Quotations, Part I

(Originally posted on Blogger site.)

I have a taste for quotations that rears its head on occasion. Sometimes — not always, but at certain times — I get an urge to compile them. What can I do? I’m human, so I get these internal nudges. Clearly, I’m not alone in this, given the number of websites and lists given over to quoting other people.

So here I’ve compiled some of those that I like. Periodically, I’ll find a certain critical mass of them and post some more here as a new installment.


“Roosters crow at the dawn hoping to arouse the barnyard. But the owl knows it is still late at night. The foxes are about. The master sleeps. This is who we are.”
Millennium, Season 2, “Owls”

“And what the dead had no speech for when living, they can tell you, being dead: The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.”
T.S. Eliot, Quartet No. 4

“You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”
Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable

“Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained.”
William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

“Writing is physical for me. I always have the sense that the words are coming out of my body, not just my mind. I write in longhand, and the pen is scratching the words onto the page. I can even hear the words being written. So much of the effort that goes into writing prose for me is about making sentences that capture the music that I’m hearing in my head. It takes a lot of work, writing, writing, and rewriting to get the music exactly the way you want it to be. That music is a physical force. Not only do you write books physically, but you read books physically as well. There’s something about the rhythms of language that correspond to the rhythms of our own bodies. An attentive reader is finding meanings in the book that can’t be articulated, finding them in his or her body. I think this is what so many people don’t understand about fiction. Poetry is supposed to be musical. But people don’t understand prose. They’re so used to reading journalism—clunky, functional sentences that convey factual information—facts, more than just the surfaces of things.”
Paul Auster, from an interview with Jonathan Lethem in The Believer, 2005

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”
Bill Cosby

“I am certain that there are two things in life which are dependable — the delights of the flesh and the delights of literature. I have had the good fortune to bring them together and enjoy them together in full quantity.”
Peter Greenaway, The Pillow Book

“To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”
Leo Buscaglia

“I’ve got my eyes peeled for poetry, I’ll let you know if I see any.”
Ed McLaughlin

“That’s the wonderful thing about the world…Reality is infinitely richer than any of the schemes that we have ever described to try to capture it.”
Errol Morris, Boston Globe article, 6/22/11

“The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules — but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.”
Aleister Crowley, The Book of the Law

“The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.”
Carl Sagan


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