Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Words from Over the Desk

Never build a dungeon you wouldn’t be happy to spend the night in yourself. . . . The world would be a happier place if more people remembered that. — Terry Pratchett

Wild women don't get the blues

My darling girl, when are you going to understand that "normal" is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. — Alice Hoffman

Run mad as often as you chuse, but do not faint. — Jane Austen

I've heard that life is a series of old doors closing and new doors opening, but it's hell in the hallways. — Kevyn Aucoin

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. — Albert Einstein

It is not peace we seek but meaning. — Laurence Durrell

Hell is not to love any more. — Dostoievski

When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn't make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. 'It's all right' we whisper, 'I'm here, I love you.' and we lie: 'I'll never leave you.' For just a moment or two the darkness doesn't seem so bad. —
Neil Gaiman

A human being is nothing but a story with a skin around it. — Fred Allen

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. — Hannah Arendt

Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen. — Robert Bresson

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face us with the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. — Henri Nouwen

Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more. — Erica Jong

It takes a lot of energy and a lot of neurosis to write a novel. If you were really sensible, you’d do something else. — Laurence Durrell

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. — Marcel Proust

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. — Mark Twain

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers by base minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you." — T. H. White

Imagination is more important than knowledge. — Albert Einstein

All good technology should be used to piss off people's parents. — Neil Gaiman

Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic. — Arthur C. Clarke

Technology...the knack of so arranging the world so that we don't have to experience it. — Max Frisch

A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish. — W. H. Auden

Eating bread is a physical act. Breaking and sharing it is a spiritual act. — Nicholas Beryaev

Silence = Death

Do not fear death so much but rather the inadequate life. — Bertolt Brecht

Yet many come to wish their tower a well For those who dread to drown, of thirst may die. — W. H. Auden

Words are all we have. — Samuel Becket

Liberty is the right not to lie. — Albert Camus

The effort to understand the universe is one of the few things that lifts human life above the level of farce and gives it some of the grace of tragedy. — Steve Weinberg

We're ordinary people trying to do extraordinary things with questionable talent and a limited budget. — Johnny Vega

I don't say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could. — Orson Welles

The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February. — Joseph Wood Krutch

The maidens of Massachusetts are not accustomed to undress before committing homicide. In fact, so rigid are their notions of propriety that a good many of them do not slaughter their parents at all, even when fully clothed. — Edmund Pearson

Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough. — William Saroyan

All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell

I'd say it's good for a writer to feel like an alien. — Neil Gaiman

It's remarkable how good you can be if you don't have to be perfect.

We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with great love. — Mother Teresa

This is the art of courage: to see things as they are and still believe that the victory lies not with those who avoid the bad, but those who taste, in living awareness, every drop of the good. — Victoria Lincoln

You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty. — Jessica Mitford


These are among the thousands of quotations I've gathered over the years. Often I scrawl them on index cards and put them up over whatever desk I currently inhabit.

The temptation to silence, silence in the face of grief, is almost overwhelming. But it's as bad an idea as I can imagine, to respond to loss, grief, frustration, the premature ending of a life, with my own retreat into silence. Live, damn you. Live. Live out loud.

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