100 favorite quotes

The best of refined quotes:

  1. If now and then we encounter pages that explode, pages that wound and sear, that wring groans and tears and curses, know that they come from a man with his back up, a man whose only defenses left are his words and his words are always stronger than the lying, crushing weight of the world, stronger than all the racks and wheels which the cowardly invent to crush out the miracle of personality.

    If any man ever dared to translate all that is in his heart, to put down what is really his experience, what is truly his truth, I think then the world would go to smash, that it would be blown to smithereens and no god, no accident, no will could ever again assemble the pieces, the atoms, the indestructible elements that have gone to make up the world. /h. miller/

  2. In this century the writer has carried on a conversation with madness. We might almost say of the twentieth-century writer that he aspires to madness. Some have made it, of course, and they hold special places in our regard. To a writer, madness is a final distillation of self, a final editing down. It’s the drowning out of false voices. /d. delillo/


    • To be no more. Sad cure! for who would lose,

    • Though full of pain, this intellectual being,

    • Those thoughts that wander through eternity,

    • To perish rather, swallowed up and lost

    • In the wide womb of uncreated night,

    • Devoid of sense and motion? /J. Milton/

  3. It’s a wonderful thing, for half an hour, to have money in your pocket and piss it away like a drunken sailor. You feel as though the
    world is yours. And the best part of it is, you don’t know what to do with it. You can sit back and let the meter run wild, you can let the wind blow through your hair, you can stop and have a drink, you can give a big tip, and you can swagger off as though it were an everyday occurrence.

    But you can’t create a revolution. You can’t wash all the dirt out of your belly. /H. Miller/

  4. Inserted in each year were widowed days

    Slow bloody Fridays filled with funerals

    Of whites and blacks conquered by skies that rained

    Whenever the devil’s wife had beaten her man /g. apollinaire/

  5. I wrote a ‘poem’, I scribbled quotation marks everywhere  over Fate passing by… /a. ginsberg/

  6. The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep. /r. frost/
  7. So far there have been no dreams that have taken wing. Not one man has been born light enough, gay enough, to leave the earth! The eagles who flapped their mighty pinions for a while came crashing heavily to earth. They made us dizzy with the flap and whir of their wings. Stay on the earth, you eagles of the future! The heavens have been explored and they are empty. And what lies under the earth is empty too, filled with bones and shadows. Stay on the earth and swim another few hundred thousand years! /H. Miller/

  8. Swell towards night O Sea The sharks’ eyes
    Even till dawn have relished from afar
    Days’ carcasses gnawed by stars
    Amidst the noise of the waves and the last oaths /g. apollinaire/

  9. “Out into distant futures, which no dream hath yet seen, into warmer
    souths than ever sculptor conceived,- where gods in their dancing
    are ashamed of all clothes” /f. nietzsche/
  10. Standing on the threshold of that world which Matisse has created I re-experienced the power of that revelation which had permitted Proust to so deform the picture of life that only those who, like himself, are sensible to the alchemy of sound and sense, are capable of transforming the negative reality of life into the substantial and significant outlines of art. Only those who can admit the light into their gizzards can translate what is there in the heart. /h. miller/

  11. The glasses fell shattered
    And we learned how to laugh
    We parted then pilgrims of perdition
    Across streets across countries across reason /g. apollinaire/
  12. Followers of obsolete unthinkable trades, doodling in Etruscan, addicts of drugs not yet synthesized, black marketeers of World War II, excisors of telepatic sensitivity, osteopaths of the spirit, investigators of infractions denounced by bland paranoid chess players, servers of fragmentary warrents taken down in hebephrenic shorthand charging unspeakable mutilations of the spirit, officials of unconstituted police states, brokers of exquisite dreams and nostalgias tested on the sensitized cells of junk sickness and bartered for raw materials of the will, drinkers of the Heavy Fluid sealed in translucent anber of dreams. /w. burroughs/
  13. Turning and turning in the widening gyre
        The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
        Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
        Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, /w.b. yeats/

  14. Pray no one breaks my heart, Kurt, for tears would ruin these old-fashioned eyes. /t.pynchon/
  15. ‘…but whoever fisheth where there are no fish, I do not even call him superficial’ /F. Nietzsche/
  16. In the country, he thought, the gods still come to people. A man matters, his experiences matter, but in the city, where experiences come by the thousands, we can no longer relate them to ourselves; and this is of course the beginning of life’s notorious turning into abstraction.

    But even as he thought all this, he was also aware of how this abstraction extended a man’s power a thousandfold and how, even if from the point of view of any given detail it diluted him tenfold, as a whole it expanded him a hundredfold, and there could be no question of turning the wheel backward. /r. musil/

  17. I could be a book explaining everything on margins /t. phillips/

  18. To see something as art requires something the eye cannot descry—an atmosphere of artistic theory, a knowledge of the history of art: an artworld. /A. Danto/
  19. ‘Should the book every appear(..) people will writhe with laughter after just one page, they will leap for joy, they will be comforted, they will read on, biting their fists to suppress their cries of joy, it can’t be helped, and when they sit down by the windows and read still further they’ll begin to throw confetti to the pedestrians on the street…’ /I. Bachmann/
  20. ‘I read,’ I say. ‘I study and read. I bet I’ve read everything you’ve read. Don’t think I haven’t. I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM-drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.” /d.f. wallace/
  21. My grandmother, as I learned afterwards, had at first chosen Mussel’s poems, a volume of Rousseau, and Indiana; for while she considered light reading as unwholesome as sweets and cakes, she did not reflect that the strong breath of genius must have upon the very soul of a child an influence at once more dangerous and less quickening than those of fresh air and country breezes upon his body. /m. proust/
  22. He spake: and to confirm his words, out-flew
    Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
    Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze 
    Far round illumin’d hell: highly they rag’d
    Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms
    Clash’d on thir sounding Shields the din of war,
    Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heav’n. /j. milton/
  23. If it were possible to convey what one feels when night falls and the stars come out and one is alone in the vastness, and life’s truths (night truths) begin to march past one by one, somehow swooning or as if the person out in the open were swooning or as if a strange sickness were circulating in the blood unnoticed. /r. bolano/
  24. He’s wasted gallons of paint thinner striking his faithful Zippo, its charred wick, virility giving way to thrift, rationed down to a little stub, the blue flame sparking about the edges in the dark, the many kinds of dark, just to see what’s happening with her face. Each new flame, a new face. /t. pynchon/
  25. He wrote an essay on the future of literature, which began and ended with the word nothing. /r. bolano/
  26. There’s something dark in me, deep under all my thoughts, some­thing I can’t measure out with thoughts, a sort of life that can’t be expressed in words and which is my life, all the same. /r. musil/
  27. What are the problems which will exercise the minds of tomorrow? It is for them that I desire to write. To provide food for curiosities still unformed, to satisfy requirements not yet defined, so that the child of today may be astonished tomorrow to find me in his path. /a. gide/


    But I tell you if you follow the secret window
    and you die to the ego nature
    you will penetrate this darkness
    oh yes there’s many a man or woman
    that’s been put in the insane asylum
    when this has happened to them
    and they’re sitting there today, people think they’re insane
    but they saw something that’s real /godspeed you black emperor/

  29. “I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of ‘em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures …” /j. kerouac/
  30. For how can I go so far as to try to use language to get between pain and its expression? /l. wittgenstein/
  31. And this malady, which was Swann’s love, had so far multiplied, was so closely interwoven with all his habits, with all his actions, with his thoughts, his health, his sleep, his life, even with what he hoped for after his death, was so entirely one with him that it would have been impossible to wrest it away without almost entirely destroying him; as surgeons say, his case was past operation. /M. Proust/

  32. I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it: we must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and soul. /h. miller/

  33. with one vertuous touch
    Th’ Archchimic Sun so farr from us remote
    Produces with Terrestrial Humor mixt 
    Here in the dark so many precious things
    Of colour glorious and effect so rare /j. milton/
  34. People in free societies don’t have to fear the pathology of the state. We create our own frenzy,
    our own mass convulsions, driven by thinking machines that we have no final authority over. The
    frenzy is barely noticeable most of the time. It’s simply how we live. /d. dellilo/
  35. -He wants to grab everything,
    can’t give up a single thing. He changes his mind every day, 

    because he’s afraid he might miss the right path.

    And he’s slowly bleeding to death.
    – So this is how the movie ends?

    – No, this is how it starts. /f. fellini/

  36. I like life well enough to want to live it awake, and so, in the very midst of my riches, I maintain the sensation of a state of precariousness, by which means I aggravate, or at any rate intensify, my life. I will not say I like danger, but I like life to be hazardous, and I want it to demand at every moment the whole of my courage, my happiness, my health. /a. gide/

  37. – dust from demagnetized brain waves – /w. burroughs/
  38. For a man’s possibilities, plans, and feelings must first be hedged in by prejudices, traditions, obstacles, and barriers of all sorts, like a lunatic in his straitjacket, and only then can whatever he is capable of doing have perhaps some value, substance, and staying power. /r. musil/
  39. -I know a man who was blind.
    When he was nearly 40 years old
    he had an operation and regained his sight.-How was it like?-At first he was elated, really high.Faces…colors…landscapes. But then everything began to change. The world was much poorer than he imagined. No one had ever told him how much dirt there was. How much ugliness. He noticed ugliness everywhere. When he was blind he used to cross the street alone with a stick. After he regained his sight he became afraid. He began to live in darkness. He never left his room. After three years he killed himself. /m. antonioni/
  40. Take music, for instance. Less than anything else, it is connected to reality, or if connected at all, it’s done mechanically, not by way of ideas, just by a sheer sound, devoid of… any associations. And yet, music, as if by some miracle, gets through to our heart. What is it that resonates in us in response to noise brought to harmony, making it the source of the greatest delight which stuns us and brings us together? /a. tarkovsky/
  41. Men traverse parching deserts for one gem;
    For one great pearl, the ocean they explore;
    Then die, and all that lingers after them
    Are footprints on the sand and ripples on the water. /l. staff/
  42. Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running—that’s the way to live. All alone and free in the soft sands of the beach by the sigh of the sea out there. /j. kerouac/
  43. One died, and the soul was wrenched out
    Of the other in life, who, walking the streets
    Wrapped in an identity like a coat, sees on and on
    The same corners, volumetrics, shadows
    Under trees. /j. ashbery/
  44. She isn’t my wife, really. We just have some kids. … No, no kids, not even kids. Sometimes, though, it feels as if we had kids. … She isn’t beautiful, she’s… easy to live with. … No, she isn’t. … That’s why I don’t live with her. … But even with beautiful girls, you look at them and that’s that. /m. antonioni/
  45. Then I knew
    she was a dream: and questioned her
    –Joan, what kind of knowledge have
    the dead? can you still love
    your mortal acquaintances?
    What do you remember of us? / a. ginsberg/
  46. It doesn’t really matter, I’ll go where you feel

    Hunt for the breeze, get a midnight meal

    I point in the windows, you point out the parks

    Rip off your sleeves and I’ll ditch my socks

    We’ll dance to the songs from the cars as they pass /animal collective/

  47. Her eyes danced like angels
    She laughed she laughed
    Her face showed France’s colors
    Blue eyes white teeth and lips of scarlet /g. apollinaire/

  48. But if no one is going
    to read me in one hundred years,
    why the hell should I write at all? /a. tarkovsky/
  49. How can you have a day without a night
    You’re the book that I have opened
    And now I’ve got to know much moreLike a soul without a mind
    In a body without a heart
    I’m missing every part / massive attack/
  50. Don’t forget the real business of war is buying and selling. The murdering and violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of wartime death is useful in many ways. It serves as spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded into History, so that children may be taught History as sequences of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world. Best of all, mass death’s a stimulus to just ordinary folks, little fellows, to try ‘n’ grab a piece of that Pie while they’re still here to gobble it up. The true war is a celebration of markets. /t. pynchon/

  51. a sung song done of emotion

    gone, lost, lika a ghost of a poem /t. phillips/

  52. And mankind exists in order to create works of art. Unlike all other human activities, this one is unselfish. /a. tarkovsky/
  53. Nothing that I wrote yesterday is true. Only this remains – that reality interests me inasmuch as it is plastic, and that I care more – infinitely more – for what may be than for what has been. I lean with a fearful attraction over the depths of each creature’s possibilities and weep for all that lies atrophied under the heavy lid of custom and morality. /a. gide/

  54. Uptown was a bleak district with no identity, where a heart never does anything so violent or final as break:

    merely gets increased tensile, compressive, shear loads piled on it bit by bit every day till eventually these and its own shudderings fatigue it. /t. pynchon/

  55. We try to discover in things, endeared to us on that account, the spiritual glamour which we ourselves have cast upon them; we are disillusioned, and learn that they are in themselves barren and devoid of the charm which they owed, in our minds, to the association of certain ideas; sometimes we mobilise all our spiritual forces in a glittering array so as to influence and subjugate other human beings who, as we very well know, are situated outside ourselves, where we can never reach them. /m. proust/
  56. Two people shouldn’t know each other too well if they want to fall in love. But then maybe they shouldn’t fall in love at all. /m. antonioni/
  57. Day… night… it seems to me sometimes the earth must have got stuck, one sunless day, in the heart of winter, in the grey of evening. /s. beckett/
  58. ‘Philosophers are despots who have no armies to command, so they subject the world to their tyranny by locking it up in a system of thought’ /r. musil/
  59. Friends both to lust and learning,they frequent Silence, and love the horror darkness breeds.Erebus would have chosen them for steeds
    To hearses, could their pride to it have bent. /ch. baudelaire/
  60. There are many feelings which can be expressed in so many ways that there is really no one pattern for them. For example, hope has no shape, nor do inspiration, fear, or love. /d. humphrey/
  61. Perhaps the immobility of the things that surround us is forced upon them by our conviction that they are themselves, and not anything else, and by the immobility of our conceptions of them. For it always happened that when I awoke like this, and my mind struggled in an unsuccessful attempt to discover where I was, everything would be moving round me through the darkness: things, places, years. /m. proust/
  62. There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is in front of his senses at the moment of writing... I am a recording instrument… I do not presume to impose ‘story’ ‘plot’ ‘continuity’… /w. burroughs/
  63. Here I am—Old Betty Boop whoopsing behind the skull-microphone

    wondering what Idiot soap opera horror show we broadcast by Mistake

    —full of communists and frankenstein cops and

    mature capitalists running the State Department and the Daily News Editorial

    hypnotizing millions of legional-eyed detectives to commit mass murder on the Invisible /a. ginsber/

  64. For the first time it was inside, do you see. The control is put inside. No more need to suffer passively under ‘outside forces’ – to veer into any wind. /t. pynchon/
  65. Mirrors should reflect a bit more before sending back images. /j. cocteau/

  66. The human brain has happily split things apart, but things have split the human heart too. /r. musil/
  67. The text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture. /r. barthes/
  68. Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly stepping and stopping,
    Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers,
    Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted, contradictory,
    Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping. /w. whitman/
  69. Patterns, ratios, indexes, whole maps of information. I love information. This is our sweetness and light. It’s a fuckall wonder. /d. delillo/
  70. In eternity, where there is no time, nothing can grow.
    Nothing can become. Nothing changes.
    So death created time to grow the things that it would kill… / true detective/

  71. He pick’d up an opinion, Sir, as a man in a state of nature picks up an apple.—It becomes his own—and if he is a man of spirit, he would lose his life rather than give it up. /l. sterne/

  72. ‘who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried’ /A. Ginsberg/
  73. Art is the kind of thing that depends for its existence upon theories: without theories of art, black paint is just black paint. /a. danto/
  74. Boring activities become, perversely, much less boring if you concentrate intently on them. /d.f. wallace/
  75. Taxi driver
    Be my shrink for the hour
    Leave the meter running
    It’s rush hour
    So take the streets if you wanna
    Just outrun the demons, could you /frank ocean/
  76. Thus we see the painter selecting and composing and rendering particulars in order to body forth a pleasing fullness in his scene. The storyteller, by contrast (…), must divine which episodes of his history hold promise of fullness, and tease from them their hidden meanings, braiding these together as one braids a rope. /j.m coetzee/

  77. The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. /p. roth/
  78. The principal backup for historiography is not philosophy but the arts, which serve to develop and modify a group’s self-image by, for example, apotheosizing its heroes, diabolizing its enemies, mounting dialogues among its members, and refocusing its attention. /r.rorty/
  79. –One could pass valuable months
    and years perhaps a lifetime
    doing nothing but lying in a hammock
    reading prose with the white doves
    copulating underneath
    and monkeys barking in the interior
    of the mountain
    and I have succumbed to this
    temptation- /a. ginsberg/

  80. I was taught:
    Our father who art in heaven.

    I thought it said arts.

    I imagined my father with an easel
    painting in Paradise. /f. truffaut/

  81. …manic depression, far from being a liability was an advantage. It was a selected trait. If it wasn’t selected for, then the “disorder” would have disappeared long ago, bred out of the population like anything else that didn’t increase the odds of survival. The advantage was obvious. The advantage was the energy, the creativity, the feeling of genius. /j. eugenides/
  82. They talked about death. Hoensch said that death itself was only an illusion under permanent construction, that in reality it didn’t exist. /r.bolano/

  83. I shall look away, that will henceforth be my sole negation. /r. barthes/
  84. It is likely that not willing is not a practicable state of mind; not to want to do something may be in the long run a mental content impossible to subsist on. Between not willing a certain thing and not willing at all-in other words, yielding to another person’s will-there may lie too small a space for the idea of freedom to squeeze into. /t. mann/
  85. In the old days anyone who felt like it could fling a rotten egg at the stage. Today, however, it’s the actors who are more likely to rake the hall with machine-gun fire – they might even toss out a bomb. Think about it, who would you rather be right now? An actor or a member of theaudience?” /v. pelevin/
  86. Time is money, every moment is costly
    So I ration emotion because existance exhausts me
    Oddly enough, I’m happy I ain’t famous
    Imagine waking up to the fact that you’re simply entertainment  /atmosphere/

  87. I’ve got a mechanism for seeing called eyes, for hearing called ears, and for speaking called a mouth. But they feel disconnected. They don’t work together. A person should feel like he’s one individual. I feel like I’m many different people. / j.l. goddard/

  88. Science cannot avert a single thunderbolt. Western science is a product of the Apollonian mind: its hope is that by naming and classification, by the cold light of intellect, archaic night can be pushed back and defeated. /c. pagilia/
  89. “I’ll say God seems to have a kind of laid-back management style I’m not crazy about. I’m pretty much anti-death. God looks by all accounts to be pro-death. I’m not seeing how we can get together on this issue, he and I…” /d.f. wallace/
  90. In creating works of art we humanize the earth as we can in no other way, we warm it for ourselves, make it a place where we belong. /m. beardsley/
  91. Art does not acknowledge
    the existence of noise (in the informational sense of the word). It is
    a pure system: there are no wasted units, and there can never be any,
    however long, loose, or tenuous the threads which link them to one of
    the levels of the story. /r. barthes/
  92. The present time is without turning points. A turn of events is
    always for the better. But when, as today, calamiry is at its height, the heavens
    open and hurl their fire on those who are lost in any case. /t. adorno/
  93. “And now for a brief public service announcement: Alligators. Can they kill your children? Yes. Along those lines, to get personal for a moment, I think the best way to die would be: swallowed by a giant snake. Going feet first and whole into a slimy maw would give your life perfect symmetry.” /nightvale/
  94. “Rome reminds me of a man who lives by exhibiting to travellers his grandmother’s corpse.” /j. joyce/
  95. “Every sign, linguistic or nonlinguistic, spoken or written (in the usual sense of this opposition), as a small or large unity, can be cited, put between quotation marks; thereby it can break with every given context, and engender infinitely new contexts in an absolutely nonsaturable fashion”. /j. derrida/
  96. our period is obsessed by the desire to forget, and
    it is to fulfill that desire that it gives over to the
    demon of speed; it picks up the pace to show us
    that it no longer wishes to be remembered; that it
    is tired of itself; sick of itself; that it wants to blow
    out the tiny trembling flame of memory. /m. kundera/

  97. The chilling Hispanic term for whatever interior disorder drives the addict back again and again to the enslaving Substance is ‘tecato
    gusano’, which apparently connotes some kind of interior psychic worm that cannot be sated or killed. /d.f. wallace/
  98. Fausto’s kind are alone with the task of living in a universe of things which simply are,  and cloaking that innate mindlessness with comfortable and pious metaphor so that the “practical” half of humanity may continue in the Great Lie, confident that their machines, dwellings, streets and weather share the same human motives, personal traits and fits of contrariness as they. /t.pynchon/


/next nov 2012, bef 03.06/


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