombards pensive chess.
  • Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.
  • The essential building block is…the true love that is impossible to define for those who have never experienced it and unnecessary to define for those who have.
  • Dalton’s records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war.
  • All normal life, Peter, consciously or otherwise, resent domination. If the domination is by an inferior, or by a supposed inferior, the resentment becomes stronger.
  • If we only obey those rules that we think are just and reasonable, then no rule will stand, for there is no rule that some will not think is unjust and unreasonable.
  • So, then, what is style? There are two chief aspects of any piece of writing: 1) what you say and 2) how you say it. The former is “content” and the latter is “style.”
  • It is precisely because it is fashionable for Americans to know no science, even though they may be well educated otherwise, that they so easily fall prey to nonsense.
  • John Dalton’s records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war.
  • Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. The only function of a school is to make self-education easier; failing that, it does nothing.
  • Science is a mechanism, a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature. It’s a system for testing your thoughts against the universe, and seeing whether they match.
  • There’s so much knowledge to be had that specialists cling to their specialties as a shield against having to know anything about anything else. They avoid being drowned.
  • And above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.
  • The dangers that face the world can, every one of them, be traced back to science. The salvations that may save the world will, every one of them, be traced back to science.
  • Tens of millions of Americans who neither know or understand the actual arguments for, or even against, evolution, march in the Army of the Night with their Bibles held high
  • I can’t bear to hear a human being spoken of with contempt just because of his group identification…It’s these respectable people here who create those hooligans out there.
  • To any who know the star field well from one certain reference point, stars are as individual as people. Jump ten parsecs, however, and not even your own sun is recognizable.
  • What is really amazing, and frustrating, is mankind’s habit of refusing to see the obvious and inevitable until it is there, and then muttering about unforeseen catastrophes.
  • The world is being Americanized and technologized to its limits, and that makes it dull for some people. Reaching the Moon restores the frontier and gives us the lands beyond.
  • If I am right, then (religious fundamentalists) will not go to Heaven, because there is no Heaven. If they are right, then they will not go to Heaven, because they are hypocrites.
  • Aimless extension of knowledge, however, which is what I think you really mean by the term curiosity, is merely inefficiency. I am designed to avoid inefficiency.” -R. Daneel Olivaw
  • Arthur Clarke says that I am first in science and second in science fiction in accordance with an agreement we have made. I say he is first in science fiction and second in science.
  • Anything you make forbidden gains sexual attractiveness. Would you be particularly interested in women’s breasts if you lived in a society in which they were displayed at all times?
  • The temptation was great to muster what force we could and put up a fight. It’s the easiest way out, and the most satisfactory to self-respect–but, nearly invariably, the stupidest.
  • It is the invariable lesson to humanity that distance in time, and in space as well, lends focus. It is not recorded, incidentally, that the lesson has ever been permanently learned.
  • All humanity could share a common insanity and be immersed in a common illusion while living in a common chaos. That can’t be disproved, but we have no choice but to follow our senses.
  • My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. Creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones.
  • Suppose we were to teach creationism. What would be the content of the teaching? Merely that a creator formed the universe and all species of life ready-made? Nothing more? No details?
  • Considering what human beings do and have done to human beings (and to other living things as well) … I can never imagine what the devil people think computers can add to the horrors.
  • The human mind works at low efficiency. Twenty percent is the figure usually given. When, momentarily, there is a flash of greater power, it is termed a hunch, or insight, or intuition.
  • One of Walt Whitman’s best-known poems is this one: When I heard the learn’d astronomer,…. The trouble is, Whitman is talking through his hat, but the poor soul didn’t know any better
  • Unfortunately, in many cases, people who write science fiction violate the laws of nature, not because they want to make a point, but because they don’t know what the laws of nature are.
  • During the century after Newton, it was still possible for a man of unusual attainments to master all fields of scientific knowledge. But by 1800, this had become entirely impracticable.
  • No one suggests that writing about science will turn the entire world into a model of judgment and creative thought. It will be enough if they spread the knowledge as widely as possible.
  • The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders.
  • Why is it, I wonder, that anyone who displays superior athletic ability is an object of admiration to his classmates, while one who displays superior mental ability is an object of hatred?
  • The important prediction is not the automobile, but the parking problem; not radio, but the soap opera; not the income tax, but the expense account; not the Bomb, but the nuclear stalemate
  • Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.
  • From my close observation of writers… they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.
  • I even got a letter from a young woman in British Columbia that began as follows: ‘Today I am eighteen. I am sitting at the window, looking out at the rain, and thinking how much I love you.’
  • Naturally, since [the Sumerians] didn’t know what caused the flood anymore than we do, they blamed the gods. (That’s the advantage of religion. You’re never short an explanation for anything.)
  • Why … did so many people spend their lives not trying to find answers to questions — not even thinking of questions to begin with? Was there anything more exciting in life than seeking answers?
  • It is in meeting the great tests that mankind can most successfully rise to great heights. Out of danger and restless insecurity comes the force that pushes mankind to newer and loftier conquests.
  • The Master created humans first as the lowest type, most easily formed. Gradually, he replaced them by robots, the next higher step, and finally he created me, to take the place of the last humans.
  • I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.
  • Science does not promise absolute truth, nor does it consider that such a thing necessarily exists. Science does not even promise that everything in the Universe is amenable to the scientific process.
  • The whole business is the crudest sort of stratagem, since we have no way of foreseeing it to the end. It is a mere paying out of rope on the chance that somewhere along the length of it will be a noose.
  • To those who are trained in science, creationism seems a bad dream, a sudden coming back to life of a nightmare, a renewed march of an Army of the Night risen to challenge free thought and enlightenment.
  • I type 90 words per minute on the typewriter; I type 100 words per minute on the word processor. But, of course, I don’t keep that up indefinitely – every once in a while I do have to think a few seconds.
  • I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don’t have to waste your time in either attacking or defending.
  • It is the nature of the mind that makes individuals kin, and the differences in the shape, form or manner of the material atoms out of whose intricate relationships that mind is built are altogether trivial.
  • He had read much, if one considers his long life; but his contemplation was much more than his reading. He was wont to say that if he had read as much as other men he should have known no more than other men.
  • It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?
  • I wish that I could say I was optimistic about the human race. I love us all, but we are so stupid and shortsighted that I wonder if we can lift our eyes to the world about us long enough not to commit suicide.
  • If you’re born in a cubicle and grow up in a corridor, and work in a cell, and vacation in a crowded sun-room, then coming up into the open with nothing but sky over you might just give you a nervous breakdown.
  • Writing is a lonely job. Even if a writer socializes regularly, when he gets down to the real business of his life, it is he and his type writer or word processor. No one else is or can be involved in the matter.
  • I want to be a human being, nothing more and nothing less. … I don’t suppose we can ever stop hating each other, but why encourage that by keeping the old labels with their ready-made history of millennial hate?
  • Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know – and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance.
  • They absorb carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. What could be more desirable? And they look good in the bargain. Stop chopping down the rain forests and plant more saplings, and we’re on our way.
  • No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically.
  • The bible must be seen in a cultural context. It didn’t just happen. These stories are retreads. But, tell a Christian that — No, No! What makes it doubly sad is that they hardly know the book, much less its origins.
  • Pierre Curie, a brilliant scientist, happened to marry a still more brilliant one-Marie, the famous Madame Curie-and is the only great scientist in history who is consistently identified as the husband of someone else.
  • Speech as known to us was unnecessary. A fragment of a sentence amounted almost to a long-winded redundancy. A gesture, a grunt, the curve of a facial line–even a significantly timed pause yielded informational juice.
  • They won’t listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past. Any change would be blasphemy in their eyes, even if it were the truth. They don’t want the truth; they want their traditions.
  • Until I became a published writer, I remained completely ignorant of books on how to write and courses on the subject … they would have spoiled my natural style; made me observe caution; would have hedged me with rules.
  • Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.
  • In theory, there is nothing the computer can do that the human mind can not do. The computer merely takes a finite amount of data and performs a finite number of operations upon them. The human mind can duplicate the process
  • I have written 240 books on a wide variety of topics. . . . Some of it I based on education I received in my school, but most of it was backed by other ways of learning – chiefly in the books I obtained in the public library.
  • Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human interests.
  • It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
  • If you were to insist I was a robot, you might not consider me capable of love in some mystic human sense, but you would not be able to distinguish my reactions from that which you would call love so what difference would it make?
  • The Earth should not be cut up into hundreds of different sections, each inhabited by a self-defined segment of humanity that considers its own welfare and its own “national security” to be paramount above all other consideration.
  • What lasts in the reader’s mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse.
  • On Earth, we are unmanned by our longing for a pastoral past that never really existed; and that, if it had existed, could never exist again…on the Moon, there is no past to long for or dream about. There is no direction but forward.
  • The laws of history are as absolute as the laws of physics, and if the probabilities of error are greater, it is only because history does not deal with as many humans as physics does atoms, so that individual variations count for more.
  • No matter how carefully records are kept and filed and computerized, they grow fuzzy with time. Stories grow by accretion. Tales accumulate–like dust. The longer the time lapse, the dustier the history–until it degenerates into fables.
  • Science can be introduced to children well or poorly. If poorly, children can be turned away from science; they can develop a lifelong antipathy; they will be in a far worse condition than if they had never been introduced to science at all.
  • Saying something is ‘too bad’ is easy. You say you disapprove, which makes you a nice person, and then you can go about your business and not be interested anymore. It’s a lot worse than ‘too bad.’ It’s against everything decent and natural.
  • It’s just science fiction so it’s allowed to be silly, and childish, and stupid. It’s just science fiction, so it doesn’t have to make sense. It’s just science fiction, so you must ask nothing more of it than loud noises and flashing lights.
  • The tyranny that now exists is actual. That which may exist in the future is potential. If we are always to draw back from change with the thought that the change may be for the worse, then there is no hope at all of ever escaping injustice.
  • There are so many benefits to be derived from space exploration and exploitation; why not take what seems to me the only chance of escaping what is otherwise the sure destruction of all that humanity has struggled to achieve for 50,000 years?
  • When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion – the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.
  • The vast majority, who believe in astrology and think that the planets have nothing better to do than form a code that will tell them whether tomorrow is a good day to close a business deal or not, become all the more excited and enthusiastic.
  • To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values, there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally, and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing
  • Feminine intuition? Is that what you wanted the robot for? You men. Faced with a woman reaching a correct conclusion and unable to accept the fact that she is your equal or superior in intelligence, you invent something called feminine intuition.
  • Whenever I have endured or accomplished some difficult task — such as watching television, going out socially or sleeping — I always look forward to rewarding myself with the small pleasure of getting back to my typewriter and writing something.
  • After years of finding mathematics easy, I finally reached integral calculus and came up against a barrier. I realized that this was as far as I could go, and to this day I have never successfully gone beyond it in any but the most superficial way.
  • However, I continue to try and I continue, indefatigably, to reach out. There’s no way I can single-handedly save the world or, perhaps, even make a perceptible difference – but how ashamed I would be to let a day pass without making one more effort.
  • This idea [standardized time zones] was first advanced and fought for by Sandford Fleming of Canada and Charles F. Dowd of the United States. I mention them chiefly because like so many benefactors of mankind they have been rewarded by total obscurity.
  • Having reached 451 books as of now doesn’t help the situation. If I were to be dying now, I would be murmuring, “Too bad! Only four hundred fifty-one.” (Those would be my next-to-last words. The last ones will be: “I love you, Janet.”) [They were. -Janet.]
  • All the suffering that humanity ever knew can be traced to the one fact that no man in the history of the Galaxy … could really understand one another. Every human being lived behind an impenetrable wall of choking mist within which no other but he existed.
  • Human beings thought with their hands. It was their hands that were the answer of curiosity, that felt and pinched and turned and lifted and hefted. There were animals that had brains of respectable size, but they had no hands and that made all the difference.
  • In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile
  • Many adults, whether consciously or unconsciously, find it beneath their adult dignity to do anything as childish as read a book, think a thought, or get an idea. Adults are rarely embarrased at having forgotten what little algebra or geography they once learned
  • Before another century is done it will be hard for people to imagine a time when humanity was confined to one world, and it will seem to them incredible that there was ever anybody who doubted the value of space and wanted to turn his or her back on the Universe.
  • He always pictured himself a libertarian, which to my way of thinking means “I want the liberty to grow rich and you can have the liberty to starve”. It’s easy to believe that no one should depend on society for help when you yourself happen not to need such help.
  • There are many aspects of the universe that still cannot be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance only implies ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
  • There’s nothing to it. All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else. We’re in no way different ourselves… You show me someone who can’t understand people and I’ll show you someone who has built up a false image of himself.
  • And [Asimov]’ll sign anything, hardbacks, softbacks, other people’s books, scraps of paper. Inevitably someone handed him a blank check on the occasion when I was there, and he signed that without as much as a waver to his smile — except that he signed: ‘Harlan Ellison.
  • Tell me why the stars do shine, Tell me why the ivy twines, Tell me what makes skies so blue, And I’ll tell you why I love you. Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine, Tropisms make the ivy twine, Raleigh scattering make skies so blue, Testicular hormones are why I love you.
  • You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.
  • I don’t expect to live forever, nor do I repine over that, but I am weak enough to want to be remembered forever. – Yet how few of those who have lived, even of those who have accomplished far more than I have, linger on in world memory for even a single century after death
  • I am not responsible for what other people think. I am responsible only for what I myself think, and I know what that is. No idea I’ve ever come up with has ever struck me as a divine revelation. Nothing I have ever observed leads me to think there is a God watching over me.
  • University President: Why is it that you physicists always require so much expensive equipment? Now the Department of Mathematics requires nothing but money for paper, pencils, and erasers . . . and the Department of Philosophy is better still. It doesn’t even ask for erasers.
  • Early in my school career, I turned out to be an incorrigible disciplinary problem. I could understand what the teacher was saying as fast as she could say it, I found time hanging heavy, so I would occasionally talk to my neighbor. That was my great crime, I talked in school.
  • The peace and joy of the Christmas season was marred by a proclamation of a general strike of all the military forces of the world. Panic reigns in the hearts of all the patriots of every persuasion. Meanwhile, fears of universal disaster sank to an all-time low over the world.
  • When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.
  • All of a sudden, space isn’t friendly. All of a sudden, it’s a place where people can die. . . . Many more people are going to die. But we can’t explore space if the requirement is that there be no casualties; we can’t do anything if the requirement is that there be no casualties.
  • I am all for cultural diversity and would be willing to see each recognizable group value its cultural heritage. I am a New York patriot, for instance, and if I lived in Los Angeles, I would love to get together with other New York expatriates and sing “Give My Regards to Broadway”.
  • Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism.
  • I’m gradually managing to cram my mind more and more full of things. I’ve got this beautiful mind and it’s going to die, and it’ll all be gone. And then I say, not in my case. Every idea I’ve ever had I’ve written down, and it’s all there on paper. And I won’t be gone; it’ll be there.
  • Korell is that frequent phenomenon in history : the republic whose ruler has every attribute of the absolute monarch but the name. It therefore enjoyed the usual despotism unrestrained even by those two moderating influences in the legitimate monarchies: regal “honor” and court etiquette.
  • You don’t need to predict the future. Just choose a future — a good future, a useful future — and make the kind of prediction that will alter human emotions and reactions in such a way that the future you predicted will be brought about. Better to make a good future than predict a bad one.
  • I would argue that a truly developed country would be beyond Presidents and Kings. In a world with some semblance of equality, each liberal-minded woman, each gay person, and indeed almost every person could be their own President. In a world of equals, what real service does a ruler provide?
  • When life is so harsh that a man loses all hope in himself, then he raises his eyes to a shining rock, worshipping it, just to find hope again, rather than looking to his own acts for hope and salvation. Yes, atheism IS a redemptive belief. It is theism that denies man’s own redemptive nature.
  • The young specialist in English Lit, …lectured me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the Universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern “knowledge” is that it is wrong.
  • There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
  • [A]ll knowledge is one. When a light brightens and illuminates a corner of a room, it adds to the general illumination of the entire room. Over and over again, scientific discoveries have provided answers to problems that had no apparent connection with the phenomena that gave rise to the discovery.
  • There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
  • Although we will hate and fight the machines, we will be supplanted anyway, and rightly so, for the intelligent machines to which we will give birth may, better than we, carry on the striving toward the goal of understanding and using the Universe, climbing to heights we ourselves could never aspire to.
  • A chipped pebble is almost part of the hand it never leaves. A thrown spear declares a sort of independence the moment it is released… The whole trend in technology has been to devise machines that are less and less under direct control and more and more seem to have the beginning of a will of their own.
  • I do not use airplanes. They strike me as unsporting. You can have an automobile accident-and survive. You can be on a sinking ship-and survive. You can be in an earthquake, fire, volcanic eruption, tornado, what you will-and survive. But if your plane crashes, you do not survive. And I say the heck with it.
  • I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
  • Thinking is the activity I love best, and writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers. I can write up to 18 hours a day. Typing 90 words a minute, I’ve done better than 50 pages a day. Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up-well, maybe once.
  • If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.
  • …democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.
  • Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise-even in their own field.
  • When I sit down at the typewriter, I write. Someone once asked me if I had a fixed routine before I start, like setting up exercises, sharpening pencils, or having a drink of orange juice. I said, “No, the only thing I do before I start writing is to make sure that I’m close enough to the typewriter to reach the keys.”
  • The Tyranni rule fifty worlds; they are outnumbered hundreds to one. In such a position, simple force is insufficient. Devious methods, intrigue, assassination are their specialties. The net they weave across space is a wide one, and close-meshed. I can well believe that it extends across five hundred light-years to Earth.
  • The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity — a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.
  • The appearance of strength is all about you. It would seem to last forever. However… the rotten tree-trunk, until the very moment when the storm-blast breaks it in two, has all the appearance of might it ever had. The storm-blast whistles through the branches of the Empire even now. Listen… and you will hear the creaking.
  • The Three Theorems of Psychohistorical Quantitivity: The population under scrutiny is oblivious to the existence of the science of Psychohistory. The time periods dealt with are in the region of 3 generations. The population must be in the billions (±75 billions) for a statistical probability to have a psychohistorical validity.
  • The Bible contains legendary, historical, and ethical contents. It is quite possible to consider them separately, and one doesn’t have to accept the legends in order to get the ethics. Fundamentalists make a grave mistake to insist on the letter of the writings, because they drive away many who can’t swallow the Adam-and-Eve bit.
  • With both people and computers on the job, computer error can be more quickly tracked down and corrected by people and, conversely, human error can be more quickly corrected by computers. What it amounts to is that nothing serious can happen unless human error and computer error take place simultaneously. And that hardly ever happens.
  • I have never, in all my life, not for one moment, been tempted toward religion of any kind. The fact is that I feel no spiritual void. I have my philosophy of life, which does not include any aspect of the supernatural and which I find totally satisfying. I am, in short, a rationalist and believe only that which reason tells me is so.
  • As artists and traders in medieval cities began to form organizations, they instituted tough initiation ceremonies. Journeymen in Bergen, Norway, were shoved down a chimney, thrown three times into the sea, and soundly whipped. Such rites made belonging to the guild or corporation more precious to those who were accepted, and survived.
  • The fundamentalists deny that evolution has taken place; they deny that the earth and the universe as a whole are more than a few thousand years old, and so on. There is ample scientific evidence that the fundamentalists are wrong in these matters, and that their notions of cosmogony have about as much basis in fact as the Tooth Fairy has.
  • To me it seems to be important to believe people to be good even if they tend to be bad, because your own joy and happiness in life is increased that way, and the pleasures of the belief outweigh the occasional disappointments. To be a cynic about people works just the other way around and makes you incapable about enjoying the good things.
  • What would you consider a good job?” Answered as follows: “A good job is one in which I don’t have to work, and get paid a lot of money.” When I heard that I cheered and yelled and felt that he should be given an A+, for he had perfectly articulated the American dream of those who despise knowledge. What a politician that kid would have made.
  • The energy requirements for interstellar travel are so great that it is inconceivable to me that any creatures piloting their ships across the vast depths of space would do so only in order to play games with us over a period of decades. If they want to make contact, they would make contact; if not, they would save their energy and go elsewhere.
  • It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our every man must take on a science fictional way of thinking.
  • Old men tend to forget what thought was like in their youth; they forget the quickness of the mental jump, the daring of the youthful intuition, the agility of the fresh insight. They become accustomed to the more plodding varieties of reason, and because this is more than made up by the accumulation of experience, old men think themselves wiser than the young.
  • If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain?moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
  • Once, when a religionist denounced me in unmeasured terms, I sent him a card saying, “I am sure you believe that I will go to hell when I die, and that once there I will suffer all the pains and tortures the sadistic ingenuity of your deity can devise and that this torture will continue forever. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you have to call me bad names in addition?”
  • I have been told that a young would-be composer wrote to Mozart asking advice about how to compose a symphony. Mozart responded that a symphony was a complex and demanding form and it would be better to start with something simpler. The young man protested, ‘But, Herr Mozart, you wrote symphonies when you were younger than I am now.’ Mozart replied, ‘I never asked how.
  • Intelligence is a valuable thing, but it is not usually the key to survival. Sheer fecundity … usually counts. The intelligent gorilla doesn’t do as well as the less intelligent but more-fecund rat, which doesn’t do as well as the still-less-intelligent but still-more-fecund cockroach, which doesn’t do as well as the minimally-intelligent but maximally-fecund bacterium.
  • To all my gentle readers who have treated me with love for over 30 years, I must say farewell. It has always been my ambition to die in harness with my head face down on a keyboard and my nose caught between two of the keys, but that’s not the way it worked out. I have had a long and happy life and I have no complaints about the ending, thereof, and so farewell – farewell.
  • If I had felt then as I feel now, or as I felt a few years after I had married her, nothing could possibly have persuaded me to marry a woman who smoked. Dates, yes. Sexual adventures, yes. But to pin myself permanently inside closed quarters with a smoker? Never. Never. Never. Beauty wouldn’t count, sweetness wouldn’t count, suitability in every other respect wouldn’t count.
  • Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you-and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.
  • Despite all that education and experience can do, I retain a certain level of unsophistication that I cannot eradicate and that my friends find amusing. In fact, I think I sometimes detect conspiratorial plottings among my friends to protect me against my own lack of sophistication. I don’t mind. I suspect that I am never quite as unsophisticated as they think I am, but I don’t mind.
  • We mythologists know very well that myths and legends contain borrowings, moral lessons, nature cycles, and a hundred other distorting influences, and we labor to cut them away and get to what might be a kernel of truth. In fact, these same techniques must be applied to the most sober histories, for no one writes the clear and apparent truth-if such a thing can even be said to exist.
  • At two-tenths the speed of light, dust and atoms might not do significant damage even in a voyage of 40 years, but the faster you go, the worse it is–space begins to become abrasive. When you begin to approach the speed of light, hydrogen atoms become cosmic-ray particles, and they will fry the crew. …So 60,000 kilometers per second may be the practical speed limit for space travel.
  • People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.
  • But life is glorious when it is happy; days are carefree when they are happy; the interplay of thought and imagination is far and superior to that of muscle and sinew. Let me tell you, if you don’t know it from your own experience, that reading a good book, losing yourself in the interest of words and thoughts, is for some people (me, for instance) an incredible intensity of happiness.
  • Speech, originally, was the device whereby Man learned, imperfectly, to transmit the thoughts and emotions of his mind. By setting up arbitrary sounds and combinations of sounds to represent certain mental nuances, he developed a method of communication–but one which in its clumsiness and thick-thumbed inadequacy degenerated all the delicacy of the mind into gross and guttural signaling.
  • What I will be remembered for are the Foundation Trilogy and the Three Laws of Robotics. What I want to be remembered for is no one book, or no dozen books. Any single thing I have written can be paralleled or even surpassed by something someone else has done. However, my total corpus for quantity, quality and variety can be duplicated by no one else. That is what I want to be remembered for.
  • The Earth faces environmental problems right now that threaten the imminent destruction of civilization and the end of the planet as a livable world. Humanity cannot afford to waste its financial and emotional resources on endless, meaningless quarrels between each group and all others. there must be a sense of globalism in which the world unites to solve the real problems that face all groups alike.
  • I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical energy directly and utilize it with an almost one hundred percent efficiency. I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand extremes of environment easily. These are facts which, with the self-evident proposition that no being can create another being superior to itself, smashes your silly hypothesis to nothing.
  • Science is complex and chilling. The mathematical language of science is understood by very few. The vistas it presents are scary-an enormous universe ruled by chance and impersonal rules, empty and uncaring, ungraspable and vertiginous. How comfortable to turn instead to a small world, only a few thousand years old, and under God’s personal; and immediate care; a world in which you are His peculiar concern.
  • Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.
  • You see, proteins, as I probably needn’t tell you, are immensely complicated groupings of amino acids and certain other specialized compounds, arranged in intricate three-dimensional patterns that are as unstable as sunbeams on a cloudy day. It is this instability that is life, since it is forever changing its position in an effort to maintain its identity–in the manner of a long rod balanced on an acrobat’s nose.
  • Science is dangerous. There is no question but that poison gas, genetic engineering, and nuclear weapons and power stations are terrifying. It may be that civilization is falling apart and the world we know is coming to an end. In that case, why no turn to religion and look forward to the Day of Judgment, … [being] lifted into eternal bliss … [and] watching the scoffers and disbelievers writhe forever in torment.
  • Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
  • How then to enforce peace? Not by reason, certainly, nor by education. If a man could not look at the fact of peace and the fact of war and choose the former in preference to the latter, what additional argument could persuade him? What could be more eloquent as a condemnation of war than war itself? What tremendous feat of dialectic could carry with it a tenth the power of a single gutted ship with its ghastly cargo?
  • How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection…That is all wrong. The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers. The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers.
  • Life would be impossible on such a planet. It wouldn’t get enough heat and light, and if it rotated there would be total darkness half of every day. There wouldn’t be any native inhabitants. You couldn’t expect life—which is fundamentally dependent on light—to develop under such extreme conditions of light deprivation. Half of every axial rotation spent in Darkness! No, nothing could exist under conditions like that.
  • I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.
  • Isn’t it sad that you can tell people that the ozone layer is being depleted, the forests are being cut down, the deserts are advancing steadily, that the greenhouse effect will raise the sea level 200 feet, that overpopulation is choking us, that pollution is killing us, that nuclear war may destroy us – and they yawn and settle back for a comfortable nap. But tell them that the Martians are landing, and they scream and run.
  • One would suppose that the battle for religious liberty was won in the United States two hundred years ago. However, in the time since, and right now, powerful voices are always raised in favor of bigotry and thought control. It is useful, then, to have a compendium of the thoughts of great men and women of all faiths (and of none) on the subject, to convince us that we men and woman of freedom are not and never have been alone.
  • I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing-to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics-Well, they can do whatever they wish.
  • Until now in world’s history, whenever we’ve had a dark age, its been temporary and local. And other parts of the world have been doing fine. And eventually, they help you get out of the dark age. We are now facing a possible dark age which is going to be world-wide and permanent! That’s not fun. That’s a different thing. But once we have established many worlds, we can do whatever we want as long as we do it one world at a time.
  • It took me thirty-six years; and, in some fifty stories, ranging in length from short-shorts to novels, I think I must have touched, in one way or another, on every aspect of computers and computerization. And (mark this!) I did it without ever knowing anything at all about computers in any real sense. To this day, I don’t. I am totally inept with machinery… on my typewriter I turn out books at the contemptible rate of one a month
  • In all the known history of Mankind, advances have been made primarily in physical technology; in the capacity of handling the inanimate world about Man. Control of self and society has been left to to chance or to the vague gropings of intuitive ethical systems based on inspiration and emotion. As a result no culture of greater stability than about fifty-five percent has ever existed, and these only as the result of great human misery.
  • I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.
  • The soft bonds of love are indifferent to life and death. They hold through time so that yesterday’s love is part of today’s and the confidence in tomorrow’s love is also part of today’s. And when one dies, the memory lives in the other, and is warm and breathing. And when both die – I almost believe, rationalist though I am – that somewhere it remains, indestructible and eternal, enriching all of the universe by the mere fact that once it existed.
  • The Three Laws of Robotics: 1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; 3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law; The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
  • I discovered, to my amazement, that all through history there had been resistance … and bitter, exaggerated, last-stitch resistance … to every significant technological change that had taken place on earth. Usually the resistance came from those groups who stood to lose influence, status, money…as a result of the change. Although they never advanced this as their reason for resisting it. It was always the good of humanity that rested upon their hearts.
  • Plate glass… has no beauty of its own. Ideally, you ought not to be able to see it at all, but through it you can see all that is happening outside. That is the equivalent of writing that is plain and unadorned. Ideally, in reading such writing, you are not even aware that you are reading. Ideas and events seem merely to flow from the mind of the writer into that of the reader without any barrier between. I hope that is what is happening when you read this book
  • What do you call that nice, shiny white metal they use to make sidings and airplanes out of? Aluminum, right? Aluminum, pronounced ‘uh-LOO-mih-num’, right? Anybody knows that! But do you know how the British spell it? ‘Aluminium’, pronounced ‘Al-yoo-MIH-nee-um’. Ever hear anything so ridiculous? The French and Germans spell it ‘aluminium’, too, but they’re foreigners who don’t speak Earth-standard. You’d think the British, however, using our language, would be more careful
  • I’m an indoors person. I’m not afraid of the outdoors and I penetrate it easily and cheerfully. However, I must admit I like Central Park better than the wilderness, and I like the canyons of Manhattan better than Central Park, and I like the interior of my apartment better than the canyons of Manhattan, and I like my two rooms better with the shades down at all times than with the shades up. I’m not an agoraphobe at all, but I am a claustrophile, if you see the distinction.
  • I stand four-square for reason, and object to what seems to me to be irrationality, whatever the source. If you are on my side in this, I must warn you that the army of the night has the advantage of overwhelming numbers, and, by its very nature, is immune to reason, so that it is entirely unlikely that you and I can win out. We will always remain a tiny and probably hopeless minority, but let us never tire of presenting our view, and of fighting the good fight for the right.
  • Every period of human development has had its own particular type of human conflict—its own variety of problem that, apparently, could be settled only by force. And each time, frustratingly enough, force never really settled the problem. Instead, it persisted through a series of conflicts, then vanished of itself—what’s the expression—ah, yes, ‘not with a bang, but a whimper,’ as the economic and social environment changed. And then, new problems, and a new series of wars.
  • Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.
  • Surely, if we take on thinking partners – or, at the least, thinking servants – in the form of machines, we will be more comfortable with them, and will relate to them more easily, if they are shaped like humans. It will be easier to be friends with human-shaped robots than with specialized machines of unrecognizable shape. And I sometimes think that, in the desperate straits of humanity today, we would be grateful to have nonhuman friends, even if they are only the friends we build ourselves.
  • It is no defense of superstition and pseudoscience to say that it brings solace and comfort to people. . . . If solace and comfort are how we judge the worth of something, then consider that tobacco brings solace and comfort to smokers; alcohol brings it to drinkers; drugs of all kinds bring it to addicts; the fall of cards and the run of horses bring it to gamblers; cruelty and violence bring it to sociopaths. Judge by solace and comfort only and there is no behavior we ought to interfere with.
  • However much the creationist leaders might hammer away at their scientific and philosophical points, they would be helpless and a laughing-stock if that were all they had. It is religion that recruits their squadrons. Tens of millions of Americans, who neither know nor understand the actual arguments for – of even against – evolution, march in the army of the night, their Bibles held high. And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason.
  • Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know-and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know-even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction-than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.
  • It is quite clear that as long as the nations of the world spend most of their energy, money, and emotional strength in quarreling with words and weapons, a true offensive against the common problems that threaten human survival is not very likely. A world government that can channel human efforts in the direction of the great solutions seems desirable, even essential. Naturally, such a world government should be a federal one, with regional and local autonomy safeguarded and with cultural diversity promoted.
  • Every human being lived behind an impenetrable wall of choking mist within which no other but he existed. Occasionally there were the dim signals from deep within the cavern in which another man was located so that each might grope toward the other. Yet because they did not know one another, and could not understand one another, and dared not trust one another, and felt from infancy the terrors and insecurity of that ultimate isolation there was the hunted fear of man for man, the savage rapacity of man toward man.
  • And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy. But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer–by demonstration–would take care of that, too. For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program. The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done. And AC said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” And there was light–
  • Intelligence is an extremely subtle concept. It’s a kind of understanding that flourishes if it’s combined with a good memory, but exists anyway even in the absence of good memory. It’s the ability to draw consequences from causes, to make correct inferences, to foresee what might be the result, to work out logical problems, to be reasonable, rational, to have the ability to understand the solution from perhaps insufficient information. You know when a person is intelligent, but you can be easily fooled if you are not yourself intelligent.
  • One might suppose that reality must be held to at all costs. However, though that may be the moral thing to do, it is not necessarily the most useful thing to do. The Greeks themselves chose the ideal over the real in their geometry and demonstrated very well that far more could be achieved by consideration of abstract line and form than by a study of the real lines and forms of the world; the greater understanding achieved through abstraction could be applied most usefully to the very reality that was ignored in the process of gaining knowledge.
  • The Iranians are Moslems and the Iraqi are Moslems. Both are certain that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet and believe it with all their hearts. And yet, at the moment, Iraq doesn’t trust Iran worth a damn, and Iran trusts Iraq even less than that. In fact, Iran is convinced that Iraq is in the pay of the Great Satan (that’s God-fearing America, in case you’ve forgotten) and Iraq counters with the accusation that it is Iran who is in the pay of the Great Satan. Neither side is accusing the Godless Soviets of anything, which is a puzzle
  • Increasingly, our leaders must deal with dangers that threaten the entire world, where an understanding of those dangers and the possible solutions depends on a good grasp of science. The ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, questions of diet and heredity. All require scientific literacy. Can Americans choose the proper leaders and support the proper programs if they themselves are scientifically illiterate? The whole premise of democracy is that it is safe to leave important questions to the court of public opinion-but is it safe to leave them to the court of public ignorance?

 

 

Virginia Woolf (quotes)

  • I have had my vision.
  • Life stand still here.
  • Life’s bare as a bone.
  • I am rooted, but I flow.
  • Thinking is my fighting.
  • How remorseless life is!
  • One must love everything.
  • Love had a thousand shapes.
  • Marvelous are the innocent.
  • Words belong to each other.
  • All extremes are dangerous.
  • What a lark! What a plunge!
  • War is not women’s history.
  • To love makes one solitary.
  • Oh, I am in love with life!
  • Intimacy is a difficult art.
  • I prefer men to cauliflowers
  • Use words that soak up life.
  • Fear no more, says the heart.
  • As a woman, I have no country
  • loveliness is infernally sad.
  • How can I express the darkness?
  • Soup is cuisines kindest course
  • We insist, it seems, on living.
  • Women alone stir my imagination.
  • For nothing was simply one thing.
  • to teach without zest is a crime.
  • Books are the mirrors of the soul.
  • Tragedies come in the hungry hours.
  • Theories then are dangerous things.
  • The poet is always our contemporary.
  • All artists need a room of their own
  • A light here required a shadow there.
  • It is no use trying to sum people up.
  • Thoughts without words‚¶ Can that be?
  • Arrange whatever pieces come your way.
  • I will go down with my colours flying.
  • You cannot find peace by avoiding life.
  • Fatigue is the safest sleeping draught.
  • Life would split apart without letters.
  • I am in the mood to dissolve in the sky.
  • The artist after all is a solitary being.
  • It is the duty of the writer to describe.
  • Well, we must wait for the future to show.
  • Criticism? An artist wants praise. Praise.
  • Life without illusion is a ghostly affair.
  • Still, life had a way of adding day to day
  • Only longing can fill with more of itself.
  • The way to write well is to live intensely.
  • I am writing to a rhythm and not to a plot.
  • literature is the record of our discontent.
  • The truer the facts the better the fiction.
  • The world is crammed with delightful things
  • Her life was a tissue of vanity and deceit.
  • Would there be trees if we didn’t see them?
  • Up here my eyes are green leaves, unseeing.
  • It was a silly, silly dream, being unhappy.
  • What a comfort is friendship in this world.
  • That complete statement which is literature.
  • To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves.
  • I like to have space to spread my mind out in.
  • All extremes of feeling are allied to madness.
  • For pleasure has no relish unless we share it.
  • It’s my choice, to choose how to live my life.
  • Lord, how tired one gets of one’s own writing.
  • Nothing, I know, had any chance against death.
  • The depths of the sea are only water after all.
  • To read a novel is a difficult and complex art.
  • Melancholy were the sounds on a winter’s night.
  • But I pine in Solitude. Solitude is my undoing.
  • That great Cathedral space which was childhood.
  • My brain hums with scraps of poetry and madness.
  • Love, the poet said, is woman’s whole existence.
  • Money dignifies what is frivolous if unpaid for.
  • I am not so gifted as at one time seemed likely.
  • He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life.
  • Writing is still like heaving bricks over a wall.
  • and even a tea party means apprehension, breakage
  • Intellectual freedom depends upon material things.
  • It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.
  • The older one grows, the more one likes indecency.
  • what she loved: life, London, this moment of june.
  • In illness words seem to possess a mystic quality.
  • To know whom to write for is to know how to write.
  • We shall be the mouthpieces of the divine spirit
  • Distorted realities have always been my cup of tea.
  • What does the brain matter compared with the heart?
  • And the poem, I think, is only your voice speaking.
  • If it were now to die, ’twere now to be most happy.
  • . . . to walk alone in London is the greatest rest.
  • On or about December 1910, human character changed.
  • It is a thousand pities never to say what one feels.
  • Incessant company is as bad as solitary confinement.
  • But beauty must be broken daily to remain beautiful.
  • There’ll be oceans of talk and emotions without end.
  • And yet, the only exciting life is the imaginary one.
  • Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
  • Jealousy … survives every other passion of mankind.
  • The world has raised its whip; where will it descend?
  • The extraordinary woman depends on the ordinary woman.
  • For we think back through our mothers if we are women.
  • And you wish to be a poet; and you wish to be a lover.
  • Sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life.
  • To let oneself be carried on passively is unthinkable.
  • Nothing has really happened until it has been recorded.
  • Without self awareness we are as babies in the cradles.
  • I will dream today; for I must unscrew my head somehow.
  • Clothes are but a symbol of something hid deep beneath.
  • Boredom is the legitimate kingdom of the philanthropic.
  • … it’s been a perpetual discovery, my life. A miracle.
  • . . . clumsiness is often mated with a love of solitude.
  • I press to my centre, and find there is something there.
  • There was no treachery too base for the world to commit.
  • The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.
  • Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart.
  • Truth had run through my fingers. Every drop had escaped.
  • But our hatred is almost indistinguishable from our love.
  • At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.
  • A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life
  • I’m sick to death of this particular self. I want another.
  • Mrs Dalloway is always giving parties to cover the silence
  • Illusions are to the soul what atmosphere is to the earth.
  • I often wish I’d got on better with your father,’ he said.
  • A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.
  • I’m terrified of passive acquiescence. I live in intensity.
  • Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame.
  • I have sought happiness through many ages and not found it.
  • I ride rough waters, and shall sink with no one to save me.
  • One must learn to be silent just as one must learn to talk.
  • People ask me why I write. I write to find out what I know.
  • Venerable are letters, infinitely brave, forlorn, and lost.
  • We are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.
  • I am all the time thinking about poetry and fiction and you.
  • I ransack public libraries & find them full of sunk treasure.
  • Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
  • I mean it’s the writing, not the being read, that excites me.
  • A perfect treat must include a trip to a second-hand bookshop.
  • I like people to be unhappy because I like them to have souls.
  • Humor is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue.
  • They went in and out of each other’s minds without any effort.
  • What is amusing now had to be taken in desperate earnest once.
  • There is no room for the impurities of literature in an essay.
  • Biography is to give a man some kind of shape after his death.
  • It might be possible that the world itself is without meaning.
  • Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do.
  • One can only believe entirely, perhaps, in what one cannot see.
  • For the eye has this strange property: it rests only on beauty.
  • Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us.
  • Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.
  • writing is the profound pleasure and being read the superficial.
  • Be truthful, and the result is bound to be amazingly interesting.
  • I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual
  • But I think I’m coloured by my own wishes, & experimental mood.
  • She was like a crinkled poppy; with the desire to drink dry dust.
  • But I beneath a rougher sea, And whelmed in deeper gulfs than he.
  • I feel all shadows of the universe multiplied deep inside my skin.
  • We must reconcile ourselves to a season of failures and fragments.
  • The very stone one kicks with one’s boot will outlast Shakespeare.
  • Really I don’t like human nature unless all candied over with art.
  • Do not move, do not go. Sink within this moment. Hold it for ever.
  • Never pretend that the things you haven’t got are not worth having.
  • As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.
  • You send a boy to school in order to make friends – the right sort.
  • The world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flames.
  • History is too much about wars; biography too much about great men.
  • fishing teaches a stern morality; inculcates a remorseless honesty.
  • Nothing is stronger than the position of the dead among the living.
  • Sometimes I think heaven must be one continuous unexhausted reading.
  • The mind is the most capricious of insects flitting, fluttering.
  • There was no freedom in life, and certainly there was none in death.
  • But the close withdrew: the hand softened. It was over– the moment.
  • Like a ghostly roll of drums remorselessly beat the measure of life.
  • Just in case you ever foolishly forget; I’m never not thinking of you
  • These moments of escape are not to be despised. They come too seldom.
  • And again she felt alone in the presence of her old antagonist, life.
  • No, I’m not clever. I’ve always cared more for people than for ideas.
  • Long ago I realized that no other person would be to me what you are.
  • When an arguer argues dispassionately he thinks only of the argument.
  • The art of writing has for backbone some fierce attachment to an idea.
  • Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.
  • On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.
  • Women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems.
  • There are no teachers, saints, prophets, good people, but the artists.
  • Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!
  • Art is not a copy of the real world; one of the damn things is enough.
  • It doesn’t have to be the truth, just your vision of it, written down.
  • As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.
  • Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more.
  • Why are women… so much more interesting to men than men are to women?
  • [Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.
  • The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think.
  • Friendships, even the best of them, are frail things. One drifts apart.
  • He smiled the most exquisite smile, veiled by memory, tinged by dreams.
  • Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice?
  • No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.
  • One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
  • war is a man’s game … the killing machine has a gender and it is male.
  • For women live much more in the past…they attach themselves to places.
  • A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
  • My mind works in idleness. To do nothing is often my most profitable way.
  • it is strange how the dead leap out on us at street corners, or in dreams
  • We scarcely wish to analyse what we feel to be so large and deeply human.
  • Nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.
  • I was always going to the bookcase for another sip of the divine specific.
  • Writing is a divine art, and the more I write and read the more I love it.
  • I read the book of Job last night, I don’t think God comes out well in it.
  • Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own. Above all be pure
  • Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.
  • old emotions like old families have intermarried and have many connections.
  • The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.
  • … why do people who live in the country always give themselves such airs?
  • … pure honesty is a doubtful quality; it means often lack of imagination.
  • Yield to that strange passion which sends you madly whirling round the room.
  • Often on a wet day I begin counting up; what I’ve read; what I haven’t read.
  • The best letters of our time are precisely those that can never be published.
  • Moments like this are buds on the tree of life. Flowers of darkness they are.
  • … I doubt the capacity of the human animal for being dignified in ceremony.
  • I think writing, my writing, is a species of mediumship. I become the person.
  • Does Nature supplement what man advanced? Or does she complete what he began?
  • Happiness is to have a little string onto which things will attach themselves.
  • Why have I so little control? It is the case of much waste and pain in my life.
  • I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.
  • Her life-that was the only chance she had-the short season between two silences.
  • For books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately.
  • I feel that by writing I am doing what is far more necessary than anything else.
  • Death is woven in with the violets, said Louis. Death and again death.
  • I really don’t advise a woman who wants to have things her own way to get married
  • When the body escaped mutilation, seldom did the heart go to the grave unscarred.
  • If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.
  • I want to write a novel about Silence,” he said; the things people don’t say.
  • friendship, I too will press flowers between the pages of Shakespeare’s sonnets!
  • I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.
  • Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigues, I have had my vision.
  • I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something beyond the daily life.
  • A veil of insanity everywhere: Oh why I was born in this age? It is a terrible age.
  • I have lost friends, some by death…others by sheer inability to cross the street.
  • Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall.
  • Speech is an old torn net, through which the fish escape as one casts it over them.
  • How lovely goodness is in those who, stepping lightly, go smiling through the world.
  • All the months are crude experiments, out of which the perfect September is made.
  • …she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.
  • Whenever you see a board up with “Trespassers will be prosecuted,” trespass at once.
  • Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them.
  • There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us, and not we, them.
  • Like most uneducated Englishwomen, I like reading–I like reading books in the bulk.
  • I like going from one lighted room to another, such is my brain to me; lighted rooms.
  • There is the strange power we have of changing facts by the force of the imagination.
  • The poet gives us his essence, but prose takes the mould of the body and mind entire.
  • There was a star riding through clouds one night, & I said to the star, ‘Consume me’.
  • I feel my brains, like a pear, to see if it’s ripe; it will be exquisite by September.
  • One ought to sink to the bottom of the sea, probably, and live alone with one’s words.
  • I am reading Henry James…and feel myself as one entombed in a block of smooth amber.
  • To be nothing – is that not, after all, the most satisfactory fact in the whole world?
  • The world was going on as usual. All the time she was writing the world had continued.
  • So that is marriage, Lily thought, a man and a woman looking at a girl throwing a ball
  • I [who] am perpetually making notes in the margin of my mind for some final statement.
  • The real novelist, the perfectly simple human being, could go on, indefinitely imaging.
  • Unless you catch ideas on the wing and nail them down, you will soon cease to have any.
  • To make ideas effective, we must be able to fire them off. We must put them into action.
  • A million candles burnt in him without his being at the trouble of lighting a single one
  • The word-coining genius, as if thought plunged into a sea of words and came up dripping.
  • After all, what is a lovely phrase? One that has mopped up as much Truth as it can hold.
  • I see through most people; I’m hardly ever wrong. I see at once what they’ve got in them.
  • People only become writers if they can’t find the one book they’ve always wanted to read.
  • And now more than anything I want beautiful prose. I relish it more and more exquisitely.
  • I always had the deepest affection for people who carried sublime tears in their silences.
  • It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
  • To depend upon a profession is a less odious form of slavery than to depend upon a father.
  • It was the intimacy, a sort of spiritual suppleness, when mind prints upon mind indelibly.
  • Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious; the best prose is that which is most full of poetry.
  • Peace was the third emotion. Love. Hate. Peace. Three emotions made the ply of human life.
  • Women have burnt like beacons in all the works of all the poets from the beginning of time.
  • Romantic Love is only an Illusion. A story one makes up in One’s Mind about Another Person.
  • A writer should give direct certainty; explanations are so much water poured into the wine.
  • I am overwhelmed with things I ought to have written about and never found the proper words.
  • To be caught happy in a world of misery was for an honest man the most despicable of crimes.
  • It is useless to read Greek in translation; translators can but offer us a vague equivalent.
  • Surely it was time someone invented a new plot, or that the author came out from the bushes.
  • Am I a weed, carried this way, that way, on a tide that comes twice a day without a meaning?
  • We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.
  • How many times have people used a pen or paintbrush because they couldn’t pull the trigger?
  • The mind must be allowed to settle undisturbed over the object in order to secrete the pearl.
  • When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much, do they?
  • When I cannot see words curling like rings of smoke round me I am in darknessI am nothing.
  • It is impossible for human beings, constituted as they are, both to fight and to have ideals.
  • It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple: one must be a woman manly, or a man womanly.
  • I like the unreality of your mind; the whole thing is very splendid and voluptuous and absurd.
  • You can’t think how I depend on you, and when you’re not there the colour goes out of my life.
  • Still, the sun was hot. Still, one got over things. Still, life had a way of adding day to day
  • First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air.
  • It is probable that both in life and in art the values of a woman are not the values of a man.
  • The chief glory of a woman is not to be talked of, said Pericles, himself a much-talked-of-man.
  • For the young people could not talk. And why should they? Shout, embrace, swing, be up at dawn.
  • Like” and “like” and “like”–but what is the thing that lies beneath the semblance of the thing?
  • And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.
  • In solitude we give passionate attention to our lives, to our memories, to the details around us.
  • No passion is stronger in the breast of man than the desire to make others believe as he believes
  • Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words.
  • I need not hate any man; he cannot hurt me. I need not flatter any man; he has nothing to give me.
  • I was so pleased and excited by your letter that I trotted about all day like a puppy with a bone.
  • The weather varies between heavy fog and pale sunshine; My thoughts follow the exact same process.
  • My notion’s to think of the human beings first and let the abstract ideas take care of themselves.
  • Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.
  • As I grow old I hate the writing of letters more and more, and like getting them better and better.
  • With twice his wits, she had to see things through his eyes — one of the tragedies of married life.
  • I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.
  • I grow numb; I grow stiff. How shall I break up this numbness which discredits my sympathetic heart?
  • Life piles up so fast that I have no time to write out the equally fast rising mound of reflections.
  • Happily, at forty-six I still feel as experimental and on the verge of getting at the truth as ever.
  • Ransack the language as he might, words failed him. He wanted another landscape, and another tongue.
  • For beyond the difficulty of communicating oneself, there is the supreme difficulty of being oneself.
  • What a labour writing is … making one sentence do the work of a page; that’s what I call hard work.
  • Who shall measure the hat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?
  • Once she knows how to read there’s only one thing you can teach her to believe in and that is herself.
  • But nevertheless, the fact remained, it was almost impossible to dislike anyone if one looked at them.
  • Travelers are much at the mercy of phrases … vast generalizations formulate in their exposed brains.
  • I’m not clear enough in the head to feel anything but varieties of dull anger and arrows of sadness.
  • Better was it to go unknown and leave behind you an arch, then to burn like a meteor and leave no dust.
  • When the shriveled skin of the ordinary is stuffed out with meaning, it satisfies the senses amazingly.
  • Nothing induces me to read a novel except when I have to make money by writing about it. I detest them.
  • I got out this diary, & read as one always does read one’s own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity.
  • As an experience, madness is terrific … and in its lava I still find most of the things I write about.
  • I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.
  • I do not want to be admired. I want to give, to be given, and solitude in which to unfold my possessions.
  • Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action.
  • When people are happy they have a reserve upon which to draw, whereas she was like a wheel without a tyre
  • How far we are going to read a poet when we can read about a poet is a problem to lay before biographers.
  • Conversation, fastidious goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will.
  • There is no doubt in my mind, that I have found out how to begin (at 40) to say something in my own voice.
  • I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old: but now I am a woman again – as I always am when I write.
  • Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views, and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone.
  • For the film maker must come by his convention, as painters and writers and musicians have done before him.
  • It is strange how a scrap of poetry works in the mind and makes the legs move in time to it along the road.
  • Those comfortably padded lunatic asylums which are known, euphemistically, as the stately homes of England.
  • You cannot cross the narrow bridge of art carrying all its tools in your hands. Some you must leave behind.
  • Indeed there has never been any explanation of the ebb and flow in our veins–of happiness and unhappiness.
  • more and more I come to loathe any dominion of one over another; any leadership, any imposition of the will.
  • The connection between dress and war is not far to seek; your finest clothes are those you wear as soldiers.
  • Now, aged 50, I’m just poised to shoot forth quite free straight and undeflected my bolts whatever they are.
  • Among the tortures and devestations of life is this then – our friends are not able to finish their stories.
  • Why, he wondered, did people who had been asleep always want to make out that they were extremely wide-awake?
  • The history of most women is hidden either by silence, or by flourishes and ornaments that amount to silence.
  • You have been in every way all that anyone could be…. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.
  • The profound difference that divides the human race is a question of bait – whether to fish with worms or not.
  • The mind which is most capable of receiving impressions is very often the least capable of drawing conclusions.
  • A thousand things to be written had I time: had I power. A very little writing uses up my capacity for writing.
  • How far do our feelings take their colour from the dive underground? I mean, what is the reality of any feeling?
  • There was a day when I liked writing letters — it has gone. Unfortunately the passion for getting them remains.
  • I see you everywhere, in the stars, in the river, to me you’re everything that exists; the reality of everything.
  • Are we so made that we have to take death in small doses daily or we could not go on with the business of living?
  • Let it be fact, one feels, or let it be fiction; the imagination will not serve under two masters simultaneously.
  • No sooner have you feasted on beauty with your eyes than your mind tells you that beauty is vain and beauty passes
  • I am volatile for one, rigid for another, angular as an icicle in silver, or voluptuous as a candle flame in gold.
  • Talents of the novelist: … observation of character, analysis of emotion, people’s feelings, personal relations.
  • One likes people much better when they’re battered down by a prodigious siege of misfortune than when they triumph.
  • The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their completeness. I like their anonymity.
  • If the best of one’s feelings means nothing to the person most concerned in those feelings, what reality is left us?
  • It seemed to her such nonsense-inventing differences, when people, heaven knows, were different enough without that.
  • It is no use trying to sum people up. One must follow hints, not exactly what is said, nor yet entirely what is done.
  • Human beings have neither kindness, nor faith, nor charity beyond what serves to increase the pleasure of the moment.
  • But then anyone who’s worth anything reads just what he likes, as the mood takes him, and with extravagant enthusiasm.
  • One has to secrete a jelly in which to slip quotations down people’s throats – and one always secretes too much jelly.
  • The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it.
  • Why does Samuel Butler say, ‘Wise men never say what they think of women’? Wise men never say anything else apparently.
  • Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.
  • Consolation for those moments when you can’t tell whether you’re the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world.
  • Habits and customs are a convenience devised for the support of timid natures who dare not allow their souls free play.
  • There are moments when one can neither think nor feel, she thought, and if one can neithre feel nor think, where’s one?
  • Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
  • Middlemarch, the magnificent book which with all its imperfections is one of the few English novels for grown-up people.
  • King old ladies assure us that cats are often the best judges of character. A cat will always to to a good man, they say.
  • The streets of London have their map, but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?
  • I am tied down with single words. But you wander off; you slip away; you rise up higher, with words and words in phrases.
  • Most of a modest woman’s life was spent, after all, in denying what, in one day at least of every year, was made obvious.
  • This is not writing at all. Indeed, I could say that Shakespeare surpasses literature altogether, if I knew what I meant.
  • A whole lifetime was too short to bring out, the full flavour; to extract every ounce of pleasure, every shade of meaning.
  • When I am grown up I shall carry a notebooka fat book with many pages, methodically lettered. I shall enter my phrases.
  • They say the sky is the same everywhere. Travellers, the shipwrecked, exiles, and the dying draw comfort from the thought.
  • There was a serenity about him always that had the look of innocence, when, technically, the word was no longer applicable.
  • Moreover, a book is not made of sentences laid end to end, but of sentences built, if an image helps, into arcades or domes.
  • By the truth we are undone. Life is a dream. ‘Tis the waking that kills us. He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life.
  • It seems as if an age of genius must be succeeded by an age of endeavour; riot and extravagance by cleanliness and hard work.
  • I like books whose virtue is all drawn together in a page or two. I like sentences that don’t budge though armies cross them.
  • Why, if it was an illusion, not praise the catastrophe, whatever it was, that destroyed illusion and put truth in it’s place?
  • Facts must be manipulated; some must be brightened; others shaded; yet, in the process, they must never lose their integrity.
  • Beauty was not everything. Beauty had this penalty it came too readily, came too completely. It stilled life  froze it.
  • After that, how unbelievable death was! – that is must end; and no one in the whole world would know how she had loved it all.
  • There is something about the present which we would not exchange, though we were offered a choice of all past ages to live in.
  • If only she could put them together, she felt, write them out in some sentence, then she would have got at the truth of things.
  • The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.
  • We live in constant danger of coming apart. The mystery of why we do not always come apart is the animating tension of all art.
  • Let us not take for granted that life exists more fully in what is commonly thought big than in what is commonly thought small.
  • The beauty of the world, which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
  • I find that when I’ve seen a certain number of people my mind becomes like an old match box — the part one strikes on, I mean.
  • The root of things, what they were all afraid of saying, was that happiness is dirt cheap. You can have it for nothing. Beauty.
  • One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them.
  • Safe! safe! safe!’ the pulse of the house beats wildly. Waking, I cry ‘Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart.
  • Effort ceases. Time flaps on the mast. There we stop; there we stand. Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame
  • A masterpiece is something said once and for all, stated, finished, so that it’s there complete in the mind, if only at the back.
  • Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it. It is our business to puncture gas bags and discover seeds of truth.
  • Love and religion! thought Clarissa, going back into the drawing room, tingling all over. How detestable, how detestable they are!
  • These are the soul’s changes. I don’t believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism.
  • Novels so often provide an anodyne and not an antidote, glide one into torpid slumbers instead of rousing one with a burning brand.
  • madam,” the man cried, leaping to the ground, “you’re hurt!” “I’m dead, sir!” she replied. A few minutes later, they became engaged.
  • So the days pass, and I ask myself whether one is not hypnotized, as a child by a silver globe, by life, and whether this is living.
  • But nothing is so strange when one is in love (and what was this except being in love?) as the complete indifference of other people.
  • I want the concentration and the romance, and the worlds all glued together, fused, glowing: have no time to waste any more on prose.
  • As nobody can possibly tell me whether one’s writing is bad or good, the only certain value is one’s own pleasure. I am sure of that.
  • The telephone, which interrupts the most serious conversations and cuts short the most weighty observations, has a romance of its own.
  • I begin to long for some little language such as lovers use, broken words, inarticulate words, like the shuffling of feet on pavement.
  • The immense success of our life is, I think, that our treasure is hid away; or rather in such common things that nothing can touch it.
  • In marriage a little licence, a little independence there must be between people living together day in and day out in the same house.
  • A biography is considered complete if it merely accounts for six or seven selves, whereas a person may well have as many as a thousand.
  • She thought there were no Gods; no one was to blame; and so she evolved this atheist’s religion of doing good for the sake of goodness.
  • Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.
  • All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.
  • He lay on his chair with his hands clasped above his paunch not reading, or sleeping, but basking like a creature gorged with existence.
  • But I don’t think of the future, or the past, I feast on the moment. This is the secret of happiness, but only reached now in middle age.
  • So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.
  • It would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare.
  • Who would not spout the family teapot in order to talk with Keats for an hour about poetry, or with Jane Austen about the art of fiction?
  • If this were the time or the place to uphold a paradox, I am half inclined to state that Norfolk is one of the most beautiful of counties.
  • I feel so intensely the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one’s own, with pictures and music and everything beautiful.
  • The most extraordinary thing about writing is that when you’ve struck the right vein, tiredness goes. It must be an effort, thinking wrong.
  • For if Chloe likes Olivia and Mary Carmichael knows how to express it she will light a torch in that vast chamber where nobody has yet been.
  • They lack suggestive power. And when a book lacks suggestive power, however hard it hits the surface of the mind it cannot penetrate within.
  • We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods.
  • As for my next book, I won’t write it till it has grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall.
  • A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out.
  • Why is life so tragic; so like a little strip of pavement over an abyss. I look down; I feel giddy; I wonder how I am ever to walk to the end.
  • The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.
  • How are we to account for the strange human craving for the pleasure of feeling afraid which is so much involved in our love of ghost stories?
  • to write a novel in the heart of London is next to an impossibility. I feel as if I were nailing a flag to the top of a mast in a raging gale.
  • It’s not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it’s the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses.
  • Night had comenight that she loved of all times, night in which the reflections in the dark pool of the mind shine more clearly than by day.
  • I need silence, and to be alone and to go out, and to save one hour to consider what has happened to my world, what death has done to my world.
  • Sir, I would trust you with my heart. Moreover, we have left our bodies in the banqueting hall. Those on the turf are the shadows of our souls.
  • There is something I want-something I have come to get, and she fell deeper and deeper without knowing quite what it was, with her eyes closed.
  • Literature is no one’s private ground, literature is common ground; let us trespass freely and fearlessly and find our own way for ourselves.
  • It is part of the novelist’s convention not to mention soup and salmon and ducklings, as if soup and salmon and ducklings were of no importance.
  • To put it in a nutshell, he was afflicted with a love of literature. It was the fatal nature of this disease to substitute a phantom for reality.
  • About here, she thought, dabbling her fingers in the water, a ship had sunk, and she muttered, dreamily half asleep, how we perished, each alone.
  • Where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe.
  • We are cut, we are fallen. We are become part of that unfeeling universe that sleeps when we are at our quickest and burns red when we lie asleep.
  • Fear no more, says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall
  • He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.
  • To read a novel is a difficult and complex art. You must be capable not only of great fineness of perception, but of great boldness of imagination.
  • For there is a virtue in truth; it has an almost mystic power. Like radium, it seems to give off forever and ever grains of energy, atoms of light.
  • The cold stream of visual impressions failed him now as if the eye were a cup that overflowed and let the rest run down its china walls unrecorded.
  • Inevitably we look upon society, so kind to you, so harsh to us, as an ill-fitting form that distorts the truth; deforms the mind; fetters the will.
  • The flower bloomed and faded. The sun rose and sank. The lover loved and went. And what the poets said in rhyme, the young translated into practice.
  • Am I too fast, too facile? I do not know. I do not know myself sometimes, or how to measure and name and count out the grains that make me what I am.
  • She had read a wonderful play about a man who scratched on the wall of his cell and she had felt that was true of life one scratched on the wall.
  • But when we sit together, close,’ said Bernard, we melt into each other with phrases. We are edged with mist. We make an unsubstantial territory.
  • You have a touch in letter writing that is beyond me. Something unexpected, like coming round a corner in a rose garden and finding it still daylight.
  • But Time, unfortunately, though it makes animals and vegetables bloom and fade with amazing punctuality has no such simple effect upon the mind of man.
  • I feel certain that I’m going mad again, I feel we can’t go thru another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices
  • For this moment, this one moment, we are together. I press you to me. Come, pain, feed on me. Bury your fangs in my flesh. Tear me asunder. I sob, I sob.
  • To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face, and to know it for what it is…at last, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away.
  • Somewhere, everywhere, now hidden, now apparent in what ever is written down, is the form of a human being. If we seek to know him, are we idly occupied?
  • Disastrous would have been the result if a fire or a death had suddenly demanded something heroic of human nature, but tragedies come in the hungry hours.
  • My mind turned by anxiety, or other cause, from its scrutiny of blank paper, is like a lost child, wandering the house, sitting on the bottom step to cry.
  • I detest the masculine point of view. I am bored by his heroism, virtue, and honour. I think the best these men can do is not talk about themselves anymore.
  • Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.
  • Nothing, however, can be more arrogant, though nothing is commoner than to assume that of Gods there is only one, and of religions none but the speaker’s.
  • … the public and the private worlds are inseparably connected … the tyrannies and servilities of the one are the tyrannies and servilities of the other.
  • For what Harley Street specialist has time to understand the body, let alone the mind or both in combination, when he is a slave to thirteen thousand a year?
  • I do think all good and evil comes from words. I have to tune myself into a good temper with something musical, and I run to a book as a child to its mother.
  • I spent an hour looking at pots and carpets in the museums the other day, until the desire to describe them became like the desire for the lusts of the flesh.
  • In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows.
  • Each had his own business to think of. Each had his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart; and his friends could only read the title.
  • Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible.
  • I don’t believe that you can possibly separate expression from thought in an imaginative work. The better a thing is expressed, the more completely it is thought.
  • If one could be friendly with women, what a pleasure – the relationship so secret and private compared with relations with men. Why not write about it truthfully?
  • Her only gift was knowing people almost by instinct, she thought, walking on. If you put her in a room with someone, up went her back like a cat’s; or she purred.
  • Lines slip easily down the accustomed grooves. The old designs are copied so glibly that we are half inclined to think them original, save for that very glibness.
  • No, she thought, one could say nothing to nobody. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low.
  • To survive, each sentence must have, at its heart, a little spark of fire, and this, whatever the risk, the novelist must pluck with his own hands from the blaze.
  • Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.
  • Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it.
  • The strange thing about life is that though the nature of it must have been apparent to every one for hundreds of years, no one has left any adequate account of it.
  • How then did it work out, all this? How did one judge people, think of them? How did one add up this and that and conclude that it is liking one felt, or disliking?
  • But what a little I can get down into my pen of what is so vivid to my eyes, and not only to my eyes; also to some nervous fibre, or fanlike membrane in my species.
  • Nothing shakes my opinion of a book. Nothing — nothing. Only perhaps if it’s the book of a young person — or of a friend — no, even so, I think myself infallible.
  • This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room.
  • My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?
  • There is a coherence in things, a stability; something… is immune from change and shines out… in the face of the flowing, the fleeting, the spectral, like a ruby.
  • Half the time she did things not simply, not for themselves; but to make people think this or that; perfect idiocy she knew for no one was ever for a second taken in.
  • Why does one write these books after all? The drudgery, the misery, the grind, are forgotten everytime; and one launches another, and it seems sheer joy and buoyancy.
  • A sort of transaction went on between them, in which she was on one side, and life was on another, and she was always trying to get the better of it, as it was of her.
  • Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another. Nature and letters seem to have a natural antipathy; bring them together and they tear each other to pieces.
  • What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with this extraordinary excitement? It is Clarissa, he said. For there she was.
  • Outside the trees dragged their leaves like nets through the depths of the air; the sound of water was in the room and through the waves came the voices of birds singing.
  • Alone, condemned, deserted, as those who are about to die are alone, there was a luxury in it, an isolation full of sublimity; a freedom which the attached can never know
  • Indeed, I thought, slipping the silver into my purse, it is remarkable, remembering the bitterness of those days, what a change of temper a fixed income will bring about.
  • At last she shut the book sharply, lay back, and drew a deep breath, expressive of the wonder which always marks the transition from the imaginary world to the real world.
  • I worship you, but I loathe marriage. I hate its smugness, its safety, its compromise and the thought of you interfering with my work, hindering me; what would you answer?
  • It is as if Emily Bront√´ could tear up all that we know human beings by, and fill these unrecognizable transparencies with such a gust of life that they transcend reality.
  • What is a woman? I assure you, I do not know … I do not believe that anybody can know until she has expressed herself in all the arts and professions open to human skill.
  • Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.
  • Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.
  • Tom’s great yellow bronze mask all draped upon an iron framework. An inhibited, nerve-drawn; dropped face – as if hung on a scaffold of heavy private brooding; and thought.
  • Let a man get up and say, Behold, this is the truth, and instantly I perceive a sandy cat filching a piece of fish in the background. Look, you have forgotten the cat, I say.
  • … the transaction between a writer and the spirit of the age is one of infinite delicacy, and upon a nice arrangement between the two the whole fortune of his works depend.
  • Of course, literature is the only spiritual and humane career. Even painting tends to dumness, and music turns people erotic, whereas the more you write the nicer you become.
  • The only advice … that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions.
  • At one and the same time, therefore, society is everything and society is nothing. Society is the most powerful concoction in the world and society has no existence whatsoever
  • The first duty of a lecturer: to hand you after an hour’s discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks, and keep on the mantelpiece forever.
  • There can be no two opinions as to what a highbrow is. He is the man or woman of thoroughbred intelligence who rides his mind at a gallop across country in pursuit of an idea.
  • One should aim, seriously, at disregarding ups and downs; a compliment here, silence there … the central fact remains stable, which is the fact of my own pleasure in the art.
  • We agreed that people are now afraid of the English language. He [T.S. Eliot] said it came of being bookish, but not reading books enough. One should read all styles thoroughly.
  • But what is more to the point is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. Never mind the misses and the stumbles.
  • His eyes were bright, and, indeed, he scarcely knew whether they held dreams or realities…and in five minutes she had filled the shell of the old dream with the flesh of life.
  • You cannot lecture on really pure poetry any more than you can talk about the ingredients of pure water-it is adulterated, methylated, sanded poetry that makes the best lectures.
  • To enjoy freedom … we have of course to control ourselves. We must not squander our powers, helplessly and ignorantly, squirting half the house in order to water a single rose.
  • And when we are writing the life of a woman, we may, it is agreed, waive our demand for action, and substitute love instead. Love, the poet has said, is a woman’s whole existence.
  • Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.
  • Like all very handsome men who die tragically, he left not so much a character behind him as a legend. Youth and death shed a halo through which it is difficult to see a real face.
  • When she read just now to James, ‘and there were numbers of soldiers with kettledrums and trumpets,’ and his eyes darkened, she thought, why should they grow up, and lose all that?
  • So that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again.
  • She dares me to pour myself out like a living waterfall. She dares me to enter the soul that is more than my own; she extinguishes fear in mere seconds. She lets light come through.
  • Our friends – how distant, how mute, how seldom visited and little known. And I, too, am dim to my friends and unknown; a phantom, sometimes seen, often not. Life is a dream surely.
  • for it was not knowledge but unity that she desired, not inscriptions on tablets, nothing that could be written in any language known to men, but intimacy itself, which is knowledge
  • It is from the middle class that writers spring, because, it is in the middle class only that the practice of writing is as natural and habitual as hoeing a field or building a house.
  • For now she need not think of anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone.
  • Now the writer, I think, has the chance to live more than other people in the presence of … reality. It is his business to find it and collect it and communicate it to the rest of us.
  • if newspapers were written by people whose sole object in writing was to tell the truth about politics and the truth about art we should not believe in war, and we should believe in art.
  • If we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women.
  • It is curious how instinctively one protects the image of oneself from idolatry or any other handling that could make it ridiculous, or too unlike the original to be believed any longer.
  • She had the perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very, dangerous to live even one day.
  • It was as if someone had taken a tiny bead of pure life and decking it as lightly as possible with down and feathers, had set it dancing and zigzagging to show us the true nature of life.
  • Now begins to rise in me the familiar rhythm; words that have lain dormant now lift, now toss their crests, and fall and rise, and falls again. I am a poet, yes. Surely I am a great poet.
  • Peter would think her sentimental. So she was. For she had come to feel that it was the only thing worth saying what one felt. Cleverness was silly. One must say simply what one felt.
  • To want and not to have, sent all up her body a hardness, a hollowness, a strain. And then to want and not to have- to want and want- how that wrung the heart, and wrung it again and again!
  • Every face, every shop, bedroom window, public-house, and dark square is a picture feverishly turned–in search of what? It is the same with books. What do we seek through millions of pages?
  • The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.
  • This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us. If one has the courage to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say.
  • Thus Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Douglas and Mr. Joyce partly spoil their books for women readers by their display of self-conscious virility; and Mr. Hemingway, but much less violently, follows suit.
  • why do I ever let anyone read what I write! Every time I have to go through a breakfast with a letter of criticism I swear I will write for my own praise or blame in future. It is a misery.
  • I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.
  • It was a miserable machine, an inefficient machine, she thought, the human apparatus for painting or for feeling; it always broke down at the critical moment; heroically, one must force it on.
  • The proper stuff of fiction’ does not exist; everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss.
  • There is no room for the impurities of literature in an essay…. the essay must be pure–pure like water or pure like wine, but pure from dullness, deadness, and deposits of extraneous matter.
  • If we didn’t live venturously, plucking the wild goat by the beard, and trembling over precipices, we should never be depressed, I’ve no doubt; but already should be faded, fatalistic and aged.
  • At any rate, when a subject is highly controversial-and any question about sex is that-one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold.
  • I am reading six books at once, the only way of reading; since, as you will agree, one book is only a single unaccompanied note, and to get the full sound, one needs ten others at the same time.
  • But it is just when opinions universally prevail and we have added lip service to their authority that we become sometimes most keenly conscious that we do not believe a word that we are saying.
  • But words have been used too often; touched and turned, and left exposed to the dust of the street. The words we seek hang close to the tree. We come at dawn and find them sweet beneath the leaf.
  • But why do I notice everything? She thought. Why must I think? She did not want to think. She wanted to force her mind to become a blank and lie back, and accept quietly, tolerantly, whatever came.
  • letters are venerable; and the telephone valiant, for the journey is a lonely one, and if bound together by notes and telephones we went in company, perhaps – who knows? – we might talk by the way.
  • One should be a painter. As a writer, I feel the beauty, which is almost entirely colour, very subtle, very changeable, running over my pen, as if you poured a large jug of champagne over a hairpin.
  • So fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were stuck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sea.
  • Of the rest some we know to be dead though they walk among us; some are not yet born though they go through the forms of life; others are hundreds of years old though they call themselves thirty-six.
  • But Sasha who after all had no English blood in her but was from Russia where the sunsets are longer, the dawns less sudden, and sentences often left unfinished from doubt as to how best to end them.
  • Almost any biographer, if he respects facts, can give us much more than another fact to add to our collection. He can give us the creative fact; the fertile fact; the fact that suggests and engenders.
  • For once the disease of reading has laid upon the system it weakens so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the ink pot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing.
  • There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us, and not we, them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.
  • The mind of an artist, in order to achieve the prodigious effort of freeing whole and entire the work that is in him, must be incandescent…there must be no obstacle in it, no foreign matter unconsumed.
  • London perpetually attracts, stimulates, gives me a play and a story and a poem, without any trouble, save that of moving my legs through the streets… To walk alone through London is the greatest rest.
  • Altogether, the task of estimating the length of human life is beyond our capacity, for directly we say that it is ages long, we are reminded that it is briefer than the fall of a rose leaf to the ground.
  • Illness is a part of every human being’s experience. It enhances our perceptions and reduces self-consciousness. It is the great confessional; things are said, truths are blurted out which health conceals.
  • To communicate is our chief business; society and friendship our chief delights; and reading, not to acquire knowledge, not to earn a living, but to extend our intercourse beyond our own time and province.
  • One wanted, she thought, dipping her brush deliberately, to be on a level with ordinary experience, to feel simply that’s a chair, that’s a table, and yet at the same time, It’s a miracle, it’s an ecstasy.
  • Praise and blame alike mean nothing. No, delightful as the pastime of measuring may be, it is the most futile of all occupations, and to submit to the decrees of the measurers the most servile of attitudes.
  • He called her a melon, a pineapple, an olive tree, an emerald, and a fox in the snow all in the space of three seconds; he did not know whether he had heard her, tasted her, seen her, or all three together.
  • Our apparitions, the things you know us by, are simply childish. Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by.
  • So coming back from a journey, or after an illness, before habits had spun themselves across the surface, one felt that same unreality, which was so startling; felt something emerge. Life was most vivid then.
  • Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.
  • There is a sadness at the back of life which some people do not attempt to mitigate. Entirely aware of their own standing in the shadow, and yet alive to every tremor and gleam of existence, there they endure.
  • But how entirely I live in my imagination; how completely depend upon spurts of thought, coming as I walk, as I sit; things churning up in my mind and so making a perpetual pageant, which is to be my happiness.
  • Dance music … stirs some barbaric instinct – lulled asleep in our sober lives – you forget centuries of civilization in a second, & yield to that strange passion which sends you madly whirling round the room.
  • I will achieve in my life – Heaven grant that it be not long – some gigantic amalgamation between the two discrepancies so hideously apparent to me. Out of my suffering I will do it. I will knock. I will enter.
  • I have a feeling I shall go mad. I cannot go on longer in these terrible times. I shan’t recover this time. I hear voices and cannot concentrate on my work. I have fought against it but cannot fight any longer.
  • Madness is terrific I can assure you, and not to be sniffed at; and in its lava I still find most of the things I write about. It shoots out of one everything shaped, final, not in mere driblets, as sanity does.
  • Chastity … has, even now, a religious importance in a woman’s life, and has so wrapped itself round with nerves and instincts that to cut it free and bring it to the light of day demands courage of the rarest.
  • The sigh of all the seas breaking in measure round the isles soothed them; the night wrapped them; nothing broke their sleep, until, the birds beginning and the dawn weaving their thin voices in to its whiteness
  • It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of woman’s life is that.
  • Methinks the human method of expression by sound of tongue is very elementary, and ought to be substituted for some ingenious invention which should be able to give vent to at least six coherent sentences at once.
  • Have you any notion how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe?
  • Alone, I often fall down into nothingness. I must push my foot stealthily lest I should fall off the edge of the world into nothingness. I have to bang my head against some hard door to call myself back to the body.
  • In the 18th century we knew how everything was done, but here I rise through the air, I listen to voices in America, I see men flying- but how is it done? I can’t even begin to wonder. So my belief in magic returns.
  • Though we see the same world, we see it through different eyes. Any help we can give you must be different from that you can give yourselves, and perhaps the value of that help may lie in the fact of that difference.
  • The hatchet must fall on the block; the oak must be cleft to the centre. The weight of the world is on my shoulders. Here is the pen and the paper; on the letters in the wire basket I sign my name, I, I, and again I.
  • I will not be “famous,” “great.” I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped. The thing is to free one’s self: to let it find its dimensions, not be impeded.
  • I attain a different kind of beauty, achieve a symmetry by means of infinite discords, showing all the traces of the mind’s passage through the world, achieve in the end some kind of whole made of shivering fragments.
  • The most important thing is not to think very much about oneself. To investigate candidly the charge; but not fussily, not very anxiously. On no account to retaliate by going to the other extreme — thinking too much.
  • Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.
  • The thing about Proust is his combination of the utmost sensibility with the utmost tenacity. He searches out these butterfly shades to the last grain. He is as tough as catgut and as evanescent as a butterfly’s bloom.
  • Books should stand on their own feet … If they need shoring up by a preface here, an introduction there, they have no more right to exist than a table that needs a wad of paper under one leg in order to stand steady.
  • To sit and contemplate – to remember the faces of women without desire, to be pleased by the great deeds of men without envy, to be everything and everywhere in sympathy and yet content to remain where and what you are.
  • It is equally vain,she thought, for you to think you can protect me, or for me to think I can worship you. The light of truth beats upon us without shadow, and the light of truth is damnably unbecoming to us both.
  • For it would seem – her case proved it – that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.
  • She felt… how life, from being made up of little separate incidents which one lived one by one, became curled and whole like a wave which bore one up with it and threw one down with it, there, with a dash on the beach.
  • Love ought to stop on both sides, don’t you think, simultaneously?’ He spoke without any stress on the words, so as not to wake the sleepers. But it won’t – that’s the devil,’ he added in the same undertone.
  • They came to her, naturally, since she was a woman, all day long with this and that; one wanting this, another that; the children were growing up; she often felt she was nothing but a sponge sopped full of human emotions.
  • I believe that the main thing in beginning a novel is to feel, not that you can write it, but that it exists on the far side of a gulf, which words can’t cross: that it’s to be pulled through only in a breathless anguish.
  • how blessed it would be never to marry, or grow old; but to spend one’s life innocently and indifferently among the trees and rivers which alone can keep one cool and childlike in the midst of the troubles of the world!
  • To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others.
  • I was lying in bed this morning and saying to myself, ‘the remarkable thing about Ethel is her stupendous self-satisfaction’ when in came your letter to confirm this profound psychological observation. How delighted I was!
  • … if we can imagine the art of fiction come alive and standing in our midst, she would undoubtedly bid us to break her and bullyher, as well as honour and love her, for so her youth is renewed and her sovereignty assured.
  • Neither of us knows what the public will think. There’s no doubt in my mind that I have found out how to begin (at forty) to say something in my own voice; and that interests me so that I feel I can go ahead without praise.
  • To whom can I expose the urgency of my own passion? There is nobodyhere among these grey arches, and moaning pigeons, and cheerful games and tradition and emulation, all so skilfully organised to prevent feeling alone.
  • No passion is stronger in the breast of a man than the desire to make others believe as he believes. Nothing so cuts at the root of his happiness and fills him with rage as the sense that another rates low what he prizes high.
  • One cannot bring children into a world like this. One cannot perpetuate suffering, or increase the breed of these lustful animals, who have no lasting emotions, but only whims and vanities, eddying them now this way, now that.
  • The spring without a leaf to toss, bare and bright like a virgin fierce in her chastity, scornful in her purity, was laid out on fields wide-eyed and watchful and entirely careless of what was done or thought by the beholders.
  • You would get longer livelier and more frequent letters from me, if it weren’t for the Christian religion. How that bell tolling at the end of the garden, dum dum, dum dum, annoys me! Why is Christianity so insistent and so sad?
  • I’m fundamentally, I think, an outsider. I do my best work and feel most braced with my back to the wall. It’s an odd feeling though, writing aginst the current: difficult entirely to disregard the current. Yet of course I shall.
  • To stand in a great bookshop crammed with books so new that their pages almost stick together, and the gilt on their backs is still fresh, has an excitement no less delightful than the old excitement of the second-hand bookstall.
  • It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole. This wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me; it gives me, perhaps because by doing so I take away the pain, a great delight to put the severed parts together
  • Men felt a chill in their hearts; a damp in their minds. In a desperate effort to snuggle their feelings into some sort of warmth,one subterfuge was tried after anothersentences swelled, adjectives multiplied, lyrics became epics.
  • Doesn’t one always think of the past, in a garden with men and women lying under the trees? Aren’t they one’s past, all that remains of it, those men and women, those ghosts lying under the trees … one’s happiness, one’s reality?
  • women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but from the beginning of time. … Women, then, have not had a dog’s chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and a room of one’s own.
  • Once you fall, Septimus repeated to himself, human nature is on you. Holmes and Bradshaw are on you. They scour the desert. They fly screaming into the wilderness. The rack and the thumbscrew are applied. Human nature is remorseless.
  • I must try to set aside half an hour in some part of my day, and consecrate it to diary writing. Give it a name and a place, and then perhaps, such is the human mind, I shall come to think it a duty, and disregard other duties for it.
  • Oh, but she never wanted James to grow a day older or Cam either. These two she would have liked to keep for ever just as the way they were, demons of wickedness, angels of delight, never to see them grow up into long-legged monsters.
  • If we help an educated man’s daughter to go to Cambridge are we not forcing her to think not about education but about war? – not how she can learn, but how she can fight in order that she might win the same advantages as her brothers?
  • She began framing the words of her telegram into a senseless singsong; so that several park keepers looked at her with suspicion and were only brought to a favourable opinion of her sanity by noticing the pearl necklace which she wore.
  • … the random talk of people who have no chance of immortality and thus can speak their minds out has a setting, often, of lights, streets, houses, human beings, beautiful or grotesque, which will weave itself into the moment for ever.
  • And it was awfully strange, he thought, how she still had the power, as she came tinkling, rustling, still had the power as she came across the room, to make the moon, which he detested, rise at Bourton on the terrace in the summer sky.
  • Then may I tell you that the very next words I read were these ‘Chloe liked Olivi’ Do not start. Do not blush. Let us admit in the privacy of our own society that these things sometimes happen. Sometimes women do like women.
  • [Final diary entry:] Occupation is essential. And now with some pleasure I find that it’s seven; and must cook dinner. Haddock and sausage meat. I think it is true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down.
  • For it is probable that when people talk aloud, the selves (of which there may be more than two thousand) are conscious of disserverment, and are trying to communicate but when communication is established there is nothing more to be said.
  • To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries.
  • The interest in life does not lie in what people do, nor even in their relations to each other, but largely in the power to communicate with a third party, antagonistic, enigmatic, yet perhaps persuadable, which one may call life in general.
  • If Shakespeare had never existed, he asked, would the world have differed much from what it is today? Does the progress of civilization depend upon great men? Is the lot of the average human being better now that in the time of the Pharaohs?
  • Life for both sexes is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. More than anything… it calls for confidence in oneself…And how can we generate this imponderable quality most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself.
  • She felt, with her hand on the nursery door, that community of feeling with other people which emotion gives as if the walls of partition had become so thin that practically (the feeling was one of relief and happiness) it was all one stream.
  • Above all you must illumine your own soul with its profundities and its shallows, and its vanities and its generosities, and say what your beauty means to you or your plainness, and what is your relation to the ever-changing and turning world.
  • Once you begin to take yourself seriously as a leader or as a follower, as a modern or as a conservative, then you become a self-conscious, biting, and scratching little animal whose work is not of the slightest value or importance to anybody.
  • As for ‘drawing you out,’ please believe I don’t do such things deliberately, with an object — It’s only that I am, as a rule, far more interested in people than they are in me — But it makes me a nuisance, I know: only an innocent nuisance.
  • She felt drawing further from her and further from her an Archduke, (she did not mind that) a fortune, (she did not mind that) the safety and circumstance of married life, (she did not mind that) but life she heard going from her, and a lover.
  • Wat a vast fertility of pleasure books hold for me! I went in and found the table laden with books. I looked in and sniffed them all. I could not resist carrying this one off and broaching it. I think I could happily live here and read forever.
  • We [women] have borne and bred and washed and taught, perhaps to the age of six or seven years, the one thousand six hundred and twenty-three million human beings who are, according to statistics, at present in existence, and that … takes time.
  • and then he could not see her come into a room without a sense of the flowing of robes, of the flowering of blossoms, of the purple waves of the sea, of all things that are lovely and mutable on the surface but still and passionate in their heart.
  • Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely? All this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?
  • Am I alone in my egotism when I say that never does the pale light of dawn filter through the blinds of 52 Tavistock Square but I open my eyes and exclaim, “Good God! Here I am again!” not always with pleasure, often with pain; sometimes in a spasm.
  • The weight of the world is on our shoulders, its vision is through our eyes; if we blink or look aside, or turn back to finger what Plato said or remember Napoleon and his conquests, we inflict on the world the injury of some obliquity. This is life.
  • I am to be broken. I am to be derided all my life. I am to be cast up and down among these men and women, with their twitching faces, with their lying tongues, like a cork on a rough sea. Like a ribbon of weed I am flung far every time the door opens.
  • Tell me”, he wanted to say, “everything in the whole world” – for he had the wildest, most absurd, extravagant ideas about poets and poetry – but how to speak to a man who does not see you? who sees ogres, satyrs, perhaps the depth of the sea instead?
  • We all indulge in the strange, pleasant process called thinking, but when it comes to saying, even to someone opposite, what we think, then how little we are able to convey! The phantom is through the mind and out of the window before we can lay salt on
  • By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream
  • Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the art of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated. The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the
  • Henry James seems most entirely in his element, doing that is to say what everything favors his doing, when it is a question of recollection. The mellow light which swims over the past, the beauty which suffuses even the commonest little figures of that
  • What is meant by reality? It would seem to be something very erratic, very undependable – now to be found in a dusty road, now in a scrap of newspaper in the street, now a daffodil in the sun. It lights up a group in a room and stamps some casual saying
  • For love… has two faces; one white, the other black; two bodies; one smooth, the other hairy. It has two hands, two feet, two tails, two, indeed, of every member and each one is the exact opposite of the other. Yet, so strictly are they joined together
  • She belonged to a different age, but being so entire, so complete, would always stand up on the horizon, stone-white, eminent, like a lighthouse marking some past stage on this adventurous, long, long voyage, this interminable — this interminable life.
  • I have made up thousands of stories; I have filled innumerable notebooks with phrases to be used when I have found the true story, the one story to which all these phrases refer. But I have never yet found the story. And I begin to ask, Are there stories?

 

  • Was there no safety? No learning by heart of the ways of the world? No guide, no shelter, but all was miracle, and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air? Could it be, even for elderly people, that this was life?–startling, unexpected, unknown?
  • Different though the sexes are, they inter-mix. In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is very opposite of what it is above.
  • All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are sides, and it is necessary for one side to beat another side.
  • That would be a glorious life, to addict oneself to perfection; to follow the curve of the sentence wherever it might lead, into deserts, under drifts of sand, regardless of lures, of seductions; to be poor always and unkempt; to be ridiculous in Piccadilly.
  • If you insist upon fighting to protect me, or ‘our’ country, let it be understood soberly and rationally between us that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits where I have not shared and probably will not share.
  • If woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of utmost importance; very various; heroic and mean; splendid and sordid; infinitely beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as a man; some think even greater.
  • The taste for books was an early one. As a child he was sometimes found at midnight by a page still reading. They took his taper away, and he bred glow-worms to serve his purpose. They took the glow-worms away and he almost burnt the house down with a tinder.
  • As a creator of character his peculiarity is that he creates wherever his eyes rest … With such a power at his command Dickens made his books blaze up, not by tightening the plot or sharpening the wit, but by throwing another handful of people upon the fire.
  • When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.
  • If people are highly successful in their profession they lose their senses. Sight goes. They have no time to look at pictures. Sound goes. They have no time to listen to music. Speech goes. They have no time for conversation. They lose their sense of proportion.
  • The melancholy river bears us on. When the moon comes through the trailing willow boughs, I see your face, I hear your voice and the bird singing as we pass the osier bed. What are you whispering? Sorrow, sorrow. Joy, joy. Woven together, like reeds in moonlight.
  • All looked distant and peaceful and strange. The shore seemed refined, far away, unreal. Already the little distance they had sailed had put them far from it and given it the changed look, the composed look, of something receding in which one has no longer any part.
  • Submit to me.” So she said nothing, but looked doggedly and sadly at the shore, wrapped in its mantle of peace; as if the people there had fallen alseep, she thought; were free like smoke, were free to come and go like ghosts. They have no suffering there, she thought.
  • Never did anybody look so sad. Bitter and black, halfway down, in the darkness, in the shaft which ran from the sunlight to the depths, perhaps a tear formed; a tear fell; the waves swayed this way and that, received it, and were at rest. Never did anybody look so sad.
  • I want some one to sit beside after the day’s pursuit and all its anguish, after its listening, its waitings, and its suspicions. After quarreling and reconciliation I need privacy–to be alone with you, to set this hubbub in order. For I am as neat as a cat in my habits.
  • scarcely a human being in the course of history has fallen to a woman’s rifle; the vast majority of birds and beasts have been killed by you, not by us. Obviously there is for you some glory, some necessity, some satisfaction in fighting which we have never felt or enjoyed.
  • How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.
  • Communication is truth; communication is happiness. To share is our duty; to go down boldly and bring to light those hidden thoughts which are the most diseased; to conceal nothing; to pretend nothing; if we are ignorant to say so; if we love our friends to let them know it.
  • Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.
  • We seem to be riding on the top of the highest mast of the tallest ship; and yet at the same time we know that nothing of this sort matters; love is not proved thus, nor great achievements completed thus; so that we sport with the moment and preen our feathers in it lightly.
  • Let us again pretend that life is a solid substance, shaped like a globe, which we turn about in our fingers. Let us pretend that we can make out a plain and logical story, so that when one matter is despatchedlove for instancewe go on, in an orderly manner, to the next.
  • I see nothing. We may sink and settle on the waves. The sea will drum in my ears. The white petals will be darkened with sea water. They will float for a moment and then sink. Rolling over the waves will shoulder me under. Everything falls in a tremendous shower, dissolving me.
  • He began to search among the infinite series of impressions which time had laid down, leaf upon leaf, fold upon fold softly, incessantly upon his brain; among scents, sounds; voices, harsh, hollow, sweet; and lights passing, and brooms tapping; and the wash and hush of the sea.
  • He was a thorough good sort; a bit limited; a bit thick in the head; yes; but a thorough good sort. Whatever he took up he did in the same matter-of-fact sensible way; without a touch of imagination, without a sparkle of brilliancy, but with the inexplicable niceness of his type.
  • I want to think quietly, calmly, spaciously, never to be interrupted, never to have to rise from my chair, to slip easily from one thing to another, without any sense of hostility, or obstacle. I want to sink deeper and deeper, away from the surface, with its hard separate facts.
  • It was odd, she thought, how if one was alone, one leant to inanimate things; trees, streams, flowers; felt they expressed one; felt they became one; felt they knew one, in a sense were one; felt an irrational tenderness thus (she looked at that long steady light) as for oneself.
  • For it is a curious fact that though human beings have such imperfect means of communication, that they can only say ‘good to eat’ when they mean ‘beautiful’ and the other way about, they will yet endure ridicule and misunderstanding rather than keep any experience to themselves.
  • What could be more serious than the love of man for woman, what more commanding, more impressive, bearing in its bosom the seeds of death; at the same time these lovers, these people entering into illusion glittering eyed, must be danced round with mockery, decorated with garlands.
  • It rasped her, though, to have stirring about in her this brutal monster! to hear twigs cracking and feel hooves planted down in the depths of that leaf-encumbered forest, the soul; never to be content quite, or quite secure, for at any moment the brute would be stirring, this hatred.
  • They all dreamt of each other that night, as was natural, considering how thin the partitions were between them, and how strangely they had been lifted off the earth to sit next each other in mid-ocean, and see every detail of each others’ faces, and hear whatever they chanced to say.
  • I am obsessed at nights with the idea of my own worthlessness, and if it were only to turn a light on to save my life I think I would not do it. These are the last footprints of a headache I suppose. Do you ever feel that? – like an old weed in a stream. What do you feel, lying in bed?
  • Yet there are moments when the walls of the mind grow thin; when nothing is unabsorbed, and I could fancy that we might blow so vast a bubble that the sun might set and rise in it and we might take the blue of midday and the black of midnight and be cast off and escape from here and now.
  • every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works, yet we require critics to explain the one and biographers to expound the other. That time hangs heavy on people’s hands is the only explanation of the monstrous growth.
  • Come indoors then, and open the books on your library shelves. For you have a library and a good one. A working library, a living library; a library where nothing is chained down and nothing is locked up; a library where the songs of the singers rise naturally from the lives of the livers.
  • But when the self speaks to the self, who is speaking? The entombed soul, the spirit driven in, in, in to the central catacomb; the self that took the veil and left the world — a coward perhaps, yet somehow beautiful, as it flits with its lantern restlessly up and down the dark corridors.
  • All great writers have, of course, an atmosphere in which they seem most at their ease and at their best; a mood of the general mind which they interpret and indeed almost discover, so that we come to read them rather for that than for any story or character or scene of seperate excellence.
  • The human frame being what it is, heart, body and brain all mixed together, and not contained in separate compartments as they will be no doubt in another million years, a good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
  • Wine has a drastic, an astringent taste. I cannot help wincing as I drink. Ascent of flowers, radiance and heat, are distilled here to a fiery, yellow liquid. Just behind my shoulder-blades some dry thing, wide-eyed, gently closes, gradually lulls itself to sleep. This is rapture. This is relief.
  • I enjoy almost everything. Yet I have some restless searcher in me. Why is there not a discovery in life? Something one can lay hands on and say This is it‚Äù? My depression is a harassed feeling. I’m looking: but that’s not it that’s not it. What is it? And shall I die before I find it?
  • Finally, I would thank, had I not lost his name and address, a gentleman in America, who has generously and gratuitously corrected the punctuation, the botany, the entomology, the geography, and the chronology of previous works of mine and will, I hope, not spare his services on the present occasion.
  • A woman knows very well that, though a wit sends her his poems, praises her judgment, solicits her criticism, and drinks her tea, this by no means signifies that he respects her opinions, admires her understanding, or will refuse, though the rapier is denied him, to run through the body with his pen.
  • With her foot on the threshold she waited a moment longer in a scene which was vanishing even as she looked, and then, as she moved and took Minta’s arm and left the room, it changed, it shaped itself differently; it had become, she knew, giving one last look at it over her shoulder, already the past.
  • What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.
  • For such will be our ruin if you, in the immensity of your public abstractions, forget the private figure, or if we in the intensity of our private emotions forget the public world. Both houses will be ruined, the public and the private, the material and the spiritual, for they are inseparably connected.
  • She fell into a deep pool of sticky water, which eventually closed over her head. She saw nothing and heard nothing but a faint booming sound, which was the sound of the sea rolling over her head. While all her tormentors thought that she was dead, she was not dead, but curled up at the bottom of the sea.
  • Does housekeeping interest you at all? I think it really ought to be just as good as writing and I never see where the separation between the too comes in. At least if you must put books on one side and life on the other, each is a poor and bloodless thing; but my theory is that they mix indistinguishable.
  • She came into a room; she stood, as he had often seen her, in a doorway with lots of people round her. But it was Clarissa one remembered. Not that she was striking; not beautiful at all; there was nothing picturesque about her; she never said anything specially clever; there she was however; there she was.
  • It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only? Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities?
  • Publicity in women is detestable. Anonymity runs in their blood. The desire to be veiled still possesses them. They are not even now as concerned about the health of their fame as men are, and, speaking generally, will pass a tombstone or a signpost without feeling an irresistible desire to cut their names on it.
  • Ruin, weariness, death, perpetually death, stand grimly to confront the other presence of Elizabethan drama which is life: life compact of frigates, fir trees and ivory, of dolphins and the juice of July flowers, of the milk of unicorns and panthers’ breath, of ropes of pearl, brains of peacocks and Cretan wine.
  • What has praise and fame to do with poetry? Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice? So that all this chatter and praise, and blame and meeting people who admired one and meeting people who did not admire one was as ill suited as could be to the thing itself- a voice answering a voice.
  • No one would think of bringing a dog into church. For though a dog is all very well on a gravel path, and shows no disrespect to flowers, the way he wanders down an aisle, looking, lifting a paw, and approaching a pillar with a purpose that makes the blood run cold with horror … a dog destroys the service completely.
  • I cannot remember my past, my nose, or the colour of my eyes, or what my general opinion of myself is. Only in moments of emergency, at a crossing, at a kerb, the wish to preserve my body springs out and seizes me and stops me , here, before this omnibus. We insist, it seems, on living. Then again, indifference descends.
  • It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.
  • Young women… you are, in my opinion, disgracefully ignorant. You have never made a discovery of any sort of importance. You have never shaken an empire or led an army into battle. The plays by Shakespeare are not by you, and you have never introduced a barbarous race to the blessings of civilization. What is your excuse?
  • In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment in June.
  • It is permissible even for a dying hero to think before he dies how men will speak of him hereafter. His fame lasts perhaps two thousand years. And what are two thousand years?… What, indeed, if you look from a mountain top down the long wastes of the ages? The very stone one kicks with one’s boot will outlast Shakespeare.
  • The intellect, divine as it is, and all worshipful, has a habit of lodging in the most seedy of carcasses, and often, alas, acts the cannibal among the other faculties so that often, where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe.
  • So I have to create the whole thing afresh for myself each time. Probably all writers now are in the same boat. It is the penalty we pay for breaking with tradition, and the solitude makes the writing more exciting though the being read less so. One ought to sink to the bottom of the sea, probably, and live alone with ones words.
  • But he could not taste, he could not feel. In the teashop among the tables and the chattering waiters the appalling fear came over him- he could not feel. He could reason; he could read, Dante for example, quite easily‚Ķhe could add up his bill; his brain was perfect; it must be the fault of the world then- that he could not feel.
  • But when the door shuts on us, all that vanishes. The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughnesses a central oyster of perceptiveness, an enormous eye. How beautiful a street is in winter!
  • Venerable are letters, infinitely brave, forlorn, and lost. Life would split asunder without them. ‘Come to tea, come to dinner, what’s the truth of the story? have you heard the news? life in the capital is wonderful; the Russian dancers….’ These are our stays and props. These lace our days together and make of life a perfect globe.
  • Brooding, she changed the pool into the sea, and made the minnows into sharks and whales, and cast vast clouds over this tiny world by holding her hand against the sun, and so brought darkness and desolation, like God himself, to millions of ignorant and innocent creatures, and then took her hand away suddenly and let the sun stream down.
  • With my cheek leant upon the window pane I like to fancy that I am pressing as closely as can be upon the massy wall of time, which is forever lifting and pulling and letting fresh spaces of life in upon us. May it be mine to taste the moment before it has spread itself over the rest of the world! Let me taste the newest and the freshest.
  • In fact, though their acquaintance had been so short, they had guessed, as always happens between lovers, everything of any importance about each other in two seconds at the utmost, and it now remained only to fill in such unimportant details as what they were called; where they lived; and whether they were beggars or people of substance.
  • When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet. . . indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.
  • He looked very old. He looked, James thought, getting his head now against the Lighthouse, now against the waste of waters running away into the open, like some old stone lying on the sand; he looked as if he had become physically what was always at the back of both of their minds-that loneliness which was for both of them the truth about things.
  • For she was a child, throwing bread to the ducks, between her parents who stood by the lake, holding her life in her arms which, as she neared them, grew larger and larger in her arms, until it became a whole life, a complete life, which she put down by them and said, “This is what I have made of it! This!” And what had she made of it? What, indeed?
  • Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which each sight or incident scores upon the consciousness. Let us not take it for granted that life exists more fully in what is commonly thought big than in what is commonly thought small.
  • To pursue truth with such astonishing lack of consideration for other people’s feelings, to rend the thin veils of civilisation so wantonly, so brutally, was to her so horrible an outrage of human decency that, without replying, dazed and blinded, she bend her head as if to let her pelt f jagged hail, the drench of dirty water, bespatter her unrebuked.
  • Anyone who has the temerity to write about Jane Austen is aware of [two] facts: first, that of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness; second, that there are twenty-five elderly gentlemen living in the neighbourhood of London who resent any slight upon her genius as if it were an insult to the chastity of their aunts.
  • What greater delight and wonder can there be than to leave the straight lines of personality and deviate into these footpaths that lead beneath brambles and thick tree trunks into the heart of the forest where live those wild beasts, our fellow men? That is true: to escape is the greatest of pleasures; street haunting in winter the greatest of adventures.
  • We do not know our own souls, let alone the souls of others. Human beings do not go hand in hand the whole stretch of the way. There is a virgin forest in each; a snowfield where even the print of birds’ feet is unknown. Here we go alone, and like it better so. Always to have sympathy, always to be accompanied, always to be understood would be intolerable.
  • Needless to say, the business of living interferes with the solitude so needed for any work of the imagination. Here’s what Virginia Woolf said in her diary about the sticky issue: “I’ve shirked two parties, and another Frenchman, and buying a hat, and tea with Hilda Trevelyan, for I really can’t combine all this with keeping all my imaginary people going.
  • While fame impedes and constricts, obscurity wraps about a man like a mist; obscurity is dark, ample, and free; obscurity lets the mind take its way unimpeded. Over the obscure man is poured the merciful suffusion of darkness. None knows where he goes or comes. He may seek the truth and speak it; he alone is free; he alone is truthful, he alone is at peace.
  • …the problem of space remained, she thought, taking up her brush again. It glared at her. The whole mass of the picture was poised upon that weight. Beautiful and bright it should be on the surface, feathery and evanescent, one colour melting into another like the colours on a butterfly’s wing; but beneath the fabric must be clamped together with bolts of iron.
  • In certain favorable moods, memories — what one has forgotten — come to the top. Now if this is so, is it not possible — I often wonder — that things we have felt with great intensity have an existence independent of our minds; are in fact still in existence? And if so, will it not be possible, in time, that some device will be invented by which we can tap them?
  • It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly.  It is fatal for a woman to lay the least stress on any grievance;  to plead even with justice any cause;  in any way to speak consciously as a woman.  And fatal is no figure of speech;  for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death.  It ceases to be fertilized.
  • What I like, or one of the things I like, about motoring is the sense it gives one of lighting accidentally, like a voyager who touches another planet with the tip of his toe, upon scenes which would have gone on, have always gone on, will go on, unrecorded, save for this chance glimpse. Then it seems to me I am allowed to see the heart of the world uncovered for a moment.
  • If one is to deal with people on a large scale and say what one thinks, how can one avoid melancholy? I don’t admit to being hopeless, though: only the spectacle is a profoundly strange one; and as the current answers don’t do, one has to grope for a new one, and the process of discarding the old, when one is by no means certain what to put in their place, is a sad one.
  • Few people ask from books what books can give us. Most commonly we come to books with blurred and divided minds, asking of fiction that it shall be true, of poetry that it shall be false, of biography that it shall be flattering, of history that it shall enforce our own prejudices. If we could banish all such preconceptions when we read, that would be an admirable beginning.
  • The way to rock oneself back into writing is this. First gentle exercise in the air. Second the reading of good literature. It is a mistake to think that literature can be produced from the raw. One must get out of life…one must become externalised; very, very concentrated, all at one point, not having to draw upon the scattered parts of one’s character, living in the brain.
  • Beerbohm in his way is perfect … He has brought personality into literature, not unconsciously and impurely, but so consciously and purely that we do not know whether there is any relation between Max the essayist and Mr. Beerbohm the man. We only know that the spirit of personality permeates every word that he writes … He is without doubt the prince of his profession.
  • Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on people’s lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today — that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past.
  • Twice Flush had done his utmost to kill his enemy; twice he had failed. And why had he failed, he asked himself? Because he loved Miss Barrett. Looking up at her from under his eyebrows as she lay, severe and silent on the sofa, he knew that he must love her for ever. Things are not simple but complex. If he bit Mr. Browning he bit her too. Hatred is not hatred; hatred is also love.
  • The large shiny black forehead of the first whale was no more than two yards from us when it sank beneath the surface of the water, then we saw the huge blue-black bulk glide quietly under the raft right beneath our feet. It lay there for some time, dark and motionless, and we held our breath as we looked down on the gigantic curved back of a mammal a good deal longer than the raft.
  • Reading [poetry], you know, is rather like opening the door to a horde of rebels who swarm out attacking one in twenty places at once – hit, roused, scraped, bared, swung through the air, so that life seems to flash by; then again blinded, knocked on the head – all of which are agreeable sensations for a reader (since nothing is more dismal than to open the door and get no response).
  • For this is the truth about our soul, he thought, who fish-like inhabits deep seas and plies among obscurities threading her way between the boles of giant weeds, over sun-flickered spaces and on and on into gloom, cold, deep, inscrutable; suddenly she shoots to the surface and sports on the wind-wrinkled waves; that is, has a positive need to brush, scrape, kindle herself, gossiping.
  • To write weekly, to write daily, to write shortly, to write for busy people catching trains in the morning or for tired people coming home in the evening, is a heartbreaking task for men who know good writing from bad. They do it, but instinctively draw out of harm’s way anything precious that might be damaged by contact with the public, or anything sharp that might irritate its skin.
  • To evade such temptations is the first duty of the poet. For as the ear is the antechamber to the soul, poetry can adulterate and destroy more surely then lust or gunpowder. The poet’s, then, is the highest office of all. His words reach where others fall short. A silly song of Shakespeare’s has done more for the poor and the wicked than all the preachers and philanthropists in the world.
  • She had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough! It is enough!
  • Every season is likeable, and wet days and fine, red wine and white, company and solitude. Even sleep, that deplorable curtailment of the joy of life, can be full of dreams; and the most common actions‚îÄ‚îÄa walk, a talk, solitude in one’s own orchard‚îÄ‚îÄcan be enhanced and lit up by the association of the mind. Beauty is everywhere, and beauty is only two finger’s-breadth from goodness.
  • Anecdote: A house that is rooted to one spot but can travel as quickly as you change your mind and is complete in itself is surely the most desirable of houses. Our modern house with its cumbersome walls and its foundations planted deep in the ground is nothing better than a prison and more and more prison like does it become the longer we live there, and wear fetters of a association and sentiment.
  • Old Madame du Deffand and her friends talked for fifty years without stopping. And of it all, what remains? Perhaps three witty sayings. So that we are at liberty to suppose either that nothing was said, or that nothing witty was said, or that the fraction of three witty sayings lasted eighteen thousand two hundred and fifty nights, which does not leave a liberal allowance of wit for any one of them.
  • Walden – all his books, indeed – are packed with subtle, conflicting, and very fruitful discoveries. They are not written to prove something in the end. They are written as the Indians turn down twigs to mark their path through the forest. He cuts his way through life as if no one had ever taken that road before, leaving these signs for those who come after, should they care to see which way he went.
  • Yet, she said to herself, form the dawn of time odes have been sung to love; wreaths heaped and roses; and if you asked nine people out of ten they would say they wanted nothing but this–love; while the women, judging from her own experience, would all the time be feeling, This is not what we want; there is nothing more tedious, puerile, and inhumane than this; yet it is also beautiful and necessary.
  • If behind the erratic gunfire of the press the author felt that there was another kind of criticism, the opinion of people readingfor the love of reading, slowly and unprofessionally, and judging with great sympathy and yet with great severity, might this not improve the quality of his work? And if by our means books were to become stronger, richer, and more varied, that would be an end worth reaching.
  • A thing there was that mattered; a thing, wreathed about with chatter, defaced, obscured in her own life, let drop every day in corruption, lies, chatter. This he had preserved. Death was defiance. Death was an attempt to communicate; people feeling the impossibility of reaching the centre which, mystically, evaded them; closeness drew apart; rapture faded, one was alone. There was an embrace in death.
  • Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us. Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.
  • Thus when I come to shape here at this table between my hands the story of my life and set it before you as a complete thing, I have to recall things gone far, gone deep, sunk into this life or that and become part of it; dreams, too, things surrounding me, and the inmates, those old half-articulate ghosts who keep up their hauntings by day and night… shadows of people one might have been; unborn selves.
  • She tapped on the window with her embossed hairbrush. They were too far off to hear. The drone of the trees was in their ears; the chirp of birds; other incidents of garden life, inaudible, invisible to her in the bedroom, absorbed them. Isolated on a green island, hedged about with snowdrops, laid with a counterpane of puckered silk, the innocent island floated under her window. Only George lagged behind.
  • There must be another life, she thought, sinking back into her chair, exasperated. Not in dreams; but here and now, in this room, with living people. She felt as if she were standing on the edge of a precipice with her hair blown back; she was about to grasp something that just evaded her. There must be another life, here and now, she repeated. This is too short, too broken. We know nothing, even about ourselves.
  • The English tourist in American literature wants above all things something different from what he has at home. For this reason the one American writer whom the English whole-heartedly admire is Walt Whitman. There, you will hear them say, is the real American undisguised. In the whole of English literature there is no figure which resembles his – among all our poetry none in the least comparable to Leaves of Grass
  • For they might be parted for hundreds of years, she and Peter; she never wrote a letter and his were dry sticks; but suddenly it would come over her, If he were with me now what would he say? –some days, some sights bringing him back to her calmly, without the old bitterness; which perhaps was the reward of having cared for people; they came back in the middle of St. James’s Park on a fine morning–indeed they did.
  • One could say nothing to nobody. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low. Then one gave it up; then the idea sunk back again; then one became like most middle-aged people, cautious, furtive, with wrinkles between the eyes and a look of perpetual apprehension. For how could one express in words these emotions of the body? express that emptiness there?
  • Here I come to one of the memoir writer’s difficulties — one of the reasons why, though I read so many, so many are failures. They leave out the person to whom things happened. The reason is that it is so difficult to describe any human being. So they say: ‘This is what happened’; but they do not say what the person was like to whom it happened. And the events mean very little unless we know first to whom they happened.
  • The waves broke and spread their waters swiftly over the shore. One after another they massed themselves and fell; the spray tossed itself back with the energy of their fall. The waves were steeped deep-blue save for a pattern of diamond-pointed light on their backs which rippled as the backs of great horses ripple with muscles as they move. The waves fell; withdrew and fell again, like the thud of a great beast stamping.
  • Behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that weI mean all human beingsare connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. Hamlet or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.
  • Oh and I thought, as i was dressing, how interesting it would be to describe the approach of age, and the gradual coming of death. As people describe love. To note every symptom of failure: but why failure? To treat age as an experience that is different from the others; and to detect every one of the gradual stages towards death which is a tremendous experience, an not as unconscious, at least in its approaches, as death is.
  • Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than any words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it.
  • The current flows fast and furious. It issues in a spate of words from the loudspeakers and the politicians. Every day they tell us that we are a free people fighting to defend freedom. That is the current that has whirled the young airman up into the sky and keeps him circulating there among the clouds. Down here, with a roof to cover us and a gasmask handy, it is our business to puncture gasbags and discover the seeds of truth.
  • We read Charlotte Bronte not for exquisite observation of character – her characters are vigorous and elementary; not for comedy – hers is grim and crude; not for a philosophic view of life – hers is that of a country parson’s daughter; but for her poetry. Probably that is so with all writers who have, as she has, an overpowering personality, so that, as we say in real life, they have only to open the door to make themselves felt.
  • There is no stability in this world. Who is to say what meaning there is in anything? Who is to foretell the flight of a word? It is a balloon that sails over tree-tops. To speak of knowledge is futile. All is experiment and adventure. We are forever mixing ourselves with unknown quantities. What is to come? I know not. But, as I put down my glass I remember; I am engaged to be married. I am to dine with my friends tonight. I am Bernard.
  • We are about to part,” said Neville. “Here are the boxes; here are the cabs. There is Percival in his billycock hat. He will forget me. He will leave my letters lying about among guns and dogs unaswered. I shall send him poems and he will perhaps reply with a picture post card. But it is for that that I love him. I shall propose a meeting – under a clock, by some Cross; and shall wait and he will not come. It is for that that I love him.
  • The light struck upon the trees in the garden, making one leaf transparent and then another. One bird chirped high up; there was a pause; another chirped lower down. The sun sharpended the walls of the house, and rested like the tip of a fan upon a white blind and made a fingerprint of a shadow under the leaf by the bedroom window. The blind stirred slightly, but all within was dim and unsubstantial. The birds sang their blank melody outside.
  • For pain words are lacking. There should be cries, cracks, fissures, whiteness passing over chintz covers, interference with the sense of time, of space ; the sense also of extreme fixity in passing objects ; and sounds very remote and then very close ; flesh being gashed and blood sparting, a joint suddenly twisted – beneath all of which appears something very important, yet remote, to be just held in solitude. Virginia Woolf, The Waves
  • I have sometimes dreamt … that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards — their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble — the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.
  • It was love, she thought, love that never clutch its object; but, like the love which mathematicians bear their symbols, or poets their phrases, was meant to be spread over the world and become part of human gain. The world by all means should have shared it, could Mr Bankes have said why that woman pleased him so; why the sight of her reading a fairy tale to her boy had upon him precisely the same effect as the solution of a scientific problem.
  • I like the copious, shapeless, warm, not so very clever, but extremely easy and rather coarse aspect of things; the talk of men in clubs and public-houses; of miners half naked in drawers the forthright, perfectly unassuming, and without end in view except dinner, love, money and getting along tolerably; that which is without great hopes, ideals, or anything of that kind; what is unassuming except to make a tolerably, good job of it. I like all that.
  • Other people have faces; Susan and Jinny have faces; they are here. Their world is the real world. The things they lift are heavy. They say Yes, they say No; whereas I shift and change and am seen through in a second. If they meet a housemaid she looks at them without laughing. But she laughs at me. They know what to say if spoken to. They laugh really; they get angry really; while I have to look first and do what other people do when they have done it.
  • Suppose the looking glass smashes, the image disappears, and the romantic figure with the green of forest depths all about it is there no longer, but only that shell of a person which is seen by other people – what an airless, shallow, bald, prominent world it becomes! A world not to be lived in. As we face each other in omnibuses and underground railways we are looking into the mirror that accounts for the vagueness, the gleam of glassiness, in our eyes.
  • For now she need not think of anybody. She coud be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of – to think; well not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others… and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures.
  • Well, I’ve had my fun; I’ve had it, he thought, looking up at the swinging baskets of pale geraniums. And it was smashed to atomshis fun, for it was half made up, as he knew very well; invented, this escapade with the girl; made up, as one makes up the better part of life, he thoughtmaking onself up; making her up; creating an exquisite amusement, and something more. But odd it was, and quite true; all this one could never shareit smashed to atoms.
  • The comparison between Coleridge and Johnson is obvious in so far as each held sway chiefly by the power of his tongue. The difference between their methods is so marked that it is tempting, but also unnecessary, to judge one to be inferior to the other. Johnson was robust, combative, and concrete; Coleridge was the opposite. The contrast was perhaps in his mind when he said of Johnson: “his bow-wow manner must have had a good deal to do with the effect produced.
  • I went from one to the other holding my sorrow – no, not my sorrow but the incomprehensible nature of this our life – for their inspection. Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends, I to my own heart, I to seek among phrases and fragments something unbroken – I to whom there is no beauty enough in moon or tree; to whom the touch of one person with another is all, yet who cannot grasp even that, who am so imperfect, so weak, so unspeakably lonely.
  • The grey nurse resumed her knitting as Peter Walsh, on the hot seat beside her, began snoring. In her grey dress, moving her hands indefatigably yet quietly, she seemed like the champion of the rights of sleepers, like one of those spectral presences which rise in twilight in woods made of sky and branches. The solitary traveler, haunter of lanes, disturber of ferns, and devastator of hemlock plants, looking up, suddenly sees the giant figure at the end of the ride.
  • That perhaps is your task–to find the relation between things that seem incompatible yet have a mysterious affinity, to absorb every experience that comes your way fearlessly and saturate it completely so that your poem is a whole, not a fragment; to re-think human life into poetry and so give us tragedy again and comedy by means of characters not spun out at length in the novelist’s way, but condensed and synthesized in the poet’s way–that is what we look to you to do now.
  • But the novels of women were not affected only by the necessarily narrow range of the writer’s experience. They showed, at least in the nineteenth century, another characteristic which may be traced to the writer’s sex. In Middlemarch and in Jane Eyre we are conscious not merely of the writer’s character, as we are conscious of the character of Charles Dickens, but we are conscious of a woman’s presence of someone resenting the treatment of her sex and pleading for its rights.
  • In each of us two powers preside, one male, one female: and in the man’s brain, the man predominates over the woman, and in the woman’s brain, the woman predominates over the man…If one is a man, still the woman part of the brain must have effect; and a woman also must have intercourse with the man in her. Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous. It is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilized and uses all its faculties.
  • Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind.
  • Yes, yes, I’m coming. Right up the top of the house. One moment I’ll linger. How the mud goes round in the mind-what a swirl these monsters leave, the waters rocking, the weeds waving and green here, black there, striking to the sand, till by degrees the atoms reassemble, the deposit sifts itself, and a gain through the eyes one sees clear and still, and there comes to the lips some prayer for the departed, some obsequy for the souls of those one nods to, the one never meets again.
  • A strange thing has happened – while all the other arts were born naked, this, the youngest, has been born fully-clothed. It can say everything before it has anything to say. It is as if the savage tribe, instead of finding two bars of iron to play with, had found scattering the seashore fiddles, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, grand pianos by Erhard and Bechstein, and had begun with incredible energy, but without knowing a note of music, to hammer and thump upon them all at the same time.
  • Now to sum it up,’ said Bernard. ‘Now to explain to you the meaning of my life. Since we do not know each other (though I met you once I think, on board a ship going to Africa), we can talk freely. The illusion is upon me that something adheres for a moment, has roundness, weight, depth, is completed. This, for the moment, seems to be my life. If it were possible, I would hand it you entire. I would break it off as one breaks off a bunch of grapes. I would say, “Take it. This is my life.
  • A very elementary exercise in psychology, not to be dignified by the name of psycho-analysis, showed me, on looking at my notebook, that the sketch of the angry professor had been made in anger. Anger had snatched my pencil while I dreamt. But what was anger doing there? Interest, confusion, amusement, boredom–all these emotions I could trace and name as they succeeded each other throughout the morning. Had anger, the black snake, been lurking among them? Yes, said the sketch, anger had.
  • Let us simmer over our incalculable cauldron, our enthralling confusion, our hotchpotch of impulses, our perpetual miracle – for the soul throws up wonders every second. Movement and change are the essence of our being; rigidity is death; conformity is death; let us say what comes into our heads, repeat ourselves, contradict ourselves, fling out the wildest nonsense, and follow the most fantastic fancies without caring what the world does or thinks or says. For nothing matters except life.
  • So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.
  • Here was a woman about the year 1800 writing without hate, without bitterness, without fear, without protest, without preaching. That was how Shakespeare wrote, I thought, looking at Antony and Cleopatra; and when people compare Shakespeare and Jane Austen, they may mean that the minds of both had consumed all impediments; and for that reason we do not know Jane Austen and we do not know Shakespeare, and for that reason Jane Austen pervades every word that she wrote, and so does Shakespeare.
  • Without those forerunners, Jane Austen and the Brontes and George Eliot could no more have written than Shakespeare could have written without Marlowe, or Marlowe without Chaucer, or Chaucer without those forgotten poets who paved the ways and tamed the natural savagery of the tongue. For masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.
  • Waves of hands, hesitations at street corners, someone dropping a cigarette into the gutter-all are stories. But which is the true story? That I do not know. Hence I keep my phrases hung like clothes in a cupboard, waiting for some one to wear them. Thus waiting, thus speculating, making this note and then an¬∑ other I do not cling to life. I shall be brushed like a bee from a sunflower. My philosophy, always accumulating, welling up moment by moment, runs like quicksilver a dozen ways at once.
  • Yet Byron never made tea as you do, who fill the pot so that when you put the lid on the tea spills over. There is a brown pool on the table–it is running among your books and papers. Now you mop it up, clumsily, with your pocket-hankerchief. You then stuff your hankerchief back into your pocket–that is not Byron; that is so essentially you that if I think of you in twenty years’ time, when we are both famous, gouty and intolerable, it will be by that scene: and if you are dead, I shall weep.
  • Again, somehow, one saw life, a pure bead. I lifted the pencil again, useless though I knew it to be. But even as I did so, the unmistakable tokens of death showed themselves. The body relaxed, and instantly grew stiff. The struggle was over. The insignificant little creature now knew death. As I looked at the dead moth, this minute wayside triumph of so great a force over so mean an antagonist filled me with wonder. Just as life had been strange a few minutes before, so death was now as strange.
  • Nothing could be slow enough, nothing lasts too long. No pleasure could equal, she thought, straightening the chairs, pushing in one book on the shelf, this having done with the triumphs of youth, lost herself in the process of living, to find it with a shock of delight, as the sun rose, as the day sank. Many a time had she gone, at Barton when they were all talking, to look at the sky; seen it between peoples shoulders at dinner; seen it in London when she could not sleep. She walked to the window.
  • The Lighthouse was then a silvery, misty-looking tower with a yellow eye, that opened suddenly, and softly in the evening. Now James looked at the Lighthouse. He could see the white-washed rocks; the tower, stark and straight; he could see that it was barred with black and white; he could see windows in it; he could even see washing spread on the rocks to dry. So that was the Lighthouse, was it? No, the other was also the Lighthouse. For nothing was simply one thing. The other Lighthouse was true too.
  • This self now as I leant over the gate looking down over fields rolling in waves of colour beneath me made no answer. He threw up no opposition. He attempted no phrase. His fist did not form. I waited. I listened. Nothing came, nothing. I cried then with a sudden conviction of complete desertion. Now there is nothing. No fin breaks the waste of this immeasurable sea. Life has destroyed me. No echo comes when I speak, no varied words. This is more truly death than the death of friends, than the death of youth.
  • The extraordinary woman depends on the ordinary woman. It is only when we know what were the conditions of the average woman’s life – the number of children, whether she had money of her own, if she had a room to herself, whether she had help bringing up her family, if she had servants, whether part of the housework was her task – it is only when we can measure the way of life and experience made possible to the ordinary woman that we can account for the success or failure of the extraordinary woman as a writer.
  • I feel that I have had a blow; but it is not, as I thought as a child, simply a blow from an enemy hidden behind the cotton wool of daily life; it is or will become a revelation of some order; it is a token of some real thing behind appearances; and I make it real by putting it into words. It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me; it gives me, perhaps because by doing so I take away the pain, a great delight to put the severed parts together.
  • He loved, beneath all this summer transiency, to feel the earth’s spine beneath him; for such he took the hard root of the oak tree to be; or, for image followed image, it was the back of a great horse that